‘Put a Ring on It & Knock Her Up’The Proud Boys Credo of Far-Right Misogyny
A script read out at the start of every Proud Boys gathering reveals the paradoxes of being a woman in the far-right, and the misogyny inherent in nationalism. Sian Norris reports
Everyone say: “to the housewives!”
So demands the script recited at the beginning of a Proud Boys meeting – the far-right militia founded by Gavin MacInnes and implicated in the 6 January 2021 riots at the US Capitol.
The script is laid out in the group’s Stations of the Congregation document, submitted into evidence as US investigators examine the attempted insurrection.
The document offers little in the way of surprises, although the strict rules about masturbation (only permitted once every 30 days, and if a man needs to ejaculate when a woman is present, she must be within one yard of him and “may not be a prostitute”) have raised some eyebrows. A bizarre ritual demanding a Proud Boy names five types of breakfast cereal was unexpected, too.
But that’s the thing about male militias – the tropes are always the same. Initiation ceremonies, chants and a sing-song, secret handshakes, and of course, a hefty dose of “Western chauvinism”, a thinly veiled euphemism for white supremacy (Proud Boys deny they are racist as black and minority ethnic men are allowed to join so long as they are pro-Western).
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The Stations document enforces the Red Pill ideology – a toxic misogynistic sub-culture that hit the headlines for its links to professional misogynist and accused trafficker Andrew Tate – with Proud Boys allowing “weak beta male virgins to join because our fraternity is about helping men improve their lives”. The Red Pill, in its initial incarnation, fought the ‘war on men’ by turning men from ‘beta’ to ‘alpha’ via fitness and ‘gaming’ women into sex.
All far-right movements are built on misogyny, and the Proud Boys are no exception. Hatred of women has proven again and again to be a gateway to white supremacy – in 2016 the journalist Aja Romano explained how for communities of angry young men “who ultimately feel threatened and rejected by women, the movement promotes a sense of male entitlement that is easily radicalised into white nationalism and white supremacy”.
Why then, if this is a movement built on foundations of male supremacy, do the Proud Boys raise their metaphorical glasses to ‘the housewives’ at the start of each meeting? How can they claim to revere a certain class of women, all while signing up to political ideology that dehumanises women, strips women of their rights, and promotes a fascistic ‘natural order’ that depends on female inferiority?
The answer can be summed up in the classic Elizabeth Wurtzel quote: “he puts her on a pedestal and she goes down on it”. The Proud Boys demand its members venerate the housewife. But that veneration is dependent on enforcing strict gender roles that rely on patriarchal authority and the exploitation of women’s bodies.
Womb of the Nation
Reading the Stations script, and veneration does not feel very adoring. Proud Boys are “encouraged to put a ring on it and knock her up”. They refer to the housewives as “sentient beings” (thanks, I guess?) who offer men an “incredible gift”. That gift is, of course, their wombs: resources to produce western (white) babies for the (white) nation.
The far-right is built on a belief that there is natural order – one of male authority and female submission. In fascist ideology, war is part of that natural order, and within that war, men’s role is on the battlefield and a woman’s role in the birthing suite. Women are pinned to reproduction and maternity, while men are fighters on the field.
To rebuild the fascistic natural order, which is also predicated on white supremacy, is the ultimate goal of far-right movements such as the Proud Boys.
In order to recruit (white) women to this so-called war, the far-right promises them a role of being a white goddess. They are encouraged to adopt a ‘trad’ lifestyle and praised as the saviour of the white race – celebrated for their fertile bodies. Simply by virtue of having a female body, she can be a “wife with a purpose”, as far-right trad influencer Ayla Stewart billed herself. That purpose is to be a wife and a protector of her “white culture” – having white babies to fight back against an imagined ‘white genocide’ or ‘replacement’.
The Proud Boys promise of veneration is predicated on women’s biological potential. But the flip-side, of course, is that such a movement reduces women to their biological potential. Women are gifts to men. But a gift is an object, an object that is owned. As such, women in the movement are owned by men – and ownership leads to oppression.
Far from veneration and goddess-status, women are reduced to reproductive vessels to exploit in service of the (white) nation and race. Childless or child free women are mocked as “empty egg boxes”. Domestic violence is excused and allowed in trad relationships, rebranded as “discipline”. Women are positioned as gifts by the Proud Boys, but gifts can be discarded if they no longer please.
None of this is to excuse the vile racism and misogyny expressed by far-right women. There is no doubt that women on the far-right hold hateful views about black and minority ethnic people, the left, immigration, the LGBTQ+ community, and other women. It is simply to explain the paradox faced by women on the far right: celebrated by nationalist men for their whiteness, degraded for their femaleness.
Men and Women Who Hate Women
Katy (not her real name) got involved in the UK far-right in her early-20s. Having struggled with anxiety, she started watching alt-right YouTube videos, and became increasingly enamoured with nationalism. At first, she found herself welcome as a rare woman in a male-dominated movement. But that position was precarious – not least for the hostility she experienced from other women for failing to be ‘trad’ enough.
“In the beginning, I felt welcomed as a woman,” she told Byline Times. “But it didn’t take me long to realise the other women in the movement hate women. So much, in the beginning, feels nice and supportive. But if they don’t like one thing about you, they get riled up”.
Criticisms of her tattoos, the fact she sometimes drank alcohol, and her body, all left Katy feeling incredibly insecure. This insecurity was easily exploited by the movement. “The nationalist content was very linked to trad,” explained Katy. “They would say that this was how to be happy as a woman, that what will make you genuinely happy in life is to get married, have children, and be a stay-at-home housewife. If you are depressed, this is what you need”.
The messaging fed to Katy reflects the views of the far-right influencer Colin Robertson, otherwise known as Millennial Woes, who spoke at the Patriotic Alternative conference in 2020.
Robertson told his audience the rejection of ‘sexual dimorphism’ which defines men as dominant and women as subordinate has led to a loss of attraction between men and women, and, he claimed, a lack of millennial sex. This failure to abide by so-called ‘high gender-contrast’ has left millennial women and men feeling depressed. Lauren Southern, the alt-right YouTuber who shot to fame for her anti-feminist videos, claimed that feminism was making women unhappy, and men “weak”.
This tactic of the far-right has a long history: Nazi ideologue Alfred Rosenberg claimed that women needed to be emancipated from the women’s emancipation movement. The idea that feminism, and not gender inequality, is a cause of unhappiness or dissatisfaction is a classic far-right recruitment strategy.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with getting married, having children and being a stay-at-home housewife. The problem occurs when this is the only ‘choice’ women are allowed, and when trad movements dictate to women how they should dress and behave. Trad relationships often deprive women of financial autonomy, and, as mentioned, normalise abuse.
“I always used to dress however I wanted,” said Katy. “And that completely faded away and disappeared when I tried to become traditional. And that made me miserable”.
While the far-right promised women like Katy that living trad and being a housewife was the key to female happiness, the controlling nature of the movement left her feeling anxious and depressed – as did the pushing of misogynistic ideas that reduced women’s potential.
“I saw a lot of stuff saying that the man is in control and women should never speak out of turn to him,” she explained. “Men would say that women are essentially children and should be treated as such”. She also experienced intimidating and harassing behaviour from men in the movement, who “preached purity online but would send me sexually explicit messages”.
There are “definitely a lot of guys who straight up hate women,” Katy said.
Far from venerating the housewife, both Katy’s experience and the Proud Boys’ script show how the far-right is a safe haven for normalised misogyny.