Event Notes: Online Misogynist Influencers – Thurs 19th January

A huge thank you to everyone who joined us last week for the webinar – all 80 of you! – and for the many emails that we have since received. Sorry for the delay, but below is a summary of my (Tamasine’s) presentation as promised:

  1. As Michael also said, I don’t really see this as being about Andrew Tate or any other influencer. I understand his influence as an outcome of a perfect storm of events including the glamorisation and normalisation of sexual exploitation in pornography and pornified culture; questions regarding men’s place in the world and what it means to be a man in 2023 with few places/opportunitites to have the honest conversations that desperately need to happen eg. changes in society over time such as in the workplace and the home; reinforcement of gender roles and gender stereotypes through pornography, advertising, toys, slogans on children’s clothes etc.; the rise in conspiracy theories/fake news – linked to this a genuine fear amongst young people to voice their opinion for fear of causing offence/ostracization. Young people then connect with others online in spaces such as Discord, Reddit, Tmblr, 4Chan and (now defunct) 8 Chan where they are then exposed to extreme views of people who tell it like it is without the input and guidance of safe adults.
  2. Many of the things that Tate and others say feel right, even though they’re wrong. I find Stephen Colbert’s concept of truthiness (2006) really helpful to explain this to young people. Like a Maths problem in which you get points for the correct method, the answer is still incorrect if you put in the incorrect information.
  3. Why do we want boys and young men to reject Tate? Because we say so or because they are thinking critically about what he says about men and women? I like this quotation by Jonah Mix regarding pornography and I like to take it as a starting point for all of this work: I’m not interested in a world where men really want to watch porn but resist because they’ve been shamed; I’m interested in a world where men are raised from birth with such an unshakable understanding of women as living human beings that they are incapable of being aroused by their exploitation...* We want boys and young men to be, as Michael puts it, safe and safe to be around, and for them to enjoy fantastic, positive, healthy relationships with females throughout their lives. *I can’t find a date for this quotation or what text it is from, sorry, but I’ll keep looking.
  4. The underpinning values for this work need to be: this has to be embedded within a whole school and wider community culture rather than being an issue for one person in a one-off PSHE session; it should be implicit and explicit during delivery that all – male and female – are worthy of respect and safety and that all – male and female – should treat others with respect and regard for their safety; that these conversation are important and everyone deserves to have them.
  5. The most important conversations to support learners to understand Andrew Tate probably don’t even mention his name. It’s really about, in every year group, addressing: the history of gender norms and the emergence of gender stereotypes; skills for media analysis; skills for critical thinking. At different stages this can be addressed through themes such as human rights; different forms of exploitation including how and why exploitation is often sex-based, and sexual exploitation; porn-critical relationships and sex education (I have been working to develop schemes of work, lesson plans and resources for US NPF Culture Reframed and these should be available in the coming months); extremism – as Martin Luther King (1963) said, for hate and for love – so I cover the civil rights and gay liberation movements, the Suffragettes and Suffragists, veganism and Insulate Britain as examples before moving on to the manosphere and the links to the Far Right; mental health including specific discussion of male suicide, male pattern violence such as One Punch Can Kill and bigorexia. All of the resources that Michael and I think work can be found here.
  6. Teachers might find it helpful to write scripts to tackle some of the questions that often arise. This is the example that I gave during my presentation in response to one of the most common: But the woman in that video consented to Andrew Tate hurting her when they had sex... (also a response to what if your girlfriend is begging you to choke her during sex? – normalised by pornography and promoted as breath play on TikTok etc.) I respond with: We’re good people. We don’t experience pleasure by causing others harm or to feel pain; It’s against the law to physically hurt people; We don’t collude in other’s people’s self-harm. We let them know that we care about and respect them so we refuse, get help if necessary and then leave; (Because we’re talking about young people here, and the messages that are presented to them about sexual behaviours via pornography and pornified culture so often normalise harm and abuse) Protect yourself – you could be arrested and charged with assault. And in the case of choking, of course, you could be looking at manslaughter/murder.
  7. As offered/requested last week, I’d be very happy to post a suggested script for you if have a specific question that you’re hearing in your setting.
  8. A few people have asked if we can run groups or deliver this training again for their organisation. Sure! Drop us an email with the details as to how we can help.
  9. Michael and I will be running longer, more in-depth training on Understanding the Manosphere on March 10th. Tickets are now available on Eventbrite at: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/understanding-the-manosphere-tickets-516178753547
  10. We noticed that 90% of the attendees last week were female. We’re also running training on women working with boys on April 21st. Tickets available, again, on Eventbrite at: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/will-they-listen-women-working-with-boys-tickets-516970401387
  11. Thanks again everyone. Very best wishes and hope to be in touch soon – Tamasine and Michael