Alt-Right Women Asked to 'Choose Submission' to Grow Political Movement

Anti-feminist blogger Janet Bloomfield recalls watching the older kids in her one-room schoolhouse in rural Alberta, Canada firing straw rockets into the air during a science experiment involving baking soda and vinegar. The self-described homemaker was educated in a “little fundamentalist Christian enclave” where values of tradition and reason were upheld above all. 

“All we studied was Jesus and science there,” Bloomfield said of her early education.

Today, the 37-year-old writer and mother of three preaches that women should return to a more "traditional" way of life on her website, Judgybitch.com. She claims that women shouldn't have the right to vote, and has blamed young girls who dress and act suggestively for their own cases of sexual abuse. 

Bloomfield represents part of what appears to be a tiny minority in the “alt-right” community: women. The political movement associated with a reboot of Nazi ideology and preserving the privilege of white men has attempted to bombard into mainstream politics since the ascension of President Donald Trump by recruiting young, educated men, largely from college campuses and the dark corners of the Internet. But to win political power, they need women on their side. Beyond a minority of feminist-hating supporters like Bloomfield, it may not be an easy sell. 

RTS149DO Protesters gather over the cancelation of conservative commentator Ann Coulter's speech at the University of California, Berkeley, in Berkeley, California, U.S., April 27, 2017 REUTERS/Stephen Lam

“I’m quite comfortable calling myself a homemaker,” Bloomfield said. “Ideal families have parents at home, it’s as simple as that.”

The “alt-right” movement calls for limited immigration, mass deportations and a new state for whites only. Angela Nagle, a leftist writer, documented the movement’s journey from frequently apolitical, primarily misogynistic threads on the imageboard site 4chan in the early 00s into today's desperate cry for “blood and soil” nationalism in her book Kill All NormiesOnline Culture Wars From 4Chan And Tumblr To Trump And The Alt-Right. The misogyny of those early years never really left. Andrew Anglin, a 33-year-old “alt-right” blogger who writes for an audience of angry male teenagers, for example, giddily glorifies violence against women. This month, he boasted to his fans on Gab, a social media site that attracts many hard right users, that he supports “wife beating.” 

Rhetoric like this may be effective at recruiting disaffected young men, but it hurts the movement’s ability to attract women, particularly in a year when women are actively speaking out about abuse they have suffered at the hands of powerful men. At a “White Lives Matter” rally in Shelbyville, Tennessee last month, only about a dozen of the 200 or so white protesters who attended were female, despite ads for the event showing men and women standing side-by-side in unity.

“I’m from a Northern city and I’m highly educated, actually,” a blonde haired women in her mid-30s dressed in all black told Newsweek at the rally. “The reason I won’t give my name to you is because I’ve seen how the media distorts things about women like me.”

Meanwhile, the men in the movement claim to want to protect women from danger. Matt Parrott of the Traditionalist Worker Party (TWP), a neo-Nazi group that co-hosted the “White Lives Matter” event in Tennessee, said his group discourages women from attending rallies because of the “very real threat of leftist violence.” (No leftist or "antifa" protesters initiated any violence during the event in Tennessee, but members of TWP were involved in an altercation with an interracial couple at a restaurant after it ended, leaving a woman bloodied.) Parrott noted that women are a minority in TWP, and claims his group is “anti-feminist” but “pro-feminine.”

“We have a better record of protecting our female members from indignity, harassment and disrespect than the two leading national parties,” he added.

Evan McLaren, a spokesperson from the National Policy Institute run by "alt-right" leader Richard Spencer, said notions of gender proportionality in political movements “are boring.” Spencer has acknowledged in the past that the alt-right is predominantly male and he has said that women shouldn't be allowed to vote.

“We have the best women, and we will attract more by being successful and dynamic,” McLaren said. 

The few women who do support white nationalism and the "alt-right" say they prefer its environment to modern feminism. Victoria Garland, a self-described “alt-right” writer, said the movement is not really as misogynistic as it appears to outsiders. The Virginia-based writer and self-described “aspiring homemaker” posts on social media about what she perceives to be the danger of immigration and leftist politics. She also contributes to a site called American Renaissance, which promotes “eugenics and blatant anti-black racists,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

“I don't think that alt-righters are disproportionately hard on women. We have hard words for modern men, as well, and are skeptical of voting rights for all sorts of people, just as the Founding Fathers were,” said Garland, which is a pen name. “Feminism is an effort to stir up women against men, which results in resentment, hatred, and entitlement.”

Garland addressed questions about gender roles in the “alt-right” movement in an essay she wrote for American Renaissance called “What Role for Women in Our Movement?” She concluded that alt-righters should “demand more [from] women … push those who are already involved to move beyond progressivism … inspire other women to take up the torch they were meant to carry."

There are other visible female faces on social media. Carolyn Emerick, a white supremacist author, who last month posted a deeply bizarre Twitter poll asking users “How to instate the ethno-state,” which included explicitly Hitlerian options like “Sterilize undesirables,” suggested to Newsweek in a Facebook chat that female white nationalists were being targeted unfairly by reporters. “Why nobody is [sic] questioning the motives of the Japanese in maintaining their ethnostate?” she asked.

Many women are relucntant to participate in far-right movements in part because the misogyny in them is very real, according to Kathleen Blee, a distinguished professor of sociology at the University of Pittsburgh who has conducted extensive interviews with supporters of the Klu Klux Klan and neo-Nazi groups in her research on American extremists. In fact, the overt and vocal hatred of women is actually embraced as a recruiting tool by far-right organizers, she said.

“That’s the cycle of these movements,” Blee said. “They begin as being 'male supremacist' but over time they need to bring women into the fold to continue their growth.”

Blee told Newsweek that many women are attracted to the social structure of far-right political groups, and then learn the ideology only after making friends therein, rather than the other way around. She said members come from diverse political backgrounds, even including people with liberal backgrounds who are first interested in vague issues surrounding the idea of environmentalism, and keeping the earth "pure," before gradually incorporating ideas about race purity, as well.

“I think it’s becoming quite dangerous out there right now. You see more traditional white supremacist groups forming alliances with these new [“alt-right”] groups,” Blee said.

Leftist leaders looking to win over white women who helped deliver a decisive victory for Trump in the 2016 election are warily eyeing the growing number of women being won over by the alt-right movement. Annie Shields, who helps lead a New York City branch of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), a political organizing group, said it’s sometimes difficult for organizers to change the minds of women who have “bought into an ideology that demonizes feminism” in part because there are powerful men in America who still want women to behave in a particular way.

“Feminism is an effort to end oppression, which makes it a threat to the ruling class,” Shields said. “The idea that feminism is bad for women comes from a false consciousness that serves the most powerful people in society—by encouraging women to remain subordinate.”

But to the women looking to "make America great again," the alt-right movement isn't sexist. It's a way of life.

Martina Markota, a self-described “right-wing performance artist,” produces videos for the conservative website the Daily Caller, and was recently linked to the harder-edged corners of the “alt-right” in a story published by Salon. Markota hawks merchandise on her website that refers to herself as the “Queen of Kek.” ("Kek" refers to a goofy parody religion worshipping the distinctly “alt-right” symbol of Pepe the frog.) Markota said she’s “not a damn Nazi,” despite her self-promotional tactics surrounding "alt-right" imagery. She once wrote on social media that associations with Nazism were “damaging to [my] career.”

“I'm a conservative,” Markota wrote to Newsweek in an email. “I identify as a woman. Being both tends to get you treated unfairly in media.” 

Cassandra Fairbanks, a social media star who flipped from supporting Bernie Sanders to supporting Trump during the 2016 election, said she backed away from the harder edged corners of the alt-right due to her Puerto Rican heritage. “Everyone who supports Trump [gets] called a white nationalist,” she said

Sexism is far worse on the left than on the right, Fairbanks said. To make her point, she passed along a tweet sent from a man calling her a “magatramp.” But activists and rights groups generally consider personalities like Markota and Fairbanks to be "alt-lite," rather than "alt-right" because they are willing to court the online audience of young men who seek a whites-only culture, while being reluctant to embrace outright neo-Nazism. 

Bloomfield, for her part, appears happy to remain subordinate to white men. The Canadian blogger published a post in April praising far-right French National Front leader Marine Le Pen. She mused that the notorious race-baiter would “inspire men” to limit women’s choices away from Islam and toward their Christian homelands. “Women, collectively, will always choose submission,” she wrote.

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