Right now there is a girl in my house, a girl who I live with, in a room next door to mine, who is talking about how she hates feminists. She is not, as you might imagine, part of the frightening far right, anti-choice, pro-patriarchy movement that has gained members and momentum in the past eight years. In fact, when describing this girl most would say that she is very liberal and cognizant of the issues facing a post-Bush America. She voted for Obama, watches liberal news on a regular basis, and will argue why the liberal side is right (often unnecessarily to her also liberal housemates) until day turns to night. Yet right this instant she is sitting at my kitchen table discussing why she hates feminists. Not just feminists, one of my other housemates qualifies, but feminazis. Ah, yes! Feminazis. The word created by the right during the end of the second wave/beginning of the third to describe women who are openly feminist and aren’t afraid to point out the sexism they encounter on a regular basis. Also serves to parallel the feminist movement with Nazi Germany and is very useful when comparing abortion to The Holocaust! Which is totally the same thing, am I right? No? Huh.
I think it’s needless to say that I hate that word. I despise it with every fiber of my being because it marginalizes women who are attempting to create a more equitable world for not just themselves, but for all women. Which is why I find it even more repugnant coming from another woman. The progression of human rights propelled by the feminist movement does not benefit only those who fight for the recognition and perpetuation of those rights, but also the women who hate feminists. Who hate those who fight for their right to speak openly of this hatred, those who fight for their right to have an education without which they would not have the opportunities they now enjoy – including the choice to be housewife, if they are so inclined.
The stereotypical feminist they imagine represents the entire feminist movement – the “feminazi” – hates men and blames them for all the problems in the world regardless of whether or not this is true. Do these women exist? Yes. But they are far and few between and I am sick and tired of being stereotyped as one just because I embrace and celebrate feminism. Feminism is not about hating men, or finding sexism in every little thing. Feminism is about fighting for the right for all women to be recognized equally as human beings, and being accorded the same rights and offered the same choices as everyone else. Feminism is not about taking away freedoms or choices or opportunities from men and giving them to women – even now it is about leveling the playing field for women. It is about giving women the choice to do what they want with their own minds, bodies, and lives and then providing women with the ability to make those choices in a logical, educated manner. I am disgusted by any woman who hates this goal and those who strive for it. Because by hating this goal she is making the statement that she does not believe that she deserves the ability to choose what to do with her own mind, body, and life. She is saying that it is perfectly acceptable to allow someone else to make decisions for her without her consent. If she wants to do that, I recognize her choice to do so. But I can’t help feeling bitter knowing that she is despising the very people who have fought for and are currently fighting to keep her right to make that decision.