It seems hard to believe that such a major magazine such as TIME has made such a major misstep. As of Wednesday, November 12, 2014, TIME magazine launched their fourth annual “which word do you believe should be removed from the English language ASAP” poll. What’s most disturbing about this 15 word list is that among terminology such as ‘bae,’ ‘turnt,’ ‘sorry not sorry,’ and ‘yaaasssss,’ TIME pointedly decided that it was maybe probably also time that we removed ‘feminist’ from our vocabulary.
Wait a minute, what? Despite the fact that TIME has received major backlash from the poll, TIME correspondent and poll conductor Kerry Steinmetz is quick to dismiss any complaints. Steinmetz states, “[…] 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? …Let’s stick to the issues and quit throwing this label around like ticker tape at a Susan B. Anthony parade.”
As if that weren’t offensive enough, the correspondent also detailed that words chosen for the poll’s list were chosen by the merit of concern that “If you hear that word one more time, you will definitely cringe. You may exhale pointedly. And you might even seek out the nearest pair of chopsticks and thrust them through your own eardrums like straws through plastic lids.” How can a term representing gender equality be flippantly cast among such street colloquialism? Something doesn’t seem quite right here.
Feminism has certainly been a major topic in the media and more importantly, real life culture in the recent year. From Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” to Beyoncé’s iconized VMA performance in front of giant letters spelling out the slandered word itself, to Emma Watson’s rousing ‘He For She’ UN address to the murder of a Detroit woman to viral videos concerning cat-calling and rape culture, this topic hasn’t seemed to have lost any of its fire.
Why has TIME suggested a ban on this crucial part of women’s lives? How can TIME cast such a serious, real issue among a series of phrases that are often used ironically within our vocabulary? To quote journalist Anna Merlan, “Yes, why does everyone have to talk about feminism? Why can’t we all just be feminists quietly? At home? […] Or like in our teeny tiniest voices?”
The conversation in concern to modern feminism is far from over. It is a topic of mass culture and extremely real, personal and tangible issues. To suggest that the word be expunged is dangerous—it perpetuates an anti-feminist culture and agenda. Despite Steinmetz’s commentary, there is a much different reason we should find ourselves cringing.
As of this writing, 46% of poll voters believe that ‘feminist’ really is the word that should be done away with. It is currently believed that the majority of this percentage has been causation of 4Chan and 9gag site users. A 4Chan /b/ board thread encouraged users to vote for the word, with one user declaring, “Let’s trigger some bitches.” 4Chan has also been recently noted as the site for GamerGate, a scandal that delves into the extreme misogyny and harassment of women in video game culture, as well as the recent nude photo leaks of many female celebrities.
For women across the globe, these issues are not just scary. They are terrifying. While not every man is guilty of misogyny or harassment, feminism remains an issue because every woman experiences it….. regularly. TIME’s proposal to ban the word is not only alarming, it is also harmful to women everywhere. The conversation about feminism, self-proclaimed feminists, and—most importantly—every single woman, is not over. We refuse to speak in only our tiniest of voices.