I previously talked about some of the identities that are afforded to Evangelical women. The examples I gave were positive examples. I mean that not in the sense that they are necessary good choices for your primary identity, but in the sense that if someone in American Evangelical Culture assigned you one of those labels, they would likely see it as a positive thing. But there are other labels that exist within that culture that are used when referring to women and they are not as nice. In this post I'd like to share the worst label I ever heard assigned to women in my time at Conservative Christian College (and one that I'm sure was assigned to me). Drum roll, please...
This was one of the most shocking,surprising, and hurtful terms I heard when I started attending CCC. I didn't just hear it once or twice. This seemed to be a commonly used term and there was absolutely no distinction between a feminist and a "feminazi." The terms were used interchangeably (or at least they would have been if the former term were used). Any feminist was by default a "feminazi." Believe women should have a guarantee to equal pay for equal work? Feminazi. Believe it's okay to be a working mom with a stay at home dad? Feminazi. Think it's actually not a terrible idea that churches and/or Bible translations seek to use more inclusive language where appropriate? Feminazi. Believe that our society has long been male dominated and is misogynistic in many ways? Raging feminazi whose faith will in turn be questioned.
In case you haven't figured it out, this is a hybrid term created by combing the terms "feminist" and "nazi." Apparently in some American Evangelical Culture circles, they see absolutely nothing wrong with equating a fight for equal protection in society regardless of gender with horrific mass genocide.
I, on the other hand, saw a lot wrong with it. A LOT. It makes my skin crawl. I still have an extremely vivid memory of the first time I heard it my freshman year. The thing that remains so shocking to me (even after having heard this term literally hundreds of times at CCC) is how easily the term was used. It was spoken so casually, as if it were a normal and acceptable thing to say...as if it wasn't extreme in any way but an honest assessment of what is occurring in society. And to be fair, I'm certain the speaker may have actually thought that. Statements such as "She's such a feminazi." were spoken as naturally as stating "It's raining outside."
Moments like that made me wonder if there was any middle ground in Evangelicalism for women. Was there any identity we could claim that rested somewhere between pastor's trophy wife or model homemaker and being considered a female Hitler? Similar tension exists for girls throughout our society as they are labeled either slut or prude, goody two shoes or bitch, ditz or academic show off.
Perhaps what amazed me most was the fact that people could profess to believe that all it took was a word from God to create the entire universe, but that it made no difference what words they used when dealing with one another. So, American Evangelical Culture, if you're out there listening...for the love of God, stop calling women feminazis. It's demeaning, cruel, and completely unnecessary.