This week, I attended the HeForShe event at the United Nations General Assembly.
HeForShe is a campaign for men and boys worldwide to advocate an end to gender inequality spearheaded by UN Women.
At the event, I heard Emma Watson, British actress and UN Women Global Goodwill Ambassador speak passionately about feminism and gender equality.
The speech not only earned her a standing ovation from the audience present at the UN headquarters in New York, but also great viewership online and appraisal on social media.
Like Watson, I identify myself as a feminist, too. And I couldn't help feeling she was speaking my mind when she said:
"My recent research has shown me that feminism has become an unpopular word. Apparently I am among the ranks of women whose expressions are seen as too strong, too aggressive, isolating, anti-men and, unattractive."
I started calling myself a feminist openly after taking a women and gender studies class in college. It was that specific course which taught me what feminism actually entailed - "The belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes."
When I first wrote an article about being a feminist openly, two years ago, I remember getting negative reactions from some of my friends and family members on using the term, 'feminist'.
They all thought it was too strong and bold a term for me to use. It did not align with my "gentle" and "docile" upbringing.
In the long phone calls and email threads which ensued (and where I spent myself convincing them that I had not turned into an aggressive man-hating militant and will not die an old maid or as a cranky cat lady), I only found myself growing more sensitive to the feminist movement.
Time and time again, I brought this topic during dinner conversations, phone conversations with old friends and somehow, I was never able to wrap my head around how some people cringe on hearing the 'f' word.
Emma Watson asked: "Why has the word 'feminist' become such an uncomfortable one?"
It only stands for helping women and girls achieve equal rights as men, and for liberating them from stereotypes.