By Sarah Moshman

Feminism is apparently a dirty word. I, however wear that badge proudly. I own that word and refuse to be defined by a pre-determined ideal of what it means to be one.

Fun fact: I don’t think there were really ever women burning their bras and yet that seems to be the first thing men and women point to as a definition of a feminist. At its core it means that women should be considered equal with men. What a radical idea!

If feminist is still such a dirty word, maybe we need a new word for this millennial generation of strong women, walking the privileged path we walk because of the strong women that came before us.

I like the word Empowerment.

I like it because it’s not specific to women necessarily and at its core means to lift up oneself. That’s a concept I think everyone can get behind. This word inspired me so much I decided to name my documentary after it. The Empowerment Project is a film about powerful women all across the US told from the point of view of five female filmmakers. Within the course of a month we drove over 7,000 miles from LA to NYC interviewing women that are unapologetically going after their dreams and thriving in their careers.

We interviewed the First African American woman to achieve three stars in the US military.

We met a professional athlete that stared death in the face, and not only ran the other way but broke records doing it – she was the first woman to in-line skate across the US in 47 days!

We met with a cancer biologist, mathematician, TV producer, stylist, architect, chef, lawyer; the list goes on. We truly felt what it means to be empowered and to empower oneself.

What’s great about these women is they aren’t on the cover of a magazine or making millions of dollars. They are your neighbors, your mom’s friends, your co-workers, they are on the train next to you. Strong female role models are everywhere even if the media doesn’t choose to focus on them.

Although the 17 amazing women we interviewed were so varied in their experiences, their paths, and their definitions of feminism and success, there were a few common themes and quotes that I believe help illustrate the universal conversation of women. My favorite quote from our journey was that of Chicago Architect Katherine Darnstadt who told us “Be bold and naïve.” I think that sums up a lot of what women today are going through. Once you get up the confidence to go after a goal or a dream moving towards it with vigor and being naïve to the obstacles that will inevitably stand in your path. If we knew all the obstacles we would face ahead of time we might never take the first step. It’s all part of the journey!

Chef Mary Nguyen in Denver talked about passion and work. She told us “You don’t necessarily have to find passion in your work, you just have to find passion in your life. But know that that passion will become your life if it is your work.” A lot of us struggle with finding passion in our 9-5 job, but that’s not in the cards for everyone. There was peace in hearing we can all find passion somewhere in our lives.

Professional athlete Kacie Cleveland in Seattle talked to us about how she doesn’t feel strong because she’s a woman, she just feels strong. To me, Kacie embodies this theme of empowerment perfectly. She doesn’t consider herself a feminist at all, but I think she is fighting for equality just as much as any woman wearing the F badge proudly. Walking the walk, and not allowing society’s pressures to look or act a certain way and re-defining to the people around her what a strong woman looks like, that’s empowerment.

There is no one size fits all feminism, but if we spent less time labeling each other and focusing more on moving forward and supporting eachother, we’d get a lot more done.

To check out The Empowerment Project Trailer go to indieflix.com/empowermentproject and to attend one of our upcoming screenings click on “Find a Screening.”

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