November 29, 2022

The complex task of addressing the influence of misogynistic tendencies

Read Time:7 Minute, 16 Second


(CNN) — Andrew Tate, the professional wrestler turned media personality who earned the ire and admiration of millions with his viral tirades about male dominance, female submission and wealth, is everywhere these days.

Never mind that the so-called “alpha male” podcaster, who openly advocates violence against women, was vetoed from all major social platforms, or being banned from the TV show “Big Brother” for his violent and obnoxious behavior and that his house has been raided as part of an ongoing investigation into human trafficking (he told Tucker Carlson of Fox News that was the victim of an attempted assault).

misogynists misogyny social networks influencers

The “manosphere” influencer Andrew Tate in 2016.

His ideas have already taken root in the minds of countless young men who see him as a model of masculinity. Before being removed, her TikTok account accumulated a 11.6 billion views. In the spaces of the social networks dedicated to teaching student stories have surfaced as young as high school kids repeating their tirades and harassing their classmates. Tate’s influence has also been blamed on a number of cases of sexual harassment in schools in the United Kingdom Y Australia.

Nor is he the only one. So-called male supremacist views have surfaced on TikTok and podcast platforms, with personalities ranting about men’s rights to “high value” either “hypermasculine”to those who define as rich, confident, influential, sexually dominant, and entitled to the submission of women.

If this is let go, human rights groups and policy experts can point to what often comes next. There is a clear connection between the misogynistic contents and the great channels of hate, documented by the Anti-Defamation League and others similar groups. These philosophies have also inspired a increasing rate of deadly violence.

Combating this dangerous phenomenon requires efforts on multiple fronts. In the United States and around the world, organizations are turning to technology and teaching methods to show youth and children a better path. They are also applying a more unexpected ingredient: compassion.

Stop the hate before it starts

misogynistic influencers

Brette Steele addresses community leaders and law enforcement in 2017.

The jumble of groups and philosophies that revolve around ideas of toxic masculinity is commonly known as the “manosphere”. Within it are the “incels” (involuntary celibate), men’s rights activists, pick-up artists and content creators spreading these ideas to the masses. Brette Steele, Senior Director of Targeted Violence Prevention at the McCain Institutesays that men often flock to the “manosphere” because they are unhappy in some way and seek a sense of belonging, and younger audiences are drawn to a similar need.

What is the rebellion of the involuntarily celibate or incel? 1:44

“Young people are looking for that sense of belonging, that kind of base that explains what happens to them,” he explains to CNN.

“In recent years, more young people have had to turn to online communities. We’ve seen a degradation of social skills in person, and middle school is when those social skills first come into play.”

Steele works with various teams exploring ways to curb misogynistic content and prevent the violence and extremism that sometimes accompany it. One of his teams, from Arizona State University, created curricula and lessons for fourth and fifth graders that help build social resilience at a critical age.

“We have to ask ourselves things like: when do young people develop the skills that can prevent some of these risk factors? When do they develop a positive sense of self-concept? When do they develop the ability to withstand rejection?”

Once young people have come into contact with dangerous parts of the “manosphere,” Steele says redirection becomes a primary strategy.

Diverting Hate, a project of the Middlebury Institute for International Studies, Equity and Justice, maintains a database of terms used in the “manosphere”. By programming against those words, they can target ads to people who are having dangerous conversations in public spaces on the Internet.

“The idea is to redirect people to more prosocial male organizations and more positive representations of masculinity that aren’t violent or demeaning,” says Steele.

change expectations

misogynistic messages network campaigns

Ted Bunch at the 2018 Coalition Against Trafficking in Women Gala in New York.

Ted Bunch, co-founder of A Call to Men (ACTM), says one of the keys to getting men and boys out of the dangerous pipeline of misogyny is understanding where it starts. A Call to Men partners with schools, businesses, and professional sports organizations to promote what it calls “healthy masculinity” – concepts like kindness, respect for others, and an understanding that, in a patriarchal society, men have the opportunity to use his power to protect.

“(Misogyny) teaches men that aggressiveness, violence and domination of others are somehow embedded in their DNA,” says Bunch. “It’s not like that. It’s the way men are socialized.” In a male-dominated patriarchal society, everyone is taught that women and girls are less valuable, or that they are property on some level.”

One of the first priorities of A Call to Men is always to mitigate the harm that this type of thinking causes to others, says Bunch. But seeing misogyny as a learned experience also presents an opportunity for compassion. Bunch stresses that ACTM and similar organizations for men do not take the position that masculinity is inherently toxic, or that manhood should be punished. Rather, his organization strives to give men opportunities to think differently about exactly what it means to be a man.

Bunch says that some of the most effective work of ACTM occurs when it brings a group of men together in a space of trust and allows them to talk to each other about the things that make them sad, the things that stress them, and the things that make them sad. that they have learned to feel that they should not argue.

“When we are in the rooms with men and we start to unravel how we have been socialized, they are thirsty for this information,” he says.

Bunch also points out that this process is especially effective when the group works with men in areas commonly dominated by men and emblematic of values ​​that can be considered very masculine, such as law enforcement and the military.

“We also point out that healthy manhood is something inside and out,” says Bunch. “Men have higher suicide rates and premature death. They silently fight anxiety and depression. Sometimes they forgo basic medical care. Looking tough, being tough… those kinds of expectations hurt men, too.”

Call attention and report behaviors

When someone takes advantage of misogyny to harm others, or starts to get into the manosphere, the first attempt to right the ship can be critical. Steele and Bunch say they have a general idea of ​​which approaches work and which don’t.

“There is a real negativity for any kind of mental health intervention in these spaces (of the manosphere),” says Steele.

Instead, the work she supports focuses on deflecting the message, rather than countering it.

“There is a difference between a counter narrative and an alternate narrative. Instead of pushing against the grain, these efforts promote other organizations that could provide the same sense of belonging or connection without the same negativity.”

On YouTube and TikTok, several popular creators are speaking out strongly against the “Andrew Tates” of the world. Some, like the superstar of TikTok Drew AfualoThey do so with the intention of protecting women and other marginalized voices from hate, and not necessarily to change the minds of the men who provoke it. To bring about change, Bunch says men need to step up and report bad behavior when they see it.

“Part of the problem is that these men don’t listen to or respect women’s experiences. But they do listen to each other,” says Bunch. “If men speak out, other men will respond to that and we’ve found that to be true.”

But it’s also important to “get attention,” says Bunch. He mentions several male celebrities who are using their fame to introduce healthier ideas of manhood: NBA star Dwayne Wade, who performs a support for the LGBTQ community; actor Benedict Cumberbatch, who draws attention to equal pay issues; and actor Justin Baldoni, who promotes the healthy parenting and family.

“More and more men are doing this, because men are realizing that this way of thinking doesn’t work for us,” says Bunch. “It doesn’t feel good.”

The dangerous influence of misogyny begins with men. Saying it doesn’t have to be an accusation. In that sense, experts say that the solution is more effective when it starts with men. This is also not an accusation. On the contrary, they expect it to be an opportunity.





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