FEMINAZI. Possibly my least favourite post-millennium phrase, but sadly one that’s gaining in momentum.

This week, a letter published in Hear All Sides compared my colleague Julia Breen to one of the most genocidal regimes in history.

Read Julia Breen's column here 

She made a light-hearted recording of her four-year-old son admitting that girls could actually drive boats, after gently adjusting his already gendered world view.

Now she’s up there with Hitler and his cronies – and they say the feminists are the hysterical ones.

I’m being facetious, of course. I’m well aware that feminazi is – on the surface – just another flippant, post-modern phrase, flung about heedlessly by hot-headed keyboard warriors, misogynists and the green ink brigade.

Breaking it down and staring at it a bit, however, makes its inherent unpleasantness immediately apparent.

One look at social media confirms the growing ubiquity of the phrase – and the general attitudes of those who use it. Here are first few results of my search on Twitter: "Hilary Clinton’s a feminazi who’ll push America into great confusion...Feminism’s mental insanity celebrated as hero’s (sic) #feminazi LIES...Rights? The unborn females have no rights #feminazi...George Bush probely (sic) still more IQ than feminazis...#feminazi, I find this term offensive to Nazis, they only wanted to be rid of 5% of the population, feminists are ten times worse.

These are genuine. These are attempts, unconscious or not, to discredit feminist opinion, to disregard and silence women.

A quick look at the history books is evidence enough of how the strong female voice has consistently been equated with hysteria, extremity and madness.

The consistent undermining of the lived experiences of half of the world’s population has contributed to a global society that still disadvantages women.

Julia’s son thought girls couldn’t drive boats – in Saudi Arabia, they can’t drive at all.

An inherently gendered world still denies millions of women and girls fairness, whether in everyday life, work, education, relationships or parenthood.

This week, a woman in the UK was sentenced for having an abortion.

This world was created from a million unseen moments, generations of conformation to rigid gender roles – for both sexes – and punishment for those who deviate from them.

Women like Julia are not trying to bend the world to their will, they’re trying to unpick centuries of unfairness in the hope it won’t filter down to the next generation.

Overwhelmingly, the feminists of the world do not want men to suffer, they want their world to change for the betterment of all.

But the fierce nastiness of the opposition, undoubtedly conflated with the rise of the contentious men’s rights movement, suggests that some people prefer the status quo.

Strong women have always been punished for having a voice and the feminazi slur is just another insidious insult in the arsenal of those who’d probably much rather women just knew their place.

The casual acceptance and growing use of the phrase is an utterly tiresome continuation of a centuries-old narrative, nasty and lazy shorthand that inspires eye-rolling and frustration in equal measures.

But when it’s broken down, it’s also incredibly insulting – comparing passionate women and their allies to the very real horrors inflicted by the Nazi regime is just not ok, no matter how flippant the intent.

However, Julia’s place in the ranks of the feminazis is not entirely unenviable, getting to share it as she does with women like Emma Watson, Hilary Clinton and legions of other people who dare express an opinion.

Do I have to sign up or does this column automatically grant me membership?