By Meghna Amin
Content warning: mentions of threats of death, domestic violence, rape, and sexual assault.
Founder of the renowned Everyday Sexism Project, Laura Bates revealed the secrets behind her new book, Men Who Hate Women, described as “a timely and unnerving expose of the dark fraternities of extreme misogyny”.
Inspired by the success of her previous book, Everyday Sexism, yet deeply affected by the abusive messages sent to her followings its publication, Bates focused on the communities of men who were sparking these threats against her, threats of rape, death, and extreme actions that were also radicalising young boys against women.
Admitting she receives around “200 rape and death threats in a single day”, Bates was intrigued by the “specific extremist communities” that are working online and offline to “radicalise” and “groom” young boys in joining their groups, tricking them with ideas like “our government is a feminist conspiracy”.
Bates wanted her book to be “a lifting of the lid” about these groups, what they’re doing, particularly to young boys in our society, and she ultimately wanted us to start considering them in the way we would other extreme and terrorist groups. The violent misogyny that is seemingly ignored by the government, is a form of hate and extremism that does “meet every international definition for terrorism”.
With 2 women dying from domestic abuse per week, rape cases continuing to go unreported, and the radicalisation of boys who grow to terrorise women, Bates insists that it’s time to stop being blind “to seeing that this is part of a much wider pattern”, and time to stop ignoring the vast number of hate crimes happening against women.
Showcasing exclusive interviews with former members of the misogynistic male group, Bates undertook her own mission to understand more about the movement, its ins and outs, and ultimately, its flaws.
When researching members of the groups Bates was investigating, she revealed members of the group included UK political candidates, a congressional candidate in the States, “men who walk among us”, that are entirely different to the typical idea we have of “trolls”. Those she spoke to seemed entirely normal, charming even, on a surface level, moments before they would preach about “locking up” women who supported sexual violence survivors.
Some of the groups contained hundreds of members, some of whom weren’t hating women, many of whom were particularly vulnerable, some anxious teenagers who don’t “have a space in their life to feel a sense of community”. These men and boys with real problems were suddenly targeted by “extremely effective propagandists”, encouraging them and radicalising them against women.
Whilst influential social media networks, Youtube and Instagram included, are being forced to be held accountable for actions and algorithms that are allowing the radicalisation of these young boys, showing them false statistics and facts, Bates suggests perhaps more needs to be done on a social level, from the government, and from schools, who don’t seem to be recognising the problem, that begins with “men who are suffering from a particular kind of society prescribed masculinity that tells them they’re only worth as a man in this world is to be a very specific kind of alpha male who is control, who dominates, and who is the head of his family and then also his woman.”
Their own feelings of “inadequacy and frustration and vulnerability” lead to the abuse against women, yet, the irony behind this is that the extreme hatred of women is actually “an internal hatred of men”, who haven’t been provided with solutions, mental health support, or even alternative forms of masculinity.
The key to “undermining the allure of these online extremist communities”, according to Bates, is “real projects to tackle male mental health”. Yet unfortunately, as of now, it seems that we’re doing close to nothing at all.
Image: Anna Kuptsova