Fangirly Presents: The Most Inspirational Women of 2016

If you’re anything like me (or even if you’re not) you woke up this morning feeling pretty disheartened. It’s been a rough few months. And as I thought this morning about what Fangirly’s response should be, none of my ideas were really in keeping with the upbeat and positive tone that Ellen and I have hopefully cultivated here. So I eventually decided not to focus on events that I found disappointing, but rather to emphasis people in pop culture who represent the kind of world I want to live in. And because 2016 has been a incredible year for women in pop culture, I decided to inaugurate (get it?) a new annual feature: Fangirly’s Inspirational Women of the Year. Some of them are fictional, and some of them are flesh and blood BAMFs. You’ll notice that this list won’t be a patent pending Fangirly Top Ten. That’s because, unlike our dear President Elect, Fangirly doesn’t believe in ranking women on a scale of one to ten. So without further ado, Fangirly Presents the Bad-ass Broads of 2016.

Rey (Star Wars: The Force Awakens)

After the release of The Force Awakens, Fangirly wasted no time in gushing about the galaxy’s newest Jedi-Jane. She’s tough and smart, and we salute her. In the film’s 138 minute run-time, she managed to save the galaxy and make knee-length harem pants look cool. It’s genuinely difficult to say which of those feats is more impressive.

raw-1

Malala Yousafzai (He Named Me Malala)

Although Davis Guggenheim’s documentary about activist Malala Yousafzai came out in 2015, it didn’t reach most American audiences until 2016. Not that Fangirly feels that they need to justify adding Malala to any list that includes the catch-word “inspirational”. If you haven’t gotten around to seeing He Named Me Malala, you’re probably not alone. But with Islamophobia on the rise in this country, it might behoove you to do so. It’s the true story of a young Muslim girl who spoke out in favor of educating women, putting her in opposition of the Taliban. Here’s a video of 16 year old Malala’s address to the UN in 2013.

Wonder Woman (Wonder Woman)

After her turn as the most watchable part of Batman V. Superman, DC released trailers for the Wonder Woman movie, set for release in 2017. Wonder Woman has been a feminist icon for decades, and her stand-alone film is a stride long overdue. Please enjoy this perfectly bitchin’ piece of pop culture history.

Winona Ryder (Stranger Things)

After years away from the spotlight, Winona Ryder returned to the screen in Netflix’s Stranger Things. If you haven’t binged Stranger yet (and I promise, binging is the only way to go), you’ve not only missed one of 2016 best shows, but also one of it’s best performances. Winona, in the words of Veronica Sawyer, you’re beautiful. Only, in this case, we actually mean it.

giphy-3

Beyonce Knowles 

Because, duh.

giphy-1

Ellen (Of Fangirly.com)

This year alone, Ellen moved cities, jobs, and wrote a hit web-series, The Cate Moreland ChroniclesShe was an inspiration to me this year. Get it, girl.

13567226_10206455486766321_5741361605432495722_n

Peggy Carter (Agent Carter, Captain America: Civil War)

2016 marked the last time we will most likely see Hayley Atwell’s iteration of Peggy Carter on screen, and it’s a loss that we feel already. Peggy was the embodiment of smart, strong women in a male dominated field. She was a reminder that if women everywhere can learn recognize their own value, we’ll get that patriarchy slayed in no time.

giphy-2

Hillary Clinton (The 2016 Pre-Apocalypse, I Mean, Election)

Whether or not you agreed with her policies or trusted her judgement, this woman has done something amazing. She is the first ever woman to be nominated by a major political party in the United States. She’s worked her entire adult life to open that door, and thanks to her, one day a woman will walk through it. Thanks for reminding us that women are more than just a p#ss to grab. You may not be my president, but you are one Nasty Woman.

giphy-4

Whitney Weldon

Advertisements

Why I’m Ca-REY-zy about The Force Awakens (See What I Did There?)

*Spoilers dead ahead. Proceed at your own risk. 

Last Monday I made my usual two mile pilgrimage to the one and only movie theater in my current place of residence (go ahead and cry for me, Argentina). This time I was dropping my Benjamin’s on a third viewing of JJ Abrams’ The Force Awakens.  While standing in line for my ticket I ran into a neighbor who was headed in the same direction, with his six year old daughter in tow. He admitted that she was the only one of his four children he could drag along to see the newest Star Wars installment. One look could tell you that this forbearing youngster was only there out of filial obligation; she looked about as unenthused as it is possible for a six year old to look.

88086bfd-09c8-4d00-a09d-9a31055356d7-2060x1236But I knew something she didn’t. I knew she would walk into the theater a bored moppet, but would emerge a card-carrying superfan of the galaxy’s newest mamma jamma, Rey.

Rey is the hero I wish had existed when I was six. She’s jaded, and compassionate. She’s brave, and smart. She’s bad-ass, and approachable. She commands the respect of every other character lucky enough to share the screen with her.

Drawing comparisons between Rey and characters like Katniss and Tris rey-2and Lisbeth Salander and Black Widow is unavoidable. For as long as I can remember, we’ve been conditioned to think that a female protagonist couldn’t be compelling if she wasn’t sexy, damaged, or vulnerable, preferably all three.  Enter Rey, a woman whose sexuality is irrelevant. Her past, though tragic, doesn’t define her. She puts the needs of others before her own interests and is unambiguously good. In short, she’s everything that a little girl (or, what the heck, boy) should want to pattern themselves after.
But the really revolutionary thing (and the thing that struck me the most) wasn’t Rey herself, but how others responded to her. Within the first five of meeting Finn, the storm trooper turned rebel fighter, she chases him though a crowded market, brains him with a stick, accuses him of theft, and rescues him from the decidedly Third Reich-y organization The First Order. And to Finn’s infinite credit, he gladly follows her lead. He Star-Wars4doesn’t resent being occasionally shown up by a girl because he admires her strength and smarts, too. A bad-ass in his own right, Finn is confident enough to recognize Rey’s value without letting it threaten his own.

The best part is that Finn’s reaction to Rey isn’t the exception, it’s the rule. Han Solo offers her a place on the Millennium Falcon. Kylo Ren openly admits that her power not only matches, but probably exceeds his own.

As I left the theater that day, I caught up with my neighbor and we chatted for a while, about the movie and how cute BB8 was and how we couldn’t wait for the next one. I asked his little girl what she thought, and her big blue eyes articulated everything her vocabulary couldn’t. She was in love, and I was right there with her. I hope that little girl knows how lucky she is. I grew up in a time when the world wanted girls to believe that they could be anything. She gets to grow up in a time when the world is starting to believe it, too.

Whitney Weldon