How sexism and the ‘alt-right’ is growing
While the far right has been around for generations, the “alt-right” is a new movement which has grown out of darker corners of the internet. It’s more openly racist than conventional right-wing politics, but with much better PR than old-fashioned white nationalism. Sexism and the ‘alt-right’ have always been intertwined.
The big difference between this movement and the traditional far right is that the ‘alt-right’ is almost entirely online. There are occasional talks or rallies, but the vast majority of ‘alt-right’ rabble-rousing happens on blogs and social media. This allows sexism and the ‘alt-right’ to run unchecked.
The ‘alt-right’ appeal
Many men who have been radicalised into the alt-right started out by looking for some like-minded friends. Alt-right supporters often drift into it through the online “manosphere”, a mixture of men’s rights websites, pick-up artist blogs, socially isolated gamers, and forums for “incels”. At their best, these spaces provide friendship and valuable support for men who are struggling: there’s nothing inherently sexist about all-male spaces. But in an echo-chamber full of unhappy men, a few men’s bad experiences can seem like evidence that women have the upper hand. And once you start to believe that women are out to get you, it’s not a great leap to start thinking that Muslims and immigrants and gay men are undermining your way of life.
New found fame
Though the alt-right has been around for years, it came into the spotlight with the recent election of Donald Trump. Although Trump has publicly denounced the alt-right, their online rabble-rousing and spreading of “alternative facts” were a key part of his election campaign. Trump’s appointment of alt-right figurehead Steve Bannon as spokesman was seen as a discreet thanks to the movement.
The appeal of the alt-right is that it conflates real and serious issues (like high rates of suicide in young men, and the social effects of fatherless households) with lazy ideas about their causes. The idea that feminism has given women the upper hand, and the courts are biased against men, is one of the alt-right’s defining beliefs. During the recent US election, Clinton supporters persistently pointed out Trump’s sexism – not realising that, for many men, Trump’s sexism was part of his appeal.
The alt-right sees success as a zero-sum game. Every increase in maternity leave takes tax dollars from hard-working men. Every step forward for gay rights undermines traditional families. Every immigrant means one less job for a white American. If the movement believes that women can only progress by taking things away from men, then sexism and the ‘alt-right’ will always go hand-in-hand.