During the last year, the F word—feminism—has become a concept as familiar to pop-culture fans as it is to activists, although pinning down what it actually means in real-world terms, beyond the tired collegiate debates or social-media spars, isn’t always as easy as reading an interview with Emma Watson or Lena Dunham, applauding an open letter from Jennifer Lawrence, or keeping tabs on Taylor Swift and her ever-expanding “girl squad”—though those things certainly don’t hurt.
The fact is, identifying as a feminist means different things to different women. Most will even agree that dated, narrow-minded definitions—a woman who hates men, for example—has absolutely nothing to do with it. For that matter, those who believe it does clearly aren’t equipped to deal with a new generation of females who only lean in if they want to, who make their own decisions about having—or not having—children, who unapologetically flaunt their sex appeal, and who understand the sheer power of the word “no.”
We invited seven women, all of whom are shaping our culture in their own way, to talk about what feminism is and what it isn’t on a personal and professional level.