12 Ways the '90s Were All About Feminism & You Didn't Even Realize It

12 Ways the '90s Were All About Feminism & You Didn't Even Realize It

Spice Girls

Sure, feminism has been around since the dawn of time, and in 2016, the term is used more loosely than ever -- literally any and everyone can be a feminist. And while that's great, we sometimes lose sight of who the true pioneers were and where they came from. And often we overlook one prominent player who changed the game for feminists everywhere -- that "player" being the 1990s.  

We mindlessly float through our nostalgia, screaming "girl power" and the lyrics to "Wannabe" as if it's nothing. But when you pause to consider things, that Spice Girls anthem was much more than a song -- it was all about sisterhood and women's empowerment. In fact, that's what much of the '90s was about. I'd go as far as to say that this decade was one of the most feminist times (well, maybe because we lived much of it and still subscribe to its mantra) ... here's why.


 Image via Five Girls Ltd








  • Girl Power Was Everywhere


    Image via Five Girls Ltd

    Basically, "Girl Power" was super eminent. Any way you cut it, even pop music (hello, Spice Girls!) contributed to the low-key feminist movement of the '90s.


  • Women Owned Their Sexuality


    Image via Amazon

    We have always lived in a community of mysoginistic males -- but, during this time, female musicians (of all genres) took back their sexuality and made it their own -- from Gwen Stefani to TLC, Salt 'n' Pepa, and many more. 

  • There Was No Need to Always Smile


    Image via Viacom

    Daria was perhaps the OG of "Resting B*tch Face." She showed us (in all her cartoon glory) that women don't always have to maintain a smile no matter what cat callers want to tell us.

    More from The Stir: 20 Cringeworthy Fashion & Style Trends of the '90s (PHOTOS)

  • Women Were Breaking All the (Gender) Rules


    Image via ABC

    Like mother like daughter, Roseanne and Darlene (Sara Gilbert) were the picture-perfect Alpha women as they bossed their husbands around like only a real boss could do. But, all jokes aside, Darlene and her boyfriend-turned-husband David showed us there is absolutely no place for bullsh*t gender roles. 

  • Talking About Sex Wasn't Taboo


    Image via Paramount Home Entertainment

    Sex and The City stands alone for the many feminist lessons we learned from each and every character on this show -- but they'll go down in history for their "Chicks before dicks" friendship. 

    These ladies taught us the true value of true friendship and that it's perfectly fine to dish about sex at brunch.

  • Positive Female Role Models Made Us Think


    Image via Amazon

    Music was super uplifting and encouraging. As much as I love Beyonce as a feminist icon, there was no hint of "bow down bitches" on the airwaves.

    Lyrics made us question what we value morally -- "what about your friends?" (looking at you, TLC) and "how you gon' win when you ain't right within?" (thank you, Lauryn Hill) -- and those were the messages and questions that needed answers while we were growing up.

  • So Many Girl Bands = So Much Sisterhood


    Image via Amazon

    Women were dominating the music industry, and while all-women bands had their own amazing anthems, they all had one theme in common -- and that was sisterhood. Above the many uplifting messages of being independent and sexy, the bonds of some of these ladies were giving us major #FriendshipGoals.

    More from The Stir: 13 Fly Infomercial Products From the '90s That We Totally Regret Not Buying

  • Dress Codes Weren't Totally Clueless


    Image via Paramount

    School dress codes weren't restricted based on men's inability to control themselves. Period. Sure there were rules as to how short was too short, but girls were able to wear crop tops and mini culottes -- and now there's a plethora of rules that end in silly consequences should you dare to show too much leg. Just ask the ladies of Clueless.

  • Barbie Was the Ultimate Feminist


    Image via Barbie

    Sorry not sorry. I mean, really, what career didn't Barbie have? She may catch a lot of flack for her snatched waist, but you can't knock the woman who's had every career imaginable, works out, and has style, Ken, and kids.

    Hell, she's even been some super sexy iconic '90s women -- from Britney Spears to the Spice Girls -- only further solidifying her place as a feminist. 

  • TV Touched on Women's Issues


    Image via TNT

    Major '90s shows took on issues we didn't even know we had quite yet -- like breastfeeding, casual sex, and women choosing their careers in addition to marriage and kids. (Charmed, Sex and the City, Ally McBeal, and the list goes on.) 

  • Grunge Life Was Also for Girls


    Image via Amazon

    Whether you picked it up from My So-Called Life, Salt 'n' Pepa, or any other major '90s staples -- this style was everything and nothing major to put together (the simple days). But, more than anything, women were able to dress in a style once viewed for "tomboys" or just boys -- and managed to make it chic and sometimes sexy. 

    More from The Stir: 19 Best Songs From '90s Movies We Loved (PHOTOS)

  • Bras? What Are Those?!


    Image via NBC

    Either bras and padding were nonexistent or boobs weren't as censored -- because no one balked at the nipple. Now society finds that it's far too improper to walk around with hard nipples -- so you can find your local lingerie store selling ultra padded death harnesses. (Really, why do I have to wear this thing every day?) 

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