What does it really mean to be ‘feminazi’?


In response to the feminist upheaval among citizens and the progressive institutionalization of equality policies, anti-feminist reactions are occurring , generally coming from conservative groups.

The anti-feminist reaction is a recurring phenomenon , since it returns every time women begin to make some progress towards equality. Considered inherently reactionary, this response would be motivated by a feeling of revenge and a desire to maintain the status quo or turn back the clock to a previous era.

Some of the basic components of the anti-feminist reaction tend to be anti-gender campaigns, which have been taking place throughout Europe, Latin America, Africa, Asia and the US . These are social movements that seek to influence debates about gender , sexuality and gender identity, accusing feminism of endangering traditional values ​​related to the family, the nation, the social order, biology, etc.

Conservative group campaigns

Usually, these campaigns are carried out by conservative groups that rise up against the implementation of equality policies that can guarantee, among other issues, the sexual and reproductive rights of certain minority social groups.

Perhaps we are familiar with some campaigns such as the La Manif pour tous movement in France, the “Boys have penises and girls have vulvas” campaigns of Hazte Oír, in Spain, or the “Don’t mess with my children” campaign in Peru, Colombia , Ecuador and Argentina.

Within the framework of these campaigns, a series of discourses emerge that try to oppose the feminist movement using a series of disqualifiers such as “gender ideology” and “feminazi.”

Anti-gender campaigns focus on the rejection of “gender ideology”, a malleable and widely changing concept depending on context and interests, which tries to replace the concept of “feminism”, turning said movement into a totalitarian and radicalized reality.

Authors such as Bracke and Paternotte have classified this concept as a “Frankenstein”, since it would be a term created from pieces of different discomforts. Others like Mayer and Sauer describe it as an empty signifier.

The point is that “gender ideology” has become a concept that is increasingly present in the social space, which comes into direct conflict with feminism.

Through these campaigns, conservative discourses are mobilized that manage to detach the concept of gender from its analytical connotations to turn it into an ideological and dangerous issue for the maintenance of the established social order.

Turning gender into a threat to traditional family values ​​(among other issues, such as heterosexuality), feminists are constructed as enemies of the moral order of societies, as generators of chaos, as “feminazis.”

A stigmatizing insult

The concept “feminazi” is often used as an insult that seeks to discredit and stigmatize women whose opinions or behaviors are considered not only feminist, but also threateningly “radical” or “extreme.”

The Oxford English Dictionary cites the earliest documented use of “feminazi” in an Orange County report in the Los Angeles Times of July 4, 1989. However, the expression became popular after mention by Rush Limbaugh , a commentator American conservative, in the early 1990s.

This author defined the term as “that feminist for whom the important thing in life is to ensure that there are as many abortions as possible,” thus comparing Hitler’s Holocaust with the feminist fight for the legalization of abortion.

Despite the term not being found in the RAE, the Academy offered an explanation of the meaning in 2018 through Twitter, defining it as a concept used “with derogatory intent, in the sense of radicalized feminist.”

The “feminazi” would be not only a feminist woman, but a radical feminist, understanding “radical” as feminism allied to anti-capitalism, the anti-system.

Furthermore, through this disqualification of feminists, the idea is created that “feminazis” only fight for the rights of a specific group of women: women belonging to the political left.

A separation is thus produced between different groups of women, while some would be the radicals, others would be the victims of feminism.

It follows from this vision of feminism that it is not a truly inclusive movement, producing a discursive acrobatics that transforms the egalitarian basis of the feminist movement into one with an exclusive nature.

The concept “feminazi” is widely used by anti-feminist movements around the globe and is also present in the populist speeches of the political right in Spain , especially through the messages that certain parties launch on social networks such as Twitter.

Anti-gender campaigns may have among their objectives that both concepts are interchangeable, but the reality is that the adjective “gender ideology” (as well as “feminazi”) attempts to detract from the feminist struggle and the achievement of gender equality, suggesting that has already been achieved or that it is not really equal.

For this reason, it becomes vital to know what is intended when someone accuses someone who fights for gender equality as an “ideologist” or “feminazi.” Words tell and reflect realities, but they also create them.

Author Bio: Maria Medina-Vicent is a Hired Professor Doctor (Philosophy) at Universitat Jaume I