Yonathan Ararso ’13
Nothing does more disservice to a cause than being associated with the Nazi Party. Eventually, the word “Nazi” itself started being used as an adjective to emphasize excessively strict and over-the-top behavior. For example, there is your grammer Nazis in rhetoric, and who can forget the 116th episode of the 90’s NBC hit comedy show Seinfeld titled “The Soup Nazi” in reference to a new soup stand cook’s excessive temperament and strict regimentation. The word has even defiled our generation’s most treasured artifact. I am of course referring to Call of Duty—Nazi Zombies, anyone?
From “Nazi’s” countless uses and misuses, one recently caught my attention equally for its innovative treatment of the word as a suffix and its liberal usage on campus: Feminazis. The term was first coined by Tom Hazlett an Economics Professor at University of California, Davis. However, its usage grew during the early 90’s only after being publicized by famed right-wing American radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh. In his captivating book titled The Way things Ought to Be, Limbaugh writes, “I prefer to call the most obnoxious feminists what they really are: feminazis. I often use it to describe women who are obsessed with perpetuating a modern-day holocaust: abortion.”
Morally bankrupt arguments aside, it would be unjust to overlook Mr. Limbaugh’s knack for insightful analogies. After all, this is the same man who faults people who exercise a lot for the failing health care system: “All you exercise freaks; you’re the ones putting stress on the health care system. What happens when people don’t regularly exercise and keep their weight relatively under control? Nothing! They probably don’t even know their doctors’ names.” I would posit that the same year Mr. Limbaugh—not an “exercise freak” by any stretch of the imagination—got to know his doctor pretty well after being raced to the hospital in Honolulu for symptoms consistent with heart attack, but I don’t want to milk the irony too much.
Similar to Limbaugh’s description, the term’s use at Hampden-Sydney alludes to our understanding of feminism and the so called “obnoxious feminist perspective.” In fact, I recently heard a friend use “feminazis” to describe those who enforce the use of gender neutral language in their classrooms. The student shrewdly observed, “Why do I have to use gender neutral language if I am giving a speech to a bunch of Hampden-Sydney guys? It doesn’t make any sense!”
True, as H-SC students our encounter with the opposite sex, at least in the academic setting, is somewhat limited—I suspect the whole all-male arrangement plays a role. But in addressing the question posed by the student, one might be inclined to reflect on where we as H-SC students might run into gender neutral language and other hidden feminazi agendas down the road.
Last year, TIME magazine dedicated an issue addressing such a subject: how woman are overtaking men as America’s breadwinners. The cover story by Liza Mundy titled “Women, Money, and Power” expands on the theme. Mundy argues, “Assuming present trends continue, by the next generation, more families will be supported by women than men.” Figures from the latest U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reinforce her claim as 4 in 10 working wives outearned their husbands—reportedly a 50% increase from 20 years ago. Currently, women also make up roughly 60% of U.S. college students and are earning the majority of advanced degrees such as doctorates and master’s. Experts project that even heavily male-dominated fields like law and medicine will be taken over by women within 25 years.
“The impact will be felt everywhere,” claims Mundy, “from the classroom to the boardroom to the bedroom, in how men and women work, play, shop, vote, save, and share.” Which raises an important question: What exactly do these impacts in the bedroom entail?
Jokes aside, if we, as Hampden-Sydney students, will be entering a workforce sometime in the next couple of decades, it is important to keep track of its rapidly changing demographics. Assuming most of us will not be moving into remote, barricaded all-male communities in Utah, it doesn’t hurt to start preparing. If trends maintain, we will be joining a cadre of well-educated, highly-motivated, and ambitious women. This is true whether we chose to pursue a career in education, academia, business, law, or medicine. Are we at a slight disadvantage to be coming out of an all-male institution and entering a workforce dominated by women? Perhaps we are, but we also have a great deal of resources and the capacity to adopt at our disposal. And that just might tip the balance in our favor.
We can start with baby steps too: like not being miffed when asked to use gender neutral language or choosing not to dismiss the validity of an entire social movement that, at its core, sought to establish fundamental legal rights and opportunities for women. Perhaps what the student posing the question earlier didn’t take into account is that our time at H-SC, as valuable as it may be, is limited. So why not take advantage of opportunities available to us—such as professors who challenge us to step out of our comfort zone and use gender neutral language or discuss feminist values—in preparation for the real world.
If all else fails, we should at least keep in mind the word “feminazis” was publicized by a man who recently accused the President of the United States for killing Twinkies and Ding Dongs—I am not even kidding!