Time Magazine regularly runs a rather anodyne feature that has grown into an interactive staple over the years. Every year, the magazine assembles a list of words which have become mainstays of our national dialogue and asks readers to vote on those words or phrases which may have outlived their usefulness.
“OMG,” “twerk,” and “obvi,” were among this year’s words that Time felt were worthy of being excluded from all future discourse. Leading the voting by a large margin as of last week, however, was one word which Americans apparently believe is no longer representative of the brand of ideologue it purports to describe: “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?” read Time’s explanation for including this in its list of words worthy of proscription. “Let’s stick to the issues and quit throwing this label around like ticker tape at a Susan B. Anthony parade.”
As of Thursday, Time found that “feminist” beat out its 14 competitors with 51 percent of the vote for the title of word the public would like to see retired.
USA Today’s Glenn Reynolds took a stab at determining why American culture has grown so hostile toward feminism that it would vote in large numbers to ban the term from the public square.
According to a HuffPost/YouGov poll, only 23% of American women and only 20% of Americans overall identify as feminists, even though most are in favor of gender equality. Feminists, who like to say that feminism is gender equality, are unhappy with this, but I think the poll captures a truth. Whatever feminists say, their true priorities are revealed in what they do, and what they do is, mostly, man-bashing and special pleading.
Reynolds wrote this passage as part of a column dissecting the asinine outrage feminists directed towards an astrophysicist who had the temerity of violating progressive feminism’s unspoken fashion codes while celebrating one of the greatest achievements in human history: The interception of a comet with a lander that left Earth a decade before rendezvousing with its target.
Reynold’s received nearly the same amount of vitriol from the small but vocal feminist community as did the scientist who was the original target of their ire. He was, it seems, not alone. After presumably enduring the withering scorn of this small but influential sect, Time issued an obsequious apology to its readers for making the discovery — one of vast social relevance — that feminism is unpopular.
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.
Subjectively offensive shirts, online polls, the heteronormativity of facial hair — these are the truly small things with which modern feminism is consumed. Long ago lost was the moral authority associated with the pursuit of equality before the law. Today’s feminism is a movement which can only rally its adherents around the censorship of those who are deemed insufficiently supportive of their cause. It is no wonder, then, that the word which describes this formerly influential movement has become a pejorative in the eyes of so many.
This post has been updated since its original publication.