Note: I have cited but not linked to any Breitbart News articles or alt-right blog posts in an effort to keep their commenters away from Autostraddle and to avoid giving them traffic. You can easily find all the cited articles in quotation marks via Google.
The first man who threatened to rape me came from Breitbart News. The first man to tell me I “wasn’t rape-able” — months before Donald Trump used that line of defense against sexual assault allegations — came from Breitbart News. The first man who sent me a picture of my head photoshopped onto the body of a bloodied, dead lesbian TV character came from Breitbart News. It doesn’t take much. Mention misandry, advocate for women’s rights, call out sexism or homophobia or transmisogyny; they’ll find you.
Maybe a tweet or a post gets picked up on white supremacy subreddit or an MRA subreddit or a neonazi subreddit. If you’re a woman and you speak out long enough and loud enough, you’ll bridge that small gap between Reddit/4chan and Breitbart.
Steve Bannon, the man who made Breitbart News what it is today, is an anti-Semite and a white supremacist; that, alone, should disqualify him from a position in Donald Trump’s administration. It hasn’t. Last weekend, Trump announced that Bannon will be his chief strategist and senior counselor. Every major media outlet has covered why Bannon is a horrifying choice to be “equal partners” with (the also grossly under-qualified) Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus, who will be serving as Trump’s chief of staff. Harry Reid and Elizabeth Warren and dozens of other lawmakers, activists, and anti-hate groups have spoken out against him.
I agree with them, of course. I also want to talk about the threat Steve Bannon poses to queer women, specifically.
The Assault on “Political Correctness”
“I like to call someone a raving cunt every now and then, when it’s appropriate, for effect.” – Breitbart News founder Andrew Breitbart, The New Yorker
Breitbart News founder Andrew Breitbart believed political correctness is one of the tools that the left — mainstream media, Hollywood, liberal politicians, academics, the music industry, etc. — is using to bring about a Marxist revolution. It’s a conspiracy theory Steve Bannon bought into completely when the two met in 2005, and when Breitbart died in 2012, Bannon took over his empire to continue his legacy. Bannon’s core belief is that the the United States and western Europe are trapped in a war of “national identity” vs. “globalism.” To Bannon, the United States’ national identity is straight, white Christian men (and women who know their place).
Anyone who tries not to oppress, insult, harm, or exclude marginalized communities with words or actions — which is to say: a person who is politically correct — is Steve Bannon’s enemy, an agent of “cultural Marxism.” He scoffs at the idea that marginalized communities are oppressed. “They’re either a victim of race. They’re victim of their sexual preference. They’re a victim of gender. All about victimhood and the United States is the great oppressor, not the great liberator,” he sneered a few years ago.
His hatred doesn’t stop at non-white, non-Christian people. His contempt includes anyone who calls out oppression against women and LGBTQ people as well.
But Milo Yiannopoulos Is Gay!
“Only rich, well-educated, well-connected heterosexual white males have the required detachment and lack of emotional connection to the issues at hand to make the right calls.” – Milo Yiannopoulos, Breitbart
I’ve seen Conservatives argue that Steve Bannon can’t be a danger to gay people because Milo Yiannopoulos, his right-hand man at Breitbart, is gay. You know, the same Milo Yiannopoulos who graced the cover of Out magazine just a few months ago. In their Breitbart explainer, Vox writes that Yiannopoulos is faithful to “Andrew Breitbart’s maxim that politics is ‘downstream from culture.’ The real war, Yiannopoulos believes, isn’t about immigration policy — it’s about freeing cultural institutions from left-wing, ‘politically correct’ bullies.”
Yiannopoulos is the guy who brought the alt-right to Breitbart. In addition to all the racism and xenophobia the movement includes, the alt-right is as anti-woman as it gets. Yiannopoulos has called feminists “a cancer.” He mainstreamed Gamergate and gave a voice and a platform to the “men’s rights activists” who were terrorizing women in the video game industry because they felt like women were taking over game development, character representation, and video game criticism. Some of Yiannopoulos’ most famous headlines include: “Feminist Bullies Are Tearing the Video Game Industry Apart” and “Does Feminism Make Women Ugly?” and “There’s No Bias Against Women in Tech, They Just Suck at Interviews.”
This week, Queerty chased down some of Yiannopoulos’ most provocative and dangerous writing about gay people.
“Dear Straight People: I’m Officially Giving You Permission To Say Gay, Faggot And Queer”
“Gay Rights Have Made Us Dumber, It’s Time To Get Back In The Closet”
“How Donald Trump Made It Cool To Be Gay Again”
“I’ve Worked It Out: Isis Is A Gay Death Cult”
Like Bannon, Yiannopoulos believes that white Christian men deserve to be at the center of culture and in the most powerful political seats in the world.
Women With Husbands
“Feminists want to be raped.” – Alt-Right blogger Matt Forney
Conservatives will also point to Bannon’s adoration of Sarah Palin and say it proves he’s not a hardcore misogynist. However, in a 2011 interview that’s been making the rounds again this week, Bannon explained the specific kind of woman he supports: “There are some unintended consequences of the women’s liberation movement. That, in fact, the women that would lead this country would be pro-family, they would have husbands, they would love their children. They wouldn’t be a bunch of dykes that came from the Seven Sisters schools up in New England. That drives the left insane and that’s why they hate these women.”
Bannon is a master propagandist. Andrew Breitbart once called him the “Leni Riefenstahl of the Tea Party movement.” (As a compliment.) The core aim of propaganda is to force a false dichotomy between an in-group and an out-group, a tactic Bannon extends to women as much as he does to Jewish people and people of color. Feminists are pants-wearing dykes who don’t have families and don’t love their children; they want to destroy America. Women like Sarah Palin, who would never take up the feminist mantle, have husbands and families and are therefore allies, patriots, and Real Americans.
In addition to his personal views on women, and the domestic violence charges his ex-wife filed against him, and his record of calling a female employee a “bimbo” whose opinions needed to be “rammed down her fucking throat,” Bannon oversaw Breitbart’s merger with the alt-right and hand-approved all the misogyny and homophobia that marrying-of-minds required.
Radio Talk Show Hosts Are Reading Breitbart Every Day
“You’re not prepared to allow an enemy within . . . to try to tear down this country?” – Steve Bannon to Donald Trump in a 2016 radio interview
Alabama senator Jeff Sessions, Trump’s pick for Attorney General, said in 2015, “Radio talk show hosts are reading Breitbart every day. You can feel it when they interview you.” That was apparent every time Trump opened his mouth on the campaign trail this year. When mainstream journalists transcribed portions of his speeches or posted video clips from his rallies, it was like reading word salad or listening to gobbledygook. But it didn’t matter that a majority of Americans laughed at Trump’s bizarre rhetoric; he was speaking the words, phrases, and conspiracy theories that were familiar to the Breitbart readers who formed his base. Breitbart pulled the alt-right into the Conservative conversation and Trump pulled Breitbart into the mainstream.
Steve Bannon loves systems of white supremacy; he believes they are essential for the survival of America’s “national identity.” And with the help of the alt-right and Milo Yiannopoulos, he has empowered the white men and women who seek to validate not only their racism, xenophobia, and anti-Semitism, but also their misogyny, transphobia, and homophobia. Equality, to Steve Bannon, is oppression; and “political correctness” is a weapon wielded against him.
There’s no way to overstate how dangerous it is to have Bannon whispering directly into Donald Trump’s ear every day like a Disney movie villain. Not only because he represents a horrifying, Hilter-like view of the world, but also because he has manipulated our national discourse so thoroughly that his solution to people experiencing hate — if you don’t like it, leave — is becoming the default position of the internet, the gathering place for minority communities, the entire world’s main source of information.