Is fascism essentially and specifically male?
Fascism is one of the two main subjects which Dr John F. Pollard of Trinity Hall (Cambridge) teaches. Does he think that fascism is something essentially and specifically male?
Well clearly, in its historical origins it was. It was born out of the First World War, it was born out of the experience of fighting in the trenches. It was born out of men having to rely on other men to survive. The founders of the movement in Germany and in Italy were, by and large, men who had returned from the trenches. They were ex-servicemen, they were ex-soldiers. So yes, in historical terms it is not surprising.
But beyond that, I think if you look at neofascist and neonazi movements today, it is striking how predominantly male they remain. Even in this age of female liberation, in this modern age, they are still overwhelmingly male. Now, if you read some of the slogans of these movements, they talk about a revolt against the modern world. They talk about a desire to return to tradition. That includes gender roles. It includes the relationships between men and women. So it is not really surprising that even today, in movements in Britain, in Italy, in Germany in France and in other countries, women play a very secondary and very often a very marginal role. And I return to the point a made earlier which is, that „homosociality“ is very important, that these men feel more comfortable with each other; and very often feel that politics is not a womean’s thing, that politics is a man’s job, like fighting is a man’s job.
Is it going too far thinking that fascism is something they revenge of the losing male, losing against other males, losing against ever more emancipated women?
It’s not entirely far-fetched. I think there is an element to it. The losing male certainly in Germany and Italy, that does work as an element of analyzing the motivation of the people who founded joined the first fascist movements. Today, there is even still, as you say, an element of male’s feeling that they are losing out to females, that women do no longer fit in those traditional subordinated roles in society. I think that the homophobia for example, of many fascist and nazi movements is part of this. I think homosexuals and their liberation in Western European countries is seen as a betrayal, a destruction of tradition, as a form of decadence.
A look perhaps at Hitler’s and Mussolini’s body language. Was there any similarity there?
Yes, there were some similarities, their poses, the way they stood, there was that element of arrogance. But what I think is much more interesting than that, is: Mussolini was clearly Everyman, he was the Renaissance man, he was the militarist, he was the soldier, he works in the fields, there are even pictures of him, video clippage, stripped to the waist, he was the common man, he could identify with millions of Italians, or at least millions could identify with him. We don’t know what the relationship of women was to him, because of course women did not have the vote in Italy the Nineteenwenties.
Hitler I think was very different. Hitler would never have been seen without all of his clothes on. He was a sligthly god-like figure. He would in those famous electoral rallies descent from the sky in an aeroplane almost like a god, and some people have said well, he was „asexual“. I’m not sure he was a-sexual, he was just keeping himself for everybody. The fact that he was’nt married is very interesting. Mussolini of course was married. But the fact that Hitler was not married right till the end of the war, till the very last days in the bunker, I think is very interesting. It’s almost like the catholic priest being celibate, it like somehow you have to be available for everybody, and you therefore cannot be committed to one person.
(source: Interview audiorecorded 11/01/2012 at Trinity Hall by http://www.faschistensindimmerideanderen.wordpress.com)