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TIME apologizes for including ‘feminist’ in poll of words to ban

TIME has apologized for including the word “feminist” in a poll asking “Which Word Should Be Banned in 2015?” Published on Nov 12, the poll drew widespread criticism online.

While it is now closed, the poll still shows “feminist” as an option, but is preceded by an apology from managing editor Nancy Gibbs:

TIME apologizes for the execution of this poll; the word ‘feminist’ should not have been included in a list of words to ban. 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.
–Nancy Gibbs

A blurb below the poll options explains that someone may choose to ban the word “feminist” because it has become “a thing” for celebrities to use the label, declaring, “Let’s stick to the issues and quit throwing this label around like ticker tape at a Susan B. Anthony parade.” Other choices on the poll included “bae,” “basic” and “om nom nom nom.”

Many readers, organizations and activists derided the poll.

Roxane Gay, a prominent feminist writer and critic, wrote for the Washington Post:

Of all the words that should be spoken more, “feminist” should be at the top of the list. Why don’t we ban “feminazi”? Better yet: Get rid of “bitch,” “slut” and “whore.” Ban racial and homophobic slurs. Those are actual issues.

Today, TIME also published an essay by feminist activist and The Women’s Media Center co-founder Robin Morgan on what the word means to her, titled “Feminist Is a 21st Century Word.”