What Feminism Means to Women from Different Backgrounds


At this point, the majority of society (or we hope) understands the most basic definition of feminism to be “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.” While this boils it down to the core of feminism, this definition does not necessarily touch on important nuances regarding aspects of race, gender, sexuality, etc.

We asked women from a variety of backgrounds what feminism means to them. Here’s what they had to say:

“For me it’s simple, a feminist is someone who believes in equality for women and all genders. A person who is proud of women and what they can accomplish. We stand for not just equal pay or the ability to breastfeed in public, but we stand for women who can’t stand for themselves. We stand up against abuse and teach women to speak out, that they do have a voice and it deserves to be heard. We are feminists and we are fearless.” -Grace L.

“A feminist is someone who believes in full equality in the world. Not someone who thinks women are better than men, but that women and men (and nonbinary/trans/genderfluid people!) are all on the same level. A feminist helps give a voice to the voiceless and they work to make the world a better place for everyone in it.” -Caroline M.

“A feminist is someone who believes in equal rights and opportunities for all people, across all genders. There’s a common misconception that feminists are ball-busting man-haters, but that’s not true. A feminist can be anyone, and is not limited by gender. A feminist is a person who is intersectional and views issues with a lens that allows women from all walks of life to be included in the narrative. It’s easy for someone to claim that they’re a feminist, but their actions are what really matters.” -Madelene W.

“A feminist is anyone who believes men and women should be treated and respected equally, and someone who supports everyone in their pursuits no matter their gender.” -Carlee

“A feminist to me is any women who wants to better their treatment and rights in our society. I believe that a feminist is working to gain equality with their male counterparts, not to overcome them.” -Lexie

“A feminist is a person who is intersectional and views issues with a lens that allows women from all walks of life to be included in the narrative.” -Madalene

“In my eyes, a feminist is anyone who actively defends the idea that women are completely equal to men. Being a feminist is more than just saying that you're one; if you see inequality and do nothing, you aren't a feminist. Anyone who defends women and their equality is a feminist.” -Lola

“There’s no right way to be a feminist. Be open minded. Be not only accepting but actively inclusionary of all races, genders, sexual orientations, abilities and classes. Listen to each other. Learn from each other. Care about each other. “ -Julianne

“A feminist is any individual who believes in equity among all genders and intersections of identity and justice for the oppressions and inequality that have historically shaped the world as well as persist through practices, institutions, and structures affecting our everyday lives. A feminist works to critique these hegemonic ideologies by being self-critical, extending knowledge, and continually engaging in feminist discourse. Feminism is not the introduction of something new but the recognition that the way that our world is structured is already always subject to gender politics as well as intersectional processes.” -Kim

WomenJacquelyn Zoeller