02/23/2015 12:50 pm ET Updated Apr 25, 2015

Feminism: The New F Word?

Patricia Arquette's Oscar acceptance speech showed a refreshing support of often vilified feminism.

To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody's equal rights; it's our time to have wage equality once and for all, and equal rights for women in the United States.

Recently, I asked my 14-year-old daughter if she considered herself a feminist. Like approximately three-quarters of American women, she answered, "No."

As a woman who came of age during the era of Women's Liberation, I pushed her to define. "Well, I believe that men should open doors and pick up the check."

When did feminism become an F-word? And how does the notion of equal rights for those of us with xx chromosomes carry such a negative connotation?

Throughout my childhood, my teenaged aunt Isabel and I would spend hours in her pink bedroom discussing the merits of what used to be known as "women's lib." When the Equal Rights Amendment didn't pass, thanks, in part, to Phyllis Schlafly, I was shocked. How could anyone, let alone a woman, denounce equality?

As with all ideologies, I suspect the definition has been co-opted by the most extreme elements, the stereotypical male-bashing feminist in Birkenstocks who refuses to shave her legs in protest of cultural tyranny.

On the Women Against Feminism tumblr page, one young woman holds up a sign, "I don't want to be associated with modern feminism. Some of my best friends are men and I will not stand by while they are discriminated against unfairly." Does treating people as equals result in discrimination against the majority?

Identifying as a feminist doesn't mean we need to cancel our waxing appointments and trade in our stilettos for sensible shoes; nor does it mean we need to bash men and question gender differences. We can write our own definitions to represent our personal ideological, religious and political views.

Our support of human rights can and should transcend gender, race, religion, sexual identity.

Feminism is not an F word.