Conversations with other (alt-right) women: How do alt-right female influencers narrate a far-right identity?
Keywords:Gender, Alt-right Influencers, Far-Right, White Supremacy, Extremism, Lana Lokteff
In the process of shifting far-right ideas from the fringes to the centre of the political spectrum, the alt-right has infiltrated online spaces to mainstream extremist ideas. As part of this process, female alt-right influencers have emerged within various popular social media platforms and fringe outlets, seeking to build credibility for the movement with new audiences. Contrary to previous assumptions about women as harmless adherents of far-right ideology, alt-right women are emerging as “organic intellectuals”, influential in the formation of everyday beliefs and principles in congruence with the tenets of far-right ideology. Their narratives strategically weave far-right ideological discourses, such as the imminent crisis of white identity, with topical matters on lifestyle and well-being. This article examines the rhetoric of online influencers as they shape an ideological space which is contributing to the normalization or mainstreaming of far-right ideas. In doing so, it addresses two questions: How do alt-right female influencers narrate a far-right identity? How do they mainstream white supremacist ideas online? Drawing on new empirical material from a series of far-right podcasts, this article demonstrates that alt-right women strategically construct a “liberated” female identity rooted in femininity, traditionalism and gender complementarity, and problematize feminism and women’s emancipation as constitutive of the crisis facing the white race. It further identifies the presence of an elaborate cultural narrative around white victimhood which alt-right influencers use to mainstream their ideology. To counter the perpetuation of far-right ideas in society, women’s participation in shaping far-right ideology should not remain unaddressed. This article sheds some light on how a small but highly visible group of influencers are actively working to promote a dangerous far-right ideology.
Alexander, Audrey. 2019. “Perspectives on the Future of Women, Gender & Violent Extremism.” The George Washington University. https://extremism.gwu.edu/sites/g/files/zaxdzs2191/f/Perspectives%20on%20the%20Future%20of%20Women%2C%20Gender%20and%20Violent%20Extremism.pdf.
Bacchetta, Paola, and Margaret Power. 2002. Right-Wing Women: From Conservatives to Extremists Around the World. Psychology Press.
Benford, Robert D., and David A. Snow. 2000. “Framing Processes and Social Movements: An Overview and Assessment.” Annual Review of Sociology 26: 611–39.
Blee, Kathleen. 1996. Women of the Klan: Racism and Gender in the 1920s. University of California Press.
———. “Becoming a Racist: Women in Contemporary Ku Klux Klan and Neo-Nazi Groups.” Gender & Society 10 (6): 680–702. https://doi.org/10.1177/089124396010006002.
———. 2003. Inside Organized Racism: Women in the Hate Movement. University of California Press.
———. 2007. “Ethnographies of the Far Right,” Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 36 ( 2): 119–28, https://doi.org/10.1177/0891241606298815.
———. 2020. “Where Do We Go from Here? Positioning Gender in Studies of the Far Right.” Politics, Religion & Ideology 21 (4): 416–31. https://doi.org/10.1080/21567689.2020.1851870.
Blee, Kathleen, and Annette Linden. 2017. Women in Extreme Right Parties and Movements : A Comparison of the Netherlands and the United States. Understanding Racist Activism. Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315461533-19.
Blee, Kathleen M. 2012. “Does Gender Matter in the United States Far-Right?” Politics, Religion & Ideology 13 (2): 253–65. https://doi.org/10.1080/21567689.2012.675705.
Bowman, Emma. 2017. “The Women Behind The ‘Alt-Right.’” NPR.Org. July 20, 2017. https://www.npr.org/2017/08/20/544134546/the-women-behind-the-alt-right.
Campion, Kristy. 2020. “Women in the Extreme and Radical Right: Forms of Participation and Their Implications.” Social Sciences 9 (9): 149. https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci9090149.
Charles, Christopher. 2020. “(Main)Streaming Hate: Analyzing White Supremacist Content and Framing Devices on YouTube.” University of Central Florida. https://purls.library.ucf.edu/go/DP0023068.
Cooksey, Mariel. 2021. “Why Are Gen Z Girls Attracted to the Tradwife Lifestyle?” Political Research Associates. July 2021. https://politicalresearch.org/2021/07/29/why-are-gen-z-girls-attracted-tradwife-lifestyle.
Corcoran-Nantes, Yvonne. 2011. “Unnatural Beings: Gender and Terrorism.” Outskirts: Feminisms along the Edge 24 (May). https://go.gale.com/ps/i.do?p=AONE&sw=w&issn=04450445&v=2.1&it=r&id=GALE%7CA257766054&sid=googleScholar&linkaccess=abs.
Costanza, Jennifer Noel. 2009. “What’s in a Frame? Interrogating Collective Identity Frames within Guatemala’s Indigenous-Campesino Movement.” Latin American Studies Association Conference, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Daniels, Jessie. 2009. Cyber Racism : White Supremacy Online and the New Attack on Civil Rights. Perspectives on a Multiracial America Series. Lanham, Md: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. https://login.ezproxy.leidenuniv.nl:2443/login?URL=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=e000xww&AN=274512&site=ehost-live.
Darby, Seyward. 2017. “Can the Alt-Right Shed Its Misogynist Roots? These Women Say Yes.” Harper’s Magazine. September 1, 2017. https://harpers.org/archive/2017/09/the-rise-of-the-valkyries/3/.
———. 2020. Sisters in Hate: American Women on the Front Lines of White Nationalism. Little, Brown and Company.
Deutsch, Sandra McGee, and Kathleen Blee. 2012. Women of the Right : Comparisons and Interplay Across Borders. University Park: Penn State University Press. https://login.ezproxy.leidenuniv.nl:2443/login?URL=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=e000xww&AN=1050494&site=ehost-live.
Eksi, Sena. 2021. “Far-Right Female Extremism and Leadership: Their Power of Framing Reality in the European Context - ECPS.” October 29, 2021. https://www.populismstudies.org/far-right-female-extremism-and-leadership-their-power-of-framing-reality-in-the-european-context/.
Entman, Robert M. 1993. “Framing: Toward Clarification of a Fractured Paradigm.” Journal of Communication 43 (4): 51–58. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1460-2466.1993.tb01304.x.
Erzeel, Silvia, and Ekaterina R. Rashkova. 2017. “Still Men’s Parties? Gender and the Radical Right in Comparative Perspective.” West European Politics 40 (4): 812–20. https://doi.org/10.1080/01402382.2017.1286181.
Esposito, Luigi. 2019. “The Alt-Right as a Revolt against Neoliberalism and Political Correctness: The Role of Collective Action Frames.” Perspectives on Global Development and Technology 18 (1–2): 93–110. https://doi.org/10.1163/15691497-12341507.
Félix, Anikó. 2015. “Old Missions in New Clothes.” Intersections. East European Journal of Society and Politics 1 (1): 166–82.
Finley, Laura, and Luigi Esposito. 2020. “The Immigrant as Bogeyman: Examining Donald Trump and the Right’s Anti-Immigrant, Anti-PC Rhetoric.” Humanity & Society 44 (2): 178–97. https://doi.org/10.1177/0160597619832627.
Freedberg, Louis. 2020. “President Trump Accuses Schools of ‘Extreme Indoctrination’ of Children | EdSource.” EdSource. June 7, 2020. https://edsource.org/2020/president-trump-accuses-schools-of-extreme-indoctrination-of-children/635299.
Gallaher, Carolyn. 2021. “Mainstreaming White Supremacy: A Twitter Analysis of the American ‘Alt-Right.’” Gender, Place & Culture 28 (2): 224–52. https://doi.org/10.1080/0966369X.2019.1710472.
Ganesh, Bharath. 2018. “What the Red Pill Means for Radicals.” Fair Observer. June 7, 2018. https://www.fairobserver.com/world-news/incels-alt-right-manosphere-extremism-radicalism-news-51421/.
———. 2020. “Weaponizing White Thymos: Flows of Rage in the Online Audiences of the Alt-Right.” Cultural Studies 34 (6): 892–924. https://doi.org/10.1080/09502386.2020.1714687.
Gentry, Caron E., and Laura Sjoberg. 2015. Beyond Mothers, Monsters, Whores: Thinking about Women’s Violence in Global Politics. London: Zed Books.
Hartzell, Stephanie L. 2018. “Alt-White: Conceptualizing the ‘Alt-Right’ as a Rhetorical Bridge between White Nationalism and Mainstream Public Discourse.” Journal of Contemporary Rhetoric 8 (1/2): 6–25.
Hawley, George. 2018. The Alt-Right: What Everyone Needs to Know. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press.
Heikkilä, Niko. 2017. “Online Antagonism of the Alt-Right in the 2016 Election.” European journal of American studies 12 (12–2). https://doi.org/10.4000/ejas.12140.
Hodge, Edwin, and Helga Hellgrimsdottir. 2019. “Networks of Hate: The Alt-Right, ‘Troll Culture’, and the Cultural Geography of Social Movement Spaces Online.” Journal of Borderlands Studies 35 (4). https://doi.org/10.1080/08865655.2019.1571935.
Horowitz, Jonathan. 2017. “Who Is This ‘We’ You Speak of? Grounding Activist Identity in Social Psychology.” Socius : Sociological Research for a Dynamic World 3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6135111/.
Hund, Scott, and Robert Benford. 2007. “Collective Identity, Solidarity, and Commitment.” In The Blackwell Companion to Social Movements, 433–57. https://doi.org/10.1002/9780470999103.ch19.
Illing, Sean. 2019. “Why the Alt-Right Loves Ancient Rome.” Vox. November 6, 2019. https://www.vox.com/2019/11/6/20919221/alt-right-history-greece-rome-donna-zuckerberg.
Jamin, Jérôme. 2014. “Cultural Marxism and the Radical Right.” In The Post-War Anglo-American Far Right: A Special Relationship of Hate, edited by Paul Jackson and Anton Shekhovtsov, 84–103. London: Palgrave Macmillan UK. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137396211_4.
Kelly, Annie. 2017. “The Alt-Right: Reactionary Rehabilitation for White Masculinity.” Soundings 66 (66): 68–78. https://doi.org/10.3898/136266217821733688.
Köttig, Michaela, Renate Bitzan, and Andrea Petö, eds. 2017. Gender and Far Right Politics in Europe. Palgrave Macmillan. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-43533-6.
Kutner, Samantha Kutner. 2020. “Swiping Right: The Allure of Hyper Masculinity and Cryptofascism for Men Who Join the Proud Boys.” ICCT Policy Brief. https://doi.org/10.19165/2020.1.03.
Leidig, Eviane. 2021. TradWife, TradLife: Women of the Alt-Right. Bloomsbury Academic.
Lesselier, Claudie. 2002. “Far-Right Women in France: The Case of the National Front.” In Right-Wing Women: From Conservatives to Extremists Around the World, 1st edition, 127–41. Routledge. https://www-taylorfrancis-com.ezproxy.leidenuniv.nl:2443/books/9780203479711/chapters/10.4324/9780203479711-16.
Lokmanoglu, Ayse, and Yannick Veilleux-Lepage. 2020. “Hatred She Wrote: A Comparative Topic Analysis of Extreme Right and Islamic State Women-Only Forums.” In Radicalization and Counter-Radicalization, edited by Derek M.D. Silva and Mathieu Deflem, 25:183–205. Sociology of Crime, Law and Deviance. Emerald Publishing Limited. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1521-613620200000025011.
Lokteff, Lana. 2017. “How the left is Betraying Women.” YouTube, Red Ice TV. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n2TttaubPCY&t=85s
Lokteff, Lana, and Stell Bell. 2017. “Advice for Young Women Who Want to Live a Feminine Life.” Radio3Fourteen. https://redice.tv/red-ice-tv/advice-for-young-women-who-want-to-live-a-feminine-life.
Lokteff, Lana, Elora, Bre Faucheux, and Blonde in The Belly of the Beast. 2017. “Femininity in a Modern World.” Radio3Fourteen. https://redice.tv/radio-3fourteen/femininity-in-the-modern-world.
Lokteff, Lana, Faith Goldy, and Lauren Rose. 2017. “Dear Cucks, Only One Kind of Nationalism Will Save the West.” Radio3Fourteen. https://redice.tv/radio-3fourteen/dear-cucks-only-one-kind-of-nationalism-will-save-the-west.
Lokteff, Lana, and Gorgo. 2017. “Connecting With My Ancestors & Finding Racial Identity Cured My Depression.” Radio3Fourteen. https://redice.tv/red-ice-tv/connecting-with-my-ancestors-and-finding-racial-identity-cured-my-depression.
Lokteff, Lana, and Michelle Malkin. 2020. “In Defence of America’s European Roots.” Radio3Fourteen. https://redice.tv/radio-3fourteen/in-defense-of-americas-european-roots.
Lokteff, Lana, and Tara McCarthy. 2017. “Finding Redpilled Love & Friendships.” Radio3Fourteen. https://redice.tv/radio-3fourteen/finding-redpilled-love-and-friendships.
Lokteff, Lana, and PhilosophiCat. 2017. “How to Talk to Normies & Agitators Posing as Alt-Right Men.” Radio3Fourteen. https://redice.tv/radio-3fourteen/how-to-talk-to-normies-and-agitators-posing-as-alt-right-men.
Lokteff, Lana, and Robyn Riley. 2019. “Too Many Women At University?” Radio3Fourteen. https://redice.tv/red-ice-tv/too-many-women-at-university.
Lokteff, Lana, and Ayla Stewart. 2020. “Homesteading & Raising Kids in An Anti-White Era.” Radio3Fourteen. https://redice.tv/red-ice-tv/homesteading-and-raising-kids-in-an-anti-white-era.
Lokteff, Lana, Ayla Stewart, Bre Faucheux, PhilosophiCat, and Kirsten Lauryn. 2017. “Debunking the Claim That Nationalism Is Hostile Towards Women.” Radio3Fourteen. https://redice.tv/radio-3fourteen/debunking-the-claim-that-nationalism-is-hostile-towards-women.
Love, Nancy S. 2020. “Shield Maidens, Fashy Femmes, and TradWives: Feminism, Patriarchy, and Right-Wing Populism.” Frontiers in Sociology 5 (December). https://doi.org/10.3389/fsoc.2020.619572.
Lynch, Cecilia. 2014. Interpreting International Politics. London: Routledge.
Mattheis, Ashley. 2018. “Shieldmaidens of Whiteness: (Alt) Maternalism and Women Recruiting for the Far/Alt-Right.” Journal for Deradicalization Winter 2018/19 (17): 128–62.
McRae, Elizabeth Gillespie. 2018. Mothers of Massive Resistance. Oxford University Press. https://global.oup.com/academic/product/mothers-of-massive-resistance-9780190271718?cc=us&lang=en&.
Miller, Cassie, and Graves Howard. 2020. “When the ‘Alt-Right’ Hit the Streets: Far-Right Political Rallies in the Trump Era.” Southern Poverty Law Center. August 10, 2020. https://www.splcenter.org/20200810/when-alt-right-hit-streets-far-right-political-rallies-trump-era.
Miller-Idriss, Cynthia. 2018. The Extreme Gone Mainstream: Commercialization and Far Right Youth Culture in Germany. Princeton University Press. http://princetonup.degruyter.com/view/title/542250.
Miller-Idriss, Cynthia, and Hilary Pilkington. 2019. “Women Are Joining the Far Right – We Need to Understand Why.” The Guardian. January 24, 2019. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jan/24/women-far-right-gender-roles-radical-right-migrant-muslim.
Mirrlees, Tanner. 2018. “The Alt-Right’s Discourse of ‘Cultural Marxism’: A Political Instrument of Intersectional Hate.” Atlantis Journal 39 (1). https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/322499374.pdf.
Mudde, Cas. 2019. The Far Right Today. Polity. https://www.wiley.com/en-bg/The+Far+Right+Today-p-9781509536856.
Phillips, Whitney. 2015. This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things: Mapping the Relationship Between Online Trolling and Mainstream Culture. MIT Press.
Pilkington, Hilary. 2017. “‘EDL Angels Stand beside Their Men … Not behind Them’: The Politics of Gender and Sexuality in an Anti-Islam(Ist) Movement.” Gender and Education 29 (2): 238–57. https://doi.org/10.1080/09540253.2016.1237622.
Polletta, Francesca, and James M. Jasper. 2001. “Collective Identity and Social Movements.” Annual Review of Sociology 27 (1): 283–305. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.soc.27.1.283.
Prithvi, Iyer, and Jain Shruti. 2021. “An Unlikely Match: Women and the Far-Right.” Observer Research Foundation. 2021. https://www.orfonline.org/expert-speak/unlikely-match-women-far-right/.
Provost, Claire, and Lara Whyte. 2018. “Why Are Women Joining Far-Right Movements, and Why Are We so Surprised?” Open Democracy. January 2018. https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/5050/women-far-right-movements-why-are-we-surprised/.
Radio3Fourteen. n.d. “Radio 3Fourteen.” Accessed May 17, 2021. https://redice.tv/radio-3fourteen.
Ribieras, Amélie. 2021. “‘Stop Taking Our Privileges’: Phyllis Schlafly’s Narrative of Traditional Womanhood and the Fight for Socioeconomic Hegemony in the 1970s–1980s.” USAbroad – Journal of American History and Politics 4: 37–50. https://doi.org/10.6092/issn.2611-2752/11614.
Schwartz-Shea, Peregrine and Dvora Yanow. 2012. 'Designing for Trustworthiness: Knowledge Claims and Evaluations of Interpretive Research'. In Research Design: Concepts and Processes (New York: Routledge), pp, 91-114.
Snow, David A., E. Burke Rochford, Steven K. Worden, and Robert D. Benford. 1986. “Frame Alignment Processes, Micromobilization, and Movement Participation.” American Sociological Review 51 (4): 464–81. https://doi.org/10.2307/2095581.
Spierings, Niels, Andrej Zaslove, Liza M. Mügge, and Sarah L. de Lange. 2015. “Gender and Populist Radical-Right Politics: An Introduction.” Patterns of Prejudice 49 (1–2): 3–15. https://doi.org/10.1080/0031322X.2015.1023642.
SPLC. 2021. “Alt-Right.” Southern Poverty Law Center. 2021. https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/ideology/alt-right.
Starzmann, Maresi. 2019. “Nazi Hipsters: Europe’s Identitarians Are Young, Fashionable and Proto-Fascist.” December 14, 2019. https://indypendent.org/2019/12/nazi-hipsters-europes-identitarians-are-young-fashionable-and-proto-fascist/.
Sternadori, Miglena. 2007. “Sexy, Tough, or Inept? Depictions of Women Terrorists in the News.” Media Report to Women 35 (October). https://papers.ssrn.com/abstract=2996053.
Vandiver, Josh. 2020. “Alt-Virilities: Masculinism, Rhizomatics, and the Contradictions of the American Alt-Right.” Politics, Religion & Ideology 21 (2): 153–76. https://doi.org/10.1080/21567689.2020.1763319.
Vegt, Isabelle van der, Maximilian Mozes, Paul Gill, and Bennett Kleinberg. 2021. “Online Influence, Offline Violence: Language Use on YouTube Surrounding the ‘Unite the Right’ Rally.” Journal of Computational Social Science 4 (1): 333–54. https://doi.org/10.1007/s42001-020-00080-x.
Waltman, Michael S., and Ashely A. Mattheis. 2017. “Understanding Hate Speech.” In Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Communication, by Michael S. Waltman and Ashely A. Mattheis. Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/acrefore/9780190228613.013.422.
Whitney Phillips. 2015. This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things : Mapping the Relationship Between Online Trolling and Mainstream Culture. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press. https://login.ezproxy.leidenuniv.nl:2443/login?URL=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=e000xww&AN=966130&site=ehost-live.
Winter, Aaron. 2019. “Online Hate: From the Far-Right to the ‘Alt-Right’ and from the Margins to the Mainstream.” In Online Othering: Exploring Digital Violence and Discrimination on the Web, edited by Karen Lumsden and Emily Harmer, 39–63. Palgrave Studies in Cybercrime and Cybersecurity. Cham: Springer International Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-12633-9_2.
Woods, Andrew. 2019. “Cultural Marxism and the Catholic Cathedral, the: Two Alt-Right Perspectives on Critical Theory.” In Critical Theory and the Humanities in the Age of the Alt-Right, edited by Christine M. Battista and Melissa R. Sande, 39–59. Cham: Springer International Publishing, 2019. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-18753-8_3.
Worth, Owen. 2021. “Reasserting Hegemonic Masculinity: Women’s Leadership within the Far Right.” International Affairs 97 (2): 503–21. https://doi.org/10.1093/ia/iiaa100.
Copyright (c) 2022 Kisyova Maria-Elena, Veilleux-Lepage Yannick, Newby Vanessa
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
The JD Journal for Deradicalization uses a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND) Licence. You are free to share - copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format under the following conditions:
Attribution — You must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, andindicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use.
NonCommercial — You may not use the material for commercial purposes.
NoDerivatives — If you remix, transform, or build upon the material, you may not distribute the modified material.