Challenging female assumption in the eyes of fascist and right leaning movements

By: Conrad Yiridoe

The clearest and most obvious theme to me based from a couple readings this week, stems from the lack of true appreciation of the important roles that women played historically. This lack of understanding is not even fully understood as even multiple authors admit we do not actually understand the full extent to which women were involved in various events through out history. For example, with Lopez and Sanchez’s take on female force in the Spanish civil war, they admit early on the rather obvious fact that historians have significantly neglected the important and critical role that women played during the war.

As well, the extent towards how underrated women were in this period is (in my opinion) well articulated by the authors for example when they note that  the “efficiency of the female-only network of Madrid, which withstood the repression carried out by the Sim, contrasts with the vulnerability of the briefly described, mostly male-controlled, networks in Barcelona, Valencia or Alicante. They were more easily penetrated by Republican counter-intelligence.” Amongst the numerous examples detailed in the article, it appears rather obvious that women played a far more important and significant role in the war, which contrasts with the rather traditionally conservative feminist role that propaganda emanating from that time period would suggest. For example, it is noted that “Nationalist women were supposed to have supported both established social and gender traditions, having collaborated in the war effort without transgressing these roles. During the dictatorship, this was the official truth.”

Another major theme that stuck out to me through all the readings, is the confusion surrounding the idea of women’s involvement in areas that may not have been seen as “traditional”. A modern example of this struggle is described by Chrisafis, Connolly and Giuffrida in their article “ From Le Pen to Alice Weidel: how the European far-right set its sights on women” which dived into the concept of women increasingly moving towards political groups that in the past (as well as now) have roots in opposing “ traditionally feministic” ideologies. What I appreciated with the article, is how the investigation though centered in Europe, avoid the appeal of focusing solely on arguably the most prominent example in Marine Le Pen of France. As well, by describing other examples such as Meloni (in Italy) and Hermannsson (Sweden), the authors convey a sense of scale with how dramatic this movement appears to be growing. It is also interesting to observe that the authors note why these individuals in a sense appear to support these parties for similar reasons as their male counterparts, despite significantly lower numbers in the party compared to their male counterparts. For example, immigration, appears to be a galvanising idea for these party supporters, which is not completely surprising given the continent’s continued and recent brushes with migratory issues (such as back in 2015 with the Syria refugee crisis).

In conclusion, an interesting question raised from this article/situation may be; to what extent that not prioritising “traditionally observed feministic” ideas and instead focusing on other mainstream concepts such as immigration and Islam, will continue to be seen as a winning strategy for increasing larger support amongst women, going forward.

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