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What Is Feminism? by Kristen Chase

PUBLISHED: October 29, 2012

Kristen Chase

Editor’s note: The following post is part of a series in which a diverse range of women writers discuss their definition, idea, or experience of feminism. For more background, take a look at our Fall 2012 issue, which features “Bad Feminist” by Roxane Gay. You can find other pieces in this series by clicking here.


Growing up, I thought “feminism” was a bad word. Of course, I also thought that oral sex meant talking about intercourse.

But then I got to college and was rudely awakened to both of these misnomers, though I’m pretty sure the revelation I experienced about feminism was much more shocking. Where were the feminists with their angry fists and burning bras?

It turns out that the thoughtful, reasonable feminists weren’t sensational enough to garner attention.

Over the years, I learned that feminists wear the moniker differently—some publicly, others privately, but each brave and valuable. Some are comfortable with a bullhorn firmly grasped in their hands. But others, like me, are just as effective with a whisper.

I remind my kids that pink isn’t a girl color, even though every toy store aisle would tell them otherwise. I tell my son that he can wear nail polish if he really wants, or skirts or dresses for that matter, even though most people disagree.

In my case, my bras are best used to hold up the breasts that feed the new generation of feminists. My angry fists are open, used to point out the disparities that exist between women and men. Each time I quietly question and challenge the misogynist status quo, and others do the same thing,

The angry and whispering voices come together to form a collective roar, one that I hope will be amplified by our children and their children.


Kristen Chase is a writer and author who is best known for her blog Motherhood Uncensored. She’s been featured on television and print, including The Today Show, CNN, and Parents Magazine, and currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband and four kids.


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