Gender ideology and sexuality in a new light

By Conrad Yiridoe

Out of the readings assigned this week, the piece by Paternotte and Kuhar (Disentangling and Locating the “Global Right”: Anti-Gender Campaigns in Europe) stood out to me personally. It provided a quality prospective on a viewpoint, that can easily be extrapolated to other concepts and ideologies. Here, the authors paint an interesting picture which I feel was summarised perfectly right in the abstract when they explain that “we plead for a more complex understanding of the ways in which distinct—and sometimes competing projects can converge in specific settings”. In this piece, the authors not only dissect how the relation between “right wing populism” and “gender ideology” , but also dive into how the concept of the “Global Right Wing” appears to be glossed over as a rather straight forward ideology rather than being unwrapped and fully examined.

Specifically, what I appreciated from the authors was that they were able to dive deeper into the roots of both campaigns and explain their different roots, despite their seemingly similar end goals. In this way, by understanding the nuanced differences present in the unique forms of right-wing populism, one can perhaps be better prepared to cope with it. An excellent example of this comes from the authors’ point on how “right-wing populists do not necessarily oppose gender and sexual equality” and hence “some actors labeled as right-wing populists have increasingly endorsed women’s and LGBT rights”, which hence means that one may not be able to directly state that all right-wing supporters are anti-LGBT, which for me was a new a different way at approaching the subject. As a result, I wonder to what extent this notion of perceiving other broad concepts as straight forward and hence ignoring refusing to dive deeper into investigating potential differences (in some cases rather significant ones) may prevent us from fully appreciating the nuances of a particular group or idea and therefore be able to manage them appropriately.

Moving on, with Healey’s (“Forging Gulag Sexualities: Penal Homosexuality and the Reform of the Gulag after Stalin) piece, it was interesting to read about how the state at the time see homosexuality particularly with women as permissible given the fact that they “tolerated these queer collectivities because they kept order and assured a stable level of productivity”.  In addition, it is noted how “the authorities ignored or even indulged queer relations in many camps”, as it appeared to be useful to some extent to for the state to allow it. Here it is explained that “queer relations did not disrupt the Gulag economic model as drastically as heterosexual relations did”, which is not something that I would have expected in that time.

In conclusion, the readings this week serve to provide multiple examples of how sexuality and gender ideology can be thought of in different ways in order to achieve certain political aims.

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