“FEMINIST” 女权主义者

In 2017, the words feminism and feminist– along with “artisanal,” “hand-crafted,” “cold-pressed,” and “locally sourced” – have become so overused, commercialized, and so terribly distorted from their origins that they now have ZERO. MEANING. AT ALL. The bar is set so low that any human with a pulse and two X chromosomes is automatically a feminist. For example:

  • A girl eating a cheeseburger in public? Feminist!
  • A woman who smiles and says hello in the elevator? Feminist!
  • A woman who scowls and stares at the ceiling of the elevator? Even more of a feminist! (because she chose not to smile and say hello! She scowled and looked away, on her own terms, duhh!!)

My students deserve better than the diminished, diluted, near-pathetic lens that feminism is now discussed and celebrated in mainstream America. To clear the confusion, I made some slides to explain what female empowerment does *NOT* look like:

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Entertainers who burden themselves with several pounds of makeup, hair extensions/ micro-weaves, and generous injections of silicone throughout their bodies – all done to cater to the male gaze – are not helping women achieve equality in education, at home, or in the workplace

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Taylor and her eugenics-approved “squad”

Picking friends based on their race, height, and BMI – also not feminism

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Nepotism has no place in 21st century America!

Luckily, Forbes provides an annual list of influential women who worked hard, used their brains, and have become leaders in politics/ science/ corporations/ NGOs… women who have at many points surpassed their male counterparts in ability and talent, and are changing and shaping the world. Some women I covered in class:

Margaret Chan, Naomi Klein, Indrya Nooyi, Ursula Burns, Angela Merkel, Tsai Ying-Wen, Federica Mogherini, Navi Pillay, Malala Yousafzai

Now, it was my students’ turn to pick influential women:


Wu Zetian!

Yang Guifei!

Cixi Dowager!

“Wait wait wait. Each group must also pick at least one women who is both a foreigner and alive



Helen Keller!”


“Audrey Hepburn!

“also dead”

Margaret Thatcher!

“still dead!”

After more brainstorming, the kids made their posters. Here are some highlights…

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On the poster: The founder of “old grandma hotsauce”, Angela Merkel, Peng Liyuan, an imperial concubine, and the coach of China’s Olympic gold medal volleyball team
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close up of the founder of 老干妈 hot sauce. half of china would be dead without her mouth numbing spice!
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Michelle Obama, Margaret Thatcher, and Somali born model/ activist Waris Dirie (several groups wrote about her fight against female genital mutilation, I’m surprised by her fame in Lanzhou)
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of course, Mulan. every class had a poster on Mulan, the Northern Wei Dynasty female warrior turned disney princess

me: can someone please ask one good question about Mulan’s accomplishments?

Melody: did Mulan have a boyfriend?

and then the last group brought up a poster of the Statue of Liberty

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I was annoyed, since she is a mass of oxidized copper and therefore not a real person

“Please explain why you are presenting on a statue”

“The Statue of Liberty stands for friendship and freedom. She is a symbol of courage and hope for all people who are poor, sick, and tired. Helping others when they need it the most is what female empowerment is all about.”


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