Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Zero Tolerance for "Feminazis"

I've got to say, I am sick and tired of "feminazis".
No, it's not what you think. I don't mean the people who are accused of being one. I mean the people who think it's a clever label to throw around.

The term was popularized by misogynist ideologue Rush Limbaugh in 1992 in an attempt to vilify feminists and discredit the equal rights movement.
The idea is that women who want to be treated as equals are actually man-hating fascists and that masculinity is under assault and must be defended at all costs.

Surprisingly, I still hear people, male and female, using it as if it's a legitimate label. "Oh, don't get me wrong, I'm not one of those feminazis".

So let's take a look.
On the one hand you have the Nazis, who were a totalitarian government that persecuted minorities, tried to take over the world through military conquest, and slaughtered over 11 million people in the Holocaust.
On the other hand, let's see what the situation of women is in the world today.

  • In many parts of the world it is socially acceptable for men to beat their wives, or even to murder them if they are suspected of being unfaithful.

    In India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, there is a practice of husbands burning their wives to death if her family gets behind on her dowry payments. In 2003, there were 6,208 such deaths officially recorded in India.

    In South Asia, hundreds of women have been permanently mutilated by having sulfuric acid thrown in their faces. These attacks occur for reasons such as spurning a suitor's advances, failing to bear a son, or not being a good cook.

  • Amnesty International estimates that 2 million girls every year are subjected to genital mutilation in Africa and the Middle East. This practice is intended to reduce sexual desire in woman and is usually performed without any anesthesia.

  • Tens of thousands of woman are being systematically raped as part of the conflicts in Africa. Rape is taught as a "weapon of war" to demoralize the enemy.

  • A hundred thousand girls go missing every year in China, where parents are usually allowed only 1 child and only want boys. Frequently female infants are simply left in the woods or thrown out with the garbage to die.

  • On average worldwide, only 9% of countries' national legislators are female. In the U.S. it's 14%.

  • In the U.S., on average women still only make 3/4 what a man would make doing the same job.

  • While women make up over half of the work force, less than 2% of Fortune 500 CEOs are female.

  • Every year in the United States, approximately 3 million women are assaulted by their partner.

  • One in four women in the U.S. will have been assaulted by a spouse or boyfriend during their lives.

  • According to the Center for Disease Control, between one in four and one in six college aged women in the U.S. will be raped during her lifetime.

  • Murder is the leading cause of death, natural or otherwise, for pregnant women in the U.S.

  • The U.S. Department of State and CIA estimate that every year 50,000 women and children are brought to the U.S. against their will as sex slaves. The numbers are much higher in Asia, Africa, and Russia. According to the United Nations, human trafficking generates the most money of any illegal activity in the world after drugs and arms trafficking.

  • Marital rape was not a crime in any state in the U.S. until 1975, and was still not illegal in some states until 1993.

  • There is still no national rape law in the United States. States are left to define the crime however narrowly they wish.

  • Under English law, until May 2005, all an accused rapist had to prove was that they "genuinely" believed there was consent, no matter how unreasonable that belief was. It was only changed last year to require that belief to be both genuine and reasonable.

So take the philosophy that says that women should be treated as people, and should have equal rights regardless of gender, and call them Nazis and pretend like they're the oppressors who must be resisted.
Nope, doesn't seem that clever.
An organized movement of women who want to eradicate all men are a myth. Just because your girlfriend's friend doesn't like you doesn't make her a Nazi.

So I encourage you not to passively encourage people's use of the term. Call them on it.
As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "A threat to justice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere".


At 2:52 PM, Anonymous Tyko said...

I think you're over-reacting. Rush is a jackass, no question about it. But poking fun at extreme feminists, which DO, in fact, exist, is not wrong. It also doesn't make you a woman-hater, or justify any of the injustices that women face worldwide.

At 3:18 PM, Blogger Xander said...

When I wrote this post, I anticipated that it would be seen by some as overly sensitive, but my goal is actually less about the word itself than about using it as a vehicle to spread some information about the situation women face, not just worldwide, but in the U.S. as well. Hopefully, whether you agree with the point of the post or not, the information in it would at least surprise you and make you think.
I do think it's ironic that these self-appointed defenders of masculinity have chosen the role of the poor persecuted underclass. Not exactly the model of strength and virility they're espousing.
And I'll also note that "poking fun" usually connotates good-natured ribbing, whereas calling someone a nazi generally does not.

At 2:58 PM, Blogger Diana said...

Great post. It's fine to disagree with feminists, but people should know the history behind this term. If they still feel comfortable using it after they've thought about it, fine. But I'm guessing some people will rethink its appropriateness.


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