The year of slut-shaming, creepshots, Malala and more

Tue, Dec 18, 2012, 00:00

Adele was cut short. Donna Summer left us. We learned about the Red Room of Pain and Naomi Wolf’s orgasms. We look back on 12 months of women in the news

A is for Adele. In February the singer gave the finger to Brit Awards’ organisers who disrespectfully cut her acceptance speech short. “It was like the music industry’s attitude to women played out as a metaphor,” tweeted Lily Allen.

B is for “Binders full of women”. What Mitt Romney said he was given as governor when he asked for lists of qualified women for his cabinet. Tumblr-loving ladies were soon photographing themselves bound between giant sheets of cardboard almost as wooden as Romney himself.

B is also for Bikini.Writer-filmmaker Nora Ephron, who died in June aged 71, was unequivocal: “Oh how I regret not having worn a bikini for the entire year I was 26. If anyone young is reading this, go, right this minute, put on a bikini, and don’t take it off until you’re 34.”

Not long to go now.

C is for Creepshots.Also known as “revenge porn”, creepshots are stalker-style photographs taken and/or distributed without consent by upskirt-loving predators. All the rage in 2012, a particularly nasty creepshots forum on the site Reddit was banned in October.

D is for Dowager Countess.In February, Downton Abbey’s Cousin Violet (Maggie Smith) was praised in a BBC-commissioned ageism report for ranking among a select group of “strong characters who did not seem to deteriorate as they aged”. What would the countess say? Probably something like this: “At my age, one must ration one’s excitement.”

E is for @EverydaySexism.The Twitter account of the year retweets stories from women about casual, “everyday” sexism, from old-school street harassment to even older-school “white with two sugars” workplace culture. They all add up to something far from casual.

F is for Feminist Ryan Gosling.“Hey girl . . . I mean woman.” The internet meme by Danielle Henderson made feminists swoon by imagining the actor as a card-carrying gender deconstructionist. Now available in book form.

G is for Gillard, Julia.The Australian prime minister’s blistering speech on the sexism of opposition leader Tony Abbott comprised the perfect mix of anger and composure and was delivered with style, force and dignity.

A good thing no one saw her stumble a week later when her high heels got stuck in soft grass. It was during a wreath-laying ceremony? Ah.

G also for #GoKatieTaylor.The feelgood Twitter hashtag of the summer. Right hook. Left hook. Gold medal.

H is for Hillary 2016.President Barack Obama had barely secured re-election with the aid of the female vote when the backs were peeled off the bumper stickers promoting a Clinton bid in four years’ time.

I is for Intersectionality.Sparked by feminist / critic Caitlin Moran’s tweet that she “literally couldn’t give a shit” that everyone in Lena Dunham’s HBO comedy Girls was white, people who did care staged a heated debate around the not-so-controversial idea that prejudices on the basis of gender, race, class and sexuality are linked.

J is for “Just for women”.When suspended Newsnight editor Peter Rippon noted in an email that his team had “just the women” lined up for their report on Jimmy Savile, he was citing the journalistic need for multiple story sources. But the much-tweeted phrase also seemed to sum up the way in which victims had been dismissed and disbelieved for decades.

K is for Killing, The.All good things must come to an end, and so Sarah Lund (Sofie Grabol), one of the best heroines in television history, has completed her last case. As we now know they say in Denmark, tak! (Thanks!)

L is for Legitimate rape.If it’s a “legitimate rape”, opined Republican Senate nominee Todd Akin, there’s no need to worry about getting pregnant, as “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down”. Voters proceeded to shut Akin down.

M is for Mantel, Hilary.The Bring Up the Bodies author became the first woman to have won the Man Booker Prize twice. The second book in her Thomas Cromwell trilogy centred on the end-days of much-maligned queen Anne Boleyn, aka Cate Blanchett’s mother.

N is for Never Again.The campaigning slogan was adopted by the pro-choice movement as it held marches and vigils in the wake of the tragic, anger-inducing death of Savita Halappanavar.

O is for Olson, Peggy.In Mad Men’s fifth season, working woman role model Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) finally escaped Don Draper’s shadow.

P is for Pink lipstick.As featured in Science: It’s a Girl Thing, a video released to launch the European Commission’s campaign to get more teenage girls to study science. Its “girl science” seemed to revolve around a love of cosmetics.

Q is for the Queen of Disco.Donna Summer, singer of I Feel Love, Bad Girls and 1980s feminist anthem She Works Hard for the Money, died in May.

R is for Rabbit-food questions.At a Marvel’s Avengers Assemble press conference, a male journalist asked Robert Downey Jnr about the conflict between Iron Man’s egotism and maturity, and followed up by inquiring about Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow diet. “How come you get the really interesting existential question, and I get the, like, ‘rabbit food’ question?” an unimpressed Johansson rhetorically wondered to her co-star.

R is also for Red Room of Pain– 2012 will forever be remembered as the year Fifty Shades of Grey’s sadist-in-residence threw down an architectural gauntlet to Grand Designs.

S is for “Slut-shaming”. The new name for this age-old practice surfaced during the backlash to Twilight star Kristen Stewart, who had the temerity to sleep with someone who was not her boyfriend.

T is for Troublemaker, the translation of La Frondeuse, the title of a new biography of French president Francois Hollande’s controversy-sparking partner Valerie Trierweiler.

Hint: if they call you a “troublemaker”, you’re probably doing something right.

U is for Unapologetic,the new album by Rihanna on which she duets with Chris Brown, the ex who once kept her in a headlock and punched her repeatedly until her cut face swelled and she screamed for help. Romance really has taken an odd turn.

V is for Vagina:A New Biography by Naomi Wolf, in which she extrapolated her latest goddess-infused pseudo-philosophies from the quality of her orgasms. Coming soon: The G-Spot: A Memoir.

W is for Women Bishops.A woman can be governor of the Church of England (Queen Liz) or a priest in it, but after the General Synod laity had their say in November, they remain barred from middle management.

X is for XX Factor.If you’re outside the paid workforce for domestic reasons, you very likely have two X chromosomes. A Central Statistics Office study found paltry evidence of a “househusband” trend, noting that 98 per cent of people looking after home or family are women.

Y is for Yousafzai, Malala.The 14-year-old Pakistani schoolgirl was shot in the head by the Taliban for defending girls’ right to education. In November, the UN held “Malala Day” in her honour.

Y is also for Yahoo, which in July became the first Fortune 500 company to appoint a pregnant chief executive, Marissa Mayer (37). She took two weeks’ maternity leave and later shrugged off suggestions that having a baby is, like, hard. “The baby’s been way easier than everyone made it out to be,” she laughed in everybody’s face.

Z is for Zoe Smith.The Olympic weightlifter wrote a blog post on haters who trolled that it was unfeminine to do the clean and jerk (a weightlifting move). “This may be shocking to you, but we actually would rather be attractive to people who aren’t closed-minded and ignorant. Crazy, eh?!” Mad.

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