Anti-Feminism in the Rhetoric of Populist Radical Right (PRR) Female MPs in Germany and the United States
Women play an increasingly important role in Populist Radical Right (PRR) parties. This seems paradoxical, as these parties typically reject a political role for women and emphasize regressive core beliefs, including anti-abortion or “pro-life” narratives, anti-LGBTQIA+ rights, and anti-feminism.
In essence, right-wing populists are anti-feminist because feminism challenges their understanding of the natural social order. Strategically, these actors proclaim “heteronormativity,” and they use a binary gender concept as “empty signifiers,” both for “othering” people like migrants and to demonstrate their regressive agenda back to the “good old days.” Their anti-feminism expressed through female protagonists has a far-reaching mobilizing function in society, even for people who would not describe themselves as populist.
The seminar will discuss initial findings from four months of qualitative data analysis and fieldwork in Washington, DC. The study is based on parliamentary speeches by leading MPs in Germany and the United States. It will uncover how legislators’ anti-feminism is related to other populist narratives and stereotypes. Findings on anti-feminism on the tops of the right-wing AfD and the increasingly important right-wing in the U.S. Republicans will contribute to a better understanding of a crucial threat in contemporary democracies.
Dr. Benjamin Höhne is a DAAD/AGI Research Fellow from April through July 2022. He is Deputy Director of the Institute for Parliamentary Research in Berlin. He has worked as Research Associate or Associate Lecturer at various universities in Germany, most recently at the Free University of Berlin. His main teaching and research area is political parties. His current research focuses on populism and the representation of women in parliaments. His dissertation at the University of Trier on the recruitment of candidates for EU elections was awarded the German Bundestag’s Science Award. He is active in scientific and political consulting, especially as an expert for state parliaments, ministries as well as institutions for political education. He regularly gives interviews for international media.