ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Long Live the 'Feminazi'

The righteous anger of revenge is coursing through our streets. It wants to announce itself to the world in bold, brazen strides with banners, meetings and parades calling for more death and more blood. And, we are letting it circulate through the veins of society with renewed vitriol, again and again. What allows this anger to be so very blatant, so unabashed and proud? Why does it demand the same kind of blinding rage from those who don’t feel it? Why is this rage a marker of patriotism? Why is the lack of it, immediately treated as a betrayal? Why is this brand of patriotic anger, so violent in its expression, acceptable? Why is it being celebrated?

Some months ago, there was another form of anger that was expressed. This anger was potent. It rose from a long history of silent oppression. For centuries, this anger had simmered under masks of agreeableness, till it threatened to spill over. And, perhaps, it might have. But it wasn’t allowed to. It was stopped short of any real change. The enraged were forced back into silence. There was no carnivalesque jubilation at the expression of this anger. Even though this anger came from a place of deep injustice.

The first form of anger is the response to the Pulwama attack that we have been witnessing. The second is the #MeToo movement. The first is overtly nationalistic and essentially masculine. The second brand of anger is not.

Both kinds of anger are rooted in the idea of justice. But the problem is that the idea of justice is rooted in very different kinds of “reason.”

The masculine brand of anger that rallies around the need for revenge seem to think it is perfectly reasonable to demand revenge, because revenge is justice after all. And justice is desirable, so this anger, by extension, is legitimate in the deliverance of justice.

But the non-masculine forms of anger are looking to overwrite historical dis-privilege. Yet, their anger in pursuit of justice is illegitimised, because it challenges the patriarchal statusquo that has been built on masculine conceptualisations of “reason.”

The women who “came out” with their stories during the #MeToo movement were tested against a standard of reason. Yet, both the testing and the standard of reason are entirely absent for someone advocating war against Pakistan.

Men have monopolised reason and, by extension, they have monopolised the right to be angry because non-masculine forms of anger have been banished from the realm of legitimacy to the realm of unreason. Society demands that the women explain themselves when expressing anger, because an angry woman is a transgression. Angry women need to be locked in attics, their “hysteria” needs to be contained, because angry women are unreasonable, uncontrollable, and unacceptable. Female anger has been treated with disdain and continues to be portrayed as unattractive and unfeminine.

Why? Because an angry woman is a threat to male privilege. A feminist who speaks out against patriarchal structures of oppression is a “Feminazi,” because a Nazi is an ugly thing, and so we associate a woman who owns and expresses her anger with something ugly. By such name-calling, we are dismissing her anger, making it something small and frivolous, and rendering it powerless.

It has now been several decades since we began to celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8. This year, let us say that we have had enough with the justified anger of the angry young men. Let this be the time of angry young women—women who have had enough and will not put up with any more.


The views expressed here are personal and do not reflect the collective view from the journal.

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