The women’s movement is not a laughing matter
A few weeks ago, TIME magazine published its annual word-banning poll. The list of words it suggests is meant as a joke, in order to create—ironically—more discussion about overused buzzwords in this era of constant provocation to attract an audience. Last year the lucky winner of this “worst word war” was “twerk”. The nominees for this year included various choices of annoying culture-related terms such as “bae,” “I can’t even,” and…“feminist.”
Not only was it in the list, but it also made it to the first step of the podium. Feminist, a word to ban? After a petition from angry readers—because, let’s face it, some feminists are known to lack a sense of humour—TIME apologized for including the term in its list.
But what’s so wrong about including it in the first place? Let’s get started: first of all, feminism isn’t slang or a brand-new trendy word. Feminism is a movement striving for political, economic, social, cultural equality between genders. Feminism is an ideology promoting respect, equality of chances, rights, and duties, for both men and women. Feminism has history. Feminism is history. How can anyone neglect all the progress made thanks to this movement, by outrageously, casually, including it next to words empty of meanings like “obvi” or “sorry not sorry”? The association is disturbing.
Their justification was that the “f-word” made a loud comeback this year, and it was overused by a lot of celebrities. It cannot be denied the frequency of its use increased these past few months. We remember the beautiful speech from Emma Watson, leading the #HeforShe United Nations campaign, reminding us that anyone who is against gender discrimination and believes in equality should take action and consider themselves a feminist. Because this is the only meaning of the word.
And yes, plenty of other celebrities like Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Beyonce, Lena Dunham, and Taylor Swift all took a stand and defined themselves as active feminists. The question is: in 2014, how can it be “hurtful” or “annoying” to speak out about equality?
The truth is, no matter how many people speak out, the situation stays the same. The gender wage gap exists everywhere. Women are not paid the same as men for equal qualifications. Women still don’t control their own bodies and have to fight for contraception or abortion. Women are still discriminated against, harassed, or blamed for their sexuality. Women are still victims of the glass ceiling, and face archaic sexist structures in the workplace. Women still deal with violence and sexual assault every day.
When all of this isn’t a problem anymore, then we can stop talking about it. Until then, it is our duty not to ban the word, but the injustice. When that day comes, the word “feminist” should not be banned but remembered, because of the meaning it carries, and the accomplishments it represents.
For now, let’s work to make it obsolete.