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The Definition of Feminism

Updated: Mar 12

Dear Asian Youth,

Last week, I was scrolling through Instagram when I came across a video clip from The Daily Show, hosted by Trevor Noah. Noah was interviewing Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a writer and a women's rights activist.

My usual instinct when I come across a video post on Instagram is to watch five seconds of the clip and then skip to the next post. This time, however, my instinct was telling me to watch the whole video—for I recognized Adichie as a renowned feminist. The words that I heard in those few minutes captured the beliefs that I, as a feminist, have been holding very dear to me ever since I learned about the existence of gender oppression from a young age.

When Adichie was asked why she calls herself a feminist, not a humanist or an equalist, her response was:

“But that is what feminism is. Feminism is about justice for everyone, but you have to name your problem. And the problem is, it’s women who have been excluded, so we need to call it what it is.”

Many people are unaware of the true definition of feminism and how misconstrued the term has become. Because of this, many individuals wear the term “feminist” in an attempt to justify their wrongdoings. For example, people use feminism as an excuse to speak in a derogatory manner towards males or to fuel other harmful tendencies. Many women and men show anger towards the feminist movement, and a few of the reasons why include:

  • the misalignment between the feminist movement and the values of an individual.

  • the belief that empowering women will undermine the influence of men.

  • the exposure to “feminist propaganda” by people who wrongly claim to be “feminists.”

  • disagreeing that females and males should receive equal rights because both genders differ from each other.

  • the belief that gender equality has already been achieved.

Many of these points are included in the Forbes magazine article, “What is Feminism, And Why Do So Many Women and Men Hate it?”. The author, Kathy Caprino, brings up a crucial point that is directed towards the statements listed above, declaring that “Feminism at its core is about equality of men and women, not ‘sameness.’” So many people offer up the