A Conversation With Alix Kates Shulman
The definition is much broader now that feminist ideas have spread throughout the culture. I would say that anybody who wants to call herself a feminist is a feminist. In addition, there are “applied feminists” — to borrow the writer Carolyn Heilbrun’s wonderful term — meaning someone who may not call herself a feminist but who lives like one. In the early days, there was a lot of debate about who was a real feminist. At the beginning of any movement, definitions seem to matter more. In the late sixties, there was a sense that we were just a handful of people. As the movement spread, we were very worried about being co-opted. So whether or not a newcomer was a “true” feminist seemed to matter, especially if that person was representing feminism in the media; there was a lot of mistrust of the media. We didn’t want to give up on our larger ideals and settle for something less.