Misogynistic 'radicalisation' of boys online has these experts calling for change
How surprising! The unhinged Leftist attack on men and maleness is provoking a backlash. Young men who don't like the anti-male messages that flood them from the educational system are reacting and seeking out more congenial messages. So abandoning moderation and balance leads to imbalance in the opposite direction.
Leftists are always surprised by backlash but their unbalanced messages will always provoke it. Unbridled hostility to men is highly likely to lead towards hostility to women. "For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction". That is nearly as true in sociology as it is in physics. If you treat men as the enemy they may well become that. And calling maleness "toxic" is a good way to bring that about
For many, misogyny on the internet is depressingly familiar. In Australia, 65 per cent of girls and young women have reported being harassed or abused online.
But some experts are arguing that in a "manosphere" of online anti-women groups, methods of communication and organisation are becoming more sophisticated.
At the more serious end of the spectrum, these experts say, are operators that must be seen and named as "extremist" or "terrorist" groups – particularly if anything is to be done to stop them.
UK author Laura Bates has spent most of the last decade educating school children about sexism. She says in the last few years she's noted an increasing sense of hostility, aggression and anger in boys' attitudes towards women, and argues online hate groups are to blame. "There [is] a kind of radicalisation, a kind of grooming happening online," Ms Bates tells RN's Life Matters.
She describes "a very gradual, slippery process" whereby young men's problems and insecurities are co-opted by organised online extremist groups.
In order to connect to young men, the groups cite real-world problems men are dealing with, such as workplace injuries, cancer, mental health and suicide. But instead of tackling those issues, the groups reinforce "the stereotypes that are actually causing them", Ms Bates says.
"So they double down on the idea that men have to be tough and manly, that they have to be strong, not vulnerable, that they shouldn't share emotions, that exerting power and control over women and over societies is what it means to be a real man."
Ms Bates says anti-women rhetoric is so pervasive online that it's normalised. In this climate, groups have emerged spouting dangerous ideologies, including "women being evil and about men needing to rise up and crush them, to rape women to force them into sexual servitude, and to murder them".
She believes they should be classified as terrorist groups.
"In any other case, where somebody goes out and attacks a specific demographic group with the intent of causing enormous harm and fear in that group because of radicalisation, because of the fact that they've been explicitly groomed to hate that group, we would describe it as a form of terrorism," Ms Bates says.
Joshua Roose, a senior research fellow at Deakin University who specialises in masculinities and extremism, echoes Ms Bates' call for a change of language. He says there's a strong "normative anti-women attitude in society" that feeds into online activities and behaviour.
His research, for example, has looked at the proposition that women deserve equal rights to men, and found that only one in 17 men disagree. But among men under the age of 35, that figure grows substantially to one in three men disagreeing.
Ms Bates is clear about not wanting to demonise young men. "It's important to say that this is not about maligning or accusing teenage boys. Many of these boys are very, very vulnerable. And these online communities are extremely adept and clever at preying on them," she says.
Rather, she argues that when boys are exposed from a young age to misogynistic messages and ideologies online, without other information being provided to them, "you end up with a very real sense of confusion amongst young people".
Both Bates and Dr Roose argue that misogynistic attitudes, behaviour and communities online can't be stamped out without broader societal change.