Eszter Kováts – Elena Zacharenko
The Right-Wing Opposition to “Gender” in the Light of the Ambiguity of the Meaning of the Term in EU Documents
(Pravicový odpor voči pojmu "rod" vzhľadom na nejednoznačnosť významu tohto pojmu v dokumentoch EÚ)
Politické vedy, Volume 24, Number 4/2021, pages 56-82
Recommended form for quotation of the article / Odporúčaná forma citácie článku:
Kováts, E. – Zacharenko, E. The Right-Wing Opposition to “Gender” in the Light of the Ambiguity of the Meaning of the Term in EU Documents. In Politické Vedy. Vol. 24, no. 4, pp. 56-82. ISSN 1335 – 2741. Available at: https://doi.org/10.24040/politickevedy.2021.24.4.56-82
Recent years have seen a rise in prominence – at both national and European levels – of anti-gender movements and parties. While actors using this rhetoric can be found across most EU member states, anti-gender rhetoric represents government policy in a few East-Central European countries, bringing these objections to the European level. In this article, we analyse and interpret this ECE-led state opposition to ‘gender’ by examining the diversification of the meaning of this term at EU level, including a shift from a structural to an individualist one, which we argue lends empirical credibility to the anti-gender rhetoric of right-wing populist parties. Based on interviews with EU stakeholders in the European Commission, European Parliament and EU-level civil society, as well as on the analysis of European Commission documents and Council Conclusions, we track the use of the term ‘gender’ and the definition which has been attached to it. We conclude that these changes result at least in part from feminist taboos and neoliberal tendencies within feminist theory arriving to the EU polity. We believe that the shifts around the concept of gender on the progressive side shed light on the popularity of the anti-gender discourse and of the right-wing itself.
Key words: anti-gender movements, gender identity, LGBT, EU, right-wing populism, East-Central Europe