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Brazil: Feminazis and the reaction of the Blogsphere

"Feminazi", foto by the Flickr user Chloe Dietz. Used under CC 2.0

A controversy  erupted in the blogosphere as well as on Twitter,  about  the  term “Feminazi” – being used to denote radical feminists who are interested in “exterminating men”.  The entire discussion began after Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks leader, was arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting two women in Sweden.  However, what started as a discussion in a comment box quickly became an entire post, and ended up as an open revolt.

Barbara O spoke about the beginning of the crisis on the blog Paisagem Estripada [Gutted Landscape, pt]:

Anteontem [6 de Dezembro], coincidência ou não, irrompeu entre mim e o André (apenas assim) uma longa discussão sobre o termo ‘feminazi’ no blog do Nassif. Durante a minha ausência umas tantas mulheres e alguns homens vieram ao meu socorro, outros tantos se posicionaram a favor do André, e portanto deste malfadado termo. O que pode ser conferido aqui .

The day before yesterday [December 6], perhaps coincidentally, there had been a long discussion between myself  and Andre (in much the same vein) about the term ‘FemiNazi’ on Nassif's blog. While I was away, many women [and some men] supported my stance, but many others put themselves on Andrew's side, and favoured this ill-fated term, as can be seen here [pt].

André, at Luís Nassif‘s blog, attempts to explain [pt] what, in his view, a “Feminazi” is:

Minha cara, meu medo em relação às feminazis (sempre lembrando que este é apenas e tão somente um termo que ganhou popularidade por sua eficiência em resumir feministas radicais) é justamente pelo fato de elas me verem como um inimigo a ser exterminado, sendo que nada fiz a elas para merecer isso (ainda que elas me achem um estuprador e todo aquele blablablá que conhecemos). Não somente eu, mas qualquer homem é visto por elas como algo a ser exterminado e que só não o fazem porque não lhes foi dado poder substancial para irem adiante em seus propósitos.

Oh Lord! My fears about the term Feminazis (bearing in mind this term has gained popularity as a way of describing radical feminists) arise exclusively because they see me as an enemy to be exterminated too, a fate I genuinely haven't done anything to deserve (even if they've decided I'm a ‘potential rapist’, to use the prevailing paradigm ).  It's not only me – they see any man as someone to be exterminated, and the only reason they haven't started exterminating us yet is because they haven't been given the power to – yet!

Cynthia Semíramis, in her blog, denies this [pt]:

Em suma: feminazi é um termo que denota ignorância ou má-fé de quem o profere, pois vai contra tudo o que se sabe sobre nazismo e sobre feminismo. Feminazi é um termo que só é utilizado por conservadores para tentar desqualificar quem luta pela implementação dos direitos das mulheres.

In short then: “Feminazi” is actually a term that denotes the ignorance or bad faith of the people  using it, because it goes against everything we know about Nazis – and Feminists for that matter.  ‘FemiNazi’ is a term that's onlybeing used by conservatives to try to discredit the struggle for women's rights.

On feminism, Senhorita Bia, on the blog Groselha News, comments [pt]:

O feminismo é um movimento que encontra-se muitas vezes isolado, sem o apoio de grupos de direita e esquerda,  não pelo “radicalismo” de suas participantes, mas justamente pelo preconceito, pelas idéias deturpadas, pela falta de visão quando se fala de representatividade para mulheres, pela falta de educação e de um conhecimento maior do que seja feminismo. É fato que mesmo na internet as feministas parecem falar para elas mesmas e por mais que perteçam a grupos de blogueir@s suas reivindicações não ganham peso, pois a maioria não faz questão de que exista representatividade, acham que há questões mais importantes a serem tratadas.

Feminism is a movement that is often isolated [pt], not because it lacks support from Left- or Right-wing groups, nor because of the radicalism of its participants, but simply because of prejudice [pt] – because of perverted ideas, a  lack of vision when it comes to representing women, a lack of education, and the need for greater awareness of what Feminism is.  Even on the Internet, Feminists speak for themselves, but even if they belong to larger groups of Bloggers, their claims don't carry a great deal of weight, because the majority don't care whether there's any[female] representation at all, and think there are more important issues [pt] to be addressed .

One of the women who accused Assange, Anna Ardin, is quoted in various media reports as saying she is a Feminist, and the whole case is shrouded in doubt [pt].

Photo by Flicker user Gabby DC. Used under CC 2.0

Lola Aronovich, on the blog Escreva Lola Escreva [Write Lola Write, pt]  comments on the case:

Mas ele foi preso por abuso sexual, e a história toda está muito mal contada, até por que boa parte dela vem sendo contada em sueco. Mas o que se sabe? Que Julian esteve na Suécia em agosto e que, já naquela época (em que ele estava começando a ser vilanizado), duas moças o acusaram de abuso. Uma promotora analisou o caso, constatou que a acusação não era de estupro, e dispensou o caso. Agora que os EUA estão doidinhos pra colocar as mãos em Julian, é altamente suspeito que as denúncias voltem à tona.

But he was arrested for sexual abuse, and the whole story has been badly reported [pt], even allowing for the fact much of it was being told in Swedish. But what facts are actually known? That Julian was in Sweden in August, (when WikiLeaks  was starting to be vilified), and that since that time, two women have accused him of sexual abuse. A Prosecutor reviewed the case, found that there was no rape charge to answer, and dismissed it. Now  the U.S. is so desperate to get their teeth into Julian again, it's highly suspicious that the complaint has surfaced again.

In another post, Luís Nassif criticizes the attitude of  Blogs owners who allow offensive publications to be posted online:

Não sei como o Nassif foi publicar o post de um rapaz que defende o uso do termo feminazi (aliás, tenho uma vaga ideia de que sei, sim. Todos eles quando falam de feminismo derrapam feio, não sabem do que estão falando, e obviamente não demonstram nenhuma vontade de aprender.

I don't know how Nassif published the post from a guy who advocates the use of the term ‘FemiNazi’ (well, I have a vague idea how – everyone who discusses Feminism slips up in this very ugly way, [they] don't know what they're talking about, and obviously show no willingness to learn.

And Barbara O goes even further:

Nunca é demais pedir que prevaleça o bom senso. Parece haver um círculo de homens (e algumas mulheres também) que está à espreita para bradar “feminazi” ao menor deslize que uma mulher cometa em nome do feminismo.

[…] Digo mais: se é fato que a moça trabalha para a CIA, e que não houve entre ela e Assange nada além de intercurso consentido, então me parece engenhoso por na boca dela que ela seria “feminista” (ou escolher alguém com este perfil para cooptar).

It's never too much to ask that common sense should be allowed to prevail. There seems to be a circle of men (and some women too) who are waiting for the opportunity to shout “FemiNazis” against every minor slip that  women make in the name of Feminism.

[…] I say more: if it is true that she works for the CIA, and that there was nothing between her and Assange but consensual intercourse, then it seems to me ingenious to put into her mouth the statement that she is a “Feminist” (or to choose someone with this profile to co-opt).

On Twitter too, reactions were varied, and the topic quickly changed to “trending”. Many criticized  release of the comment and the reaction of the Blog owner, Luis Nassif, who “turned one reader's sexist comment into an entire post  [without] maintaining his position as the Blog owner” – and  without appologizing, says Lola Aronovich @lolaescreva, pt), in an attempt to summarize events via Twitter.

Days later on his blog, Luis Nassif posted [pt] what was supposed to be an apology.  Nassif said he monitors as he surfs, and publishes what he considers more interesting and/or controversial on his blog:

O problema é que, devido às corridas da semana, não tive oportunidade de ler os comentários. Tivesse lido e captado o potencial ofensivo do termo, certamente publicaria um comentário se contrapondo ao seu uso.
Três dias depois, pelo Twitter, em vez de um alerta civilizado sobre o post, passei a sofrer patrulhamento de algumas feministas

The problem was that due to the busy week, he'd had no opportunity to read the comments. Had he  read and fully grasped the offensive potential of that term, he'd certainly have published a comment opposing its use.

Three days later, on Twitter, instead of a civilized alert about the post, I was contacted by some feminists.

They created the hashtag #FeministaSimFeminaziNao [#FeministYesFeminaziNo] to debate the case.

A Teacher and  Women's Rights Researcher, Cynthia Semiramis, analyzed the case by criticizing  Luis Nassif's position- which she considered “sexist”- and left some final thoughts on the responsibilities of bloggers when publishing content, which she feels should include “not publishing rumours or falsehoods, much less anything as dishonest, manipulative and offensive as the term ‘FemiNazi “.

This post was proofread by Dr Lofthouse.

1 comment

  • The plot thickens as the Swedish press reports on Karl Rove’s likely involvement in all this. Seems like he’s up to his old tricks again – only in Sweden this time. I strongly recommend people have a look at this article translated from Swedish before they dismiss Wolf’s allegations about Assange being set up:

    The whole Wikileaks/feminist controversy is starting to smell like classic Cointelpro tactics to me. The use of identity politics to divide the progressive movement dates back to the 1960s civil rights movement. I write about my sad personal experiences with all this in my recent memoir THE MOST REVOLUTIONARY ACT: MEMOIR OF AN AMERICAN REFUGEE ( I currently live in exile in New Zealand.

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