Feminism! To marketing firms and certain A-list celebrities, the term represents a prime branding opportunity; to some men on the internet, it refers to women who want nothing more than to cut men's wieners off and wear them as lariat necklaces.
But to Jennifer Lawrence, feminism simply refers to the belief that women and men should have equal opportunities — and she's confused as to how anyone could feel differently.
"I don't know why that word is so scary to people; it shouldn't be, because it just means equality," Lawrence said in a cover story for the May 2016 issue of Harper's Bazaar. "If we are moving forward in a society, you are feeling stronger as a woman, and you want to be taken more seriously."
While Lawrence is right that feminism literally means that men and women should have equal rights, the term is nonetheless loaded with negative and inaccurate connotations, with many assuming that feminism is synonymous with "hating men" or believing that women are superior to men.
Much like Hollywood actresses Lena Dunham and Emma Watson, who proudly self-identify as feminists and have spoken at length about their beliefs, Lawrence has been fairly outspoken about her advocacy for gender equality. In a 2015 essay for Lenny that went viral, she wrote about the Hollywood gender pay gap, following headlines that she had earned less for her performance in American Hustle than her male co-stars.
"I'm over trying to find the 'adorable' way to state my opinion and still be likable," she wrote in the piece, lamenting that she didn't want to negotiate her salary because she was concerned about appearing "difficult." "Fuck that."
In a speech at a February dinner for women's equality, Lawrence reiterated her beliefs, refuting the idea that men and women have achieved gender equality once and for all.
"One of the most important things for this movement is to get out of this mindset that we're in a post-feminist era," Lawrence said at the dinner. "I don't know who came up with that term, but it's the most damaging term that we have because it's just not true."
Although Lawrence has received flak from online commentators for being too privileged to be a feminist figurehead, she's nonetheless become one of the most outspoken voices on gender equality in Hollywood, as well as one of the most no-nonsense ones.
Being a feminist, Lawrence said in the Harper's Bazaar piece, doesn't mean that women have to minimize "the wonderful traits that come with being a woman: We are sensitive. We are pleasers. We're empathetic."
But that doesn't mean that women should silence themselves, either: "All those things that can keep you from asking for what you want or making mistakes."