Merriam-Webster defines feminism as “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes” and this year, Merriam-Webster has declared that Feminism is the 2017 word of the year, meaning it was the most searched word on the online dictionary this year.
This year, in particular, has been the year of change in all aspects. Ever since President Trump was elected in January, the public has raised their voices and taken action. This was seen as soon as January 21st, the day after Trump’s election with the Women’s March. It started as a planned march in Washington D.C. to advocate for women’s issues and human rights. It expanded from city to city and became a nationwide protest in all 50 states between 3,267,134 and 5,246,670 people in the United States and estimated to 5 million people worldwide.
Merriam-Webster’s Editor at large, Peter Sokolowski, said that lookups of the definition spiked 70 percent more over the previous year and it coincided with major events from the news.
“No one word can ever encapsulate all the news, events, or stories of a given year, particularly a year with so much news and so many stories,” Sokolowski said. “But when a single word is looked up with great volume, it also stands out as one associated with several different important stories. As a result, we can learn something about ourselves through the prism of vocabulary.”
Political figures after The Women’s March, like Kellyanne Conway, were quoted to not agree with Feminism and interpreted it in their own way. For example, Conway was quoted at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in February with, “it’s difficult for me to call myself a feminist in the classic sense because it seems to be very anti-male, and it certainly is very pro-abortion, and I’m neither anti-male nor pro-abortion. So, there’s individual feminism, if you will, that you make your own choices. I look at myself as a product of my choices, not a victim of my circumstances.”
Conway went on to say, “You know, this whole sisterhood, this whole ‘let’s go march for women’s rights and, you know, just constantly talking about what women look like or what they wear or making fun of their choices or presuming that they’re not as powerful as the men around.”
In the latter half of the year, Hollywood experienced a rush of women accusing big named celebrities and those behind the scenes of sexual assault. It all started with the hashtag #MeToo and exploded into a sea of men being taken down from their positions and being put in their place; as a result of this movement, TIME Magazine named “The Silence Breakers” their 2017’s “Person Of The Year” by featuring the women who started the conversation.
Other than political news, “Wonder Woman” spiked the definition of Feminism on the website because it was the first big-budget women-leading superhero movie. Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” also had a hand in the definition of upsurge.
The definition of Feminism has evolved. Noah Webster first entered the word in an English dictionary in 1841 when it was defined simply as “the qualities of females.” Now, the definition has been changed, and it means so much more.
The runner-up for word of the year was “Complicit,” meaning “helping to commit a crime or do wrong in some way.” This resulted from Ivanka Trump using this word in a speech in March responding to allegations that she was complicit in her father’s decisions as President.
“I don’t know that the critics who may say that of me if they found themselves in this very unique and unprecedented situation that I am now in would do any differently than I am doing,” Ivanka Trump said. She added later: “I don’t know what it means to be complicit. But you know, I hope time will prove that I have done a good job and, much more importantly, that my father’s administration is the success I know it will be.”
This speech led Ivanka Trump to be parodied on “Saturday Night Live” with Scarlett Johansson modeling for a campaign for a fragrance named “Complicit.”
Birth Control has been attacked as of late in the news and by politicians. There has been a recent controversy if President Donald Trump and his administration will dramatically reduce access to the pill. People have expressed on Twitter with the hashtag #HandsOffMyBC to fight back against the White House. Planned Parenthood is an organization that has been very vocal about fighting back against this agenda. Planned Parenthood’s name has been in the news since the election because one of the services they provide is abortions when they offer way more than that. Many politicians have expressed how they want to cut PP funding. To learn more about Planned Parenthood, click here and click here to donate to Planned Parenthood.
Feminism is not just for women; it is the common goal to have equality of the sexes. Merriam-Webster recognizing Feminism to be the word of the year proves that even when challenges arise, equality is still being fought for in society. The Women’s March is already planning its march for 2018. Find out what you can do to join the movement. But, this is only the beginning.