What made ‘Feminism’ Most Searched Word of the Year 2017?

Representative image (AP Photo)

Representative image (AP Photo)

A silver lining amidst the dark clouds of patriarchy.

The year 2017 saw ‘Feminism’ as the most searched word on Merriam Webster’s online dictionary, which proved to be a silver lining amidst the dark clouds of patriarchy and made it the ‘Word of the Year’.

The reasons attributed to the word being searched frequently were the breakthrough campaigns that left a long-lasting impact on people across the globe. Amongst others, one such movement was the ‘#me too’ status used by women (some men too) on social media platforms which represented that they’ve been victims of sexual harassment or misconduct of any kind at a certain point of their life.

If we’re asked to confine the entire year’s events and stories that made headlines into one word or phrase that will be impossible, however, when a specific word becomes the most looked for, so much so that the % increase attributes to 70%, it becomes conspicuous and catches the eye as something that is associated with a multitude of events happening around us.

The first such increase is said to have started in the month of January when thousands of women all over the United States and beyond took to streets as an act of denial against the new President, Donald Trump. The search for the word further increased the following month when the counselor to the President, Kellyanne Conway made a statement that clearly indicated that she’d like to stay away from the word ‘feminism’.

In the second half of 2017, the appearance of “#MeToo” on women’s profile across social media platforms was credited for the increase of the word ‘feminism’.

The breakthrough news of sexual assault and harassment by various renowned and powerful men like Harvey Weinstein; Sen. Al Franken; Rep. John Conyers Jr.; Matt Lauer; Charlie Rose; Louis C.K.; Republican Senate candidate in the state of Alabama, Roy Moore, amongst others, made headlines.

Movies like “Wonder Woman”; and “The Handmaid's Tale” a series by Hulu which revolved around the concept of a totalitarian society wherein women are denied their rights and are coerced onto the path of sexual servitude, could also be credited to the increased search for ‘Feminism’.

The definition of feminism was first included in the dictionary by Noah Webster in 1841 when it was merely a word and was defined as the qualities of females; however, for the uninitiated, now in 2017, ‘feminism’ is an entire concept that is based on the equality of sexes - social, political and economical; and also "organized activity on behalf of women's rights and interests”.

  • First Published: December 23, 2017, 11:04 IST
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