Women's Equality Day and Groundbreaking Women on TV


August 26 is Women's Equality Day, celebrating the day when women got the right to vote in the U.S. And we've come a long, way, baby -- in real life, and on TV. These characters broke ground, blew minds, and showed the world just how powerful women can be.


Lucy Ricardo, 'I Love Lucy'



Women aren't funny? Try telling that to Lucy Ricardo, and the audiences who loved her. Lucille Ball's sitcom regularly tops lists of the best TV shows of all time.

Mary Richards, 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show'



Mary was a happily single career girl who wasn't looking for a man to support her. And you know what? She did, indeed, make it after all.

Julia Baker, 'Julia'



Julia was one of the first African-American women on TV who wasn't a maid or a nanny. The widowed Julia raised her son and supported herself as a nurse.

Emma Peel, 'The Avengers'



Martial-arts master. Genius. Feminist. Emma Peel is the prototypical strong female character -- she rescued fellow agent John Steed countless times... and looked good doing it.

Maude Findlay, 'Maude'



The limousine liberal was often mocked in the show, but you can't dismiss what a ground-breaking figure she was. Maude tackled abortion, pill-popping, alcoholism, nervous breakdowns... and the moral contortions a rich liberal has to go through when dealing with the help.

Ann Romano, 'One Day at a Time'



She goes to Indianapolis to find herself. She also finds work as an ad rep, and finds all sorts of issues with her two teenage daughters and her amorous building super.

Christine Cagney and Mary Beth Lacey, 'Cagney & Lacey'



Hey, look! Two women working together, not competing! Cagney and Lacey fought crime and sexism -- and they boosted the number of women applying for police jobs across the country.

Murphy Brown, 'Murphy Brown'



Murphy Brown's decision to have a child without the dad being involved sparked enough outrage that Vice President Dan Quayle called her out in a political speech. The show made hay from that for years.

Blanche Devereaux, Rose Nylund, Dorothy Zbornak and Sophia Petrillo, 'Golden Girls'



The Golden Girls proved that life didn't end after the kids moved out -- and, as Blanche would happily tell you, sexy funtimes need not end just because you've passed menopause.

Roseanne Conner, 'Roseanne'



In a world of cute, rich sitcom women, Roseanne stood out. She was working class, overweight, and an unapologetic feminist -- and if you didn't like that, it was fine with her. Audiences liked it -- Roseanne was at or near the top of the Nielsens for six seasons.

Ally McBeal, 'Ally McBeal'



"Ally McBeal" prompted overblown headlines like "Is Feminism Dead?" Well, no -- short skirts and romantic plot lines did not signal the death of the women's movement.

Dana Scully, 'The X-Files'



The network wanted a blonde bombshell to play against Fox Mulder -- and to set sparks flying between the partners. But series creator Chris Carter fought for -- and got -- Gillian Anderson as Dana Scully, a smart, driven skeptic who played against all the stereotypes. It's impossible to imagine anyone else bringing the character to life.

Ellen Morgan, 'Ellen'



When Ellen came out on her eponymous show in 1997, the nation clutched its pearl and critics succumbed to a fit of the vapors. Apparently they got over it -- she's now got an immensely popular talk show, has hosted the Emmys and the Oscars, and serves as a spokesperson for J.C. Penney (despite disapproval from anti-gay groups).

C.J. Cregg, 'The West Wing'



Whip-smart C.J. went from Press Secretary to Chief of Staff for the Bartlett administration, and woe to anyone who underestimated her.

Carrie Bradshaw, Samantha Jones, Charlotte York and Miranda Hobbes, 'Sex and the City'



Because yes, women -- even self-described good girls -- both have and enjoy sex.

Buffy Summers, 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer'



Let's let her epitaph tell the story: "She saved the world. A lot." What's more, she lived to tell about it (yes, even after she died. These things happen in the Buffyverse.)

Jane Tennison, 'Prime Suspect'



DCI Tennison had as much trouble with sexist colleagues as she did with actual criminals in the first series of the British show. But she solved her case -- and returned for six more series as the iconic detective.

Brenda Leigh Johnson, 'The Closer'



Brenda Leigh owes more than a little to DCI Tennison -- but she confronts outmoded attitudes with Southern sweetness that sheathes a core of pure steel. Never before has "Thank you, thank you so much" been so intimidating.

Liz Lemon, '30 Rock' and Leslie Knope, 'Parks and Recreation'



More than 50 years after Lucy proved the "women just aren't funny" crowd wrong, we're still hearing that ovaries and humor are incompatible. Liz and Leslie (and the actresses behind them, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler) would beg to differ.

Honorable Mentions From Me:

Lucy Liu - Breaking the white dude barrier with Elementary this fall
Sonia Manzano - One of the first Latina actresses on TV via Sesame Street
America Ferrera - Owning it as Ugly Betty
Oprah - Duh.
Rachel Maddow - Amazing, intelligent and the first openly gay primetime anchor 
Ann Curry - You don't have to take SHIT from NBC, gurl. You got your shit correct.
Moesha - Giving inspiration to likegunfire

and many more that ya'll can list in the comments.
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WHAT CAN YOU DO FOR WOMEN'S EQUALITY DAY

1. Make sure you're registered to vote! If you've moved, need to update your info or just aren't sure if you're already registered, visit the non-partisan website CanIVote.org, which is hosted by the National Association of Secretaries of State. You can also find your polling place, learn how to vote by mail and even get election results.

2. Make a donation to Planned Parenthood. Women's economic and social advancement goes hand in hand with affordable access to family planning, and Planned Parenthood Federation of America is the nation's leading sexual and reproductive health care provider and advocate. In fact, one in five American women has received care from a Planned Parenthood health center, yet federal funding to this organization has increasingly come under fire (though it's already prevented by federal law from using federal dollars for abortion services).

3. Pay a virtual visit to the online National Women's History Museum (nwhm.org), a site dedicated to illuminating the role of women in transforming society. For a donation of $35, you can honor the women who have helped shape YOUR life in a really unique way: Their name(s) will be listed in the Roll of Honor and Remembrance, and you can also include biographical information, photographs and remembrances in the online archive, The Chronicle of American Women.

4. Support a girls' sports organization. Forty years ago, in 1972, President Nixon signed Title IX, also known as the Equal Opportunity in Education Act, into law. Though the Act made no explicit mention of sports, it has become best known for its great expansion of athletic opportunities for women -- and this year's Summer Olympics were proof positive of the impact it has made! However, according to the Women's Sports Foundation, by the age of 14, girls are dropping out of sports at two times the rate of boys. Volunteer for your local girls' Little League program or Girls on the Run branch and make a big difference to the next generation of voting women.

5. Meet the honorees of SELF's fifth annual Women Doing Good awards. Get inspired by the great things these women are doing -- from searching for a cure for paralysis to advocating for HIV and AIDS prevention and education. [OP: or look up any other info on women's advocacy]


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xoxo to all the fabulous ONTD ladies!! I expect the best girl power gifs and MVs to be in the comments. <3