The gendered narratives of the far-right can be directed towards all individuals, both within the movement and society at large. These narratives position individuals within a gender order, thus establishing gender power relations. They can be used to recruit, radicalise and sustain the participation of recruits, while also clearly delineating target outgroups. Expectations of masculinity are used to define the role of the ideal male, while misogyny and hostile beliefs towards women and LGBTQ+ are often justified and legitimised as part of these groups’ overall ideological frameworks. Consequently, understanding the gendered norms and ideology that underpin far-right narratives across online and offline spaces can be important for understanding some drivers of radicalisation and modes of participation.
...understanding the gendered norms and ideology that underpin far-right narratives across online and offline spaces can be important for understanding some drivers of radicalisation.
To help navigate gendered language within radicalising discourse, our team undertook a review of published propaganda, far-right extremist posts, and secondary analyses. We conceptualised the following categories and defined the typologies found within them (note that many of the narratives overlap the categories).
These typologies may assist policy makers and practitioners 1) in their conceptual understanding of the diverse 'ecosystem' of far right gendered narratives and 2) by providing potential touch points for interventions when these narratives are of concern in radicalised individuals.
Hegemonic masculinity refers to a structure of gender ideology and power relations that is designed to reproduce male domination and the subordination of women. It is closely linked to ‘male supremacy’, which is regarded as a hateful ideology that overtly advocates for the subjugation of women and the maintenance of rigid, stereotypical gender roles (i.e., ‘tradwife’, etc.).
female control: this signifies gendered power relations reinforcing the control of women, including how women should behave within society and the policing of this, under the assumption that they are subordinate to men. This type is closely associated with ‘male supremacy’, in that women are perceived as genetically and naturally inferior to men, and their subordination is necessary for the survival of ‘the white race’. For example, a far-right leader in Australia argued on a Telegram channel that women ‘will never stop until you put them in their place…Put a foot down early and explain your principles or forever be a cuck.’ In some cases, this type can signify the legitimisation and justification of sexual violence and rape against women as not only a means of control, but of punishment for women. In this case, the use of misogyny is sometimes intertwined with the idea of existential threats to the white race and often, but not always, directed towards women identified as being involved in interracial relationships or being deemed as race traitors.
female compliance: this signifies gender norms that can be framed by the group’s ideology that reinforce the compliance of women, including to traditional gender roles, their roles as mothers and homemakers etc., in pursuit of the group’s overall ideological objectives. For instance, chats linked to the far-right often include images of pregnant women and ‘loving mothers,’ and where women are seen as deviating from these appropriate societal roles their activities are seen as contributing to ‘the destruction of the ethno-cultural identity of the nation’.
anti-feminism: this signifies a backlash to gender equality and even the promotion of gender inequality, specifically opposing feminism and proposals to enhance women’s or LGBTQ+ rights. This could include discourse relating to anti-abortion, birth control, women’s rights to vote, women’s positions as leaders, and general feminist affirmative action. Moreover, the promotion of aspects such as feminism, abortion rights, and divorce are noted as aspects that lead to the destruction of a race without ‘killing it directly’ while other chats outline a critique of feminism as manipulating people into ‘forgetting their natural instincts’ (i.e., traditional gender roles).
Hyper-masculinity refers to the exaggeration of masculinity and masculine stereotypes. It emphasises and reinforces ‘masculine ideals and traits’ that males should hold or strive towards, particularly in relation to physical strength, aggression, and dominance.
the patriot ‘hero’: this signifies men’s specific role and duties as ‘protector’ and ‘guardian’ of the groups in pursuit of the movements’ overall objectives, which could include giving up personal freedom (i.e., arrest) or safety. For example, this would relate to men fulfilling the role of ‘protector’ and ‘guardian’ of the family and racial purity, in pursuit of the ‘White Nation’. It can also extend to justifying violence in the need to ‘protect white daughters from dangerous animals’ (non-white or non-Christian men). Passivity, in other words the absence of violence and male protection in the face of this threat, “is not an option that White people will be given if they want to survive in the future.”
appeals to hyper-masculine ‘brothers-in-arms': this signifies compatriotism within the movement against non-whites, the LGBTQ+ communities, and feminists. It also includes calls that the group should ‘do something’ about the perceived societal discrimination against and hatred of men (allegedly promoted by feminists) in fraternal solidarity. This also extends to the targeting of other religious and ethnic groups, and the LGBTQ+ community, where anyone who is not straight (particularly transgender), white (particularly black or Muslim men), or a man (particularly committed feminists) is regarded as part of the targeted enemy outgroup and deemed a threat to the white race. The presence of these elements of society, for some far-right groups, are seen as a manifestation of a degenerate society. The perceived degeneration of these external groups are extolled to such an extent that their existence will lead to weak willed men that will not be able to stand up to the threats faced by the ‘White Race.’
Toxic masculinity refers to cultural and societal pressures for men to behave and act in certain ways that can simultaneously be harmful for men, women and the community at large. It promotes the idea that violence and acts of aggression carried out by men are the way that gender power relations and patriarchy are upheld. It can also lead to intolerance, aggressive and competitive behaviour.
male dominance: this signifies those who embrace the idea that females are ‘privileged’ over men, and that men and their rights are ‘oppressed’ as a result. For example, movements such as the Men’s Rights Movement argue that, in general, society and even institutions adversely impact and discriminate against men and boys. These movements reinforce the righteousness of male dominance, which can also extend to the legitimisation of gender-based and sexual violence.
the ‘ideal man’: this signifies physical masculine attributes and characteristics that men should have to participate in the movement and the rationale for this appearance, including (in some movements) the necessity for physical strength. This includes far-right groups setting up dedicated fitness chats on platforms such as Telegram and hosting regular in-person training sessions to promote and encourage ‘activists and supporters to self-improve and explore our beautiful homeland’. Furthermore, one of the criteria of being a ‘top tier male/female’ is to ‘stay in shape.’ An assumption that is often promoted and overlaid onto this is the idea that white straight men are the core of white civilisation.
The Southern Poverty Law Centre’s overview of “Male Supremacy”, available at https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/ideology/male-supremacy
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