We Spleen: TIME‘s “Feminist” Hate-Fest


Feminist. Feminist. Feminist. Screw you, TIME!

That was my immediate reaction when I read that TIME had included “feminist” on a list of choices for its annual “worst words” poll, where readers can select the inescapable and overused buzzword of the year that they never want to hear again. The criteria for such distasteful words:

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.

(In the past, words such as “twerk,” “OMG” and “YOLO” have won).

In her explanation for including “feminist” in the poll, TIME correspondent Katy Steinmetz wrote:

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.

First off, where are these Susan B. Anthony parades happening because that sounds incredible and way more fun than the ones I throw by myself in my apartment.

And second, we here at Ms. think the feminist “moment” we’re having right now is a great thing, something to be celebrated. That the word feminist has blitzed into the zeitgeist on such a scale that it’s now a question bound to pop up in celebrity interviews helps to kill the perception that feminism is some radical fringe movement. There’s nothing fringe-y about it.

Feminism is just, as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie put it, a belief in the “social, political and economic equality of the sexes.” It’s not some flash-in-the-pan pop culture trope, it’s a social movement that’s helped to put issues like reproductive justice, equal pay, sexual assault and domestic violence on the map.

Sadly, feminism is leading the pack in “ban it!” votes. But, according to a report at Jezebel, it looks like the knuckle-dragging trolls over at the misogynistic 4Chan are responsible for that. Jezebel shared a screenshot taken from one of the 4Chan forums where everyone is being pushed to vote for “feminist” in the poll, with one user posting, “Let’s trigger some bitches.” See the depressing TIME results for yourself below:

Screen shot 2014-11-12 at 11.13.17 AM

To all the haters, all I have to say is sorry not sorry, bae! Feminists are obvi going to keep getting turnt and being bossy, and if you can’t even with that, you can go om nom nom nom on some kale with your basic self.

Maybe I can do a write-in vote for words more deserving like “feminazi,” “reverse sexism,” or “TIME”?

Tell TIME you disagree with their decision—sign the Feminist Majority Foundation’s petition!

Screenshot of Beyonce’s VMA performance taken from MTV.com



Anita Little is the associate editor at Ms. magazine. Follow her on Twitter.


  1. Right on! You tell it like it is, sister 🙂

  2. Carla Beddard says:

    Good article…but I ask my friends not to use the term feminazi. Almost always used to denote a feminist or strong woman, and associating them with nazis – torturous killers and sadists – makes me real sad.

    • Yes, I so agree. The term “feminazi” is not o.k. under any circumstance. Feminists do not murder Jews. Please stop the reference to Nazi’s.

      • Um — that’s kind of the point of the last sentence of this piece, folks: that if any term should disappear from the lexicon, it’s “feminazi.” Unless you’re going so far as to say that the word, like Voldemort’s name, should only be referred to obliquely, you’re misreading.

  3. Thank you! Well said. We’ll stop using word “feminist” when sexism is no longer an issue. Until then, feminism, feminism, feminism!

  4. YAS Thank you. This poll is making me depressed. There is absolutely nothing wrong with labeling yourself as a feminist. Katy Steinmetz needs to purchase a dictionary.

  5. Seriously, we wouldn’t have to continue using the word FEMINIST if it wasn’t absolutely necessary! Until women are ACTUALLY EQUAL, feminist will be a necessary word in every language. This just goes to show how out of touch the entirety of America (and the world) is with how women are treated by our society. The fight is not over, because if it were, the word feminist could all but disappear.

  6. Great article! I think “feminist” is the perfect word to denote that we are fully human and neither chattel nor window-dressing. Obviously a whole lot of folks don’t like that.

  7. i,m in total agreement with you!

  8. This is so depressing and infuriating at the same time. Anita, I think your response is wonderful and a lot more polite than the things i was thinking about this survey. You go girl!

  9. “Feminism,” but not “feminazi.” Tells you a lot about their thinking.

  10. Appalling! Shame on Time.

  11. I am a feminist, and I am glad that the word is out there getting attention. Unfortunately, it has been re-defined so much that it doesn’t mean much anymore. As long as you say something vaguely positive about women now and again, you can call yourself a feminist, and others will call you that too. These days, people can slap on the label without much thought and other people will praise them for it.

    What I can’t stand is people who aren’t feminists calling themselves that. I cringe when a celebrity uses the word without seeming to really understand what being a feminist entails. And, yes, I want to shove chopsticks in my ears every time I hear someone telling us that we can’t tell people how to be feminist, all the while telling us what it means to be feminist. What I “spleen” is the girl power, yay! version of feminism that pervades the media, entertainment, and the minds of people who honestly think they’re feminist just because they listen to Beyoncé and don’t approve of rape.

  12. Yes x 1000!

  13. nothing like using words people hate to sway them to your point even if the data for 1 result is skewed lol

  14. chilly will says:

    so turnt on kale right now. om nom nom nom

  15. Next year- Let’s DO this- Feminazi must make the list!

  16. Fuck all the people bitching about that word.

  17. Sharon Resnick says:

    I cancelled Time 2 years ago….about the same time I cancelled cable “news”. I am tired of news that is not news but is entertainment…and Time has become a shadow of its former self. Ugh.

  18. I was hoping that this may be a misunderstanding and that the magazine was speaking out against the way some elements have been trying to co-opt the word such as mega douchebag Robin Thicke when he claimed to be a feminist or those people who claim to be all for feminism, just that feminists need to be quiet and focus on “important issues” like voter fraud, repealing obamacare, or preventing equal pay legislation…

    No from the people who brought you ” man of the year: Hitler” comes another faux news article(which I doubt gets published in their international editions) that attempts to shut down any conversation about an urgently import topic. I guess they need more room to condemn Kardashian for showing her photoshopped butt for publicity while fixating on it. Literally, nom nom, muthafuckers!!!

  19. It is the one movement we are routinely reminded to “get over”. Civil Rights is a core value, Inter Faith is a bumper sticker of hope, Gay Rights is a rallying cry, Feminist/Feminism is and has been since the very first an offense of unimaginable proportions and we are told over and over that it is to be used in past tense only. It’s position on the list says it all.

    • “Civil Rights is a core value”? Not to huge swaths of the country. How about some intersectionality with your feminism?

  20. It would be nice if Ms. magazine acknowledged that “feminist” wasn’t the only word that shouldn’t have been on that list. A number of the words come from African-American Vernacular English (AAVE), and targeting them was racist on Time’s part.

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