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Shieldmaidens of Whiteness: (Alt) Maternalism and Women Recruiting for the Far/Alt-Right



In this paper, I outline the narrative frameworks that Far/Alt-Right women use to negotiate their place within extremist ideologies. My analysis focuses on videos made by Lana Lokteff, who has been called the most prominent woman in the Alt-Right. Lokteff produces propaganda spanning the European and US contexts through her marriage and media partnership with Henrik Palmgren via their online outlets 3Fourteen Radio and Red Ice TV. Lokteff has produced hundreds of media products, many with hundreds of thousands of views. As such, her claims and arguments represent current strands of discourse used by women to support and participate in Far/Alt-Right ideology and groups as well as to recruit other women. In her talks and shows, Lokteff must simultaneously articulate women’s proper role – their unsuitability as “leaders” – and her call for women to rise in support of Far/Alt-Right defenses of White culture. To navigate between these two dictates, she returns to the figure of the Viking shieldmaiden to interconnect discursive strands that include: 1) women’s power rooted in gendered complementarity; 2) women’s roles as “life givers” of the Euro/White future, what I refer to as “alt-maternalism”; and 3) white men’s ultimate romantic gesture to white women, the building and defense of Western Civilization. I show how this set of women’s narratives connects to non-extremist women’s movements online to suggest sources of recruitment, to highlight populations available for radicalization, and to show how extremist ideologies using gendered stereotypes can be normalized into more mainstream cultures.
Ashley Mattheis: Shieldmaidens of Whiteness
Shieldmaidens of Whiteness: (Alt) Maternalism and Women
Recruiting for the Far/Alt-Right
Ashley A. Mattheisa
aPhD. Candidate, Department of Communication at The University of North Carolina at
Chapel Hill
Article History
Received Nov 21, 2018
Accepted Dec 8, 2018
Published Dec 28, 2018
Keywords: Alt/Far Right, Gender, Recruitment, Extremism, Discourse
On February 25, 2017, in Stockholm, Sweden, a young, fair skinned woman with long blonde
hair stands at a podium and begins to give a speech. She starts by talking about “the power of
Corresponding Author Contact: Ashley A. Mattheis, PhD Candidate, Department of Communication,
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. CB# 3285, 115 Bingham Hall, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3285 Email: | Twitter: @aamattheis | Facebook: Ashley Mattheis
In this paper, I outline the narrative frameworks that Far/Alt-Right women use to
negotiate their place within extremist ideologies. My analysis focuses on videos made
by Lana Lokteff, who has been called the most prominent woman in the Alt-Right.
Lokteff produces propaganda spanning the European and US contexts through her
marriage and media partnership with Henrik Palmgren via their online outlets
3Fourteen Radio and Red Ice TV. Lokteff has produced hundreds of media products,
many with hundreds of thousands of views. As such, her claims and arguments
represent current strands of discourse used by women to support and participate in
Far/Alt-Right ideology and groups as well as to recruit other women. In her talks and
shows, Lokteff must simultaneously articulate women’s proper role their
unsuitability as “leaders” and her call for women to rise in support of Far/Alt-Right
defenses of White culture. To navigate between these two dictates, she returns to the
figure of the Viking shieldmaiden to interconnect discursive strands that include: 1)
women’s power rooted in gendered complementarity; 2) women’s roles as “life
givers” of the Euro/White future, what I refer to as “alt-maternalism”; and 3) white
men’s ultimate romantic gesture to white women, the building and defense of Western
Civilization. I show how this set of women’s narratives connects to non-extremist
women’s movements online to suggest sources of recruitment, to highlight populations
available for radicalization, and to show how extremist ideologies using gendered
stereotypes can be normalized into more mainstream cultures.
Ashley Mattheis: Shieldmaidens of Whiteness
a woman” (Lokteff 0:49-0:50). What might seem like a feminist or progressive start quickly
and clearly pivots with her next line: women are the key to the future of European countries
not only as life giver but as the force that inspires men (0:55-0:58). This may be a pro-
woman speech, but not one that is of a progressive or feminist variety. In the next line, her
speech turns to the problem of the press, specifically the media’s denial that women exist in
Far/Alt-Right movements in great number” (1:04-1:07). To push back against this idea and
highlight the power of “women,” she ends this first paragraph saying, “but they [the
press/media] know when women get involved, a movement becomes a serious threat.
Remember it was women that got Trump elected and, I guess to be really edgy, it was also
women that got Hitler elected” (1:58-2:11).
The woman giving this speech is Lana Lokteff, who has been called the most
prominent woman in the Alt-Right. Lokteff gave this speech at the ninth Identitarian Ideas
conference, where international Far/Alt-Right figures come together to discuss issues and
topics of interest to their movements. Lokteff was the only female speaker listed on the
preliminary conference schedule; having Lotkeff act as a featured speaker may have been
because she and her husband help run and fund the conference, or perhaps because having a
woman publicly support the movement assists in portraying a softer image. Black feminist
scholars such as Audre Lorde, bell hooks, and Patricia Hill Collins among others have argued
that white women are not only fundamental to the spread of white supremacy, hate, and
domestic terrorism but are also active supporters and proponents of white social, political, and
economic power.
Often, however, popular and media notions about women’s importance to
extremist movements portray women’s participation as passive as wombs for the cause or
caretakers of men or, if women are seen as more active, it is believed that they are duped or
coerced by men into participating. Research about women’s participation in extremism
actually shows that women’s interactions with extremism are much more complex (Blee
See Audre Lorde in Sister Outsider (reprint 2007), Patricia Hill Collins in Black Feminist Thought (1989),
Angela Davis in Women, Race and Class (1983), bell hooks in Ain’t I A Woman: Black Women and Feminism
(2nd edition 2014), and for an overview of the history of black women’s thinking and writing on related topics
see Beverly Guy Sheftall in Words of Fire: An Anthology of African American Women’s Feminist Thought
Ashley Mattheis: Shieldmaidens of Whiteness
Racism 5-7, Bloom IX-XII). It is therefore important to distinguish the ways that white
women are useful to forming, shaping, and spreading Far/Alt-Right movements and ideology.
The longstanding idea of women’s passive participation has led to a focus on white
women’s utility as objects of propaganda for men’s radicalization. Here, Far/Alt Right
propagandists use the idea of (good) white women being "raped" by non-white men or (bad)
women (i.e., feminists and multiculturalists) participating in miscegenation as a basis for their
arguments for white genocide and as a rallying call to unite and fight back. However, white
women are active proponents of the ideologies and practices of white supremacy and racial
hatred (Lorde 111-13, hooks 185-88, McRae 43). Racialized divisions between women have
historically been a significant tactic of sustaining white supremacist structures since the time
of slavery in the US context (hooks 185, Lorde 111-13). Today, Lana Lokteff and other
outspoken white women supporting Far/Alt-Right movements offer bald proof of these
longstanding black feminist arguments.
Taking black feminist scholars’ arguments and Lokteff seriously means recognizing
that white women are not only used as a specific and ubiquitous form of radicalizing
propaganda to agitate white men, or to mobilize white fear about the desecration of the white
race through the bodies of white women (Blee “Similarities” 196, Belew 155-65). It means
seriously researching how they support, participate in, and promote white supremacy, hate,
and racialized violence (Blee Racism 5-10, hooks 185, Lorde 111-13). Importantly, women’s
uses of extremist rhetoric, like Lokteff’s speech, are framed differently because of the strictly
gendered schema undergirding right-wing extremist ideology. Thus, analyzing women’s
rhetoric about extremism, including its strategic interlinkages with broader gendered
discourses, can help us better understand the mechanisms through which violent ideologies
leverage mainstream stereotypes and discourses to become sensible to targets of radicalization
and within mainstream social and political frameworks.
Ashley Mattheis: Shieldmaidens of Whiteness
Survey of the Research
Previous writing on white women and right-wing extremism in US contexts includes the
seminal text, Inside Organized Racism: Women in the Hate Movement by Kathleen M. Blee
(2002). Blee’s work focuses on understanding “organized racism” through ethnographic
interviews with individual women members of white supremacist extremist groups (5-7). This
work highlights the importance of studying individual ‘regular’ members within hate
movements to better understand their reasoning for radicalization and participation.
Importantly, Blee’s work explores the wide range of women engaging in such movements
along with the plurality of roles women choose to take up. Crucially, Blee’s ethnography
shows that women’s participation in organized racism and hate movements is an active,
personal choice they make and not forced through coercion by the men in their lives. Thus,
researching women’s reasons for participation in and support of organized racism is an
essential aspect of countering violent extremism.
Along with Blee’s work directly focused on extremist group members, there are
historiographic texts that explicate conservative women’s movements that bridge extremism
and mainstream politics. These include Women of the Far Right: The Mothers Movement and
World War II by Glen Jeansonne (1996) and Mothers of Massive Resistance: White Women
and the Politics of White Supremacy by Elizabeth Gillespie McRae (2018). Jeansonne’s
research focuses on the nearly six million right-wing women who protested World War II via
maternalist claims of love and care for their sons (1). This work is important in understanding
how maternalist framings can motivate women to participate in conservative and even
extremist movements. Similarly, McRae’s research focuses on women engaged in the period
of massive resistance to integration and civil rights. It provides a historical analysis of
segregationist women’s role in promoting white supremacy after the Brown v. Board of
In this survey of literature, I focus on research approaching gender and far right extremism. There is also a
current vein of theorizing, analyzing, and researching gender in relation to other forms of violent extremism. A
particularly important work in this area that has a similar focus on the complexity of women’s participation and
agency is Mia Bloom’s Bombshell: Women in Terrorism. In this work, Bloom focuses on women’s roles,
choices, and participation in Jihadist movements globally.
Ashley Mattheis: Shieldmaidens of Whiteness
Education ruling by the Supreme Court. McRae elucidates the practices of ‘everyday’ women
in co-creating “the endurance and shape-shifting capabilities of white resistance” (9). McRae
argues that women were the crucial workforce of massive resistance and white supremacy, an
important framework from which to view women’s participation in Far/Alt-Right movements
today. Both texts seek to add complexity to our understanding of women’s choices regarding
political activism particularly the via the use of their identity as mothers and provide insight
into the mainstreaming of hate and extremist thought.
Much of the most recent academic work on focuses more broadly on gender and right-
wing extremism, although work on women still makes up the bulk of gender research. This
work also focuses primarily on contemporary non-US contexts such as Canada, Great Britain
and various European countries. Cynthia Miller-Idriss standout book, The Extreme Gone
Mainstream: Commercialization and Far Right Youth Culture in Germany (2018) shows how
radicalization is intertwined with youth consumer culture and the development of radical right
masculinities in relation to coded symbols in the German context. Importantly, Miller-Idriss’
research shows culture, identity, and gender to be fundamental aspects of radicalization and
In addition, edited volumes and special journal issues focus on bringing together
works across national contexts; exemplars include Gender and Far Right Politics in Europe,
edited by Michaela Köttig, Renate Bitzan, and Andrea Petö (2016) and “Gender and the
Radical and Extreme Right: Mechanisms of Transmission and the Role of Educational
Interventions,” in the journal of Gender and Education (2017). These compendiums include
analyses of gender in relation to far-right movements in multiple European nations. Bringing
together multiple contexts and variations of Far/Alt Right practice is a crucial element of
contemporary anti-radicalization research.
Of primary importance to this paper is the Katherine M. Blee’s chapter in Gender and
Far Right Politics in Europe, Similarities/Differences in Gender and Far- Right Politics in
Europe and the USA, and Hilary Pilkington’s article, “‘EDL angels stand beside their
men…not behind them’: the politics of gender and sexuality in an anti-Islam(ist) movement,”
Ashley Mattheis: Shieldmaidens of Whiteness
in the Journal of Education. Blee presents a comparative analysis of current US far-right
groups in relation to the book’s twelve national analyses. Blee notes that in the US and
European context, a current trend is tension over the roles of women participants in far-right
movements as contemporary female recruits expectations of full membership leads them to
challenge gendered subordination (“Similarities” 195-96). However, the political participation
of far-right groups differs between the US and EU contexts leading to women far-right
members of EU groups to be more useful in public facing roles to soften and normalize the
image of various groups (Blee “Similarities” 197-98). Similarly, Pilkington’s research
evaluating the ways contemporary gender politics and practice in the English Defense League
(EDL) promote the participation of women and LGBT activists is important to understanding
how contemporary gender politics within groups are deviating from past group formations.
Importantly, these changes are a response to the exigencies of the current historical and
material context of anti-Islamism (253-54). Both Blee’s articulation of the challenges posed
by women members to intragroup organization and Pilkington’s assessment that the anti-
Islamic stance of the EDL precipitates increased ‘minority’ participation (253-54) have
interesting implications if thought alongside this paper’s arguments about the importance of
the contemporary post-feminist sensibility as a framework of women’s radicalization.
In the US context, very little scholarly work is yet published on current right-wing
extremism with gender as a main focus. Recent examples such as “Understanding Hate
Speech” by Michael Waltman and Ashley Mattheis (2017) and Bringing the War Home: The
White Power Movement and Paramilitary America by Kathleen Belew (2018), include
discussions of gendered ideologies within larger discussions of hate and extremism. Waltman
and Mattheis focus on the shared gendered ideologies underpinning both misogynist and
racial hate groups in the US context in contemporary online media (16-19). Belew’s primary
discussion of the role of gender ideology in her analysis is embedded within chapter seven,
“Race War and White Women,” where she notes the twofold nature of women’s utility as
The other readings in this edited volume and special issue are highly valuable contributions to the study of
gender and women in far-right extremism. For this survey of research, specific articles have been selected
particular to highlight their overlaps and connections to primary arguments.
Ashley Mattheis: Shieldmaidens of Whiteness
both participants in violent extremism and propaganda to motivate men (155-165). Belew’s
historical analysis lays a contextual basis for this paper’s discussion of gendered
complementarity as women’s base of extremist praxis and the romanticism used to narrate
hate as a function of white men’s care for white women. Given these limitations, credible
journalism and news reporting makes up a good portion of the up to the moment literature
currently used in US contexts.
This paper takes a different approach from ethnographic, historiographic, or
computational qualitative frameworks of analysis by blending rhetorical and cultural criticism
to analyze the sets of discourses used by women to recruit other women into Far/Alt-Right
ideology and participation. This type of analysis is needed to lay a base for studying the local
variations of persuasive discourse-based strategies moving globally online. Here, I follow
Kathleen M. Blee’s assertion in “Afterword: Next steps in the study of gender and education
in the radical right”:
There are other questions of education and gender that might prove fruitful for
scholars of the far-right. One is whether women and men recruits to radical
right parties and movements are educated in a similar manner and toward the
same ideological ends. Are there limits to the information provided by radical
rightists to their women recruits compared to men? Are the beliefs that radical
rightists broadcast to outsiders tailored differently to reach women and men?
This research takes up a similar concern to Blee’s question by seeking to understand how
Far/Alt-Right women are tailoring messages to recruit for the movement. Specifically, it
addresses the question of how Far/Alt-Right women’s recruiting rhetoric uses discourse to
persuade other women to join the movement. To answer these questions, I focus on
developing “discursive composites out of narratives used by ideologues within Far/Alt-Right
movements in an effort to understand their rhetorical processes and persuasive capacities.
Ashley Mattheis: Shieldmaidens of Whiteness
This research is needed to begin to successfully develop anti-radicalization narratives and
Developing discursive composites starts with identifying the multiple strands of discourse
synthesized into a whole within the ideological claims forwarded to recruit individuals,
especially women into Far/Alt-Right movements. Following this, each strand is analyzed to
determine its points of interconnection within the composite and to broader historical and
cultural narratives through which such discourses can be manipulated and spread back
through the mainstream into varying socio-political contexts. This is increasingly important
with the ubiquity of the movement of online socio-political discourses particularly hate-
driven, extremist discourses. Ultimately, the goal of this work is to use these discursive
composites to track how such narratives work rhetorically, move globally, and to distinguish
which strands are leveraged in local contexts all urgently needed analyses as Far/Alt-Right
groups attempt to strengthen their global network.
To develop the discursive composite in this analysis, I focus on the discourses used by
Lana Lokteff to tease apart and analyze the narrative strands that women use to engage other
women in Far/Alt-Right extremist ideologies. Lokteff is heavily involved in fundraising and
talent pooling for Far/Alt-Right media. She produces propaganda spanning the European and
US contexts through her marriage and media partnership with Henrik Palmgren via their
online outlets 3Fourteen Radio and Red Ice TV. Lokteff speaks regularly at conservative
conferences and broadcasts via podcast and video to European and US audiences. She has
produced hundreds of media products, many with hundreds of thousands of views. As such,
her claims and arguments show the current strands of discourse used by women to recruit
other women into Far/Alt-Right ideology and groups.
This paper unfolds in two parts. The first explicates the discursive composite
developed from Lokteff’s speech in order to analyze the discursive strands she uses in her
Ashley Mattheis: Shieldmaidens of Whiteness
recruiting practices. This section includes a hybrid rhetorical-cultural framework to assess 1)
Lokteff’s use of three specific discursive strands which ground the composite; 2) her framing
of women’s engagement with Far/Alt-Right movements and ideology; and 3) the historical
use of, and culturally associated meanings linked to, the discursive strands in the composite.
These linkages indicate topical points of transfer where extremist ideology is more likely to
resonate with mainstream audiences. The second part discusses “tradwife” culture online as a
virtual community susceptible to the themes of the discursive composite derived from
Lokteff’s speech. Importantly, Lokteff regularly engages with women who identify as
“tradwives” in her media productions, marking this culture as a prime source for potential
recruitment into Far/Alt-Right extremist ideology. This discussion of the susceptibility of
women within “tradwife” culture is rooted in my interpretation of the impact of what Angela
McRobbie has termed a “post-feminist” sensibility through which traditional gender roles
are entwined with feminist frameworks of gender quality in culture and media on the
persuasive capacity of the discursive strands making up the composite (11-12).
Women Recruiting Women into Extremist Ideologies: A Discursive Composite
The identification of this discursive composite and its subsequent analysis are drawn from an
international speech given by Lokteff on February 25, 2017, at an Alt-Right conference,
“Identitarian Ideas IX: Rising from the Ruins,” in Stockholm, Sweden. This speech was
recorded and loaded onto under the Red Ice banner. Importantly, the YouTube
video is titled “How the Left is Betraying Women,” indicating its framing as a tool for both
recruiting and in-group virtue signaling. Lokteff was the only female speaker noted on the
conference’s page.
As such, Lokteff’s speech needed to address US and
List of speakers at Identitarian Ideas IX: Rising from the Ruins
Lana Lokteff Lana was born of Russian American ancestry. She is the host of Radio 3Fourteen and
contributes political/social commentary in the form of articles and videos.
Matthew Forney Author, journalist, radio host and regular Right On contributor.
RamZPaul YouTube phenomenon, speaker, and one of the most popular video bloggers of the real right.
Ashley Mattheis: Shieldmaidens of Whiteness
European sensibilities, appeal to men and women in the room, participants mostly women
according to Lokteff live streaming the event from home, and potential future viewers.
Women Navigating Submission and Action: Addressing the Rhetorical Situation
In her recruiting, Lokteff must navigate between women’s submission to men in the
movement and women’s action on behalf of the movement by simultaneously articulating
women’s proper role (their unsuitability as “leaders”) and her call for women to rise in
defense of white culture. This negotiation of gender roles in Far/Alt-Right communities is
difficult, especially for women who have grown up relating to post “second wave” culture
where feminist ideas of women’s empowerment have dominated the mainstream. How does
one act as a warrior of the movement and a bastion for the white race without emasculating
men? This, for women of the Far/Alt-Right, is a serious problem, particularly in a world
Greg Johnson Editor of Counter-Currents and author of several books.
Ruuben Kaalep Leader of Blue Awakening, youth movement of the Conservative People's Party of Estonia.
Dan Eriksson Chairman of the EU-funded foundation Europa Terra Nostra, and radio host of the popular
Swedish podcast Motgift.
Constantin von Hoffmeister Writer, poet and pan-European visionary.
Jonas De Geer Author, former editor of the Swedish conservative magazine "Samtidsmagasinet SALT" and
radio host of the podcasts Motgift as well as Right On Radio.
Jason Reza Jorjani Iranian-American PhD in philosophy, Editor-in-Chief of Arktos, and author of the award-
winning Prometheus and Atlas.
Isac Boman Author of the newly released book Money Power. Economist, writer and lecturer. Born in the
Åland Islands in the middle of the Baltic Sea, he has a broad background ranging from the banking sector,
media, politics and NGOs.
Daniel Friberg CEO and co-founder of Arktos and Editor of and, as well as author of
the bestselling book The Real Right Returns which has so far been published in over ten languages.
Alexander “@alexstrongmann” Syding Artist, Engineering Physicist, Musician, Programmer,
Metapolitician, Legionnaire Extraordinaire is an Uppsala-based veteran identitarian currently involved with the
Legio Gloria metapolitical project.
John B. Morgan Director, co-founder, and editor of Arktos, and editor at Counter-Currents, as well as long-
time adherent to the New Right and Indo-European traditionalism.
Fredrik Hagberg Chairman of the Swedish Identitarian activist movement Nordic Youth and popular
international speaker.
Magnus Söderman Popular Swedish speaker, author and radio host of the podcast Motgift.
Henrik Palmgren Henrik Palmgren was born in Götaland, Sweden, the land of the Goths. He is the founder
and Editor-in-Chief of Red Ice, founded in 2003. Henrik is most known as the host of Red Ice Radio and
produces all the video content on Red Ice.
"Conrad" / Daniel Frändelöv Host to the popular Swedish nationalist podcast "Ingrid & Conrad", and one of
Sweden's most famous alternative media profiles.
Arla Gryning The popular Swedish neofolk project will provide us with live music during the evening.”
Ashley Mattheis: Shieldmaidens of Whiteness
where many must work outside the home generally but more so if they want to enable their
families to live the “traditional” lifestyles they desire in white enclaves away from the
Far/Alt-Right women also want their participation in these movements to be
recognized as an actively made choice and a pointed rejection of feminism. Thus, they seek to
be understood as “modern” women who have overcome what they see as the “false-
consciousness” of leftist movements such as feminism, multiculturalism, and anti-racism.
They see themselves as women who are “wounded by the lie of equality, but not broken by it.
Rising from the shattered promises of feminism, [Alt-Right women] have awoken to stand
beside their brothers, partners, husbands, and children, to reclaim their destiny as women”
(Davenport). Thus, these women must also negotiate between their role as supporter and
helpmeet and their need not to be seen as regressive, dominated women, abused into support
of the ideology.
To navigate the narrow path between submission and action in her speech, Lokteff
blends three primary discursive strands: 1) rooting women’s power in a framework of
gendered complementarity; 2) women’s roles as homemakers and “life givers” of the
Euro/white future, what I refer to as “alt-maternalism”; and 3) white men’s ultimate romantic
gesture to white women, the building and defense of Western Civilization. The composite
generated by the synthesis of these three strands offers a third way the route between
submission and action. The route Lokteff constructs through her rhetoric is characterized by
the image of the reluctant shield maiden protecting her hearth and family.
Although posed as a connection to a mythic white past, the image also rests on a
recent phenomenon (since 2004) of women articulating their subjectivity as mothers through
fierce imagery. Here, we get figures such as Sarah Palin’s “Mama Grizzlies,” Amy Chua’s
This depiction eschews any anthropological or historically agreed upon facts. According to anthropologists
Kathleen O’Neal and Michael Gear, early histories, often written by Christian monks, viewed shield maidens
negatively and as hostile to men and marriage. The records in the sagas may or may not be based in history and
could be more representative of mythologizing Viking culture during Christian invasion and conversion
Ashley Mattheis: Shieldmaidens of Whiteness
“Tiger Mother,” and Michelle Malkin’s “Security Mom.”
This phenomenon, which I refer to
as “fierce mothering, shares other discursive and cultural resonances with Lokteff’s
construction, particularly the expression of maternalism.
This shared cultural resonance
provides a linkage between Lokteff’s assertions of extremist ideology and mainstream culture,
making her arguments more sensible within the current political context. To better understand
this resonance as well as the rhetorical and persuasive mechanisms of women’s recruitment
into extremist ideologies, what follows is an in-depth rhetorical-cultural analysis of Lokteff’s
use of the strands of discourse that make up this discursive composite.
Gendered Complementarity as Women’s Power
In the first discursive strand, Lokteff articulates two “correct” roles for European
(white) women in society: “Women are the key to the future of European countries not only as
life giver but as the force that inspires men(Lokteff 0:48-59). These roles are a function of
“natural” (biological), gendered complementarity: “for ages Europeans [had] the perfect union
of the sexes based on what was natural in order to survive; based on the reality of how men
and women were designed by mother nature. And, we especially up here in the Norse [sic] of
Norse mythology. We honored both gods and goddesses. It wasn't a competition but each a
piece of the whole that worked together to ensure our survival (Lokteff 9:10-9:35). However,
rooting women’s power within a framework of gendered complementarity involves ensuring
that every call for women’s action is paired with a marker or reminder of women’s “true”
place. This is where Norse mythology becomes an essential factor in her arguments,
particularly the figure of the shield maiden (emphasis added):
Fierce mothering subjectivities include articulations of “fierceness” either using explicit animal images or
through implicit frameworks that describe women as warriors “fighting for our children.” These expressions are
associated with both right and left leaning political frameworks. Identities have developed since 2004 including:
Security Moms (2004), Mom’s Rising (2006), Angel Moms anti immigrant focused (2008), Mama Grizzlies
(2010), Tiger Mothers (2011), Eco Moms (2012), Anti-Vaxxer Moms (2013), Mothers of the Movement (2015),
Trump Moms (2016), and Dragon Moms (2017).
“Fierce mothering” is the cultural phenomenon that comprises the object of analysis of my dissertation research
and the subject of my dissertation (in progress) titled, “Fierce Mamas: New Maternalism, Social Surveillance,
and the Politics of Solidarity.”
Ashley Mattheis: Shieldmaidens of Whiteness
It's not like they sat around and said, "You know we need enough women on
the battlefield and we need-want more women hunting and more men basket
weaving." It was survival. Like then, women honored Beauty. Let's not forget
about Freya, the archetypal beauty. That's, that's what women want and that's
healthy and we should have that. But they also honor family and home but
occasionally we have to pick up a sword and fight in emergency situations.
The shield maiden, the Vikings right, like today women of the right would love
to simply tend the home and make their surroundings beautiful - and I wish
that's all we have to do. And, I know our ancestors worked to the bone in order
for us to be able to have that luxury, but many women such as myself are
realizing that this is an emergency situation. Our countries are being
destroyed by leftists and anti-Whites. And, the future for our children is
looking gloom[y]. Although, I think women are too emotional for leading roles
and politics, this is the time for female nationalists to be loud (Lokteff 9:36-
Note that Lokteff pairs her call to arms with a general refusal of women’s desire to lead or
fight. Women fight for the cause during an emergency of epic proportions nothing less than
the destruction of whiteness itself. However, women must also use special weapons because
of their physical traits: “A soft woman, saying hard things can create repercussions
throughout society. Since we aren't physically intimidating, we can get away with saying big
things. And, let me tell you, the women that I have met in this movement can be lionesses and
shield maidens and Valkyries but also soft and sensual as silk” (Lokteff 11:25-44).
Gendered complementarity in Lokteff’s framing is essential to marking the
appropriate place of women within Far/Alt-Right movements. Her use of mythical and animal
imagery lionesses, shield maidens, and Valkyries positions women’s action as protective
and instinctual rather than as power seeking. Here, action on behalf of the movement is made
relatable as an extension of the women’s sphere of child rearing and care work. Moreover,
Ashley Mattheis: Shieldmaidens of Whiteness
Lokteff sandwiches these active images between a repeated image of women’s soft natures
(“soft as silk”) to ensure that audiences will not misconstrue her call to action as rising against
the “natural” gendered order. This, paired with her assertions of the rightness of women’s
desire for beauty personified in the image of Freya and the basis of women’s action as
survival, emergency, and crisis, rhetorically positions women’s action on behalf of the
movement as coerced by outside enemies leftists and anti-whites and events such as the
so-called immigration and refugee crises. Thus, women of the Far/Alt-Right will act if they
must to protect the white race and their families, but their ultimate desire and wish is to
simply create and tend to a beautiful home to be the helpmeet of their men and to maintain
their role, duty, and place as women.
Importantly, the choice of Freya as the feminine archetype is not arbitrary as Freya
like other figures from the Viking pantheon is embedded in Far/Alt-Right mythic
imaginings as part of the Aryan “sacred origin myth” and used to connect with their specific
notion of white identity and culture (Miller-Idriss 102-103). Thus, she symbolically
encompasses and signals a transhistorical white female heritage and potentially offers a model
for Lokteff’s middle path for women as Freya is often also considered the leader of the
Valkyries and provided for her selected host of slain warriors in the afterlife as well as the fair
skinned personification of beauty, sexuality, and fertility; an aspect of Freya’s nature left
unvoiced by Lokteff indicating again through her articulated focus the imperative that ‘real’
women lack the desire for power within the movement (“Freyja”).
Another crucially important rhetorical feature of this discursive strand is that it works
implicitly to promote the heteronormative and binary gendered world view of extreme right
groups. It also works to implicitly exclude certain groups of people from the scope of the
movement, i.e., those who do not fit within such a world view. Thus, the only “real” men and
women who exist, exist within the movement. This view becomes clear in other statements
Lokteff makes in her speech. She lays out the exclusionary framework of Far/Alt-Right
gendered ideology saying, [t]he left is losing women to us. Why? Compare. The left offers
feminized males in skinny jeans…. They push ugly, fat positive feminists. They push fat, ugly
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positive feminists as the beauty ideal. And, they tell us it's natural if our husband wants to
dress like a woman here and there or have sex with a man occasionally to prove he's not
homophobic” (5:49-6:16). Thus, Lokteff rhetorically positions LGBTQ people, feminists, and
other “social justice warriors” of the “left” as irrational, unnatural, and as sub-human, linking
them to other populations viewed as sub-human within Far/Alt-Right ideology, including
Jewish people, mixed race people, and people of color.
Lokteff also explicitly supports the anti-feminist views espoused by Far/Alt-Right
adherents, particularly men, online. Her assertion that women are small, soft, and sensual, but
that they use this stature to project their interior strength in support of their men, is a direct
push against both feminist ideas and the stereotypes of feminists embedded in feminist
backlash (e.g. all feminists are man-hating lesbians). Moreover, she is careful to embed within
her framing very traditional stereotypes about women and femininity. One of these traditional
stereotypes is women’s “emotional nature,” making them unsuitable to masculine pursuits.
Lokteff uses this traditional stereotype as she asserts that “women are too emotional for
leading roles and politics” (10:28-10:32). This particular notion tracks back historically at
least to ancient Greece, including the ideas of Plato and Aristotle. The term hysteria was first
used by Hippocrates in the 5th century to describe what he believed to be the cause of the
supposed emotional instability of women: the movement of their wombs internally (Tasca et
al 110-11).
Within modern US history, this assertion ties directly to turn of the century debates
over women’s nature and the vote in the US where “the most frequent argument against
woman suffrage was that women were politically incompetent; dominated by heart rather than
mind, they would ‘consider personalities above principles’ and govern by impulse, intuition,
and [be] hysterical” (Marshall 333). This argument, as Susan Marshall also notes, stemmed
from antisuffragist’s particularly women antisuffragist’s assertions about gendered
complementarity as a fundamental law of nature” (333). In this way, Lokteff embeds into her
discourse a stereotype that has become common sense to many, enabling listeners in her
audience and watchers of the video to “feel” the truth of her claims.
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This notion of gendered complementarity also runs through other highly regularized
discourses in the mainstream such as medicine, psychology, labor, and economics. This
includes binary gender frameworks in medical studies about topics like the biology of the
male versus female brain, or similar psychological models as explanations for gendered
differences” in behavior, or even the popular feminist framing of the gendered wage gap in
labor and economics. All of these types of “scientific” discourses forward a comparative,
gendered framework within the context of a supposedly “gender equal society,” making the
notion that men and women are different but equally important (gendered complementarity)
easily digestible as a “natural” Truth.
Alt-Maternalism and the Special Role of Mothers in Extremist Ideology
Building from the notion of gendered complementarity, the second discursive strand
Lokteff uses to articulate women’s role in support of Far/Alt-Right movements is women’s
special role as mothers. Maternalism figures prominently and is broadly defined as an
ideology that “implies a kind of empowered motherhood or public expression of those
domestic values associated in some way with motherhood” (Weiner 96). I have termed
Lokteff’s, and other Alt-Right women’s, usage as alt-maternalism,” given their use of new
maternalist logics paired with anti-multiculturalism, white entho-nationalism, and hate
frameworks, thus marking white culture as the primary issue to which white-Euro “mother-
power” must attend (Belew 164-65). This use of alt-maternalism parallels a concurrent rise in
the use of maternalist arguments from women across the mainstream political spectrum over
the last decade.
Lokteff begins her assertion of alt-maternalism by rooting women’s specialized role as
mothers in their natural desires as women. She says, “[t]here are three important things for a
woman and they are ingrained into our psyche. And, no matter how hard you try, they will
never be removed. Beauty. Family. Home” (6:38-6:50). Using the framing of psyche here
This paper does not address the gendered complementarity foundational to Christian ideology which undergirds
many discursive norms in the US. However, Christian religious belief and narratives often ubiquitous in US
culture even if implicitly used, make beliefs in gendered complementarity more likely.
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indicates the naturalness of women’s interests in domesticity. She continues, “[w]omen want
to be beautiful, attract the best mate possible and be protected and provided for until death.
Any woman who says differently is lying to herself or will learn when it's too late (6:50-
Moving between the first discursive strand her arguments about women’s gendered
role in the movement and this second discursive strand women’s specialized role as
mothers Lokteff embeds long standing notions of the supposed naturalness of the gendered
division of reproductive labor. Thus, Lokteff’s usage of alt-maternalism marks having babies
and taking care of husbands as an essential part that white women not only must play but,
more importantly, want to play in the movement (emphasis added):
European nationalists and the alt-right in America are a very attractive, very
sexy bunch which is also [in] our favors (sic) women are loving it if they
can have their pick of the best and they are. I hear from women all the time.
You say "I want a husband. I'm 29, I need to have kids." I say come to a
right-wing conference. / And, the good news is, I've been seeing matches made
left and right, left and right, of the most beautiful, intelligent couples. So, it's
eugenic. It's a huge eugenic process that we find ourselves here right? right/.
You've managed to jump through the correct [hoops] and now you will
procreate (Lokteff 8:25-9:09)
Lokteff begins by suggesting that women’s literal sexual desires govern their “proper” role as
potential wives and mothers in their choice to engage with Far/Alt-Right ideology. Sexual
desire is only an indicator of women’s “real” desire for marriage and children. She also poses
women’s participation in the movement as a natural function of their competition with other
women to win the best mate, and these are mainstays of why women come to be part of the
Far/Alt-Right movement. This rhetorical construction blends notions from evolutionary
“science,which suggest that sexual desire is tied to the natural instinct for the “survival of
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the fittest” with white women’s choice to participate in the movement. The implication is that
for intelligent white women, the only sensical choice is to become part of the Far/Alt-Right.
Crucially in this section, Far/Alt-Right women’s innate desire for home and family are
racialized and ethnicized through Lokteff’s linkage of a desire for marriage and family with
the notion of eugenics. Eugenics was an early 20th century pseudo-science derived from
Malthusian theories of blood born degeneracy (Schoen 20-25). Eugenics policies and
practices aimed to eradicate poverty, crime, and low-intelligence, by restricting people
identified as having such characteristics from procreating. Such policies existed throughout
the West at this time, were highly racialized, ethnicized, and classed, and were used broadly
to control social organization. Such policies and beliefs contributed to human rights atrocities
from forced sterilizations in the US, used particularly in the Jim Crow South, through to the
“final solution” (engineered genocide) of the Holocaust in Hitler’s Germany (Schoen 20-25,
McRae 43). Contemporary white supremacist extremists relate Malthusian theories and
eugenic beliefs to their framing of the “natural” development of “tribalism” and the
appropriateness of the separation of the races. And, as Lokteff asserts, women’s participation
in this eugenic process culminates in procreation and thus survival for the white race (8:55
Maternalist arguments are another way that Lokteff “normalizes” her claims for
women’s participation in Far/Alt-Right movements. In the US, maternalist arguments have
been a foundational part of arguments on behalf of women’s participation in society since the
founding of the nation. Maternalisms (there are many varieties) are also used in both
progressive and conservative contexts. These arguments are so normative in US discourses
that they have come to seem like claims rooted in a natural order. What makes alt-
maternalism particularly persuasive for grounding Lokteff’s claims that white women should
support white socio-political power is US maternalism’s history in maintaining racial and
class structures. As Sonya Michael notes in “Maternalism and Beyond, within US socio-
economic and political frameworks:
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maternalism in practice was an ideology or political strategy most frequently
deployed by middle-class women (white women, it is important to note in the
American context, though race and ethnicity are often no less significant
elsewhere) to justify their own political participation as well as the
establishment of institutions, policies or legislation directed at poor or
working-class women and children. This was often achieved at the expense of
pathologizing, infantilizing, racializing or otherwise denigrating the poor, who
were usually barred from representing themselves in public arenas.
Maternalists effaced the culture of racial, ethnic and/or socio-economic
‘others’, silencing them as they (the maternalists) specified their needs through
the lens of (white) middle-class values and romanticized visions of family life
Thus, what has historically been embedded implicitly in mainstream notions of mothering and
motherhood in US socio-economic and political contexts can be manipulated by the Far/Alt-
Right as a substrate for their ideology (Belew 162-65).
The racialization of maternalist arguments, historically seen as a particular facet of US
discourse, is now emerging in European contexts. These include incursions in the discourses
from American Far/Alt-Right narratives like those used by Lokteff, but importantly are also
connecting to mainstream political discourses in the contemporary moment as EU
governments are shifting because of radicalizing right political tides. The linkage in the
contemporary moment however is not tied to white/black racialized relations. In this political
moment, this racialization of maternalism is tied to the supposed global refugee and
immigration crisis, which is seen as negatively impacting EU countries, which are explicitly
argued as white. Here, racialized maternalism is a substrate for anti-Muslim and anti-
immigration arguments that mainly focus on non-white peoples, whether they are actually
Muslims or not (e.g. Syrian Christian refugees). Specifically, in countries such as Russia,
Hungary, Poland, Austria, Ukraine, and parts of South Eastern Germany (less visibly in
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England, Sweden, and France), racialized maternalisms that are often rooted in a supposed
return to “Christian culture” are on the rise socially and politically (“Europe”, Holleran,
Sierakowski, Tartar). Alt-maternalism, then, works as a primary buttress for supporting more
generalized arguments about the “futurity” of the white race such as the colloquial 14 words
and as a focus for the prevention of “white genocide” linking Lokteff’s claims to the
broader claims of the Far/Alt-Right movements.
Civilization as White Men’s Ultimate Romantic Gesture
The third discursive strand Lokteff uses is the argument that white men’s ultimate
romantic gesture to white women is the gift of civilization. Here, she argues that white men
“developed” Western society including its architecture, culture, and technological advances
specifically for white women and their families. The basis for this romantic gesture is
women’s other “proper role” as white men’s inspiration. Lokteff says:
women have a special power to inspire and motivate men to give them a
reason to fight. The woman makes the man. Contrary to what feminists say the
reason why European men built society is for their women and children.
…what really drives men most is women and let's be honest sex with women
to get that all the time (10:38-11:05)
Thus, men value sex, but women value “[b]eauty, family, and home” (Lokteff 7:13-15). So,
European men built civilization and facilitated beauty in all its forms. It's the ultimate
romantic gesture to European women. They built our civilization to enable the home and the
family and to protect women (Lokteff 7:21-26). And this romantic gesture, white
civilization, must be guarded at all costs.
“14 Words” is a reference to the most popular white supremacist slogan in the world: "We must secure the
existence of our people and a future for white children." The slogan was coined by David Lane, a member of the
white supremacist terrorist group known as The Order (Lane died in prison in 2007). The term reflects the
primary white supremacist worldview in the late 20th and early 21st centuries: that unless immediate action is
taken, the white race is doomed to extinction by an alleged "rising tide of color" purportedly controlled and
manipulated by Jews” (Hate Symbols Database – Anti Defamation League Website).
Ashley Mattheis: Shieldmaidens of Whiteness
Lokteff connects her first and second narrative strands to a third strand by continuing
her theme of literal desires; here, it is men’s desire for sex and women’s desire for marriage
and family that leads to the development of Western civilization. Lokteff entangles these three
discursive strands to create a specifically white eschatological trajectory tied to gendered
biological arguments. Her figurations, beginning with that of the ancient “white” (Viking)
culture throughout the rise of Western civilization, pose white nationalist goals of “white
states for white people” as the “natural” outcome of history (Miller-Idriss 166-70). Indeed, it
is the penultimate (white) human achievement that white women must help bring into being.
The stakes of failure are posed through her figuration of two specific catastrophic dangers
facing white women at this moment.
The two dangers are crucially important narrative frames that Lokteff leverages as
support for her claims about the rightness of white extremist thought. The first is the problem
of multiculturalism and the lack of white cohesion in Western/European countries. The
second is the problem of racialized sex posed in two ways: 1) white men’s potential
miscegenation; and 2) the rape of white women by non-white men. These narrative frames
have a long historical base in racialized US politics.
Lokteff frames the problem of multiculturalism as “unrealistic fantasies of global
utopia where we are all mixed peoples” (Lokteff TIME). This framing grounds her entire
discussion of “civilization as a gift to white women. Importantly, it is a narrative that slips
easily from “civilization” to the notion of the nation: A nation is your extended family, your
tribe, your support system. The comfort of your home and way of life remains uncertain
without your people as your neighbors” (Lokteff 7:27-44). This slippage between civilization
and nation is crucial to link her discourse to historical frameworks that figure the nation state
on a model of the nuclear family where the nation is the mother, the government is the father,
and the people are the children. This is an explicitly paternalist figuration which balances
Lokteff’s maternalist claims and reasserts the “natural” gendered order of the movement.
Moreover, her usage now mobilizes both the paternalist historical narrative as well as
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contemporary post-9/11 narratives of safety and security while simultaneously providing
implicit figurations of white-only enclaves.
The second is a mobilization of white fears and anxieties about the virtue of white
women and miscegenation by white men. The virtue of white womanhood is imperiled
because of the “rape” of white women by non-white men (Blee “Similarities” 196, Belew
158-66). Lokteff spends nearly two paragraphs discussing the denial of such racialized,
sexual violence supposedly enacted against white women “by invading migrants” (11:54-
12:02). This mobilization relies on a racialized historical trope, particularly salient in US
racial history as a logic for lynching (the extra-judicial killing of) black men (Wells 70-76,
hooks 227-28). This narrative remains effective today because of discussions centered around
global migrations and refugee populations which figure migrant and refugee men as
“uncivilized” and desirous of sexual congress with white women by any means necessary. In
contrast, fear around the miscegenation of white men is posed as the theft of civilization by
female immigrants and refugees who are “risk[ing] their lives trying to come to the countries
our men built for us” (Lokteff 13:13-16). This rhetorically situates white men’s miscegenation
as a function of women’s competition and beyond the control of white men who are either
duped by non-white women, incapable of denying their sexual impulses, or so fed-up with the
“modern” white women of the West, tainted by feminist ideology, that they are drawn in by
the submissiveness of non-white women from less progressive cultures.
This transfer of
anxiety about white men’s miscegenation into the nefarious designs of non-white women a
particularly female argument also dovetails neatly with narratives about women’s
responsibility for men’s sexual violence providing an additional linkage to gendered
discourses common in mainstream cultural understanding.
Here the notion of competition between women draws on the racialized stereotype of the “Jezebel” in relation
to the hypersexualization of black women under slavery and Jim Crow as a way to mitigate their rape by white
men as a practice of white supremacy. For more information on this see Patricia Hill Collins’ book Black
Feminist Thought, specifically her chapter “Mammies, Matriarchs and Other Controlling Images.”
In men’s rhetoric about miscegenation, the notion of black and brown male desire of white women and rape is
much more prominent and white men’s participation in miscegenation is downplayed (Belew 158-59). Typical of
US social and political narratives, (white) women’s bodies become the locus of control over contested social,
political, and economic topics while men’s bodies and behaviors are mystified. For other interpretations of this
Ashley Mattheis: Shieldmaidens of Whiteness
Critically important to the discourses of Far/Alt-Right adherents, these paired dangers
multiculturalism as the lack of white cohesion and the depravity of mixed-race sex, both as
miscegenation and sexual violence are a primary substrate for violence as they must be
eliminated in Western/euro countries. Lokteff poses the Far/Alt-Right solution saying: “Here
in Sweden we have to ask but on[e] question has mass immigration by non-Europeans made
Sweden a better place for safer streets and more opportunity? The answer is so obvious [it]
is a big fat NO. Sweden is the perfect example of what not to do. So, with all the cries of
‘white supremeists’ [sic] and racism, we offer the simple solution: European countries for
European people” (13:33-14:05). And women have a distinct role to play: In these times, us
women must multi-task and rise to new heights as the enemy strikes on every level. We have
to be lovers, mothers, friends, teachers, and now, shield maidens ready to go to battle
(Lokteff 13:17-32). Note the reappearance of the figure of the shield maiden as Lokteff asserts
women must act in response to these catastrophic horrors for the white race. Lokteff clearly
lists every possible feminized role prior to this overt call to battle to again balance her claim
within the “natural” gendered order.
Strangely, given the violent content of Lokteff’s assertions using this discursive
strand, its use allows her to romanticize hate, racial and religious discrimination, and even
hate-based violence up to and including genocide and war in a framework that appeals to
women. In this romanticized view, a man commits violent, hate-filled speech and action
because he loves a woman as proof of how much he loves his woman. This romanticization
also generates a framework for normalizing racial, ethnic, and religious hate specifically
through gender-based rhetoric that positions violence as a masculine modality of care and
love (Belew 155-65). This is precisely because this idea links to broad cultural, gendered
narratives of men’s violence as a misguided modality of men’s expressions of emotions. This
cultural narrative is used to explain men’s violence from childhood bullying, to mitigating
language around sexual assault and rape (boys will be boys), and to instances of intimate
partner/domestic violence. This romanticization of men’s violence as a protective function of
phenomenon in the recent political context (1990s current) in mainstream US culture see “The Purity Myth,”
by Jessica Valenti.
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masculinity also links specifically with conservative and evangelical Christian narratives
about men’s God-given responsibility to discipline women and children in order to protect
their souls (Robinson, Burton, Solomon, Slick, Jackson).
Thus, this specific discursive
strand has multiple sites of purchase within mainstream socio-political and popular
Lokteff’s arguments in this discursive composite ultimately instruct women about how
to navigate the twinned poles of submission and action needed to participate in the gendered
milieu of Far/Alt-Right extremism. Her rhetorical use of the “shield maiden” and the linkages
to the broader “non-feminized” concerns of Far/Alt-Right ideology allows Lokteff to
“perform” – to show rather than tell how to be a proper woman in the movement.
Performance is a very important capacity which may be a hallmark of Far/Alt-Right women’s
rhetorical strategies for using speech as action while simultaneously being properly
submissive women. Moreover, the other salient themes Lokteff uses in the speech large
numbers of women in the movement, building white “sisterhood,” anti-feminism, and framing
women’s participation in Far/Alt-Right movements through notions of “empowerment” and
“choice” – supplement the primary discursive strands as she markets the benefits of Far/Alt-
Right ideology and participation for potential recruits and in-group members alike.
Harnessing the Backlash: Mainstreaming Extremist Ideology in Post-Feminist Culture
In December 2017, two women known as Alt-Right personalities online, began talking
publicly about the sexism and misogyny they were experiencing from the male members of
the Alt-Right. Lauren Southern, an Alt-Right vlogger from Canada, released a video
See the text from, “1 Corinthians 11 King James Version (KJV),” as the basis for male authority over women.
Here male authority and female submission are defined as part of the divine order of being. Moreover, women’s
respect for this order is linked to salvation throughout the chapter by the author’s connection of male authority
and appropriate practices of communion (an essential aspect of salvation). Evangelical Christian authors, sects,
and movements (such as CDD) have taken this up as a passage indicating the importance of husbands’ and
fathers’ discipline over wives and children as an essential aspect of protecting their loved ones’ souls.
Larry Solomon is the pen name of the author of the Biblical Gender Roles blog. See information here:
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discussing her anti-feminist views and why white women should marry and have white
children. She was quickly attacked by Alt-Right men because she herself, at twenty-two years
old, is unmarried and childless. Tara McCarthy, an Alt-Right media personality from the UK
(London, England), also tweeted a thread about sexist online trolling by male members of the
Alt-Right and the sexism she experiences. Multiple online media outlets including Salon, The
Root, and AV Club, wrote about these women’s complaints, noting the irony of their
assertions given the inherent sexism (paired with racism and anti-Semitism) within Alt-Right
ideology. While the irony may seem obvious, these women’s claims point to a pressing issue
for women supporting Far/Alt-Right extremist ideologies predicated on patriarchal structural
The conundrum that the polar dictates of submission and action poses for women in
the Far/Alt-Right represents an extreme version of what Angela McRobbie calls the “post-
feminist,” a subsumption of narratives of women’s liberation, capacity, and choice which
ultimately reinscribes the notion of women’s lost femininity and points to marriage and family
as necessary goals for women to regain themselves (11-12). This tension can be seen in
Rachel Leah’s discussion of McCarthy and Southern as she writes about their critiques of
misogyny in the Alt-Right. She says: “While McCarthy would like to see racism without the
sexism in the white supremacist movement and Southern would appreciate it if anti-feminist
women were given the ability to choose for themselves what kind of life they want to lead
it's worth wondering if these women are liberal” (Leah “Upset”). It can also be seen in
Seyward Darby’s response in an NPR interview about her Harper’s article, “The Rise of the
Valkyries,” as she discusses the “feminist language” used by Alt-Right women including
Lokteff to recruit women into the movement. Darby says, “[t]hey do sort of occupy an
almost feminist-seeming space in the movement -- or some of them do, I should say. The ones
who are more outspoken, the ones who are trying to bring more people into the movement”
(Bowman and Stewart). This post-feminist sensibility makes up the basis of the rhetorical
situation described above from which Far/Alt-Right gendered discourses stem, specifically
those articulated by women for women within and outside of the Far/Alt-Right.
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Lokteff succeeds rhetorically where McCarthy and Southern fail primarily because she
is married. Her marriage to Henrik Palmgren, also a prominent member of the Alt-Right,
gives her claims more rhetorical and persuasive weight. This is not to say that Lokteff has not
experienced misogynist trolling; she certainly has experienced this facet of gendered online
interaction. Unlike McCarthy and Southern, however, Lokteff does not decry this modality of
men’s speech but rather frames such trolling as behavior directed from outside the movement
either by enemy women posing as men or by men from hate groups with a less explicitly
white nationalist framework, including Men’s Rights Activists (MRAs) and Men Going Their
Own Way (MGTOWs). (Darby 2-3).
Women maintaining both feminized roles and working actively to support their cause
is a gendered power negotiation that can also be seen among conservative, mainstream
articulations by women such as those in the “tradwife movement. “Tradwife” is a compound
web-based term standing for “traditional wife.Social media and contemporary online
platforms, including blogging, online radio, and vlogging, allow women to connect in virtual
public space while they remain in the private sphere at home. The usefulness of this
affordance for women’s organizing and as a platform for recruitment can be seen in its
broadening uptake. Annie Kelley notes: “Over the past few years, dozens of YouTube and
social media accounts have sprung up showcasing soft-spoken young white women who extol
the virtues of staying at home, submitting to male leadership and bearing lots of children”
(“Housewives”). Moreover, although “tradwives still constitute a niche digital subculture
[t]here’s a clear market for their message the biggest tradwife accounts usually surge to
about 10,000 YouTube subscribers in just a year of posting” (“Housewives”).
Importantly, online platforms have enabled “tradwife” and Far/Alt-Right discourses to
move globally, particularly in English language and “white” countries and cultures.
Moreover, Lokteff sees “tradwife” culture as a pipeline for recruitment as she has interviewed
multiple “tradwives” on her 3Fourteen radio show. “Tradwife” online culture is a site that
sheds light on how women come to identify with Far/Alt-Right ideologies in ways that vary in
presentation but align neatly with the dominant discursive strands (themes) within Lokteff’s
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own media. Lokteff, other female Far/Alt-Right personalities, and “tradwives” romanticize a
women’s sphere of homemaking and child rearing as “(white) women’s power.”
This framing of “tradwife” public speech online, rooted in mothering, entangles with a
broader, contemporary spread of what legal scholars Naomi Mezzy and Cornelia Pillard have
termed “new maternalist” logics (240-243). Such logics root women’s social, economic, and
political claims in their role as mothers. This is a primary site where alt-maternalism
embedded in Lokteff’s discourse overlaps and becomes sensible within the logics of
“tradwife” culture. Moreover, new maternalist logics reassert notions of gendered
complementarity in showcasing women’s “specialized role” as mothers. Here again, Lokteff’s
claims of gendered complementarity, especially her references to anti-feminism, become
sensible within the “tradwife” worldview. The primary locus of difference between Lokteff’s
arguments and the broad framework of “tradwife” culture is the issue of explicit white
supremacy. Although “tradwife” culture is predominated by young, white and often
conservative women, there is a leap that must be made between mainstream racialized world
views and white supremacist hate. Crossing the gap, according to Lokteff herself in her
interview with Darby, requires using fear as a motivational tool (Darby 8).
This is where the discursive strand civilization as white men’s ultimate romantic
gesture becomes a lynch pin for women recruiting other women into the movement. This
discursive strand focuses on and amplifies white women’s fears about rape and sexual assault.
Darby quotes Lokteff regarding her intentional stoking of this particular fear in the Harper’s
article: “Another thing that’s attracting normies” people not in the movement “is rape.
Women are scared of rape” (8). This fear-based argument, as noted above, is intentionally
racialized the true threat to white women’s safety is black and brown men, leveraging the
cultural mythology of the “black male rapist” created during slavery, perfected in the Jim
Crow era, and prevalent throughout the turn of the century (Belew 159, Wells 70-76, Davis
185-88). Embedding this fear-stoking, racist narrative within the frame of white men’s
romantic veneration of white women (building civilization for them) positions the Alt-Right
as a locus of white women’s comfort, safety, and protection in a dangerous world.
Ashley Mattheis: Shieldmaidens of Whiteness
These, however, are not the only fears Lokteff stokes through her use of the three
discourses which make up the composite. Using McRobbie’s notion of post-feminism as a
contemporary sensibility, we can see that Lokteff also stokes white women’s fears about
marriage and family. These fears include anxieties over finding a husband, aging out of
having children for unmarried women, and aging out for women who do not have children but
desire to become mothers. And, for women who are already married or divorced, these
discourses invoke fear of loss of husbands or a framing for why a marriage failed. For
example, Ayla Stewart, a Lokteff acolyte and tradwife blogger of “A Wife with Purpose,
believes her marriage failed because she did not honor the “natural” gendered roles Lokteff
asserts (Darby 4). Moreover, for women with children, especially mothers of sons, these
narratives stoke their fears about their sons’ unfair treatment, such as false rape accusations in
a society that wrongly favors women because of feminism run amok. This, in particular, links
to other current discursive frameworks from opposition to the #MeToo movement to the
rhetoric of online misogynist groups, including Men’s Rights Activists (MRAs), Men Going
Their Own Way (MGTOW), and Pick Up Artists (PUA). It is these fears derived from a post-
feminist sensibility that ease the way for mainstreaming and making sensible the more
explicitly racist, xenophobic, antisemitic, and hate-based ideology.
Bridging the Gender Gap: Connecting Women’s Concerns back to Movement Rhetoric
A unique facet of Lokteff’s rhetorical construction of the discursive composite is how
she manages the exigency of the rhetorical situation that grounds her speech: the simultaneous
need for women’s submission and action. To ensure that her discursive construction of
femininity hangs together in the face of misogyny within the Far/Alt-Right, Lokteff articulates
her claims with anti-feminism and a mythic figuration of white womanhood the shield
maiden to navigate between women’s “naturally” submissive role and the need for women’s
active participation during this moment of “crisis. Framing women’s role within the broader
socio-political context is made sensible because Lokteff embeds the gendered discursive
composition within longstanding framings of the nation as representative of the paternalist
Ashley Mattheis: Shieldmaidens of Whiteness
family. This, in particular, links the gendered discursive composite women’s proper roles
to common discourses about patriotism and “Western values, which are mainstays of
conservative and right leaning mainstream political and cultural concerns.
To perfect this linkage, Lokteff intentionally leverages narratives of women’s
defilement by non-white men to mobilize conservative, white female anxiety about safety,
connecting specifically “feminized” white concerns to more general Far/Alt-Right claims
about the “crisis” of white genocide and the destruction of Western civilization. Her rhetorical
use of the “shield maiden” and the linkages to the broader “non-feminized” concerns of
Far/Alt-Right ideology shows women how to behave, as both properly submissive women
and active members of the movement, offering instruction for in-group members and points of
entry for those seeking to join. Further research is needed to identify how many women use
similar rhetorical strategies, as well as how they use the discursive composite and strands for
recruiting. Importantly, variances in the use of the discursive composite, such as manipulating
the composite by excluding or highlighting individual strands, may indicate differences in
socio-cultural and political exigencies that are important in specific local contexts of
Concluding Discussion
This paper has argued the importance of studying women’s use of right-wing extremist
rhetoric in order to better understand their participation in recruiting, and how their rhetoric is
persuasive to susceptible populations. The importance of such study is shown through the
explication of a discursive composite of Far/Alt-Right women’s rhetoric drawn from a speech
given by Lana Lokteff at the Indentitarian Ideas conference on February 25, 2017, in
Stockholm, Sweden. This discursive composite has three primary discursive strands: 1)
gendered complementarity; 2) alt-maternalism”; and 3) Western civilization as white men’s
ultimate romantic gesture to white women. A critical analysis, using a hybrid rhetorical-
cultural method, uncovers the historically embedded cultural meanings and linkages between
Ashley Mattheis: Shieldmaidens of Whiteness
these discursive strands in the composite and broader gendered discourses to suggest sites of
susceptibility to such rhetoric.
The second part of the paper discusses “tradwife” culture online as a virtual
community susceptible to the themes of this discursive composite. Tradwife susceptibility to
radicalization is analyzed by mapping the relationship between the discursive composite and
tradwife culture using the notion of post-feminism as a lens for interpretation. The discursive
composite activates women’s fears, including anxieties about marriage, family, and
appropriate femininity. Ultimately, as this analysis suggests, what makes this set of discourses
useful for recruiting women into Far/Alt-Right ideologies is linking nostalgic arguments about
women’s special role in the movement as a function of gendered complementarity and (Alt)
maternalism with a romanticized vision of white supremacy characterized as a protective,
white masculinity. This blending of discursive strands is particularly persuasive within the
contemporary context because of the cultural sensibility of post-feminism that permeates
mediated representations of women and femininity.
To begin to utilize the findings of this research for the development of practical
strategies and narratives for anti-radicalization efforts, more work must be done on the impact
of each of the narrative strands in the discursive composite developed from Lokteff’s speech.
Researchers, as Blee argues, must focus on general similarities while attending to specific
local contexts in order to effectively approach the importance and effects of gender in the
ongoing development and entrenchment of far-right ideologies and practices (“Similarities”
191-92). This means that ongoing research must be both broad to approach how these
narratives strands are moving globally and simultaneously must also attend to which strands
in the composite are most effective in local contexts. In addition, working with underutilized
theoretical, analytical, and historical resources such as those available in the broad corpus of
black feminist scholarship can offer new understandings of the complexity of gender in
relation to violent extremism and potential frameworks for developing alternative strategies to
counter radicalization narratives and develop deradicalizing practices.
Ashley Mattheis: Shieldmaidens of Whiteness
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About the JD Journal for Deradicalization
The JD Journal for Deradicalization is the world’s only peer reviewed periodical for the
theory and practice of deradicalization with a wide international audience. Named an
“essential journal of our times” (Cheryl LaGuardia, Harvard University) the JD’s editorial
board of expert advisors includes some of the most renowned scholars in the field of
deradicalization studies, such as Prof. Dr. John G. Horgan (Georgia State University); Prof.
Dr. Tore Bjørgo (Norwegian Police University College); Prof. Dr. Mark Dechesne (Leiden
University); Prof. Dr. Cynthia Miller-Idriss (American University Washington); Prof. Dr.
Julie Chernov Hwang (Goucher College); Prof. Dr. Marco Lombardi, (Università Cattolica
del Sacro Cuore Milano); Dr. Paul Jackson (University of Northampton); Professor Michael
Freeden, (University of Nottingham); Professor Hamed El-Sa'id (Manchester Metropolitan
University); Prof. Sadeq Rahimi (University of Saskatchewan, Harvard Medical School), Dr.
Omar Ashour (University of Exeter), Prof. Neil Ferguson (Liverpool Hope University), Prof.
Sarah Marsden (Lancaster University), Dr. Kurt Braddock (Pennsylvania State University),
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Editor in Chief: Daniel Koehler
... When approaching the issue of why women are attracted to a movement like the Alt-Right that expresses blatant disregard for gender equality, post-feminism or "emancipation fatigue" (Dietze, 2020) is considered the most obvious explanation. Most theorists agree that the "new momism" culture of neo-maternity 8 also plays a big part (Mattheis, 2018;Hallstein, 2010). But as Angela McRobbie has pointed out, fashion and beautification are areas that do not address women primarily as mothers or caregivers, but rather as a "a gay young thing out for a good time" (McRobbie, 1991, p.145). ...
... In their quest to erase feminism, influencers like her seek to be understood not as backwards but as "modern women" who have overcome the "false consciousness" dictated by pro-feminist mainstream social and cultural discourse. Even when they are not actively fulfilling the role of the mother (yet), they see their "destiny as women" firmly situated alongside a white male in a heterosexual relationship (Mattheis, 2018). The feminist critique of patriarchal "toxic" masculinity is seen as "an undeserved castration and expulsion of the sexiness from the heterosexual relationship." ...
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This book examines the highly ambivalent implications and effects of anti-elitism. It draws on this theme as a cross-cutting entry point to provide transdisciplinary analysis of current conjunctures and their contradictions, drawing on examples from popular culture and media, politics, fashion, labour and spatial arrangements. Using the toolboxes of media and discourse analysis, hegemony theory, ethnography, critical social psychology and cultural studies more broadly, the book surveys and theorizes the forms, the implications and the ambiguities and limits of anti-elitist formations in different parts of the world. Anti-elitist sentiments colour the contemporary political conjuncture as much as they shape pop cultural and media trends. Populists, right-wing authoritarian ones and others, direct their anger at cultural, political and, sometimes, economic elites while supporting other elites and creating new ones. At the same time, "elitist" knowledge and expertise, decision-making power and taste regimes are being questioned in societal transformations that are discussed much more positively under headlines such as participation or democratization. The book brings together a group of international, interdisciplinary case studies in order to better understand the ways in which the battle cry "against the elites" shapes current conjunctures and possible future politics, focusing on themes such as nationalist political discourse in India, Austria, the UK and Hungary, labour struggles and anti-oligarchy rhetoric in Russia, tax-avoiding elites and fiscal imaginaries, working-class agency, Melania Trump as a celebrity narrative in Slovenia, aesthetic codes of the Alt-Right, football hooliganism in Germany, "hipster hate" in German political discourse or the politics of expertise and anti-elite iconography in high fashion internationally. The book is intended for undergraduates, postgraduates and postdoctoral researchers.
... Within these alternative spaces, sheltered from the main online spaces for political discussion such as Twitter (Park, Kaye, 2017) or, in the context of the Czech Republic, Facebook (Štětka, Surowiec, Mazak, 2019;Surowiec, Štětka, 2017), female influencers began to find their voice and authority. This process is certainly nothing new and researchers have already demonstrated how social media provided women with unprecedented tools for political realisation within both mainstream and fringe political spaces (Mattheis, 2018;Stern, 2020). However, the pandemic, with its heightened focuses on personal and collective health and wellbeing, offered new themes for discussion. ...
... Baker and Walsh's (2022) analysis focuses on anti-vaccine influencers and examines how the notion of the maternal and "mother's intuition" is strategically invoked in political communication through appeals to maternal ideals such as "protective mother", "doting mother" and "intuitive mother". The roles of gendered performances of "authentic femininity" or "sacred femininity" in online spaces have also been studied in anglophone digital spaces with references to the "tradwives" or "tradfems" movement (Mattheis, 2018). Alexandra Mina Stern (2020) uses the notion of the household kitchen when she explains how women have weaponised femininity within the U.S. alt-right movement. ...
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... (accessed 11.01.2020). right context, this idealization of the model of the 'strong mother' may evoke the rhetoric of 'fierce mothering' in North American alt-right contexts (Mattheis 2018) or Czech far-right 'angry mothers' (Svatonova 2020); these are presented as political projects of women's empowerment, while they simultaneously reinforce patriarchal, race and class relations of inequality. Drawing on female figures of nationalist mythology, Golden Dawn constructs a model of how today's women can move beyond ineffective equal rights in favor of claimed ancient traditional values of 'equal honor', strength, and family that supposedly offer a more secure, meaningful life. ...
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Across Europe, far-right groups balance between contradictory positions on gender equality, invoking women’s rights to claim European cultural superiority over imagined patriarchal Muslim immigrants while rejecting gender rights as threatening the nation. Using discourse analysis of online party media and parliamentary speeches, we explore intersections of gender and race in Greek neo-Nazi women’s public positioning towards gender equality, showing how these seemingly contradictory positions align well with the party’s political vision. At a moment of pervasive racist uses of feminist discourse (Farris 2017; Hark & Villa 2017), Golden Dawn women supported an antifeminist position that re-signifies ‘women’s rights’ as a racial issue, in order to construct political enemies and dismantle equality projects. By representing gender violence – as in debates on the Istanbul Convention – as exclusively committed by the ‘non-white’‘Muslim’male, and by rejecting ‘artificially constructed’ equality rights in favor of ‘natural’ rights, they claimed Golden Dawn as the only political actor genuinely promoting women’s welfare.
... Women's involvement in the far-right is often based on complex motivations (Blee 2020;Gentry 2020, 169); these can include racism, differing interpretations of empowerment or feminism, emotional or group expectations (Latif et al. 2020). Subcultures such as "trad wives" (traditional wives), for example, include women who choose to adopt traditional family roles, but also includes women who actively support alt-right or far-right groups and men, as a form of submission or empowerment (Mattheis 2018;Love 2020;Campion 2020). Even so, this inclusivity has its limits and is still framed in masculinist terms. ...
Identity is often regarded as something that is possessed by individuals, states, and other agents. In this edited collection, identity is explored across a range of approaches and under-explored case studies with a view to making visible its fractured, contingent, and dynamic features. The book brings together themes of belonging and exclusion, identity formation and fragmentation. It also examines how identity functions in discourse, and the effects it produces, both materially and in ideational terms. Taking in case studies from Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Middle East and Latin America, the various chapters interrogate identity through formal governing mechanisms, popular culture and place. These studies demonstrate the complex and fluid nature of identity and identity practices, as well as implications for theorising identity.
... As Bracewell (2021) notes, the research on populism historically tended to overlook the gender dimension, and if it was employed, it was mostly via a focus on the construction of masculinities and male political power. The role of women in populist political movements has been recently explored within the context of the US (or generally English-speaking) alt-right and far-right movements (Mattheis, 2018;Stern, 2020). The presented analysis builds on this scholarship as well as on the notion of alternative political influencers (Lewis, 2018) and alter-native health influencers (Baker, 2022) in the presentation of the concept of the politicisation of the domestic. ...
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The language of white identitarian traditionalist women, or ‘tradwives’, recontextualises white nationalism in the language of sexual politics. It creates images of the enemy other as a ‘societal sodomiser’ and of an idealised woman who represents and defends the threatened family and nation. These homophobic horror stories create deep affective investment in white nationalist nostalgia and subsume women’s individuality to the image of the nation. White womanhood stands in for the national body under threat, allowing these tradwives to portray themselves as idealised whiteness, pseudo-subversive dissidents who reinforce the social order, and mother-protectors of the nation. Yet even the most arch-feminine performance of white womanhood need not be inextricably linked to nationalist imaginaries, enabling the possibility of a truly subversive femininity.
This essay offers a philosophical analysis of the misogyny women experience in the alternative right (alt-right) movement. I argue that this misogyny takes on a paradoxical form: the better alt-right women propagandists promote hate, the greater the hostility they experience from their fellow racists and critics; the more submissive women alt-right members become, the harsher the impact of misogyny on them. I develop this argument in four parts. Part I explores the self-conception of racist white women using the concept of social imaginaries. Part II describes three dominant images in racist propaganda—the goddess/victim, wife and mother, and the female activist—which inform the more popular images of the white power Barbie and the tradwife in the alt-right. Part III explores the misogyny paradox and presents how alt-right women could be seen as both misogynists and victims of misogyny. Part IV reflects on the absurdity of the alt-right's dependence on women's economic labor, a feature that could make the movement vulnerable to political intervention.
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There is an emerging debate about the role and importance of women in right-wing nationalist movements. Drawing on research that highlights the need to study such women as active and complex political agents, this article examines a phenomenon that has previously received little attention-the activism of female Japanese nationalists. We approach the question of how such activism is practiced by analyzing a group interview with female nationalists, a nationalist manga centering on women's experiences, and autobiographic books on such activism by and for Japanese women. The article contributes by arguing that female nationalist agency in Japan is a complex phenomenon, which is enacted through everyday micro-practices. It outlines how female nationalist activism draws upon and enhances, as well as challenges and transcends, a traditional Japanese "housewife identity." As such, the female Japanese nationalist is imagined as having access to certain truths. She takes on the role of "truth-teller," who is playing a strategic role in "waking people up" to the nationalist cause by voicing anger but also making space for a more "joyful," "cute," and inconspicuous everyday activism.
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Lynn Y. Weiner teaches U.S. history at Roosevelt University where she is also the associate dean of Arts and Sciences. She is the author of From Working Girl to Working Mother: The Female Labor Force in the U.S., 1820-1980 (1985). Her most recent article, a history of the La Leche League and motherhood in the U.S., is forthcoming in the Journal of American History. 1. See for example Seth Koven and Sonya Michel, "Womanly Duties: Maternalist Politics and the Origins of Welfare States in Germany, Britain, France, and the United States, 1880-1920," American Historical Review 95, no. 4 (1990): 1076-1108; Theda Skocpol, Protecting Soldiers and Mothers: The Politics of Social Provision in the United States, 1870s-1920s (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1992); Sara Evans, Born for Liberty: A History of Women in America (New York: MacMillan, 1989), chap. 6. 2. On the sources for discussion of the La Leche League, see my article, "Reconstructing Motherhood: The La Leche League in Postwar America," Journal of American History. (forthcoming, 1994). 3. See Rima D. Apple, Mothers and Medicine: A Social History of Infant Feeding, 1890-1950 (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1987). 4. Nancy F. Cott, The Grounding of Modern Feminism (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1974), 4-5. See also the chapter "Infant Feeding and the Empowerment of Women," in Penny Van Esterik, Beyond the Breast-Bottle Controversy (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1989), chap. 3. 5. Eugene Ehrlich et al., Oxford American Dictionary (New York: Oxford University Press, 1980), 489.
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Hysteria is undoubtedly the first mental disorder attributable to women, accurately described in the second millennium BC, and until Freud considered an exclusively female disease. Over 4000 years of history, this disease was considered from two perspectives: scientific and demonological. It was cured with herbs, sex or sexual abstinence, punished and purified with fire for its association with sorcery and finally, clinically studied as a disease and treated with innovative therapies. However, even at the end of 19(th) century, scientific innovation had still not reached some places, where the only known therapies were those proposed by Galen. During the 20(th) century several studies postulated the decline of hysteria amongst occidental patients (both women and men) and the escalating of this disorder in non-Western countries. The concept of hysterical neurosis is deleted with the 1980 DSM-III. The evolution of these diseases seems to be a factor linked with social "westernization", and examining under what conditions the symptoms first became common in different societies became a priority for recent studies over risk factor.
The past decade has witnessed a steady increase in far right politics, social movements, and extremist violence in Europe. Scholars and policymakers have struggled to understand the causes and dynamics that have made the far right so appealing to so many people—in other words, that have made the extreme more mainstream. In this book, Cynthia Miller-Idriss examines how extremist ideologies have entered mainstream German culture through commercialized products and clothing laced with extremist, anti-Semitic, racist, and nationalist coded symbols and references. Drawing on a unique digital archive of thousands of historical and contemporary images, as well as scores of interviews with young people and their teachers in two German vocational schools with histories of extremist youth presence, Miller-Idriss shows how this commercialization is part of a radical transformation happening today in German far right youth subculture. She describes how these young people have gravitated away from the singular, hard-edged skinhead style in favor of sophisticated and fashionable commercial brands that deploy coded extremist symbols. Virtually indistinguishable in style from other popular clothing, the new brands desensitize far right consumers to extremist ideas and dehumanize victims. Required reading for anyone concerned about the global resurgence of the far right,The Extreme Gone Mainstream reveals how style and aesthetic representation serve as one gateway into extremist scenes and subcultures by helping to strengthen racist and nationalist identification and by acting as conduits of resistance to mainstream society.
Examining racial segregation from 1920s to the 1970s, this book argues that white segregationist women constituted the grassroots workforce for racial segregation. For decades, they censored textbooks, campaigned against the United Nations, denied marriage certificates, celebrated school choice, and lobbied elected officials. They trained generations, built national networks, collapsed their duties as white mothers with those of citizenship, and experimented with a color-blind political discourse. Their work beyond legislative halls empowered the Jim Crow order with a flexibility and a kind of staying power. With white women at the center of the story, massive resistance and the rise of postwar conservatism rises out of white women’s grassroots work in homes, schools, political parties, and culture. Their efforts began before World War II and the Brown Decision and persisted past the removal of “white only” signs in 1964 and through the anti-busing protests. White women’s segregationist politics involved foreign affairs, economic policy, family values, strict constitutionalism, states’ rights, and white supremacy. It stretched across the nation and overlapped with and helped shape the rise of the New Right. In the end, this history compels us to confront the reign of racial segregation as a national story. It asks us to reconsider who sustained the Jim Crow order, who bears responsibility for the persistence of the nation’s inequities, and what it will take to make good on the nation’s promise of equality.
This article revisits the view that women are absent or insignificant across the extreme right spectrum. It draws on ethnographic research with grassroots activists in the English Defence League to explore whether a new generation of populist radical right movements offers a gender politics and practice capable of appealing to women and LGBT constituencies. It critically interrogates claims that the movement has made real shifts in the openness to, and roles played by, women and LGBT activists and asks whether the adoption of gender equality and gay rights rhetoric reflects such change or is an essentially instrumental move. Finally it considers how gender and sexual politics are played out in everyday practice in the movement. It concludes that while openness to women and LGBT supporters and activists is more than the top-down imposition of a strategically useful ideology, attitudes and behaviours among activists remain highly diverse, ambivalent and often conflicted.
This paper analyzes the ideological content of American antisuffragism, a conservative countermovement which attracted a predominantly female membership. Rhetorical analysis of The Woman's Protest, the official journal of the National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage between 1912–18, suggests that mobilization to the antisuffrage cause was motivated by both status and class concerns. It included a status defense of the homemaker lifestyle, fueled by fears of declining prestige, and also protected class interests, since antisuffrage women were attempting to safeguard their own material privileges and prevent the proletarianization which paid employment represented. The theoretical implications of these findings for the study of social movements and gender stratification are also discussed.
Our country's national crime is lynching. It is not the creature of an hour, the sudden outburst of uncontrolled fury, or the unspeakable brutality of an insane mob. It represents the cool, calculating deliberation of intelligent people who openly avow that there is an "unwritten law" that justifies them in putting human beings to death without complaint under oath, without trial by jury, without opportunity to make defense, and without right of appeal. The "unwritten law" first found excuse with the rough, rugged, and determined man who left the civilized centers of eastern States to seek for quick returns in the gold-fields of the far West. Following in uncertain pursuit of continually eluding fortune, they dared the savagery of the Indians, the hardships of mountain travel, and the constant terror of border State outlaws. Naturally, they felt slight toleration for traitors in their own ranks. It was enough to fight the enemies from without; woe to the foe within! Far removed from and entirely without protection of the courts of civilized life, these fortune-seekers made laws to meet their varying emergencies. The thief who stole a horse, the bully who "jumped" a claim, was a common enemy. If caught he was promptly tried, and if found guilty was hanged to the tree under which the court convened. Those were busy days of busy men. They had no time to give the prisoner a bill of exception or stay of execution. The only way a man had to secure a stay of execution was to behave himself. Judge Lynch was original in methods but exceedingly effective in procedure. He made the charge, impaneled the jurors, and directed the execution. When the court adjourned, the prisoner was dead. Thus lynch law held sway in the far West until civilization spread into the Territories and the orderly processes of law took its place. The emergency no longer existing, lynching gradually disappeared from the West. But the spirit of mob procedure seemed to have fastened itself upon the lawless classes, and the grim process that at first was invoked to declare justice was made the excuse to wreak vengeance and cover crime. It next appeared in the South, where centuries of Anglo-Saxon civilization had made effective all the safeguards of court procedure. No emergency called for lynch law. It asserted its sway in defiance of law and in favor of anarchy. There it has flourished ever since, marking the thirty years of its existence with the inhuman butchery of more than ten thousand men, women, and children by shooting, drowning, hanging, and burning them alive. Not only this, but so potent is the force of example that the lynching mania has spread throughout the North and middle West. It is now no uncommon thing to read of lynchings north of Mason and Dixon's line, and those most responsible for this fashion gleefully point to these instances and assert that the North is no better than the South.