Liberal Lexicon: ‘Identity’ the 2015 Word of the Year

If you could sum up 2015 in one word, what would it be? In early December, Dictionary.com revealed its top pick. Based off of “language evolution and user interest,” the online lexicon dubbed identity the 2015 word of the year. You can probably understand why it’s become the liberal word of choice to attach to gender.

Recent events have caused the reference website to update its content in order to reflect liberal and media changes in the use of language. “These include a new sense at the word identify to account for the common construction identify as and the addition of the term gender expression,” wrote Dictionary.com staff.

“What honorific do you use to show respect to a person who doesn’t identify as Mr., Mrs., Miss, or Ms.?” the article continued. “Dictionary.com added a handful of terms throughout the year that reflect this shifting landscape, including the adjectives agender, bigender, gender-fluid, and the gender-neutral prefix Mx. Additionally, we saw lookups for transgender and cisgender surge throughout the year.” No surprises there.

In fact, Dictionary.com has perceptively assessed the cultural climate. According to the liberal site Vox’s editor Ezra Klein, “…[S]tories that touch on people's core identities — and race, gender, and sexual orientation are about as core as identities get — are going to get a lot more coverage in the coming years.” They certainly got plenty this year. From Bruce Jenner to Rachel Dolezal to the Black Lives Matter movement, 2015 has seen it all.

Here are five of the 2015’s craziest media quotes that reflect the Left’s obsession with identity.

  1. In June, Princeton professor and NY Times op-ed contributor Rhonda Garelick wrote, “A new goddess has emerged like Botticelli’s Venus rising from the sea. Caitlyn Jenner gazes out from Annie Leibovitz’s July Vanity Fair cover, bare save for a satin bodysuit. Her auburn curls tumble over alabaster shoulders. Can she really be the avatar of personal freedom and self-expression the media claims her to be?” Well, apparently not. Jenner’s GOP affiliation and rich, white privilege precipitated the fall from the pedestal.
  1. In a discussion of transgender bathrooms on CNN, co-host Michaela Pereira said, “Issues of identity are so important. It's so frustrating to me when people forget to talk to the student, the individual, about their own identity and how they identify, and keep them as part of the process instead of making sort of the, you know, ‘We can't do this, we have to protect other people.’ What about this person's identity? It's so important.” Right. So identity is more important than other people’s safety.
  1. In a discussion about Rachel Dolezal on The View, Whoopi Goldberg stated: “Look, just like people say ‘I feel like I’m a man, I feel like I’m a woman, I feel like I’m this — I feel,’ she feels like a black woman. She wants to be a black woman, fine.” At least Goldberg’s being a truly tolerant liberal. (Did you notice how much she used the word feel?)

  1. In March, NY Mag blogger Jonathan Chait wrote, “American conservatism’s power is deeply rooted to white American racial identity. That identity formed a plausible national majority for much of America’s history, but its time is rapidly slipping into the past. The steady growth of racial minorities is projected to continue for decades. Eventually Republicans will adjust to the new demography, which means they will have to abandon conservatism as we know it, which has only appealed to white voters in the context of racial polarization.” Yep, only white people are conservative and the whole ideology would fall apart if race tensions ended. What?
  1. On the show “Oprah’s Master Class,” actress Susan Sarandon proclaimed: "I'm so excited these days by the fluidity of gender that's happening. I think once all those 'boxes' are gone, it's going to be so much more interesting and so much less energy spent on those 'boxes.' We can get down to the nitty-gritty of, really, what a person is." Wait, according to Klein, “race, gender and sexual orientation are about as core as identities get.” I guess the libs haven’t agreed on this one.

In reality, there is a battle even among liberals between fixedness and fluidity of identity. Where is the Black Lives Matter Movement if people can become black if they feel like it? And what happens to feminism when men are suddenly identifying as women? As MRC’s Tim Graham and Brent Bozell wrote in a column discussing cultural nihilism, “ultimately no one can be excluded from anything if everything is relative.”

Hopefully, 2016’s word of the year will be reality, or something equally grounded. Happy New Year!

Sarah Stites
Sarah Stites
Sarah Stites is a writer and research analyst for MRC Culture.