On May 1, ARC published an article by a young woman who had been able to get out of the racist movement. Since that time she has been working diligently to help deradicalize others who are entangled in this world but are looking for ways to get out, prevent marginal youths from getting involved in the first place, and educating others regarding the dangers posed by racist groups and individuals. She had actually contacted ARC back in 2016 to discuss the changes that have occurred in her life and to discuss what she has done to make amends. She has submitted a second article which ARC is now publishing which deals with her personal experience as a woman in the movement. I hope that this will constitute an ongoing series:
Since leaving the far-right, I remember their wild claims that feminism has allegedly destroyed women and pushed this so-called agenda on young kids. The narratives were not very well backed up; just before I left that lifestyle behind me, I couldn't find one moment in my past where feminism was forced on me or did any harm to me.
I grew up in a traditional type family setting where my Dad worked full time and my Mom was dependent on him. It seemed inevitable that as a female, I will have kids someday. I wasn't thrilled by the prospect how ever; I had absolutely no interest in children.
My family was very strict and old fashioned. My grandfather in particular had a serious hate- on for gay people and had no problem verbalizing these opinions to my sibling and I. We were only young kids at the time and I had a secret that I didn't dare come forward with back then; I'm bisexual. The rejection I felt as a result caused a lot anger and made me feel completely alone.
As time progressed, I was shamed by my grandfather for the fact I carried more weight on me then most other girls my age. I heard some down right nasty comments directed at me such as "you're not going to get a boyfriend if you look like that" and "we should keep the food away from you". From a teenagers perspective, this sent me a toxic message that I only mattered for these things. To say it was degrading is an understatement.
I was recruited into the far- right in my late teens. The anti- feminist narratives were not introduced to me immediately though. At first I enjoyed the movement because it seemed like everything I wasn't allowed to do as a kid; act like a lunatic. It also gave me that sense of importance and belonging I never felt I had before.
Later on, I was at one of the other members houses one night for drinks and he told me in conversation that "there was no way in hell I would be fighting on the front lines for the sake of white power; that isn't the woman's role". He fed me a good story about how women are happier in their alleged natural habitat (the home) and anything beyond that is a product of feminism, thus damaging women and the white race.
I let go of the skin-byrd image; I traded in the combat boots, suspenders and jacket for skin tight jeans, knee high leather boots and make up. The guys in the movement told me that it was more ideal for their women to dress well as it makes the movement look more attractive. On the outside I pulled it off okay, but on the inside I didn't feel like myself.There was an occasion where I questioned this relationship between the traditional family unit and the white power movement. My boyfriend at the time was preparing to be involved in a targeted attack against a group of black guys at a bar. He too fantasized about having a family within these restrictive ideas. I asked him "so if you have kids, how do you plan on explaining the bruises from a fist fight to them?" He didn't have a super clear answer to that, just more propaganda and justification. I was thinking to myself that if a parent came home after a fist fight and a child had to see that, how would that impact the child?
As time went on, more pushy comments were thrown at me about breeding white kids. As much as I played the old school gender role bit, I would often pause when the topic of children came up.
I was having some issues with mental health at the time. Traumatic memories started to surface from the less then pleasant experiences I had as a result of being affiliated with extremism. I clearly set verbal boundaries about this in front of my partner and the other group members; it was not an appropriate time to think about having children at the age of 22 while being emotionally distressed by past trauma. The response would often be something to the degree of "that's no excuse not to have kids", and more ignorant comments of "just get over it and don't drop the baby".
I couldn't resist looking broader at this scenario; if this group claimed to be in defence and in favour of the future of white people, should they not care that my health could impact a child? If they are all about protecting and caring for white women, why were they suggesting that my health be put on the back burner?
Needless to say these narratives gradually stopped making sense to me. When I took the time to look at my own childhood, I remember I was often put down by others due to my clothing choices, weight and my disconnect with what I knew as femininity back then. When I recalled how this gender roles stuff was introduced to me within the movement, I remembered back to some of those comments and saw similarities. Shaming was a seed that had already been planted into my head, it was a behaviour that I was used to seeing. It happened to me during childhood and it was happening to me during my time in the movement.
I won't pretend that life became immediately easy shortly after I decided to drop out of the movement. Because of the constant negativity I heard and encountered, it messed up my perspective for a significant amount of time after. If I saw a woman with a baby, I would remember all the shaming I was taught. I had a few friends at the time who were mothers and I found it hard to connect with them. I probably lost a few friendships over this too. I eventually got to know some really cool people who have children; they were more then supportive of me in the positive things I was doing, and vice versa. I saw how a healthy relationship works between two people through getting to know them; it was all about equality, communication and compromise. They never once judged me for my choices and I'll always be grateful to them for that.
If it isn't already painfully obvious, the far- right is actually what did psychological damage to me, not feminism. I spent 5 years in hatred, pretending to be something I wasn't.
I've been contacted by my old friends a few times and most of their accusations are how they think feminism converted me out of their movement; I work in the construction industry now and it says that on my Facebook page. Reality is that I wanted a better life, I wanted to be genuine, I wanted real friends and healthy relationships. I have all those things now and if that makes me a traitor, a snowflake or a feminist in their eyes, that's fine.