A light-hearted effort by TIME magazine to possibly ban the word “feminist” in 2015 drew hisses from women’s groups and a mea culpa from an editor.
“TIME apologizes for the execution of this poll; the word ‘feminist’
should not have been included on a list of words to ban,” wrote Nancy
Gibbs, managing editor of TIME.
The magazine had offered a list of 15 words or phrases — including
“bae,” “bossy,” “turnt,” “kale,” “said no one ever” and “om nom nom
nom” in addition to the “f” word — as candidates in its fourth annual
Feminists fumed that their namesake is an important word, not a meme,
and they launched a petition drive to tell TIME they were not amused.
After Ms. Gibbs posted her apology, Feminist Majority Foundation
President Eleanor Smeal praised TIME for “coming to its senses.”
“Obviously, ‘feminist’ is a worldwide movement for equality of women
that cannot and must not be trivialized,” Ms. Smeal said Monday.
“It’s very important that leaders from every walk of life not only
declare they are feminist, but help to empower women and to end the
violence against and exploitation of women,” wrote Ms. Smeal.
“Thank you for helping us win such an important victory for gender
equality today,” added Ilyse G. Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice
Penny Nance, chief executive and president of Concerned Women for
America, said that while the word-ban exercise was “silly,” it was
also “indicative of the fact that feminism has a PR problem.”
The word “feminist” was initially getting the most votes in TIME’s
contest, Ms. Nance said. In a world that values the free flow of
ideas, she said, the magazine should have stuck with its list and let
people continue to “voice their displeasure.”
In its previous polls, TIME magazine said “OMG,” “YOLO” and
“twerk” were voted “off the island.”
TIME said “feminist” appeared ban-worthy because it was something that
“every celebrity” seemed to have to state their position on, making it
a label thrown around “like ticker tape at a Susan B. Anthony parade.”
With “feminist” deemed out of the running for 2015, which of the
remaining nuisance words will win TIME’s contest and be cast into “the
deepest, darkest, most hopeless eternity from whence there is no
salvation nor return”?
The answer is expected on Nov. 19.
• Cheryl Wetzstein can be reached at email@example.com.
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