This post originally appeared on Bustle.
By JR Thorpe
Leaving aside the maniacs of the Men’s Rights Movement for a minute, even people committed to women’s rights have raised the sacrilegious idea in recent years that the f-word is old-fashioned and needs to be retired for something newer, snappier, and more inclusive. Quick, somebody hire a marketing department. Can we sum up an entire equality movement in an emoji? But all joking aside, should the word “feminism” be replaced?
I say no way — and understanding where the word “feminism” came from is a necessary ingredient to understanding why other words just can’t quite compete. Humanism, equalism, and other ideas have been suggested as replacements, by people as prominent as Meryl Streep, but if they really want a word that’s all about fighting for the rights of women in the world, “feminism” is the best we’ve got, and there are good historical reasons as to why.
So here’s why you shouldn’t throw away your “This Is What A Feminist Looks Like” T-shirt or alter it to another word. The history of “feminism” as a word is a slightly twisted one, and it has some unexpected moments — just like the waves of feminism itself. Words are strangely powerful things. Let’s take a look at how the term feminism came to be — and why it needs to stay.