Gender Studies and Fascism

Sara Dix

Gender studies has had a complicated relationship within fascist societies and far-right groups throughout history and to the modern day. David Paternotte and Roman Kuhar’s analysis on anti-gender campaigns in Europe really emphasize the idea of “Gender Ideology” and its importance to the arguments made by far-right groups. On the opposite, and historical, side Dan Healey analyzes the role of sexuality within Stalin’s Gulags through gender studies and how it laid the foundation for the modern prison system in Russia.

Paternotte and Kuhar’s article focuses on anti-gender campaigns that have become more widely visible since the mid-2000s. “Gender ideology” or “gender theory” is a commonality that appears to trigger mobilizations that oppose women or LGBT rights. It is seen as an ideology that is imposed by Western societies and ignores the cultural traditions and beliefs in non-Western countries which then causes disagreements and chaos within those societies. It is interesting that while anti-gender campaigns can be regarded as another element of the right-wing populist wave, these occurrences should not just be lumped together. There are some right-wing populists that have increasingly endorsed women’s and LGBT rights, particularly in Northern Europe.

During Stalin’s regimes, Gulags were mainly used for punishment, but they also provided an economy that relied on forced labour. It is interesting how the types of queers within these Gulags were split between “criminals” and “politicals”. The “criminals” were also considered to be “socially friendly” prisoners as they consisted of prisoners who were considered sympathetic to Soviet values and amenable to reforging while “politicals” were intellectuals who were seen as a threat to the communist regime.

Works Cited

Dan Healey, “Forging Gulag Sexualities: Penal Homosexuality and the Reform of the
Gulag after Stalin” Russian Homophobia from Stalin to Sochi (London: Bloomsbury Press,

David Paternotte and Roman Kuhar, “Disentangling and Locating the “Global Right”:
Anti-Gender Campaigns in Europe” Politics and Governance Vol. 6, No. 3 (2018): 6-19.

One Reply to “Gender Studies and Fascism”

  1. I think it’s an interesting point that you raise, that some movements have a more favorable relationship with gender rights. It all comes down to the ultimate political aim, I feel: if the movement looks to distinguish themselves from Western Europe, then they will highlight that this is alien to the indigenous philosophies of the Balkans, of Central Europe, or Russia, etc. If, instead, they want to construct a ‘European society’, then they will weaponize women’s rights in an attempt to clobber (usually) Islam with that question.

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