Jollene Levid: ‘It is no surprise that the alt-right espouse male supremacy just as vehemently as white supremacy’

National chairperson of AF3IRM, Jollene Levid, speaks with Meghan Murphy about rise of white nationalism in the US, how the alt-right is connected to male supremacy, and what movements can do to better address violence against women of colour.

Jollene Levid (Photo: AF3IRM LA Coordinator Roxanna Avila)

While the rise in white nationalist activity in the U.S. (and the recent death of a woman named Heather Heyer, who was killed when a car plowed into a crowd of people protesting a white supremacist rally) has sparked discussions, anger, and protests against the alt-right and the white supremacist movement, what has been discussed less is the role of male supremacy. Male violence against women of colour is too-often ignored both in the media and by leftist groups. In order to discuss the connections between misogyny and racism, and what the feminist movement and other progressive movements can do to better address those connections and that violence, I spoke with activist and feminist Jollene Levid.

Jollene Levid is a second generation Filipina-American union organizer and social worker from Los Angeles. For the past 15 years, she has been involved in AF3IRM, an anti-imperialist, transnational feminist organization with 10 chapters across the US. AF3IRM fights for im/migrant women’s rights, and against trafficking and militarism. Jollene is the Founding Chairperson, and currently serves on AF3IRM’s International Committee.


Meghan Murphy: While the fact of racism as a direct motivation for what happened recently in Charlottesville is a clear, what’s been discussed less, in terms of the rise of the alt-right and (public) white nationalist activity, is male supremacy. Do you see patriarchy and misogyny as connected to the incident in Charlottesville and the rise of the alt-right more broadly?

Jollene Levid: It is no coincidence that the faces of the Charlottesville white terrorists are men. I think that this is an important thing to pause and think about. I think it’s also important to think about the fact that in the few centuries that the US has existed as a country, white supremacy’s spokespeople have always been white men… Bedsheet or no bedsheet.

What we learned in AF3IRM through the study of the history of patriarchy itself is that the first place that a man learns about subjugation of women is in the home. It is programmed, it is structural, and it is no surprise that the alt-right espouse male supremacy just as vehemently as white supremacy.

M: Websites and online forums like 4chan, 8chan, and Reddit have provided a way for Men’s Rights Activists (MRAs) to congregate and increase their presence in public discourse, as well as to recruit and build their numbers — do you see this bolstering of MRA activity and discourse as connected to the white nationalist movement?

J: Yes. This is an important moment we are living in. When we take a step back and think about US history and stages in which there is a sharp economic turn – Reconstruction Era, the Great Depression, the 1970s — we see the same trends amongst white men who see themselves as “attacked” or “disenfranchised.” That trend is to increase xenophobia, racism, sexism. Who is allowed to work the “desirable jobs”? Who is allowed to enter the country? Who is allowed basic rights like voting and fair housing?

When you look at MRA public discourse and white supremacy, the intersections are apparent and the grievances are the same. We live in an imperialist era and these white men are feeling “victimized” — so they in turn increase violence against those with less power than them.

MRAs and white supremacists are of the same crop.

M: While people of colour are subjected to various forms of violence in North America, via the state, the police, the prison system, on the street, in their homes, etc., the issue of race as a factor specifically in terms of male violence against women is also a reality. Do you feel this issue is discussed or addressed effectively in public discourse or in the media? Do you feel women are left out of the conversation about racist violence in the US, specifically?

J: Race and violence against women are absolutely not discussed enough in the media or in our communities of colour, even in our movements.

I want to provide some concrete examples. When Trayvon Martin was brutally murdered by George Zimmerman in Florida in 2012, there was an all-out call to take the streets for Trayvon and all black people murdered by the state and those not held accountable by it.

AF3IRM in its eight chapters at the time attended protests nationally, attended meetings, answered the call, chanted, screamed, and wept.

We proudly followed the leadership of the queer black women who founded Black Lives Matter — Alicia Garza and Patrisse Cullors. Many of us who are mothers of black and brown children found an additional home in the movement.

After Sandra Bland was killed and there was a call for #SayHerName protests, we showed up with the same voracity, even joining planning and leadership groups in our respective cities like the Bay and New York City.

When we got to the mobilizations across the countries, what did we see? Emptiness. Maybe a hundred protesters at each mobilization, maybe not. There was a moment on a national AF3IRM call when we had to ask one another how the mobilizations looked and a slow realization that they were smaller than any of the other protests.

We immediately turned inwards and looked at our work — did we not organize effectively or work hard enough? Was the messaging and media around deaths like that of Aiyana Jones not covered or projected enough?

We came to the conclusion that, no, the problem was not with failures in organizing or ineffective messaging. This is a result of all the people who did not have as strong a lens on gender violence, gender oppression, and patriarchy, deciding it was not as important to protest the killings of black women and girls as that of the men and boys targeted by the police. Instead of double or triple the amounts of people showing up to protest because of double oppressions, we see less. The crowd was predominantly women of colour.

Even more — where were the white American feminists who work day in and day out against violence? Were the lives of black women and girls not as important, were their deaths not enraging enough to show up for?

The experience is reflected in other protests — why is it that AF3IRM is one of the only feminist groups in the US putting forward the crisis of the 1,200+ missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in North America? What about the fact that, in the Philippines, the fascist President Duterte is allowing — even encouraging troops — to rape women under martial law in Mindanao?

We go back to the feminist question that brought us to women’s organizing to begin with: why are women secondary, even in our social justice circles? Why are women and girls of colour not on the radar of the liberal, white feminist movement?

M: Do you believe the left — and specifically groups like Antifa and Black Lives Matter — are addressing misogyny and male violence against women in their activism? If not, why? What could be done differently?

J: Regarding Antifa and BLM and other groups: In our interface with BLM, which has been positive, we understand that each chapter looks different. I know their platform, their leadership, their written strategic plans include and prioritize women. The #SayHerName protests had BLM leaders in our respective cities. They did not have the mass mobilization of people that the other protests had. I hope that folks that subscribe to BLM’s ideological and political platforms follow the lead of women like Alicia Garza and Patrisse Cullors in their calling for the abolishment of patriarchy along with race and class oppressions.

For Antifa groups who have taken the forefront of defense against Nazis even moreso in recent months, their public stances do not have a strong stance against patriarchy.

I spoke with an AF3IRM woman who navigates these spaces — primarily in the anarcho feminist collectives. In those spaces, which have overlap with Antifa, there was strict accountability for men who engaged in sexual assault, harassment, etc. They were removed immediately. It is the lack of a programmed, public stance that is the problem (unlike BLM).

M: Helen Lewis recently wrote about the “Day Three Story,” explaining that many terrorists’ first victims are their wives (or girlfriends/other female family members). How does terrorism connect to domestic abuse? Do you think feminism has a role to play in addressing the mass shootings and terrorism that have become so commonplace these days?

J: I think it’s important to first talk about who is a “terrorist.” I think when we step back and look at where we are politically, economically, we also have to see the US in its complicity and in its role for creating, training these terrorists.

Feminism has a role in addressing mass violence if it does what it should do: be a comprehensive movement.

Feminists are not responsible for the mass violence happening in the world, but we are responsible for building a movement to address the roots and the product (the mass violence). Feminism is responsible for anti-racist work, for anti-imperialist work, for expanding our work to a global level. This issue in particular exposes our weakness as a movement. Why are feminists — who are thoroughly and publicly and ideologically feminist leaders — not at the forefront and deeply embedded in the anti-war movement, in the immigrant rights movement, in the workers’ rights movement? Why are they separate?

We can’t decry violence and not be part of dismantling the system at the root of it. That includes the multiple oppressions in addition to patriarchy.

M: What role do women play in the alt-right, if any? Do women have any responsibility, in terms of the rise of white nationalism in the US, or do you consider them to be victims of male supremacy (as well as victims of the individual men who spout racism and anti-semitism, and perpetrate acts of violence like the one that took place recently in Charlottesville).

J: Yes they do. White women are also to blame for the rise and consolidation of the alt-right. White women voted for Trump. They are more than complicit — they are comrades in the white supremacist movement. They may experience patriarchy, of course, but that does not excuse them. They become a tool of patriarchy and sexism in their both their active engagement in the white supremacist movement as well as their complicity in it.

To learn more about AF3IRM, visit: Af3irm’s national summit will be held on October 21st in New York City

Meghan Murphy
Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, I-D, Truthdig, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog.

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  • silverside

    Back in the mid-1990s, I was getting a divorce from an abusive male. Little did I know that the family courts and the board positions for many non-profit counseling agencies in Chautauqua County, NY had been taken over by the local fathers rights organization. The level of corruption and mother hating was unbelievable. I later started to do research on these groups, as they were little known then. Though some tried to sound more moderate and “reasonable” in public forums, if you scratched beneath the surface they were nearly all allied with white supremacy and other reactionary/proto-fascist tendencies. I have seen what MRAs do when they get a little institutional power, and it’s totally disgusting. And Chautauqua County was not alone. The MRAs and fathers rights people have taken over a lot of family court systems, and the result is that a lot of abusive fathers are getting full custody of children and not getting prosecuted for their actions. Mothers are getting banned from even getting visitation. Some have described men’s rights as the “gateway drug” into the whole neo-Nazi scene. I think this is basically true, and has been happening for the last 30 years, but few besides those in the battered mothers and custody movement have noticed.

  • Atheist

    White women are also to blame for the rise and consolidation of the alt-right. White women voted for Trump. They are more than complicit — they are comrades in the white supremacist movement.

    Oh bullshit. As another article put it, where did we get from “there are white women who are racists” to “all white women are central to white supremacy?”

    53% of white women voted for Donald Trump. This number was done in a poll of only about 2,000 people but it’s treated like gospel that reflects all 300 million Americans. If we do that then you can’t ignore the other number though.

    43% of white women voted for Hillary Clinton. That’s damn near half of white womens saying NO to white supremacy, NO to a pussy grabber in chief, NO to hatred against Muslims, NO to deporting immigrants, NO to rolling back abortion rights, NO to rolling back Obamacare, and NO to the erosion of voting right of minorities.

    White women are told to sit down, shut up and listen to everyone else. When is anyone else going to listen when white women say NO? When was the last time ANYONE supported a white woman when a white woman said NO? It’s not just misogyny, it’s worse than that – what kind of person doesn’t respect when someone else says NO? Answer that for yourself before getting self-righteous.

    “But where are all the white women”? They’re sitting down and shutting up like YOU asked them to.

    They may experience patriarchy, of course, but that does not excuse them. They become a tool of patriarchy and sexism in their both their active engagement in the white supremacist movement as well as their complicity in it.

    The same can be said for race minorities who throw white women under the bus and participate in misogyny against white women. By doing so, they are helping white men keep white women “in their place” which has only ever translated to being baby factories to maintain a white majority. They are feeding into the very system they claim to oppose. Look how well the “evil white woman” narrative of the past eight years turned out in last year’s election. Do you really think constantly treating white women like punching bags didn’t contribute to Hillary losing the election? Then you need a reality adjustment.

    ALL MISOGYNISTS whether white or otherwise, male or female, Right or Left, need to take responsibility for their part in the election of Trump. I don’t care if you did the bare minimum of quietly casting your ballot for Hillary. One ballot does not erase eight years of relentless misogyny against white women. If you spent eight years spitting the words “white woman” like it’s a derogatory insult, then YOU are part of the problem. You wanted to make sure white women didn’t have a snowballs chance in hell to get anywhere and guess what? You got what you wanted. The least you can do is be honest and own up to it like you would ask white women to own up to their privilege. Practice what you preach. Stop pointing the finger and look at yourself in the mirror for once. You are far from any moral high ground to preach about injustice when you can’t check your own internalized misogyny that affects half the human planet.

    • Cassandra

      Yeah, I was enjoying reading her thoughts until she got to the “white women voted for Trump” nonsense. Much original.

  • susannunes

    She is 34 years old and has NO memory at all of second-wave feminism which happened in the late 1960s and early 1970s. That is why her statement sounds astonishingly ignorant because it is. We who were around then KNOW women were heavily involved in the antiwar and civil rights movements and that second-wave feminism, especially radical feminism, was the result of being abused by the males in those movements.

  • Wren

    There was another post sometime ago on FC about AF3IRM and their conference in August and I was eager to learn about another radfem organization so I checked them out, but their ad for the conference says “All Women-Identified People”

    I feel rather guilty dismissing the organization because of this, but I have become convinced that this is not acceptable. Like you said, feminism is for the liberation of women, not imaginary ones. That you point out the inherent problems in her blaming of white feminists for abandoning women of color yet she abandons the reality of womanhood, well, I’d hate to call her a hypocrite, but…

    The bar for me is set at WoLF’s statement of womanhood:
    “We are females who survived girlhood”

    • radwonka

      “That you point out the inherent problems in her blaming of white
      feminists for abandoning women of color yet she abandons the reality of

      ha, well, I don’t think these people support women. They have a big problem with feminism, and that problem is the fact that feminism is about women liberation. go figure.

    • FierceMild

      Women first. I firmly believe that when we reach a critical mass of freedom for women systemic injustices will begin to be torn down one by one by those free women. We know men won’t do it.

    • Tobysgirl

      I don’t think you should feel guilty for a second. I now immediately dismiss any organization that does not recognize the existence of women as exclusively female. The notion that anyone can be a woman is the continuance of the notion that women are defective males which is a foundational idea of patriarchy.

  • Wren

    Yeah, except it was only black WOMEN who voted for Clinton:
    “In 2012, black women voted at a higher rate than any racial or gender group, and 96 percent of them voted to reelect President Obama. Black women made up a similar share of the electorate for this presidential contest, but they didn’t have as much help from other segments of the Obama coalition, including black men, Hispanics and Asian Americans, all of whom voted at higher rates for Trump than they did four years ago for Republican nominee Mitt Romney.”–hillary-clintons-most-reliable-voting-bloc–look-beyond-defeat/2016/11/12/86d9182a-a845-11e6-ba59-a7d93165c6d4_story.html?utm_term=.6efe3ead1ab8

    Many black male comedians made a joke of Clinton, and I’m convinced they were mocking black women by doing so, undermining their commitment to her and their vision of how Clinton may have improved black women’s lives if elected. It was unadulterated, vile misogyny:

  • You have several good insights here, FierceMild, but I’m going to disagree with one point: racism and sexism are intricately tied, and we cannot address sexism without disposing of racism as well. Racism is the ultimate divide-and-conquer strategy among women, and white men have always used it to their advantage. It is no accident that major gains in women’s rights have throughout history begun AFTER progress on the rights of African-Americans in the US.

    • FierceMild

      I’m glad you responded to me. I have been mulling this over myself for the past day or so because I too think I missed the mark.

      What I’ve come to so far is that I believe racism is a function of dehumanization and that dehumanization starts with men (yes all of them) dehumanizing women (yes all of us) in order to exploit us. That strategy has proved so effective that it was expanded to more and more groups of people.

      I see that the way women of colour experience sexism is inextricably linked with racism. I think the dehumanization of social classes and racialization of ethnic groups is the next step after the dehumanization of all women.

      Basically I see misogyny as a Negative Prime Mover of injustice and anticipate that it will therefore act as a lynchpin to the entire social hierarchy. If we remove misogyny and female enslavement the system men use to gain enough extra resources with which to exploit each other will not be there and the reason for class structure and racism won’t be there either.

      However, I see that this system has been in place and functioning for far too long to expect such a strategy to work of it’s own accord. The racism of women, which serves the ends of men, stands in the way. So. What next? How do we address the racism among women without taking the focus off destroying Patriarchy? I don’t agree with Ms. Levid that the answer is to blame white women for Patriarchy, but we do have to do something.

      As far as gains for women coming after gains for black Americans, I take a much more cynical view. I don’t think women won the vote because men were feeling expansive after recognizing the humanity of black men. I think women won the vote on that timeline precisely because racist white men needed to make up the numbers “lost” to the votes of black men and white women were the only way to do that. I also think that the lever of racism was used by white women on white men to challenge them by essentially saying “what, you think a black man will do a better job than I will!?”

    • FierceMild

      Also, gains in women’s civil rights in the US can be said to predate gains in black civil rights depending on where you look. The Married Women’s Property Act was enacted (in part, mostly allowing women to write wills for the disposal of their property free death) before the vote was extended to men of colour. It’s a tough timeline to draw (for me; I’m sure not for others).

  • Tired

    I’m not sure where you live, but I live within the zone where Duterte and his day to day stuff is reported on an everyday basis. Asia Pacific region. This is not an American narrative. Sure he is arking up against the US bases but that’s nothing any Philippine leader hasn’t done before. Imelda Marcos and her hubby did the same thing. (It’s actually a thing that most non USAian countries have jumped up before – even as allies).

    He is being called a fascist by his own people. The reason for this is because he has chosen to suspend the rule of law ) ie, you can be shot (and he is on record and has been filmed shooting people himself) and has been instructing his police force to shoot people he doesn’t agree with. On. Sight. He hides this under a ‘kill on sight drug addicts’ thing. If you think shooting drug addicts on sight is ok, then he’s not a fascist. In case you are wondering what ‘suspending the rule of law’ means, it means no investigation, no trial, a bullet in your head if you fall within his arbitrary and changing everyday parameters. He hides his agenda behind a no tolerance for drugs policy. The no tolerance being shooting drug users in the head. The death toll is currently over 5,000 in the last couple of years, most of them according to him, being unrepentant drug addicts. Of course, protesters to his regime are automatically classified as drug addicts.

    Neither Russia, nor China have formally backed him yet, they’ve just made some murmurs as he is such a loose cannon in international law they aren’t prepared to go there. He’s not putting out feelers, he did that a while ago (2 years) and they cut him loose. The actual legitimate international backing (in this region) he could have called in for was the infiltration of ISIS into the Philippines. There are market places being bombed as we speak. But it doesn’t make international news. It’s brown people with slanty eyes /S. The same day Houston was being flood inundated, 34 people died in a market place in the Philippines in a bombing. Not that you saw that on your local feed.

    • Wren

      Thanks for writing this. I’m friends with Philippine Americans who have family there, and this is what they’ve been saying. They recently traveled there and talked about the pervasive fear gripping the people. It’s super fucked up and not a demonization campaign.

    • FierceMild

      What a nightmare. Thank you for saying this. I tend to take long breaks from the news cycle and have been out of touch. This is horrifying.

  • Tobysgirl

    If you don’t think Hillary was intimately involved in Bill’s domestic and foreign policy, you must not have been grown up during Bill’s administration. They are a political TEAM — why else would any mildly self-respecting woman be married to a sexual predator as noxious as Trump? And ending welfare as we knew it was an aggressive act against women, the primary recipients of welfare through AFDC (Aid to Families with Dependent Children). The Clinton TEAM took up many Republican initiatives and made them Democratic Party initiatives, such as welfare DEform; punitive laws not permitting convicted felons to receive education assistance, housing, etc; ending Glass-Steagall, which directly led to the financial fiasco of 2008; on and on and on.

  • Hanakai

    Hillary in 1996, in a speech supporting her husband’s criminal justice “reforms”, called black teens and children “superpredators.” “They are often the kinds of kids that are called ‘super-predators,’ ” Clinton said in 1996, at the height of anxiety during her husband’s administration about high rates of crime and violence. “No conscience, no empathy, we can talk about why they ended up that way, but first we have to bring them to heel.” The Clintons were the architects of the American policy of mass incarceration.

    As a result of the Clinton’s reforms, a generation of black and brown Americans have spent much of their lives behind bars, often for nonviolent drug offenses, such as possession of marijuana. The American criminal injustice system holds more than 2.3 million people in 1,719 state prisons, 102 federal prisons, 942 juvenile correctional facilities, 3,283 local jails, and 79 Indian Country jails as well as in military prisons, immigration detention facilities, civil commitment centers, and prisons in the U.S. territories. The USA imprisons a greater proportion of its population any fascist nation ever has, than the USSR, than apartheid South Africa.

    Twenty years later, after millions of lives and families have been ruined by the draconian Clinton criminal injustice policies, Hillary Clinton made a half-hearted apology for her predations on the black community. Responding in 2016 to the Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart, Clinton said: “Looking back, I shouldn’t have used those words, and I wouldn’t use them today.”

  • Wren

    This is so true. Libfems want to redefine feminism SO THAT there is nothing feminist about it, thereby undermining what should be its true and only purpose and rendering it meaningless. This is definitely deliberate.

    And why does this whole “feminists must save everyone” but NOT women bastardization of feminism remind me soooo much of men in general: If I want to be in a relationship with a man I must save him but deny myself. Or, taking this notion further, a women is fucked up if she doesn’t want children (so Jordan Peterson says) because we must be living our lives for someone else or we are not real women.

  • susannunes

    It may be available, but she hasn’t availed herself to it.

  • Hanakai

    Hillary absolutely did call black America youth “superpredators”, this is her complete support for the racist 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which her husband, Bill Clinton, signed in to law.

    Here, you can read the Act, which Hillary supported by touring and speechifying in public and private events, which Act increased the number of people behind bars in the United States from about 1 million prisoners in 1994 to 2.5 million prisoners in 2016, an increase directly related to the Act.

    The fact is that the Clintons threw black America under the bus, both with their ugly draconian “reforms” of the criminal injustice and imprisonment systems; and with their so-called reform of welfare. The Clintons have always been basically Republican Lite and have never had any solid moral or ideological foundation: instead they put their fingers in the air to see what it popular and then triangulate so that they could garner GOP and Dem support. The argument that Bill Clinton was the responsible president is credulous, as the Clintons billed themselves as getting two presidents for the price of one and, as they had always done in their whole political life, is that Hillary was sent forth to get the party troops behind whatever legislation she and Bill wanted.

    Obviously, Hillary would have made a far far better president than T-Rump and the misogyny of white American males figured hugely in her defeat. But there is no need to worship her as some great paragon of light, feminism and justice, because politically she has always been a pragmatist who has courted money, the wealthy and powerful. Remember also that she voted in favor of the Bush war on Iraq, when anyone with half a brain knew Iraq did not have nuclear capability. And she also has voted in favor of every single military appropriations and spending bill that came before her as a Senator.

  • Omzig Online

    Don’t you love it when HRC, because she was supportive of her husband’s policies, is somehow more culpable for Bill Clinton’s actions than Bill Clinton himself? There’s just GOT to be a woman to blame, right?

    Funny, there were a few of Bill’s policies that had ostensibly negative consequences, such as the Criminal Justice Reform Bill of 1994. These policies had bipartisan support from politicians, many of whom are Democrats that still hold offices today. These same politicians have been reelected many times, including Bernie Sanders, but their support for the bill was never really scrutinized during their campaignes for reelection. We just don’t hear those politicians receiving criticism from liberals for supporting Bill’s policies to the magnitude that HRC does.

    There were a total of 235 congress members that voted in favor of the bunk crime bill, 26 of them were African American. While Hillary Clinton verbalized her support, she could not vote for it. Yet she will shoulder a hugely disproportionate amount of the blame for the actions of her (largely) male colleagues in the passing of a bill that she didn’t vote for. Hillary Clinton is to blame, even when hundreds of male congressmen fuck up and vote for a bad policy.

    In her concession speech, HRC said “[T]o all of the little girls who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams.”

    Coming from anyone else, that statement would’ve been easily recognized as inspirational. Unfortunately, there are plenty of women who will somehow view those words as “PUA negging.”

    So to answer your question about what HRC could’ve said after losing that would’ve been ok with her: probably nothing.

  • Tobysgirl

    I realize that young people mostly have terrible educations regarding social movements of the past, but if you want to claim to be a feminist or any other sort of activist, it is imperative that you READ. Anarchists are now apparently people (mostly male?) who stomp around with no understanding of anarchist theory. Feminists are women who have no knowledge of the hard work women did to secure citizenship or Title IX. Etc, etc, etc.

    • FierceMild

      Yes, I agree with you. I think that reading and self-education become even more imperative when one intends to act politically on any topic. That’s one of the things I disagree with many RadFems on. They continually call for action action action act NOW and I see the urgency, but I also think that action before education lands you with men in the women’s prison.

  • FierceMild

    What were the skirts for?

    • Tobysgirl

      TO DO GENDER, of course!