Time magazine, a magazine dedicated to the study of time, has decided that it’s time (get it) to have readers vote on what words should be banished from the English language forever. Apparently this is the fourth time (eh?) that Time has done this, with previous installments resulting in the eradication of “LOL/OMG/WTF,” “yolo” and “twerk,” words that have never been heard from again for all time (there we go).
This year’s poll asks readers to vote on the word that “will definitely” make them cringe if they hear it again. The contenders listed include a grab bag of words, such as “bae,” “kale,” “literally” and “om nom nom nom,” which is really four words (or at least two, if you want to be entirely literal here) and therefore not entirely in the spirit of the poll, but we will let it pass.
Also, one of the options is “feminist,” for some reason? Time: The Magazine offers explanations of why these words and phrases are included on the list (“disrupt,” for example, is “worn out,” while “obvi” is described as “unnecessary, cloying word-shortening”), while the argument against “feminist” says that you have nothing against feminism, duh, but the word was included because of how it became “a thing that every celebrity had to state their position on whether this word applies to them.”
So according to Time, they are not asking whether the word “feminism” is itself as tiresome as, say, “influencer.” They are just tired of celebrities being asked if they consider themselves feminists (the blurb’s author reiterated this on Twitter). The question has been posed to quite a few celebrities recently, with Shailene Woodley saying no (reported Time magazine), Miley Cyrus responding yes (according to Time magazine) and Katy Perry saying she was not sure (I read that in Time magazine).
As the question is asked more and more, the answers themselves prompt headline after headline, becoming a self-regenerating news cycle. A publicist told The Washington Post in September that he advises clients to “avoid labels of any kind,” rather than defining themselves one way or another. One would think that perhaps the answers given and the news cycles sparked and the reactions thereupon would offer a value, if only to help us discern and discuss our modern sensibilities toward gender and celebrity and equality, and that perhaps this would help “feminism,” the word, avoid the same axe threatening “om nom nom nom.”
In any event, throwing out the word because you’re tired of reading articles on Time’s site about celebrities being asked about the word is not exactly winning lots of people over. Some folks — including Roxanne Gray, author of the recent book “Bad Feminist” — were not thrilled:
In what universe is it a problem that celebrity women are finally claiming feminism in significant numbers?
— Roxane Gay (@rgay) November 12, 2014
People the book is called BAD FEMINIST, not BAN FEMINIST
— Sarah Weinman (@sarahw) November 12, 2014
Also, this poll raises a separate question: If we ban the word kale, can we still sell and purchase kale? What will this mean for the kale industry and the kale farmers? Does Time: A Chronal Journey Through Existence have a plan for these kale farmers? These are all important questions.