Femonationalism, that is, the use of women’s rights rhetorics to further racial stigmatisation and promote nationalism, has been of growing interest to social scientists on European contexts. While previous studies have provided insights on the racialisation of sexism in gender equality policymaking, there is still a limited understanding of how policy frames in particular national contexts can either exacerbate or mitigate femonationalism in the making of anti-gender-based violence policy. In particular, how do frames on race and racism impact the framing of anti-street harassment policies and, by extension, the ability to prevent femonationalism?
The article explores this issue by comparing the cases of France and Britain through empirical data with policymakers and activists intervening in policymaking against street harassment in France and Britain. Findings suggest that, even though French state actors claim their colour-blindness allows them to avoid a racist framing of the problem, it actually enables it. This in turn favours a racialised framing of street harassment and leads to an inability to address the potential risk of racial targeting in the criminalisation of street harassment. Conversely, the acknowledgment of racism in Britain favours an intersectional framing of street harassment and leads to greater consideration of the risk of racial targeting. By analysing how race repertoires unfold in policy pre-adoption phases, the article therefore suggests that nationally embedded assumptions about race have a significant impact on the framing of anti-gender-based violence policy and, in turn, on femonationalism.