Lefty Media Slam TIME for Suggesting a Ban on ‘Feminism’

‘Ban Bossy’ hypocrisy rises.

Is [it] TIME to ban the word “feminism”? 

In her Nov. 12 piece unveiling TIME’s “fourth annual word banishment poll,” correspondent Katy Steinmetz asked, “Which Word Should Be Banned in 2015?” The poll listed words including “bae,” “bossy,” “kale,” “om nom nom nom” – and, most noted by the media, “feminism.” Forgetting about banning “bossy,” the feminist media went berserk, calling the move “sexist,” “unfathomable” and a “silly proposal.”

Steinmetz outlined three rules to follow before partaking in the poll: “If you hear that word one more time, you will definitely cringe,” “exhale pointedly,” and “even seek out the nearest the pair of chopsticks and thrust them through your own eardrums.”

In the word list, Steinmetz explained the reasoning behind the choices. She said about “feminism:”

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. 

Cue the feminist media backlash.

“Is there anything bigger than a face-palm? A face-foot?” asked E! Online’s Jenna Mullins. “Because seeing this article on Time magazine's website made us want to smack ourselves in the face with a shoe.”

Jezebel’s Anna Merlan similarly went off on a rant:

Yes, why does everyone have to talk about feminism? Why can't we all just be feminists quietly? At home? Only very late at night when everybody's sleeping? Or like in our teeny tiniest voices? Or in a soundproof hyperbaric chamber, maybe, where it won't, like, bother anybody?

“Let's all do a better job anticipating obvious things before they bite us in the ass,” she wrote. “Especially you, Time.”

Salon’s Jenny Kutner (who made headlines this year for publicizing her abortion) countered, “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.”

In a unique take, Kutner suggested that the attempt to ban “feminist” meant we needed the word now more than ever. “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.”

Try that logic on the media’s celebrated effort to “Ban Bossy.”

But TIME including “bossy,” in its poll was a moot point. The Washington Post’s Alyssa Rosenberg (who once called “Ban Bossy” “an important mental shift for girls and women to make” that “gets at the scope of the challenge”) also chimed in about Time’s “silly proposal” and “lazy outrage bait.”  

“’Feminist’ is far too unsettled and contested a word to be tarred with the staidness Steinmetz ascribes to it,” she ironically argued.

“More than half the population still isn't equal, and there really should be a word for those of us who think that's not fine,” wrote Cosmo’s Jill Filipovic.

“You know what else is a very tired cliche that should make TIME's list?” she asked. “’I don't like labels.’ That notion is barely tolerable when it's uttered by a petulant middle schooler objecting to being called a goth or a prep; it's insufferable when written by an actual adult in a major American magazine.”

Whoops! That wasn’t Filipovic’s take on “Ban Bossy” earlier this year. She was all for “I don’t like labels.” She wrote:

  • “Girls of color, fat girls, girls with disabilities – aren’t only victims of the ‘bossy’ label”
  • “Because fear of being labeled ‘bossy’ has real impact on girls’ lives; they’re more likely to get bullied by their peers or formally punished by adults”

Other feminist media chimed in. The Huffington Post’s Emma Gray called TIME’s move “unfathomable,” while The Daily Beast’s Samantha Allen described it as “sexist.”

The feminist media also took to Twitter to complain:

Women who came to the defense of TIME were few and far between. But they did exist. The Stir’s Jenny Erikson argued “the everyday heroes of feminism don't need to label themselves as such.”

“The real issue isn't banning feminism; it's banning a term that people sometimes hide behind to declare their own righteousness,” she wrote.

— Katie Yoder is Staff Writer, Joe and Betty Anderlik Fellow in Culture and Media at the Media Research Center. Follow Katie Yoder on Twitter.