By Shaheen Ahmed:
Sundays are generally meant to be leisure days for me, a day when I can lounge around the house in pajamas reading inane news stories, watching films, or browsing through the internet. I like chilling on Sundays. But yesterday, I found myself fuming over what I had just read on the internet. A well known website called MensXp, which is quite popular and writes on men’s stories, decided to go a step further and publish a post which was clearly nothing more than an insidious rant against feminism. The post was by a little known Facebook group called Man-Handled on the difference between ‘Feminazis’ and ‘Women’. This post is a set of graphics putting ‘Feminazis’ in opposition to ‘real women’. This morning, the wildly popular Logical Indian Facebook page also published this set which at the time of writing this piece was liked by almost 10000 people and shared over 2000 times. (The Logical Indian has now removed the post and issued an apology)
Before we delve into the issue at hand, let us first talk about who is a ‘Feminazi’.
A cursory Google search leads me to the etymology of the term. It was coined by the American conservative political commentator Rush Limbaugh in the early 1990s. The Wikipedia page describes a feminazi as a ‘term which is used perjoratively in popular culture to describe either feminists who are perceived as extreme or radical, women who are perceived to seek gender superiority over men, or, in some cases, to describe all feminists’. Rush Limbaugh has not only enriched the English language with his benign contribution, but lest we forget, he was also the same guy who called women ‘sluts’ because they wanted contraception in their health packages. But hey, who are we to say anything? After all a woman’s body is of course not hers, she is of course not allowed to have a say on her reproductive health rights. So does that make Limbaugh a ‘Malenazi’, ‘Misogynazi’? I am just attempting a poor play at his own creation, so please excuse me, or maybe readers can add their own terms.
To go back to the posters published online and becoming a hit with not just men but (surprise surprise) many women all over too, lets look at who is qualified to be a Feminazi. Feminazis are those who accuse and play victim game, degrade men, demand respect, pretend being independent and free minded, demand equality, want sympathy, and support the Deepika Padukone video ‘My Choice’. Whereas, ‘real women’ are those who stand strong, stand with men, earn respect with their values, prove they are independent by their actions, work towards equality, own self-respect and support women empowerment.
This was the metanarrative, let us quickly move into the subtext and propaganda behind these graphics. The real woman is strong because she can dance like a flamenco dancer with a perfect hourglass figure and stand with her back bowed in an impossible angle with a hand fan to cool her hotness, she stands with men because she will not hit back at violence or patriarchy (applause), she earns respect with her values which is by wearing a cutesy apron and baking for her husband and in-laws, prove their independence by being all girly and fawning over that cute stray dog on the street and covering its head with an umbrella when it rains (oh I am having a cute overdose now) and of course they support women empowerment by earning and loving equally for if she isn’t the earning types she isn’t successful, and neither is she empowered if she doesn’t have a male partner (obvious, innit?).
And the feminazi is one who is educated because she can be a judge (Holy Mother Of God), she is the smoking cigarettes types (Adarsh Bharatiya Mahila does not smoke, she lights her husband’s smoke, period) and of course she wears the trousers (like Diane Keaton in Annie Hall, remember).
At a time when India is witnessing a massive debate over gender justice and women’s empowerment, which gained renewed momentum after the Jyoti Singh gang rape case in 2012, these propaganda posters are exactly what the patriarchs needed. Isn’t it hypocritical that the many young people who were demanding the execution of Jyoti Singh’s rapists are also sharing and re-sharing this misogynistic propaganda?
Look into the entire word construction of ‘feminazi’ – a woman demanding her equal rights is being compared to the Nazis who killed millions of people and committed enormous amount of atrocities on civilians. What this post proves is that in the eyes of the patriarchal person, a woman who stands by her traditional roles of homemaker, nurture giver, silent receptor of male violence, dressed in feminine clothes is the ‘Real Woman‘. Anyone who demands her rights or breaks social taboos is equivalent to the terror that is Nazism.
Within this paradigm, I am extremely proud to say that I stand up for my rights, I demand equal wages, I demand a partner who cooks for me as I cook for him, who cuts her hair short, smokes a cigarette along with her male friends and is working hard to qualify as the equivalent of a judge someday. If that makes me a Feminazi, then I wear it as a badge of honor. This means that I am not your doll to be ordered around and neither will I tolerate any bullsh** in the form of patriarchy.