Gender+ equality claims and feminist goals have almost always faced “backlash movements”. Direct opposition to gender+ equality has become unacceptable on a supranational level, because gender+ equality is a norm-loaded policy field in the EU system. Nevertheless, there exist various forms of opposition that hinder gender+ equality and the effective implementation of the current European Union (EU) policy strategy, gender mainstreaming.
This chapter discusses the role of opposition in EU gender+ equality policymaking in general, and that of indirect opposition in particular. Focusing on the individual level, it studies the narratives provided by gender+ equality actors to understand what they perceive as opposition and what its effects are on their implementation of gender mainstreaming. The chapter shows that gender+ equality policy actors face three types of indirect opposition that overlap to some extent: inertia, evasion, and degradation. These three types come in forms that are specific to gender+ equality policy and all are effective in hampering further improvements to gender+ equality. The findings suggest that opposition to gender+ equality occurs because of its central aim of changing gender norms and institutions, norms in which individuals were socialised for a lifetime and which they tend to wish to preserve.