TIME’s Word Ban Poll Sparks Controversy

TIME magazine word ban poll controversy

TIME Magazine’s fourth annual word banishment poll was launched earlier this month, and met with immediate controversy over its inclusion of the word “feminist.” The word ban, which has formerly ousted words and phrases such as OMG, YOLO, and twerk, has been heavily criticized since its publication.

Writes TIME’s Katy Steinmetz, “If you hear that word one more time, you will definitely cringe. You may exhale pointedly. And you might even seek out the nearest pair of chopsticks and thrust them through your own eardrums like straws through plastic lids,” of the criteria necessary to deem a word worthy of banishment. With this in mind, it’s no wonder that feminists and social justice activists were railing against TIME’s decision to include “feminist.”

In an article called “Newsflash: ‘Feminist Isn’t a Buzzword, It’s A Movement,” author Emma Gray explains why TIME’s inclusion of the word is so problematic. “The fact that a well-respected publication like Time would even consider including ‘feminist’ on a list of words that should be banned is unfathomable,” she says, of the way that TIME undermines the fight for gender equality by placing “feminist” on a list of words to ban that also includes “bae,” “kale,” and “Yaaassss.”

Because of the controversy over the inclusion of “feminist” in the poll, TIME editor Nancy Gibbs updated the original article with the following statement: “TIME apologizes for the execution of this poll; the word ‘feminist’ should not have been included in a list of words to ban. While we meant to invite debate about some ways the word was used this year, that nuance was lost, and we regret that its inclusion has become a distraction from the important debate over equality and justice.”

The results of the word ban poll will be announced on November 19.

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