Gender equality narratives, the right and democracy: developing a comparative tool from the case of the 2017 French Presidential election
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The increased use of gender equality appeals by right-wing parties, and the inclusion of “gender equality” among touted “European” or “liberal values,” requires scholarly analysis. The variety of narratives available, and their differing policy consequences, make this research important, particularly in light of its politicization and potential to enhance, or undermine, the liberal aspects of modern democracy. This paper provides an original, two-dimensional tool with which to differentiate between gender equality narratives, based on comprehensiveness of policy proposals and the underlying individualist or communalist ontologies found in right-wing rhetoric. This tool is then used to examine the gender equality appeals made by right-wing candidates in the 2017 French Presidential elections. Campaign documents used by François Fillon, Marine Le Pen, and Alain Juppé were analyzed in order to understand how “new” right-wing narratives of gender equality differed from the “classical” gender equality narratives of the center and center-left. This case revealed the existence of four gender equality narratives used by these candidates—comprehensive, post-colonial, imminent threat, and essentialist. These narratives, and the comparative tool developed here, can be used in future research to examine right- and left-wing narratives of gender equality in other liberal democratic states.
KeywordsGender Right-wing parties Immigration France Nationalism Racism
The author would like to express her gratitude for support provided by Sciences Po-Bordeaux and the Centre Emile Durkheim, as well as the Luann Dummer Center for Women and the University of St. Thomas College of Arts and Sciences. She also thanks Alice Kang, Lynne Bernier, Angela High-Pippert, Steven Maloney, and two anonymous reviewers for their suggestions for revision of previous drafts of the paper. Finally, the author thanks Erin Engstran for her assistance with this research project.
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