Writing a personal definition of feminism

Molly Begeman, Features Editor

Merriam Webster defines feminism as “Belief in and advocacy of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes expressed especially through organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests.” 

Feminism has changed over the course of its existence, but the principle has remained the same – equality for women. From demanding voting rights in 1919 to women entering the workforce in the 1940s, women asking for equal opportunities in the workforce in the 1970s and finally women fighting for their reproductive rights in 2022, the fight for equality is still not and never will be over.   

Understanding the history of feminist movements and women activists and living as a woman has provided me with my own personal definition of feminism and what it means to be a feminist.   

Activism is the idea that usually comes to mind, when I think of what a feminist is.  It is the women at protests, rallies, speeches and political events that make the most change.   

It wasn’t until recently when I was sitting drinking my morning coffee that I realized that it is more than that.  It is everyday women who are breaking down stereotypes and preconceived notions that can still be considered feminists.   

It is the women who strive to earn a degree in a male oriented field, the women who say “no” to marriage because that is not the life they want, the ones who decide that the man is going to be a stay-at-home dad and the ones who break the traditional beliefs and ways that a woman should live her life.   

I never truly defined myself as a feminist based off societies and my own preconceived definition of feminism.  But reimagining my own idea of what feminism means, I learned that myself as well as many other women are feminists by this definition.   

Feminism today is not what it once was in fighting for voting rights, the freedom to fight for our own country, the opportunity to work and to not be discriminated against in the workplace.  It has taken a softer role in the underlying expectations that are still carried out and taught to younger generations.   

Throughout my life, I have looked up to the women in my family and learned that they are traditional while still being contemporary women. 

I watched the women that I love continue to be put into a box of stereotypes — that they are the ones to take care of the kids, do the laundry, cook dinner and keep a clean house.  They did all of this while still managing to hold full-time jobs. 

For them, it was something that they were expected to do, something that they grew up learning how to do. It was a set of skills that they had acquired over the years.   

I too grew up with a set of these same expectations — far less than that of my grandmothers and mother, but still the same- that I too will have to learn how to keep a household orderly and take care of the children all while holding a full-time job.  At first, I believed that this is the expectation for myself until I realized that a man can just as easily do a load of laundry.   

The scope of what it means to be a true feminist went from this mainstream rage of feminist ideals and the idea that women should have the same rights as any man to a recognition of the more subtle discrimination of women.   

In recent months, there has been a rise of the rage of feminist ideals and the dismantling of the patriarchy and male dominance with the overturning of Roe v. Wade.  The stripping away of women’s reproductive rights has caused the reemergence of the traditional feminist.  It is the women who march in streets, raise their voices, speak their minds and try to dismantle the stereotype with a wrecking ball instead of a hammer who are the true feminist leaders. 

But for the women who are tearing apart the stereotypes with a hammer, keep going.   

If enough women stand up for not the equality of all women but for themselves first, slowly but surely change will happen.  Once a woman gains her own equality, she can then lift other women around her.   

To all the women that don’t feel like they fit the definition of a feminist: you are, you are just using a hammer instead of a wrecking ball. Keep going, eventually the wall will collapse.  


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