Judging from what we’re hearing, we gather that not too many people will be sorry to bid adieu to 2011. Even so, we can’t let it go without at least a quick look back. We asked several members of the WVFC community what they recall of 2011—the most memorable event, trend, or high point that marked this all-too-eventful year. Here are their responses.

Janet Golden  For me, the event of 2011 that will go down in history is women’s participation in the Arab Spring pro-democracy uprisings in the Middle East. Diane Vacca 

OFUNATO, Japan (March 15, 2011) An upended house is among debris in Ofunato, Japan, following a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Matthew M. Bradley.)

I can’t forget the catastrophic trifecta that struck Japan in March: earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown. The pictures of the wall of water bulldozing entire buildings, cars, trucks, relentlessly engulfing and destroying everything in its path, compelled me to keep watching in escalating horror. Thousands dead and more thousands missing, whole towns annihilated—houses, schools, shops, cars, boats— the survivors left with nothing, not even a local government to organize recovery and rebuilding. And then the nuclear nightmare. How much can a people withstand? A great deal, evidently. I marvel at the grit of the Japanese.

Japan already had suffered a nuclear cataclysm 66 years ago when America bombed two of its cities. We were mortal enemies then. But this time we were among the first to arrive with material aid and boots on the ground. The wonder is the distance we have traveled in three generations and the close ties and mutual interests that now bind the two nations.

The suddenness and alacrity of the disaster may well be an augur of future convulsions— the Earth’s reaction to humankind’s failure to safeguard and respect our habitat.

(Photo: Diane Vacca)

Patricia Spears Jones What stood out was the shift in conversation because of a) the awful debt ceiling debate and b) Occupy Wall Street, on top of the protests in Wisconsin. Women are being targeted by conservative, cut-government policies (especially women of color), because we are the teachers, social workers, consumer advocates. The almost unbridled misogyny of the crop of GOP candidates is amazing. Occupy Wall Street taking off from the Arab Spring protests have shown us that the conversation can be changed (we now talk about “inequality” and the 99%), and also what police power now looks like (militaristic and brutal) amid the fear of mayors across this nation of the expression of the First Amendment. Bloomberg and Patrick Kelly’s over-policing of Zucotti Park was useless and expensive.  And on a less sobering note, we asked one of our leading style mavens to reflect on the year in fashion: Eleanore Wells

White jeans in February? Sarah Jessica Parker loved 'em too. (Photo: FabSugar.com)

I think in 2011, we finally reached a “wear whatever the eff you want” space…and I love it.  For most of my life, there’ve been all kinds of “guidelines” to help grown women dress themselves. At some point, it became cool to claim we didn’t follow the dictates of fashion, but we still did anyway. God forbid we’d be caught wearing white shoes in December. But now, I think we’re really there. I pretty much wear whatever I want, and it seems most other women do, too.

This year, I loved seeing white jeans in February, two different patterns in the same outfit, real and faux fur (don’t hate me, animal rights activists, I’m just sayin’…), short hair, long hair, permed, straightened, and natural.  Finally, the fashion is to make your own fashion. Sales of stilettos and flats are up at the same time. And most of the parties and events I went to had a “loose” dress code. They actually trusted that people could outfit themselves appropriately and not embarrass anybody.









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