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Ever Thought 'Feminism' Is A Dirty Word? It's Time To Better Understand It

04/26/2017 05:20 EDT | Updated 04/27/2017 10:44 EDT

The term "feminism" has always sparked heated conversation.

For some, it's because of their fiery passion for inclusive women's rights and gender equality. But for others, it's because they simply associate the word with a negatively stereotypical image of angry, braless women who are somehow out to get men.

The truth is that feminism benefits everyone — not just women — and it's important to get as many people as possible on board with the movement. This way, we can all be treated as equal human beings, regardless of gender.

But in order to do this, more folks need to be educated about the concept and what it means to both women and men. Watch the video above to hear more perspectives on feminism and to find out why it's about time we all embrace it.

"I think doing the basic amount of human decency to ensure equality doesn't make you a hero."

In the clip, HuffPost Canada editor Mike Sholars notes that it's all about just being a compassionate person.

"I'm not going to be someone who's going to buy one of those really trendy T-shirts right now that says 'feminist' — big, bold letters. I'm not going to add it to my Twitter profile," he said. "Because I think doing the basic amount of human decency to ensure equality doesn't make you a hero. Doesn't mean you get a parade. Doesn't mean you should bring it up to boost yourself in every conversation. I think it means you're doing alright."

As for fellow editor Nick Mizera, he says for men in particular who don't yet understand the term, the answers are out there — you've just got to listen up.

feminism

We also reached out to three people from different walks of life who told us their definition of feminism. And while their responses may vary, equality remains at the forefront.

Jasmine Harmina, 22, recent university graduate

"A feminist is anyone who believes in equal rights for all humans regardless of sex, gender, race, class, sexual preference, ability, age, or location. It is appreciation and understanding that there is a variation of humans on this earth, not a binary of gender expressions."

"You do not need to be a woman to be a feminist! If you believe everyone should be equal, you are a feminist. A feminist is someone who fights for our future children, and hopes to defy the gender norms that hold them back so they are free to identify, love, and be who they want to be."

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Danielle Lake, 24, teacher

"People misunderstand history and want to maintain the status quo of patriarchy. Feminism is not the female version of paternalism in the same way being proud of my African heritage is not the black version of white supremacy, because it doesn't require the oppression of the oppressor. It looks to uplift those who have been oppressed."

“If feminism isn’t intersectional, it isn’t feminism to me.”
— Danielle Lake

"On top of that, if feminism isn’t intersectional, it isn’t feminism to me, it’s selective liberation. Feminism includes missing and murdered indigenous, black and latinx women. That’s queer and trans women facing harassment. That’s women regardless of faith. That’s men and women who have been damaged by toxic masculinity. That’s women who have had abortions and women who made the equally hard choice to keep a baby they may not feel prepared for, and that baby once it enters the world."

"Feminism means I’m my sisters’ and my brothers’ keepers. It takes a village."

Afua Anku, 24, breast cancer research advocate

"I was raised as a feminist, I am a feminist, and I strongly believe that this movement is made for everyone who does not fit into society’s status quo. This movement for me is one of the most impactful revolutions against the norms white supremacy has created to box everyone in."

“We fight for everyone.”
— Afua Anku

"To be accepted, and to comfortably live out the roles, and norms society has imposed on all of us, you must be a heterosexual, able bodied white male — and realistically speaking majority of us do not even fit into this category. As a black woman who has felt the pressures of society to live as something I am not, I lean on feminism to combat discrimination. I lean on feminism to remind me it’s okay to have a voice, and it is okay to simply be me, a multifaceted black woman.

"Feminism reminds me that I am not an object, I am not an angry black woman, and lastly, being a sexual human being does not mean that I am not intelligent, nor I do not deserve respect. I wish many people didn’t listen to the stigmas about feminism that the media perpetuates, I wish people realized that they too could be feminists, because we are fighting for them too. We fight for men who can’t cry, because of hypermasculinity, we fight for women who love being in their hijabs, we fight for transwomen who don’t deserve violence for living out their truth — we fight for everyone."

Responses have been edited and condensed for clarity.

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