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ECPR Standing Group on the European Union 10th Biennial Conference LUISS, Rome

Battleground 'Gender': Mobilisations against Feminism in Far-Right Politics

Political Parties
Social Movements
Political Ideology
Panel Number
Panel Chair
Judith Goetz
University of Vienna
Panel Discussant
Stefanie Mayer
FH Campus Wien - Dept. for Public Management

04/09/2019 15:00 - 16:40
Building: (Building A) Faculty of Law, Administration & Economics Floor: 4th floor Room: 418
The demonization of feminism (aka ‘genderism’) currently unites different political spectra in Europe and beyond (Kováts/Põim 2015; Kuhar/Paternotte 2017). Anti-feminists push their agenda in public and political debates as well as through mainstream and social media. Anti-gender discourses and anti-feminist policies can be found globally with recent examples including i.a. Bolsenaro’s electoral campaign in Brazil, the ban of gender studies in Hungary or the massive cuts in funding for feminist organizations in Austria. Even though anti-feminism is shared by a heterogeneous set of actors, some of which firmly represent the political ‘middle’ (i.a. journalists, conservative and religious groups, scientists), the far-right plays an important role here, as these groups increasingly target gender equality policies and try to undo feminist achievements. The panel aims to shed light on anti-feminism and anti-gender-discourses among this – in itself diverse – set of actors in different national contexts.

Far-right gender politics involve a number of different issues (Köttig/Bitzan/Petö 2017, Miller-Idriss/Pilkington 2018):

First, anti-feminism is a defining feature of right-wing extremism, which is first and foremost defined by its ethnicized (‘völkisch’) worldview, which includes ‘our’ women into the ethnically defined nation in a subordinate position.

Second, anti-feminism and particularly anti-gender-discourses are part of right-wing populist political strategies. These discourses provide opportunities to link political demands to ‘common sense’ by playing on gender stereotypes, anti-elitism and anti-intellectual sentiments.

Third, far-right groups use anti-feminism in order to foster alliances, i.a. with the Christian right, but also with single-issue groups (e.g. men’s rights groups). Anti-gender discourses serve as a point of entry and allow introducing elements of far right ideologies into the mainstream.

However, these far-right gender politics are also characterized by tensions, which need to be addressed in critical research. For example, rising numbers of women, who take active and public roles in these groups, might be seen to contradict ideological constructions of appropriate femaleness (Blee/Deutsch 2012). Concerning the addressees of far-right policies, a similar tension might be discerned: social (family) policies, which are clearly directed against women’s emancipation, might nevertheless successfully target the needs of specific groups of women (and become highly popular). With regards to intersections of racism and sexism, we also note that the far-right tends to take an ambivalent stance on the notion of ‘women’s emancipation’. In addition, on a more general level the effects of the far-right’s claim on mainstream gender discourses remain to be analyzed. The role(s) far-right actors play within anti-feminist and anti-gender-discourses in relation to other actors awaits in-depth analysis in different national contexts.

The panel takes up these questions with regard to different national settings, including examples where research has been lacking so far. Focusing on Southern and Eastern Europe and on the far-right we strive to complement existing research, which has often focused on Western and Central Europe and/or on religious actors in the analysis of anti-feminism/anti-gender-discourses.

Paper List

Title Details
Ethno-Nationalist and Anti-Gender Populism in Slovenia View Paper Details
Feminism Hijacked: Women and the Gender Politics of the Far-Right in Greece and Cyprus View Paper Details
Understanding the Relation between Right-Wing Populism and Gender: Lessons from Poland and Sweden View Paper Details
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