What Does Feminism Mean To You?

Feminism” is a loaded word for many, and it has changed over time. These days, a homemaker can still call herself a feminist, and so can those of us who get waxed. Since it’s National Women’s History Month and all, we thought we’d explore the label a bit by asking women across the country what feminism means to them, and how it plays a role in their lives today. Do you call yourself a feminist?

“Feminism means that I can choose how to make my way in the world. I can be both a work-at-home mom and a strong woman with ideas of her own. We don’t have to choose one or the other; we just have to decide what what’s empowering to us as individual women.”
 — Pam, Sturbridge, MA

“My idea of feminism accounts for the fact that women and men are intrinsically different. Women should not try to be just like men, and vice versa. I’m not saying women cannot take on any career or task that they choose; I simply believe that if we appreciated our differences instead of trying to make men more feminine and women more manly, we might all get a lot further.” — Julie, Dallas

“Plain and simple, feminism is the leading cause of death for chivalry. Women complain that chivalry is dead, but it’s feminists that have tried to destroy it. Why would a guy want to open a door for a woman after being cussed out by the last woman he did it for?” — Amy, Bryson City, NC

“Feminism has been both the worst and the best thing to happen to women. When it was necessary to have such a movement, it brought about great changes. But there have also been actions done by those claiming to be feminists that haven’t been so honorable. For instance, some feminists portray a hatred toward men, which can be a double standard, given what feminism should be about.” — Katrina, Anchorage

“Feminism is having the freedom to make my own choices, decisions and values — to conduct my life without judgments, especially by other women.” — Lisa, Houston

“Feminism as a word has ugly associations. I believe that all people, whether female or male, should be treated fairly and equally, without preference to gender or any other means of identification. I don’t believe in categorizing people for any reason.”
 — Jeanne, Denver

“Whenever I hear the word feminism, I think of all these angry women going around hating men. I know that’s not the original intent behind the idea, but that’s the picture I see in my head. In truth, I think that any label on a group of people can cause the very prejudices it may be trying to prevent.” — Jen, Highlands Ranch, CO

“Feminism — good idea gone bad.”
 — Elaine, Golden Valley, AZ

“My idea of feminism is casting away all stereotypes. I’m an intelligent human being first. I can be a classy woman in a stylish dress or a tomboy in jeans and my favorite T-shirt, all while accomplishing anything I put my mind to.”
 — Kimberly, Valparaiso, IN

“A real feminist woman does not have a grudge against the opposite sex, but knows how to take care of herself with or without someone by her side.” — Anna, Syracuse, NY

“Feminism can be good or bad, depending on who is using the label, and for what purpose. My feeling is that putting a label on anything to do with equality suggests some inequality.” — Kathlyn, Detroit

“Feminism means educating both men and women about the proper treatment and respect of each other. It means allowing women to be individuals and to follow their goals, no matter what they may be. Why do some people only teach their sons that they can be the next president or star player on a sports team? Teach your girls to be what they want to be, not what others think they should be.” — Tynisha, San Diego