This article is about violence and the construction of hyper-masculinity among male left-wing activists in Denmark. It is based on qualitative empirical research among activists in the radical left-wing movement in Copenhagen conducted from 2001–2005. The aim has been to grasp the constructions of political identities and masculinities in the most radical and violent part of the movement. The analysis is twofold: the first part is on gender relations and debates about internal violence in the movement; the second part goes deeper into the construction of hyper-masculinity through narrative life-history interviews with leading activists about political upbringing, political values, gender equality, and confrontations with the police and the neo-Nazis. One of the main findings is that the construct of hyper-masculinity and violence is rooted in the political learning and development that has taken place in the organizations and movements in which activists have participated, in encounters with other violent men, and in the internal political culture within the movement where the norm becomes ‘machismo’, which implies dominance and oppression of women as well as men who cannot live up to the norms. The article emphasizes ambivalences in the male activists’ political identities: on the one hand supporting gender equality and feminism and on the other hand using violence as an essential part of political practice within the movement and sometimes suppressing women.
political violence, masculinity, left-wing movements, autonomous, political identities