Earlier this month, TIME Magazine published an article called “Which Word Should Be Banned in 2015?” its fourth annual word banishment poll. Words and phrases such as OMG, YOLO, and twerk have been voted against in the past, and this year’s list has plenty of vexing Internet slang and made-up terms of endearment. It also has a highly controversial (and perplexing) addition: “feminist.”
TIME’s Katy Steinmetz asks, “You have nothing against feminism itself, but when did it become a thing that every celebrity had to state their position on whether this word applies to them, like some politician declaring a party?” She continues, “Let’s stick to the issues and quit throwing this label around like ticker tape at a Susan B. Anthony parade.”
In her choice to include “feminist” on the same list of phrases such as “bae,” “I can’t even,” and “yaaasssss,” Ms. Steinmetz trivializes the greater feminist movement, and equates being a feminist to hopping on a kind of social bandwagon. In the patriarchal, highly misogynistic society we live in, feminism and the greater fight for equality of the sexes in all aspects of life is met with such vitriol, such violent opposition that declaring oneself a feminist is radical act. Steinmetz and TIME fail to acknowledge that it is not easy to declare oneself a feminist. It isn’t easy for Beyoncé, and it isn’t easy for me.
As Emma Gray brilliantly points out in The Huffington Post, “The fact that a well-respected publication like Time would even consider including ‘feminist’ on a list of words that should be banned is unfathomable,” of how detrimental it is for such a major national publication to decry feminism in this way. TIME trivializes feminism – which is quite simply the movement to eradicate gender inequality by the way – in a way that is disturbingly misguided at best. Gray continues, “According to Time’s Katy Steinmetz, banning the word feminist isn’t about actual feminism, it’s simply about making being stop ‘throwing the label around,’ specifically media outlets who ask celebrities to ‘state their position’ on the term. To which we say: LOL, no. We quite literally cannot.”
TIME editor Nancy Gibbs updated the original article with the following statement:
TIME apologizes for the execution of this poll; the word ‘feminist’ should not have been included in a list of words to ban. While we meant to invite debate about some ways the word was used this year, that nuance was lost, and we regret that its inclusion has become a distraction from the important debate over equality and justice.
Regardless of this meager follow-up in the wake of deep controversy, it is baffling to me that TIME would include “feminist” in its word banishment poll in the first place. How do you weigh in?