What is the Appeal of Fascism? A Gender Roles Approach

While we all know the classical story of the basic stuff that attracts people to Fascism. On the surface level its all about securing Arian supremacy for white, blond hair, blue eyed individuals. However I feel that it goes a little deeper than that. The first line of the Kühne reading provides some immediate insight into this. “Nicknamed “bloody Walter,” SS Obersturmführer Walter Hauck embodied the Nazi ideal of manly toughness.” (Kühne, p. 390) Nazi soldiers would certainly have been expected to be “manly” and “tough”, and its entirely possible that this has evolved to be expected of any kind of fascist, not just the Nazi’s. The problem with this is that this idea is not necessarily uniform across all walks of life. “for example, generals as opposed to the rank-and-file, war volunteers as opposed to draftees, soldiers as opposed to civilians, blue- as opposed to white-collar workers, black as opposed to white men, Jewish as opposed to Christian men—may adhere to different masculine norms.” (Kühne, p. 395) With this in mind, it might be generalizing to say that all fascists seek to be “tough”, or “manly”. However, I think an argument can be made that fascism seeks to enforce masculinity for men, and femininity for women, which for those who prefer the traditional family structure of a male dominated household, that might create some appeal to those individuals. “Men in the Freikorps radicalized common Western and German norms about male self-control, as well as about cold, tough, and “hard” masculinity, into a perpetual war against women and femininity—especially against femininely coded desires for domesticity, tenderness, and compassion within men” (Kühne, p. 395) The quote makes it abundantly clear that fascism would appeal to men who seek dominance over women. That said, while this post has focused on masculinity and femininity, it does make me wonder what other factors affect why fascism might appeal to certain people? Of course I have no doubt it will be covered by one of my classmates in their posts!

Thomas Kühne, “Protean masculinity, Hegemonic Masculinity: Soldiers in the Third Reich” Central European History Vol 51, Issue 3 (September 2018): 390, 395.

One Reply to “What is the Appeal of Fascism? A Gender Roles Approach”

  1. I also found Kuhn’s article to be an eye opener in respect to showing the several layers as to what manliness really meant. And it was rather interesting to see as to what extent men would go to hide any side of them that might be considered feminine. Even if this meant hiding a fatherly side of them that might possibly be seen as unmanly. Such as pushing strollers or other household tasks that would typically be a women’s job at the time.

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