As if setting a feminist resolution for 2018, a group of Hollywood powerhouses kicked off the new year with some major news. A collective of 300 women — including Shonda Rhimes, Ashley Judd, Reese Witherspoon, America Ferrera, Eva Longoria and Rashida Jones — have launched an organization called Time’s Up in response to the recent flood of sexual abuse and harassment allegations.
On Time’s Up agenda: lobbying for gender parity at studios and talent agencies, and the promotion of women to decision-making roles in entertainment companies; and a push for comprehensive anti-harassment legislation. But the most significant initiative is a $13-million donation to a legal defence fund for working-class women who experience sexual harassment on the job.
“If this group of women can’t fight for a model for other women who don’t have as much power and privilege, then who can?” Rhimes told the press. Time’s Up donation to the legal fund was inspired by public statement made in November on behalf of 700,000 female farmworkers saying they stood with Hollywood women in their fight against abuse. Now it was time for the celebrity sisterhood to return that support.
That this group of A-listers has connected its struggle with that of women with far less fame and money is encouraging. The events of the past 12 months were unignorable and a wake-up call for those who’ve been complacent and unengaged, beginning nearly a year ago with the Women’s March and carrying through to the #MeToo Reckoning of the fall and early winter. Justice doesn’t count unless it’s justice for all.
So, if 2017 was the year women got angry, then 2018 looks to be the year women get s**t done. To that end, here’s a few ways women will make the news, change the world and otherwise kill it in 2018.
Capitalizing on 2017’s success, Women’s Marches will once again be held around the world on Jan. 20, with the aim of inspiring sustained political engagement. Kavita Dogra, co-organizer for Toronto’s march, told the Toronto Star, “The reason why we marched last year was resistance to hate, resistance to divisive politics and kind of in response to what was happening south of the border. This year, it’s more about where do we go from here and how do we define our future and how do we build the future that we want.”
Meanwhile, U.S. Women’s March organizers will be hosting a “Power to the Polls” event in Las Vegas to launch a national voter registration tour to sign up first-time voters and get more progressive female candidates to run in the fall midterm elections.
Elsewhere in the world: After years of courageously fighting for their civil and human rights, Saudi women will soon be able to drive and enter sports arenas. And in Ireland, a referendum will be held in the late spring on the country’s strict and oppressive abortion law (currently, fetuses have an equal right to life as their mother, effectively making all terminations illegal).
With provincial elections in Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick, and municipal elections in Ontario, Manitoba, PEI, NWT, British Columbia and Yukon, political parties and activist organizations are looking to recruit a more inclusive slate of candidates. In London, Ont., for instance, the group Women and Politics is pushing for women to make up half of the ballot for city council (in its last election, women were 23 percent of candidates, and now make up 26 percent of council).
Ausma Malik, a Toronto school trustee, has already declared her intention to run for city council. As a progressive, Muslim, millennial woman of colour, Malik is hoping to create a council that better reflects the city it serves — currently, just 11 percent of the Toronto’s 45 councillors are visible minorities, only a third are women and just two are under the age of 35.
In the U.S., the recent special election included several groundbreaking wins by women, people of colour and transgender candidates. According to Emily’s List, an organization devoted to electing female candidates, more than 22,000 women have contracted the group about running for office or getting involved in other ways since the 2016 presidential election.
The Olympics begin in Pyeongchang in just over a month, with some amazing female athletes to keep an eye on. Canada’s team includes freestyle skiing sisters Chloé, Justine and Maxime Dufour-Lapointe (Justine and Chloé won gold and silver medals in moguls at the 2014 Games in Sochi, while Maxime placed 12th); and ice-dancing champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir.
The women’s hockey roster features veteran MVP Marie-Philip Poulin, who scored the thrilling overtime goal against the U.S. to win gold in Sochi, and rookie Brigette Lacquette, the first Indigenous woman to play on Canada’s Olympic women’s team.
Also making history at the Games: The Nigerian women’s two-person bobsleigh team, which is aiming to be the first African team to compete in bobsleigh at the Winter Olympics. (They’ve achieved the qualifying standard, but must be in the top 40 of the global rankings on Jan. 14 after seven World Cup races in order to go to the Games.) Even if these women don’t make it all the way, their enthusiasm and grit is inspiring.
It was just announced that Hoda Kotb will join Savannah Guthrie as co-anchor of Today, replacing Matt Lauer, and hopefully setting a trend that all positions vacated by disgraced sleaze-bag men be immediately filled with capable, professional, charismatic women. It’s the first time that two women will be the main hosts of Today — but don’t crack the chardonnay just yet: It’s reported that the two women combined still make less than Lauer did at his peak salary of $25 million per year.
Speaking of money, Ava DuVernay’s upcoming film adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, featuring Oprah Winfrey, Mindy Kaling, Storm Reid and Reese Witherspoon, makes her the first woman of colour to direct a movie with a $100-million budget. A leader in Hollywood for her diverse casts and crews and her mentorship of women of colour, DuVernay’s success is proof that attention to inclusion makes for terrific storytelling and blockbuster business.
Other female-centred or otherwise Bechdel Test-approved movies to check out in 2018: the heist flick Ocean’s 8 with Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett and Rihanna; Black Panther, co-starring Lupita N’yongo and Angela Bassett alongside Chadwick Boseman’s titular superhero; and Mary, Queen of Scots, starring Saoirse Ronan as the ruler of Scotland battling for power against British monarch Elizabeth I, played by Margot Robbie.
If you’re more of a reader, Zadie Smith has a collection of essays called Feel Free coming out soon. And Circe by Madeleine Miller seems like a perfect novel for these times — a woman’s take on The Odyssey, and the coming-of-age tale of the witch who turned Odysseus’s crew into pigs. Also upcoming: Barracoon, a previously unpublished non-fiction book by the late Zora Neale Hurston, is due in the spring. It tells the story of Cudjo Lewis, the last known person to have survived the transatlantic slave trade in the U.S.