By Mike Syku
Time magazine is running a “word banishment poll,” as it has done for the past three years. Every year, Time staffers choose words that they believe to be somehow detrimental to society and should be “banished.” On this list are words including “bae,” “basic,” “turnt” and, to the dismay of many people, “feminist.”
Of course, including these words on the “word banishment poll” was meant to be a joke and a commentary on how certain words lose meaning in our society and how others are just plain ridiculous.
Many people have taken quite a stance on the inclusion of the word “feminist,” which the writer Katy Steinmetz justified with the explanation: “feminist: 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? Let’s stick to the issues and quit throwing this label around like ticker tape at a Susan B. Anthony parade.”
Steinmetz has no problem with feminism.
In fact, her quote assumes that all of the readers agree with the ideas of feminism, evidenced by the fact that the opening phrase is, “you have nothing against feminism itself.”
Obviously, her intention was not to incite debate about whether or not it is legitimate to believe that women are people and should have rights.
Instead, Steinmetz wanted to explain the erosion of the definition of the word. The backlash was clearly unwarranted; if anything, this was a call to stop misrepresenting feminism as a meaningless sticker a politician puts on their lapel and to start talking about it as a serious movement attempting to right serious wrongs and inequalities that have been embedded in our societies for centuries.However, Time was attacked and silenced by the populous and forced to issue an apology that cites that the nuance of the point was lost among many readers.The backlash from ridiculous, faux-offended people griping about how it is important to put a positive connotation on feminism and not to ban it ironically points out the underlying problems Steinmetz had with this word; putting a positive connotation with no real substance on a particular word creates serious problems when it silences actual discussion about the messages that feminism espouses.Of course, the fact that people missed the point so thoroughly and consequently silenced a real attempt at a discussion about the feminist movement only serves as more firepower for people who view “feminism” with a negative connotation.It’s a shame that the reactionaries silence the discussions they don’t want to have before they even consider if the discussion is worth thinking about.