Why this story matters:
Hardly a day has gone by in 2018 without Austrian media mentioning the all-male, Germanophile, ultra conservative fraternities, to which many members of the FPÖ belong. Crossing the thin line between nationalism and xenophobia used to be a marginal phenomenon, but since the latest election it has entered the political mainstream -- together with the ruling coalition member, the FPÖ.
To escape gender stereotypes and broaden the perspective on the issue, it is worth noting that there are female equivalents to these fraternities. With their emphasis on traditional gender roles and fondness for nationalistic rhetoric, they are just as far from the mainstream and no less disturbing.
How does this work?
- Seven “girl associations” (Mädelschaften) currently operate in Austria, three of which have been created in the past eight years. There are no official figures concerning the number of their adherents.
- The most prominent one, however, is Anneliese Kitzmüller, the Third National Council President from the FPÖ. She is a member of the Sigrid zu Wien association and deputy chairwoman of the Iduna zu Linz.
- To provide an example of the associations’ ideological profile, it is sufficient to say that around Christmas, Iduna zu Linz celebrates the Julfest -- a Scandinavian tradition famously celebrated by the National Socialists, who wanted to repress Christian traditions.