Gender and women in the Front National discourse and policy: from ‘mothers of the nation’ to ‘working mothers’?

Spring/Summer 2017

This article explores the gendered dimensions of the populist radical right discourse and policy by considering the Front national in France. The article shows how the Front national has progressively moved from a ‘traditional’ to a ‘modern traditional’ approach to issues of gender, women’s work, and the family. The core of the Front national policy and ideology has remained stable over time, with regard to the interconnected issues of gender and of immigration. However, there is a significant move from the celebration of women as ‘mothers of the nation’, prevalent in the party until the 1990s, to an emphasis on ‘working mothers’ in Marine Le Pen’s discourse. The article also analyses the ambivalence of Marine Le Pen’s party discourse on gender, as well as the discrepancies between the party discourse and its political programme. This ambivalence mirrors the internal conflicts between the leadership and the conservative Catholic faction. This evolution of the Front national discourse on gender is linked to the party history and internal politics as well as to broader long-term social changes in French society. 

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New Formations 91: Righting Feminism