Stirring Up Feminazis

FeminaziWhat’s the difference between being powerful and merely feeling powerful?

Too often people chase the feeling and give up the real thing.

I sense the phenomenon when frat boys try to feel powerful by intimidating women.

Or when feminists are called “feminazis.” 


A while back, a Yale fraternity got a lot of press for chanting “No means yes, yes means anal” in front of the campus Women’s Center.

One man told me it was all meant to stir up feminazis.

The sole purpose of that building is to give hatemongering academic feminists a base to spread their propaganda and recruit new members… They most likely (chanted there) because feminazis always go out of their way to harm men. Just about every policy implemented by academic feminazis is meant to incite misandry and marginalize men.

Being an academic feminist, of course I disagreed with him. But I asked,

Interesting tactic. Who looks worse?

“Well sure,” he said,

The guys will come across as arseholes, but they don’t care. All they care about is stirring up the feminazis.

The commenter has a blog which seems to have the same goal. I just don’t know whether any feminazis go to his site so that he can stir them up.

But let’s say the Yale frat did indeed chant those intimidating lines to strike a blow at feminism. Did it work?

Or did they strike a blow at sexism, instead?

Meanwhile, a few early feminists made the error of choosing to feel powerful over the real thing when they spewed man-hating rhetoric. In the moment they probably felt pretty tough. But the strategy did not create real muscle.

It’s the rare feminist who does this anymore. For the effect is to repel potential female and male allies, alike, and weaken the cause.

But now we are left with the brand “feminazis.”

Next time you seek power, consider whether you are being powerful only in your own head. While you shoot yourself in the foot.

I’m on vacation, this is a rerun.

Related Posts on BroadBlogs
Must We Be Nazis to Criticize Them?
Don’t Reject Your Culture, Even When It Mutilates You

Why Are We More Offended By Racism Than Sexism?

About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on April 7, 2017, in feminism, psychology, sexism, women and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 24 Comments.

  1. As stated in this article, maybe to be an aggressive feminist can somehow weaken the cause and repel allies, but I think those potential allies must not have had the right idea in the first place. Can you really not get behind defending women’s rights because some woman said she hated all men? In my experience, women who state as such don’t really mean it, and have at least one man in their lives that they love and respect. Men against feminism like in this article are only seeking to weaken women and take power further by attempting to delegitimize the movement with hate speech. It is obviously much less acceptable to chant “no means yes” as an allusion to rape threats at women than it is to vent frustration about the systematic power that men hold over women. The argument essentially is that if you harass and threaten a feminist and she gets angry, then she’s an oppressive “feminazi.” Just because feminists are loud and frustrated doesn’t mean we’re being unreasonable or disrespectful. Those men need to think critically about why they find women’s rights to be so unreasonable, why they find women being upset so hilarious, and why they feel we need to shut up and take the abuse. Why wouldn’t we be loudly opposed to this if being quiet for centuries did next to nothing for our rights?

    • Well, no point weakening the movement out of hatred or professed hatred, right? It does make feminist risk becoming what they are fighting: We are fighting misogyny and shouldn’t become the mirror image of that.

    • “It is obviously much less acceptable to chant “no means yes” as an allusion to rape threats at women than it is to vent frustration about the systematic power that men hold over women.”

      On the contrary. Chanting “no means yes” is a transparently childish antic. But infiltrating the universities with a fake narrative about the systemic power of men disenfranchises, damages and delegitimises an entire generation of men and boys in an oppressive act of hatred.

      • The problem isn’t all men. The problem is patriarchal men and women who for whatever reason, maybe insecurities, want to make an entire group of people feel inferior.

  2. The distinction made here between being powerful and feeling powerful seems to come down to if the power is coming at the expense of someone else’s power. Speaking ill of someone else, or a group of someones, makes you feel powerful, but only because you are attacking the power of someone else. Whether or not this is “real” power, though, I think is up for debate. I do agree that it’s probably not a a good strategy, but I’m not sure if that’s because it’s unsustainable or fragile (because it is externally-based, and dependent on someone else’s power being less than ours, not “real” power) or if that’s because it’s promoting a toxic culture of power and worth being a zero-sum game.

    • When I mean is that people can act powerful and feel powerful yet they are actually disempowering themselves.

      Gang members feel powerful while they are beating someone up. But then they end up powerless dead or in jail.

      Some early feminists may have felt powerful while saying they hated men. But that hatred hurt the cause and disempowered feminism.

  3. I do feel like by the Yale fraternity chanting those words there is a very fine line where it could be looked at as sexism and instead of actually accomplishing anything good they make themselves look really bad as it will only bring negative attention to the frat. The school I went to for a year had a lot of similar things going on and people in frats spreading “rumors” and stories of how girls are so easily taken advantage of in college which is wrong and awful to do, but is done or just told around to make them look and feel powerful in a sense to some people or thats what they think is happeneing when they tell the whole comunity about what they do in their fraternity.

  4. I remember the Yale Fraternity chant !… I am quite sure It appeared in a documentary I have recently watched concerning sexual assault on college campuses all across the USA ( “The Hunting ground”). The “she is drunk” excuse seems to fill up all the gaps and it is taken as a strategy in order to reverse the burden of proof. So fallacious!.
    Your post made me think of Judith Butler ( I have recently watched a few videos by her on YouTube). The performative element involved in gender is a key issue.
    I will copy paste an excerpt of an article (I am adding the link too: ):
    “Butler argued that feminism had made a mistake by trying to assert that ‘women’ were a group with common characteristics and interests. That approach, Butler said, performed ‘an unwitting regulation and reification of gender relations’ — reinforcing a binary view of gender relations… Butler notes that feminists rejected the idea that biology is destiny, but then developed an account of patriarchal culture which assumed that masculine and feminine genders would inevitably be built, by culture, upon ‘male’ and ‘female’ bodies, making the same destiny just as inescapable. Instead, she states that gender should be seen as a fluid variable which shifts and changes in different contexts and at different times”.
    What do you think of Butler´s ideas, Georgia. Do you agree with her?… I think she took many things from De Beauvoir, but her approach is still original and tackle mainly stereotypes. Sending all my best wishes! 😉

    • I think that we are born with male or female bodies and that society has different roles and laws for those different bodies — which can vary from culture to culture.

      For instance, prior to 1970 if someone had a female body she was not allowed to have her own credit wants she married, she could not attend any Ivy League college as an undergraduate, Women in coeducational universities had curfews that men did not have, No Little League for girls… I could go on…

      Those are things that affected every single person who had a woman’s body, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, class, personality…

      So there are certain things that affect all people with female bodies.

      But feminism today is also very focused on intersectionality — recognizing that a black lesbian woman will have a different experience from a straight white woman.

      Of course there are individual differences but there are also social patterns. And there are social patterns of discrimination against women despite individual variations.

  5. What I find very curious is that, at times, it feels to me that feminism is more of an emotional topic than an intellectual one. What the fraternity did was not an intellectual rebuke or critique, but a troll-like attempt to get a rise out of people. I think it would be much better if, as a society, we treated feminism and its claims as more of a scientific and intellectual concept, rather than regarding it as some emotionally charged, polarizing controversy. I understand why there is so much emotion around it; there is an inequity between genders and neither side appreciates perceiving themselves as either the victims or perpetrators of such an inequity. Seeing yourself on either side is inherently subjective, and I feel that if some one is being more subjective, they are less likely to be open minded and more likely to get emotional. I think this best first step to viewing this from an intellectual perspective is to introduce it more into standardized education. I think teaching people the actual, straight up facts is the first step to making feminism not a controversial subject, but an intellectual one.

    • Interesting thought. Ideally that would be true — moving to a rational argument would be more persuasive. Unfortunately, people commonly are more moved by emotion than rationality. It’s one of the problems democrats have. They tend to argue rationally — which does attract many people — but the emotional argument seems to have more effect.

  6. As a man, I perceive almost 100% of feminism as just wanting equality, and most women as loving men (and most of the minority who don’t as having some reason to distrust, which can probably be healed). And as a man I can also empathize with men who project our own impulses, which are sometimes more about domination and power, on women’s intentions. It’s misguided, but it doesn’t come from true misogyny…

    Men often respond well to data—it would be good to have some solid numbers to give to people who fall into “feminazi” misinterpretation. For example, what percent of women who consider themselves feminists say men and women should be equal and none “better” than the other, what percent of them love, respect, and cherish the men in their lives, etc.

    [After writing that, I saw the link to , which is very interesting]

    I also think it’s useful to keep in mind that online communication distorts meaning, distorts the perception of people, and even distorts one’s own personality. The antidote to this is empathy from both sides, more communication, and ideally more face-to-face quality communication.

    Still, with all of the above, even I immediately pigeonholed the frat boys as “bad people” when I read the post. But I think that the enlightened thing to do is NOT to vilify and deride them (or the men’s rights commenter/blogger) but rather to try to understand and educate them, or take the opportunity to think about other men in society who feel or act that way. I read some of the linked articles/comments at other websites, and “they’re just [insults]” seems too simplistic and not a real solution.

    It’s also not too dissimilar to the reductionism that the frat boys are guilty of.

    People should not be allowed to hurt other people, but beyond that, the truly admirable, difficult, and productive thing is to see the wrongdoers as a brother/sister that one knows is more complex than just a “bad person”, but who is troubled and mistaken (and if one is truly humble and open-minded, one might ultimately find that one was also mistaken in some ways) [that sounds either hippie or religious, but it’s based on SCIENCE!]. It seems to me that vilifying is too easy (although an impulse that I certainly also have), not right, and something that will not lead us to solutions to these issues. A mindset in the vein of the former will.

    I haven’t been in the feminist trenches, of course, and I wouldn’t blame women for just not wanting to do the hard work of being all Jesus with men like that, but it’s a useful perspective to keep in mind, and I’m very interested in the possibility of not just not doing what those early feminists did, but doing the opposite and disarming the opponent(/friend) with genuine empathy, respect, and ideas.

  7. I think or have learned from this blog as I don’t know too many self subscribed feminists in person. Probably many women who have the feminist, liberal beliefs, but just might not be open about being feminists or admit to it. But anyway, I think many are good and care for people in general. i think, which is easy to misunderstand, is that many people, especially men think feminists either don’t like men, blame men, or feel men are the problems with women’s inequality. Some might be insecurity thus the backlash and other might be some guilt.

    But either, I think and hope most feminists don’t blame men or think women would run things better than men, I think women can be great leaders and have strengths men don’t have and vice versa. But I don’t think women should be seen as better leaders or society or culture better run by women than men. Like women are morally superior and thus a more peaceful society if female dominant. I think men feel that many feminists may think a culture not equal, but matriarchal or female run society and women as leaders above men or ranked above men would be better. Or that society and there could be views because of women committing much much less crime, especially violent crimes compared to men. That the world if most countries were women lead and women ranked above men, would be more peaceful, less conflict and happier overall.

  8. Gosh, I love the equanimity with which you replied to him, Georgia! I don’t think I could have mustered such calm 😁 In my opinion, although feminism went through a militant phase, it was necessary in order to bust out of the straitjackets. It doesn’t mean we have to stay there, but sometimes a movement has to get angry to get heard.

    • Ah, you give me too much credit. I actually don’t find it hard to keep my equanimity when I know that he’s just trying to bait me.

      But I do think it’s important to be aware of the distinction between feeling powerful and actually being powerful. And acting like you hate people generally isn’t too powerful in the end, right? Because it backfires.

      • I am easily baited, unfortunately! Yes, I agree, real and perceived power is different, and it can be difficult to differentiate between the two, especially if you haven’t tasted power before, and your ego and desire for revenge is running the show. Not a good way to make lasting change or inspire people.

  9. Feminazis, though an interesting terminology, is a regressive description and a good addition to the string of negatives such as seductress, enchantress, femme fatal, witch etc. I like to see progressive strides towards gender balance that in turn will spin coinages like femmecharm, femedification, femvigour and the like.

  10. Wonderfully described. Never liked the extreme attitude (often leading to misandry) of some women. The real cause does take a step backwards with such things.

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