The Best Women’s Empowerment and Feminist Media of 2021
Updated: Aug 22, 2022
As we approach the end of the year, it is the perfect time to reflect on and celebrate the best women’s empowerment and feminist media of 2021. From literature, to film, to music, women from diverse backgrounds brought us many inspirational, educational, and entertaining media projects to appreciate this year. Here are some of so she CAN’s top picks for the best women’s empowerment and feminist media of 2021:
Good 4 U by Olivia Rodrigo
Asian-American pop princess, Olivia Rodrigo, took the world by storm this year with her debut studio album, Sour. The 6th track, “Good 4 U,” quickly became one of her biggest hits. In the song, the 18-year-old models a healthy form of post-breakup self-care by embracing her emotions and openly expressing her rage and sadness about her heartbreak. Through the pop-punk anthem, Olivia normalizes young women expressing their emotions in a healthy and empowering way.
All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault) by Taylor Swift
Fellow pop princess, Taylor Swift, stunned fans and broke records this year when she released a 10-minute version of her song “All Too Well” from her 2012 album, Red. In the new version, she goes into deeper detail about the relationship she had at 20 years old with a man nearly 10 years older than her. The song struck a chord with countless women who have also endured power imbalances, gaslighting and maltreatment in romantic relationships. The ballad is incredibly noteworthy because Swift validates the pain that many girls have experienced in a society that often shames them for speaking out about abusive and predatory men.
Shine Your Icy Crown by Amanda Lovelace
Bestselling American poet, Amanda Lovelace’s feminist poetry series encourages girls to practice self-love, compassion, and empowerment. In “Shine Your Icy Crown,” her poems communicate the powerful and valuable messages that girls do not need a partner to be the best, fulfilled versions of themselves and that they are capable of enjoying singlehood. Lovelace’s book also inspires young women to pursue their passions and be confident and fearless.
The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation by Anna Malaika Tubbs
In her debut novel, Anna Malaika Tubbs shines a light on the untold stories of the mothers of Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin. Due to the erasure and marginalization of Black women throughout history, Tubbs was inspired to write about the incredible Black women who raised some of the most famous civil rights activists and changemakers. Ultimately, Tubbs credits and honors the three mothers for changing the course of the nation through their influences in their son’s lives.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has historically excluded female leads and produced disappointing portrayals of female characters, either casting them as love interests or side characters. However, this year, “WandaVision” pleasantly surprised millions of viewers. In the series, the female heroine, Wanda Maximoff, navigates love, relationships, and emotional pain. In addition, she is surrounded by other central female characters with backstories of their own. The show is a monumental step in the right direction for female representation in the MCU.
The Sex Lives of College Girls
Indian-American Actress, Writer, Producer, and Director, Mindy Kaling, co-created “The Sex Lives of College Girls,” which showcases female college students discovering their sexuality. The series follows four roommates with different sexual orientations, racial/ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds as they navigate the rollercoaster of emotions and experiences that come with newfound sexual encounters. “The Sex Lives of College Girls” offers young women a realistic, relatable, destigmatized, and heartfelt depiction of healthy sexual exploration.
Raya and the Last Dragon
In this film, Disney’s first Southeast Asian Princess, Raya, is a young warrior on a mission to save her kingdom by finding the last living dragon to help her defeat the sinister monsters threatening the land. In contrast to other princess movies, Disney avoids inserting stereotypical themes about love, marriage, or beauty in “Raya and the Last Dragon.” Instead, Raya is shown as an independent and powerful hero and girl of color, which is exactly the kind of representation that young girls need.
Promising Young Woman (TW: sexual assault and violence)
Although this woman-directed and produced film was technically released on December 25, 2020, it did not become readily available on streaming platforms until January 2021. “Promising Young Woman'' is about a woman on a quest to expose and seek revenge against predatory men, rapists, and bystanders. Many feminists have praised the movie for raising awareness about the prevalence of sex crimes against women and the trauma that sexual assault survivors experience.
Our Body Politic
This podcast may have premiered in late 2020, but it arguably gained more attention and fans in 2021. “Our Body Politic” was created by the award-winning journalist, Farai Chideya. The podcast focuses on reporting how women of color experience major social, political, environmental, and health issues and how they are affected by them. Chideya’s platform creates a space that effectively centers women of color and educates the audience on how these women experience the world differently than others.
Anything for Selena
The podcast, “Anything for Selena,” tells the story of Mexican-American Singer and Queen of Tejano Music, Selena Quintanilla. The host, Maria Garcia, also dives deep into the Latinx immigrant experience and shows how Selena continues to be a voice and inspiration for Latina girls and women in the United States.
Written by Valeria Leija