Reframing gender equality in Finnish online discussion on immigration: Populist articulations of religious minorities and marginalized sexualities
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AbstractGender equality is an essential part of Finnish self-understanding. The public discussion on equality does not, however, only focus on gender; it is also used to promote antiimmigration-minded, homophobic opinions. In the article, the co-existence of contradictory discourses on gender equality is interpreted as populist rhetoric. The articulations of gender equality in online debates on gender, sexuality, and immigration are analyzed. The main questions are: How is gender equality re-framed in anti-immigration-minded online debate? How are the notions of sexuality and gender fixed in order to oppose immigration? How are gender, sexuality, and immigration articulated intersectionally? The investigation focuses on an article on Muslim homosexuals, published in the Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat in March 2013, and the discussion that followed on blogs and in online discussion fora. The logic of the articulation in the empirical material is analyzed by identifying five discursive modes for discussing gender equality in opposing Muslim immigration: The Finns Party as defenders of sexual and gender equality; Equality for Muslim women; ‘The Tolerant’ as scapegoats in risking achieved equality; Othering Islam; and Equality for the Westerners. The analysis indicates how the subjects of sexual and gender equality are produced, and illustrates the ability of populist rhetoric to adopt topics, agendas, and ideologies from other discourses and re-frame them to promote its political aims. The article discusses how equality is used changeably, referring to varying groups of people. In populist rhetoric, the themes 2 traditionally associated with sexual and gender equality in the Nordic welfare states can be ignored; the concept is detached from all its emancipatory meanings. In populist rhetoric,equality becomes a tool used to promote hegemonic power relations.