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'Feminism' is Merriam-Webster's word of the year. How do people define it?




LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 21:  Participants seen during the Women's March on January 21, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Downtown Los Angeles for the Women's March in protest after the inauguration of President Donald Trump. Women's Marches are being held in cities around the world. (Photo by Chelsea Guglielmino/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 21: Participants seen during the Women's March on January 21, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Downtown Los Angeles for the Women's March in protest after the inauguration of President Donald Trump. Women's Marches are being held in cities around the world. (Photo by Chelsea Guglielmino/Getty Images)
Chelsea Guglielmino/Getty Images

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Merriam-Webster announced its word of the year on Tuesday. It's "feminism,"  which the dictionary defines as "the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes" or "organized activity on behalf of women's rights and interests."

Take Two took to the streets of Pasadena to ask people how they interpret the word.

"I don’t think there should be a difference between men and women in terms of rights or responsibility or opportunity," said Wendy Japhet. "I don’t know that feminism has achieved its goal even remotely, but that’s what I think it strives to achieve. "

Feminism as a movement has a long history of radicalism and demonstrations to further the advancement of women. 

"In the '60s, women burned their bras," said Charles Minsky. "That was a big thing. And women tried to come out and say we’re equal. And that was a huge women’s movement."

While that movement captured the attention and imagination of many over the decades, others believe that the phrase is better used as an identifier for inclusivity.

"Feminism is just seen as this one aspect: Going against the grain, being radical," said Alexandra Roth.

Roth has often heard that being a feminist meant, "being free to do whatever you want, but you have to do it this way and not my way. I got married at a young age and I had children at a young age. I chose to stay at home with my kids. I feel like that too is feminism. Feminism should just be another word for acceptance."

Others agree that a more flexible application of the ideals of "feminism" has helped them advance the ideals of women in their own lives.

"I am a hairdresser so sometimes women tell me that they don’t feel empowered or they don’t feel important," said Randy Madden. "I become a feminist because I’m sticking up for the women who don’t have a voice and I’m trying to ... tell them that it’s okay to speak out or be themselves. So I think even a man can be a feminist."