Why do we witness a return to strong traditional gender norms in Western societies today?

Indeed, for women, it is translated in the interest for the figure of the witch. See the representative (best-seller) book of Mona Chollet Sorcières (2018) for an example. See this very good article (by Louise El Yafi) in the newspaper “Marianne” for a summary of the situation in France.

For men it is the virilist movement, with a figure like Andrew Tate in the UK as an example. See this article in “Le Devoir” for a summary of the situation in Quebec, Canada.

I wonder if it is not related all in all to a new wave of anti-Enlightenment (more anti-capitalism and anti-progress for the “witches” and more romantic-nationalist for the “virilists”).

It coincides with inter-connected historical and political events which started from 2008 or so:

_a rise of the far-left (radical environmentalism, anarchism, etc.) and conservatism and far-right, which, for the former and the latter, adhere to the idea of a near-future collapse of the industrial societies, belief which itself self-justifies the adherence to pre-Industrial Revolution norms and values.

_a post 2008 Lehman crisis which destabilized the West

_a post 2008 which saw the re-affirmation of powers like Russia, China and India.

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    I'd question the assumption. A return from when? Has there actually been a regressive shift relative to the 1970s? Or the 1930s? Haven't "Andrew Tates" always existed? The Far Left has certainly existed since at least the middle of the 1800s.
    – James K
    Commented Sep 7, 2023 at 6:02
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    I'd be willing to descrivbe the situtation as a degradation, particularly in the US [in legal terms on abortion]. But that's not even the example you gave. Andrew Tate moved from the UK to Romania to do his thing. Romania is at the eastern fringe of the Western world. Their attitudes are surely less Western in some regards. Besides, a lot of what Tate did relied on pure economic exploitation of the poorer women there. The fact that the authorities did eventually bring a case against him suggest that one some level they are trying to Westernize rather than move in the opposite direction. Commented Sep 7, 2023 at 7:53
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    How on God's green earth can one make such a blanket statement? Gender roles are under almost unprecedented rate of change for the last 10-15 years in Western societies. That change is too slow for some, a cause for existential angst for others. Did you miss the pronouns shift? Or, highly-gendered languages like French or German adjusting? Tate is, to put it bluntly, an internet-enabled pimp, appealing to misfits, hardly a role model for anything. I strongly support the right of people to decide on their sexuality but this Q is not only asking for opinions, it is full of it. Commented Sep 7, 2023 at 7:55
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    It might be better to ask more specifically about the popularity of specific individuals like Andrew Tate or specific ideologies, because "traditional gender norms" is almost meaningless depending on what tradition/era (rural societies where men and women worked in the fields? pre-industrialisation? 19th century England when many women worked in factories or domestic service? 1940s wartime? 1950s wives, which was arguably a particular moment of constructed gender difference rather than a tradition? Pre-Christian matriarchal religion?)
    – Stuart F
    Commented Sep 7, 2023 at 10:26
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    How is "the witch" a traditional gender role? Afaik it's such a feminist icon precisely because it was NOT a traditional gender role, but rather an expression of an independent woman that was perceived as powerful to the point of being feared for their skills not for their social bonds. Which is very different from the traditional role model of a stay-at-home-mom. Whether the esoteric part is necessarily productive is questionable, but if that is traditional then the tradition that you compare it to is very new.
    – haxor789
    Commented Sep 7, 2023 at 13:52

1 Answer 1



Why do we witness a return to strong traditional gender norms in Western societies today?

"Western societies" is too broad. Western societies are not in lock step politically on social norms. I will attempt to answer this question for the United States.

Why do we witness a return to strong traditional gender norms in Western societies today?

Any change always faces pressure to change back by some segments of society. The U.S. has faced some amazing changes in the last few decades. Opposition to some of those changes including gender norms is being coalesced into political issues to drive political support ahead of an important election cycle. This is the way the U.S political system works. Both parties seek out issues to empower their side.

The culture wars, Family values are terms it's given in the U.S. We are yet witnessing a return to anything. We in the U.S. are witnessing political figures trying to create support, by testing out issues ahead of an election cycle. One of those issues is gender norms. They are doing so pragmatically to see how / if they resonate with the people. Gender norms, certainly resonate with people on both sides of the issue, which means it's not really an ideal issue for politicians. Good issues are those that resonate, empower one side but not the other.

I would say based on the interim election results in 2022, the ballot initiatives in Kansas, Kentucky, and Ohio on 2023, the support for the culture warriors has seemed to unite some rather large and angry crowds on the opposite side of many issues they've been vetting. So we wait for Nov 2024 to see who wins.

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