before I wrote this note, I asked a number of women from various age groups whether they define themselves as feminists. Their answers both surprised and enlightened me. One woman in her mid-60s, who has led a remarkably independent and adventurous life, said it never dawned on her to use the term to describe herself. “I never thought for one minute that I didn’t have the same rights as men,” she said. “I always did what I wanted.” Another woman, who came of age during the late ’70s—a watershed moment in the movement’s history—said she would describe herself as a feminist but has never actually said “I’m a feminist.” “I read The Feminine Mystique when I was in my late teens, and it changed my life,” she said. “It influenced my views about careers, marriage, having babies... everything. I still see everything through a filter of ‘feminism.’ Gender inequality is everywhere, not just in Third World countries.” I also spoke with a professional woman in her early 30s. “A feminist?” she replied, when I asked her what it means to her. “Oh, I don’t really think about it that much. Should I? It has never been an issue for me. I’m more interested in human rights.” Then I sat down with two twentysomethings. “If being a feminist means that there’s equality for men and women—which is how Emma Watson defined it in her UN address—then I’m a feminist,” said one. “For our generation, there’s still this association that to be a feminist means you’re a man-hater,” added the other. “The definition gets in the way of the goals. That said, I would still say I’m a feminist.” When Watson spoke at the UN, she said she was surprised to learn that feminism is such an unpopular word. “If you still hate the word,” she said, “it is not the word that is important but the idea and the ambition behind it.” So, am I a feminist? Yes, but, like some of these women, I identify more with the goals than the term. Pragmatic by nature, I would rather work toward change than contend with any misconceptions the word may conjure. It’s not just a question of semantics; I appreciate that words are immensely powerful. Perhaps the current fourth wave, with its pop-culture champions like Watson, Beyoncé, Lena Dunham and others, will rebrand its meaning so that women and men, regardless of their age, will feel comfortable announcing to the world that they are feminists.