Oxford Dictionary Uses ‘Feminist’ As Definition Of Rabid
Normally, dictionary definitions are bland and unbiased, because they’re fucking dictionaries. But occasionally, biases and blind-spots reveal themselves through the words considered dictionary-worthy or in this case, the definitions themselves.
The bias was clear when the Oxford Dictionary’s definition of rabid (synonymous with fanaticism or extremism) used “feminist” as an example.
What does it say about the gendered nature of language when a source as supposedly neutral as the dictionary equates a movement for equal rights with extremism?
When a likeminded fellow initially took to Twitter with this query, Oxford was not so graceful.
After a couple days of backlash, and a failed attempt to redefine the word, Oxford corrected their stance.
“Rabid fan” feels much better, but honestly, it would be short-sighted to deny that many of our linguistic roots are inherently hierarchical and sexist. After all, the definitions for shrill and grating are still defined by women’s unseemly voices, and psyche is defined by the “mystery” and otherness of the women’s psyche.
Shifting our language will require a lot of untangling, and we will need to choose our battles. Luckily, we rabid feminists are here to help!!!