Another win for women in 2017, at least in the dictionary. According to Merriam-Webster, the word “feminism” was the most looked up word throughout the year. Given the continuous news coverage of hot button issues regarding sexual harassment, especially amongst those in high power, the word saw a spike in terms of online searches.
As recognized by Time’s Person of the Year, the “Silence Breakers” who have come forward to share their stories with journalists and those who went to social media using the #MeToo hashtag to say that they too have been affected by such sexual harassment, have also had a major factor in making “feminism” the word of the year. The constant breaking news stories regarding the resignations, firings, or dismissals of men like Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose, Harvey Weinstein and many more, continues to keep this topic in the forefront of the news.
But it wasn’t just the high profile cases that increased people’s awareness of the term. “Feminism” saw spikes following news coverage of the Women’s March on Washington, DC in January, as well as other similar marches held both inside and outside of the United States.
Ironically, the word also saw a spike once more when the Counselor to President Trump Kellyanne Conway said that she didn’t consider herself a feminist during an interview.
So what is Merriam-Webster’s official definition of “feminism”? According to the dictionary, today’s definitions of feminism is: “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes” and “organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests.”
One thing is certain, the conversation and feminist movement continues to propel itself forward and this insight is just further validation.