5 Things ‘Time’ Did Not Consider When It Considered Banning the Word ‘Feminist’

This post was originally posted on The Good Men Project which you can check out here!

For the past four years, Time Magazine has held a word banishment poll to solicit opinion on what words should be banned from existence. Words from previous years have included yolo and twerk. I don’t know if anyone told Time yet, but I still hear these words once in a while, so their crusades to remove them from the vernacular are mostly in vain. Most of the words that make the list are ones we’re truly sick and tired of, but this year’s list featured a shocker—feminist—right in with such banal entries as kale and literally.

This year’s list featured a shocker—feminist—right in with such banal entries as kale and literally.



The prompt for how to choose a word states:

If you hear that word one more time, you will definitely cringe. You may exhale pointedly. And you might even seek out the nearest the pair of chopsticks and thrust them through your own eardrums like straws through plastic lids. What word is this? You tell us.

Time was kind enough to add a little background information on all the words on the potential ban list. Their blurb for feminist read:

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.

Time subsequently apologized and removed feminist from the hit list. While I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall in the conference room where they deliberated, I’ll satisfy myself with offering five things Time didn’t consider before throwing feminist under the bus:

1. Once in a while (although fewer now), feminists actually read Time. For example, ME. Like others, I’ve cited the magazine numerous times for feminist articles and quotes. And while I can’t give you exact numbers, I bet a whole bunch of feminists work for Time, too—both men and women. And some of those feminists are about to go rogue.

2. Did Time consider what people would be saying—and how it might drive us even crazier—if this proposed ban of feminist took off? We would have even more people saying, “I support gender equality, but I’m not the f-word,” or, “Sure, I believe in women’s rights and all but I just don’t have the word to describe it.”

3. Time placed feminist on the list right after bossy. “You are leaning in all over the place. If Sheryl wants a word banned, then we best get banning.” So after referencing a feminist movement to end the word bossy, the next step is to ban feminist? That makes sense.

Do men who self-label as feminists get passed over for film and tv roles because they support gender equality?

4. When did it become a bad thing for celebrities to label themselves feminists? Do men who self-label as feminists get passed over for film and tv roles because they support gender equality? Jill Filipovic put it well when she said, “But then, there are hardly legions of “I’m a feminist” celebrities. Despite a few high-profile proclamations of feminist identity, feminism-as-a-trend hasn’t exactly swept the nation.”

5. Are there actually Susan B. Anthony parades? I have never been to one but would like to know when the next one is so I can march in it. Maybe Time will notify all of us the next time one breaks out.

It’s a good thing Time backtracked and took feminist off the list, because now more then ever we need the word feminist. We need to say it, we need to share it, and we need to scream it at the top of our lungs as if we’re all in a Ricola commercial. Luckily for us endangered feminists, the backlash poured in from all corners. Here is Time’s editor’s note on removing feminist from the proposed removal list.

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.

Banning a word is a pretty black and white action. How exactly is it nuanced? In any case, the irony of the online feminists of the world (the same ones whose calling out sexism in the media have brought the word feminist under attack) causing Time to rethink its decision was priceless. I guess feminist—and feminism—will be around for a while.


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