From Miley to 'Camp Gyno,' stories that got women fired up in 2013

Story highlights

  • Our list consists of stories that resonated strongly with readers on CNN.com and social media
  • Miley Cyrus, Sheryl Sandberg, Marissa Mayer among women who sparked passionate debate
  • Viral videos on beauty and a girl's first period also got our attention this year
  • Inspiring moments include teen's version of Katy Perry's "Roar" video and BatKid

It's hard to believe another year is coming to end. Where on earth did 2013 go?

While we try to answer that question, we're thinking about the year that was -- and all the stories that inspired us, those that made us crazy and those we couldn't stop talking to our friends about -- on and offline.

We put our list together based on those stories that resonated the most on CNN.com and in social media -- the 20 stories that seemed to spark the biggest conversations among women this year. (Click on our gallery above to see them all!)

No surprise that Miley Cyrus tops our list. If the former Disney star's goal was to be one of the most talked about women of 2013, she arguably succeeded. Her twerking at the MTV Video Music Awards (full disclosure -- I didn't know what twerking was until the VMAs!) followed by her nearly nude performance in a video for her single "Wrecking Ball" got tongues wagging all over the country. Will Miley continue to shock in 2014? We'll be watching!

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Other women who generated some heated debate this year include Sheryl Sandberg, the Facebook chief operating officer whose book "Lean In" became an immediate best-seller. But was Sandberg, a mom of two, accusing women of not being ambitious enough or not doing enough to put more cracks in the glass ceiling, many women asked this year?

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Many women criticized Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer for banning working from home, and for donning a designer dress and stiletto heels in a sexy pose for Vogue magazine. I sided with others who asked: Why can't a woman be smart and beautiful and sexy?

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The sexualization of girls was another big topic in 2013 illuminated not just by Cyrus but by media outlets counting the days until Kendall Jenner, one of the youngest members of the Kardashian clan, turned 18.

"There is a countdown clock waiting for a girl to turn 18 so they can (ogle) her more inappropriately then they already do," reader Jodi Ferich said on CNN's Facebook page. "I think it's a valid question about the appropriateness of waiting for a young lady to age so you can objectify her as a sex object."

There were many inspiring moments this year for women, too, such as that Dove ad campaign, which went viral, showcasing our inability as women to see just how beautiful we are.

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One of our favorite ads ever, about a fictional place called 'Camp Gyno,' took the Internet by storm. In the ad, a tween is the first girl to get her period at camp, what she calls her "red badge of courage," and proudly sets out to teach her pals about this milestone.

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We were inspired by celebrities too, such as Katy Perry whose "Roar" video motivated a 16-year-old Toronto girl named Olivia Wise with an inoperable brain tumor to do her own version.

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Two months after Wise recorded her "Roar" video, which brings me to tears every single time I watch it, she died. Perry took to Twitter, telling her 48 million followers (she bumped Justin Bieber from the top spot on Twitter this year) that Wise's strength and spirit inspired her and so many others.

And how could we not mention Batkid, the 5-year-old leukemia patient from San Francisco? He won the hearts of people around the world when he joined Batman fighting crime in a made-up Gotham city as part of a wish granted by the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

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There were big debates among parents, too. The documentary "Blackfish," showcased on CNN, prompted families to discuss whether to take their kids to SeaWorld. The question of whether schools go too far in enforcing zero tolerance policies also came up after a 17-year-old who hugged a teacher and a 6-year-old who kissed a fellow first grader were suspended for sexual harassment.

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Some relatively unknown women were thrust into the national spotlight this year. Wendy Davis, a Texas state senator, became a hero to women abortion rights supporters when she staged a dramatic 11-hour filibuster. Huma Abedin, the wife of the former New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner, also got women talking for her decision to stick with her husband after his second bout with sexting and reports that she blamed herself for his indiscretions.

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And there were definitely some lighter moments that we women loved to dish about, from Michelle Obama's bangs (yes, they really generated a ton of conversation!) to the arrival of Prince George with Kate Middleton showing the world that contrary to what you see in Hollywood, women do actually have a post-baby belly right after giving birth.

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I always love these opportunities to look back and showcase the issues and stories that really struck a chord with us. We just must might be talking about them again next year.

Until then, can we go back to that question from the top -- where did 2013 go?

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