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Academic warns about young women using social media to oppose feminism

Conservative women savvy at using social media to critique feminism, scholar says

A scholar who studies terrorism and extremism is concerned about young women who use social media to promote traditional gender roles and oppose feminism.

Eviane Leidig has a book with Columbia University Press titled “The Women of the Far Right: Social Media Influencers and Online Radicalization.” She researches “the decision making process of platforms’ content moderation policies on far-right extremist and terrorist content” with funds from the European Union, according to her website.

“Going beyond stereotypes of the typical male white supremacist, she uncovers how young, attractive women are playing key roles as propagandists, organizers, fundraisers, and entrepreneurs,” a description for the book states. “Leidig argues that far-right women are marketing themselves as authentic and accessible in order to reach new followers and spread a hateful ideology.”

What are some of the “hateful” ideas they push?

The Conversation, a news site that publishes academic research in simpler format, interviewed Leidig. Prior to the interview, Conversation editor Avery Anapol explained some of the ideas that “tech savvy” young women were pushing.

She claimed the women were pushing “anti-semitism,” “white nationalism,” “LGBTQ rights,” opposition to immigration, “ethnic diversity,” “and of course, very traditional views on gender.”

Just for clarity – it is wrong to be antisemitic, it is wrong to push white nationalism, but there is nothing wrong with opposing men in women’s locker rooms, unchecked immigration, or “traditional views of gender.” In terms of “ethnic diversity” – we have a lot of ethnic groups here in the United States and I hope they are all open to having many kids.

Leidig (pictured), who works at Tilburg University in the Netherlands, compared women in the south who wanted to preserve Confederate history to Phyllis Schlafly’s opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment in her interview with The Conversation.

Leidig said when people think about the “far-right” they have a “stereotype” of a “young male skinhead.”

Anapol, the editor for The Conversation, discussed women serving in political leadership, mentioning “Ann Coulter in the U.S.”

Coulter has never held an elected position. She is a conservative commentator.

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Leidig warned of young women that pushes “messaging…consistent with the history of conservative thinking, in terms of notions about traditional gender roles for women and for men.”

Still nothing horrifying yet.

However, Leidig sees something worse, saying conservatives have a “non-tolerance for people who fall outside those constructions of femininity and masculinity.”

These influencers are “vehemently anti-LGBTQ” and “vehemently anti-non-binary identities” and anti-feminist.

“They say that you should embrace your ‘God-given femininity,’ I say that in quotes, and they believe that feminism has forced the breakdown of gender roles in society,” Leidig said. The influencers, the academic says, blame feminism for societal problems.

But as she tells The Conversation, many of the women have tried feminism in some form and found it unfulfilling. “These women all have similar backgrounds,” she said, including attending college, living in the city, and “trying to climb the professional corporate ladder.”

“But then there’s a particular moment in time in which all of these far-right women influencers say that they felt deeply unhappy and depressed with their life situation,” putting the blame on feminism.

Leidig, laughing, says the female influencers think mainstream society forces feminism. She also calls it “ironic” because the female influencers will make money from their posts and write columns and have attended college.

The academic then explains how the women will make Instagram posts about their daily lives to “recruit” women into their “far-right” views, mentioning food bloggers.

Perhaps missing the point of politics entirely, Anapol, the editor for The Conversation, says “but once someone starts following or watching these far-right influencers, it’s not always easy to distinguish their political content from other, more generic, lifestyle content.” Right – the way we live is connected to the way we vote.

This is because the women use “coded language” Leidig said.

Other examples are more “explicit” including criticism of vaccines, masks, and COVID lockdowns.

Again, right. Because women with kids don’t like being told to put a mask on their beautiful toddler’s face or being told they can’t gather with their friends. Christian conservative women probably were not too fond of COVID lockdowns that shut down their local churches or schools.

Leidig gave one example of an unnamed female who joked about having more kids for the “white race.” That is obviously wrong, as people should be open to life not for racial or political reasons, but for religious reasons.

She then went into more about who these influencers try to “recruit” – “traditional Catholics” and the “recovering feminist.”

The influencers also have a substantial male following, according to Leidig. These men like the idea of a traditional wife, according to Leidig.

Even working women don’t like feminism

It is not just social media that might be encouraging women to turn against feminism (finally something good social media does!) but reality and living life.

Consider how pro-abortion medical professors have tacitly admitted that being entirely focused on a career and education have harmed women’s natural inclination to have children.

Charlie Kirk took heat for telling an aspiring female physician there are trade-offs between the long hours it takes to become a surgeon and raising a family. Then pro-abortion academics released papers essentially finding the same thing.

Female workers also report higher rates of burnout than men. “Nearly half (48%) of 18-to-29-year-olds said they feel drained compared with 40% of their peers aged 30 and up, while women (46%) reported higher levels of burnout than men (37%),” CNBC reported.

Might this be why those “far-right” social media influencers do so well among Gen Z and Millennial women? Turned off by the corporate grind and working long hours, might young women desire something more fulfilling, such as being at home and being married?

Might the resistance among working moms to returning to the office post-COVID lockdowns have something to do with the joy they experienced being at home more with their kids?

Leidig notes that many of the young women tried feminism and did not like it. They went to college and had jobs but were not fulfilled – but they did find fulfillment in having kids, being married, and homemaking.

MORE: Be open to marriage while in college, Catholic writer says

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Matt has previously worked at Students for Life of America, Students for Life Action and Turning Point USA. While in college, he wrote for The College Fix as well as his college newspaper, The Loyola Phoenix. He holds a B.A. from Loyola University-Chicago and an M.A. from the University of Nebraska-Omaha. He lives in northwest Indiana with his family.