There were lots of things going on culturally that probably helped spawn your feminist awakening in the '90s. Indeed, the '90s were a surprisingly feminist time, as the third wave of feminism rolled into town. You might have entered puberty in the '90s, like I did, or maybe you already had. Maybe you were a wee thing that was born in 1991. (If so, don't worry, you no longer terrify me considering we now have a common "enemy": almost-adults who were born in 2001. Now we all know what if feels like to feel old!) Regardless of whether you were a child or a teen in the '90s, it might have been the first time you started becoming aware of the concept of feminism, whether you recognized it as feminism or not.
The things going on around you opened your eyes to gender inequalities, and it's likely that you latched on to some idea of empowerment as you were growing up. What that evolved into is probably much more mature and thought out and based on a lot more than a song or a movie (as you might have based it in the '90s). But we all have to start somewhere. Here are fifteen things that helped spawn your '90s feminist awakening.
1. Girl Power
Thank the Spice Girls for awakening the first iteration of your feminism. Girl power might be Diet Feminism, but it was a gateway drug to something very powerful.
2. No Doubt's "Just A Girl"
Before we were (rightfully) mad about Gwen Stefani wearing a bindi, "Just A Girl" was the song that made you mad about the way people treated you just because of your gender.
3. Seeing 10 Things I Hate About You at the movies
Kat was such a badass, seeing her sticking to her values, but also being vulnerable, was everything. She was a strong, tough, independent, smart woman with a big heart.
4. The Riot Grrrl Movement
This wasn't just a feminist awakening, it was pure, unbridled, anti-patriarchy feminism. Being part of the Riot Grrrl movement was a revolution for you in the '90s.
5. Watching Daria
Daria didn't do or think anything she didn't want to, and she certainly didn't adhere to patriarchal norms or attempt to people please. She was a woman marching to the beat of her own drum.
6. The Women In Hip Hop
Missy Elliot, Queen Latifah, TLC, Lil Kim, Aaliyah, Erykah Badu, and Salt N Pepa were rewriting the book on what it meant to be a woman AND the rules of hip hop.
7. Alterna-Girl Culture
Basically just Janeane Garofalo and Lisa Loeb and any other non-conforming woman that had a big brain, goofy nature, and sarcastic attitude, breaking away from the cultural norm.
8. The Rise Of Raunch
At the same time as doing the intellectual, brooding thing, women were also getting raunchier. In the '90s, as raunch culture started growing, so too did your ideas about sexual liberation.
9. All The Awesome Witches
From Willow to Sabrina, the badass witches of the '90s not only made you want to embrace the occult, but the spirit of the divine Goddess, sisterhood, and all things primally and spiritually female.
10. Listening To Financial Independence Anthems
Sexual independence was one thing, but pop culture was also promoting financial independence for women too. From Destiny's Child's "Bills, Bills, Bills" to TLC's "No Scrubs," all you wanted to do was take control of your own financial future.
11. Watching Tough Women Fighting For Good
Whether it was Buffy, Xena, the Sailor Scouts, or the Powerpuff Girls, the '90s were a time when we started embracing powerful women in television kicking butts and taking names.
12. Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Appointment To The Supreme Court
Maybe you remember seeing RBG's appointment on the news, or hearing your parents talking about it. Either way, you knew that an amazing woman was about to start changing the country.
13. Watching Sex and the City
It might seem terrible and not that feminist now, but in the '90s, SATC was a revelation. Women with big bank accounts, female soulmates, and active sex lives? It was a new way to view femininity in the mainstream.
14. The Olympics Featuring More Women
In 1991 the IOC decided that any new sports introduced had to be dual-gender. For all the budding girl athletes in the early '90s, this was a real moment.
15. Hearing The Term "Bo-Bo The Sperm Guy"
Sure, Friends wasn't a perfect representation of feminism, but when Susan called Ross "Bo-Bo The Sperm Guy" something profoundly feminist stirred deep within you, because you understood.