An Open Letter To Everyone Telling Me How To "Do Feminism"

An Open Letter To Everyone Telling Me How To "Do Feminism" Hero Image
Photo: Author

Meet Miki Agrawal, entrepreneurial rockstar and founder of period-proof underwear line THINX.

This is a call to the women in media — women writers, women editors, women in social media, women influencers, women in front of the camera and all media women in between.

We have a huge opportunity on our hands: the opportunity to take a deep breath and look around at one another with wide-eyed incredulity, and be reminded that less than 100 years ago (1920), American women’s voices were not equal. They were less-than and scoffed at.

(Can we actually take a second to think about what life would be like if that was still the case today?)

I am eternally thankful to the strong female predecessors who pounded their fists and raised their voices for me, for us. They have given me the right to vote and the freedom to act on my ideals.

Does that make me a fake feminist? Or a bad feminist? Or a not-so-very-feminist?
 

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Today, we have an opportunity to continue to deepen the fragile but strengthening foundation that women stand on, and not sabotage this foundation for the sake of “getting ahead” or for clicks, shares, likes and retweets. I believe we have a real opportunity to champion our fellow women who are doing good things in the world — mistakes and all — and not manipulate them in the hopes of “trying-to-find-a-juicy-story” and to “bring her to her knees.”

Haven't we all been there before? Sadly, this is not a new story.

By taking part in writing these low vibrational stories, we are perpetuating that which we are trying to move away from. If the “status quo” of how things are done in your office is to come up with negative stories about other women, please be reminded that you can say no. Positivity begets positivity. A positive, loving society begets a positive, loving society.

Today, I have been given the opportunity and space to explore the term “feminist” and define it for myself. I believe that there is no right or wrong answer to the term, or only one way to be a feminist — in the end, it's just a term. Everyone has their own point of view, personal stories, and experiences that dictate and shape their visceral reactions to feminism, and how/if they choose to be feminists.

The simplest and most widely accepted definition of feminism is “gender equality” or, as Marie Sheer put it back in 1986, "feminism is the radical notion that women are people." But the term comes with a lot of connotation and nuance.

According to this Washington Post poll from Jan 27, 2016 (really, read it), 43 percent of women describe feminism as “angry.” This was my original take on the term as well. I have since changed my own definition of the term as I have had the privilege to learn more about the plight of women and be reminded of how we got to where we are today.

I wanted to put my own twist on feminism to highlight the very positive, empowering place it comes from, and leave the perception of negativity behind, with the deep knowing of where it came from.

The whole point of the freedom that I have been given is that I can define feminism in my own way. Hopefully we all can. We should grant ourselves the freedom to explore these nuances for ourselves in our most authentic form, be it through art, journalism, poetry, entrepreneurship, activism, motherhood, clog dancing … whatever it is that makes us feel that we are empowered and are empowering others.

American women’s voices were not equal. They were less-than and scoffed at.
 

I live it in my own action-oriented way: I have built a business centered around my beliefs in gender equality, but I wouldn’t have called myself a feminist when I started out, as the nomenclature meant something different to me.

Does that make me a fake feminist? Or a bad feminist? Or a not-so-very-feminist?

Nope.

It makes me a human, navigating my way through a society filled with misrepresentation and remnants of patriarchies past (and sometimes present), as so many of us are.

As for my company? Yes, feminism is an integral part of our brand strategy, but no, it’s not happening in a focus group room and it’s not been decided by a board. The notion of feminism as a part of THINX was an organic realization — a perfect fit — because it’s what we exist to do.

Each and every word and image used in our communications and campaigns is thought up and created by our team of young badass feminists (all of whom also have their own interpretations of the term). Integrating feminism into our marketing is not a ploy, and it is not exploitative; it’s reclamation of how brands treat and speak to women, and it’s an ideological pushback against generations of condescension and insulting marketing towards women.

Plus, there’s nothing more refreshing than a nice, pink grapefruit.


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