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ICYMI: 2016 News Roundup – A Year of Social Justice in Review

Written by Stephanie Watson, Alissa Medina, Jenn McDermind and Ashleen Grange

ICYMI is Fembot’s weekly and annual news roundup, providing you with all the latest feminist and social justice news.

[TRIGGER WARNING: Entry 3 – Mass Death, Entry 12: Rape]

2016 was a year of poor political decisions, bad “anti-sjw” discourse, and death. It was a not a year we should forget, but one that we can safely say is behind us, even if the pain continues.

Though it’s not all bad, some animals aren’t as endangered as they used to be, certain diseases have cures now, and there are at least a couple of charities that are making great strides to help the oppressed.

So, if you’ve been avoiding the news for the sake of your mental stability – hoo boy we would not blame you – or if you just want a recap of everything that happened last year, then Fembot have you covered.

Here are some of our top picks for the most monumental moments of 2016:

1. Donald Trump becomes elected POTUS
Let’s get the bad news out of the way first. 2016 was the year that the marginalized and social justice activists all over the globe watched as the United States elected in noted Bigot Donald Trump as President. How he won was both a shock to the post-Obama country, and yet completely unsurprising.

2. Bexit Becomes a Reality
Similarly to Trump’s win, fear mongering and ignored voting booths caused the United Kingdom to split from the EU. The national decision also led to former Prime Minister David Cameron to resign, being replaced by current leader Theresa May who is now pushing a Hard Brexit for access to the single market.

3. Aleppo
Though the battle of Aleppo officially began in 2012, it made the history books in 2016 for how it “ended.” This year, the Syrian army cut off the one supply line that assured Syrian rebels and civilians inside the city food and medical supplies. After a lot of constant air strikes and shooting, a cease fire was set in order to evacuate civilians. Though the evacuation was deemed a success, nearly 17,000 people died in total this year alone. For information on how you can help the situation, there are countless charities and activist organisations you can donate to.

4. The Celebrities and Activists we Lost this Year
From social justice activists, to scientists, to talented musicians, the world lost a lot of well known names and faces this year, like Carrie Fisher, Vera Rubin, David Bowie, Debbie Reynolds, George Michael, Alan Rickman, Beth Howland, Prince, Harper Lee, Muhammad Ali. Unfortunately, the list goes on. We said goodbye to many greats in 2016, and although they are gone, they certainly won’t be forgotten.

5. Hollywood Whitewashing Continues…
Speaking of Hollywood stars, 2016 wasn’t the best year for hiring appropriate actors for recent blockbusters; such as The Great Wall, Ghost in the Shell, Gods of Egypt, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, Ab Fab, Dr Strange, Elizabeth, Michael & Marlon, and more. Half of these films aren’t even out yet but their 2016 announcements luckily brought tons of critique.

6. …But Diversity Grows
Despite the continuation of whitewashing in cinema, we were still given a great handful of diverse flicks this year. From the all-female remake of Ghostbusters, the female led Rogue One and Force Awakens, and the women of color led Hidden Figures, there was a nice sprinkling of intersectionality in Hollywood. Let’s just hope 2017 has even more.

7. Overwatch Diversifies
While we’re on the subject of diverse characters, it was also recently announced that Tracer, one of the main playable characters in Blizzard’s Overwatch, is a member of the LGBTQIAP+ community. Blizzard have also teased that Tracer may not be the only one!

8. Black Lives Matter: Progress & Tragedies
BLM in 2016 was, just like last year, a rollercoaster of successes and tragedies. More people were despicably murdered by law enforcement, more mothers had to bury their children, and more protests were erected then shut down. If you would like to help the cause, then check out the Say Their Name project; a narrative that aims to share the stories of the victims of police brutality and systematic racism. There are also countless charities and non-profits that aim to help black businesses, help children of color get the education they deserve, and fund artists of color find their calling.

9. The Dakota Access Pipeline: Protests of Standing Rock
Back in 2014, Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners decided to build a 1200 mile long pipeline that would transfer 570,000 barrels of crude oil per day, right undernethe the Missouri River which is the main source of water for the the Standing Rock Sioux tribe in Dakota. Fast forward to 2016 when construction was due to start, and tribe members took the construction site to protest the destruction.

10. Flint Continues to Suffer
It’s been a whopping three years since Flint’s water crisis first began, but 2016 was the year that the media started to speak out more than before, and it was also the year that the government declared the city was in a federal state of emergency. But why did it take so long for the government to truly step in and help? How could they fail the city so badly? Many people theorize that the disaster was not simply an act of incompetence on the government’s part, but actually a deliberate act of terrorism on their part, by botching important water tests to keep the black community of the city at bay. For information on how you can donate to residents of the city and spread awareness, www.flintwaterclassaction.com

11. People vs. Brock Turner
In what would become an infamous case, Brock Turner receives a minimal sentencing of six months in prison, after raping an unconscious and intoxicated woman behind a dumpster. Turner was released from jail in September, serving only three of the initial six months. The case sparked huge outrage, and heightened national discussions about campus rape, victim-blaming, and white male privilege. Unfortunately Turner was not the only rich white male to do this in 2016.

12. Music With Message
One area of 2016 that remained consistently amazing was music. We got so many great albums from female artists such as Beyonce’s Lemonade, Solange’s A Seat at the Table, Adele’s 25, Little Mix’s Glory Days, Sia’s This is Acting, and Rihanna’s Anti. Our friend HEZEN absolutely killed it with her latest single Oil Fire, too.

13. North Carolina’s transphobic ‘Bathroom Bill’
The disgusting House Bill 2 (HB2) stating that trans folk in North Carolina must use public bathrooms that match the sex stated on their birth certificate, was passed back in March, and has had a rocky ride ever since. Though around 70% of the state disagree with the bill, it is unfortunately unlikely to be repealed any time soon due to the stubborn transphobia from politicians such as Pat McCroy.

14. The Death of Fidel Castro
On November 25th of 2016, the longest ruling non-royal national leader since 1900, Fidel Castro, passed away at age 90. The dictator converted Cuba into a socialist state under Communist Party rule in the 1960s, and continued to rule until handing over to his brother in the late 2000s. Though Castro had his followers, countless Cubans took his death as a blessing; “Him dying represents the end of something awful that happened to us,” Isabel De Lara told The New York Times “It’s because of him that we lost our opportunity to have a life in our country.”

15. Another Male Contraceptive Study Abanoned
Earlier this year our social media accounts were inundated with sensationalized news headlines regarding a discontinued male contraceptive study. The highly effective trial, which provided men with a hormonal injection, ended abruptly due to the prevalence of adverse side effects seen in some participants. The side effects in question? Mood changes, depression, and increased libido. *Cue the collective eye roll. For many, these absurd headlines work to devalue the complicated history that women have had with hormonal contraceptives. Since the 1950’s, women who choose to have sex with men, have been chained to the pill, and similar birth prevention measures, as a means of  blocking any unwanted pregnancies. Since then, the responsibility and financial burden associated with hormonal contraception has traditionally fallen solely on women, demonstrating that, though men have an equal responsibility to prevent unwanted pregnancies, some don’t share equally in the consequences. The cessation of this trial means that many women will likely be tied to hormonal contraceptives for many years to come.

16. A Pizza Parlour is providing steady employment for people with disabilities
Let’s end on a fluffy note, something happy and progressive that you can take away with you as one of the nicer memories of 2016:

 

Have a thought about this piece? We encourage your civil communication with our writers. Tweet us at @fembotmag or reach out to us on our Facebook page. If you have any news stories you’d like us to write about, or include in our weekly news roundup, then be sure to email us at eic@fembotmag.com or tweet us.

[Feature Image Via Shutterstock]

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Written by Fembot Magazine

We are a site dedicated to writing about social justice issues that matter to young feminists.

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