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Feminazi (also spelled femi-nazi and Femi-Nazi[1]) is a pejorative term for feminists that was popularized by politically conservative American radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh.

Origins and usage


Feminazi is a portmanteau of the nouns feminist and Nazi.[1][2] According to The Oxford Dictionary of American Political Slang, it refers (pejoratively) to "a committed feminist or a strong-willed woman".[3] The earliest attested use, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is a 1989 article in the Los Angeles Times about an anti-abortion protest that used the slogan "Feminazis Go Home".[1] The term was later popularized by American conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh in the early 1990s.[1][4][5][6] Limbaugh credited the coining of the term to university professor Thomas Hazlett.[5][7]

Limbaugh, who was vocally critical of the feminist movement,[8] stated that the term feminazi refers to "radical feminists" whose goal is "to see that there are as many abortions as possible",[3][5] a small group of "militants"[8] whom he characterized as having a "quest for power" and a "belief that men aren't necessary".[5] Limbaugh distinguished these women from "well-intentioned but misguided people who call themselves 'feminists'".[8] However, the term came to be widely used for feminism as a whole.[9] According to The New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English, Limbaugh used the term "to marginalize any feminist as a hardline, uncompromising manhater".[10] The New York Times has described it as "one of [Limbaugh's] favorite epithets for supporters of women's rights".[11]

The term feminazi is used to characterize feminist perspectives as extreme in order to discredit feminist arguments[12] and to stigmatize women's views or behavior as "radical", "extreme", and "tyrannical".[1] It has been used in mainstream American discourse to erroneously portray women as hyper-vigilant to perceived sexism.[13] Literary critic Toril Moi writes that the term reflects commonplace ideas that feminists "hate men", are "dogmatic, inflexible, and intolerant", and constitute "an extremist, power-hungry minority".[5] In his book Angry White Men, the sociologist Michael Kimmel says the term is used to attack feminist campaigns for equal pay and safety from rape and domestic violence by associating them with Nazi genocide.[6]

The term is used as an insult across mass media and social media. "Feminazis" are often described as dangerous, strident, man-hating, prudish, humorless, and overly sensitive.[1] Linguist Geraldine Horan writes that there is a marked increase in the use of the term in mainstream media whenever a female public figure makes headlines.[1] Usage in the United Kingdom peaked in 2015 along with reporting on barrister Charlotte Proudman, who had criticized a male colleague for commenting on her appearance online.[1] In Australia, the term gained wider use following the 1995 publication of the book The First Stone, and has been used in popular media to characterize feminists as threatening, "vindictive", and "puritanical".[14]



The meaning and appropriateness of the term feminazi have frequently been discussed in the media. Horan attributes use of feminazi as an insult to "a wider phenomenon of gendered criticism, bullying and trolling aimed [at] women in the public eye".[1] According to Helen Lewis, deputy editor of the New Statesman, "the idea of conflating a liberation movement with Nazism is just deeply ignorant. It’s self-undermining, because it’s so over the top."[15] Laura Bates, the founder of the Everyday Sexism Project, has said that "It’s a desperate attempt to demonise us, and it’s frustrating, because if it wasn’t such an offensive word, you could actually start to embrace it and own it".[15]

Activist Gloria Steinem writes, "I've never met anyone who fits that description [of wanting as many abortions as possible], though [Limbaugh] lavishes it on me among many others".[16] Steinem has suggested a boycott of Limbaugh for his use of the term, stating, "Hitler came to power against the strong feminist movement in Germany, padlocked the family planning clinics, and declared abortion a crime against the state—all views that more closely resemble Rush Limbaugh's".[17][18]

Moi writes that Limbaugh's words prompted a shift in the public perception of feminism across the American political spectrum starting in the mid-1990s; Americans came to see feminists as dogmatic and power-hungry women who hate men and who are incapable of challenging their own assumptions; though the term feminazi may have been created to describe a small group of particular feminists, it calcified into a stereotype of all feminists or all women. Moi writes that feminism became "the F-word," a label that women hesitated to claim for themselves lest they be seen as "feminazis", even among those who agreed with the goals of feminism.[5]

See also



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Horan, Geraldine (2019). "Feminazi, breastfeeding nazi, grammar nazi. A critical analysis of nazi insults in contemporary media discourses" (PDF). Mediazioni. 24. ISSN 1974-4382.
  2. ^ "feminazi". Merriam-Webster.
  3. ^ a b Barrett, Grant, ed. (2006). The Oxford Dictionary of American Political Slang. Oxford University Press. p. 105. ISBN 978-0-19-530447-3.
  4. ^ Lacy, Tim (2010). "Limbaugh, Rush". In Chapman, Roger (ed.). Culture Wars: An Encyclopedia of Issues, Viewpoints and Voices, Volume 1. M.E. Sharpe. p. 323. ISBN 978-0-76-561761-3.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Moi, Toril (October 2006). "'I Am Not a Feminist, But...': How Feminism Became the F-Word". PMLA. 121 (5): 1735–1741. doi:10.1632/pmla.2006.121.5.1735. ISSN 0030-8129. JSTOR 25501655. S2CID 145668385. If we wonder what 'militant feminism' is, we learn, at the end of the quotation, that 'militant women' are characterized by their 'quest for power' and their 'belief that men aren't necessary.'
  6. ^ a b Kimmel, Michael (2013). Angry White Men: American Masculinity at the End of an Era. Nation Books. pp. 42–44. ISBN 978-1-56-858696-0.
  7. ^ Limbaugh, Rush H. (1992). The Way Things Ought to Be. Pocket Books. p. 193. ISBN 978-0-67-175145-6.
  8. ^ a b c Jamieson, Kathleen H.; Cappella, Joseph N. (2008). Echo Chamber: Rush Limbaugh and the Conservative Media Establishment. Oxford University Press. pp. 102–103. ISBN 978-0-19-974086-4.
  9. ^ Levit, Nancy (1998). The Gender Line: Men, Women, and the Law. New York University Press. p. 127. ISBN 978-0-81-475295-1.
  10. ^ Dalzell, Tom; Victor, Terry, eds. (2015). The New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English (2nd ed.). Routledge. ISBN 978-1-317-37251-6.
  11. ^ Seelye, Katherine Q. (12 December 1994). "Republicans Get a Pep Talk From Rush Limbaugh". The New York Times. p. A16.
  12. ^ Rodríguez-Darias, Alberto Jonay; Aguilera-Ávila, Laura (2018). "Gender-based harassment in cyberspace. The case of Pikara magazine". Women's Studies International Forum. 66: 63–69. doi:10.1016/j.wsif.2017.10.004. ISSN 1879-243X. Another recurring theme was the notion that the arguments set out in the articles and comments do not correspond to a feminist perspective, but rather to an extremist stance that is aimed at favouring women in a seeming sex war. Expressions such as 'feminazi' or 'misandry' were used to discredit and slander certain arguments in these discursive confrontations.
  13. ^ Brake, Deborah L. (2007). "Perceiving Subtle Sexism: Mapping the Social-Psychological Forces and Legal Narratives that Obscure Gender Bias". Columbia Journal of Gender and Law. 16 (3): 72, 73 n. 24. OCLC 494260125. SSRN 1169582. The dominant story in mainstream culture is that women and minorities are hyper-vigilant in perceiving bias, to the point of mistakenly perceiving sexism and racism when it does not really exist. Mainstream culture is replete with derogatory references to 'feminazi' women who blame everything on gender [...] [T]he widespread cultural assumption of hyper-vigilance is largely a myth.
  14. ^ Schaffer, Kay (1998). "Scare words: 'Feminism', postmodern consumer culture and the media". Continuum. 12 (3): 321–334. doi:10.1080/10304319809365775. ISSN 1030-4312. [I]n the 1990s [feminism] is aligned with the vindictive, puritanical and punishing new generation of 'feminazis'. They are the ones who employ the sexual harassment laws that their older sisters helped to put in place which threaten to destroy the lives and careers of kindly old men [...] Although ubiquitous in the popular imaginary, they remain an elusive media construct.
  15. ^ a b Williams, Zoe (15 September 2015). "Feminazi: the go-to term for trolls out to silence women". The Guardian.
  16. ^ Steinem, Gloria (1995). Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions (2nd ed.). New York, N.Y.: Henry Holt and Company. p. xv. ISBN 978-0-8050-4202-3.
  17. ^ "Ask Gloria: Excerpts from Q&A's with Gloria Steinem". Feminist.com. October–November 1996.
  18. ^ Kaufman, Michael; Kimmel, Michael (2011). The Guy's Guide to Feminism. Da Capo Press. p. 42. ISBN 978-1-58-005362-4.

Further reading

  • Media related to Feminazi at Wikimedia Commons