Feminist: A word with a complicated history

When I  was fifteen or sixteen years old our guidance counselor took a group of female students and I to an event on International Women’s Day. The event was downtown in front of the stairs at the Vancouver Art Gallery. I vaguely remember the details, but I do recall a large group of women who seemed to be in their thirties and forties standing around and chanting. They were hanging onto posters with the words, “Equal rights” and “Gender equality” etched in bold sharpie.

I remember feeling a bit awkward, confused and slightly embarrassed to be standing there. I remember thinking what is wrong with these women?

We totally have equal rights.

Women worked outside of the home.  Women were seemingly doing it all.

So, what the heck was the problem?

Oh and…I also made the assumption that… these women were angry man-haters.

Clearly, this is why our guidance counselor brought us to the event.

She wanted us to celebrate being female, rally for our rights, and expose us to social justice.

At the time, however,  I was a teenage girl with more important things to worry about like whether or not a certain boy was going to call me. I was hoping I would get home in time to catch the call ( if he decided to call).

These were the types of teenage thoughts running through my brain while I was standing around with a large group of women singing, and chanting words so foreign to me. Words such as: FEMINIST!

For some reason when I was a teenage girl, I attached man-hating connotation to this foreign word.

Needless to say, I wasn’t alone.

Although the word feminist is no longer foreign to me and I’ve attached completely new meaning to it, today this man-hating connotation unfortunately still exists.

Fast forward to today where I proudly consider myself a feminist because the meaning is quite simple; if you believe in gender equality then you are a feminist!

So forget the complicated crap that’s been attached to the word in the past and reclaim the F word.

I know I have!

When my daughters ask me what being a feminist means, I pose a few simple questions:

Do you think girls and boys should be able to do the same things?

If you, for example, wanted to be a computer technician but someone said you couldn’t because you’re a girl, would that make you feel upset?

If it does, then you believe that girls and boys deserve equal rights.

And that makes you my dear, a feminist!


If you’re wondering where I got my rad “Feminist” sweater from, two dynamic moms & founders of Wuchild created these stylin’, cozy, and fleece lined sweatshirts.

They’re hoping to get the conversation started around equality, opportunity, social justice, and more! You can even buy one for your child! How awesome is that?




8 thoughts on “Feminist: A word with a complicated history

  1. This is so awesome. I know myself first hand how much words can be stuck behind connotations, being paired with “disability” won’t change but I can adapt the meaning of the word, great read.

  2. Yes, totally bang on. A complicated history, for sure, and I’ve struggled with the same journey and have come to the same conclusion. Thanks for sharing your thoughts here. I really relate to it. ❤

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