Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Nazis Hated Feminism

In 1934, Hitler proclaimed, "[Woman's] world is her husband, her family, her children, her house.
A popular way to insult women who want to be treated equally (ie not be harassed just for being women) these days is to call them FemiNazis. The term was invented by that bastion of wit and wisdom, Rush Limbaugh, in the 90s and has since been popularized by the hate groups who terrorize women online wvery time they open their mouths to say anything suggesting sexism might exist and might be bad. The term is ironic in displaying the speaker's ignorance of basic history, which is a cornerstone of sexist thinking in an time when even women who were alive back when women were barred from most careers and had only had the vote in the U.S. for 50 years support men like Paul Elam who make using men to hurt women a full-time career. I thought it might be interesting to examime the ways in which the Nazis were anti-feminist. My research is cursory, gleaned from secondary online sources like encyclopedias, and should thus be taken with a grain of salt and confirmed via direct primary sourcing for any serious scholarship, nonetheless, I am fairly confident it is generally accurate as the primary sources quoted included scholarly words, records, and other source-able material, and as it is logically consistent.

Nazism's central figure, Hitler himself, was an abuser of at least one woman in early life; he had a nonconsensual romantic obsession with his own (half-)niece, Geli Raubal, made her his housekeeper at 17, disallowed her to have consensual romantic relationships, abused and controlled her, probably sexually abused her in some manner, made her his prisoner, and finally drove her to suicide in 1931, out of despair because she could not pursue her dreams of singing, the man she loved, and was trapped with her a usive uncle who I think we all know was not a nice man. The Nazi party swept it under the rug in a typical example of a society that protected men who abused women. 
In an equal society, a woman would have more freedom, she would not be so easily controlled by a man. Her only hope of escape was marriage, and only if her uncle allowed it. Hitler clearly did not WANT this woman to have freedom and did not respect her feelings, seeing her as an object for him to control, an attitude that he would extend to millions of other people.
Furthermore, if the Nazis were feminist, surely they would not allow a woman-abuser to become their leader, right? Of course, if the Nazis were feminist, they probably would have had at least half their leaders be women. This is just the sort of thing sexist men take for granted - that in an equal society, half of leaders would be female, not 100% or so of them male.

Hitler is frequently quoted, from Mein Kampf and his speeches, talking about how women's role should be confined to motherhood. I'm not completely sure of the accuracy of quotes I found secondhand and in English, but given what we know about his actions we can determine such quotes to be in line with his thinking. In Mein Kampf, he says the primary aim of female education is for motherhood. He also said "A woman's world is her husband, her family, her children, her home, We do not find it right when she presses her way into the world of men."

His opposition to Communism, which promoted equality for women, is reflected in this quote: 
"The granting of equal rights to women, which Marxism demands...draws women into realms of society in which they are inferior."

This creepy quote makes a lot of sense given how he tortued his niece:
"A lass of 18 or 20 years is as pliable as wax. It must be possible for a man to impose his will on any girl. Indeed, a woman wants nothing else" - speech to Hitler Youth.

In my research, I found quite a few anti-feminist sites trying to put obviously fake pro-feminism quotes in Hitler's mouth, possibly as a joke, as if to say that if Hitler supported feminism, therefore it must be wrong, Aside from the fact that these quotes contradict his actions and other words he really did write and speak, if Hitler said the sky was blue that doesnt mean it is truly pink just because he was a bad man; it is simply bad logic. Likewise, feminism isnt good because Hitler opposed it, it is good for a variety of reasons that I think are frankly obvious but perhaps an article for another time anyway. 

As one example, one of the fake sites pretends Hitler was pro-abortion, which is only true when apploed to "inferior" people, but not as a support of women's autonomy; in actuality the Third Reiche not only made abortion illegal but imposed harsh penalties for it (and banned contraception) - for normative Aryan women, of course; for Jewish women it was encouraged or even forced. Mere discussion of contraception, even for the oppressed groups (why bother when they were to be killed, I guess) was illegal. While millions of Jewish and other targeted ethnic groups' children were mercilessly murdered, Aryan women were encouraged to have four or more children with Aryan men and discouraged from being single or having abortions. I mean, that just makes logical sense given Hitler's general game plan - if your goal is to have a particular race dominate, it just doesnt make sense to allow women reproductive freedom and thus allow Aryan children to not be born. At the same time, it is well-documented that the Nazis murdered homosexual and disabled people for similar reasons- their goal being to literally murder everyone who didnt fit their narrow idea of superiority. It is a strange idea that such a regime would view women as equals. Hitler glorified mothers but hated working, single women; single women were "staatsangehoringer", state property. Professional women were increasingly fired under Nazism. After 1936, women could no longer hold many jobs, particularly in leadership such as judges, not even as teachers or nurses. Feminization and modesty were stressed and even legally enforced.

Despite this, Aryan German/French/Polish etc women resisted in a variety of ways and were eventually needed, and even forced into, labor and military service, proving once again just how flawed this sexist ideology can be. While some women resisted sexism by becoming Nazi leaders, others resisted sexism and Nazism by becoming resistance leaders.  Because of course  the oppression of normative Aryan women is nothing in comparisom to the oppressed classes who were marked for torture and death.

Girls and Women who were Jewish, Roma, disabled, and otherwise deemed inferior were brutalized in specifically gendered ways in the Death Camps. Little girls are known to have been raped by S.S. officers, and females in general were often raped and beaten. There were at least 500 rape brothels run by the Nazis. Pregnant women were forced to have abortions or killed. Women were tortured in "experiments" and sterilized. Women could be forced to work or killed when seen as not strong enough to work. Women in camps worked together to survive and resist.
Women and girls were a key part of the resistance, even militarily. Women from many narions were eventually an importsnt part of the war effort. One well known girl was Sophie Scholl, a student who was executed as part of the White Rose French-Jewish resistace for no more than passing out fliers. Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore were gender-bending lesbians who used art to spread a message of resistance, decided to face death rather than give in, and ultimately died from prison conditions shortly after they were freed. And of course, Anne Frank is a very well-known victim of the Holocaust who still inspires us with her inner strength.

So the next time someone calls a woman a "feminazi", just remind them that it is people who want to force women into an inferior role and protect people who abuse women who are truly like Nazis, and it is women whi dare to resist who are the true heroes.

pictured: female resistance members

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