As a young woman, I never entirely knew how to talk about feminism. I was scared to call myself a feminist. The word itself seemed so heavy, so large, saved for those with far more fire for the topic than myself. I know I believe in my right to choose a kind of life that suits me. I know I want equality. But I also know that the label itself felt limiting and exclusionary. Even in the redefining done with new-age feminism, I still felt a little left out. What I kept on wondering, is what if I want to stay home, eat a valium, and vacuum the living room? Why did I feel like I was somehow letting down the sisterhood at large by saying this?
And what I’ve realized is that the problem I was having was a problem stuck in language. The word Feminist freaked me out. And it does a lot of other people. The thing keeping us apart was the very thing we were all agreeing on. And that’s just silly. But thankfully, I’m not the only one changing tunes. It seems like the veil is being lifted, the connotations tempered, and the word itself has become more encompassing. Is it possible that the rhetoric of feminism has finally caught up with message itself?
13 quotes that prove we might be right…
“Feminism isn’t about making women stronger. Women are already strong. It’s about changing the way the world perceives that strength.” – G.S Anderson, Poet
“I think that unfortunately people who are maybe threatened by feminism think that it’s about setting your bra on fire and being aggressive, and I think that’s really wrong and really dangerous.” – Jenny Slate, comedian
“Feminism is the ability to chose what you want to do.” – Nancy Reagan, Activist
“I decided there’s no way and there’s nothing wrong with calling yourself a feminist. So I’m a feminist and we all should be a feminist because feminism is another word for equality.” – Malala Yousafzai, Writer and Activist
“What feminism means to me is that you don’t let your gender define who you are–you can be what you want to be, you can be a man, a boy, a girl, a woman, whatever. So, yes, I’d absolutely call myself a feminist.” – Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Actor
“I feel like I’m one of the biggest feminists in the world because I tell women to not be scared of anything.” –Miley Cyrus, Musician
“I mean, I absolutely call myself a feminist. And by that, I mean a woman who believes that your opportunities should not be constrained by your gender, that women should be entitled to the same opportunities as men.” – Ayelet Waldman, Writer
“I used to not really understand what that word meant, and now that I do, it just means that I love myself as a female and I also love men.” – Katy Perry, Musician
“I think every woman in our culture is a feminist. They may refuse to articulate it, but if you were to take any woman back 40 years and say ‘is this the world you want to live in?’ they would say ‘no’.” – Helen Mirren, Actress
“Feminism is not a dirty word. It does not mean you hate men, it does not mean you hate girls who have nice legs and a tan, and it does not mean you are a ‘bitch’ or a ‘dyke’; it means you believe in equality.” – Kate Nash, Singer-Songwriter
“Change comes when all of society is on board with an issue. When I hear women attempt to exclude men from the feminist movement, I fear this causes the overall message more harm. The LGBT movement has never told me that as a straight male I am not welcome. I have been invited to march in parades and fight for their rights. In the fight for race equality, I have never felt unwelcome because of the color of my skin. In the fight for workers rights, I have not been turned away because I work in a salaried office position. I have been welcome in all because these fights need allies, all fights need allies and we should all be banning together.” – Dan Arel, Journalist
“Women saying ‘I’m not a feminist’ is my greatest pet peeve. Do you believe that women should be paid the same for doing the same jobs? Do you believe that women should be allowed to leave the house? Do you think that women and men both deserve equal rights? Great, then you’re a feminist.” – Lena Dunham, Writer and Actress
“Womanist is to feminist as purple is to lavender.” – Alice Walker, Pulitzer Prize Winning Writer