“a Fatherland without Fathers?” – Actors and Discourses of Antifeminist Platforms in Austria

Monday, 11 July 2016: 09:15
Location: Hörsaal BIG 2 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Elli SCAMBOR, Institute for Gender and Masculinities Research Graz, Austria
Daniela JAUK, University of Graz, Austria
Within the last three decades initiatives, platforms, and associations dealing with masculinity politics in some ways emerged throughout Europe. These platforms can be differentiated according to their attitudes towards gender equality. On the one hand we can find balanced approaches, critically interrogating privilege and power of men, while also considering costs and diversity of masculinities (cf. triangle model, Messner 2000). These balanced approaches are contrasted by unbalanced men’s movements who stylize men as victims of women (and feminism), while completely ignoring diversity and privileges among men.

We can find examples for both in Austria, whereas men’s movements mainly fall in three categories: institutionalized men’s work (e.g. counseling centers), men’ initiations groups, and father’s rights movements (Brem 2012). While a body of work is emerging for the situation in Germany specifically dealing with antifeminist approaches in men’s movements (e.g. Gesterkamp 2010, Kemper 2012, Rosenbrock 2012, Claus 2014), gender politics of men’s and father’s rights movements in Austria have not been examined until recently (Scambor and Kirchengast 2014).

This paper is based on the work of Scambor and Kirchengast (2014) and re-examines actors, rhetoric and platforms of antifeminist men’s movements in Austria. The tropes we find in media and everyday culture span from “men as victim of domestic violence”, to “failing boys in education” to “men as victims of divorce.” Feminism (singular, sic!) is depicted alternately as anachronism or fictitious enemy. We are also systematically fact checking popular statements and contrasting them with empirical data. Based on our analysis we give recommendations for balanced approaches to masculinity politics that are oriented towards gender equality and suggest some strategies to counteract antifeminist activism more generally.