The Far Right’s Behavior Toward Women and Sex: Old Anxieties, Modern Settings

In the context of the worldview espoused through right-wing politics, women are definitely not valued to the degree that they ought to be. In the context of the worldview of the far right, the societal value of women amounts to little more than living property–house-bound baby-making objects of desire which need protection, especially from rape by men of other races. These attitudes are perfectly observable in the far right movements of the past as well as the present.

Let’s examine the word “cuck”, a popular insult among the alt-right. To be a cuckold involves deriving a masochistic pleasure from watching another man having sex with your wife. This concept is hardly a product of modernity, as we can find instances of cuckoldry in Shakespeare and Chaucer, but the meaning has been tweaked somewhat. In the context of modern pornography, cuckoldry involves a white woman having sex with a black man while her husband, who is almost always white, watches helplessly. Language being one of the many windows into the mind, this speaks volumes about the far right and alt-right’s mentality, especially about race–blacks being a threatening invasive species–perceived weakness–liberals being too weak to defend what is theirs, perhaps even enjoying the humiliation of it all–and women in general–helpless living sex dolls. This, of course, is hardly a new concept. Overblown (and propagandized) fears about black men raping white women can be traced back to the Ku Klux Klan.

The Klan, finding great inspiration in romanticized visions of medieval knights, believed in protecting the virtue of white women under their care, which meant protecting them from those depraved black animals that were roaming the streets. Heartfelt consent between two people did not mean anything to the Klan, especially with regards to interracial relationships, something which was only made legal in the United States in 1967. One example of the Klan taking it upon themselves to involve themselves in someone’s personal life took place in Canada, a country which had never taken a legal stand against interracial marriage, though it was frowned upon. In 1930, seventy-five hooded men marched through Oakville, Ontario and invaded the home of Ira Johnson and Isabel Jones–the former was a black man and the latter a white woman. The klansmen forced Ms. Jones into a car and delivered her to the doorstep of a Captain of the Salvation Army. Consider this section of the Canadian Klan’s creed:

“We believe that our white race has a ministry of supreme service to mankind, and that the introduction of elements which cannot readily be assimilated or fused into our racial stock will lead to the corruption of racial health and seriously impair the service we might render to our fellow men. We therefore avow ourselves to be ever true to the maintenance of our racial integrity.”

Such orders could have been found in the manifesto of an old knight order, perhaps even something more clerical or governmental. The unfortunate part is that despite the fact that Canada never had codified laws against interracial marriage, it was clearly considered taboo. The officer that was called to the scene of Ms. Jones’ kidnapping ultimately spoke highly of the Klansmen that kidnapped her and even shook hands with them. Making matters worse, the Mayor of Oakville, one A.B. Moat, complimented the Klansmen on how orderly their conduct was and that the town stood in objection to marriage between two people of different races.

Similar sentiments, though not always so bluntly stated, are still very much alive in racist and far-right groups and individuals as well. Take, for instance, Dylann Roof, the convicted ethno-nationalist terrorist who gunned down several African American parishioners during a Bible study.  Roof, who wore flag patches of the defunct Apartheid state Rhodesia on his shirt, who believed that current expressions of racial nationalist views and the Klan itself were inadequate, believed that blacks were taking over the world and “were raping our women”.

This obscene fixation on white women being raped by black men is a deeply rooted, arguably genetic (intellectually speaking) infection found only on the far right, whether they would like to admit as much or not. Proponents of the far right might look at this opinion piece and pull out one of their many buzz words–snowflake, libtard, perhaps even cuck, though that one does appear to have gone out of style. Such would be expected. Introspection is hard, I suppose.

 

First Response: Role of gender in populism today

This week’s reading addressed the ways in which race, gender and the identities of people were defined and utilized by authoritarian regimes and democratic societies to further a nationalistic agenda. All three of them share the notion that within each specific context, gender identities became tools to “advance” or improve the well-being of the state overall.

Can we observe the same kind of ideas if we were to assess gender roles and race today? What about in modern populism? This is something worth discussing in the present.

A concurrent theme from the readings was the concept of national value in regard to how one self-identified or was identified. Be it:

  • The feminized or masculine homosexual in early 20th century Germany (Claudia Bruns)
  • The linear success, male-dominated and non-individualistic discourse around people in postwar Japan (Rio Otomo)
  • The warlike, hardworking and socially committed “New Man” of interwar Romania (Valentin Săndulescu)

These ideas made me begin to think about what a democratic society such as ours today perhaps hold similar to these examples. The Bruns reading shows how in German life today, female or gay descriptions are still sometimes used in a derogatory manner and that the German LGBT(QI) community may exhibit racist discourses towards Muslim immigrants.

But can we think of other ways in which gender identities today continue to shape our collective thought processes? Terms like, “be a man,” or “act like a lady” come to mind. Could it be that we still subconsciously use the gender roles that are ascribed today to further our own conception of national value?

 

Sweeper: Innocence in Lebensraum?

Were some of the young German women who went East during Generalplan Ost under the Nazi regime “just doing their jobs?” After our group discussion the answer seems to be no, but it’s complicated.

This became the fundamental topic that our class facilitator brought forward. Rightly so, the Lower book highlights the often downright malevolent complicity that German women working during the Eastern occupation carried out. But can we place a value on complicity? Can consent be treated as a sliding scale in this context? What about the nurses, secretaries and teachers who went? As we saw during a previous class, fascism harnesses the youth as a resource through social and institutional controls. For some young women in the Third Reich, new opportunities to travel and start careers that were never possible before were suddenly available and encouraged. If you were in their shoes, would you say no?

However as we discussed, the Nuremberg Trials made clear that “I was just following orders” is not tolerable. The Milgram Shocking Experiment came up, and we talked about how far people can go when instructed to do so by an authority figure. Combine that with years of racial brainwashing under the Nazi state, and the “innocence” argument loses its edge. You do not have to be working in the death camps to be complicit, and support for genocide could be as simple as forwarding an SS officer’s paperwork.

In sum, the women who participated should not be absolved. But Lower’s examination of some of these women’s circumstances shows how complex this topic really is.

 

 

First Responder – Who is Really Guilty in a Fascist Regime?

Hitler’s Furies as a book poses an interesting case. Many ways of how one could be caught up in a regime such as the one at the time of Nazi Germany are brought up, especially regarding women. One of the first questions that came to mind was how people could be complicit in such atrocities as the ones that occurred in WWII Germany. The book offers some good insight to this in what was offered to people who were. New opportunities were presented to people that they did not have before in achieving status, women could travel to new places and could reach a high status in the work they were doing. Wages were better than were possible for women in most instances so that joining a military role would be something appealing.

As there was no doubt a lot of people who didn’t necessarily vote for the government or were for it the, to begin with. Once the regime had taken power, however, it seems as though those who were acceptable to the vision of the regime, had a pretty easy time because the programs were put in place to benefit the people that it saw as meeting its standard. The government, having so much control is not something that one would think fighting against (as that probably would evacuate too much change) but rather joining it would help them become better off- those who did try and fight never had big results in their favor until the end of the war.

The last thing that I thought of was: how do you tell the difference from those just being part of the system and those that really believed in what they were doing. Who was taking advantage of opportunities and who were really happy about killing other people? This is certainly something the post-WWII Germany faced and something to consider about any fascist regime. Who has the guilt, everyone who didn’t protest or only the people who were looking to create their vision of the word?

First Response: The German women

Hitler’s Furies presented many accounts of women during the Nazi regime. The author, Wendy Lower, tells us that this book is not a full account of women during World War 2, and she only focuses on a select few women who she was able to gather more full profiles on.

Lower’s main focus in her book was on how women affected the progress of the Holocaust. I question what other forms of killing these women may have influenced beyond the extermination campaign. Women caught up in fascism may have had other deadly effects. Are there any accounts of the women who were genuinely ignorant of the Jewish extermination? Many women may have ratted out their neighbours, who could have been Aryan Germans, for other crimes not affiliated with racism.

Lower gives a brief account of the era in which these women were raised in. What she doesn’t do, however, is delve into more detail on the childhood of each individual woman. Each woman is given a brief introduction, but the book is mainly focused on their rise to Nazism and the after effects. Were there specific childhood experiences for each woman that would have contributed to her conversion? Is it fair to claim that the era in which these women grew up in is a justifiable account for why they followed Hitler? Lower’s reasoning for female Nazi’s can be summed up as: a desire for adventure, youth, idealism, marriage, and money.

Finally, what about the older women? This book focuses on the youthful women, but fails to discuss any older women and if they contributed to Hitler’s cause.