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Time Magazine Asks “Is Feminist the Worst Word of 2014?” in New Poll. We Have an Answer For Them.

How about "print media?"

Yes, today was the day Time Magazine went on record as wanting to shove chopsticks in their ears whenever somebody says the word “feminist.” Welcome to the end of 2014, folks.

For the fourth year in a row Time has a poll up, allowing its users to choose which trendy word they’d like to never hear again, or at least for the duration of 2015. Time to get out your Language Curmudgeon Bingo Cards, and mark off the squares for “slang associated with African-American culture,” “words used by young, internet-savvy women,” “ten year old internet memes,” and “one desultory entry for an overplayed trend associated with middle class white people, i.e., hipsters.”

Everybody has their lines in different places. I feel staunchly that the plural of Batman is Batmans and not Batmen. I could give two shits about the fewer/less distinction. But the problem with objecting to the use of new words in a language is that it’s tantamount to objecting to the concept of language itself.

Still, haters gonna hate, so I’d probably give the poll a minimum of side eye and move on. Except one of these things is not like the other. And nestled right in between the checkboxes to vote “disrupt” and “haters gonna hate” off of the language island is “feminist.” Yes. The name of a widespread political movement that’s been in use for more than a century. But hey, maybe, just maybe, Time has a reason for asking its readers whether they want to throw the concept of working towards a world where men and women have the same rights and opportunities off the bus?

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.

Well, that idea was fun while it lasted. Here’s a tip, Time. When you say “I have nothing against feminism itself,” stop immediately afterward. Don’t add a “but” and then shove your foot into your mouth with a statement deliberately ignoring the wider context of the general resistance to feminist ideals which paint the movement as unnecessary (despite, for example, a recent wave of increasingly draconian restrictions on abortion access in the US), and its adherents as an entire list of things like “irrational,” “man-hating,” “unattractive,” and “attention seeking.” Ignoring the flack female celebrities get for openly calling themselves feminists, or the reactions women get for openly admitting to being feminists in online space.

Yes. Let’s stick to the issues. A woman’s right to choose. The vast gender gap in STEM fields, academia, corporate leadership, and government. Sexual harassment, whether it’s a woman walking home from the bus stop or a Oscar Award winning actress whose private photos were stolen and released online. The stigma on low-income single mothers. The pay gap. The ERA. Access to childcare, birth control, comprehensive sex education, and that’s leaving entirely aside the issues of the depiction of women in our media or the concentrated campaign to expel women from the video games community by the use of threats of death, rape, personal harm, and the invasion of their privacy.

So thanks, Time, for suggesting we get rid of the name of the movement that helped women gain the right to vote, own property, and initiate divorces. Political and philosophical movements don’t trend because they’re popular, Time. They trend because they’re necessary.

And finally, to answer your question – no, “feminist” is not the worst word of 2014. But we can think of plenty others.

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