Merriam-Webster Reveals ‘Feminism’ as Its Word of The Year
In the wake of different movements that involved women’s rights and convicting men who have committed harassment and assault this year, it came to no surprise that ‘Feminism’ is Merriam-Webster’s word of the year.
According to Merriam-Webster, ‘Feminism’ was a top lookup of the year, with it having 70% more searches compared to 2016.
2017 saw both a sustained rise in 'feminism' lookups and a number of event-driven spikes.
— Merriam-Webster (@MerriamWebster) December 12, 2017
Peter Sokolowski, Merriam-Webster’s editor-at-large explained that there were also other spikes that coincided with other news events.
“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. We can learn something about ourselves through the prism of vocabulary.”
The first time the word experience an increase in searches was the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration in January. People went out to join the Women’s March in Washington, along with “sister marches” across the globe.
Then it spiked again in late February when Kellyanne Conway, counselor to President Trump, said that it’s difficult to call herself a feminist.
“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 or pro-abortion. So, there’s an 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 said during the annual Conservative Political Action Conference at National Harbor in Maryland last February.
Meanwhile, politics is not the only driver that made ‘Feminism’ have the word of the year. Merriam-Webster said that there were more searches for the word because of TV shows and movies that embodies strong feminist themes. Examples of this are Hulu’s series “The Handmaid’s Tale” and the movie “Wonder Woman”.
And this fall, lookups of the word increased as millions of women started sharing their stories of sexual harassment and assault to journalists or using the #MeToo hashtag on social media.
Merriam-Webster defined feminism as “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes” and as the “organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests.”