Report — From the September 2017 issue

The Rise of the Valkyries

In the alt-right, women are the future, and the problem

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Red Ice is ambitious. Earlier this year, it entered into a partnership with the N.P.I. to launch a media company modeled on Breitbart but situated further to the right. Red Ice also helps run AltRight.com, which debuted in January and kicked off a $50,000 crowdfunding campaign this summer. Lokteff, meanwhile, is an aggressive talent scout. She scours the internet in search of budding voices and tracks down bloggers and other online personalities whom Red Ice viewers recommend as potential guests. When she finds one, she sets up interviews via Skype — video if the person is comfortable revealing his or her identity, audio if not. The interviews, which often run an hour or more, rarely turn confrontational. They are intended to create a sense of ideological momentum.

Lokteff hosts a program called Radio 3Fourteen — her birthday is March 14 — which frequently showcases women’s perspectives on white nationalism. Her guests toe the alt-right’s party line on gender, which mimics that of fascist and white-power movements of the twentieth century: By design, the sexes are not equal, physically or otherwise, but they are complementary and equally important. Men are strong and rational, women yielding and emotional; men are good at navigating politics, women at nurturing family units; men make decisions, women provide counsel. The survival of the white race depends on both sexes embracing their roles.

In April, not long after we met, Lokteff invited three female bloggers to appear in a video chat about “femininity in the modern world.” One of her guests was a brunette with a soft, raspy voice who went by the pen name Bre Faucheux. Faucheux, who was born in New Orleans, wasn’t always a white nationalist. A few years ago, she was a young aspiring novelist who posted videos of herself on YouTube, mostly focused on reviewing books; she knocked All the Light We Cannot See, which won the Pulitzer Prize, for having young “protagonists who don’t protag,” or make decisions. She also talked about the creative process behind her self-published fantasy fiction. (On Amazon, Faucheux described her first novel, The Elder Origins, as “a historical fantasy with sinister blends of medieval warfare, young love, Native American legend, and vampire lore.”)

Last summer, her social-media tone changed radically. In July, she posted “Unpopular Opinions,” a video in which she said that higher education had taught her nothing — “they’ll let anybody into college” — and described giving up on feminism because it had been “hijacked by a bunch of freaking nutbags.” Several weeks later, she posted a rant about publishing’s fixation on racial diversity. “Every single culture in existence has resisted diversity by means of killing each other, segregating against one another, and saying it was even immoral to even be around one another,” Faucheux said in defense of books with only white characters. “Taking comfort in one’s own ethnic group or race is not racist.”

The video piqued Lokteff’s interest. She invited Faucheux to appear on Radio 3Fourteen. Faucheux, who said “pure anger” had inspired her to record the tirade, complained that in college, when she suggested that the curriculum judged “white civilization” more harshly than others, she was called ethnocentric. Lokteff chuckled knowingly. “It’s only wrong when whites do it, right?” she replied. “How dare you? Check your white privilege,” Faucheux shot back in mock horror.

After her first appearance on Red Ice, Faucheux made a video expressing her newfound devotion to the alt-right. She explained that she had been reading blogs and watching videos that excoriated feminism, liberalism, and diversity. Recognizing the evils wrought by the left — “the collapse in national identity, the destruction of the nuclear family . . . and the very real threat of white genocide” — left her despondent. “I couldn’t even go to the mall to buy myself a pair of jeans,” she said, “without noticing the trends that I had been reading about taking place all around me.” The alt-right calls this type of conversion “red-pilling,” an idea borrowed from a scene in The Matrix, in which Neo, the movie’s protagonist, swallows a red pill and realizes that his reality is nothing but a computer-generated facade.

Until she went on Red Ice, Faucheux had felt alone, and as though she had to censor herself. “Talking to Lana felt like taking in an entire glass of water after months and months of chronic thirst,” she said in her video. She’d lost friends as a result of her political coming-out, but no matter: “My days of engaging in white guilt are over.” Her YouTube bio now reads, “Conservative. Traditionalist. #AltRight Enthusiast. American Nationalist. Pro Gun. Anti-Left. Right Wing Blogger. Author. YouTuber. Completely Deplorable.” (Faucheux declined an interview request.)

The April group chat on Radio 3Fourteen seemed to speak to women who, like Faucheux, felt that an ever-liberalizing society was telling them how to be and what to believe, spurning them at any sign of parochial behavior. The bloggers noted how unhappy modern women are. To an extent, research bears out this idea: In 2009, the economists Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers published a seminal study which found that as women’s rights expanded, their happiness declined. They posited that “greater equality may have led more women to compare their outcomes to those of the men around them,” resulting in disappointment when they found their relative positions lacking. But Lokteff and her klatch of commentators took a reductive view: If women are miserable, feminism must be to blame.

The group also chastised feminists for being conformists. “A lot of these liberal women, they’re not risk-takers, even though they have piercings or blue hair,” Lokteff said. “What we do, the things we talk about, I don’t think it can get any more high-risk.” While hyperbolic on its face, her statement underscored the alt-right’s quest to be seen as a group of righteous rebels. Lokteff presented its mission to reverse decades of progressive change as radical, even thrilling.

The more subtle effect of her conspiratorial orchestration was to assure female viewers that ideas society deems offensive — for example, a preference for white beauty — feel normal when you’re in the right crowd. “It’s okay to think like us,” Lokteff said. “If you do, there’s a whole tribe here that you can join of girls that actually have your back.”

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