Unmaskings, burkinis and vegan cheese: the alternative women of the year awards

Pamela Anderson, Elena Ferrante, Huma Abedin and, ahem, Bono all make our list of women worthy of a mention

When you dont have anything kind to say about a year, you probably shouldnt say anything at all. Far better instead to have an awards ceremony recognising the most memorable moments in a weird year for women.

Most monetisable laugh: Candace Payne AKA Chewbacca Mask Lady

On 19 May, Payne got into her car, took out a Chewbacca mask and proceeded to howl with verging-on-maniacal laughter for several minutes. There was a time when this might have got her sectioned; in 2016 it turned her into an internet celebrity. The Texan mums Chewbacca-chuckling was viewed over 160m times and Payne received about $420,000 (340,000) worth of free gifts in the weeks after the video went viral.

Most entertaining confusion between Fabric and Brexit: Louise Mensch

Actually, make that the only instance of confusion between the potential closure of a legendary London nightclub and Britains decision to leave the EU. In September, Louise Mensch fired off some incensed tweets that muddled up the two, much to the amusement of, well, everyone. Dont ask how or why: nobody knows what goes on in Menschs head before she tweets. Instead, take a moment to give thanks that Mensch is no longer an MP with anything to do with Brexiting.

Harriet
Harriet Tubman justice at last. Photograph: HANDOUT/AFP/Getty Images


Best makeover (of a $20 bill): Harriet Tubman

In April, it was announced that abolitionist Tubman would replace slave-owning Andrew Jackson on the front of the US $20 bill. This makes Tubman the first woman in more than a century and the first African American ever to be on the front of a paper note. As Beyonc said, always stay gracious, ladies best revenge is your paper.

Ieshia
Ieshia L Evans creates an iconic moment. Photograph: Jonathan Bachman / Reuters/Reuters


Best dressed police-brutality protester: Ieshia L Evans

You have seen the photo, quickly heralded as an iconic image of non-violent resistance: 28-year-old Evans standing calmly in front of armoured officers at a protest against police brutality in Baton Rouge. The image was a striking juxtaposition of her flowing sundress and grace with their riot gear and guns. With the world getting increasingly bleak, its easy to feel hopeless. Evans is a reminder that a single person armed with nothing but courage can have a significant impact.

Model immigrant: Melania Trump

Immigration would not be the issue it is if they could all be like Melania.

Most inspirational example of our duty to defend the honour of proper cheese: The Vegan Cheese Vigilante

Any Facebook rant that starts off with CHEESE, followed by 13 cheese emojis, is going to be gouda but you dont always expect it to change the world. In October, thats what happened when one unidentified womans demands that vegan cheese be renamed Gary or something … BECAUSE ITS NOT CHEESE!!!!! went viral. The vegan community considered the suggestion caerphilly and decided it was great. Vegan cheese is now called Gary.

Most controversial lunch date: Pamela Anderson

In October, Anderson brought some vegan Pret a Manger sandwiches to Wikileaks Julian Assange at the Eduadorian embassy and the pair lunched together. Shortly afterwards, fevered rumours began to spread that Assange was dead, murdered by the former Baywatch star with a Gary sandwich. Assange, alive and well, did little to quell these rumours.

Most unwanted unmasking: Elena Ferrante

In Italy, since 1992, someone has been selling bestsellers under a fake name: Elena Ferrante. It was basically the Panama Papers of the literary world yet many people appear to have enjoyed Ferrantes books, despite the deceit. Not investigative journalist Claudio Gatti, however. Outraged by all of this, Gatti unmasked Ferrante in October. Many people were disgusted by this invasion of privacy, but Gatti remains undeterred. His next scoop will be an expos of everyone who raves about Ferrante, but hasnt actually got around to reading her work yet.

Most stoic woman: Huma Abedin

Abedin has had an annus extremelyis horribilis. The long-time Hillary Clinton aide has had to deal with her (now estranged) husband, Anthony Weiner, getting embroiled in his third sexting scandal and the release of a high-profile documentary, Weiner, about their marriage. She has also been blamed for costing Clinton the election. Despite this, she kept calm and carried on.

Best unwitting protagonist of a Dada-esque kidnapping drama: Marina Joyce

In July, Joyce, a popular 19-year-old beauty vlogger, posted a weird YouTube video of her acting oddly as she modelled a dress. Some of her fans decided the video was actually a cryptic cry for help: Joyce had been kidnapped by Isis. The hashtag #SaveMarinaJoyce became the No 1 trending topic worldwide and the police were dispatched to Joyces house, where it was ascertained that, actually, it was just a weird video.

Biggest burkini brouhaha: Siam

Who knew a swimsuit could divide a state? Probably not Siam (as she identified herself) when she went to a beach in Nice wearing a burkini in August. The 34-year-old soon found herself surrounded by armed police, who forced her to remove her excessive clothing and fined her for failing to wear an outfit respecting good morals and secularism. A country-wide row about the legality of burkini bans ensued. Because libert, galit, stupidit.

The
The Queen. Photograph: Neil Mockford/GC Images


Most extravagant birthday party for a pensioner: The Queen

Taxpayers already give the Queen a 400,000-a-year alcohol allowance. Youd think that would be enough to cover a decent 90th birthday bash (street-party tickets cost 150 each) but Britain decided to go all out this year for Her Majesty. Austerity be damned.

Worst mock-knighting: Princess Beatrice

November evening. A small soiree. James Blunt jokes to Princess Beatrice that he wouldnt mind being Sir James. The Princess, spying a ceremonial sword, decides to knight him on the spot. Being new to the knighting thing, she misses and the un-blunt sword slashes Ed Sheeran in the face. This is not absurd fanfic, it is just another night at the Royal Lodge in Windsor.

Most tireless champion of WhoHaha in Hollywood: Elizabeth Banks

Banks directed and produced Pitch Perfect 2. You should forgive her for this, however, because, as well as being a longtime campaigner for Planned Parenthood, Banks has been working to increase the representation of women in Hollywood onscreen and off. In April, she launched WhoHaha, a new website dedicated to [shining] a spotlight on funny women. Apparently, there are a few around.

Worst honorary ambassador: Wonder Woman

Even Wonder Woman, it seems, cant have it all. Despite being blessed with a body of impossible proportions and a superhero skillset, the comic book character was deemed unsuitable for her role as the UN honorary ambassador for the empowerment of women and girls. She lasted two months in the position.

Best leather trousers: Amanda Wakeley

Only 995 if youre looking to channel Theresa May in desert-khaki this Christmas.

Best comeback: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

In November, the editor of the American Spectator, R Emmett Tyrrell Jr, helpfully racistsplained racism to author Chimamanda Adichie on Newsnight. White people hating people who arent white is more complicated than racism, silly! And Donald Trump is, like, so not a racist. Adichie retorted: Im sorry, but, as a white man, you dont get to define what racism is. You really dont. You really dont.

Most glamorous woman of the year: Bono

Due to an unexpected shortage in the world supply of women, Glamour recently made Bono one of its 2016 women of the year. He accepted with grace and aplomb. A role model for little girls everywhere.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/dec/19/alternative-women-of-the-year-awards