The year in ladybusiness

Your guide to all the other top-10 lists


Kate Harding
December 30, 2009 10:31PM (UTC)

As the first decade of the new millennium draws to a close, I'm concerned that my lack of participation in the creation of countless year- and decade-end top-10 lists marks me as a failed blogger. Sure, I curated the nominations for female "person of the year" and critiqued the Associated Press's Top 10 Female Athletes list, but I still haven't done the hard work of Googling until I find 10 loosely related people or events I can slap up here with a brief introduction instead of writing a real post. That changes today!

Of course, since everyone's already beaten me to the punch, the only thing left is a list of lists. (Which other people have also beaten me to, but let's not get hung up on details.) Here are my picks for the Top 10 Ladybusiness-Related Top 10 (or thereabouts) Lists of 2009.

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10) Blisstree's Worst Breastfeeding Incidents of 2009. There are only eight of these — which I suppose is good news — but if you need a handy guide to public figures and corporations that have drawn the ire of lactivists this year, here's your refresher course on how Denny's, Dear Abby, Parents magazine, Acosta Tacos, Olive Garden, Chick-fil-A, Delta Airlines and Target all reinforced the idea that feeding your baby in public is a shameful practice.

9) The Sexist's Decade in Masculinity. Amanda Hess offers a year-by-year breakdown of the hottest trends in maleness, examining the influence of boy bands, metrosexuals, stoners, hipsters, bros and more.

8)Entertainment Weekly's 20 Knockout Dresses. At the risk of destroying my hard-earned reputation as an angry, strident ballcrusher: Look at the pretty! Also, it's nice to have Lady Gaga's bubble frock, Angelina's floor-length leather and J.Lo's pubic-hair-grazing neckline all in one place, along with The Decade's Top 5 Blondes in Yellow Dresses.

7) While I'm in the shallow end, the sad truth is, it's hard to make a list of lists about women without at least one "The Hottest Women In..." contribution. So let's go with the least infuriating: AfterEllen's Favorite Glasses-Wearing Women. It's silly and objectifying, sure, but I can't get too fussed about a hot-chicks list by and for women that rewards the appearance of braininess and ranks Rachel Maddow No. 1.

6)Anna Clark's Top 10 Reasons Why This Feminist Is a Sports Fan at Bitch. At this writing, No. 1 has yet to be revealed, but her first nine responses "to well-meaning friends who look at me incredulously and point out that the sports world is saturated with macho posturing; it frequently excuses the bad behavior of its heroes; it celebrates brute force; its history is poisoned by cheating and drug-use; and it is often actively and explicitly hostile to women" are pretty persuasive.

5) Jezebel's Photoshop of Horrors Hall of Shame. The Ralph Lauren debacle is still fresh in everyone's minds, but let us not forget the lightening (L'Oréal) and darkening (Russian Glamour) of Beyoncé, Keira Knightley's digital boob job on the "King Arthur" poster, Jessica Alba's Campari ad diet, Redbook and Newsweek playing mix-and-match with celebrity heads and bodies, and the twig-legged GQ cover that prompted Kate Winslet to say, "I do not look like that, and more importantly I don't desire to look like that."

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4) Religion Dispatches' Top 10 Religion & Science Stories of 2009. They weren't all about women, but the tension between science and religion in classrooms and the debate over stem cell research are intertwined with feminist issues, and 2009 also saw the discovery of two important female fossils. One, unfortunately, was an "evolutionary dead-end" quickly seized upon by creationists as evidence that the whole Darwin thing is crock, but 4.4 million-year-old Ardi, "Lucy's older sister," shed new light on how the human race has changed over time.

3) Fortune's 50 Most Powerful Women in Business. That's like five top-10 lists in one, and it's full of middle-aged and older women who have actually accomplished stuff! What's not to love — except comparing their salaries to those of the most powerful men in business?

2) The New York Times' 9th Annual Year in Ideas. One of the most persistent (and fair) criticisms of blogs like this one is that we ghettoize women's issues and fail to acknowledge that, to paraphrase Hillary Clinton, women's interests are human interests and human interests are women's interests. So here's a list of interesting stuff — bicycle highways, the drunken version of a classic psychological test, moon real estate, a green alternative to cremation, "undead Austen mash-ups" — presented without regard to lady content.

1) Finally, Mikki Halpin at AlterNet picks the 10 Most Defining Feminist Moments of 2009. "This year, I'm not keeping score of feminist victories and defeats," she writes. "Instead, I'm looking back on those times in 2009 when feminism felt strong and when feminists spoke out." From the murder of Dr. George Tiller to Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation as a Supreme Court justice to the increased attention that Chris Brown's abuse of Rihanna brought to the issue of domestic violence, it's been a year that demanded fierce feminist action but also offered some important victories. "They're not all positive — some, like the health care reform process, were mega-downers," Halpin says, "but they were the moments when I felt the most sisterhood."

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Kate Harding

Kate Harding is the author of Asking For It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture--and What We Can Do About It, available from Da Capo Press in August 2015. Previously, she collaborated with Anna Holmes, Amanda Hess, and a cast of thousands on The Book of Jezebel, and with Marianne Kirby on Lessons from the Fat-o-Sphere. You might also remember her as the founding editor of Shapely Prose (2007-2010). Kate's essays have appeared in the anthologies Madonna & Me, Yes Means Yes, Feed Me, and Airmail: Women of Letters. She holds an M.F.A. in fiction from Vermont College of Fine Arts and a B.A. in English from University of Toronto, and is currently at work on a Ph.D. in creative writing from Bath Spa University

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Best Of 2009 Broadsheet Feminism Gender

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