Reclaiming Hegemonic Masculinity in the Context of Populism
Approaches to Overcoming It
In my chapter I study the ideological work done by the discourse of gender ideology in the past ten years of Hungarian right-wing populism by the state. I focus on its most recent rearticulation in the two parliamentary decisions amid the Covid-19 pandemic: the political declaration that rejects the ratification of the Istanbul Convention and the introduction of the category of »sex at birth« precluding modifications of sex in transgender people's official documents. I argue that these acts, mobilized by a rhetoric of fear, are expressions of the angry white men's claim to compensation for their alleged »humiliation«. I will also explore that the discreditation of the category of gender also figures in some feminist progressive discourses. Regarding the possibilities of overcoming the strategic stigmatization of gender in the service of ideal masculinity, I argue for a radical project of democracy mobilised around the formation of a »feminist people« organised as a space of trust instead of hate. That move hinges on decentering the foundationalist anchoring of gender in a biologized conceptualization of »sex« through decoupling masculinity from an essentialized male body.