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Victor Frankenstein and his creature: the many lives of ‘gender ideology’

The expression ‘anti-gender campaigns’ has rapidly made its way to describe a new and specific wave of activist and policy initiatives against gender and sexual equalities. The goals of this article are twofold: to offer a close examination of the current state of anti-gender campaigns in Europe, and to look back at the scholarship produced in the last decade. Following the historical unfolding of these campaigns, this article explores four scenes that are crucial to contemporary anti-gender politics: churches, social movements, political parties and states. By emphasising that anti-gender campaigns encompass a wide diversity of political projects, it insists on the need to consider this plurality as constitutive of the phenomenon, a goal that requires to pay more attention to the actors who use them and the ways they do it. Rather than a discussion of new empirical material, this article invites scholars to reflect on the ways to approach these developments and offers a critical overview of existing scholarship. It shows that these campaigns are a transnational kit highly adaptable to local circumstances, and that these campaigns are simultaneously about and not about gender, gender being – following Joan W. Scott’s seminal reading – ‘a primary way of signifying relationships of power’. Using the novel Frankenstein, this article finally argues that anti-gender campaigns are no longer under the control of their creator – the Catholic Church – but, like the creature invented by Mary Shelley, they live an emancipated and autonomous life.


Mis à jour le 28 juin 2023