“Feminazi”: The History Of Limbaugh's Trademark Slur Against Women
When Rush Limbaugh first began using the term “feminazi” in the 1990s, he said that it described “a specific type of feminist” and that there were “probably no more than 25 of them.” However, since then, he has used the term as a broader slur to attack feminists, pro-choice activists, and progressive women.
Limbaugh Debuted “Feminazi” In Early '90s, Saying It Refers To “A Specific Type Of Feminist”
Limbaugh In 1992 Book: “I Prefer To Call The Most Obnoxious Feminists What They Really Are: Feminazis. ... I Often Use It To Describe Women Who Are Obsessed With Perpetuating A Modern-Day Holocaust: Abortion.” In his 1992 book The Way Things Ought to Be, Limbaugh defined the term “feminazi” as “a woman to whom the most important thing in life is seeing to it that as many abortions as possible are performed.” He wrote:
I prefer to call the most obnoxious feminists what they really are: feminazis. Tom Hazlett, a good friend who is an esteemed and highly regarded professor of economics at the University of California at Davis, coined the term to describe any female who is intolerant of any point of view that challenges militant feminism. I often use it to describe women who are obsessed with perpetuating a modern-day holocaust: abortion. There are 1.5 million abortions a year, and some feminists almost seem to celebrate that figure. There are not many of them, but they deserve to be called feminazis.
A feminazi is a woman to whom the most important thing in life is seeing to it that as many abortions as possible are performed. Their unspoken reasoning is quite simple. Abortion is the single greatest avenue for militant women to exercise their quest for power and advance their belief that men aren't necessary. They don't need men in order to be happy. They certainly don't want males to be able to exercise any control over them. Abortion is the ultimate symbol of women's emancipation from the power and influence of men. With men being precluded from the ultimate decision-making process regarding the future of life in the womb, they are reduced to their proper, inferior role. Nothing matters but me, says the feminazi. My concerns prevail over all else. The fetus doesn't matter, it's an unviable tissue mass.
Feminazis have adopted abortion as a kind of sacrament for their religion/politics of alienation and bitterness. [The Way Things Ought to Be, Rush Limbaugh, pages 194-195]
Limbaugh: A “Feminazi” Is “A Specific Type Of Feminist. ... There're Probably No More Than 25 Of Them In The Entire World.” On the December 4, 1992, broadcast of Limbaugh's television show, he said:
LIMBAUGH: Now we -- we don't have much time left, but, you know, the audience of this show is growing left and right. We're now the number three most watched late-night television show in the country. The only two shows ahead of us are “Nightline” and Leno on “The Tonight Show.” So a lot of people probably are tuning in and watching, Feminazi? Why, how can he say that?' And I -- Feminazi is -- is a specific type of feminist. And so there's no misunderstanding, I simply want to define it for you before we go out of here so you're not upset. A Feminazi -- there're probably no more than 25 of them in the entire world. Well, maybe just in the United States. But a Feminazi is a feminist to whom the most important thing in the world is seeing to it that as many abortions as possible take place. A Feminazi is a woman who gets mad when a pregnant woman is talked into giving birth. Now there aren't very many, and it is not true, as some say, that Feminazis are all feminists. So there you've heard it again. [The Rush Limbaugh Show, 12/4/92, accessed via Nexis]
Limbaugh Biographer Colford: In 1992 Interview, Limbaugh Justified “Feminazi” Term By Saying That “The Millions Of Abortions Performed In The United States Were Comparable To A Holocaust.” In his book The Rush Limbaugh Story, Paul D. Colford wrote:
“It is the suffix that drives people crazy,” ABC newsman Jeff Greenfield said during his 1992 appearance with Limbaugh at the 92nd Street YM-YWHA in Manhattan. "Feminazi. I mean, that is a movement that did not simply want to silence people, it killed people, by the millions. It is a very powerful, memorable phrase. I think it did you much good in terms of defining you as a person with a colorful and bold turn of phrase. Any regrets about using that particular term?"
No, Limbaugh replied, making it clear that feminazi did not apply to all feminists, but maybe to twenty or so. “I happen to be prolife. I happen to think life is the most sacrosanct thing on the planet, human life. I think that if we cheapen it, or devalue it in any way, then other societal ills result. I do not think it is wise for a society to kill for convenience sake, and I think that is what abortion has become ... A feminazi is a woman, a feminist, to whom the most important thing in her life is seeing to it that all abortions possible take place. That's why there aren't very many. I don't know more than twenty in the whole country. A feminazi is a woman who gets mad when a woman decides to have a baby, is talked out of having an abortion. I really don't understand that, if choice is what this is really all about.” He added that the millions of abortions performed in the United States were comparable to a holocaust. [The Rush Limbaugh Story, Paul D. Colford, pages 184-185]
Limbaugh Biographer: “Limbaugh's Claim” Of “Narrow Definition Of Feminazi” Undercut By His “Feminazi Trading Cards” In 1992 Book
Limbaugh Prints Fake Ad For “Feminazi Trading Cards” In 1992 Book Chapter On “Feminism And The Culture War.” In his 1992 book, The Way Things Ought to Be, Limbaugh concluded the chapter called “Feminism and the Culture War” with a mock ad for “feminazi trading cards”:
FEMINAZI TRADING CARDS
FEMALE: I'll give you two Gloria Steinems for one Anita Hill.
ANNOUNCER: Trading cards have always been for males only, it's just not fair, it's just not right.
FEMALE: Damn, I spilled nail polish on my Betty Friedan!
ANNOUNCER: Well. EIB [the Excellence in Broadcasting network] is proud to introduce “Feminazi Trading Cards.” For you to save, to collect, to trade. Feminazi Trading Cards are designed with the woman in mind. On the front, an action shot of a leading feminist burning a bra, dominating a TV show, picketing an all-men's club, protesting a Rush Limbaugh concert, charging into a men's locker room. Denouncing Ronald Reagan.
FEMALE: I'd do anything for Pat Schroeder.
ANNOUNCER: On the back, all the vital statistics: waist, hips, the documented age, the number of abortions, and, where applicable, the alimony payments and divorce settlements. Each file has at least one profound thought and a beauty secret. Get them all! Each set includes not only today's feminazi superstars like Molly Yard and Eleanor Smeal, but yesterday's heroes like Bella Abzug and Gloria Steinem. Plus, outstanding rookies like Anita Hill and Judge Susan Hoerchner. Don't get left out. Start collecting Feminazi Trading Cards today! [The Way Things Ought to Be, Rush Limbaugh, page 204, emphasis original]
Limbaugh Biographer Wilson: “Limbaugh's Claim That He's Always Used A Very Narrow Definition Of Feminazi Is Belied By His Proposal For 'Feminazi Trading Cards.' ” In his book The Most Dangerous Man in America: Rush Limbaugh's Assault on Reason, author John K. Wilson wrote:
For decades Limbaugh has been using the term, without apology, to smear the feminist movement.
Limbaugh has repeatedly asserted that he has been misquoted and was only describing a “few” feminists as feminazis.
In reality, Limbaugh used that definition of feminazis to define all feminists: “Do you think looking at someone is sexual harassment.? Do you think all men are rapists? Do you think all sex is rape? If your answer to any or all of these questions is no, you are simply not, by definition, a feminist.” Considering that it would be almost impossible to find anyone who agrees with any of these statements, he is trying to define an entire movement by a grotesque exaggeration of its most extreme advocates.
The claim that Rush is only insulting twenty-five feminists is absurd, since he argues that “they drive the movement.” Rush must believe that the leaders of the feminist movement are secret radicals who have fooled the millions of feminists who agree with them. When he complains that he's been misquoted about feminazis, he is being disingenuous. In fact, Limbaugh has said exactly what he's been accused of. When asked in 1995 about the term “feminazi,” he declared: “It's the way I look at the feminist movement.” Limbaugh referred to the National Center for Women and Policing and the Feminist Majority Foundation as “feminazis.” So it's not just twenty-five individuals, but every single feminist organization, its leaders, and millions upon millions of Americans with the same views whom Limbaugh compares to Nazis.
In 2004, Limbaugh named “Gloria Steinem, Susan Sarandon, Christine Lati, and Camryn Manheim” as “famous feminazis.” He never explained why he thinks these activists and actresses are opposed to women having babies. Limbaugh has never, in his twenty-five-year career on talk radio, offered any evidence of a single person who fits his definition of a “feminazi”: “The definition and real agenda of the feminazi: radical feminists whose objective is to see that there are as many abortions as possible.” By this definition, there are literally no feminazis.
And Limbaugh's claim that he's always used a very narrow definition of feminazi is belied by his proposal for “feminazi trading cards”: “On the front, an action shot of a leading feminist burning a bra, dominating a TV show, picketing an all-men's club. On the back, all the vital statistics: waist, hips, the documented age, the number of abortions and, where applicable, the alimony payments and divorce settlements.” [The Most Dangerous Man in America: Rush Limbaugh's Assault on Reason, John K. Wilson, pages 55-56]
Limbaugh Reportedly “All-But-Dropped” The Term ...
2000 Slate Article: Limbaugh “Has All-But-Dropped The Term 'Feminazi.' ” A May 2000 Slate article about talk radio claimed: “Limbaugh has smoothed his rough edges. He has all-but-dropped the term 'feminazi.' ” [Slate, 5/26/00]
... But Began Using It Again Regularly In 2000s ...
In June 2005, Limbaugh Claimed He Hadn't “Used That Term [Feminazi] On This Program In Years.” On the June 22, 2005, broadcast of his show, Limbaugh claimed, “I haven't used that term [feminazis] on this program in years.”
- But He Used The Term “Feminazis” Eight Times In March And April 2004. Media Matters documented Limbaugh using the term “feminazis” eight times during a six-week span in March and April 2004. [Media Matters, 6/24/05]
... And Used It To Attack Feminists, Progressives, And Abortion-Rights Advocates Throughout the 2000s ...
2004: Limbaugh Referred To Abortion-Rights Activists As “Feminazis.” On the April 26, 2004, broadcast of his radio show, Limbaugh said of a rally in Washington, D.C., on April 25, 2004:
LIMBAUGH: The feminazis gathered in Washington on Sunday, about a half-million of them, it says here, and it was the first big pro-abortion rally in 12 years. The last one was in 1992 during the -- that campaign, the Bush-Clinton campaign. They trotted themselves out again. In fact, grab me the “Feminist Update” theme. OK, just the last big pro-abort rally that the feminazis had, we actually took audio from it and interposed it, you know, mixed it, with the Forester Sisters and their song “Men,” and that gave us our “Feminist Update” theme. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 4/26/04, via Media Matters]
2004: Limbaugh Again Referred To “The Pro-Choice Crowd” As “Feminazis.” On the April 29, 2004, broadcast of Limbaugh's show, Limbaugh said, referring to Feminist Majority Foundation president Eleanor Smeal:
LIMBAUGH: So, to Eleanor Squeal [sic] and the pro-choice crowd, the feminazis who marched in such rage and anger on Sunday, we're so sorry. So, so sorry. Will you please try to find it in your -- well, I won't say, hearts -- minds? Will you try to find it in your minds to forgive any of us who thought that you liberals valued the dignity and worth of every life? For this, we will apologize. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 4/29/04, via Media Matters]
2005: Limbaugh Called Abortion-Rights Activists “Militant Feminazis” While Dubiously Claiming “The Majority Opinion Of The Country Is Not Pro-Choice.” On the August 29, 2005, broadcast of his show, Limbaugh again referred to abortion rights advocates as “feminazis” and claimed that “the militant feminists who have made every abortion, regardless of cost, mandatory,” were responsible for alleged lack of support for abortion rights. Limbaugh claimed:
LIMBAUGH: How can this be happening, ladies and gentlemen? How could these people in these states do it? It is happening in blue states as well. How can this be if the majority opinion of the country is pro-choice? Well, the answer to the question is, the majority opinion of the country is not pro-choice. And to whom do we owe gratitude? The militant feminazis, the militant feminists who have made every abortion, regardless of the cost, mandatory, who have made it clear that that's the sole reason they exist. I mean, every abortion possible can happen. Over the years, militant feminazism has backfired on them. With a little help.
- In Fact, Polls In 2005 Showed Majority Of Respondents Supported Abortion Rights. A July 2005 Gallup poll showed that 51 percent of respondents identified themselves as pro-choice, and a July 2005 poll conducted by the Pew Research Center found that a “consistent majority of Americans (65%) are opposed to overturning ... Roe v. Wade.” [Media Matters, 9/1/05]
2006: Limbaugh Refers To Protesters Who Were Opposing The Confirmation Of Then-Nominee Alito As “Feminazis.” On the January 4, 2006, broadcast of his show, Limbaugh talked about a press conference held by women's groups opposing the confirmation of then-Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito. He referred to the participants as “feminazis,” saying: “I say keep these freaks out there. Keep these left-wing socialist freaks out there. The feminazis, the 1960s feminazis.” [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 1/4/06, via Media Matters]
2007: Limbaugh Refers To Self-Described “Ex-Feminist” Caller As “Former Feminazi.” On the July 31, 2007, broadcast of his show, a caller identified herself as “an ex-feminist and a [former] liberal.” After the caller joked that she was “an ex-feminazi,” Limbaugh later referred to her as “the former feminazi.” [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 7/31/07, via RushLimbaugh.com]
2008: Limbaugh Mocks NOW's “Love Your Body Day”: “Love Your Body Day If You're A Feminazi ... Because Nobody Else Does.” On the October 16, 2008, broadcast of his show, Limbaugh mocked the National Organization for Women's (NOW) Love Your Body Day. Referring to NOW as “the NAGs, National Association for Gals,” Limbaugh said:
LIMBAUGH: Yesterday was Love Your Body Day, the NAGs. It was Love Your Body Day. The NAGs, the National Organization for Women, the NAGs, National Association for Gals. “For over a decade now, the” NAGs' “Love Your Body campaign has countered the unrealistic beauty standards, gender stereotypes and sometimes harmful messages. 'We are constantly bombarded by media's ideals of what beauty should be,' said the” NAG “Foundation President Kim Gandy.”
LIMBAUGH: Truth of Life Number 24: Feminism was established so that unattractive women could have easier access to the mainstream. So what happens? The very -- the only women who mind sexual harassment -- I'm just kidding, drive-bys. Just kidding, just a little lighthearted interjected comment here. You ever notice a Hooters girl doesn't care? Ahem. Ramming it down their throats day here on the EIB Network.
Feminist truth, undeniable truth of life: feminism was established so as to allow unattractive women easier access -- and here you go, the NAGs with their Love Your Body Day. And actually -- they've got a poster or sign here, it says, “I love my thighs.” What is this? “I love my thighs.” Love Your Body Day if you're a feminazi, if you're a NAG, Love Your Body Day, because nobody else does. That's what this is all about. They can't stand that there are still pretty women in the world, and they really can't stand that one of the prettiest is a vice presidential nominee, but they do mention Sarah here as having been shellacked and attacked for her looks and so forth -- objectified, they say Sarah has been objectified. But this is also about the woman's movement that took away from us all [sic] the role of women in life. It's all so twisted. So now, Love Your Body Day. Did we need a Love Your Body Day before the feminazis geared up? Love Your Body Day because nobody else will. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 10/16/08, via Media Matters]
2010: Limbaugh Uses “Feminists” And “Feminazis” Interchangeably When Blaming Them For A “Gender War.” On the January 19, 2010, edition of his show, Limbaugh used “feminists” and “feminazis” interchangeably, saying, “See, the feminists have been working for years towards this end, suppressing boys and men. Rather than lifting everybody, the feminazis make it a gender war, with many battles taking place.” [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 1/19/10, via Media Matters]
2010: Limbaugh Uses “Feminazis” To Describe Those Who Attack Conservative Women. On the September 20, 2010, edition of his show, Limbaugh discussed the Senate race in Delaware and then-GOP candidate Christine O'Donnell with a caller. Limbaugh said:
LIMBAUGH: The supposed home of tolerance, open-mindedness, progressivism, feminism, all that -- the Democrat Party, liberalism, they are the ones that are viciously attacking [Christine O'Donnell]. They are the ones that viciously attacked all of Bill Clinton's babes. The feminazis never once came to the defense of Paula Jones or Monica Lewinsky. They joined in the chorus line -- “trailer trash” or “gold diggers” or what have you. And we made mention of this last week, the observation here that, well, you can dump on these women all you want and nobody is coming to their defense whatsoever. And it is a double standard. There's no question about it. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 9/20/10, via Media Matters]
... And Continues To Do So Today
Nov. 2011: Limbaugh Refers To People Offended By His “Synchronizing Menstrual Cycles” Comment As “Feminazis.” On the November 10, 2011, edition of his show, Limbaugh discussed the sexual harassment allegations against then-GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain. Limbaugh wondered “why” Cain's accusers planned to “appear together,” asking, “Do they want to synchronize their menstrual periods?” On the November 11, 2011, broadcast of his show, Limbaugh said, “The feminazis [are] not happy with me, by the way, over that 'synchronizing menstrual cycles.' ” [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 11/10/11, via Media Matters, 11/11/11, via RushLimbaugh.com]
Feb. 2012: Limbaugh Was Angry Komen “Caved” To The “Feminazis” At Planned Parenthood By Restoring Funding For Breast Cancer Screenings. On the February 3 broadcast of his show, Limbaugh talked about the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation's decision to restore funding for cancer screenings to Planned Parenthood after initially announcing it would stop. Limbaugh said: “And the Susan G. Komen bunch, the Race for the Cure, they have caved big time to the feminazis at Planned Parenthood. It is stunning.” [CBS News, 2/3/12; Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 2/3/12, via Media Matters]
Feb. 2012: Limbaugh Claimed Obama Admin.'s Contraception Regulation Was To Appease “The Democrat Voter Base ... The Feminazis And The Far Left.” On the February 7 broadcast of his show, Limbaugh talked about the Obama administration's decision to require most employers, including some that are religiously affiliated, to provide health insurance that covers birth control. Limbaugh said, in part: “This is all about politics. It's all about keeping the Democrat voter base happy -- the feminazis and the far left, who hate the Catholic Church. Obama's doing exactly what his base wants.” [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 2/7/12, via Media Matters]