15 Kick-ass Feminists You Should Know

15 kick ass feminists It never ceases to amaze me that some people see feminism – and calling oneself a feminist – as a “bad” thing.

For all its misconceptions, at its core, feminism is the belief that women and men should have the same social, economic and political rights. As Gloria Steinem, who led the women’s movement through the 60’s and 70’s, and continues to do so today, once said, “A feminist is anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men.”

There are many women, like Gloria, who paved the way for a new generation of feminists.

From Simone de Beauvoir, who wrote The Second Sex in 1949, which was considered by many to be a precursor for modern feminism, to Betty Friedan who penned The Feminine Mystique in 1963 and helped establish the National Women’s Political Caucus.

Coretta Scott King, the wife of Martin Luther King, Jr., who helped found the National Organization for Women (NOW) and devoted much of her life to women’s equality. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the second female Supreme Court Justice, also tirelessly advocates for women’s rights to this day. (She’s known on social media as #NotoriousRBG).

Best known for her “We Should All Be Feminists” TED Talk and powerful feminist writing, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has been instrumental in advocating for women’s rights and representing African culture.

And of course, Hillary Clinton, the first ever female Senator from New York, Secretary of State under Barack Obama, the first woman to win a presidential primary, the first to be listed as a presidential candidate in every primary and caucus nationwide, and the first to participate in a presidential debate. In her concession speech, Hillary invited all of us – especially women and girls – to keep going. In her new memoir, she points to the perseverance and grit of Harriet Tubman – a determined woman who led slaves to freedom against all odds – as a shining example.

Clinton writes, “In 2016, the U.S. government announced that Harriet Tubman will become the face of the $20 bill. If you need proof that America can still get it right, there it is.”

And if you need proof that women are out there on the front lines every day – fighting for fairness and equality, using their voices, advocating for women and marginalized communities and working tirelessly to make things right, at long last – then look no further than these 15 trailblazing feminists.

Luvvie Ajayi
Luvvie Ajayi
Twitter: @luvvie
Instagram: @luvvie

Luvvie Ajayi is a New York Times best-selling author, speaker and digital strategist who thrives at the intersection of comedy, technology and activism. She is the voice behind Awesomely Luvvie, a widely respected humor blog that covers everything pop culture – from TV, movies and technology to travel, race and life’s random adventures. She has interviewed bosses like Oprah Winfrey, Geena Davis, Gloria Steinem and Shonda Rhimes, and has spoken on several notable stages including The White House, TedXColumbiaCollege, SXSW, Social Media Week (Nigeria, South Africa), U.S. Embassy Port-au-Prince (Haiti), and Techne Summit (Egypt), among others. Her first book, I’m Judging You: The Do Better Manual (2016) was a New York Times and Washington Post best-seller.

Jessica Bennett
Jessica Bennett
Twitter: @jess7bennett
Instagram: @jessicabennett

Jessica Bennett is an award-winning journalist and critic who writes on gender issues, sexuality and culture for the New York Times. She is also the author of the best-selling book, Feminist Fight Club: A Survival Manual for a Sexist Workplace. Jessica’s work has also appeared in Newsweek, Time and Cosmopolitan, where she helps edit a quarterly section on women and work. She is a contributing editor at LeanIn.Org, the nonprofit founded by Sheryl Sandberg, where she is the cofounder and curator of the Lean In Collection — a partnership with Getty Images to change the way women are depicted in stock photography.

Amanda de Cadenet
Amanda de Cadenet
Twitter: @amandadecadenet
Instagram: @amandadecadenet

Amanda de Cadenet is the author of It’s Messy, On Boys, Boobs and Badass Women, Founder and CEO of The Conversation and #GirlGaze, a multimedia photo project designed to support girls behind the camera. It features work from up-and-coming female and gender non-conforming photographers that has received over 750k submissions. Amanda is lifelong activist and journalist who has interviewed everyone from Gloria Steinem to Hillary Clinton through her Lifetime Series, “The Conversation with Amanda de Cadenet,” that reached an audience in 18 countries. Last year, Amanda launched the The Conversation Live Tour – a woman’s conference in six US cities.

Lauren Duca
Lauren Duca
Twitter: @laurenduca
Instagram: @ducalauren

Lauren Duca is best known for her op-ed for Teen Vogue titled, Donald Trump is Gaslighting America, which argued that then President-elect Trump used deceit and manipulation so his detractors would question their own judgement. Lauren now pens “Thigh High Politics” a column for Teen Vogue that breaks down the news and offers resources for resistance. She created the weekly newsletter, “Middlebrow,” for the Huffington Post and has since expanded her brand to include a wide range of work, from political analysis to human interest pieces. She regularly appears on CNN, MSNBC and various podcasts, and her work can also be seen in New York Magazine, The Nation, Vice, Pacific Standard and The New Yorker.

Lena Dunham
Lena Dunham
Twitter: @lenadunham
Instagram: @lenadunham

Lena Dunham is an American actress, writer, producer, and director. She is best known as the creator, writer and star of the HBO series Girls, which smashes the mold for how women are represented on TV, and which she garnered numerous Emmy Award nominations and two Golden Globe Awards. Her book Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s Learned became a New York Times best-seller. She is also the co-founder of Lenny Letter, a feminist online newsletter with essays about style, health, politics and friendship.

Sarah Sophie Flicker
Sarah Sophie Flicker
Twitter: @sarahsophief
Instagram: @sarahsohpief

Sarah Sophie Flicker is an activist, writer, filmmaker, cultural organizer, creative director, and movement builder as well as the national organizer of the Women’s March on Washington. She is the creative director of Art Not War, a progressive media production company and founder of The Citizens Band, a New York City based political cabaret troupe. Sarah writes for Rookie and Hello Giggles, and has collaborated with Lizz Winstead on the political advocacy group Lady Parts Justice, which focuses on women’s issues.

Roxane Gay
Roxane Gay
Twitter: @rgay
Instagram: @roxanegay74

Roxane Gay is a cultural critic, commentator and professor at Purdue University. She is a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times and is the author of the books Ayiti, An Untamed State, the New York Times best-selling essay collection, Bad Feminist, Difficult Women and most recently, the memoir, Hunger. Her writing appears in Best American Mystery Stories 2014, Best American Short Stories 2012, Best Sex Writing 2012, A Public Space, McSweeney’s, Tin House, Oxford American, American Short Fiction, Virginia Quarterly Review, and many others. She is also the author of World of Wakanda for Marvel.

Audrey Gelman
Audrey Gelman
Twitter: @audreygelman
Instagram: @audreygelman

Audrey is a co-founder & CEO of The Wing, a women’s workspace and social club based in New York City. Prior to The Wing, she served as Senior Vice President at strategic communications firm, SKDKnickerbocker, and as Deputy Director of Communications for New York City Comptroller, Scott M. Stringer. In 2012, Audrey helped re-launch the Downtown for Democracy PAC, and in 2014, served as national spokesperson for Rock the Vote, helping to revitalize the youth vote organization. She began her career working on Hillary Clinton’s 2008 campaign for President, assisting with rapid response and communication efforts. Audrey is a contributing editor at Marie Claire magazine.

Carmen Perez
Carmen Perez
Twitter: @msladyjustice1
Instagram: @msladyjustice1

Carmen Perez has dedicated 20 years to advocating for many of today’s important civil rights issues, including mass incarceration, gender equity, violence prevention, racial healing and community policing. As the Executive Director of The Gathering for Justice, a nonprofit founded by legendary artist and activist Harry Belafonte, Carmen has crossed the globe promoting peace through civil and human rights, building alternatives to incarceration and violence, and providing commentary and guidance for state and federal policy creation. Carmen’s most recent work is her role as the National Co-Chair of the Women’s March on Washington, which drew over five million people across the globe who marched in resistance of hatred and bigotry. In 2017, Carmen was named one of Fortune’s Top 50 World Leaders and one of Time’s most influential people.

Liz Plank
Liz Plank
Twitter: @feministabulous
Instagram: @feministabulous

Liz Plank is a senior producer and correspondent at Vox.com. She was the host of 2016ish, an award-winning series about the presidential election where she interviewed important figures such as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Michael Moore, Hope Solo and Senator Chris Murphy. Prior to Vox, she was a Senior Correspondent at Mic and co-creator of Flip The Script, an award-winning weekly video series confronting social issues. She appears regularly on The Today Show, The Daily Show, MSNBC, Fox News, ABC News, Fusion, Al-Jazeera America and BBC World to provide a perspective on politics, gender issues, and reproductive rights.

Linda Sarsour
Linda Sarsour
Twitter: @lsarsour
Instagram: @lsarsour

Linda Sarsour is the former executive director of the Arab American Association of New York and co-chair of the Women’s March on Washington, which advocated for just legislation and policies regarding human rights and other issues in the largest single-day demonstration in U.S. history. Linda is most notably recognized for her focus on intersectional movement building. She has been at the forefront of the debate around the New York Police Department’s unwarranted surveillance of the American Muslim community, and has been featured extensively in the media speaking on topics ranging from women’s issues, Islam, domestic policy, and political discussions on the Middle East conflict.

Rebecca Solnit
Rebecca Solnit
Website: www.rebeccasolnit.net

Writer, historian, and activist Rebecca Solnit is the author of twenty books on feminism, western and indigenous history, popular power, social change and insurrection, including a trilogy of atlases and the books The Mother of All Questions, Hope in the Dark, Men Explain Things to Me; The Faraway Nearby; A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities that Arise in Disaster; A Field Guide to Getting Lost; Wanderlust: A History of Walking; and River of Shadows, Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West. Her writing has appeared in numerous publications in print and online, including the Guardian and Harper’s Magazine, where she is the first woman to regularly write the Easy Chair column founded in 1851.

Jessica Valenti
Jessica Valenti
Twitter: @jessicavalenti
Instagram: @jessicavalenti

Jessica Valenti is a columnist for the Guardian and a New York Times best-selling author of Full Frontal Feminism, Why Have Kids?, Sex Object: A Memoir and more. In 2004, Jessica founded the award winning blog Feministing.com, writing on women’s issues in mainstream media. Her articles have topped the most-read lists at The Atlantic, the Guardian US, The Washington Post, and The Nation. She has also written for The New York Times, Salon, Bitch, Ms. Magazine and The Toast.

Cleo Wade
Cleo Wade
Instagram: @cleowade
Facebook: @cleowadeofficial

Cleo Wade is an outspoken artist, speaker, poet, and author, and an inspiring voice in today’s world for gender and race equality. She creates motivating messages, blending simplicity with positivity, femininity and arresting honesty. Her poems speak to a greater future for all women, people of color, and the LGBTQ community, preaching love, acceptance, justice, and peace. Cleo contributes regularly to W Magazine and Teen Vogue, and sits on the board of the National Black Theater in Harlem, the Creative Council of Emily’s List, and was a National Surrogate for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 Presidential campaign. She is an avid supporter of Planned Parenthood and Free Arts, the non-profit creating arts programs for children from New York City’s underserved communities.

Lindy West
Lindy West
Twitter: @mamontovaedvar1
Instagram: @thelindywest

Lindy West is a writer, editor, author of Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman and performer whose work focuses on pop culture, social justice, humor and body image. She’s currently a culture writer for GQ, as well as the founder and editor of I Believe You | It’s Not Your Fault – an advice blog for teens. Previously, she was a staff writer for Jezebel, has appeared on NPR’s the Takeaway and hosts the Moth Radio Hour’s StorySLAM every month. She has won the Women’s Media Center’s Social Media Award and her work was selected among the Nation’s top ten feminist articles of the year in 2013.

Now, more than ever, it’s imperative that we celebrate and elevate women’s voices.

If you know a woman who’s doing incredible work – a woman who’s making a difference in the world, who’s using her voice to change hearts and minds – let her know, “I see you.” Send her an appreciative email. Mention her on your blog and social media channels. Nominate her for an award. Donate to support her cause. Or, encourage her to run for office.

Let’s support one another, fiercely. As we work to create a better nation, and to heal the injustices of the past, we are – to quote Hillary Clinton – “stronger together.”

What women would you like to see included on this list? Please feel free to add them in the comments below.

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