Rise of the Right, Human Rights in USA & Europe

Rise of Nationalism in Europe 2016 BBC
Rise of Nationalism in Europe 2016 – BBC

From Trump and Pence to Marine Le Pen, the so-called “alt Right”, UKIP and Brexit, there has been a seeming lurch to the right in European and western politics with reactionary policies called for including Burka bans, immigration repatriation, attempts to overturn abortion rights and bathroom laws, and a trans rush in America to get gender markers and names changed before January, and fears of what may come. (Discussion 6 December 2016, Norwich Library)

LGBT Rights reversal by Right Wing?

Is this an irrational fear? India, Russia and Uganda, have already shown that LGBT gains can be reversed. Every single member of Trump’s cabinet opposes LGBT rights (Pink News) Who are the people around the president-elect (BBC)

Trump’s “message of resentment, anger and fear turned out enough of those voters for him to move past Clinton in key Midwest states and win an electoral college victory. From that, Trump will almost surely take the lesson that he doesn’t need to reach out to anybody; he can win by appealing only to his rabid base.” – Washington Post

Donald Trump’s decision to nominate Tom Price, one of Congress’s staunchest opponents of abortion, as health and human services secretary has drawn immediate condemnation from reproductive rights and public health groups.

The city of San Francisco has passed a resolution vowing to resist any backslide on LGBT rights under the Trump administration.

Europe: Austria, Italy, France, Sweden…

Europe Left and Right - New Stateman
Europe Left and Right – New Stateman

On Sunday, Austria’s Norbert Hofer was nearly the first far-right head of state in western Europe since WWII.  In the end, a re-run of the election in which a previous vote was tied with a narrow 30,000 challenged majority actually resulted in a 53/47% victory for the Green-Independent candidate.

“Werner Kogler, a Green party politician, described the result as a “small global turning of the tide in these uncertain, not to say hysterical and even stupid times”. The endorsement of the retired economics professor was particularly emphatic in urban areas, with all of Vienna’s 23 districts showing up in Van der Bellen’s green than Hofer’s blue at the end of the night.” – Guardian

Interestingly, Austria saw the centre-Right and centre-Left candidates lose in the first round, instead seeing a polarisation of the vote around far-Right and independent-Green. Is the future of politics? A rejection of establishment, traditional parties including liberal-centrist in favour of a new politics, the so-called rise of populism. These new ‘extremist’ parties favour nationalism over immigration and may blur the lines of Left and Right, cutting across and drawing support from the whole political spectrum, as UKIP has done in the UK. They are anti-status quo and have recently seen the “sad death of liberal Britain“.

Right Turn Only Road SignSlovakia has seen its far Right party gain its first seats in 2016, with 8% of the vote and 14 seats. Interestingly, Left and Right parties opposed immigration. Immigration and asylum has been championed by Liberal-Greens across Europe but increasingly opposed by the Left and Right during times of austerity.

Sweden’s Democrats have seen a significant rise in support 2006-14 and are characterised by anti-immigration and anti-indigenous, pro-heterosexual nuclear family ideals. Same-sex adoption is opposed with forcible married heterosexual adoption if children of LGBT parents are orphaned.

Reports have shown that a majority of far and new Right supporters are working and lower-middle class men, often less educated and economically insecure, with traditional heterosexual masculinities feeling threatened by the diversification of national culture by Islam, immigration and LGBT minorities.

A re-developing divide is also that of rural versus urban, with diverse cities integrating their differences whilst rural populations become entrenched around their traditional populations.

“Economic anxieties [only] go some way to explain the phenomenon, but as with the Brexit decision, people are voting in ways that seem – at least to their critics – likely to harm their own material interests just to give the establishment a bloody nose” – Intelligence Squared

Left and Right parties in Europe 2015
Left and Right parties in Europe 2015 – New Statesman

Across 39 European countries and English-speaking Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States – right-wing parties are in power in 30 of the 43 countries, 4 more than before the 2008 financial crash when anti-capitalist feeling should have been on the rise. Is Europe swinging to the right?

Alt Left

And then there’s the Alt-Left – “a subset of liberals in America who think differently than the regressive left. We tend to be pro-free speech / anti-safe-space, anti-Islam, pro-LGBT rights, pro-choice, anti-SJW, and a plethora of other things.”

Revolutionary Communism

The Left’s advocacy of LGBT rights “has a long and mixed history“. Early 20th Century Communism, it should be remembered, was a part of its pre-millennial milieu. That said, Russian Communism undid the laws of the Tsarist regime, and early German Communism and Socialism advocated for gay rights whilst the Nazi National Socialist party oppressed them. Stalin, re-introduced criminal charges for gay men. Obscuring clear analysis is the fact that for some, homosexuality was considered a pervasive practice of the aristocratic classes and not that of the working man.

Some have pointed out that Left and Right do not naturally fall into good or bad, liberal or oppressive, camps. For instance, this graphic is narrow and simplistice in its presentation of the political spectrum:

The Political Spectrum
The Political Spectrum – Woody.Typepad

Some on the Left have wistfully remembered the health and education policies and stand against the US and Apartheid of Fidel Castro. Yet, Castro, also, had issues with LGBT people, their country being decades behind others in giving LGBT rights, before then they could end up in hard labour camps, exiled or killed. Castro proclaimed homosexuality incompatible with revolution and looked only to “real men”.

A phrase that has resurfaced with the football abuse scandal and darts player MBE, Eric Bristow taunting victims as not “real men”, who would stand up to their abusers.

‘White Power Barbie’ v Hillary Clinton

Tomi Lahren and Hillary Clinton
Tomi Lahren and Hillary Clinton

America’s Democrat Left put all their hope in Hillary Clinton and women in general to save the US from a Trump victory, yet 52% of white women voted for him. One female Republican, Tomi Lahren, has been called the “White Power Barbie” and has millions of views, supporting the Right.

The Tyranny of the Majority v Minority

What are the fears of minorities, women, LGBT, etc with regard to the Right and is it fair to selectively remember history and ignore the far Left’s similarly anti-minority views? Or to assume that women are more open-minded or liberal-left than men?

How do we vote when party manifestos cut across multiple issues, rights and policies, is there a hierarchy of rights when no one party espouses them all? What can we do to protect, mitigate and stand up for minorities during more repressive times, if that is what is to come. Are LGBT, among other, rights culturally interpreted and either victors or victims depending upon whether their status is seen as a class, religious or political correctness issue, rather than one of human rights?

Contrary to expectations, and ‘no-platforming’/’safe space’ politics extremist groups able to participate in mainstream debate tended to move away from extremism over time, or to eventually lose support, e.g., the BNP in the UK.

 

Just For Men – Marketing, Masculinity and Male Stereotypes

The Norfolk Gender & Sexuality (GAS) Discussion Group meets at the Norwich Forum Library, 6.30pm Nov 3, to debate Masculinity and Male Stereotypes as portrayed in Just for Men Product Marketing. (Facebook event)
 
For something so ‘tough’ masculinity seems so fragile. For many years, feminist critics have questioned and challenged the ways in which capitalism profits from unnecessary and oftentimes damaging gender stereotypes. Men and masculinities can be said to suffer greatly from the impact these stereotypes have.
 
In this group we will discuss the current state of masculinity, and examine the impact they may have on people’s lives. Topics of discussion could explore the impact that ‘toughness’ has on the mental health of men, how some masculinities become marginalised under the assumed (hetero)sexual virility of men, and the ways in which some boys are literally ‘dying to become men’.
 
Man Size Buttons Yorkie
Yorkie – Man Size Buttons

As a means of exploring these topics, we will look at advertising across the ages. We will look at how recent campaigns market to men and question the impact this may have on not only the lives of men, but everyone else too. We will ask: why is Coke Zero for men, but Diet Coke for women? Why are men being sold ‘man crisps’ (McCoys), ‘not for girls chocolate’ (Yorkie) and ‘smell like a man’ (Old Spice). We will ask, where does irony end and harm begin in some of these campaigns? Is it just to make money, or are men fundamentally different, requiring different products?

We will think about how all of these little everyday reminders in advertising build an overarching idea of gender, one that impacts everybody.
 
Those coming to the discussion might like to explore the following links:

Gendered Products

 
 

Articles

“Recent research shows that loyal customers often get upset when a brand associated with men expands to include products perceived as feminine. Senior Lecturer Jill J. Avery discusses the problem of ‘gender contamination.'”
 
“Marketing companies take on gender contamination, the idea that when women flock to a product, men flee.”
 
Men buy Mars, women prefer Galaxy via the Independent (2011)
“Gender targeting is advertising industry’s secret weapon. If you thought food choices had nothing to do with gender – think again.”
 
The Selling Of Masculinity via Dr NerdLove (2013)
“many men look to popular culture for sources of information what male behavior is supposed to be and how we’re supposed to display it. Unfortunately, mass media doesn’t send the greatest of messages about how to be a man. In fact, we are regularly bombarded with messages selling the idea that masculinity is violent, physically aggressive and sexually domineering and that anger and stoic toughness are the only appropriate emotions for men to display…”
 
[tw: suicide] “A report by the mental health charity CALM has found that men are struggling to cope with the pressures and expectations of their personal and professional lives…”