Print version

Patriarchal Populism: The Conservative Political Action Coalition (CPAC) and the Transnational Politics of Authoritarian Anti-Feminism


In recent years, populist movements and regimes have proliferated around the world, pledging to uphold the interests of the ‘pure people’ against corrupt ‘elites.’ Among right-wing populists, ‘globalists’ and feminists are cast in the latter role, framed as dangerous threats to the restoration of national greatness. Meanwhile, alleged ‘gender ideology’ is rebuked, while women’s reproductive and LGBTQ equality rights are legally curtailed. We examine the convergence of populism and anti-feminism within the framework of patriarchal populism, analysing how proponents of this worldview coordinate across borders. To illustrate these trends, we focus on meetings of the Conservative Political Action Coalition (CPAC), a large and influential gathering begun in the United States (US) and increasingly dominated by the far-right, which is rapidly internationalising. Observing political discourse at CPAC Hungary and Texas in 2022, we identify common themes including advocacy of transnational right-wing coalitions, fearmongering about threats to the West, calls to control education and knowledge production, and bellicose advocacy of illiberal strongman leadership. Anti-feminism is woven throughout these frames, positioning right-wing populism as a significant challenge to women’s and LGBTQ rights in the US and elsewhere.
Keywords: transnational populism; women’s rights; LGBTQ rights; United States; Hungary