The Ferrier piece on femininity is terrible. She doesn’t understand the difference between a definition and an example of use. As far as I can tell, M-W has not changed the definition of the word. My 2003 11th print edition of M-W’s Collegiate dictionary gives the definition as “the quality or nature of the female sex,” which is exactly what the online edition now reads (and I presume has always read). Apparently what was changed was the example of use, although I can’t find an example of use on the website. (Maybe they just deleted it, or perhaps I’m looking in the wrong place.)
Nor should a dictionary change a definition because people complain. The definition should be based on how people use the word. Changing an example sentence is less egregious, but while I would agree with Siegel’s (the woman who complained) sentiment, the original example sentence strikes me as a great example of how the word is actually used. Deleting an example of use that some find problematic is less of a problem for me.
The plea to get more people to look up words other than fascism is also less of a problem. I really don’t care what the M-W WOTY is. (Interested, but not concerned.) But deliberate attempts to manipulate lookup stats could screw up legitimate research that rely on that data. Also, without a focused effort on one word, the effort is likely to be fruitless. It strikes me as a clickbait strategy. M-W wants more people to look up words to boost their ad impressions.