Misogyny and Toxic Masculinity in White Nationalism
American white nationalism is predominantly a male movement. It is estimated that about seventy-five percent of those involved with the movement are male, and many female white nationalists join to support a boyfriend, husband, or male family member. Although a few women have been prominent advocates for white nationalism, white nationalist groups, both traditional skinhead and contemporary Alt-Right types, are led and mostly populated by men.
Gender Issues in White Nationalism
White nationalist culture generally celebrates aggressive masculinity. Because many aspects of contemporary American culture have shifted towards empowerment of women’s independence and broadened views of gender identity, white nationalism has added a strong strain of male grievance to its anger at perceived shifts of social power away from white groups. As a result, contemporary American white nationalism increasingly involves:
- insistence on traditional roles for women
- unqualified opposition to feminism
- openly male-supremacist online culture
- strong attacks on non-binary gender and LGBTQ culture
Anti-feminist attitudes and concern about non-traditional gender rights are not confined to white nationalism, of course. They are part of the broadly volatile political and social climate in the US. For this reason, white nationalists can employ misogyny and anti-LBGTQ positions as pathways to attract some recruits who may not initially be strongly motivated to join a movement based on race alone.
The connection with “White Genocide”
White nationalism has always been largely a male phenomenon in America. The KKK, for example, accepted women only as members of an “auxiliary.” Contemporary white nationalists have anchored this historical pattern in the theory of White Genocide. Part of that theory holds that an important factor in the plot to undermine the white majority in America has been to encourage the suppression of birthrates among white women. Birthrates of children identified by the Census as white have indeed been falling for years, for a variety of reasons. White nationalists, however, tend to focus on a subset of these factors: increased education and career options for women, and increased numbers of interracial marriages.
Within this context, white nationalists today see phenomena such as widespread birth control and feminist advocacy for women’s rights as aspects of the plan to destroy the white race and replace it with more docile peoples. White nationalists of all kinds will tend to value white women as a group because they are child-bearers critical to the perpetuation of the race. While the subordination of women to men is a doctrine often associated with religious traditionalism, in white nationalist doctrine and culture the idea is more often justified through the theory of White Genocide.
This connection explains why white nationalist statements generally demonize all forms of feminism. Feminists not only challenge the masculine culture of the movement, they are also viewed as tools of the conspiracy to deprive all white people of their birthright to dominance in America, and ultimately to their existence as a race.
Online White Nationalism and the “Manosphere”
In recent decades white nationalist culture has increasingly shifted from well defined membership groups organized in local cells to Internet-based communities sharing ideas through posted comments. Online spaces where white nationalists gather include blogs and forums that have been central to the rise of the “manosphere,” a broad term for blogs and forums that promote traditional masculinity and air various forms of male grievance. The manosphere is home to self-identified groups such as “pickup artists” and “incels,” who go beyond traditional ideas of female subordination or hostility to feminism. Members of these groups routinely denigrate women in graphic terms, and assert male rights to sexual access.
Although white nationalism and these male supremacist movements are different, the grievance-based elements of white nationalism and the manosphere have led to significant overlap in men participating in both. And the frankly misogynist perspective of the manosphere has increasingly come to complement the older white nationalist view of women as child-bearers in need of supervision and protection. One of the clearest examples is the very popular white nationalist website, The Daily Stormer, whose editor, Andrew Anglin, routinely denigrates women as a class: “Women have no concept of ‘race,’ as it is too abstract for their simple brains. What they have a concept of is getting impregnated by the dominant male.”
Recently, the leader of the Alt-Right “Groyper” movement, Nick Fuentes, has explicitly positioned himself as aligned with the manosphere, citing pickup artists as the authorities he most trusts concerning the nature of women, and declaring himself a “proud incel.”
Toxic Masculinity and Anti-LBGTQ Issues
White nationalism’s culture of aggressive masculinity has always largely been intolerant of gay men. As American society has gradually moved towards accommodation of a broader range gender identities, white nationalists have generally heightened their condemnation of other elements of LBGTQ culture. As in the case of misogyny, these attitudes are reinforced by the White Genocide crisis narrative and claims about falling white birthrates. White nationalists believe that acceptance of LBGTQ culture encourages white men and women to abandon their “duty” to maintain the numbers of the white race into succeeding generations, and they sometimes portray it as another program spread by the global conspiracy to destroy the white race and replace it with others easier to manipulate.
The issues surveyed briefly on this page are complex. Comparing them to issues regarding racial purity and anti-Semitism in white nationalism suggests why. White nationalists have the option of advocating for the simple exclusion of non-whites and Jews from the white ethnostate they aspire to bring about in America, and sometimes they may include LBGTQ people as well.
But women are essential to the white nationalist vision. Even the most hateful statements of white nationalist misogynists cannot call for their elimination. And most white nationalists realize that alienating women from the movement comes at a cost. Many white nationalists claim to be protectors of women, helping them fulfill their destined role in a purified society, and women in the movement often adopt the same view. The outright misogyny of white nationalists influenced by the manosphere seems be directed at all women, whereas more traditional white nationalists tend to reserve it for feminists.
The aggressively masculine culture of traditional white nationalism is discussed in detail in Michael Kimmel’s Healing from Hate. A brief and highly readable survey of white nationalist misogyny is the ADL Center on Extremism’s: When Women Are the Enemy: The Intersection of Misogyny and White Supremacy. One surprising strain of white nationalist misogyny is described in the SPLC’s White Sharia and Militant White Nationalism: advocacy of emulating Islam in formalizing male domination over women in a white ethnostate.
Women comprise about a quarter of the white supremacist movement.
- Michael Kimmel, Healing from Hate, 162
For discussions of the manosphere and the recruitment pipeline it creates for white nationalism, we have relied on Helen Lewis, To Learn About the Far Right, Start With the “Manosphere,” Chris Wilson, Nostalgia, Entitlement and Victimhood: The Synergy of White Genocide and Misogyny, and Sophie Bjork-James’s, Racializing Misogyny: Sexuality and Gender in the New Online White Nationalism.
Nick Fuentes’s claim to be a “proud incel” was made during an America First webcast in January 2022 (video clips have been widely posted online). His comments about pickup artists were made in an interview with Sydney Watson on Blaze TV, “You Are Here YouTube” (12/3/2021).
In their own words
Women crave men who call them stupid and claim they shouldn’t have any rights. They also crave being tied up, beaten and raped.
- Andrew Anglin, editor of The Daily Stormer
Voluntary birth control means that people who are far-sighted and responsible restrict their fertility, and people who are impulsive and stupid don’t. So you can’t leave birth control up to the individual.
- Greg Johnson, editor of Counter-Currents, deploring low birthrates among American whites
- Both quoted in When Women Are the Enemy
Question: So you want women to have the same treatment as women have under Taliban rule in Afghanistan?
Fuentes: Something approximating that, yeah.
- America First leader Nick Fuentes, on “You Are Here YouTube” 12/3/2021 (15:30)
Updated March 2022