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A Well-Deserved Rant Against TIME Magazine for Suggesting Banning the Word 'Feminist'

A Well-Deserved Rant Against TIME Magazine for Suggesting Banning the Word 'Feminist'

A Well-Deserved Rant Against TIME Magazine for Suggesting Banning the Word 'Feminist'

Because it's just as obnoxious as "yaaaassss" and "bae," apparently.

The end of fall always brings with it some time-honored rituals: reappropriating Halloween pumpkins as Thanksgiving pumpkins, severly under-dressing during schizophrenic weather changes, and the TIME Magazine yearly list of words to ban.

Normally I'm all for this list.  Past winners have included "YOLO" (i.e. the idiot's "carpe diem") and "twerk," which, if I have to hear or see one more time, I will go watch TMZ until I can track down Miley's precise location in LA, drive there, and personally hand deliver her a letter expressing the pains and damages I have suffered as a result of the introduction of this word into the world. 

This year's list includes a whole host of words and phrases I would happily ban for eternity, including "turnt," (a bastardization of turned that doesn't have anything to do with turning), "said no one ever" (*shudder*) and "om nom nom" (which is just the most horrifying onomatopoeia to exist....who wants an actual phrase that imitates the sound of people chewing?!?)

However, on this year's list writer Katy Steinmetz also included the word "feminist" with this snarky explanation: "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."



I'm sorry, what was that? Did you just include a reference to one of the most important philosophies in the history of America in a list that contains "kale" and "literally"?  Part of me wants to just ignore this list and sing Taylor Swift songs in my head until I forget all about it, but part of me can't look away from the insidious implications of this kind of blasé dismissal of a word, and by extension a movement, that has been so crucial to the progress and experience of women in this country. 

It's been very depressing indeed to stand by in recent years and watch as "feminist" has gone from a self-identifying label that means "I believe in equality between the sexes" to "I am an evil man-hating Amazonian murderess witch who will take down any man in my path and upend society as we know it."  Normally, I would self-identify with this other writer Katy (even though she spells her name the stupid way), but I simply can't get on board with a woman who would outright skewer a word which is at least partially responsible for the fact that she as a woman holds a job as a writer in the first place. 

Other Writer Katy! Have you forgotten in your millennial apathy that this word actually MEANS something unlike all the other nonsensical, overused Internet vernacular garbage that you (rightfully) put on this list? Look, I'm a millennial too, and I get that we all have this inane, live-out-loud, Instagramming-Tweeting-Facebooking obsession with ourselves and our memes and our idiotic semantic deviations, but come the fuck on.  This is feminism you're talking about. Susan B. Anthony would be blowing up your iMessage with monkey-covering-eyes emojis if she could right now. 

The (sort of) good news is that I think the reason everyone is currently so sick of this word is because luckily there has been a bit of a feminism resurgence in America with young, intelligent women (and men!) being willing to talk about it, bring it into the public sphere, and put a call to action to the public to not let this critical ideology get mis-defined and bashed into obscurity and damnation.  Like any positive social movement, it has received its heavy-handed backlash from the terrifying trolls over at Reddit and 4Chan and been used as target practice broadly by every loud-mouthed member of the GOP. It's kind of like how all of America got realllllly sick of hearing about marriage equality after awhile because it was just all over the news and people can only tolerate a message/word/movement for so long.  But just like it's dangerous to get "bored with" or "sick of" marriage equality, it's just as damaging to tire of "feminism" simply because you've been hearing it too much or too often and it asserts itself on your Facebook newsfeed too much.

I get it, okay? I am a lesbian and even I sometimes feel kind of "whatever" about the marriage equality stuff I see flooding my Facebook--that happens because Facebook is exhausting.  But when I notice myself getting that way, I sit and consciously remind myself that I am a lesbian and just four years ago I was phone banking against Prop 8 and getting insulted and screamed at by religious whackjobs and feeling like a fucking sand crab in the face of a tidal wave of homophobic hatred.  The fact that it seems like every other day a new state (even in the south! what?!) passes marriage equality--that is an incredible, unbelievable change of circumstances compared to the climate of this country towards gays and lesbians in what feels like yesterday (because it basically was).  

So please, Other Writer Katy (and by extension other intelligent, clear-headed millennials everywhere), please don't get apathetic about feminism...please don't be so lazy as to undermine an entire ideology just because you see it too much on Facebook (how about just don't log into Facebook so much?).  Don't say shit like "We should all just be 'humanists' because 'feminist' is a bad word."  Feminism specifically addresses the historic, ubiquitious, and certainly not-dead discrimination, disenfranchisement, and devaluation of women and argues for equality between the sexes.  Broadening it to "humanism" strips it of meaning even more than we've already done to this poor word. Of course all humans should be equal, but this takes the debate away from sexism and into the realm of The Golden Rule.  Okay, we already have a phrase for that, so let's just leave it there.  

Don't ban "feminist," TIME.  You're doing women everywhere a disservice when you undervalue this word the way the world continues to undervalue women. I will happily ban "basic," but I can't let this one go.  SMH...



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Katie Boyden