News / Opinion

Why the F-word isn’t a dirty one

TIME Magazine said last week that “feminist” is one of 15 words that should be banned in 2015. Their reasoning? The ever-popular and super legit (that’s sarcasm, by the way) ‘I totally believe in gender equality but gosh, do we really have to talk about it all the time?’

Or in their words:

“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.”

Included in the post was a handy “Which word should be banned in 2015?” poll that readers could participate in. The winner? Yes, you guessed it. “Feminist” took the prize with 48 per cent of people voting that it should be banned in the coming year. Other contenders include “bae,” “basic,” and “literally,” or in other words, the words that tweens hashtag their Instagrams with.

I get it, TIME, I really do. In many ways, feminism has been trivialized by the entertainment industry in the past year or so. For many, gender-equality is a serious issue, something they might have dedicated their lives to. Seeing “feminist” and “Miley Cyrus??!?!?!” in the same sentence in bold letters on the front page of a tabloid may likely warrant an eye-roll. For others, gender-equality is a no-brainer and seeing the latest celeb wax poetical about their (often uninformed) views on the subject might induce a cringe or two. I think that Shailene Woodley talking about how she’s not a feminist would’ve been a lot less annoying if someone had handed her a dictionary before she spoke.

But optioning to ban the word because it’s just “overdone” is not the answer. In fact, some might call it counter-productive. How are we, as a society, supposed to “stick to the issues” and take equality seriously if we don’t first tackle the misconceptions people have about the word feminist? Now, I understand that including the word in the TIME list was likely in jest, that the whole thing is a tongue-in-cheek commentary on pop-culture. But that doesn’t change the fact that dismissing the term “feminist” is dismissing an identity and disvaluing the beliefs and passions of so many. It’s not hip or trendy.

The f-word is not in fact a dirty one. Being a feminist doesn’t mean you’re a man-hater. It means you believe in the equality of all sexes. The fact that I still have to clarify that is proof enough that we still need the word around.

By Prajakta Dhopade

*Note: TIME Magazine has since apologized for including “feminist” in their poll.

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