In November, Time magazine created a poll of “words to ban,” including the word “feminist.” While Time did apologize later after significant backlash from readers, the matter remains: why is feminism still viewed so negatively?
While every movement or group that has ever existed has contained radical thinkers or extremists, feminism is particularly targeted in this regard. The public’s view of the movement for gender equality assumes, or fears, that feminists seek to invert social power structure in a way that places women above men, rather than equal to. Or worse, that equality already exists and no further change is necessary.
Accepting the media’s skewed portrayal of feminism, including Time’s poll which implies that we as a society should no longer discuss the implications of the feminist movement, only worsens the problem. If we do not candidly converse about socioeconomic and political gaps between men and women, we cannot hope to close them. Nor can we pretend that feminism is somehow no longer relevant, or forget the progress it has made for women throughout the nation. Readers’ immediate outcry is commendable; Time magazine claims it only “meant to invite debate about some ways the word was used this year,” but without meaningful context, the inclusion of “feminist” on the poll only appeared dismissive of a significant movement.