A theme that has run throughout the readings for this class is Fascist regimes using and mobilizing groups of people for the benefit and support of their own ideologies. It was evident in the way the Nazi regime manipulated the colonies of the British Empire to fight in their name when they had no desire to unify those colonies under their ideology. It can also be seen in the tourist trips and showing of the success of regimes in tourism in the hopes of illustrating the glory of living within these regimes.
This is also evident in the reading for this week. Gender and sexuality was also used as a way to promote the “ideal citizen” under fascist ideologies.
In Russia, under Stalin the forced labour camps took extreme measures to ensure that men and women in the camps were separated and women were not reproducing. Homosexuality was re-criminalized under Stalin, however, as the Healy reading points out queer spaces in the gulag were tolerated. They were tolerated because it promoted work and they could keep down the maintenance cost of labor. Post Stalin there was change in the attitudes of the toleration of homosexuality within the camps. It showed that the toleration when it benefited the organization of these regimes and the “ideal” figure and society that they wanted to promote, that it was essentially fine. Especially that it wasn’t excepted at the time but allowed because it enabled the gulag.
Where as in Romania, they idealized this figure of the “new man” in which they framed the ideal man of a new Romanian through education. To ensure that the intellectual riots were suppressed and as well as othering the Jewish populations. They stated that any man could be a “new man” through education, which was done in a controlled area. They used the gendering of the strong, powerful well educated men to entice and control the climate of protest and othering of the Jewish population.
There was significant control that these regimes were implementing through gendered and sexuality lenses. They would promote different behaviours even if it did not appeal to them, or make it exclusive to a certain group of people to ensure the “ideal” society or person.
What I wonder though is to what extent was this actually tolerated. In a way saying that these behaviours were tolerated in spite of a collective attitude towards them. We’re they as tolerated as we believe and what did this tolerating enable these people to achieve within these regimes?
Dan Healey, “Forging Gulag Sexualities: Penal Homosexuality and the Reform of the Gulag after Stalin” Russian Homophobia from Stalin to Sochi (London: Bloomsbury Press, 2017).
Valentin Sandulescu, “Fascism and Its Quest for the ‘New Man’: The Case of the Romanian Legionary Movement.” Studia Hebraica 4 (2004): 349-61.