Mapping right-wing extremism in Victoria

Applying a gender lens to develop prevention and deradicalisation approaches
Feminism Right-wing extremism Social media Deradicalisation Digital communications Victoria

There has been growing concern about the rise of the far-right in Australia, notably by ASIO in its recent annual reports. While the focus of violent extremism has overwhelmingly been Islamist terrorism and radicalisation, there is a need to widen the scope of what counts as ‘violent extremism’ in an era of alt-right and populist impulses, which largely hark back to ideas of national chauvinism and retuning society to traditional ideas of ‘order’, both publicly and privately.

This project aims to map right-wing extremism in Victoria through the lens of gender. It begins from the premise that there is an under-explored connection between anti-feminist sentiment and far-right extremist sentiment. It does this by focusing on select Victorian-based online groups that have an anti-feminist and far-right profile. The project also works with stakeholders who work in the areas of gender and family violence, to gain insight into their practices and experiences.

The research found that far-right and anti- feminist sentiment is mutually reinforcing but differs depending on social media platform and wider context. Anti-feminism appears to be a ‘uniting ideology’ in far right-extremism. It brings together key themes that animate far-right ideology, such as hierarchy, order, power and a preference for ‘tradition’; it also becomes reinforcing when those who hold far-right views believe ‘the system’ works against them, and harbour a sense of ‘aggrieved entitlement’ which is related to ideas of relative deprivation (that minorities and women benefit at their expense). The normalisation of extreme views of women and gender, aided by misinformation, is an issue frontline workers contend with.

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