Ah! If I had a penny for every time I had a friend, family member, acquaintance or a complete stranger tell me, "don't go all 'feminist' on me", I would be so, so rich. Feminism, it in its very basic essence strives to challenge gender norms which have gone unquestioned for centuries in a glaringly patriarchal society. So, from the gender pay gap to very few women occupying leadership positions across sectors to feminine qualities being assumed as weak and insignificant to numerous horrifying instances of sexual harassment being reported this year - we have to take cognizance of how women have been repeatedly let down. It is no surprise that according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, Feminism is the word of the year, with a 70 percent rise in searches on the website since 2016.
It all started with Donald Trump being elected as the US president even after more than a dozen women spoke about being sexually harassed by him over the years. Even after the infamous tape of him admitting that he forcefully kisses and grabs women "by the pussy" came out in the media. His election was followed by a large and unprecedented worldwide protest (the women's march) and pointed out one excruciating fact: The biggest superpower in the world (including women) would elect a sexist, racist, megalomaniac than a woman politician who has spent years serving her country.
This revelation was only followed by more and more women (and men) finally mustering the courage to speak up about extremely powerful men, who had sexually harassed them and made them feel uncomfortable at their workplace. Earlier this month, TIME magazine deemed the 'Silence Breakers' of the #MeToo movement as the Person Of The Year, acknowledging the courage and fortitude of the people who came forward to share their stories in the hope that they are not repeated again.
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“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,” said Peter Sokolowski, Editor-At-Large at Merriam-Webster 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 word Feminism also garnered limelight because of the hit movie Wonder Woman and the acclaimed TV-series The Handmaid's Tale, both of which were lauded by critics and audiences alike.
Feminism was first entered in an English dictionary by Noah Webster in 1841 with the definition "the qualities of females", and today's definition reads "the theory of the political, economic and social equality of sexes" and "organized activity on behalf of women's rights and interests."
Personally, as a woman, Feminism is the lens through which I view the world. I believe that I deserve to treated at par with men, on the professional and personal front. I believe that we can achieve great things together. Feminism is not a man-hating scheme, insistent on reducing one's share of the pie. We just want to make the pie bigger, and better. For everyone.