The Exploitation of Gender and Masculinities on the Far-Right

The United States (US), and the West more broadly, has experienced a sharp increase in far-right violent extremist and terrorist attacks in recent years, including the fatal, racially motivated shooting in Jacksonville, Florida in August. The US has been labelled “a leading exporter of white supremacist terrorism,” and far-right terrorism has significantly outpaced other kinds of terrorism in the country, including from far-left networks and individuals influenced by Islamic State and al-Qaeda propaganda. With the advent of the internet, multiple global economic disruptions, and mass displacement and migration, the recent resurgence and strengthening of far-right populist parties in the West and beyond has brought ideology and policies that were once considered relatively fringe into the political mainstream.

Far-right ideology can encompass a plethora of overlapping, sometimes inconsistent narratives and beliefs, including white supremacism, neo-Nazism, conspiracy theories, anti-immigrant sentiment, accelerationism, Christian nationalism, misogyny, and anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment. Despite this “salad bar” of ideologies, constructions of femininity and masculinity, including roles for men and women, are an important aspect of far-right identity formation. This means understanding how gender narratives manifest and are exploited in the far-right context is essential to countering the threat.

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