Time isn't so sure about feminists. For its fourth annual "word banishment poll," the magazine posted a list of suggested words that should maybe just go away, a significant number of which are generally associated with young women and minority groups -- for example, "bae," "basic," "bossy," "literally," "obvi," "turnt" and, of course, "I can't even." But right smack in the middle of the list is that word so many people are supposedly afraid of: "feminist."
Time takes care to note that it's not recommending doing away with feminism, the word or the movement, but rather with the label used to describe people who believe in gender equality. "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?" Katy Steinmetz writes. "Let’s stick to the issues and quit throwing this label around like ticker tape at a Susan B. Anthony parade."
(Speaking of celebrities identifying as feminists: Which news outlet was it, again, that asked Shailene Woodley if she considered herself a feminist, sparking widespread backlash over her printed response? Oh, right.)
For many self-identified feminists, the label isn't just tossed around lightly. Rather, it serves as a crucial indicator to others that one believes in equality. It's a tie to a larger, invaluable movement, which even Time concedes, we still very much need. A number of feminists have taken to social media to criticize the proposed ban:
The fact that @time is equating "feminism" with "bae" and "nom nom nom" tells me that clearly, we aren't saying it ENOUGH.
— Liz L (@lizlabz) November 12, 2014
— Planned Parenthood (@PPact) November 12, 2014
— Jessica Valenti (@JessicaValenti) November 12, 2014
— Cecile Richards (@CecileRichards) November 12, 2014
In what universe is it a problem that celebrity women are finally claiming feminism in significant numbers?
— Roxane Gay (@rgay) November 12, 2014
Guys, has @TIME been secretly running the Women Against Feminism tumblr?
— Rebecca Schinsky (@RebeccaSchinsky) November 12, 2014
Oh, and to Time's question about when it "became a thing" for celebrities and public figures to identify as feminists: It "became a thing" when it stopped seeming so insane that women are, and should be treated as full human beings -- which, unfortunately, occurred relatively recently, which should seem outrageous to everybody whether they identify as feminists or not.
But identifying as a feminist is important, whether Time would have it that way or not. Case in point: People are actually voting to ban the word -- an indicator of just how desperately we need not just the label, but the feminists who claim it.