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Anti-Gender Movements – Resistances Against… What?

Political Economy
Critical Theory
European Union
Political theory
Eszter Kováts
Eötvös Loránd University
Eszter Kováts
Eötvös Loránd University

This theoretical Paper seeks to contribute to the academic debate on the reasons behind the rise of anti-gender movements with so far under-emphasized and under-theorized aspects. On the basis of (critical) theories on liberal democracy and its crises (for instance Alain Badiou, Nancy Fraser, Ágnes Gagyi, Antonio Gramsci, Alexander Kiossev, Naomi Klein, Ivan Krastev, Chantal Mouffe, Claus Offe, Wolfgang Streeck) the Paper situates the anti-gender phenomenon in a broader European and global crisis. It argues that it is a symptom of problems of a scale going beyond gender+ equality, and gender is just symbolic glue, a terrain on which hegemonic battles are fought. What is at stake is a re-definition of the bases of liberal democracy and of the post WWII human rights consensus.

As previously argued by Weronika Grzebalska, Andrea Pető and myself, attacks on “gender ideology” should be seen as part of a broader political shift, characterised by the growing popularity of the populist right all over Europe and beyond, and we need an approach that seeks to understand the root causes of this trend. The paper argues that resistance against “gender ideology” cannot be understood solely as a resistance against values of equality, or as a backlash against women’s and LGBT rights or as a political strategy of the Right to delegitimize political opponents. In order to understand the scale and popularity of these movements the paper proposes to look at the broader global political and economic processes they are embedded in. It argues that these movements represent a political project providing culturalist answers to the current crises of the liberal democracy and to its various structural concerns, among others the embeddedness of feminist and LGBT issues in the neoliberal order.
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