A tale of two reasons: Ideology & its Role in Suppression

In this weeks readings, their are many themes bundled together that can provide someone with great insight into the way society treats, accepts and punishes the individual. In David Paternotte’s article, the topic of creating an anti-gendered campaign to combat right wing European populism through “challenging the thinking and stimulate debate around the rise of populism, with its impact on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights issues and how to respond to this changing context” which stems from an alarming rise of control over women’s rights and issues in an increasingly new hostile environment projected by the democratic backsliding in some EU member states. This comes from an overwhelming opposition to gender, sexual, reproductive and LGBT rights in Europe that have converged into a phenomena undertaken by far right parties, religious fundamentalism, nationalism, racism, neo-liberalism or austerity politics. Its easy to feel that the right is on the rise everywhere with the recent political climates being experienced but as this is more and more on the rise, it is important as the author states to look at this empirically and theoretically to understand these complex, contextual issues. The conservative opposition, like most issues, have deep historical roots (with heavy ties to the roman catholic church) and all mobilization efforts to denounce equality share a common denominator: they share a critique of gender, labeled as “gender ideology”, “gender theory” or “(anti)genderism”. They all claim to combat “gender”, which is seen as the root of their worries and the matrix of the reforms they want to oppose.

To continue with the theme, we can also take a took at Dan Healey’s article “Russian Homophobia from Stalin to Sochi” which also explores the root cause to these issues as well as the historical context to them, and the over all objective and goal from those perpetrating the right wing rhetoric. The article provides a framework of better understanding homosexuality in the Soviet Union and Russia by using the Gulag prison systems as a historical lens. Male and female homosexual relations were not only ubiquitous but highly visible (either consensual or coerced), and registered in a rich code of symbols: nicknames, subcultural terms, and visual signs. Yet, queer visibility was considered as a symptoms of defective Stalinism and the renewal and modernization of the means of repression of homosexuality was a necessary feature of de-Stalinization. Yet, despite this fact, it was not initially actively repressed as “Cost controls from the Gulag’s economic model must have been a key driver of the rationale to suppress heterosexual sex” which I found quite interesting and alarming.

Linking the relationship between Paternotte’s article and this one comes from the idea of the discussion of homosexuality as a very taboo issue, especially in Stalinist Russia. The world view that shaped the ‘sexual morality’ as well the passage of time that saw the discussion of it evolve from the death of Stalin to the modernization of the Gulag penal system revolves around heteronorrnative values underpinned the regime’s official rhetoric of “reforging” the Gulag prisoner. The use of ‘heteronormative’ as a tool is a good link between the two as the historical notion of  heterosexuality as the default, preferred, or normal mode of sexual orientation and the assumption of gender binary causes great outrage when these norms are deviated from. Just as the catholic church was a foundation for the far right to uphold these notions as well as the church itself upholding the values that go against pro-choice motives with heavy influence in countries that have experienced these movements, in the Healey article the stand in for this is ‘Stalinist Ideology’ where it was seen as a flaw in the implemented grand plan for the Soviet people.

References

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).

Thomas Kühne, “Protean masculinity, Hegemonic Masculinity: Soldiers in the Third
Reich” Central European History Vol 51, Issue 3 (September 2018): 390-418.

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