I think we can all say it’s been a hell of a year!
I can’t think of a single day where the news wasn’t inundated with some sort of major scandal.
From the start of 2017 to the finish, women have made sure that their voices have been heard. The Women’s March didn’t just take place in the United States capital: it took place in cities around the country, and also around the world as men and women alike joined the movement to show solidarity while fighting for equal rights for women.
Fueled by what was seen by many as an unjust election result and a presidential campaign that gave us a great example of misogyny and rape culture, the women’s movement in 2017 started out strong and only grew stronger.
In fact, Time’s Person of the Year was awarded to an entire movement, the “Me Too” campaign that spread awareness about the prevalence of sexual harassment and assault. I think it’s safe to say that while the year was filled with stress, the women’s movement surged forward as we reclaimed our voices and told our stories. And not just women—men, too, spoke up about their experiences, either as perpetrators or victims themselves. While progress is slow, we certainly seem to be heading in a better direction.
I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if we saw a surge in feminist baby names over the next couple of years. The heroes of the movement have certainly given us a few badass names to consider. Here are my favorites:
Brené: Brené Brown, author and speaker, has continued to speak out on issues of social injustice this year. Her work around vulnerability and authenticity is essential for forward progress.
Colin: Colin Kaepernick has continued to advocate for the rights of others while also putting his money where his mouth is and supporting charities in his community. His peaceful, kneeling protest was suggested by a military veteran as a sign of both respect and protest for “Black Lives Matter.” We salute him with his name on this list.
Emma: Emma Watson has continued to be an outspoken advocate for gender equality, hid copies of The Handmaid’s Tale around Paris, and remains a spokesperson for the “He for She” campaign. The Handmaid’s Tale, a book written by Margaret Atwood, was made into a Hulu original series and its dystopian story-line seemed to resonate with women struggling with an administration that has not been protective of our rights. Hiding copies of a book that promotes gender equity and women’s rights is a subversive way to stand up for all women.
Glennon: Glennon Doyle, writer and speaker, has continued to advocate for equal rights. This Christian blogger and speaker has been an outspoken advocate for LGBTQ+ rights, and her book, Love Warrior, has been an inspiration and a call for all of us to be who we are and to choose love.
Hillary: Hillary Clinton has continued to advocate for women and put a few more cracks in the glass ceiling with her presidential run, which showed that she had the support of the popular vote.
Kamala (or Harris): Senator Kamala Harris, U.S. Senator for California, refused to be silenced by the opposition and continues to be a strong advocate for women everywhere. When questioning Rod Rosenstein, the Deputy Attorney General, over his role in James Comey’s firing earlier in the year, Harris was repeatedly interrupted by male senators and directed to be more respectful to the witness. This led to other committee members pointing out that these interruptions likely stemmed from sexism, as the male committee members were allowed to question the witness without censure.
Kate: Kate McKinnon delighted us throughout the year with her heartfelt and hilarious impersonation of Hillary Clinton and many of the other key players in Washington in the last year. While a comedian and “Saturday Night Live” personality may seem unlikely for inclusion on this list, we badly needed that laughter in 2017.
Malala: Malala Yousafzai has continued to be an outspoken advocate for the rights of women around the world. This Pakistani activist has a reputation for human rights advocacy and for promoting women’s education. She began her advocacy as a child and even survived an assassination attempt at the age of 15. Now 20, Malala has continued to advocate for women. In 2017, she published a picture book entitled Malala’s Magic Pencil.
Margaret: Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale became eerily relevant in the last year and was turned into a Hulu original series. In this dystopian world Atwood created, the rights of women have been taken away, and women’s sole purpose was to reproduce. While this book was originally published in 1985, it took on new relevancy in the last year as the women’s movement’s third wave became a tsunami.
Marshall: Marshall Mathers, better known as Eminem, has stood up to the current administration and how it has inflamed racism and bigotry in our country. While Eminem might not have made a list of baby names in the past for his advocacy, 2017 might just have earned Marshall a pass for this list.
Maxine: Representative Maxine Waters’ reclaiming her time (and inspiring us all to do the same) was one of the highlights of my year. She did not allow her time to speak to be co-opted by a male member who was refusing to answer questions. Her declaration that she was reclaiming the time allotted to her struck a chord in many of us watching from home. Many of us have begun reclaiming our time, too.
Mayim: Scientist and actress Mayim Bialik has used her social media platform to spread awareness of social injustice and to promote equal rights in the last year. Known for her role on “Blossom” in the 1990s and on the wildly popular “Big Bang Theory,” Bialik is also a respected scientist and author. Her most recent book, Girling Up, is about how girls’ bodies change as they age and the struggles that come with those transitions. An outspoken advocate for women’s rights, Mayim is definitely a name we might see on some baby lists in the coming year.
Melissa: Melissa McCarthy deserves her name on the list for delighting us throughout the year with her SNL impersonation of former press secretary Sean “Spicey” Spicer. She even won an Emmy for it!
Michelle: Michelle Obama said, “When they go low, we go high,” and inspired us all. Even though she’s no longer our beloved First Lady, she continues to set an example of grace, class, and badassery by advocating for the rights of others.
Olivia: Button Poetry author Olivia Gatwood wrote the feminist anthem: “Alternate Universe in Which I am Unfazed by the Men Who Do Not Love Me” and deserves a spot on the list.
Rupi: Rupi Kaur, a poet renowned for her books Milk and Honey and The Sun and Her Flowers was an inspiration to many in the last year. Kaur’s 2015 photo project—showing menstrual blood—was posted to Instagram. The project was meant to address taboos around women and menstruation, however, the post was removed by Instagram. It then went viral on Facebook, as women protested the fact that openly talking about menstruation should be against any “community standards,” and yet social media often allows posts portraying violence against women, assault, and general degradation. Instagram later apologized after the backlash, but Kaur’s poetry, which advocates for strong women, continues to inspire us all.
Ruth: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s continued voice of dissent to protect all of our rights grabs her a spot on my list of favorite names.
Shaun: Journalist Shaun King, writer and civil rights activist, has continued to use his platform to advocate for the rights of others and draw attention to injustice and inequality in the world. As a political commentator for The Young Turks, he’s used his platform to speak out about Black Lives Matter, but his efforts haven’t stopped there. He’s been an outspoken advocate for women’s rights, too.
Tarana (or Burke): Tarana Burke began the “Me Too” movement over a decade ago (although it only started trending this year when it was used by Alyssa Milano as a call to action for women to speak out about sexual assault and harassment). While she was overlooked for the Time cover, without her, we wouldn’t have the movement we have now.
Warren: Senator Elizabeth Warren: “Nevertheless, she persisted.” And she inspires us all to do the same.
So many people stood out to me in the last year. From journalists to celebrities to everyday people, 2017 has been a year to speak our truth. We’ve been shaken out of our complacency, and the world is learning that we are all a force to be reckoned with.
As Women’s Marches are being planned for the new year, we can look back through the news in 2017 and give the next generation of children quite a few powerful names to carry on, into a hopefully brighter future.