The most popular explanations for the rise of populism have focused on inequality and race. But the storm surrounding the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the US supreme court points to a third factor: male rage. Traditional gender roles are under challenge, leading many men to fear a loss of power and status. That fear is visible in the misogynistic tone of populist movements in the US, Brazil, the Philippines, Italy and elsewhere. The male backlash finds expression not just in relatively civilised debates about women in the workplace or gender roles at home. As the Kavanaugh hearings highlighted, it quickly moves on to the rawest and most emotive topic of all — sexual violence. Rodrigo Duterte, the president of the Philippines, and Jair Bolsonaro, the frontrunner in this month’s Brazilian presidential election, have incorporated gibes about rape into their political rhetoric. Matteo Salvini, the dominant figure in the Italian government, has used sexual slurs to demean female poli...

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