On March 18, 1970, Gloria Steinem and a group of feminists stormed the office of the male editor of Ladies’ Home Journal and staged a sit-in, demanding that the magazine hire a female editor-in-chief. It was a defining moment for the women’s movement. Today, a new generation of feminists, led by Sonia Ossorio, President of the National Organization for Women (NOW) New York, descended upon TIME’s headquarters to protest the magazine giant’s inclusion of feminist in its recent poll of which words to ban in 2015.
Local feminists braved frigid temps and gathered in front of the iconic TIME & LIFE Building to make a powerful statement about TIME’s egregious error in judgment. The well-intentioned, peaceful protestors were equipped with picture frame-style, mock magazine covers captioned with positive statements about what a feminist is, cleverly using some of the other words/phrases TIME suggested should be considered for banishment in 2015 (“sorry I’m not sorry,” “obvi,” and “literally”).
For the latest installment of its annual “worst words” poll, TIME’s editors, including its Managing Editor Nancy Gibbs, apparently thought it was a good idea to add “feminist” to its list of which words to ban in 2015, insinuating the word that defines an individual who supports gender equality belongs in a virtual word trash-bin alongside “OMG”, YOLO,” and “twerk.” TIME even went as far as to say that feminist is among the words that might make you “seek out the nearest pair of chopsticks and thrust them through your own eardrums.”
In response, because “it’s a ridiculous notion that ‘feminist’ be reduced to a fad,” NOW-NYC immediately launched its own poll, “What Word Should TIME Ban Instead of FEMINIST?,” which put words like “bitch,” “slut,” “feminazi,” “asking for it,” and “ho” on the chopping block. According to Ossorio, the organization was flooded with responses, and it proved to be the best received initiative they have executed, to date.
During today’s protest, WYSK was on the scene as NOW announced which word came out on top in its poll… feminazi. In an exclusive interview, we also spoke with Sonia Ossorio about why NOW New York decided to speak up and rally:
“It’s really important to take a stand when you have one of the biggest magazines in the country attempting to minimize and marginalize one of the most significant movements in the country, to date. It’s a major failure, especially when you consider the political, social and economic inequality we still face.
If we are going to talk about the power of words and reflect upon those that are useless, there is not a woman in this country who doesn’t agree that words like ‘feminazi,’ ‘bitch,’ and ‘ho,’ do no social good and don’t do anything to raise the status of women.
It’s the subliminal messages that aid all of those people who don’t want see women have equality.”
She added that TIME has a history of questioning the validity of feminism and the feminists behind it.
We say, “Brava!” to Sonia, NOW and the women who came out today for showing TIME who and what a feminist truly is. Let’s hope their efforts help prevent history from repeating itself a third time with this particular magazine.