Reactionary Hope

Within mainstream modern liberal feminism—especially as filtered through America’s bitterly polarized culture wars—to be feminist is self-evidently to be left-wing. Admittedly, one need not dig very deep among “anti-feminist” writers to find individuals who seem to dislike women. And especially on the wilder fringes of the contemporary online right, it is easy to find instances of virulent woman-hating. What, then, are we to make of conservative women? Do they merely suffer from false consciousness and internalized misogyny?

One of the many frustrating aspects of The Women of the Far Right, a new academic study of women in right-wing internet subcultures, is that this crude hypothesis is never interrogated. The book’s author, Eviane Leidig, has the progressive views you would expect of a postdoctoral fellow in culture studies, and the book itself is no very extensive survey either of the far right or of its female adherents. Rather, it surveys a handful of right-wing female online influencers, active during the period between Trump and Covid, circa 2016 to 2020. A more accurate title would have been “E-Girls of the Alt-Right.”