It occurred to me then that this word — feminist — carries a lot of baggage for many women who genuinely believe in the advancement of women and girls, but don’t feel like the movement includes them. But it also means a lot of different things for a lot of different people — even those who do identify with the term. To me, feminism is transcending the factors that define or limit my sex, and being the best anyway. My goal always is to present myself as the most capable person in the room, not the most capable woman.
But for Louise Ruhle, feminism is not an identity she associates with her womanhood. And that’s OK because there is no one answer or explanation for what feminism is or isn’t. But I have a hunch: If we women made an effort to better understand what the title means to our sisters across all ages, races and career ambitions, might we realize that we’re not so different, after all?
I think there’s a way for everyone to have a seat at the table. That’s why I’ve polled some of my favorite women — leaders and influencers across a variety of industries and job titles, ranging from banking to motherhood — to learn what “feminism” means to them. Here are some of their answers:
Feminism means that you finally stop looking around for validation from other people and realize that the only person you need to impress is yourself.Lydia Fenet
Feminism means doing whatever you can to support women in all walks of life, even the most powerful, by helping to spread word of their successes.Alexandra Lebenthal
To me, feminism means that women can do anything and everything — with the same access, opportunities, expectations as men and delivered with the humanity and care that the best of humanity is measured against.Alexandra Trower
For more on my conversation with my mother, plus Shelley Zalis of the Female Quotient and comedian Michael Ian Black, listen to the latest episode of Modern Ruhles.
NBC News BETTER wants you to know what the word feminism means to you. We’ll be highlighting selected responses on our social channels without sharing your name.