“Women lifestyle influencers are changing the face of the far right – podcast,” by Avery Anapol
When you think about the far right, you probably picture groups of young, white men carrying images of swastikas or torches like those seen at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017.
But the face of the far right is changing, at least on social media. In this episode of The Conversation Weekly podcast, we hear about new research into a cohort of women influencers peddling far-right ideology on mainstream platforms such as Instagram and YouTube.
Eviane Leidig is a postdoctoral research fellow at Tilburg University in the Netherlands, focusing on far-right ideology, gender and the internet. She spent countless hours following the accounts and posts of female far-right influencers to research her new book on the issue.
Some of these influencers, she found, are sharing what you’d expect on social media: beauty tutorials, curated photos of a beautiful home, and product recommendations. But interspersed with these may be antisemitic conspiracy theories, anti-feminist messages, and white nationalist sentiments.
“They are merging both their political ideology and their brands into one,” Leidig says.
While much of the technology is relatively new, Leidig says the trends she observed have roots in right-wing political history.
The messaging is rather consistent with the history of conservative thinking, in terms of notions about traditional gender roles for women and for men.
Leidig says that women are playing a key role in recruitment for, and legitimisation of, far-right movements. By using the tools of social media influencing, they are making extremist ideology “seem acceptable”.
As one former follower she interviewed put it: “A movement without women is doomed to fail.”
To find out more about Leidig’s research into women influencers, listen to the full episode of The Conversation Weekly podcast.
This episode of The Conversation Weekly was written and produced by Mend Mariwany, with assistance from Katie Flood. Sound design was by Eloise Stevens, and our theme music is by Neeta Sarl. Gemma Ware is the executive producer.
Avery Anapol, Commissioning Editor, Politics + Society