You’re probably a feminist

By Elizabeth Sawka

Assistant Opinion Editor

I’ve never heard of any activist outside of the feminism movement be compared to a member of Hitler’s army.  Though activists in the Civil Rights Movement and advocates for Equality have certainly faced stigmas, I find it strange that the word “Nazi” hasn’t been attached to the identity of these movements.  

To me, this feminazi label comes from the fear of gender equality, which sounds insane. To fear the equality of a gender that’s oppressed means a fear of women voting. It’s a fear of transgender CEOs.  It sounds irrational, but a lot of the narrative I’ve heard from homophobic straight men is that they fear a gay man flirting with them—these are men who believe in the stereotype of the effeminate gay man and see him as a threat. The fear is from their masculinity being compromised, because to these people, masculinity means straight.  They’re probably the same men that think women who say no just need to be convinced. It makes sense they would buy into rape culture because they buy into the limited construction of gender that is represented in our media—that masculinity means beards and cutting down trees with their bare hands—representations of masculinity that have no weight outside of socially constructed ideas of gender.  

I’ve never personally heard a man be called a feminazi, and I think that is because the stereotype is associated with a masculine woman who hates men.  The label represents an idea that is not feminist at all—it represents a belief in the dominance of women over men. I think the reason not a lot of people do not identify outwardly with the feminist label is that they think feminazis (who do exist, but they are no better than misogynists and the word feminism should not be associated with them at all) are what it means to be a feminist.  Feminism is actually about equality, but the problem real feminists face is that when they get too passionate, they are accused of being feminazis. Calling a feminist a feminazi (again, I would like to point out that these are not interchangeable terms) invalidates every argument about gender they have just made. It reduces them to a stereotype, which beyond the masculine woman image, is most problematically a stereotype that women are too angry to be rational.

Another stereotype of feminists is that men can’t be feminists, or that they are not accepted as feminists.  I’m not under the misguided assumption that I have the authority to speak for all feminists, but I’m happy to have these men on the feminist team.  I know other feminists who identify as women are happy to have them as well.  There are plenty of straight, cigender men that are feminists (even though the stereotype is that feminists resent these men for their privilege), and I think Matt McGorry from Orange is the New Black is a great example of how to be a male identified feminist.  His social media is full of posts about the Free the Nipple campaign—which calls for women’s breasts to be treated in media the same way men’s nipples are treated in media (read: shown as a body, not a sexual object).  He has also posted about Equal Pay Day, which is the day women have made as much money as men did the previous year.  He has a great selfie on his Instagram for International Women’s Day where he is wearing a shirt with a message calling out people who do not identify as feminists because they believe feminism is not about gender equality.   

In these posts, McGorry acknowledges that his straight/white/cisgender privilege makes him an outsider in some ways because of the privilege patriarchy has awarded him.  It is irrational to blame any one person for privilege existing because privilege exists beyond the people that benefit from it. Griffs can stand to learn a lot from McGorry on how to use your voice to be in solidarity with a marginalized group rather than let your voice overshadow the people you’re advocating for.  He uses his voice to learn about and call attention to social injustices without forgetting that he is still learning from the members of the movement. In a perfect world, marginalized people would be listened to and they would not need privileged individuals to add to the strength of their movement. In an ideal world women would be believed when they say catcalling is an act of verbal assault.  In reality, women are constantly asked to back up their opinions with facts rather than be treated as authorities on their own experiences. I’ve previously written about what it is to be an ally in this paper, and I think McGorry is a great example because he fits the bill of privilege, and he’s not blind to it—he’s learned how to use it to generate social change.

Aziz Ansari explained feminism best in his interview with David Letterman where he said most people are feminists: “you’re a feminist if you go to a JayZ and Beyonce concert and you’re not like, I feel like Beyoncé should get 23% less money than Jay Z. Also, I don’t think Beyoncé should have the right to vote.” Even though there is a stigma for feminists that is connected to Nazis, the truth is that feminism is about equality. So you’re probably a feminist.  As Ansari stated, it’s not about hating people with privilege or believing in gender dominance. It’s about equality, which is something any decent Griffin should get behind.

If after reading this you still genuinely believe that I don’t deserve the right to vote, I would love for you to tell me why—let’s start a dialogue.  If after reading this you realize that you believe Beyonce should earn just as much as Jay Z, then welcome to the feminist club. Regardless of your gender identity, I promise it’s better over here.

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