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why I hate the term ‘feminazi’

This article originally appeared in Lip Issue 22 – you can buy a copy of the mag here. We promise it’s packed full of other goodies!

Here’s a term that makes me want to rip my own face off every time I hear it – feminazi.

It’s a term that people use when describing a woman who is an outspoken feminist, and is probably about to tell them something they don’t want to hear (usually that they’re sexist).

The term ‘feminazi’ has become more ubiquitous in popular culture lately, much in the same way that the term ‘grammar nazi’ has become more common. Frankly, I think that using ‘nazi’ to describe anything or anyone other than an actually nazi is incredibly offensive anyway, but there are other reasons why feminazi really, really frustrates me.

Here are the main reasons why my blood curdles every time I hear the term:

1. Calling someone a feminazi is intended to shut them up. By saying this, you are negating their words, and disparaging their thoughts as being oppressive, fundamentalist, and over-the-top. Rather than addressing whatever outrageous thing they’re actually saying (once again, probably that you’re sexist), you’re choosing to instead downplay their point and accuse them of being uptight instead.

2. Comparing feminism to Nazism is just offensive. There are no two ways about this – feminism is a movement for equality. Nazism was the exact opposite. There is nothing dictatorial about feminism – the view that men and women should be equal is not oppressive. I can’t say this in any other way. By using a term like ‘feminazi’ to describe feminists, you’re turning the movement on it’s head, and making it about the oppression of men rather than the freedom of women. Until feminists start using war machinery and gas chambers in our quest for equality, I don’t think this comparison will ever be fair, or inoffensive.

3. Claiming that feminists are ‘feminazis’ is really just a way of saying that they’re uptight and need to loosen up. Any feminist who has said a single thing against sexism in public has undoubtedly had some smartass respond with something like ‘hey, loosen up’ or ‘live a little’ or ‘don’t you believe in fun?’. Actually, I do believe in fun – I just don’t think it’s particularly fun to be sexist, or believe sexists things, or respond to someone pointing out that you’re being sexist by being more sexist to them. Actually you’re right – I am just one boring bitch, clearly.

4. The term feminazi is obviously a patriarchal construct, designed to create a view of feminism as being extreme, threatening to the status quo, and generally ridiculous. There’s no better way to negate the power of a movement than to create a view of it as being both unnecessary for society, and generally ludicrous. If every feminist who dares to speak out against sexism is treated as if she is being a hysterical woman speaking out of turn, then of course the legitimacy of what she may be saying is negated. It’s a clever move, patriarchy.

I mean, let’s face it. After reading this article, the average person might call me a feminazi. And I think that’s the actual biggest reason why I hate the term so much – it makes people less likely to advocate feminist thought because they don’t want to be called a nasty, derogatory name.

Feminism already has a ‘bad name’. Not because of anything within the movement that I can pinpoint as having been oppressive or forceful when it comes to gender equality – but because people don’t like things that challenge the status quo, and they especially don’t like women who diverge from what is considered socially acceptable female behaviour.

Young women especially suffer from this – when you’re my age (ripe old age of 22), you yearn to fit in. When you’re at high school or university, you want to be accepted by your peer group. You are unlikely to start espousing views that are probably going to get you branded as a ‘feminazi’.

If I have to hear one more person say ‘I’m not a feminist, but…’, I might spontaneously combust, but I’m not unaware of the motives for distancing oneself from feminism. We all want to be liked – that’s natural. And apparently being vocal about gender equality makes you seem somewhat obnoxious, particularly at parties or nightclubs (not that that’s ever stopped me from clambering onto my soap box).

But terms like ‘feminazi’ are oppressive on the most basic level. They create a paradigm within which being sexist is no big thing, but calling someone out on it means you’re being unreasonable, inappropriate, rude even.

They deter young women from speaking out against very real inequalities, for fear of being branded by a term that implies that they’re humourless, unfeminine and difficult to deal with. Worse than that, they deter young women from speaking out because they fear they won’t be taken seriously – a very real fear. No discussion of the issues raised by them will ever occur if their dissent is faced with a casual insult like ‘feminazi’.

It would be easy to take this entire article and point to it as a typical ‘feminazi’ moment in a way – making a big deal out of what is essentially just one word, used mostly in jest perhaps, just a word that sometimes gets thrown around.

Well, the first thing I learnt from feminism is that there’s no such thing as ‘just a word’. Words have power.

Use them wisely.

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35 thoughts on “why I hate the term ‘feminazi’

  1. Name-calling is always employed by those attepting to divert attention away from the holes in their arguments. It is a shaming tactic designed to silence those with disenting opinions.

    How deliciously ironic that the writer rails against people labeling her as a ‘feminazi’ when she is in the process of labeling those same people as ‘sexist’. Or is labeling others to shut them up OK when she does it? Self-awareness is a mark of maturity. Perhaps Ms Patel should refrain from sharing her thoughts until she acquires some.

    Note to author: Telling people that you are going to rip your own face off, curdle your blood or spontaneously combust when confronted by a word you don’t like, sounds a bit, dare I say it, hysterical. One almost expects you to flounce off to your room in door-slamming floods. Never underestimate the power of gravitas.

    • you have to be a sexist in order to use the term feminazi to be honest to equate an equality movement with genocide is just wrong

  2. Ms Patel, if my reponse to your post sounds harsh, it is because nothing wilts beneath the glare of scrutiny faster than hypocrisy – except possibly using your feelings to justify assertions about the state of the world.

    These are truths that will never be revealed to you in the suffocating void of an echo chamber. If you are content to remain coddled like a delicate hot house flower, then good luck to you. However, if you would like to affect real change in the real world – which I suspect you do – then you must venture into it. Make mistakes, listen to advice and grow.

    I have perused this site for a few days now and I must say that the otherwise bright and educated women here have been very poorly served by feminism. It has misled you into believing that you are all infallible beings with inner goddesses. There’s even a name for it: it’s called Golden Vagina Syndrome.

    I strongly advise you have your fainting couch at the ready, for what I have to tell you is going to be a shock. Your inner goddess isn’t real – she’s an imaginary friend created by feminists to make you believe that you can do no wrong and are entitled to special privileges (such as interpreting the tiniest drop of criticism as egregious misogyny).

    Men and women are flesh and blood – fallible and imperfect. We must recognise our own flaws before we start accusing others of theirs. Men and women will never learn to get along unless there is mutual respect and understanding. Feminism undermines that effort by encouraging women to hold men in an chokehold of perpetual accusation.

    At 22, there is a good chance you may grow out of this – but don’t leave it too late.

    Sorry Igor. I do not “do” Twitter. The friends that were left by the wayside over the years did not fall – they were pushed.

    • Actually saying “im going To rip my face off is i hear this again” is generally called an expression. like “if i see one more teenager use the word bae I’m going to jump off a cliff” and what you did in your original reply was exactly what she pointed out in the article; you avoided all the issues and played up how she was being “”irrational””

  3. Yo, Andybob: One of the things I learned while growing as a human being is how not to be a condescending dick to people. There is a good chance you will grow out of that—but don’t leave it too late.

  4. “One of the things I learned while growing as a human being is how not to be a condescending dick to people,” Chad sneered condescendingly.

    Feminists are so funny.

    • These dudes are worse than feminazis. Male feminists have the same moral authority as Jews who were complicit in the Holocaust. In Canada we call them “manginas.”

  5. andybob: ‘Feminism undermines that effort by encouraging women to hold men in an chokehold of perpetual accusation.’

    This is one of the biggest mistakes people make. Feminism does not equal anti-male. Feminists aren’t demanding ‘special privileges’ either, they are demanding equal privileges. There’s no respect until there’s equality. Women who stand up for themselves, their rights, and their privileges aren’t infected with some Golden Vagina Syndrome, or feel that they are invincible; women who stand up for themselves are those who have overcome the insecurities and inhibitions ingrained in society to shut women up. And labelling this a ‘syndrome’ it is just another attempt to undermine this progression.

    • How can you possibly think feminists are true advocates of equality? At the very least they are extremely selective in which “equality” they want. When women were fighting for the right to vote, the men were dying in WWI. I am sure not a single feminist demanded equality in the draft. That is a “man’s thing.” But they certainly bark about lack of advancement opportunities in the military. No wonder there is so much hostility toward women in the military!

      Don’t forget about family law. Men have no rights. A man has a choice to either not have sex or risk being saddled with the responsibilities of fatherhood. I support a woman’s absolute right to choose what to do with a pregnancy. But by that same token, I support a man’s right to walk away from the duties of fatherhood. Even a former president of the National Organization of Women supported this concept. She felt a woman’s unilateral choice over what to do with a pregnancy should not be funded by a man.

      • Mmmm please keep talking William L. Turner. We’re all very interested in your opinions…. *very* interested…

      • Strange that when confronted with the hypocrisies of many “feminists” Feminazi is the best term with which to describe them. Cultural Marxist is also a good term! Anti American, Anti Familly, There are many appropriate descriptions that Im sure that the author would object to . Cognitive Dissonance? Or just plain cultural marxist brainwashing? Both?

      • I don’t think it’s fair to categorize all woman as selective in their requests for equality. I know a lot of women in the marine corps that do want to be treated equally and serve their country by going to war just like their male counterparts. True, some women don’t want those things, but it varies from individual to individual. Because that’s what women are, INDIVIDUALS. Please do not make the mistake of grouping all women into a category. Just like some men don’t want to join the military, some women don’t, and the same goes for how some women carry out their views of feminism. On a personal note, I simply want to live in a weird where gender roles do not exist, where women get paid ad much as their male counter parts when they have the exact same job, and right now, for people to stop putting down a movement that simply strives for equality. It shouldn’t even be argued about, honestly.

      • Feminist here. Believe women should be added to the draft as long as men are. However I am unclear on if I agree with the concept of a draft for all people. Way to generalize based on no evidence. Also believe fathers deserve more rights. Can we be real about it though, its quite often for men to bail and leave the women to be a single mother. The choice for a women is much more stressful as its not just financial its biological, its educational, its in the workforce. Men do not risk their lives to have a child. Men do not risk going through depression after the birth. Men are not expected to give up their jobs, give up or put of going to college, ect. It SUCKS on both fronts. USE A CONDOM OR FIGHT FOR MALE BIRTH CONTROL TO BECOME NORMALIZED. Generalizing based on zero evidence makes you look like a sexist

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  7. In a “grammar nazi” kind of way, I should point out that “feminazi” and “feminist” are not the same thing. As you point out, “feminists” believe in equality and nazis (of any type) believe in hierarchy. So a “feminazi” is a female who believes in a gender hierarchy (4 legs male; 2 legs female). It’s obvious why a sexist would confuse the two terms on purpose, but the gender agenda of a “feminist” who would confuse the two is beyond my understanding.

    • ‘Nazi’ obviously originally meant a memberr of the German National Socialist party; now it has come to have a far more generalised meaning, ie, someone who is fascist in their methods, etc. But I’m pretty sure that *no* particular definition of Nazi means ‘one who believes in hierarchy’!

  8. Who’s a “language nazi”? I think it’s common sense that “nazi” implies a belief in hierarchy. Can anyone seriously claim they DON’T believe in hierarchy?

    • Yairss maybe but we’re talking about the meaning of a word here, not its implications. From my very limited knowledge of fascism, ‘hierarchy’ was not at the top of the Nazi belief system. They appear to have believed in an all-powerful state in which the pettiest rules were enforced by extreme acts of violence. Hitler may have been the most prominent figure in the German Nazi state but I wonder how stable his position was – given that the Nazis also held a perverted idea of ‘survival in the fittest’, in which the strongest humans fought their way to a position of dominance, the Nazi hierarchy may have been very unstable indeed. Maybe it’s rapid disappearance after the war was evidence of that.

      Anyway, if feminists believe in ‘equality’ then what about the critical term ‘femicommunist’? Communism provides some suitably extreme examples of the idea of human equality taken to brutal ends. Think of all the Maoist and Stalinist purges. However, I wouldn’t claim this was a fair criticism either – totalitarianism, whether it be of the far-right fascist or far-left communist kind, is quite distinct from the moderate-right and moderate-left political spectrum that we hold on to in most modern democracies. Though then I suppose that’s the point of ‘feminazi’ – its a wildly exaggerated claim to annoy others, and to make a rhetorical effect on someone’s immediate audience.


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  10. Can’t find anything within the feminist movement problematic? Nothing at all? Not a single thing comes to mind? Really? How about the Valerie Solanas “SCUM Manifesto”, calling for the genocide of men? Okay, one wingnut, but strangely enough her manifesto has made its way into women’s studies courses. Also the National Organization of Women gave her honourable mention. Or how about the “all heterosexual sex is rape” comments?

    Perhaps something a little more substantive? When it comes to reproduction (at least in Canada), the woman holds all the cards. A woman can terminate a pregnancy. She can also keep the child or, if she changes her mind after birth, she can drop the child off and wash her hands of any responsibility. A male who wants a child has zero say in a woman’s decision to end the pregnancy. On the other hand, if the male does not want to be a father, he is saddled with the responsibilities of fatherhood if the woman decides to keep the child. So basically a male can choose to not have sex or risk paying through the teeth. I am pro-choice and fully support abortion. But at the same I think since women can abdicate parental responsibility from an unwanted pregnancy, a male should be able to do the legal equivalent. It is inherently fair. The “best interests of the child” should be scrapped. Besides it is not applied equally in any case. Walking away from your fatherhood responsibilities is not in the best interests of the child. But abandoning the child by the mother or aborting the child is clearly not any better.

    • as a jew i find what your saying incredibly offensive

      dont try to justify feminazi. equality and genocide are incomparable and trying to compare feminism to nazism is morally repugnant

      • Movements like Nazism came to be accepted because few people stood up to say it’s wrong. Mainstream feminism has become an entrenched and powerful special interest im western countries, with an agenda to further the interests of women at any cost to society. A powerful example of this is how a number of years ago Larry Summers was hounded out — to a substantial degree by feminists — as the president of Harvard University for voicing an issue raised in a study that showed women in the physical sciences are significantly less productive (in terms of papers published in reputable journals) than male scientists. He wasn’t saying it was true — just that it might be true and deserved to be discussed. Now, some people might say, in today’s argot, “What a dick! He was questioning accepted beliefs (ie that there are no cognitive differences between male and females). You can’t do that.” However, if there are, it is important for society to recognize it in today’s globally competitive world (it costs a lot of money and resources, afterall, to educate a chemist or physicist). I doubt that the Russians or Chinese will be concerned with such niceties as they loom as our foes in this century. But if war breaks out the Feninazizis will not be the first to volunteer — they’ll no doubt revert to a “let the boys die, not us” approach. I’m reminded of Virginia Wolf’s observation that during World War I in Britain quite a few woman gloated about how the men were dying in the trenches while they enjoyed life, a life made more satisfying by the knowledge that they were gaining new freedoms.

      • If you’re offended, grow up. I don’t think that stuff happened to you.

  11. @William Turner
    Your examples are terrible! Do you use those to justify your use of the term feminazi? I think you know your examples are terrible– let’s be straight here- you said it yourself… one wingnut. I don’t know any feminists who start any feminist discussion with “all heterosexual sex is rape.” Most of the feminists I know are actually married or in stable relationships and/or planning to have babies and this is not what they think in any way shape or form.

    I’m sorry that women necessarily have the ability to carry a child. That seems to really get your goat. But, do you really honestly see no problem when congressional panels in states dealing with abortion rights (SB5 in Texas for example) literally consist of only men?

  12. If a word offends you, it’s not the speaker’s fault it’s yours. I’m told over and over how women’s problems should be considered far worse than men’s. If you’re gonna be an overly zealous radical feminist, you’re gonna get called a feminazi. Plain and simple. The term is a bastardization. You know what else is? A lot of stuff. Girls get called names, guys get called names, but it’s how you deal with it that’s the most important. Women’s right aren’t more important than Men’s, and vice versa. Maybe consider what you said with your own brain, and not the brain of a larger cause or organization. Stats are great, now walk the walk.

  13. There certainly is a streak of extremism within feminism just as there is within anything. The term “feminazi”- as satirical as it may be- is simply a word used. to differentiate normal, productive feminism from the extreme militant unproductive variety. I think Rush Limbaugh is a total dumb-ass and hate the fact that he coined the term, but it is certainly applicable to some of feminism’s proponents who have more… questionable… ideas.

    Extremism within feminism is not something invented by “the patriarchy”, but certainly is existent and is also something feminist are going to need to deal with if they want some people to take them more seriously (not to say that it isn’t a serious issue, it’s just that extremism makes it seem trivial). Rather than debating what to call it, real feminists should discourage extreme feminism just as much as they discourage misogyny because ultimately both are promoting the opposite ends of inequality.

  14. A feminazi is an extremist, someoe who fights for female supremacy and hates all men.

    A feminazi is not the same as a feminist. A feminist wants equality. A feminazi does not.

    Sure, the feminazi can say she fight for equality, but her actions always say otherwise. And she often contradicts herself.

    For example, I spoke wih a feminazi once. She said she foughtfor equality. Then I told her about male victims of domestic violence and she said they deserve it because they are men. How is that equality?

    If somebody calls you a feminazi, maybe you should get your head our of your arse and analyse what you’ve been saying or doing.

    Unfortunately feminazis have tainted the feminist movement too deeply.

    I am an egalitarianbisexual woman, means I fight for equality for all.
    Why am I not a feminist? Because until the feminazis stop tainting the name “feminism” with their extremism, I don’t want to be associated with this huge mess.

  15. You see the point of the word is not really meant to describe feminists. Rather people didn’t want feminism to have a negative connotation. So they created the word feminazi to describe extremist (hence the nazi) feminists who believe that their gender is superior (once again hence the nazi due to Aryan belief) by no means was this meant to be all feminists. Those who use it out of place are jerks and don’t get it.

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  17. Feminist:Someone, usually female, who believe women deserve equal rights with their male counterparts
    Feminazi:A women who wants equal/above status with men in all areas they are below in, while keeping rules that put them above men.
    Example:A feminist would like the same pay as men, but they also accept that it is a higher crime to hit a women than to hit a man and want it changed to be the same
    Feminazi would only want the change in pay and keep they special treatment for hitting women in the law.

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