Gender, Populism and Anti-Immigrations

Ethno-Sexist, Femonationalist and Femoglobal Alliance


  • Julia Roth



right-wing populism and gender, anti-migration, ethno-sexism, antifeminism, sexual exceptionalism, reverse anti-colonialism, Donald Trump, Jair Bolsonaro, U.S.A., Brazil, AfD


In current struggles over cultural hegemony, conservative and right-wing populist dis- course is marked by an omni-presence of topics related to gender and sexuality. This article examines the ways in which diverse actors of what will be called the ‘right-wing populist complex’ use gender in order to catapult a variety of arguments into the public sphere with particular focus on actors in the Americas and Germany. Suggest- ing a first set of Right-Wing Populist Patterns of Gendering1, the article pursues the question how seemingly emancipatory arguments function in right-wing discourse, especially in performing a modernisation paradigm, while simultaneously, and in of- ten paradoxical ways, promoting a program of re-traditionalisation. Therefore, often, gender arguments—like the sexual freedom of ‘autochtonous’ women—are used to justify anti-immigration and racist politics. One’s own society can thus be depicted as supposedly already fully emancipated in contrast to the alleged ‘backward’ social order of immigrants. Through this ethno-sexist twist, the article argues that gender provides right-wing populist discourse a useful tool for affectively bridging seemingly paradoxical arguments and transferring diverse social hierarchies shaped by late neo- liberalism onto the gender hierarchy of a society. Since gender as a discursive element is foundational for right-wing discourse, an analytical, systematic and intersectional gender lens—or a critical gender theory—is crucial in right-wing populism research in order to grasp patterns of gendering and their entanglements with racialisation and racist structures.