Gender, Sexuality, and Neo-Confederacy
HEIDI BEIRICH AND KEVIN HICKS
In neo-Confederate ideology, interpretations of gender and sexuality utilize nineteenth-century invocations. When neo-Confederates declare behavior to be "manly" or "womanly," they draw on a legacy of gender relations dating from the antebellum Old South. These are best expressed by what advocates of neo-Confederacy call "Southern patriarchy" or the "culture of honor."1 Neo-Confederates long to reestablish patriarchy, to bring back a time when men ruled their families, women were subordinate, supposedly lesser races knew their place, and sexual deviants were shunned. Neo-Confederate organizations such as the League of the South (ls) lament the loss of this earlier time—and work to right what they believe are the wrongs created by modern American conceptions of gender. To fully understand neo-Confederate views of gender and sexuality, a tour through the antebellum Southern history that grounds them is required.
Conceptions of Gender
The conception of gender idealized and advocated by neo-Confederate activists has its origins in the nineteenth-century plantation system. Life on the plantation was defined by a complex network of familial relations that provided the basis for social interaction. In this system, each individual played a familial role that was determined by his or her class, gender, and race. Privileges, duties, and obligations were derived from and treated as natural expressions of one's position in the familial hierarchy. Typically portrayed in terms of a human body, this antebellum conceptualization of an organic society served both to delineate and unite members of the plantation world. The head of the