Stories that really got women talking in 2013

Updated 8:12 AM ET, Thu December 26, 2013
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From Miley Cyrus' twerking and Sheryl Sandberg 'leaning in' to the backlash against Miss America, there was no shortage of stories that got women talking in 2013. Click through to read about the stories that sparked some of the biggest conversations this year.

Topping the list was Miley Cyrus, the former Disney star whose performance at the MTV Video Music Awards followed by her 'Wrecking Ball' video outraged women who felt her sexualized image set women and girls back.
Rick Diamond/Getty Images for MTV
Another woman who set off heated debate in 2013 was Sheryl Sandberg, author of the book "Lean In." Some women accused the Facebook COO of faulting women for failing to have sky-high career aspirations, especially when they have kids. Sandberg ultimately tried to clarify her message, saying it's up to each woman to decide whether she wants to be a corporate executive or a stay-at-home mother. "'Lean In' is about believing in ourselves and reaching for any ambition," the mom of two said at BlogHer, the world's largest gathering of women bloggers. Peter Foley/Bloomberg via Getty Images
We didn't think Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer could get any more controversial after causing a stir with her two-week maternity leave, followed by her decision to ban employees working from home. Then, enter her decision to strike a pose in Vogue Magazine. Debate raged, with some supportive of Mayer's embracing her femininity and others lamenting what they saw as pressure on female leaders to soften their image. Mikael Jansson/Vogue
There were some stories we wished weren't true in 2013, and this was one of them: media outlets counting the days until Kendall Jenner, one of the youngest members of the Kardashian clan, turned 18 in November. "There is a countdown clock waiting for a girl to turn 18 so they can (ogle) her more inappropriately then they already do," Jodi Ferich said on CNN's Facebook page. maciel-rs-jose/x17online
When 24-year-old Nina Davuluri became the first Indian-American Miss America, many women cheered the barrier-breaking victory. But within minutes, joy turned to negativity after a flurry of racist comments surfaced on social media over her win. The University of Michigan graduate, who is making diversity her platform, told CNN, "For every negative comment or post or tweet that I received, I received hundreds and thousands of words of encouragement and support." Michael Loccisano/Getty Images
Wendy Davis became a household name and a hero to supporters of abortion rights when the Texas state senator staged a dramatic 11-hour filibuster in June. The target was a Republican bill aimed to seriously roll back abortion rights in the state. Davis is now running for governor in Texas, and Democrats view the single mom who made her way from a trailer park to Harvard Law School as one of the party's best chances at the governorship, which has been in GOP hands since George W. Bush topped Democrat Ann Richards in 1994. Erich Schlegel/Getty Images
Dove's ad campaign demonstrating how women are overly critical of themselves and often don't recognize just how beautiful they are struck a chord. It was the most viewed video ad campaign of the year. But it wasn't without its critics, who argued the ad featured too many white women and gave the impression beauty is defined as being thin and young. Courtesy Dove
The stirring documentary "Blackfish," directed by filmmaker Gabriela Cowperthwaite, set off a national debate about taking kids to SeaWorld. A number of celebrities have since canceled planned appearances at SeaWorld, and a Malibu, California, school just canceled a weeklong trip to the park. Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images for Sundance London
An empowering new ad about a girl's first period took the Internet by storm this year, earning nearly 5 million views on You Tube in one week alone, sparking conversations among moms of girls. "I wasn't setting out with this incredible feminist agenda," said Naama Bloom, the creator of the ad and founder of HelloFlo, a company offering period starter kits for young girls. "I just wanted to talk the way women talked and the way I talk." courtesy HelloFlo
He does have those same blue eyes! That's what plenty of women were thinking when 25-year-old Ronan Farrow, the son of actress Mia Farrow, told Vanity Fair magazine that his mom's ex-husband Frank Sinatra could "possibly" be his father. It has long been believed that Farrow's biological father is the filmmaker Woody Allen. Farrow would later tweet, "Listen, we're all *possibly* Frank Sinatra's son." Monica Schipper/FilmMagic/getty images
A few weeks after Rebecca Ann Sedwick jumped to her death in Florida, two teens were arrested and accused of cyberbullying her. The charges were later dropped but the case revealed how kids are using newer instant messaging apps like and Kik to terrorize other kids."The biggest part of these sites is parents don't know about them," said Sue Scheff, author of the book "Wit's End: Advice and Resources for Saving Your Out-of-control Teen."
Women had a hard time understanding how Huma Abedin, wife of the former New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner, was partially blaming herself for her husband's return to sexting, which ultimately collapsed his campaign. "What a sad thing to hear, that Huma blames herself, but it's not so unusual, is it?" Jessica Dukes, a mom of two, said at the time. "When relationships hit the rocks, doesn't everyone have those 'What did I do to deserve this?' thoughts." John Moore/Getty Images
One of the most highly anticipated moments of the year for many women was the first look at Prince George and his proud parents. Kate Middleton won over even more female fans when she appeared in an outfit that did not disguise her post-baby belly. And then the advice came roaring in for the royal duchess, along with praise for her modern day hubby who fastened the car seat all by himself before driving his family home from the hospital. Scott Heavey/Getty Images
A Time Magazine cover story, "The Childfree Life," along with a CNN iReport on a 27-year-old's decision not to have kids raised the issue of how more women are choosing not to become mothers. "I have been called selfish and materialistic," one iReporter said. "But I don't believe that I am selfish by any means for making this responsible choice. It would be far more selfish to have a child for the wrong reasons." from time
It was a year in which we saw even more discussion about open relationships in popular culture and in the media. Our story on polyamorous families got tremendous traction online, sparking conversations about what it means to have an open relationship. Some polyamorous families are now speaking out, trying to fight stereotypes that their lifestyle is just about a fling or kinky sex. They want to show that it is a real alternative to monogamy and that everyday families can embrace it, too. Mark Hill/CNN
We're still talking about that 5-year-old leukemia patient who won the hearts of people across the country when he got his wish in November. He became Batkid for a day, fighting crime alongside Batman in a made-up Gotham City thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. He even got a key to the city from the mayor, and we got a story that warms our hearts every time we think about it. Ramin Talaie/Getty Images
So often we talk about all the bad things pop stars do but this year, Katy Perry showed how much celebrities can inspire. Her "Roar" video became an Internet sensation, with teenagers around the world creating their own versions, including a 16-year-old Toronto girl with an inoperable brain tumor. Two months after Olivia Wise's video made the rounds, she lost her cancer battle. Katy Perry tweeted to her 48 million followers (she pushed Justin Bieber out of the #1 Twitter slot this year) that Wise's spirit and strength have inspired her and so many others.
Who could have predicted that Michelle Obama's bangs would become one of the most talked-about developments at the start of 2013. The first lady debuted her new look as she celebrated her 49th birthday in January and joked in a national interview that her bangs were part of a midlife crisis. In a February interview, she laughed off all the analysis surrounding her new 'do. "It's a haircut! I'm sorry. I don't know what to tell you," she said. Lawrence Jackson/White House Photo
Many women were asking themselves if schools were going too far in enforcing their zero-tolerance policies after a 17-year-old got a yearlong suspension for sexual harassment after giving a teacher a hug. "This is crazy. Now we can't hug people anymore," said one commenter. Other women said the allegation the student kissed the teacher's neck made it a more complicated case. The student's mother has since filed an appeal with the school board.
This was one of those stories that some women simply couldn't believe: A 6-year-old Colorado boy was suspended from school for sexual harassment for kissing a girl on the hand. "Poor child, he's (too) young to even know what sexual harassment is," Ortencia Solis wrote on Facebook. The sexual harassment note has since been removed from his record, and the boy is back at school.