Anti-genderism and Conspiracy

By Kaileigh La Belle

This week’s readings focused on defining anti-genderism, both theoretically and in practice. Many of the authors, namely Paternotte and Kuhar as well as Zuk and Zuk, highlighted the parallels between the anti-gender repertoire and the populist repertoire, often noting that these two styles can collaborate. One element in particular stood out to me and that is anti-genderism’s paradoxical nationalism and transnationalism. On the one hand, anti-genderism in Europe is part of a larger international conservative movement against so-called “gender ideology” that builds on dialogues from across the world, like evangelical American Christianity and TERFs in England. Yet, more often than not, these movements react to nation-specific policy and social change. They position “gender ideology” as part of an “international” conspiracy to “erode” at their nation’s “traditional values”. As we saw in the Zuk and Zuk reading, Polish Anti-gender activists, expanding on the traditional Catholic-Pole image, present gender as a “Western Neo-Marxist” conspiracy. They present gender diversity and women’s and LGBTQ+ rights as “manufactured” by elites; some, like the Catholic Church, even imply it is a violent invasion, referring to reproductive and LGBTQ+ rights as “ideological colonialism”. Not only does this demonstrate the populist dynamic of anti-genderism, but it is evident that this can quickly evoke the antisemitic imagery implicit in conspiracies such as “cultural Marxism” and “globalist” conspiracies. Understanding the connection between antisemitic and anti-gender is fundamental to gaining a complete grasp of how these movements are able to, and often do, mobilize against various marginalized individuals, despite not actively claiming to. We tend to side-line transphobia, homophobia, and misogyny as products of far-right populism. However, these readings have demonstrated that, compiled under the banner “anti-genderism”, these features can act on their own accord and collaborate with other repertoires, like populism.

One Reply to “Anti-genderism and Conspiracy”

  1. I wonder how this perspective an co-exist with the idea of “homonationalism” suggested within the Paternotte and Kuhar reading. I know in past classes we’ve discussed how populist groups may use their support for one marginalized groups to demonstrate their good character (usually Jewish people to offset accusation of anti-semitism), but is there space for queer people to play that role as well in some context? I can’t think of any examples off the top of my head, but it would be interesting to consider when queer people (and which queer identities) are deemed acceptable by alt-right groups, if at all.

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