Anti-Gender Mobilization and Right-Wing Populism, Eastern Europe and Beyond

The anti-gender movement is a well-networked transnational phenomenon, a global countermovement against gender equality. Unlike earlier waves of anti-feminist backlash, it operates by demonizing the very concept of gender: “gender ideology” is compared to totalitarian systems & described as a threat to Judeo-Christian civilization. The campaigns begin as interventions in specific policy debates. They target sex-education, same-sex marriage, legal abortion, divorce, trans-rights and the Istanbul Convention. The populist frame is persistently employed: propagators of “gender ideology” are presented as corrupt elites, enemies of the common man. This facilitates alliances between religious & non-religious actors. This paper examines the historical sources of this movement, its key aims and strategies & the synergy between religious fundamentalists & right-wing populist parties. It also explains why Eastern Europe holds a special place in the anti-gender movement’s imaginary & its strategy.

Gender, Right-Wing Populism and Family Policy Discourses in Hungary and in Poland

The main goal of this paper is to analyse the recent reforms and discourses about gender roles as produced by the right-wing populist governments in Hungary and Poland. In the context of a rapid demographic decline that took place in almost all East European Countries, women started to be predominantly perceived through their reproductive functions. In Hungary, pro-natalist policies favouring cash transfers were intensified under the slogans of ‘demographic revolution of the middle class’, with blaming women for falling fertility rates. In Poland, aligned with the Catholic Church, the new government has openly attacked the notion of gender, assisted the introduction of an almost complete abortion ban, at the same time investing heavily in family policies. My argument is that these developments can be interpreted as re-building and strengthening national identities. For grasping the argument analytically, I am using Yuval-Davis’s framework of gendered nationalism.

Gendered Patterns of Contestation to Women’s and Gender Rights in Latin America: Trans Rights in Brazil as an Exemplary Case

This paper sheds light onto the ways in which the discourse on struggles over transgender rights in Brazil functions as an exemplary case, that substantiates and allows to understand the issues at stake in the global contestations of women’s and gender rights more broadly. This paper carves out a set of “patterns of gendering” that can currently be observed in right-wing populist discourse. These include the “ethno-sexist” projection of sexism and homophobia onto Others, femonationalist alliances of women & feminists with right-wing projects, or the opposition to “gender ideology”, that, perceived as “ideological colonization”, is presented as an “existential threat” to the nuclear, heteronormative family and the (homogenous) nation. Producing a number of “dynamic paradoxes” that are constitutive for the new right, these patterns demonstrate how gender & sexuality function as a lens, an affective bridge, and an arena in the current of struggles over hegemony in neoliberal settings.