From Poland to the studios of Fox News, reactionaries have recast progressive ideas about gender as a militant “gender ideology” that threatens society and its values. These politicians and pundits stoke this and other “moral panics”—mass frenzies of fear about practices, ideas, or identities that supposedly threaten a country’s innocence or moral character. 

Moral panics are an increasingly prominent feature of the political landscape around the world, and they increasingly focus on gender. This episode of “Transnational Trends in Citizenship”—the new season of Order from Ashes—draws on examples from Egypt, Poland, and elsewhere to show how leaders, media, and other actors cultivate, promote, and even invent these moral panics. These actors exploit moral panics to rapidly construct social coalitions that might not otherwise coalesce. And in case after case, moral panics are shown to be about power—more policing of the marginalized; stifling social and economic change that would cost the elite; fighting democratic reforms; and redirecting grievances toward scapegoats. 

This podcast is part of “Transnational Trends in Citizenship: Authoritarianism and the Emerging Global Culture of Resistance,” a TCF project supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Open Society Foundations. 

Participants include:

  • Lobna Darwish, gender and human rights officer, Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights
  • Kate Korycki, assistant professor of gender, sexuality, and women’s studies, Western University Canada
  • Naira Antoun, director, Transnational Trends in Citizenship, Century International