Feminism Contested and Co-opted: Women, Agency and Politics of Gender in the Greek and Greek-Cypriot Far Right
Kamenou, Nayia. 2023. “Feminism Contested and Co-opted: Women, Agency and Politics of Gender in the Greek and Greek-Cypriot Far Right.” European Journal of Women’s Studies. Online First. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/13505068221145412 The literature on the gender dimension of far-right politics has established the constitutive role of gender and women’s involvement in the far right. However, knowledge about how far-right women negotiate and condition their agency within their parties and how they relate to gender, gender equality and feminism remains limited. This article builds on literature on conservative and far-right women’s agency, and on feminism’s employment by the far right. Based on interviews with female politicians and seasoned activists of the Greek Golden Dawn and the Greek-Cypriot National Popular Front, it examines how highly engaged far-right women construct their political agency at the intersections of often contradictory discourses and how, in doing so, they impact understandings of gender, gender equality and feminism. The analysis of the interview material identifies three different formulations of political agency the participants refer to: radical motherhood; female political militancy/political militant femininity and troubling of far-right gender roles. I argue that these different formulations of political agency show how, by using elements of feminism, far-right women construct flexible and versatile far-right gender discourses, which challenge gender essentialist positions that their parties convey. Moreover, they challenge delineations of far-right women’s political agency based on the compliance/(feminist) resistance dichotomy and expose the processes through which far-right women contest feminism by drawing on it. The article further argues that these formulations of political agency and far-right gender discourses may contribute to the far right’s appeal among women with diverse views on gender, gender equality, feminism and politics, as they may respond to an array of interests and demands that can be made from many different positions. Therefore, beyond contributing to discussions about the role of women, gender and feminism in far-right politics, the article demonstrates the importance of studying far-right women’s views for gaining a well-rounded understanding of this issue.