Time magazine was the focus of a recent Internet debacle over an online poll that allowed readers to select a term used frequently in pop culture that they would like to see disappear. It was not the existence of this poll that caused a stir, but instead the inclusion of a term that readers could, as the publication describes, “vote off the island.” That word was “feminist.”
The poll, which was originally released on Nov. 12, was entitled “Which Words Should Be Banned in 2015?” and was created by Time correspondent Katy Steinmetz. Steinmetz included words and phrases such as “bae,” “literally” and “I can’t even.” The poll also included short explanations of each term.
Feminism was described as “a thing that every celebrity has to state their position on whether this word applies to them, like some politician” as well as a “label [thrown] around like ticker tape at a Susan B. Anthony parade.”
The poll has spun a debate over the legitimacy of the word feminist, as well as demonstrated the prominence of both sexism and social activism on the web.
“Feminism has earned a negative connotation both on the Internet and in reality as many of its supporters have lost sight of the actual goals of feminism,” first-year Steve Burns said. “But people can move together to confront this issue […] a manner which doesn’t proliferate hatred, hypocrisy and extreme generalizing.”
The issue was further escalated when users of popular website, 4chan, continuously voted for the word “feminism” to the point where it had more than half of the votes.
“It was an online poll that was overrun with trolls,” first-year Sarah Cohen said. “I don’t think the results of the poll are an accurate reflection of our society’s view of feminism, I think Time just didn’t realize that they were the butt of an elaborate prank.”
Time magazine has since issued a response.
“Time apologizes for the execution of this poll; the word ‘feminist’ should not have been included in a list of words to ban,” Time magazine Managing Editor Nancy Gibbs said in an apology released on Nov. 17. “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 poll, along with the apology, can be viewed on http://time.com