An ugly phrase has wormed its way into everyday vocabulary. It’s a common accusation that fills households, floats through school hallways and sits heavily in the office atmosphere. Today, feminism is no longer considered a dirty word (or at least not as dirty) compared to past eras in the United States, yet it remains a touchy subject. A particular term has been created by people frustrated with the way certain ̈feminists ̈ act, and while critiquing someone’s views is a right, the use of the label ̈feminazi” needs to stop.
Known historically for their anti-Semitic views and perpetration of the Holocaust, the Nazi party has forever marked their name with an imminent sense of evil. This group has killed over 11 million people, including children, all in ruthless and diabolical ways. The word ̈feminazi” stems from a perceived negative stereotype of feminists. The name, a hybrid of the word “feminist” and “Nazi,” suggests someone has extremist views regarding women’s rights, and supports the superiority of one group above others, stereotypically women above men. When someone, usually a woman, is passionate about her views or beliefs, especially those of equality, others often perceive her as a zealot with subversive intentions. People are intimidated by this fixation for equality; the term “feminazi” is used as an excuse to dismiss some- thing they don’t know, like or understand. But this word is the complete opposite of what feminism represents.
Feminism started as an organized movement in the mid-1800s led by women to abolish slavery, support social purity and encourage other campaigns such as Temperance. Over the years this morphed into feminism, and while different feminist groups have stemmed off the original movement, core beliefs have remained the same throughout time: all people are entitled to equal liberties and civil rights, and all people can be intellectual equals regardless of gender. The first wave officially occurred between the 1830’s and 1900, and mostly consisted of fighting for equal contract and property rights. Realizing women must gain political power and the ability to vote if change was to indeed happen, feminists over- time expanded their political agenda regarding sexual, reproductive and economic matters. The second wave, between the 1960’s and 1980’s is most well-known for “broadening the debate.” Occurring after World War II, this wave focused on women in the workplace. It also impacted views on sexuality, family life and reproductive rights. The United States was undergoing reconstruction, and it was perceived that women had gained to- tal equal rights, with the exception of the failure of the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (which has still yet to be passed). The third wave, starting in the 1990’s to present day, is seen as the address of micro politics in gender equality. While from the female standpoint this wave is less criticized due to the varying outlooks, it is also where “feminazi” was born. There are so many labels or types of feminism now; radicals, liberals/ reformers, electors, academics, ecofeminists, the list goes on and on. And while many of the issues we face today were prefaced by those in the first wave, we are still fighting to vanquish the disparities in male and female pay, reproductive rights of women, and the ending of violence against women around the globe. Tremendous progress has been made, but the true understanding of the term feminist is still somewhat undefined in our society.
An almost guaranteed by-product of any campaign full of dedicated, enraged and very passionate people are extremists. These are also the people we often refer to as “feminazis.” But someone that believes or supports the belief of one group getting special treatment or having more power over others is not a feminist. A “feminazi” is not a “radical feminist. ̈ An ideology that demands men and women to be equal cannot be compared to a genocidal regime. “Feminazi” is an ignorant term that disregards all of the work women and men have put into the feminist movement.
Many anti-feminist, women and men, argue that women in first world countries no longer need feminism. However the 2016 election of a misogynist/sexual assaulter to the highest official position in the United States proves that, in fact, we do still need feminism and we have a very long road ahead regarding women’s rights in America. While the term is generally used to target specific “feminists,” this label is damaging to the entire campaign. Don’t use the word “feminazi.” Don’t disrespect the feminist movement and all it stands for, and don’t undermine the reality of the Holocaust and the suffering millions endured.