Feminist or Femi-nazi

Ryan Smith and Lindsey Proctor

An unsettling trend emerged in the 2016 Olympics. Gabby Douglas was criticized for her hair. Katie Ledecky broke a swimming world record and people only say she “swims like a man.” Katinka Hosszu broke a different swimming world record and people gave her husband the credit. People referred to the men’s cycling team as the “men’s cycling team,” but they referred to the women’s cycling team as the “girls’ cycling team.”

People who see the word “feminism” react in one of two ways. They either nod and think, “Yes, this is important,” or they groan, roll their eyes, and think, “Ugh, not this again.” Depending on who is asked, the definition of feminism differs. Some see feminism as the movement to achieve equality for both sexes. Others see feminists as women trying to prove one sex better than the other. Some people identify as feminists when their beliefs actually contradict those of feminism, and that creates confusion for people. The definition of the word becomes twisted due to its use of representing completely different sets of beliefs.

Two Students’ Opinions:

Junior Will DeBolt’s reaction may surprise some, as many people expect high schoolers to avoid controversial topics. Truthfully, though, teenagers care more than people think. DeBolt took the question on his definition of feminism seriously and shared how he defines feminism as equality for both sexes. He said his view on feminism changed.

“When I was a freshman, when I heard feminist, I thought ‘femi-nazis,’ right? Like, I was just influenced by social media and what people were saying there. Since then, I learned what it actually means,” DeBolt said.

He compared the differences between “normal” feminists and extremists (“femi-nazis”) to the differences between Islam and radical Islam. Just as identifying as a Muslim does not mean someone supports terrorism, identifying as a feminist does not mean someone thinks men are scum.

Junior Dominique Jaramillo disagrees with the viewpoint of “women are better than men” as well. She sees feminism as all about equality. She believes males and females expect different qualities from each other, leading to a multitude of sexist problems.

The word itself carries a long history and negative connotations. The stigmatism of feminism scares off possible supporters.

“A lot of people… start to resent feminists and call them…the whole femi-nazi thing. And that’s a history thing too, because feminists were kind of crazy in [the] 60’s, the second wave of feminism. And I think people have wanted to get away from the word… I think it’s just become more of an extreme thing than it should,” Jaramillo said.

Jaramillo becomes vocal about offensive commentary, especially when it involves sexism and feminism. She may not succeed every time in convincing someone of her argument.

“I always feel like they’re ignorant and they don’t know a lot of history, and you don’t want to fight with them because they’re crazy,” she said.

Jaramillo constantly learns about new arguments and thinks through her personal definition of feminism. Each time, she ends up in the same place.

“I still would identify as feminist,” she said.

A Teacher’s Viewpoint:

English teacher Jennifer Rippee has seen first-hand a shift in opinions on feminism and women’s roles in general.

“I think it’s making sure that women stand up for themselves and have equal rights. People’s perceptions of feminists is they’re all rude and demanding. It’s not like that… The perception of feminism still has a stigma [from the] 1970’s… I think there should be more education about what it is, probably in schools or parenting classes.”

She said students need to hear from both men and women, for example, that a girl can jump just as high as a boy.

“I’m surprised that in 2016, people still have that view and there is such thing as meninists. It’s funny, I say I’m surprised,” she said after being asked about her opinion on “meninists” against feminism and the women’s rights movement.

Her uncles, from the older generation, believe women should stay at home, cook, and clean. She knows this view still exists, but she hopes it fades away.

Rippee said about her students, “I would hope that they would be more open-minded, at this point in history. Plus, they are being educated by 80% women, so their perception of women better be elevated. I don’t hear them talking about [sexism] as much. I would say it’s definitely getting better. I think that our new principal will definitely help with that because she’s a female role model.”

Rippee thinks extremists should be asked for their definition of feminism, and once they verbalize it, they can learn they are taking the argument too far and turning it back into sexism, because when that happens, it becomes a battle.

“We don’t want it as a battle, we want it to be unified,” she said.

She then added if extremists change their perception, they would become successful spokespeople.

“If you have those loud, outlandish, strong personalities [as] feminists, but they’re changing people’s opinions… that would be awesome,” Rippee said.


Ryan Smith // Online Editor

Lindsey Proctor // Staff Artist