“...misogynist extremism is not just located at the fringes of society and perpetrated by a few undesirable individuals in murky places online, but is also found in the brightest of daylight, in halls of power and fame.”
The last few weeks have seen extreme misogyny return to the forefront of public consciousness. Following on the heels of a short but memorable Twitter feud between the former kickboxer and misogynist influencer Andrew Tate and the environmental activist Greta Thunberg, the Romanian police detained Andrew Tate, together with his brother and two Romanian citizens, over suspicions of rape and involvement in human trafficking. For years, Andrew Tate has engaged in misogynistic online, and offline, abuse whilst making a name of himself as a “self-help guru”. The BBC reports that the Tate brothers had, allegedly, used the “loverboy method” to recruit women into the brothers’ “adult entertainment” business. The “loverboy method” is used by “... human traffickers who usually operate by trying to make young girls or boys fall in love with them” (Government of the Netherlands, n.d.) to build trust and a relationship of dependence for the victim with the intention to exploit them.
Andrew Tate’s misogynist actions and beliefs have raised concerns, particularly, due to his popularity on the internet among boys and men. Reports state that Andrew Tate has millions of followers on social media and that his videos have been viewed billions of times. The age-wide reach of his videos brings concerns for the risk of children being radicalised by extreme misogynist views, a concern that some British schools try to counteract by educating their students on gender stereotypes . However, the issue of misogyny goes beyond the preachings of misogynistic individuals such as Andrew Tate. The last week has been riddled with reports on a Met police officer’s decades-long engagement in violence against women, as well as the institution's lack of dealing with his and other officers’ involvement in gender-based violence. It seems like we can’t escape misogyny.
In addition to the last few weeks’ news on misogynistic individuals, we have in the last few years seen concerns raised about the growing threat of other forms of violent misogyny, misogynistic extremism and male supremacist terrorism. Misogynist incels tend to be the centre of these reports, such as in those by the Center for Countering Digital Hate and the U.S. Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center, due to misogynist incels’ blatant dehumanisation of women and connection to online and offline violence. The influence of misogynist incels’ beliefs and actions on boys and men are a big concern, but as the cases of Andrew Tate and the Met Police show, we also need to acknowledge the wider reach of misogyny as a motivation for men’s violence and engagement in extremism. Indeed, within counter-extremism spaces, we are seeing an increased engagement with the role male supremacism plays in extremisms. Work by people at the Institution for Research on Male Supremacism highlights how different expressions, acts and cultures of misogyny are linked: misogynist extremism is not just located at the fringes of society and perpetrated by a few undesirable individuals in murky places online, but is also found in the brightest of daylight, in halls of power and fame. Andrew Tate, the inability to deal with violence against women and girls, and misogynist incels all adhere to male supremacist ideology and stem from a society that allows for patriarchal and hierarchical values and behaviours to flourish. To effectively counter male supremacism and misogynist extremism, we need to actively, and as a community, work to change these values.
In making our part in challenging these views, Groundswell Project is committed to eradicating hate in all its forms by connecting grassroots organisations that share the same commitment. We also put work into educating societal actors, such as the police and schools, about growing and changing threats - there amongst male supremacism. If you, or your organisation, want to inspire change to counter male supremacism in your community, we would love to connect. When we work together we are less vulnerable to harms.