Duckface in front of ruins
Everywhere in Europe, right wing parties are achieving successes. And even though it’s mostly men* who are in charge, there is also significant participation of women* in right wing politics. And that’s not all: (hu)mankind is sitting up and taking notice.
This fact causes a lot of confusion because when most people think of right wing extremists they only think of men*. Thus, when women* get up on the political stage or when far right groups show an interest in women*s rights, people ask: “Is that feminism from the right?!” Our answer is a clear and resounding No! Because feminism supports the emancipation from gender roles, whereas right wing politics favour restrictions and oppression. Allow us to introduce three parts of the extreme right’s image of women*.
For sexist beauty (standards)
In right wing ideology men* and women* are assigned specific areas of life. Woman*hood/femininity gets linked to nature and women* are supposed to be particularly in touch with it. And both woman* and nature have one important trait they’re expected to fulfil: being beautiful. For example, young female activists from extreme right movements like to pose on instagram with a book and a ball gown on a clearing in the woods. Thus they’re trying to feel close to the pristine countryside that’s part of their homeland1. But that sort of nature doesn’t really exist, it’s a distorted image: no one takes pictures of an ugly bog hole. And where there’s instagram there’s surely no pristine nature.
For racist “purity”
“We need to protect our women from those foreign men!” Cries like this one can be heard whenever the topic is violence against women*. But the pseudo-feminist squallers don’t really care about the survivors of violence. They mostly care about protecting their own “Rasse2” from people who are not supposed to be part of it. Those excluded are then sweepingly accused of being criminals. And, in accordance with their own role, racist men* want to protect their women*. Sexualised violence against others doesn’t concern the right in the least. And at the same time, violence of their own groups against women* is excused or played down. Feminism on the other hand is interested in the freedom of all women*.
For the “Volk”
While Burschenschaften (German-nationalist fraternities in Germany and Austria) actually only accept men*, women* play important roles in other right wing groups. They are not simple followers but play an active part. The roles they take on are diverse. Apart from the ideal of motherhood there are also more warrior-like positions, especially with youth groups. But why do women* participate in anti-feminism? Because abiding by strict (gender) roles earns them acceptance in a racist movement. Through racist exclusion the extreme right form a sort of white sisterhood. The individual merges into the common fight for the “Volk”. Social problems and oppression are not solved by this but instead reinforced.
1 translator’s note: the word used in the original was “Heimat” which doesn’t have an equivalent in English. Rather than just meaning “the place where you live” or “the place where you’re from” it has a nationalist and often fascist undertone/connotation.
2 t.n: The German word “Rasse” and the English word “race” are often mistakenly used as translations for each other. But while “race” is a political definition used to describe someone who is oppressed by racism, “Rasse” actually means that people belong to separate groups that are biologically different – always also meaning that white people, more specific in the austrian and german context: the german people, are the supreme “Rasse”.