Dictionary Merriam-Webster has been forced to change its definition of ‘femininity’ after a writer shared her disapproval of it on Twitter.
The definition included an example of how you’d use the word in a sentence which, rather unbelievably, read: “She managed to become a CEO without sacrificing her femininity.”
Needless to say, Los Angeles-based writer Ali Segel was not impressed.
Speaking to Cosmopolitan, Segel explained that she was in the middle of creating a zine of artwork and written pieces inspired by strong, powerful women when one person’s submission stopped her in her tracks.
A woman had sent in a poem, alongside a screenshot of Merriam-Webster’s definition of femininity, with a messaging saying: “Isn’t it insane that this is in the dictionary?!”
Segel was shocked by what she saw and decided to tweet about it.
Despite not being mentioned in the tweet, it wasn’t long before Merriam-Webster became aware of Segel’s disapproval and tweeted her to say: “You’re right. We’re working to remove it now.”
They later added: “AND IT’S GONE. Oof. Sorry about that.”
It transpired that someone had contacted Peter Sokolowski, who is the Lexicographer at Merriam-Webster, about the dictionary entry. Sokolowski then dealt with the complaint promptly and the sentence was removed.
“I thought the way they handled it was really great. So kudos to them for fixing it — not to take away from the initial sentence being real cringe-worthy,” she added.
Sadly it’s not the only case of casual sexism online. When you Google ‘femininity’, the top result reads: “She celebrates her femininity by wearing makeup and high heels.”
Segel later tweeted a new example of using the word ‘femininity’, which we can totally get behind: “When you use your femininity to change the dictionary 💪”
Positive. Progressive. We like it.