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Time magazine: I can’t even.

Time magazine’s annual poll of the year’s “worst words” looks for words that make you “definitely cringe,” even “exhale pointedly,” even “seek out the nearest pair of chopsticks and thrust them through your own eardrums like straws through plastic lids.” And it asks people to “vote another word off the island” (and if I never hear that phrase again, I’ll be okay). Or, as The Mary Sue’s Susana Polo instructs, “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.'”

This year’s poll includes bae, basic, bossy, disrupt, I can’t even…, influencer, kale, literally, om nom nom nom, obi, said no one ever, sorry not sorry, turnout, yaaasssss, and… 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? Let’s stick to the issues and quit throwing this label around like ticker tape at a Susan B. Anthony parade.

(Do they have Susan B. Anthony parades?)

That right now, feminist is sitting well at the top, with 49 percent of the vote to bae‘s 13 percent and 4 percent for om nom nom nom — among Time‘s readership, feminist is more annoying and ban-worthy than the written interpretation of indistinct eating noises — seems to me to be an indication that maybe we need to be using the word more rather than less.

If there’s a way to “stick to issues” like the gender wage gap, domestic violence, rape on college campuses, street harassment, unrealistic representations of women’s bodies in media, repeated and growing incursions on reproductive rights, underrepresentation of women in business and government, without pulling out the f-word, I’m perfectly cool with that. What you’re going to get there, though, is a bunch of women and men coming together under some other name in pursuit of those goals, because feminism, as a movement, is just the coming together of people in pursuit of goals like that. It doesn’t always work out as planned — there will always be factioning, there will always be waves, there will always be people excluding some and taking advantage of others, as happens any time human beings are involved in a movement — but people will come together. Maybe in marches, maybe in advocacy, maybe just in shared identity. And generally, they end up with a word they use that helps them recognize each other, and in a couple of years that’s the one that climbs up your butt and ends up on Time‘s list of words to ban.

tl;dr: It’s not actually feminist but really is feminism that’s bugging you on that one, and it’s not going anywhere, so maybe just stick to commonly used Instagam hashtags.

It’s not like people haven’t actually been feminists as long as there have been women. A lot of times they didn’t say it, because there wasn’t a word for it, and then even when there was a word for it a lot of people weren’t in a position to talk about it out loud without suffering horrific consequences. But that doesn’t mean they didn’t identify that way. And if you’re going by Chimamanda Adiche’s definition of the word (the one brought onstage in lights by Beyonce) — “the person who believes in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes” — then yes, a lot of people, women and men, qualify. So Time‘s complaint there is that they’re actually saying it out loud now, which… Sorry (not sorry) you have to hear that, Time.

14 thoughts on <em>Time</em> magazine: I can’t even.

    1. Yeah, but at the same time.. someone on staff at TIME made the decision to add it as an option, allowing 4-chan to stuff that ballot.

      So, there’s that.

  1. I’m pretty sure this has absolutely nothing to do with Time’s ‘readers’ and more to do with the internet MRAs acting as the tools they are and making sure it gets pushed to the top of the list.

  2. Totally agree that 4chan is why it’s winning, but it’s reprehensible that the word was included in the list in the first place.

  3. Eh, I agree that it’s not really appropriate for a national publication to include “feminist” on their list of annoyingly overused words, but I can see how many people would reasonably see it that way these days. It’s reached a tipping point where it gets mentioned/discussed all over the place now. It’s like a great but underappreciated song that suddenly gets “discovered” by the broader public – no matter how good the song is or how much you once loved it, when you just keep hearing it over, and over, and over, you get sick of it. You still know that it’s a great song, and of course you’re glad that it’s getting the attention and success it deserves, but for the love of god, someone please make it stop!

    1. OH NO THE POOR DEARS HAVING TO HEAR THINGS DISTASTEFUL TO THEM. This comment is pitch-perfectly asinine, and if I didn’t think you were dead serious, I’d be applauding your excellent satirical skills.

      We’ve heard this backlash song before, too. Commentators have been claiming feminism is dead/played out/unnecessary since before the goddamn 19th amendment was ratified. It’s cyclical. Example here, sorry it’s Ms. Magazine.

      Instead of asking why people are so angry, maybe someone should be asking why the media is so hellbent on declaring feminism dead and buried, a la Monty Python and the Holy Grail:

      The Dead Collector: Bring out yer dead.
      [a man puts a body on the cart]
      Large Man with Dead Body: Here’s one.
      The Dead Collector: That’ll be ninepence.
      The Dead Body That Claims It Isn’t: I’m not dead.
      The Dead Collector: What?
      Large Man with Dead Body: Nothing. There’s your ninepence.
      The Dead Body That Claims It Isn’t: I’m not dead.
      The Dead Collector: ‘Ere, he says he’s not dead.
      Large Man with Dead Body: Yes he is.
      The Dead Body That Claims It Isn’t: I’m not.
      The Dead Collector: He isn’t.
      Large Man with Dead Body: Well, he will be soon, he’s very ill.
      The Dead Body That Claims It Isn’t: I’m getting better.
      Large Man with Dead Body: No you’re not, you’ll be stone dead in a moment.

    2. Can someone make you stop? Nobody should have to give up because some people are bored or don’t want to be bothered with that pesky little inequality that just won’t go away.

  4. Whilst I can vaguely understand how Time’s ‘justification’ could apply to Sarah Palin’s use of the word feminist, it doesn’t apply to Beyonce at all much less ‘every celebrity.’ Beyonce wasn’t ‘throwing the word around’ to give herself more of a broad appeal or guilt women into supporting her. And ‘every celebrity?’ I mean, maybe two or three have come out…

    It’s ludicrous to state that the people voting against the word ‘feminist’ don’t have a problem with feminism. That is, at best, completely blue sky wishful thinking and at worse a willful ignorance of what’s going on.

  5. “Editor’s Note:

    “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. “

    1. “Nuance” is a word I wouldn’t mind seeing less. Lately it seems to mean: crappy “justification” for the *ism in question.

  6. It’s funny to read Time’s apology. Obviously the poll was a bad idea. I like the spirit of feminism that is described above: it was there long before the word was. Whatever you call the spirit, the necessary rise and need of the feminine in our world–it’s to be appreciated, supported and treasured. Anne

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