Have Conservatives Turned “Feminism” into a Dirty Word?


Cultural journalist Suzi Parker thinks so. Writing for a Washington Post blog, she claims feminism has lost its noble messaging to the criticisms of Rush Limbaugh and the Right, and she, for one, has had enough of it. “It’s time for women to take back the word feminism,” she writes, and she proceeds to make several points to back up her claim that feminism has become a tragic victim in the conservative war on women:

(1) “Have conservatives so corrupted the word ‘feminist’ that it is now tainted like the word ‘liberal’ or ‘environmentalist’? The fact that this is even in the realm of discussion in 2013 makes my head ache terribly — and makes me angry.”

Your question makes my head ache, Ms. Parker, and I bet you’re not half as angry as I am. The main culprit for corrupting the word “feminism” is the feminist movement itself. What was once a movement about, as you say, “equal rights for women . . . equal pay, legal, voting, education and reproductive rights and protection from domestic violence, sexual assault and harassment” has digressed into a movement about social justice, wealth redistribution, anti-Constitutionalism, big government, feministic chauvinism, sex, sexualization, and self-objectification. And, as you said, “No, you don’t have to be a militant and burn your bra to be a feminist.” You’re right. The bras were burned long ago, the breasts are out, and militancy is mainstream.

(2) “When I was growing up, my mother, who was of the generation where women married after high school, took their husband’s name and had babies, always told me that I could do anything a boy could do. I sometimes doubted that in the 1970s South, when girls were still dressing in frills to attend cotillion and enter beauty pageants. But I gave it my best shot. I skateboarded, popped wheelies on my bike and played baseball – not softball – with the neighborhood boys. And like the boys, I suffered skinned knees and bruised arms (mine were visible when I wore my sundresses). I felt equal, if not at times better, than they were.”

Yeah, well you weren’t that unusual. A lot of us girls climbed trees and skinned our knees in the 70s. So what. I grew up in the South, and like most of the girls in my neighborhood, I wore my brother’s secondhand clothes and cut my hair short. And I even chewed some tobacco too. You couldn’t have distinguished me from Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird except that I wore a leather Kansas City Chief’s jacket, and, unlike you, I never wore a sundress. I too played sports, ran with the boys, got in fist fights, and did everything they did. I was equal to them, and, yes, even better at times (especially in the fist fights).

Sounds like you and I have the same story, particularly the Southern bit. So what’s your point? That we had opportunities our mothers didn’t have because of the women’s movement? You’re right. But where you’re wrong is your claim that the women’s movement today is the same as it was in the 70s. Look at you and me. A similar past, a very different present. You see feminism through the rose-colored glasses of history and your own idealism. I see it for what it is today—an immoral faction controlled by statists to undermine women’s freedom and power by expanding laws and regulations and replacing personal choice with government bureaucracy.

Do my views make me anti-woman? I’m just as much a “feminist”—in the 70s, tree-climbing sense of the word—as you are. But where we’re not the same is our understanding of government’s role in our lives, equality under the law, and the difference between beautiful sexuality and base sexualization.

(3) “Some 20-something, millennial women say that feminism has corrupted their femininity and their wish to stay at home and raise children. Not at all. Feminism is about the opportunity for a woman to choose whatever path in her life she wants, but, also to have the same rights as her male counterparts, whether in the boardroom or the bedroom. If men feel intimidated by this modernity, it’s their problem.”

You’re just living in fantasyland on this one. Modern feminism, of the statist kind that is rampant today, does not support women who stay at home. Women who want to care for their children and husbands are looked down upon, criticized, mocked, and ridiculed. Even those who have jobs and have been successful, if they value life, family, church, and country, are not supported by the feminist movement.

In claiming that feminism hasn’t corrupted a woman’s femininity, you are either lying to yourself or lying to us. And if you truly believe that feminism today represents and supports ALL women in their free choices for themselves, then you’ve got blinders on. Feminism supports those who toe the statist line. Period. All others who refuse to worship at the shrine of sanctified sexualization and statism are treated worse than chauvinistic men (and many of those are on the Left. Calling Bill Clinton!).

Exhibit A: Sarah Palin. Where were the feminists when Bill Maher called her a dumb t**t or a stupid c**t? Exhibit B: Michelle Malkin. Where were the feminists when Keith Olbermann called her a “big mashed up bag of meat with lipstick”?

You say feminism is all about equality and support of women no matter what their choices? Really? Well, it seems to me that its message is more reflective of Ellen Barkin’s rant as Tropical Storm Isaac moved toward the Republican Convention in 2012: “C’mon Isaac! Wash every pro-life, anti-education, anti-woman, xenophobic, gay-bashing, racist SOB right into the ocean!” Spoken like a true feminist statist who has met the full, logical realization of her philosophy—kill anyone who disagrees with you. If you don’t have gas chambers, maybe a storm will do just fine.

(4) “The tainting of the word ‘feminism’ has a lot to do with Rush Limbaugh, who has made it his mission for the last 20 years to try and put women in their proper place. In the early 1990s, he repeatedly used the term ‘feminazi,’ a slur to describe a dozen or so women – Gloria Steinem, Anita Hill and Susan Sarandon – whom he found repulsive for their beliefs. Limbaugh later adopted the term to describe any woman who supported abortion rights or, essentially, who he didn’t like.”

Now you’re just whining. First of all, as popular as Rush is, he isn’t that powerful. You give the “harmless little fuzzball” too much credit. Again, this harkens back to my first point. The fault for the “tainting of the word ‘feminism’” isn’t Rush or conservatives, it’s feminists themselves. And it’s about time they stop whining and playing the blame game—particularly toward Rush—and own how they’ve corrupted the women’s movement started by our mothers and grandmothers.

The term “feminazi,” whether you like it or not, was applied to a fringe, as you said, “militant,” side of the feminist movement. The problem is, that fringe group is now mainstream, and, no, that is NOT a good thing, not for women, not for anyone. And, by the way, Rush didn’t find these women repulsive for their beliefs. I don’t think Rush finds anyone repulsive, particularly women. But he did find their agendas repulsive, as do many women—the lies of Anita Hill, the abortion-on-demand extremism of Steinem, and the statism of Sarandon—are all offensive to WOMEN.

The term feminazi fits when you’re describing agendas that put big-government control over individual liberty, sexual freedom over religious conscience, and factionalized politics over a commitment to the Constitution. I know this will make your head ache even more, Ms. Parker, but in this instance, Rush is right.

There are 69 comments.

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  1. Member

    I may not *agree* with every opinion any feminist group holds, but I can recognise that people in the group generally hold these because they want to make society more just. Their intention is not necessarily malign, just because I don’t agree with their assumptions or analyses.

    Is there more to it? Of course. But that’s true of any group and bundle of opinions.

    James – justice seems to encompass social justice to me. As for equal rights for women being congruent with social justice – I guess people could disagree, but on the face of it they don’t seem contradictory to me. What am I missing?


    that is all morally equivalent to the abolition of the ownership of human beings? · 4 hours ago

    A little good and big good are both good. It’s a continuum springing from a single urge (towards goodness) rather than things that can’t be compared.

    • #1
    • February 12, 2013 at 3:20 am
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  2. Inactive

    I don’t think Anita Hill lied. I also don’t think that the term “feminazi” can be de facto attributed to those who want sexual freedom over religious conscience. Otherwise, your post is spot-on. I used to participate on a feminist forum, as there were a lot of science, space and engineering women there and that made it interesting. Only, I very quickly learned that their “feminist” perspective on just about everything was very leftist/liberal.

    • #2
    • February 12, 2013 at 4:14 am
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  3. Inactive

    Great post!

    I got slapped around by a feminist yesterday having been overheard referring to a participant on a national radio political panel show as an “old fashioned women’s lib feminist with all the baggage that entails”. I realised afterwards that the problem was that my description of the woman was too mild given that she spent the whole show explaining what others REALLY thought (don’t you just love the way so many marxists are expert in interpreting and relaying the internal dialogues of opponents?) – which is a pet hate of mine and in a discussion on gay marriage she protested that it was absurd that gays (such as herself) would want to sign up to an institution whose sole purpose was the oppression of women.

    Why is there no word for reverse mysogyny? If there were one it would be applicable to much of the extremism that drives the quota demanding feminism of today which demands laws to effect reparations for generations of oppression.

    I used to consider myself a feminist sympathiser since I was (am) a supporter of equal rights for women. I am disgusted by the current thrust of feminism however.

    • #3
    • February 12, 2013 at 4:21 am
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  4. Inactive

    I hope that somehow Suzi Parker sees this post. Well done.

    • #4
    • February 12, 2013 at 5:29 am
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  5. Inactive

    You go, girl!

    “Feminism” and “feminine” shouldn’t get to use the same root.

    • #5
    • February 12, 2013 at 6:01 am
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  6. Contributor

    Absolutely fantastic! Ms. Parker can locate the root cause of any negative conotations from the word “feminism,” by consulting the nearest mirror. Beautifully and powerfully argued, Denise.

    • #6
    • February 12, 2013 at 6:08 am
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  7. Thatcher

    Have conservatives turned feminism into a dirty word? No, feminists have done that all on their own.

    • #7
    • February 12, 2013 at 6:28 am
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  8. Inactive

    I think the odds are 3,786,583.3:1 that you are right.

    My human half would like to see this on Main Feed immediately.

    • #8
    • February 12, 2013 at 6:34 am
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  9. Inactive

    That “fringe” though has always been the leaders of the movement, and have always had a goal of destroying manhood and “the patriarchy” and the family order. There has always been a core of hatred and resentment of men, church, and family. They just downplayed it to get the support of wives and daughters. Now that they’ve won, they don’t have to hide their disgust and their goals anymore. Feminism was never just about “respect”.

    • #9
    • February 12, 2013 at 6:34 am
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  10. Inactive


    • #10
    • February 12, 2013 at 6:36 am
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  11. Thatcher

    Since Day One, Feminists have tried their best to make women into men (the Army, Title IX, hookups, contraception from age 11, etc.), and their boys into women (metrosexuals). Just exactly how is that working out for them and society?

    • #11
    • February 12, 2013 at 6:39 am
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  12. Member

    I’m of the opinion conservatives haven’t done enough to discredit feminism. When I think of all the wasted lives, driven by purposeless left-wing nuttery, my anger borders on sinful wrath. 

    Dipping into the well of wisdom that is Dennis Prager: “When movements succeed, they don’t disband, they radicalize.” We’ve come so far (leftward), baby, I’m beginning to question the wisdom of the Suffragettes. 

    • #12
    • February 12, 2013 at 6:39 am
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  13. Member

    Awesome post, Denise.

    One question, though: Now that women are free to be tomboys (if they were not already), free to remain single, to work for equal pay and whatnot, why should any young conservative woman desire to call herself a feminist? Why try to regain ownership of the term?

    In other words, why keep the label with its original significance around? Let the feminazis keep it. No?

    Speaking as someone who was born in 1980, I have only ever associated feminism with hippies, bullies and clowns. Like “unions”, the mere mention makes me itch.

    • #13
    • February 12, 2013 at 6:40 am
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  14. Member
    Mike LaRoche: Have conservatives turned feminism into a dirty word? No, feminists have done that all on their own. · 8 minutes ago

    Kind of like how 98% of lawyers give the good ones a bad name…

    • #14
    • February 12, 2013 at 6:42 am
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  15. Thatcher
    Mike LaRoche: Have conservatives turned feminism into a dirty word? No, feminists have done that all on their own. · 13 minutes ago

    Mr. LaRoche has beat me to it!

    • #15
    • February 12, 2013 at 6:42 am
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  16. Thatcher

    Also, stellar post, Denise!

    • #16
    • February 12, 2013 at 6:43 am
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  17. Contributor
    D.C. McAllister Post author

    Aaron–they want to keep the term because they haven’t completed their agenda. There is power in the faction.

    • #17
    • February 12, 2013 at 6:52 am
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  18. Thatcher
    Pseudodionysius: I think the odds are 3,786,583.3:1 that you are right.

    My human half would like to see this on Main Feed immediately. · 18 minutes ago

    I second the green-blooded hobgoblin’s motion for Main Feed promotion.

    • #18
    • February 12, 2013 at 6:54 am
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  19. Member
    Denise McAllister: Aaron–they want to keep the term because they haven’t completed their agenda. There is power in the faction.

    I’m not asking why they want to keep the term. I’m asking why you want to keep the term.

    Or do you?

    • #19
    • February 12, 2013 at 6:57 am
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  20. Contributor
    D.C. McAllister Post author

    Aaron–oh sorry, no I prefer American.

    • #20
    • February 12, 2013 at 6:58 am
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  21. Member

    The current understanding of the term “feminism” among soidisant feminists is best summed up in the bumper sticker “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.” Like most leftist thinking, it is based on hatred, intolerance, resentment, and (of course) Freudian projection.

    • #21
    • February 12, 2013 at 7:02 am
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  22. Member

    Bravissima, Denise! Keep them coming…

    • #22
    • February 12, 2013 at 7:03 am
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  23. Member

    Denise – this is why I love you. Thank you!

    I refuse to cede the word liberal to the left, as I do the word feminist. The women who call themselves feminists today as liberal are just statists, and we encourage this by letting them.

    I am a liberal and a feminist. Just like I refuse to add “East” to my country of origin – Indian (there is only one India – get over it!); I refuse to call my self classical liberal. And I am a feminist. As is Sarah Palin. As is Michele Bachman. As are many of other conservative women.

    It’s time to make sense – let’s take the vocabulary back instead of making it a taboo.

    • #23
    • February 12, 2013 at 7:22 am
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  24. Inactive
    Elizabeth Van Horn: I don’t think Anita Hill lied.


    • #24
    • February 12, 2013 at 7:30 am
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  25. Inactive

    Hear, hear. Women at home with their babies are seen by feminists as letting down the side. Erica Jong wrote about it in her book, fear of fifty. Once she had a child, the feminists dropped her. I particularly dislike their equal outcomes and board quotas for companies. I work late every day and I do not see fellow women putting in the hours. For those women who want to be in boards, no one is stopping them from putting in the hours.

    • #25
    • February 12, 2013 at 7:36 am
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  26. Contributor

    Fun read, Denise. Thanks!

    I would say that conservatives have turned feminism into a dirty word in at least this very superficial sense: they were the ones who started using it as an insult. The self-described feminists gave them plenty of justification, of course. When I was a child (in the 80’s) I would have been very much affronted to be accused of being a feminist. (I remember my brothers so taunting me on a few occasions.) Later on, when I had some contact with reclusive, conservative fringe groups, I was (mostly) amused to hear the term hurled at me derisively, usually for such offenses as suggesting that it isn’t entirely bad for women to go to college (or wear pants).

    Based partly on these experiences, I offer the following caution: the abuses of feminism have spawned reactionary counter-movements among conservatives, some of which do have misogynist undertones.

    For myself, I believe what I truly wish is to live in a world in which men are free to be men, and feel confident enough in their masculinity that they don’t need women to support them by living out a narrow and caricatured vision of femininity.

    • #26
    • February 12, 2013 at 8:31 am
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  27. Moderator

    You know, I’m not sure that there was a time when Feminism was not leftist but was concerned about sexual harassment as a key concern. Sexual Harrasment has some attention in the 1960s, but really gets off the ground in the 1970s. The Second Sex had decisively turned Second Wave Feminsim into a primarily Marxist school of thought in 1949. When you turn yourself into a Marxist school of thought, you attract the “taint” of Marxism; Simone de Beauvoir was not Rush’s fault.

    “Reproductive rights” were there from the Republican friendly days of feminism, sure, but you’ll find much more pro-life feminism than pro-choice; contraception was a big feminist drive, but abortion was not.

    There’s often a desire to say that feminism was good, but became corrupted, but there was good and bad in first wave feminism, second wave feminism, and third wave feminism.

    • #27
    • February 12, 2013 at 8:36 am
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  28. Contributor
    D.C. McAllister Post author
    Rachel Lu

    Based partly on these experiences, I offer the following caution: the abuses of feminism have spawned reactionary counter-movements among conservatives, some of which do have misogynist undertones.

    There will always be misogynist undertones in society, I think, as men and women vie for power. But I think we have progressed in our rights as women—something I do value from the original “feminists.” But men have learned from the women’s movement as well (and some good things). While there will also be some who prefer power over love and respect, there are many who honor us as women. I value those men and I would never want to sacrifice them or their masculinity because of my own fears of the misogynists they might become. Plus, I think we could take ’em in a fight. I know, Rachel, you’re a tough one. :) That said, love and respect for how God made us goes a long way. A lesson the feminists have forgotten, or unfortunately never learned.

    • #28
    • February 12, 2013 at 8:46 am
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  29. Contributor
    D.C. McAllister Post author
    James Of England: There’s often a desire to say that feminism was good, but became corrupted, but there was good and bad in first wave feminism, second wave feminism, and third wave feminism. · 10 minutes ago

    You’re right that the various “waves” have been mixed. Nothing is pure, is it? Especially when it involves sweeping societal change. But the original feminists were fighting for very real rights that have bettered the lives of women. I would never want to deny them that. I have been too much of a beneficiary of it. However, neither will I deny the bastardly child that feminism has become today. What was once an outlier has become a pervasive slough of corruption and immorality. Sadly.

    • #29
    • February 12, 2013 at 8:54 am
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  30. Inactive

    This is the same Suzi Parker that just beclowned the Washington Post by reporting that Sarah Palin has joined Al Jazeera TV (based apparently on a satirical website). See http://www.politico.com/blogs/media/2013/02/washington-post-erroneously-reports-sarah-palin-joining-156744.html

    The toughest fashion choice for east coast feminists each morning: stupid or angry?

    • #30
    • February 12, 2013 at 9:25 am
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