Joy ’17: Why we must define feminism, time and time again

Earlier this past week, TIME published a poll asking its audience to vote on which “mainstream” word should be eliminated from our vocabularies in the upcoming 2015 year. The common “om nom nom”, “sorry not sorry”, and “obvi” are to be expected, targeting the many elitist young adults that prioritize their time in criticizing some harmless aspects of popular media. However, including many racially-implicated words, “feminism” was included on this list of “nuisance” vocabulary. Not only was it even considered to be included in the list, but it has also dominated in the polls with 48% of the results to its eradication, with “bae” as a pathetic second with 13%. This is nothing less than appalling.

TIME gives rationale to the annoyance of “feminism”, stating, “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.” This statement within itself is quite paradoxical, simplified to mainly “I have nothing against the concept of feminism, but advocating for the cause makes me uncomfortable”. When inconvenient to the general public, labels tend to “not matter” and become a “trend” that needs to be disembodied and dismantled. Ultimately, people like this don’t have problems with many concepts until they become a threat or ease their way into popular media and culture. The word “feminism” symbolizes the solidarity, well-being, and justice for women that can drastically change one’s ideologies when self-declaring as a feminist. This is more than a label, it is a declaration that one will continue to promote women’s rights, check one’s privileges, and question the social norms that have fragmented the potentiality of individuals for thousands of years.

There has been a profoundly puzzling misunderstanding of what feminism means, which is especially prevalent in popular media. In the progressive movement towards equality for women, we are then bombarded by the rising backlash of the male voice claiming that “women don’t have it that bad”. Apparently, the issue of patriarchy is applicable everywhere, except when involving the white male from developed countries. In the case of oppressed, the state of its presence is more of an issue than its subjective severity. To claim that one issue is more important than another varies the issue that these systems exist do (and should) not. There is a strong distaste for recognizing that one’s demeanor and possible beliefs have been influenced by social imprints and implications.

Ultimately, the word feminism used within our society disembodies our previous thoughts on celebrities in our country. Women are now beginning to be valued for their critical minds and genuineness, their collective voices giving new light to the feminist movement. Feminism should be a common concept in this point in time; why is it now that we have become sick of hearing the word? Women’s voices are evolving with the women’s movement, but it seems that the popular media will be indulging in its past, sluggish traits by taking these issues as complaints rather than valid oppression.

To include the word “feminism” on a list of “annoying” words is beyond petty and inconceivable. What better way to bring issues to light than to declare oneself as a feminist and engaging conversation on women’s rights? This is not a just word, it is an empowering conversation and active movement to a just world. In comparison, the words “patriarchy”, “sexism”, and “misogyny” are much more threatening than the declaration of women’s empowerment. The concepts behind these words belittle, oppress, ridicule, shame, harm, and murder women daily. Where do our real priorities lie, TIME?