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2017 in Arts and Culture: A Woman's Place


29 December, 2017

One theme dominated the year in arts and culture: women.

Tens of millions of women around the world started the year with protest marches on January 21. The demonstrators called for equal rights and demanded action to end sexism and violence against women. Many of them, especially in the United States, also marched to protest Donald Trump, who had been sworn in as president one day earlier.

Women with pink hats and signs begin to gather early and are set to make their voices heard on the first full day of Donald Trump's presidency, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017 in Washington
Women with pink hats and signs begin to gather early and are set to make their voices heard on the first full day of Donald Trump's presidency, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017 in Washington

The demonstrations took place on every continent on Earth, in hundreds of cities and towns: Paris, France, Belgrade, Serbia; Kolkata, India; Bangkok, Thailand; Lima, Peru and Irbil, Iraq, to name just a few.

#Metoo

Later in the year, the #metoo movement exploded on social media. First started by activist Tarana Burke 10 years ago, and reignited by actor Alyssa Milano in October, #metoo was a call for women to post about their experiences with sexual harassment, abuse and assault on Twitter, Facebook and other sites.

The movement followed accusations of sexual wrongdoing against Hollywood movie producer Harvey Weinstein. He was dismissed from the company he founded as a result.

Accusations against other many other powerful men in entertainment, music, news media, politics and business followed. So did job dismissals and other punishment. The continuing actions are popularly referred to as "The Reckoning."

Earlier this month, Time magazine honored the women of the #metoo movement. It named the so-called "Silence Breakers" the Time Person of the Year.

Time praised the women for giving "voice to open secrets, for moving whisper networks onto social media, for pushing us all to stop accepting the unacceptable."

Women star in film and television

Women and women's stories moved to the front of film and television, too.

In June, the movie Wonder Woman was released. Parents were eager to take their little girls and boys to see a female action hero in a big-budget movie, one that was also directed by a woman.

In this May 25, 2017 file photo, director Patty Jenkins, left, and actress Gal Gadot arrive at the world premiere of
In this May 25, 2017 file photo, director Patty Jenkins, left, and actress Gal Gadot arrive at the world premiere of "Wonder Woman" at the Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles.

Director Patty Jenkins delivered: Wonder Woman made more than $400 million in ticket sales in the United States. In fact, it was the third-biggest money-maker among the year's movies.

Jenkins was one of many female directors of 2017. Women were in charge of more than 60 films, including Before I Fall, Lady Bird, and Battle of the Sexes.

There was also a flood of women on television.

In April, the streaming service Hulu offered The Handmaid's Tale. The television series is based on the novel by Canadian writer and feminist Margaret Atwood. The book describes a dystopian future in which women are forced into single, narrow roles, such as childbearers, wives or cooks. The female rage represented in the show seemed well timed amid the real-world cultural climate women were facing.

The HBO show Big Little Lies is a mystery focusing on the lives and interactions of five women in Monterey, California. She's Gotta Have It, on Netflix, centers on Nola Darling, a sexually free artist living in Brooklyn. Female characters are also leads in HBO's The Deuce, the CW's Supergirl and Amazon's The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

Word of the Year

Every December, the Merriam-Webster online dictionary names a word of the year, based on the highest number of searches. Merriam-Webster's 2017 Word of the Year is "feminism."

Online searches for "feminism" increased 70 percent from 2016 to 2017. There were large increases in searches following the Women's March, during the broadcast of The Handmaid's Tale and after the release of Wonder Woman. Searches also rose with reports of sex abuse in Hollywood and elsewhere.

Merriam-Webster defines feminism as the "theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes" and "organized activities on behalf of women's rights and interests."

I'm Ashley Thompson.

And I'm Caty Weaver.

Caty Weaver wrote this story for VOA Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.

Write to us in the Comments Section or on 51VOA.COM.

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Words in This Story

theme n. a particular subject or issue that is discussed often or repeatedly

dominate v. to be the most important part of (something); to have control of or power over

harassment n. the act of of annoying or bothering (someone) in a constant or repeated way

assault n. the crime of hurting someone physically

reignite - v. to give new life or energy to (someone or something)

reckoning - n. the time when your actions are judged as good or bad and you are rewarded or punished

whisper networks n. a space where unofficial discussion or report of wrongdoing can take place

dystopian adj. referring to an imaginary place where people are unhappy and usually afraid because they are not treated fairly

childbearer n. one who carries and gives birth to a baby

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