Just An Empty Egg Box How the Far-Right Shames Women
Women in the far-right are subjected to both benevolent and malevolent misogyny that reveres them as mothers and degrades them for failing in their ‘duty’
“He said to me, you’ve got no eggs,” says Sofie, a young woman who was previously involved in the far-right. “Or he’d share a picture of an empty egg box. There’s this culture of shaming that goes on.”
Sofie is describing the abusive comments she received from men in the movement as she approached turning 30. The implication is that, after a certain age, women are barren. In a movement where women’s fertility is key to her status, being childless and in your 30s is a black mark.
The way men in the far-right talk about women has been increasingly in the spotlight following the mass shooting this month in Plymouth. The killer, a young man named Jake Davison, appeared to be engaged with ‘incel’ and ‘black pill’ sub-cultures – extremist misogynistic groups that view women in degrading and dehumanising ways. Incels regularly refer to women as “foids” or “femoids” and “toilets”.
Davison’s own YouTube videos shared misogynistic views about women, which appeared to be part of the motivation for the fatal violence he committed. After he killed five people – including his mother and a three-year-old girl – a tweet alleged he had been following prominent far-right and alt-right voices on YouTube such as the English Defence League’s Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (known as ‘Tommy Robinson’); former UKIP candidate Sargon of Akkad; and Paul Joseph Watson, otherwise known as Prison Planet.
All have a history of making aggressive comments or behaving with aggression towards women.
The Independent journalist Lizzie Dearden was forced to obtain a stalking order after she alleged being harassed by Yaxley-Lennon.
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Sargon of Akkad famously used his YouTube channel to hypothesise whether he would rape the Labour MP Jess Phillips.
Watson’s videos make derogatory comments about women. In one film from 2015, he asked “why are women programmed to become sluts”, said that women are “brainwashed into promiscuity”, and quoted spurious “evolutionary science”.
In another video, Watson said that “cultural Marxism and feminism” had left men “confused and bewildered”. His misogyny was also visible on his Twitter account, where he referred to the alt-right activist Lauren Southern as an “inauthentic f*****g p***y b***h”, boasted that he had been “inside her”, and demanded she “take the knee and apologise to me”.
While it is impossible and inaccurate to attribute an horrific incident like the one in Plymouth to the killer’s media intake, understanding how the far-right talks about women – and how its messages influence its followers – urgently needs examining in order to prevent future violence.
Doxxing and Disgust
Testimonies shared by women who were once involved in the far-right reveal the depth of abusive attitudes many of them faced.
Christine (not her real name) described working with an academic who had lost his job after making “pro white” comments. She explains how he harassed her with misogynistic and racialised insults, as well as publishing lies about her age online, saying that she was in her 40s and childless. “I was terrified,” she wrote.
Another woman, who got involved in “groyper” groups – far-right activists who try and infiltrate mainstream media with white nationalist ideas by, for example, phoning into popular radio stations – shared how she had been repeatedly harassed by a male member of her groyper WhatsApp group. The man kept on insisting that she would be his girlfriend even though she had clearly told him that she was not interested. He then spread derogatory rumours about her sex life.
On her Twitter profile, Lauren Southern described how she “can’t stand most of the manosphere” – the loose grouping of online men’s rights activists. While she supports criticising feminism – which she says teaches women “to work nine to five and drink wine every night until their ovaries dry up” – she added that “you can do that without hating women”.
Southern was then targeted with videos of women being beheaded by men she believed were members of the Men Go Their Own Way (MGTOW) community. These are men who refuse to have any kind of relationship, including a sexual one, with women. The video was titled “You Get What You Deserve”. When she reported it to the police, other men crowded in, telling her that “this is clearly a joke” and to “grow up”. One man said that she was “just another woman trying to shame MGTOW cause you can’t benefit from these men”. The benefit implied is sex and pregnancy.
Jo (not his real name), another individual who left the far-right, described how the Proud Boys’ Gavin McInnes would make degrading comments about women, particularly about feminists. Memes about feminists that circulate on far-right Telegram channels imply that they are ugly, overweight from eating junk food, wear too much make-up, and sleep around.
Men on the far-right often celebrate violence against women and girls – as demonstrated by tweets from Joel Davies, who discusses “disciplining” women in order to make them “care about being pleasing to their man”. He has claimed that the “only way to find out if your femoid loves you is to abuse her”.
Although Davies does not have many followers, he co-hosts the Imperium podcast and has been interviewed by Keith Woods, whose YouTube channel has more than 30,000 subscribers and who has more than 12,000 followers on Telegram. Woods described the commentary on incels in the wake of the Plymouth shooting as “getting more ridiculous every day”.
Normalising and celebrating domestic abuse is a key belief in the far-right ‘trad wives’ sub-culture. In her book Going Dark, Julia Ebner describes women on such forums discussing the correct way for their husbands to discipline them. This includes advising men to force their wives to write lines or stand in the corner of a room.
The sub-culture even offers tips on how men can physically abuse their partners.
One poster advised a husband that “if you think she should be spanked for a sarcastic remark, it is infinitely more effective if you take her by the arm, and lead her to the bathroom, the bedroom, the garage, and administer the swats right then”.
As well as advocating for male violence, Joel Davies ordered a woman who challenged him to “go make white babies”.
This is fundamental to understanding the position of women in the far-right, and the misogyny they endure. The focus on having white babies for the white race is central to far-right and fascist ideology – and has been from the very beginning. Mussolini launched a “battle for babies” designed to encourage Italian families to have Italian children. Hitler instigated a medal system that awarded women for having more children.
Today, far-right states such as Hungary have introduced policies to incentivise married women to have more babies – with those having more than four children exempt from paying income tax for life.
This was made most obvious when far-right trad wife Ayla Stewart launched her “white baby challenge”, whereby she invited women in her movement to join her in having six white babies. “As a mother of six, I challenge families to have as many white babies as I have contributed”, she announced on her ‘Wife With A Purpose’ social media channels (which have since been removed).
It may sound strange to think of babies as a “contribution”. But, for the modern far-right, motherhood is not simply about starting a family – it is a way to tackle the baseless conspiracy theory of the ‘Great Replacement’, which posits that rising migration and feminism is repressing birth rates via abortion laws and fuelling a ‘white genocide’.
In his manifesto, The Great Replacement, the terrorist who killed 51 people at a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 2019 railed against women for not having children – stating that women should have 2.06 children to “replace” the white population.
On a Telegram channel titled ‘Opposing The Great Replacement’, one poster said that she would follow Ayla Stewart and have six babies because “if all white nationalists have six, I think we can make a real difference”.
“Violent misogyny has become a central tenet of 21st Century fascism for the obvious reason: the global advance of women’s reproductive rights,” Paul Mason, author of How To Stop Fascism, told Byline Times. “In the new fascist thought system, refugees are the ‘invaders’ and feminists their willing collaborators.”
The modern far-right is therefore operating in a pre-war state. Its new thought system means that its members “want and expect Western society to end with a global, ethnic civil war – with genocide for minorities and a concomitant reversal of women’s social position back to its pre-industrial state,” Mason said.
In this war – often codenamed “boogaloo” on social media channels – a man’s destiny is to fight on the battlefield. A woman’s destiny is reproduction – her battlefield her womb.
It is for this reason that the far-right can sometimes present itself as pro-motherhood, revering women such as Ayla Stewart as goddesses whose ‘purpose’ is to save the white race. This can, of course, be incredibly attractive to women who can enjoy the adoration and simply be their biological selves, protected from the hassle and stress of the outside world.
But that adoration is in itself a form of misogyny. Firstly, because it says to women that all they are is reproductive vessels – objects to be owned and used by men for sex and reproduction. And secondly, because women who do not fulfil their ‘destiny’ via reproduction are degraded, mocked, and sent images of empty egg boxes.
When, during a 2018 event in Washington D.C., Lauren Southern – who was speaking on a panel with neo-fascist Proud Boys’ member Gavin McInnes – realised that there was no chair for her to sit on, McInnes launched into a tirade about the fact that she had not yet had children.
“Are you ever gonna have kids, give birth, are you going to be a mother?” he ranted. “Then I’ll give them my seat. If you’re not making humans, then f**king stand up, b***h.”
This article was updated on 11 September 2021 to correct a mistake relating to Lauren Southern’s Twitter account.