Skip to main content

11 Bright Spots of Feminism From 2020

Pro-choice demonstrators hug celebrating after the right to an abortion is legalized on December 29, 2020 in Buenos Aires, Argentina

image: Ricardo Ceppi/Getty Images

2020 was, by and large, total garbage. But even with everything that went wrong, there were some really great moments buried in the mess. Here are some of our favorites.

Birds of Prey

Birds of Prey was the last movie a lot of people saw in theaters before the whole world shut down this year and honestly, that feels like a small gift.

“Man, I love it when a movie delivers on everything it signs up to do and does it with an effortlessness that belies the obvious sense of care and work that was put into it. With Birds of Prey, Director Cathy Yan and writer Christina Hodson have delivered unto us a film that I think is both really fun and energetic, but also brings to the big screen five really great female comic book characters who have not often been given their due.” Princess Weekes’ review

Nia DaCosta was hired to direct Captain Marvel 2

When DaCosta’s Candyman was pushed back to *gestures vaguely at the future*, it was a disappointing casualty of the pandemic. That blow was softened, though, by this news that broke this August, making DaCosta the first Black woman hired to direct a Marvel Cinematic Universe film.

Kamala Harris’ “I’m speaking”

Watching Harris school a fly-ridden Mike Pence in the Vice Presidential debate was great but her gritted-teeth, saccharinely polite “I’m speaking” was the catchphrase we needed.

Women’s sports led the way

For years, the WNBA and other women’s leagues have been leading the way for talking about racial justice in sports. This year, with massive Black Lives Matter protests worldwide, was no different. WNBA players have been groundbreaking in using their platform to draw attention to racial inequality and violence this year. One team took to actively campaigning on the court for Rev. Raphael Warnock in his Senate race against their horrible, racist co-owner Kelly Loeffler.

Elsewhere, an entire pro softball team quit after their general manager tried to use a photo of them for racist, pro-Trump propaganda. The National Women’s Soccer League, whose players have also put acts of protest front and center this season, had record-breaking domestic television audience numbers this year after signing a deal with CBS and Twitch.

More sports!

There were some major firsts for women in men’s sports leagues this year. The 49ers’ offensive assistant Katie Sowers became the first woman to coach in the Super Bowl. Stéphanie Frappart was the first woman to referee for a men’s Champions League soccer game. And former WNBA star Becky Hammond just became the first woman to serve as head coach in a regular-season NBA game.

So much great television

There was a lot of great women-led TV in 2020. The Baby-Sitters Club made us cry. PEN15 made us laugh (and cry). I May Destroy You did, in fact, destroy us. She-Ra stuck its landing with a perfect series finale. If we all had to be stuck indoors this year, at least we had some great feminist entertainment to keep us company.

Catra and Adora in Netflix's She-Ra finale.

image: Netflix

Classic female authors got their due

This year, in honor of the Women’s Prize for Fiction’s 25th anniversary, the Reclaim Her Name project rereleased a collection of classic books with their female authors’ real names displayed on the cover for the first time ever. For far too long, women have had to use pseudonyms in order to sell their work to publishers and to the public, and this project is working to give those women the credit they deserve.

Dolly Parton helped save us all

This year, Dolly Parton continued her streak of being a fantastic human being and donated a million dollars to COVID-19 vaccine research and development, meaning we have her partly to thank for the possibility that 2021 could be a whole lot better than this year was.

Argentina legalized abortion

In a historic move, Argentina became the largest Latin American country to legalize abortion. Pro-choice activists have been fighting for this for years and finally won in a 38-29 Senate vote this week. The move is predicted to be a catalyst for more countries in the largely conservative, predominantly Catholic region to follow suit.

Embed from Getty Images

The re-election of the Squad (and then some)

Not only was each member of the progressive congressional “Squad” (Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley) handily re-elected to office in 2020, but Missouri elected its first Black congresswoman with progressive activist Cori Bush, Sarah McBride became the highest-ranking transgender lawmaker in the country, and it was an all-around historic election for LGBTQ+ candidates.

U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) pauses while speaking as Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) listen during a news conference

image: Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images

Election of Kamala Harris

It was disappointing to see the most diverse group of Democratic presidential nominees get steadily winnowed down over the course of the last election season. But the election of Kamala Harris as our first female Vice President (and the first Black VP and the first VP of Asian descent) is not a consolation prize—it’s an incredible historic event in its own right.

Kamala Harris is the vice president-elect

image: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Here’s to even more history being made in 2021!

Want more stories like this? Become a subscriber and support the site!

The Mary Sue has a strict comment policy that forbids, but is not limited to, personal insults toward anyone, hate speech, and trolling.—

Have a tip we should know? [email protected]

Filed Under:

Follow The Mary Sue:

Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.