For women all over the world, the struggle for equality is no strange thing. No matter our race, age, colour, we all have the same struggles and we are all fighting for the same thing. In this article, 15 amazing women from different walks of life share what feminism means to them. Brace yourself for a beautiful and emotional read.
Feminism, for me, is the universal assumed and accepted equality between sexes. When the phrases “like a girl, “trophy wife”, “bossy”, “don’t be a pussy”, and jokes about wives wearing the pants, accusations of temptation because of what one wears, all become extinct and women have equal pay, then we have made progress. Until then, we need feminists. Men and women need to be feminists and call out what’s not okay every day.
– Olga Gonzalez, 38, New York City
Being a feminist means just that— equality. We as women historically have had to fight for our right to vote, to be hired into leadership roles, to be allowed to come back to work after having a family…for equal pay and equal say with our husbands, bosses and even employees. At the end of the day, we still hope to look in the mirror and know we are equal— that is what being a feminist is to me.
– Anisa Telwar Kaicker, CEO & Founder of ANISA Beauty
For me, feminism is about the choice to define myself separate from the male gaze. It means owning my identity in all its aspects; secularly, emotionally, sexually, intellectually, spiritually and physically. Feminism is about acceptance of myself now relative only to who I was yesterday, as opposed to the expectations of a patriarchal society.
– Jessica Haggett, Founder of The Litas
To me, feminism means advocating for a world where my daughter not only knows that her opinion and voice is valuable to others, but also that her voice and opinion are the most important ones in her own life. That she creates her own life, her alone. And that she will never need the approval of others, especially not men.
Feminism means that I advocate for a world where someday I can send her to school without the fear that her male teacher will say or do something inappropriate. That I send her into a world where her boss will not pay her less just because of her anatomy. That someday, if she starts a business, the opportunities for her will be limitless. And that one day she can send her daughters out to stargaze at night without the overwhelming fear that they will be attacked.
Feminism is our duty to all humankind so that we can leave behind a better future for our children.
– Natalie Beausoleil, 29, Phoenix, Arizona, Illustrator behind Natalie Rae Creative
Feminism is having women and all other genders, equal to men. It means so many things, it means equal pay, it means equal opportunities, it means not being afraid to walk alone at night, it means being able to speak my mind and be respected as a man would be. We are still so far from being equal to men (more specifically, straight white men) and it baffles me how in 2021 there are still so many disparities between genders. As a woman, I shouldn’t have to be polite to a man approaching me in the street and harassing me because I’m scared to get kidnapped or murdered, I shouldn’t have to apologise for being successful, I shouldn’t have to be quiet and thin and calm and make myself small because I’m a woman. Moreover, we need feminism because, in some countries, young girls can’t go to school, young girls are child brides and young girls are getting their genitals mutilated and all of it makes me sick. To me, feminism is the end of gender bias and disparities between genders. And we need it more than ever.
– Véronique, 21, Canada
Feminism means celebrating the spectrum that is “woman”. Feminism means building and creating access to tools to ensure women are equally represented and paid. Feminism means collaboration for the greater good of womanhood. Feminism means opening doors so other women can rise. Feminism means not being afraid to use my voice to speak against inequality. Feminism means sharing and patronizing art, music, and work by women that seek to break unhealthy stereotypes of women. Feminism is working to be my best self while cheering on the growth of other women.
– Adriana Herrera, 38, Founder, Pay Destiny San Diego, CA
Feminism is about liberation. It’s a social and political movement for equality and justice. But it also has to be a movement for mental and emotional liberation too. Anyone socialized as a woman has internalized beliefs about themselves and about the world that are holding them back. Undoing that damage is what will enable us to imagine a better and more just world and bring it into being. As En Vogue famously said, “free your mind…and the rest will follow.”
– Kara Loewentheil, J.D., is a Master Certified Coach, host of the top-rated podcast UnF*ck Your Brain, and creator of The Clutch: A feminist mindset revolution
Feminists understand that the quest for equality and fairness for all cannot be focused solely on the individual. Feminism is not selfish. Real feminism is intersectional. Feminists understand that if you are a white woman in the suburbs who cares only about breaking the glass ceiling but doesn’t fight against injustices faced by her Black and brown sisters, then you are not a feminist.
We understand that if you are a straight cis woman but believe trans women should be excluded from bathrooms, then you are not a feminist. We understand that if you live in an urban centre and yet look down on people in rural poverty, then you are absolutely not a feminist.
Feminists claim space. We live the life of our choosing unapologetically and bravely. But we also understand that you can’t have a revolution with a one-woman army. Claiming space just for ourselves is not enough. My feminist sisters understand that when we rise together we rise so much higher, and work to create a better world for us all. And finally, feminists are unapologetic with their opinions, comfortable in their sexuality, and have a damn good sense of humour. If I can’t laugh, I don’t want to be a part of your revolution.
Feminism is about equality for all regardless of gender, race, status, orientation or anything else. While I believe my focus as an individual feminist is geared toward gender equality, especially for women of colour, it’s important to not forget that it’s more than male and female. Instead, feminism is about intersectional equality and should never be shortsighted.
In other words, it’s a heck of a lot more than just “women’s issues” and instead it’s about all-encompassing and intersectional equality.
– Camila Reed, Founder of Live Life Big
It means freedom. It means to be able to do what I want when I want and how I want without worrying about society looking at me through the filter of being a woman.
It means my actions, emotions and believes are the way they are because of so many reasons way bigger or not even related to being a woman or not.
It means not to be called emotional or irrational because I am a woman, I want to be called emotional or irrational or even crazy just because I exist and I am human.
– Cristina Casillas, 30 years old, Mexico, Founder of Cristina Casillas Art
Feminism, for me, is being able to confidently fight for your rights despite being in a world dominated by men. Men will be intimidated by your presence and not the other way around.
You don’t find working with men a challenge because you know for yourself that you can also do the things they can do or even better.
We always heard about women who are fighting for their rights being a woman and a human, and they are called feminists. As a woman myself, I define feminism as the advocacy of the people who are fighting for equal rights. This is the advocacy of the people who empower women in fighting for their rights as a human and aims to break the barriers of men and women. Feminism is caused by the ideology that women have no power in the world and only men have the right to do everything including enslaving women.
– April Maccario, Founder of AskApril
As a relationship expert, my definition of Feminism is fighting for the equal rights of both sexes. But this focuses mostly on women about their political, social and economic status. Through the years, there has been a lot of discrimination against women and there have been a lot of social and political activists since then. Fighting for one’s rights and freedom will never be wrong as long as you know and believe in your heart that you are fighting for what is just and right.
– Michelle Devani, the founder of Love Devani
Growing up in a culture in which women are not often treated equally as men, has developed my thought about woman power. In other words, feminism.
From what I have seen in my culture and even family, how women should do all housework, women shouldn’t or can’t do certain things, to be honest, all these stereotypes really upset me.
When I was in middle school, I wanted to join the football team, but I got rejected because it was supposed to be a “boys’ sport” and I wasn’t allowed to play with the boys because I was just a “weak girl”.
At the time I didn’t understand the concept of feminism as a kid, but over the years, as I experienced more, I thought, why do men and women have to be different?
I believe that men and women should be treated equally. We should have the same rights and opportunities in life and business.
Being a feminist doesn’t mean that I’m a hater or anything. I just think that women deserve the same respect and acceptance in society.
– June Escalada, 28 years old Asian woman, Founder of Illustrator How
Feminism to me means treating yourself every morning to the rituals of nourishing your skin all over after that morning shower with lotion, spraying your favourite perfume on your pulse points, and putting hemp oil on your face morning and night. Applying makeup whether you are going somewhere for the day or just staying home to look and feel your best. Your morning shower should include shampooing your hair and conditioning it most days as blow-drying can damage hair. I am a licensed cosmetologist, though I don’t practice except on myself and friends. So, blow dry your hair with a little mouse into your favourite do. Get dressed in nice clothes. Do not save the nice clothes for later as life is too short not to enjoy what makes you feel pretty! So, feel and smell pretty for yourself and your inner beauty will radiate as well!
– Ruth Hartman, 72 years old, Northern California, Owner and Chef, Coffee Creek Ranch
To me, feminism means equitable access regardless of biology. It also means being cognizant of one’s privilege and how one can be of service to others. Finally, equitable access means that sometimes there are inequalities due to factors that transcend gender.
– Terri Pantuso, PhD, 53 years old Independent/Academic Writer from Texas.