Gender and the Law Prof Blog

Editor: Tracy A. Thomas
University of Akron School of Law

Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017: The Year of the Woman--or was it?

There are many new year's lists commemorating 2017 as the "year of the woman."  Most cite the Women's March and the #MeToo movement as key points of evidence, and that "feminism" was the dictionary word of the year (is that a good thing that so many had to look up its meaning??).

However, we have had such years before -- literally -- as 40 years ago when 1977 was dubbed "The Year of the Woman" and celebrated with a government-sponsored national conference in Houston that hoped to rewrite legal and social norms for women's equality conceived in the broadest of terms.  This National Women's Conference is analyzed in detail in Marjorie Spruill's recent book, Divided We Stand. See also prior posts The 40th Anniversary of the National Women's Conference and The 1977 National Women's Rights Conference as the Start of the Political Divide

Thus, while we have seen some visual protests here in 2017, at the end of the year we have little change.  In fact, we have new more regressive laws for women's equality, as Susan Faludi points out.

For "Year of the Woman," see:

2017: The Unexpected (and Inspiring) Year of the Woman

Constance Grady, 2017 Was the Year of Women's Anger, Onscreen and Off

The Year of Women, in Policy and Politics

The Year Women Reclaimed the Web


But see contra:

A Close Look at the Many Times We've Anointed "The Year of the Woman" (8 times before)

Susan Faludi, The Patriarchs are Falling: The Patriarchy is Stronger than Ever

American women’s activism has historically taken two forms. One is an expression of direct anger at the ways individual men use and abuse us. It’s righteous outrage against the unambiguous enemy with a visible face, the male predator who feeds on our vulnerability and relishes our humiliation. Mr. Weinstein’s face is the devil’s face du jour, and the #MeToo campaign fits squarely in this camp. The other form is less spectacular but as essential: It’s fighting the ways the world is structurally engineered against women. Tied to that fight is the difficult and ambiguous labor of building an equitable system within which women have the wherewithal and power to lead full lives.

The challenge today is the one faced by [Susan] Anthony and [Frances] Willard: how to bring the outrage over male malfeasance to bear on the more far-reaching campaign for women’s equality. Too often, the world’s attention seems to have room for only the first.

Melissa Harris-Perry, The #MeToo Backlash is Already Here: This is How we Stop It

Barbara Lee, We Don't Need Another "Year of the Woman." We Need Progress for Women Every Year.

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