Dictionary publisher Merriam-Webster is well-known for its annual tradition of choosing a “Word of the Year,” and given the rise of everything from political movements like #MeToo and the Women’s March to movies and TV shows like Wonder Woman and The Handmaid’s Tale, 2017’s word feels especially apt: “Feminism.”
The noun “Feminism” is defined by Merriam-Webster as “1) the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes and 2) organized activity on behalf of women's rights and interests.”
According to the company, the “Word of the Year” is based on the statistical increase in a word’s interest over the past twelve months. I.e., Merriam-Webster isn’t making a political statement, but people are.
While the conversation surrounding women’s rights may have increased in popularity, that’s not to say, however, that all of the chatter was positive.
this isn’t to say that 2017 hasn’t been without its sexist, regressive hiccups.
Kellyanne Conway, for example, called the feminist movement “anti-male” (despite the dictionary’s definition). Taylor Swift remains a problematic pseudo-“feminist” voice in pop culture, and Ivanka Trump’s watered-down “girl power” politics do little to counteract her father’s blatant misogyny. Oh, and accused child molester Roy Moore may win a Senate seat in Alabama.
But let’s not forget all of the year’s feminist victories. Time named “silence breakers” its person of the year, and the #MeToo movement gave rise to an overdue international discussion about consent, abuse and harassment.
Here’s a roundup of tweets that perfectly encapsulate the meaningful impact of 2017’s “Word of the Year.”