Anders Breivik, the so-called 'lone wolf' who committed the mass attack on Utoya in Norway, argues in his manifesto that the women's liberation movements of the West have resulted in an Islamization of Europe. How did he come to this conclusion?
“Well congratulations to Western European women. You’ve succeeded in harassing and ridiculing your own sons into suppressing many of their masculine instincts. To your surprise, you didn’t enter a feminist Nirvana, but paved the way for an unfolding Islamic hell.” (Breivik, 2011)
'The lone wolf" is the name given to Anders Breivik after his mass attack in 2011 on the island Utoya in Norway. The drive behind his action was based on an extreme ideology which is systematically expressed in his manifesto. The quote used above can be considered a clear and concise synthesis of Breivik's thinking about feminism: the belief that the growing power of women through feminist movements in Western Europe leads to the weakening of society and the future domination of Islamic populations. In addition to his determined conviction of being on the political right, his words are full of anger and resentment towards Western women who, according to him, are responsible for the decline of their own society.
Breivik’s manifesto shows that he developed his ideology over the years principally through the use of the Internet to gain information and to get in contact with a community of people who shared his ideas.
Breivik’s manifesto shows that he developed his ideology over the years principally through the use of the Internet to gain information and to get in contact with a community of people who shared his ideas. With the current pace of globalization and online network development of the contemporary society, it is clear that there are significant changes that force every society to adapt. Sometimes this happens in manners that are not accepted by all its members. In order to better understand the way in which Breivik and his consorts think the feminism would pave the way for Islamization, this article will analyze the contents of the manifesto and the sources on which it is based.
How feminism weakens society
In his manifesto, titled 2083 – A European Declaration of Independence (2011), Breivik develops a theory of feminism, in which feminists are guilty of the big drama he believes to be witnessing. Breivik claims that the trendy feminists nowadays have been demolishing the dynamically protective social mechanism of the Western European world, which was traditionally led and stabilized by male force. In the name of egalitarianism and anti-discrimination, radical feminists generously open a door for multiculturalism and a mass of Muslim immigration, which would later act like intruders and ways to bounce back such a tolerant yet weak society because of the disqualification of masculinity.
Furthermore, he states that it is the alignment of the “Third-Worldism” between feminists and Islamists and the long-standing culture of victimhood rooted in patriarchy that make feminists stand against white men, while letting down their vigilance to non-white enemies.
Breivik more specifically argues that this soft feminist society is allowing the erosion of the subsistence of European society, which leads to low fertility rates and “the latest wave of radical feminism has severely wounded the family structure of the Western world.” (Breivik, 2011) He blames feminists for weakening family structure by increasing the number of divorces and decreasing the birth of children in the name of their freedom.
“the latest wave of radical feminism has severely wounded the family structure of the Western world.” (Breivik, 2011)
Another reason for the alleged self-destruction of the masculinity in the Western European society may be the flourishing of the welfare state, which he claims is substituting fathers. This fatherless civilization at a later stage will, in his view, result into the savage dominance of Islamization.
Thus, the call of society to adapt to the current era with feminist values, sometime by force (such as Equality minister Karita Bekkemellem enforcing a quota of 40% women in board of directors), is experienced by Breivik and his consorts as humiliating. Men’s traditional role and value as the protector of the whole society has been taken over by the bureaucrat, while they are demonized and attacked by the disrespect and insensitivity from women.
The view that feminism paves the way for Islamization is a central point in Breivik's manifesto, but only one component to construct his threat-and-defense ideology. Breivik forms his ideology out of a combination of the ideas of Feminization, Cultural Marxism, Eurabia, and Nordic Theory.. The synthesis of these narratives provides a strongly rational basis for the racial superiority of Western European society with white men as the core-value holder.
Breivik and his learning community
Breivik’s view has strong knowledge-related basis through interacting with a learning community fiercely opposed to the camp of feminists. Taking a more in-depth view on the reliability of his sources demonstrates that it is mainly a meager collage of pieces out of masculinist blog pages, internet sites, articles taken from for instance Gates of Vienna, Brussels Journal, and Global Politician..
Breivik got especially inspired by a blogger called “Fjordman”. He expresses his admiration for Fjordman by stating that he “felt a connection to Fjordman’s essays” and describing him as “the most talented right-wing essay writer in Europe” (Breivik, 2011). Consequently, we are following the track of Breivik based predominantly on the knowledge of the Norwegian blogger Peder Are Nøstvold Jensen, known as Fjordman, who for years actively blogged under his pseudonym.
Another author that caught his appreciation is the American writer Phyllis Chesler, who claims that feminists are “cowardly herd animals and grim totalitarian thinkers” that can hardly fight back to Islamic terrorism (Breivik, p.352). He also echoes the writers Lars Hedegaard and Fay Weldon in claiming that women, easy to approve of Islamic immigration, are even enchanted by abusiveness (Breivik, p.354).
Telling A Reasonable Story?
Even if Breivik claims to present his manifesto in a rational, articulated way, as a reliable document, the materials used are of poor quality, they are taken out of their original context or individual cases are used to make general claims. A strategy which we discovered is used by his consorts and others that share the same ideology. The two images below are used as visualization to explain what is meant.
Image one is from an article titled “Sixteen Arguments against Feminism” on a Danish debating site. The author of this article stated that he did not recall were he had found this image. He does explain though that the image is “symbolizing the triumph of feminism”.
The woman in image two is used to visualize a rape victim as a result of Islamization in one of Fjordman's blogs. Not one detail was mentioned to link the woman in the image to the content of the blog, not a name, age, occupation. An exploration through Google Image Search reveals approximate 90 links to blogs were this image was used. These are not news sites, and since explicit details of this grave matter is missing, it is unclear whether they are using the image in the context of what has really occurred to this woman.
Taking offline realities out of context and misusing them in online spaces to purposefully understate and justify its own irrational views is a widespread strategy, also in Breivik's text.
If these two images were to be put together in a single context, this path would result into a 'too soft society', as explained by Breivik: “The catch with a too soft society is that it is unsustainable. It will get squashed as soon as it is confronted by more traditional, aggressive ones” (Breivik, 2011). Individual cases (if we would accept the framing by Breivik and Fjordman) are generalized as emblematic of what happens when you allow Muslims to enter the country.
One recurrent example for the production of such new realities, by quoting pictures and other information out of their actual context, is the creation of racist, homophobic, or fascist memes. Thus, the trustworthiness of online knowledge sources can be doubted since they are filtered by intentional subjectivity and exploited by extremists, such as Breivik, to build up the validity of their irrational views.
The Birth of Hatred Towards Feminists
Fjordman is trying to reach reliability in bringing his thoughts and ideas together to a meaningful ergoic system. “Ergoic patterns are patterns of explanation in which small things – evidence – are explained in terms of bigger and more general propositions – theory” (Blommaert 2018). This means that Fjordman creates coherence by subordinating facts and circumstances into bigger frames. The resulting coherence of his world view and the internet interaction makes it appear reasonable. In his reliable worldview, strong men have to defend themselves against the unnatural developments the ongoing ‘feminization’ allegedly entails. Thus, feminization builds a significant key-part in the destructive loop and will sooner or later get rid of itself.
“Feminist culture will eventually end up being squashed, because the men have either become too demoralized and weakened to protect their women, or because they have become so fed-up with incessant ridicule that they just don't care anymore” (Breivik 2011).
The view of Breivik and his anti-feminist consorts might stem from their fear of anomie, stirred by the social change from patriarchy to a feminist discourse. The rise of feminists and women’s increasing disconfirmation to ever male-dominated society have discomforted marginalized males. Consequently, it is stimulating men’s stronger impulses to defend their original position and profound worries concerning Islam outsiders. Feminism and anti-feminism are competing to take over the mainstream ideology in regard to how Islam, the third party, should be positioned in Western European society.
Therefore, the fear of anomie can deliver an explanatory approach for the existence of online masculinist communities, whose joint fear might be a driving force to establish a common world view in standing against feminists. An example for such a network of anti-feminist online communities is the ‘Manosphere’. The Manosphere space consists of websites, forums, and blogs where mainly men – dealing with topics of masculinity, relationships, and self-improvement – use the internet as their base to develop a coherent ideology (The Economist, 2016).
However, the online settings have consequences on the offline reality. This can be seen in the example of Elliot Rodger, who killed six people and injured fourteen others in Santa Barbara, before he killed himself. The 22-year old college student Rodger was first seen as a ‘lone wolf’, but as it turns out later, he was very much connected to the Manosphere community (Smits, 2018).
Gaining a Louder Voice in the Digital Age
Breivik, with his radical views of anti-feminism, was not a ‘lone wolf’. In fact, Breivik can be seen as an active part of a ‘group in the shadow’, which has stepped onto the front stage as a ‘group in the light’ through an extended and intensive knowledge exchange on the internet. The infrastructure of the Web 2.0 provides all users with opportunities to find their fellows, enables them to have louder voices, and gain a sense of recognizability. Thanks to those particular virtual spaces, the online communities have the possibility to seal off and to act in the shadow, without being recognized. Thereby, they can reinforce their ideas without feeling alone. Even if a group does not have as many members as they seem, using the right internet strategies makes it easy to gain a disproportionately loud voice (Brodnig, 2016). Net-users opt for opinions and proofs that are favored for their stands and strengthen them through selectively rationalizing those supporting materials. Thus, the Web 2.0 provides opportunities to gain justification even for abnormal stands with little restrictions in time and space.
Furthermore, the sheer endless online sources provide the ideal knowledge background in which all kinds of learning communities can arise. Individuals with their own agent of creativity also contribute to a new chain of knowledge loop by outputting their updated thoughts. So, also Breivik, based on the shared views and ideas of his online community, has engaged in the circulating knowledge reproduction, in the way of organizing all aspects of social views about anti-feminism expressing his fear of anomie due to the decline of masculinity and intrusion of Islam in his manifesto.
In the end, Breivik combines his ideas of Feminization with other persuasive theories including the Cultural Marxism, Eurobia, or the Nordic Theory, which all are looping in the online knowledge exchange in order to create a coherent ideology to mobilize the masses and to restore the leading position of white men.
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