A few days ago, I took a little break from the “Can you even believe this” stream of breaking news about professional predators that is the new soundtrack to our lives to get some writing/thinking/trying-to-be-creative time in.
And so, somehow, I found myself searching for a synonym for the word “feminism.”
Since I was in a Word document, I clicked on the handy-dandy Tools > Thesaurus in my toolbar. And the synonym that came up for it was…wait for it…
“Radicalism.” I kid you not.
Now, the Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of “feminism” is “the theory of the social, political and economic equality of the sexes.”
But Microsoft Word thinks that’s radical.
Boy, in some circles, feminism has a real brand problem.
There have been times in my life when I didn’t want to be identified as a feminist. It was probably in part because my mother was a feminist, and so, you know, I had to be anything but like her. And it was also because it seemed to me, when I entered the workforce, that those battles for gender equality were over; after all, in my 20s, the workplace wasn’t exactly gender-equal…but it didn’t seem so far off.
Then my 30s happened: I went into what felt like a fugue state of trying to get ahead at work; being pregnant; having toddlers; trying to be a good mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend; trying to get myself out of the house in the morning in a spit-up free outfit. You get the point.
And then in my 40s, when I had time to at least take a breath, I looked around at work, and there simply weren’t that many women there any longer. Even most of my girlfriends from business school had left the workforce; they had run into the glass ceiling, some had run into lecherous bosses, and some had just run out of steam.
That’s when I realized that the long march to gender equality wasn’t over, and I began to identify as a feminist.
I also decided that I have been so fortunate in my career that I am spending the next leg of it helping to advance women. And for me that means focusing on the “economic equality” definition of the F-word.
The research is clear that women put more of their money back into their families, their communities and into non-profits. So last week we announced an initiative with Shrill Society for the holidays with our Woman in Power t-shirts, recently featured in Harper’s Bazaar’s “Charitable Gifts That Give Back This Holiday Season”: For each shirt you buy, $10 goes to the nonpartisan organization She Should Run to encourage more women to run for office.
And that’s just the beginning.
This article originally appeared in Ellevest's newsletter, What The Elle.