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Whitmer, Nessel and Benson named among top feminists of the year by Ms. magazine

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson,{ } left, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, and Attorney General Dana Nessel, seen in this composite of file photos, are among the women named as feminists of the{ } year for 2020 by Ms. magazine. (SBG/File)
Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, left, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, and Attorney General Dana Nessel, seen in this composite of file photos, are among the women named as feminists of the year for 2020 by Ms. magazine. (SBG/File)
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Michigan's top executive officers, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Attorney General Dana Nessel and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson — who've been given the nickname "Those women from Michigan" — earned recognition recently as being among the top feminists of 2020.

The honor was delivered by the editors of Ms. Magazine, in their annual look at women who advance issues women care about. Also among the honorees: the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg; CNN correspondent Kaitlan Collins; Jill Biden; Kamala Harris; Taylor Swift and Janet Yellen, the first woman to be named treasury secretary.

"Despite the political, economic and public health challenges this year—or perhaps because of them—feminists mobilized, fought for our rights, and made progress on many of the issues we care deeply about," the magazine editors said in an article on the Ms. website.

Nessel on Thursday, Dec. 31, 2020, posted a tweet remarking that he was honored to be included on the list.

The magazine editors said Whitmer, Nessel and Benson "found themselves at the center of an unwanted spotlight this year, after President Trump attacked 'those women from Michigan' after they had the audacity to ask the federal government for the medical supplies they needed to address the COVID-19 pandemic."

The editors also mentioned their fight for fair and secure elections and the courage to mail absentee ballots to every registered voter in Michigan.

"Despite Trump's condescension and belittling," the magazine editors said, "Whitmer Benson and Nessel made it clear ta they would not back down from standing up for their state."

All three were elected to the state's top offices in November 2018, in an unprecedented vote that not only put women in Michigan's three highest offices, but also put a record number of Michigan women in elected offices across the state. That vote boosted the number of women in the Michigan House of Representatives from 33 to 41; nearly tripled the number in the Senate, from four to 11; and put two women on the state Supreme Court, including one incumbent.

“It feels like this important moment in history and so it’s exciting to be a part of that moment," Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Bridget McCormack said shortly after the election. "I think it’s exciting for not just my daughter, but for my three sons as well. A lot of kids grew up seeing mostly men in leadership positions and I think it’s pretty awesome for kids to see that it can be anybody.”

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Also on the Ms. list of feminists of the year are:

  • Kizzmekia Corbett, the lead scientist on coronavirus vaccine research at the National Institutes of Health;
  • Stacey Abrams, founder of Fair Fight, an organization that mobiles voters and advocates for election reform;
  • Nasrin Sotoudeh, a human rights lawyer in Iran who represented women punished for failing to wear hijabs and religious minorities, and whose 46-day hunger strike to raise awareness for COVID-19 outbreaks in prisons garnered world-wide attention;
  • Tammy Duckworth, a U.S. Senator from Illinois who spoke out against the nomination of Supreme Court Just Amy Coney Barrett;
  • Kristen Clark, president and executive director of the National Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights, who fought for absentee balloting;
  • Vanita Gupta, the CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, who pushed for census integrity;
  • LaTosha Brown, who co-founded Black Votes Matter;
  • Jennifer Carroll Foy, who lead the movement in Virginia for that state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment;
  • Nancy Pelosi, the U.S. Speaker of the House, for standing up for democracy;
  • The Congresswomen on the Impeachment Team, Reps. Val Demings, Sylvia Garcia and Zoe Lofgren;
  • Katie Porter, U.S. representation from California, who battled pharmaceutical company CEOs on drug price gauging;
  • Mazie Hirono, the first Asian American woman and firs woman senator from Hawaii, who fights for reproductive justice;
  • Delores Huerta, a labor leader and civil rights activist;
  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a U.S. representative from New York, who spoke on the House floor addressing the culture of misogyny;
  • Loretta Ross, an activist who helped to create the term reproductive justice and who is a co-founder of the SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective.

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