If you had to crystallize 2014’s feminist ethos into one easily Instagrammable image, it would be the word itself, projected in floor-to-ceiling blinding white, directly behind a power-posing Beyoncé. In 2014, we declared ourselves #GIRLBOSSes and Bad Feminists. We came clean with our stories of sexual violence with #BeenRapedNeverReported and #YouCantShutMeUp. In short order, capital-F feminism became less regarded as a shrill academic abstraction and more like a philosophy we—and, OK, Queen B—loudly and proudly made our own.
This year, though, we lobbed a shorter, vulgar (and fun!) expletive into the mix. It’s undeniable that our culture has a complex relationship with women’s rage; namely, that a lot of society would be really cool with us quietly disposing it in the nearest feminine hygiene receptacle, thanks. So it was refreshing when, in an October instalment of Lena Dunham’s new newsletter, “Lenny,” reigning Everygirl Jennifer Lawrence explicitly demanded to know why she makes less than her male co-stars. J. Law insisted she was “over trying to find the ‘adorable’ way to state her opinion and still be likable” during patently sexist Hollywood negotiations. No more, she said. “F-ck that.”
Nicki Minaj, the patron saint of f-ck that, twice dismantled attempts to shuffle her under the ridiculous “angry black” umbrella this year. After Minaj’s on-point butt anthem “Anaconda” was shut out of the VMAs’ Video of the Year category, Minaj alleged that some nasty, racialized body shaming was to blame. Miley Cyrus, she of the sparkly heart pasties, then shaded Minaj’s tweets as “not very polite.” And so Minaj uttered a quiet, deferential apology, and that was that. Ha, ha—oh, no, wait: “If you want to enjoy our culture and our lifestyle,” Minaj said of Cyrus in a recent New York Times Magazine interview, “bond with us, dance with us, have fun with us, twerk with us, rap with us, then you should also want to know what affects us, what is bothering us, what we feel is unfair to us.” In that same piece, Minaj also blasted her interviewer, Vanessa Grigoriadis, over her assertion that Minaj “thrives” on drama by virtue of her proximity to the Drake and Meek Mill beef. (Drake and Minaj are on the same record label; Mill is her BF.) So Minaj shut down the interview, like, f-ck that, too.
And what would our annual feminist recap be without woman of the hour Amy Schumer, who sent up Hollywood’s near-impossible beauty standards for actresses with a half-hour black-and-white parody of the American film classic 12 Angry Men. Key differences: Schumer’s version featured Jeff Goldblum, and many dildos.
In the midst of countless ongoing obvious injustices, it would be mega tempting to overlook 2015’s pop-cultural wins: Caitlyn Jenner’s gorgeous Vanity Fair cover, #squadgoals, and scads of new feminist allies in the form of men and Muppets alike. But Mad Max isn’t enough. Between issues of racial and gender diversity—and the rest of our to-banish list—Feminism 2016 has a full dance card. But if J. Law, Minaj, Schumer and all the other boss bitches out there have taught us anything, it’s that the most effective response to misogynist BS isn’t always the nice-girl approach. It’s not enough to get real. Sometimes, you’ve got to get pissed.