The Interesting Difference In The Way Women Aged 5-50 Define Feminism


If someone asked you for your definition of feminism, what would you say? Would you give the dictionary definition of “the social political and economic equality of both sexes” or something different.

We’re not sure how the definition of the word is STILL a thing, especially with Google also being a thing…but nevertheless the discussion is being had on a regular basis and perhaps the most telling part is that people are more likely to define it based on perception.

Some see it as negative hateful movement of women who are trying to trample on men, other’s see it as a crucial movement for women to gain equal rights, and others see it as something not relevant or important in their own lives.

The Cut recently made a very interesting video featuring women and girls aged 5 – 50 to share what feminism means to them. There was no overarching agenda or hidden message from the video as far as we can tell, merely a word association experiment showing how the definition differs from decade to decade.

Here are a couple of aspects we noticed while watching the video. The majority of Caucasian American women in their 40s saw the movement as unnecessary, while those in the same age group who were from a different country defined it as a necessary force to bring about much needed change in their culture.


The majority of women in their 20s and 30s seemed to understand that it is an equality movement and one word that kept popping up was “power”. The idea that a movement has enabled women to have equal rights such as the right to vote means it has empowered women to stand up for themselves, say some of the young women.

The majority of girls aged around 5 and 6 were completely in the dark about what feminism is, and some had never even heard of the word.

One of the women at the beginning of the video mentioned it was a “buzzword” right now which is very telling of the millennial generation and the digital age we live in. The idea that it is just a passing fad because it is talked about so much kinda made us sad, as there are women in the world whose very lives have been transformed for the better thanks to the feminist movement.

For us the conclusion was that we need to continue having discussions and sharing our different views and opinions. One of the women in her 40s who didn’t seem to like feminism at all made a great point that there is a culture of women not allowing other women to voice their opinion or think differently. That is a vital part of understanding feminism.

The truth is, there is no perfect feminism, because the very movement was born out of frustration and anger at a society that considered women as second class citizens. This is something writer, scholar and speaker Roxane Gay often talks about, especially in her book ‘Bad Feminist’.


In a recent TED Talk given in May in Monterey, California, she said she is still working out how to be a “good feminist” but believes there needs to be more room to make mistakes and learn from them, without damning the other woman.

“I am a bad feminist and a good woman. I am trying to become better in how I think and say and do — without abandoning what makes me human,” she said.

When she was younger she admits she too had a very negative view of feminism as a man-hating, angry-woman movement. But as she grew older, feminism became the very thing that gave her her voice and her power.

“Once upon a time, my voice was stolen from me and feminism helped me get it back. I found that if I was a little bit brave, another woman might hear me and see me and recognize that none of us are the nothing that the world tries to tell us we are,” she said.

Roxane cited examples in pop culture that make it more confusing for every new generation of women to truly understand the power feminism has to change cultures, lives and attitudes.

“If I listen to degrading music, I am creating a demand for which artists are more than happy to contribute a limitless supply. Artists are not going to change how they talk about women in their songs until we demand that change by affecting their bottom line,” she said while also alluding to Robin Thicke’s controversial hit ‘Blurred Lines’.

“But when I justify bad choices, I make it harder for women to achieve the equality that we all deserve — and I need to own that.”

She also mentioned Beyonce’s performance at the 2014 VMAs where she stood boldly in front of a massive “feminist” backdrop clearly making a statement to the world.

“Cultural critics began endlessly debating whether or not Beyonce was indeed a feminist. They graded her feminism instead of taking a grown, accomplished woman at her word,” said Roxane.

The point she is making is that when people are criticized for the TYPE of feminist they are, it adds to the confusion of how each individual is working out their relationship with empowerment, equality and how that works in their own lives.

It is also interesting to note that one of the women in The Cut’s video does indeed criticize Beyonce’s VMA performance saying it was confusing, and that nothing Beyonce does qualifies as feminism. She was specifically referencing the way that some people view feminism as sexual freedom.


“We put feminists on a pedestal and expect them to pose perfectly. When they disappoint us, we gleefully knock them from the very pedestal we put them on,” says Roxane in her TED Talk.

“We demand perfection from feminists because we are still fighting for so much. We go far beyond reasonable constructive criticism to dissecting any woman’s feminism and tearing it apart until there’s nothing left. We do not need to do that,” she concludes.

We think it is important to continue the discussion but also allow for moments of confusion and aversion to be worked out in each woman’s life the way she sees fit. For some women in certain parts of the world, they have no choice but to be disempowered according to the social and cultural customs that rule. Other women are fortunate to live in areas where they have the luxury of choosing feminism or not.

Here’s to moving toward a feminist movement that allows for differences, experiences and respect, yet eliminates the hatred.

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