One of my favorite things about living in Yerevan is having the opportunity to attend so many activities that are open to the public. Recently one of those activities included a discussion on different theories of feminism by Tamar Tskhadadze, a Georgian professor at Ilia State University. Being a foreigner, I was excited to attend the discussion and very interested to hear what Tamar believed to be the biggest issues surrounding feminism in her experience in the Caucasus.
The first issue she mentioned was that of the “feminazi.” The term, “feminazi”, that is. She explained that the term was first used on television by conservative American talk-show host Rush Limbaugh to describe a small group of feminists whose goal was to ensure that as many abortions were performed as possible. From that specific and questionable meaning, the term “feminazi” has grown to include any feminists deemed “militant,” or serious. That term certainly was not the beginning of feminism’s negative connotation, but it has not helped. Though there are many different type of feminism, Tamar described the foundation of all branches of feminism to be the beliefs that inequality among sexes exists to some degree in every society, and that social and economic gender equality should be reached. There is often the idea that all feminists hate men, but that truly is not what the movement is about. It is about believing that women and men are equal and should be treated as such. That does not change the fact that many people with feminist ideals today still hesitate in calling themselves feminists because of the negativity attached to the name.
Tamar brought up various points that have long bothered me as a feminist myself. For example, the stereotype of feminists being seen as “killjoys”; taking the fun out of humor. It is bothersome that feminists as a whole can be seen as boring or lacking a sense of humor if they do not find a joke funny when it is at the expense of a woman. Those types of jokes are reminiscent of why they exist in the first place, and that they are generally made for men to enjoy, not women. “Dumb blonde” jokes, for example are made about blonde women who are portrayed as unintelligent. Unfortunately the unintelligent woman has been a common stereotype in the past and still today because women were not given access to education in much of the world until quite recently, and in some countries they are still fighting for those rights.