A “white, blonde, and blue-eyed” president, feminism in the Miley era

(CNN in Spanish) — It is March 8, 2024, and a government that openly declares itself anti-feminist has come to power in Argentina. The country that used to be a beacon for the fight for women’s rights throughout the region woke up to news that marked the climate of the time: the Casa Rosada Women’s Hall would be renamed the Hall of Heroes. Yes, this Memorial Friday was chosen to break this news.

Less than two years ago, in May 2022, Javier Miley, who was deputy at the time, presented the book “The Way of the Libertarian” to dozens of young people who held their cell phones held high with video cameras . , The José Hernández Room at the book fair could not accommodate the people who had purchased tickets to attend the event.

That day, the economist said he had “no reason to feel ashamed of being a white, blonde, blue-eyed man” and announced that, if he were to occupy Rivadavia’s chair, he would head the Women’s Ministry. Will stop.

20 months ago, those statements were still inconsistent in public conversation. Immediately, leftist figures criticized him for being a “machirulo”.

But, if it is about “not seeing it”, it is difficult to imagine that someone who did not have blind faith in the “powers of heaven” would have imagined that the man speaking in those words was the future President of Argentina. ,

Regarding the previous phrase, it is necessary to clarify two concepts that are a fundamental part of the vocabulary of the symbols of La Libertad Avanza. “They don’t see it” is a hashtag phrase used to disqualify people who criticize government measures, accusing them of not realizing that these policies will benefit them. “Armies of Heaven”, on the other hand, is a Bible quote from the Book of Maccabees that Miley uses in most of her speeches.

A ministry on the outside, a feminist on the inside?

The Meili government took no more than 18 days from inauguration to fulfill its promise and demoted the Ministry of Women, Gender and Diversity to the rank of Under Secretary. Later, he banned the use of inclusive language in the national public administration, as announced by spokesman Manuel Adorni at one of his morning conferences.

In parallel, in the non-hierarchical portfolio that advocates “protection against gender violence” according to its new name, Claudia Barcia, a former prosecutor of the city of Buenos Aires, specialized in the problem that Javier Miley denies every time, Was appointed. Head. Whenever you get the opportunity to do so.

In fact, in the first text of the omnibus law project – which was ultimately frustrated as it passed through the deputies – one of the proposals was to use the term “family violence” instead of “gender violence”, as in Law 26,485. Recognized by. On comprehensive protection of women.

A woman holds a photo of Human Capital Minister Sandra Petrovelo during a protest, with a sign reading: “Petrovelo, you have no heart” (Photo by Tomas Cuesta/AFP via Getty Images)

The changes were also intended to provide comprehensive health care for “expectant mothers” and “children from conception” rather than “pregnant women and people”, an aspect that contradicts the abortion law passed in 2020; Among other amendments that affect demands related to the gender agenda.

What is shocking is that, in the context of 8M, Barcia has published a text in the last few hours on her LinkedIn profile in which she celebrates the “feminist struggle” and mentions current legislation, including gender identity and inclusive language. Mention of is also included.

“This is to be in compliance with the international commitments our country has adopted, as well as laws,” the official wrote.

Journalist Mariana Carbajal, an expert in the subject, highlighted the appointment of a person with experience in the field as a “positive point”.

However, in a conversation with CNN, he points to a fundamental issue: “We don’t know what budget this undersecretary will have or what vision he will bring to it or what the public policy that this government will develop will be. We have a President who does not believe in the existence of gender-based violence, that is problematic. We will see what the position of the Under Secretary is, who has not yet given any note.”

CNN requested an interview with Claudia Barcia but has not yet been granted permission.

Feminist, target of hate speech

She tells CNN, “What used to be a friendly space for us, the social networks that allowed us to create mobilizations like Ni Una Menos or María Verde — which of course also had their regional counterparts — is today a desolate one. The place has been created.” Ingrid Beck, Argentinian journalist, feminist and co-founder of Ni Una Menos. She adds, “Personally, I have faced attacks like many other colleagues and what they provoke is discipline, they try to silence us.”

Micaela Cuesta is a sociologist, researcher and coordinator of the Laboratory of Studies on Democracy and Authoritarianism at the University of San Martín (UNSAM). Speaking to CNN, he said hate speech is widespread in society but unevenly distributed. He explains, “There are political forces that focus on many of these speeches and others that account for a much smaller percentage.” Xavier Miley lies on the spectrum whose voters adhere to the most violent narrative.

green scarf

A pro-abortion demonstrator holds a green scarf in front of the National Congress during senators’ decision on the legalization of abortion in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on December 29, 2020. (Credit: Marcelo Andelli/Getty Images)

Beck believes that attacks on women who are leaders of the feminist movement deepened in 2018 during the debate over voluntary termination of pregnancy legislation. She recalls, “With the wave of protest against the green tide, the coalition of conservative sectors was evident and a strong reaction began from the right against the feminist agenda.” “Later, during the pandemic, it strengthened and began to wage a cultural battle more forcefully, and today we are seeing its consequences.”

A 2021 UNSAM report cross-referenced data on promotion of hate speech by position against the legalization of abortion, showing that those who were against IVE were more likely to promote this type of violent speech than those who were not. were more likely to be against IVE. .They were in favor.

According to the study data, 34.6% of those who were against the law promoted hate speech. On the other hand, among the group of people who were in favor of it, this number came down to 17.1%.

Mariana Carbajal says she saw a significant change starting with the candidacy of Javier Miley last year: “Many of his followers have targeted feminists for harassment and everything related to the expansion of rights has been demonized. ” And at this point a regional perspective is added. “We’ve seen it with Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro, now with Nayib Bukele, who is part of this new conservative right who has a very direct attack on what they call ‘gender ideology,'” he says.

“They accuse feminism of being a business when in reality it is about making it visible in order to implement policies to address inequalities. It’s not a conflict between men and women, it seems silly that we have to explain it, but they put it in those terms. Nor do we attack the family. This is the most serious thing, hate speech is promoted, we know that after the networks they take action,” says the Argentinian journalist.

Finally, Cuesta leaves a warning: “The social, cultural and political environment enables and legitimizes. This idea has been created that it is okay to hurt certain groups because they deserve it. The justification of harm based on group membership occurs in the broader public sphere, which is also social media. It is through speech, whether action through humor or memes, that traffics in violent content. “All this is not only promoting violence, but what is even more worrying, it is legitimizing it.”

Anti-feminism and the new right, men victims of women?

The President’s phrase, “I have no reason to feel ashamed of being a white, blonde-haired, blue-eyed man,” is an implicit defense. Just before that he had said that he was not going to apologize for his masculine identity (he had said it in other words which do not need to be repeated verbatim in this note).

But what is this allegation about?

Silvia Díaz Fernández is a postdoctoral researcher at Carlos III University of Madrid, Spain, and brings a perspective that serves as an answer to that question. Her field of study addresses topics such as anti-feminist campaigns, digital culture, and gender politics, among other related issues.

In this sense, it speaks of a digital universe called the manosphere. Diaz Fernandez explains, “The manosphere is a set of digital subcultures that have misogyny and victimization discourse as a common denominator.” “The men who live in these spaces and communities see themselves as victims of modern societies where feminism has become ideological and totalitarian; A cultural imposition that oppresses men simply for the fact of being male and encourages women simply for the fact of being female.”

According to the researcher, the communities she describes are made up of YouTubers, influencers, and men who create their own platforms, although they do not necessarily come from right-wing political circles, in those with anti-feminist discourses. Have a common language. That they reproduce in the digital sphere.

A study on new rights and publicity conducted by the Association for Communication for Equality in 2022 observed seven accounts of creators of this type of content who, in all cases, openly endorsed or supported Xavier Miley.

The most popular of them is Agustín Laje, an Argentine political scientist very close to the president. Laje is a writer and speaker who is a reference for the extreme right not only locally but also in the region. In 2015, at the peak of Ni Una Menos, she gained considerable notoriety in the networks and public sphere for her positions against the women’s movement and demands. One of his best-known books is titled “The Cultural Battle: Critical Reflections for a New Right.”


Javier Miley, President of Argentina. (Credit: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

These liberal YouTubers have a large number of videos not only against feminism but also against progressivism, which the Argentine President keeps raising. His subscriber count exceeds six million between all accounts.

Diaz Fernandez finds an explanation: “There is an entertainment component. Manosphere is absurd, ridiculous, it has memes, joke videos, you laugh.

On the other hand, he points to another aspect of this phenomenon: “Social networks are a tilted field that always favors a type of interaction that can go viral. The material that is most Engagement He is the one who is going to kill. This has led to complete polarization and a very binary dynamic about what can and cannot be said. “In the end, it has been very counterproductive because the possibility of dialogue and bringing together positions has been erased.”

Gabriele Vomairo, doctor and researcher in sociology, adds one last complication to the matter. “We’re seeing a significant gender gap in terms of ideology and voting between men and women that is becoming deeper among 18- to 25-year-olds,” he told CNN. He emphasizes, “Men tend to be more conservative and authoritarian on issues, especially cultural issues.”

“The big question is how this generation will unite,” says Vommaro. “That is, to what extent is this a conjunctural tension that has to do with values, with ne una menos, with a youth that is divided between the sexes.” There is a lot of tension in the relationship, but unless it is adjusted it is going to bring a discussion, or does it reflect permanent tension.

Finally, Ingrid Beck emphasizes a reflection: “Argentina is a beacon in terms of human rights for the region.” And he warns: “This is also a moment to pay attention for the entire region.”

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