I was poking around on Gather.com and discovered (among the cheesy and the dreadful) a couple articles that piqued my interest because their tags included the words "sexism" and "Feminazi." The first was an article decrying women who want to call history "herstory." I can agree that the word thing is silly – I've always wanted the real thing with words and titles I've earned; the word "chairman" may be sexist, but it is what it is and I'll be damned if I'm going to let it become "chair" or "chairwoman" when it applies to me (an opinion sharp-eyed readers will know I share with my character, Jane). But I’m appalled that anyone would consider such wordplay to be proof that feminists are "feminazis" and feminism is "crap," as one commenter pithily (if not elegantly) wrote.
The term "feminazi" evidently started its life as a label for man-haters and other extremists. It didn't surprise me to learn that Rush Limbaugh is credited with broadening the use of the term to mean any female who is intolerant of any point of view that challenges militant feminism. Every movement has its fringe elements and even its thugs. True feminism, if you ask me, is nothing more or less than the belief that women, like men, are human beings entitled to social, political and economic equality.
The second article stated that women who grew up in the 80s consider sexism to be something they grew up largely without and feminism to be a movement they no longer need. Because I prefer not to think that a whole generation of women is either blind or half-witted, I trust that the article is wrong. According to it, though, the mindset of the majority of 20-somethings is post-feminist and they think the word "feminist" conjures up negative images. Apparently, they consider the "angry feminist" to be at best a relic and at worst a feminazi.
Well, what a load of crap that is! I've never been able to understand why any woman wouldn't be a feminist – and, given the rampant inequality that still plagues society even in 2007, at least a provoked feminist, if not an angry one. Don’t even get me started on listing examples of current sexism; I’d exceed the limits of what I can store on this site in no time! Angry feminism is not outdated nor is it necessarily extreme; it's a completely suitable (if not always the most effective) response to ongoing inequality. Despite anger, and despite what those threatened by the notion of social, political and economic equality for women may choose to believe, feminism has nothing to do with hating men or, for that matter, with hating marriage or children or other women who make different choices or anything else. It’s not about hate. It’s about refusing to tolerate inequality and seeking to eliminate sexism.
"Feminazi" is a horrible term, despite its catchiness. It connotes fascism and the notion that one group is superior/dominant relative to another. Evidently, the term is used by (among others) liberal, self-identified feminist women to deprecate other women who hold "extreme views." (Perhaps another thing women who grew up in the 80s grew up without is an understanding of the repressive and dangerous impact of Nazis and fascism.) For solidarity as well as linguistic reasons, I don't think this is where we want to be heading.