As a woman who was a teenager at the cusp of the riot-grrl movement, who grew up with a very definite sense of her place in the world, I find the term Feminazi problematic. Primarily because it is based on the accusation that women who seek equality wish to do so at the expense of male rights.
Even at the beginning of first-wave feminism this was not the case. All women have ever wanted is a level playing field.
Pro-women does not mean Anti-Men and if there are feminists promoting those views, they are in the minority. They are not Nazis filled with evil, man-hating intent to destroy the lives of men, they are simply ill-informed. There are ill-informed feminists in the same way as there are ill-informed people in all walks of life and it is hugely damaging to brand all advocates for all levels of women’s rights as “Nazis” simply because a few people get it wrong.
It is from this point of view that I approach the issue of Katie Hopkins. Speaking about the temp who was fired last week for refusing to wear high heels, she claims that
“I understand the feminazis love fighting and are always looking for the next scrap on their vagenda.”
Whilst I can practically feel her pride at coming up with the concept of a “vagenda”, I am not here to get into semantics. What I do want to address, is the bitter Twitter backlash from women who agree that heels vs flats is irrelevant, provided the shoes are smart. These women are completely right in their response, however, they need to be addressing their concerns to the male bosses who make/ enforce the rules and not a columnist with zero ability to affect the footwear policy of a random business.
In her tweets and columns of “anti-feminazi” vitriol, Katie Hopkins reminds me of the girls in school who claimed to only get along with boys. In reality, they had few female friends because their self esteem was so low they couldn’t take the (perceived) competition of other girls.
Ms H takes this one step further- she actively goes out of her way to alienate women (and pretty much every other group of people) just to be seen and heard. Having moved through the army, the security business and the boardroom she has followed the Thatcher model of taking on previously male-dominated roles by matching her behaviour to that of the males surrounding her. Rather than celebrate and enjoy her femininity as something she can have alongside her successes, she has chosen to quash it. Referring to herself repeatedly as a “bruiser” and “tough”, I begin to wonder who she is trying to convince more, us or herself?
Her rant against so-called feminazis and the older statement that “if women had freedom they wouldn’t know what to do with it”, tells me less about her opinion of women in general and more about her insecurities with her own identity, which is what stops me from responding to her with a vitriolic outpouring of my own.
The one thing it is easy to forget when listening to her rant, is that she has absolutely no ability whatsoever to affect the running of the country. Yes she has a column in a big newspaper and a lot of Twitter followers, but that’s just her congregation of the converted. Unlike Cameron or Farage, she wields no actual power and can enact no real social or political change.
She is the journalistic equivalent of Bart Simpson, acting out because negative attention is still attention and every time you retweet her with a “look at this idiot” statement, you’re working for her.
If she was not famous and, instead of sitting at a microphone for LBC, she sat on the bus yelling her nonsense to whomever was nearest, you would probably move seats or refuse to respond until she shut up.
Social media platforms make it incredibly easy to have a knee-jerk response and, in this sense, we need to take responsibility for her fame. If her rubbish is being perpetuated it is because we are helping to spread her words. The best thing we can do for this woman is to stop enabling her in the hope that she finds another way to boost her shaky self-esteem, whilst at the same time devoting more time to sharing the thoughts, policies and ideas we do believe in. If you want to hate, then direct it at the people who are making the decisions because shooting the messenger is deeply satisfying but the messages will just be repeated until we vote them out.