The first time I came in contact with the word “feminazi” was in 1994, in the computer lab at college. On the desk, to the right of the computer I was using to write my essay on some obscure 18th century novelist, someone had scrawled, “FEMINAZI.”
I stared at it for a few minutes. The word was so violent, I almost expected it to jump off the page and poke me in the face. Happily ensconced at an East Coast liberal arts college, I rarely felt the reach of sexism. But that day it was there. Right in my face.
The term “feminazi” was popularized by Rush Limbaugh (surprise!) to describe feminists. It’s even in the dictionary, and, get this, in Merriam-Webster’s online edition the definition reads, “usually disparaging: an extreme or militant feminist.” I can’t think of an instance when the word would be complimentary, but I understand that Merriam-Webster can’t take sides.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about this word, and how your experience with sexism has changed from the 90s to now.
And here are two pictures of me in the 90s. The one where I’m sitting is from college, and in the next one I’m wearing my Hole T-shirt at Dollywood, Dolly Parton’s amusement park in Pigeon Forge, Tennesse. How’s that for a mash-up of two female performers? — Hilary Achauer