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Session Overview
RN33_07b: Anti-Gender Strategies and Right-Wing Populism
Thursday, 22/Aug/2019:
4:00pm - 5:30pm

Session Chair: Lise Widding Isaksen, University of Bergen, Norway
Location: BS.3.15
Manchester Metropolitan University Building: Business School, Third Floor, North Atrium Oxford Road

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Emancipation of Far-Right Women

Aleksandra Sygnowska

Polish Academy of Sciences, Poland

This paper focuses on the crucial issues sparking between nationalism and gender in the current Polish political debate flooded by the populist surge. It investigates the gendered elements of national ideologies within a heterosexual framing and explores the central role that women play in the reproduction of national categories. The main assumption of this paper is that different narratives on nationalism and gender interact with, fuel and reproduce each other and, in consequence, influence the social imaginary. Given that nationalism and gender are equally powerful sites of discourse creation, this paper intends to examine the political role women themselves play in national projects.

For this purpose, I analyse narrative strategies applied by Polish far-right female politicians in their anti-Muslim campaigns. First and foremost, I explore a stereotype of alien sexuality that generates associations with the threat of alien power and dominance. In this context, alleged sexual violations become a metaphor of national humiliation in which sexuality becomes a strategy for social control. Seen from this perspective, I argue, women become national vulnerability and rape on women signifies rape on the nation itself. Most importantly, however, the rhetoric of female vulnerability depicts women as passive in nationalist discourse. Therefore, I find it crucial to acknowledge that women’s visibility in politics is not only a symptom of their emancipation but also a symptom of their role and importance in the reproduction of nationalism.

Gender Equality as the New Scapegoat for Political Parties and Conservative Movements in search of a new Political Consensus - A Romanian Case Study

Oana Băluță

University of Bucharest, Romania

In many European countries, illiberal leaders, parties, and movements have promoted an anti-feminist and anti-gender agenda by making common cause with established liberal and social democratic parties (Isaac, 2018; Verloo, 2018, Korolczuk, Graff, 2018; Bustikova, Guasti, 2017; Paternotte, 2014; Kuhar, Paternotte, 2017). Specific groups (women, LGBT, immigrants and refugees) and democratic values (gender equality) have been subjected to systematic attack.

In Romania, opposition to gender equality became a political project in 2018, when a referendum on “the traditional family” divided the society and fed antifeminist and anti-LGBT discourses. Liberal and social democratic political parties joined hands with the most conservative right wing coalition and the Orthodox Church to support the Constitutional referendum to define marriage as the union between a man and a woman. And new NGOs and parties organized to fight this.

How can we explain this alliance between powerful liberal and social-democratic political parties and the conservative Coalition to Protect the Family? What motivated the new political parties to oppose the referendum, and how was this justified? This paper will answer these questions. By mapping national antifeminist and feminist political actors and their main framings during the boycott campaign, it will also contribute to a better understanding of the opposition to gender equality in Eastern European that now play an important role in the European Union.

Bibliography - selection

Korolczuk, Elżbieta; Graff, Agnieszka, 2018, Gender as “Ebola from Brussels”: The Anticolonial Frame and the Rise of Illiberal Populism in Signs, pp. 797–821.

Kuhar, Roman; Paternotte, David (eds.), 2017, Anti-Gender Campaigns in Europe Mobilizing against Equality, Lowman &Littlefield.

Verloo, Mieke, 2018,Varieties of Opposition in Europe, Routledge, New York.

Retraditionalization And Militarization Of Masculinity As Practices Of Reproducing Hegemonic Masculinity: The Experience Of Polish Migrants In The Polish Catholic Mission In England

Katarzyna Leszczyńska

AGH University Science and Technology, Poland

The aim of my paper is to analyze the processes of retraditionalization and militarization of masculinity in the Polish migrant community, active in the religious organizations of the Polish Catholic Mission (PCM) in England. I will present the results of research carried out as part of a project conducted in 2015-2019, especially in-depth interviews with religious Polish migrants to England as well as participant observations. In the research, I understand gender (and masculinity) as meaning a social institution constituted by recursive relations between social practices and social rules.

PCM are religious and migration organizations operating in the transnational contexts of sending and receiving countries. The transnational environment influences the strategies of activities (including gender practices) within PCM organizations.

One of the gender patterns that is commonly practised and reproduced within the PCMs is hegemonic masculinity. This pattern is implemented by various social practices. One of the key practices that reproduce this pattern is the retraditionalization of masculinity and militarization. Retraditionalization means invoking activities mythical, past and “lost” masculinity; militarization embraces social activities within the framework of cultural warfare, struggle and confrontation. Research shows that these practices refer to the cultural and social context of the English society in which Polish migrants live. The four dimensions of the context in which men take up confrontational practices are particularly important. One is Islam and multiculturalism; studies show that the confrontation of Polish religious men with Islam is becoming a symbolic arena of struggle of masculine forces for domination over control of the social order. The other contexts to which my interlocutors primarily refer in the practices of hegemonic masculinity are the nation, secularization, and religious pluralism.

Sex and Gender Equality in the Europe of Anti-Gender Movements: What Challenges for Feminism?

Mar Venegas1, Alícia Villar2

1University of Granada, Spain; 2University of Valencia, Spain

Contemporary societies are transforming by opening up to emerging tendencies, among which a relevant one for feminism is the so-called 'Ideology of Gender' (IoG). This IoG is occupying a relevant social and political space worthy of serious feminist considerations in contemporary Europe. A good example of this is Spain, where recent polls in Andalusia (2nd December, 2018) gave access to the Andalusian Parliament, for the first time in the recent democratic period following Franco's dictatorship, to the extreme right. This has opened a new political period, bringing anti-gender discourses, based on the IoG, to core political debates in the country as a whole. It is remarkable to emphasise the important feminist achievements got for sex and gender equality in Spain in the last two decades. Nevertheless, the UE gender mainstreaming is now collapsing with the strong opposition of anti-gender positions that, in fact, have spread all over Europe (and beyond), making it an international phenomenon of interest for both feminism and sociology. In this historical venue against feminist attainments, this paper wonders about the impact anti-gender movements in Europe have on feminist achievements in the field of coeducation, which is defined here as the educational (Spanish) model that is willingly and strategically committed for sex and gender equality in education. In so doing, we first consider recent feminist relevant achievements in Spain. We then analyse how this ideology is permeating social and political discourses. Finally, we discuss the challenges feminism may have to face, taking education as a core field.

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