Webinar follow-up: ‘Online Misogynist Influencers’

Sincere thanks to the 48 schools, charities and Local Authorities who signed up for the ‘Online Misogynist Influencers’ webinar which took place on 20/09/22, from all across England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Island, the Channel Islands and the Republic of Ireland. Your interest and support is truly heartening.

Firstly, two apologies.

  1. There was a technical issue with the Zoom link experienced by a few attendees, which hindered access, regrettably. All efforts will be made to avoid this recurring.
  2. In hindsight I should have flagged up more clearly the potential for the subject matter and content to be impactful, given the issues involved. Sincere apologies.

Men At Work C.I.C. was set up to support those working with boys and young men in facilitating constructive dialogues with them about their evolving understanding of what it means to ‘be a man’ – and how some societal messages can lead to harmful values and behaviours that hinder them in being safe – and in being safe to be around. Alongside our standard one-day training offer, these webinars are intended as a meeting-place for professionals around relevant, targeted themes, a space to air concerns and share ideas and resources. We endeavour to refine and improve both the training and the webinars from delegate feedback on an an ongoing basis.

The approach in both our training and these webinars is as follows:

  1. Name the problem/s – being factual, frank and fearless in the process
  2. Ask WHY it is so – getting to the roots of issues in order to understand their origins and nature
  3. Identify what can be DONE – being committed to positive change by taking practical, creative steps. Our training is based on facilitating structured engagement programme called 10 Dialogues.

The Online Misogynist Influencer webinar aimed aim to cover – within the time constraints – each of these 3 steps. It was framed as an opportunity to engage with fellow educators and youth workers around the impact and influence of such ‘influencers’ on the language, beliefs and behaviours of boys and young men – using a high profile figure called Andrew Tate as an entry point for discussion.

Below is a brief recent media bundle relating to this person:

ARTICLE 1: By AJ Willingham, CNN September 8, 2022 https://edition.cnn.com/2022/09/08/us/andrew-tate-manosphere-misogyny-solutions-cec/index.html

ARTICLE 2: By Jess Sharp, Sky News, Sunday 28 August 2022 https://news.sky.com/story/andrew-tate-the-social-media-influencer-teachers-are-being-warned-about-12679194        

ARTICLE 3: By Shanti Das, The Observer Sat 6 Aug 2022 https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2022/aug/06/andrew-tate-violent-misogynistic-world-of-tiktok-new-star          

ARTICLE 4: Shanti DasSat 6 Aug 2022 https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2022/aug/06/revealed-how-tiktok-bombards-young-men-with-misogynistic-videos-andrew-tate?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

The reason for using AT as an entry point to the webinar was his particularly high profile in summer 2022 across social media. Lots of boys and young men know who he is and what he says – and that ubiquity and reach matters. Many adults don’t know him – or his ilk – and that matters too, because we need to know what we are dealing with in order to best support our young people. Many young men – and this was clearly borne out in the spoken and written webinar contributions from teachers and youth workers – have been articulating statements, quotes and perspectives pushed by AT in their schools and/or youth settings, either directly to – or in the presence of – the professionals in those settings.

AT is effectively a ‘grain of sand’ through which a wider world of misogynistic values and behaviours which are inimical to safeguarding for children and young people (primarily boys and young men but by extension girls and young women) can be seen. He did not invent any of the ideas or behaviours he espouses – he is, in truth, merely a transient avatar for deep-rooted and long-standing structural misogyny. His particular story is informative, though, on several levels:

  • it speaks of the reach, influence and normative power of the rapidly-evolving social media platforms with which huge numbers of young people engage
  • he is deployed in conversation between male students and their teachers / youth workers as an agent provocateur / devil’s advocate / anti-hero / voice of the underdog / tough-truth-teller
  • he has become a widely-recognised touchstone, for substantial numbers of boys and young men – and we need to understand why – in order to engage boys and young men constructively in dialogue about the views he promotes.

Below is an anonymised summary of the contributions to the webinar chat. Within it, I have added some responses and resource links. They are shaded in light grey. When time allows, I will add more links relevant to this issue.

Notes from the chat:

HI – teacher in Blackpool – boys love Andrew Tate !!!!!

Despite loads teaching on consent, control, respect etc

I’ve been asked for advice by parents of young men and I’m also concerned by what I hear from students.

To support our Domestic Abuse teachings (we are a Domestic Abuse charity)

Safeguarding lead and Assistant Head- increase in students expressing with misogynist views or discussing Andrew Tate as a positive role model

I would like to address the issue of role models with pupils and how to choose them appropriately. 

getting to know more about a pressing safeguarding issue in schools and how to protect our children

I have teenage children and I teach in FE based in Glasgow.

To increase my own personal knowledge so I use in teaching &  support students in becoming critical thinkers

Hi I’m a teacher of PHSE. I am really horrified by the glorification of Andrew Tate et al in our boys, especially around Y8/9 age. This is linked to a real attitude of victim shaming and blaming whenever we discuss any kind of sexual violence or harassment

I run a feminism student club and run safeguarding training for staff and would love to relay any information back to them

Shocked by Andrew Tate and want to be more knowledgeable when discussing with son

Head of PSHE in a mixed secondary in Somerset.  Wanting to make lessons for KS3, 4 & 5 as effective as possible on this topic

To feel more able to challenge young people on this subject and encourage their critical thinking skills

Responsibility for PSHE whole-school; want to address growing concerns on this topic effectively

Hello, I am a youth worker that works in the Shankill / North Belfast area. My role is working with young men as a youth worker in the Belfast Boys Model School. Would like to gain more of an insight to inform my practice.

Assistant head lead on personal development want to increase knowledge to help inform practice, policy, staff, students and parents

Hi Michael. lovely to see you again. We were part of SWaN Safety of Women at Night in Exeter and run courses for people impacted by domestic abuse More Positive Me CIC

PD AHT leading on how we educate and safeguard our students against growing Incel. Ellesmere Port very male dominated industrial area.

Director of Sixth Form at an all girls school and looking at the best ways to explain and educate them about what is out there.

I work for an Under 25s Drug & Alcohol support team and I just think it’s really valuable to understand the bigger picture of young people’s experiences. It’s very easy to get disconnected (as I get older!)

Really interested how this aligns with our Serious Youth Violence Service and Healthy Relationships Service.

Also – the danger that even negative attention will promote them and further their scope/success

Good point – we are worried about overt teaching of this in case it draws attention to him from those who haven’t yet been attracted to this stuff

Y9 – ‘he’s fun’.  

Not getting quoted things by him but some positive comments around his persona and his wealth.

In pshe lessons we are hearing students actively supporting his views in order to be contentious during discussion

boys ‘what they said about him – isn’t true. women have wrongly accused him’

Kids also chatting in the playground saying he’s great

That sounds a lot like radicalisation…

‘He donates money to charity though’

Maybe listing examples of famously awful people – like Jimmy Saville – who ostentatiously donate/d to charity would counter this (above) argument?

lot of boys using his influence as a form of armour, using his terminology and saying about being “Top G’s” and are saying he is bringing back “strong” masculinity

In our Serious Youth Violence Service last year, about 70% of young men could not identify a role model. There is gap for these young people and the risk is that he takes this opportunity.

Also – young men saying things to be intentionally controversial – whether they actually believe/understand what he represents or not. It gets a reaction

They’re surrounded by that – look at music videos, footballers etc – it’s all about the drip, surrounded by money & women, that’s what they’re being shown is the thing to aspire to

Lack of self esteem and lack of positive role models?

I feel this hits every demographic!

Michael, I think you alluded to this at the beginning – but also, the impact this stuff does have on young women and how they feel they ‘should’ be behaving – i.e. being submissive

We have this more in 6th form really- ideas from AT and others are used to say that Toxic Masculinity is just “made up” when we had some female RSE trainers in doing a session with them. Also in class belittling ideas from female classmates “why are you trying to look clever? You just read that from the text book it’s not your idea” I think we expect by 6th form that we won’t be dealing with this- but in a way its worse!

not all the students of course, but enough to be concerning to students and staff

Do people find they need to have sessions run by facilitators from a similar demographic to the groups? We are searching for some Muslim trainers, ideally of a Bengali background – even better if from East London- but its so hard to find someone able/willing to do this with our kids… if anyone knows an organisation I can contact please send me some details

I will do some research and share relevant links on this question (above)

we use the 4Ds of an active bystander

example reference here to 4 D’s https://www.breakingthesilence.cam.ac.uk/prevention-support/be-active-bystander

We have a culture of collusion where these issues are concerned so any more advice on how to approach this would be very much appreciated!

And we still hear very young girls being told that boys are unkind to them when they secretly like them. That starts at age 4 or earlier. I can’t believe we are still talking about this stuff!

It’s a form of conditioning

does anyone have a resource they have used this term that has helped in class- a PPT or video- to do with this?

Another thing….in an RSE lesson a large majority of girls shared they thought it was normal for sex to be painful

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4RJCWeRS_Jg – interesting little video on ‘why boys are mean to girls’. The School of Life stuff is generally really interesting

there’s an excellent Ted talk on this, i forget the lady’s name but she is talking about the high % of young women who thought sex should a) be painful and b) without pleasure

Is it possibly this TED Talk by Prof Gail Dines? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=605qufO1n_U ) Gail is CEO of www.CultureReframed.org – and excellent source of support for parents/carers and teachers who want to have constructive dialogues with CYP about porn)

Amnesty International have a report called Toxic Twitter ( https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/research/2018/03/online-violence-against-women-chapter-1-1/ ) and the Centre for Countering Digital Hate released a report ( https://counterhate.com/research/?_sft_topic=misogyny ) a few months ago about misogyny, focused on Instagram that are both worth a read

Dr Tamasine Preece’s section responses are below. To contact Dr Preece, see http://www.humanise.pro

I think it’s so important to see this as part of a curriculum rather than stand alone

Absolutely fascinating how you sequence all of these issues together.  I would really love to see any materials you would be willing to share.

“playing you like a fiddle” brilliant

Can you repeat the name of the book please and also would love to see a curriculum map so we can understand how this is built for younger years

*The book mentioned by Tamasine is Home Grown, by Joan Smith

Not a question but loved hearing your thoughts on this within a learning context. Being a youth worker based in a formal learning environment, building that rapport with young men is at the key for this leaning to happen

That was useful to listen to how it is done in practice. That is what I feel we need more of. modelling resources / discussions / lessons.

I wonder how much of an overlap there is with some of this mentality and trauma/ACES

Gemma Aitchison’s section responses:

The YES Matters Commitment for schools has classroom resources, one to one SEMH resources and staff training. www.yes-matters.co.uk

Gemma set delegates an activity: google ‘schoolgirl’ and ‘schoolboy’ – responses follow:

I fear that ‘School Girl’ might be NSFW – which says a lot!

omg this is the basis for our petition to ban school uniforms in porn and sex shops, my students launched a petition in May to ban it.

Link here to the petition set up bys students and staff, steered by Sarah Maile, to ban school uniforms in sex shops and pornography https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/615829

wow – very concerning the sexualisation of girls but boys seen with books, backpacks and education emphasis

school boys not sexualised

Advert for ‘sexy school girl costume’

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2017/jun/22/teenage-boys-wear-skirts-to-school-protest-no-shorts-uniform-policy I had images linked to this article coming up

Male teacher and female teacher will throw up fairly similar results too

Lots of the girls are older girls, whereas the boys look primary school aged

I use screenshots of the schoolboy v schoolgirl in my training along with similar differences for Halloween/dressing up outfits that sexualise and add to stereotypes

The old ‘Tarts and Vicars’ fancy dress trope

I found that really powerful Gemma

Thank you Gemma- that was so valuable

*Gemma mentioned the DASH Risk assessment* see link here for more info and / or contact Gemma for a guided explanation of how it can involve schools: https://www.dashriskchecklist.co.uk/

All this training available for professionals should be available/promoted to parents too!

I also think there’s value in looking at the motivation behind men such as Tate – what needs are they trying to meet for themselves? What are they victims of?

Thank you!!

it’s time consuming wading through everything – so recommendations are really helpful

thank you so so so much for today, so informative and important

love love the idea of staying in touch with resources 🙂 and future courses! please can I be on board!

Thanks very much all… have to go, as I have lessons…  Looking forward to shared ideas.

any resources much appreciated

Thank you – yes please keep me in the loop with useful resources, much appreciated. 

Thanks everyone! Really got my brain percolating!

Thanks so much very useful !

Thank you!  I too would be interested in resources and keeping in touch

This was super helpful, thank you, would love to have copy of resources whenever they’re available please

thank you everyone, I am on duty so I need to run but lots to think about!

amazing webinar, so thought provoking. Keep up the good work!

Thank you so much was so useful and thought provoking – would love any resources anyone can send through thanks

END

Men At Work and the importance of sex-based language, data and strategies for transformation.

Men At Work trains professionals who work with boys and young men to facilitate constructive dialogues with them about safety, empathy and respect – for themselves, for their male peers and for women and girls.

Our mission is to empower – through knowledge, skills and confidence – a widening range of professionals to help boys and young men achieve their potential as positive assets to their peer-groups, their places of education, their communities and, in time, their own partners and any eventual new families. The goals: fostering violence-free relationships, families and communities and helping to remove obstacles to safe, empathetic and respectful lives – all through constructive, reflective dialogue.

Despite some progress in recent decades, sex-based stereotyping (i.e. ‘gender’) and the spectrum of negative outcomes it feeds into – persist. This comes at tangible costs to women and girls – and to boys and men in different, but related ways. This is not inevitable. We can imagine – and work to realise – a society that is much safer, fairer and more human. To do this we must name the problems, in order to address them. This means spelling out the range of issues manifesting in our schools, colleges, universities, online and in person, and in our communities. Being serious about this work requires absolute clarity in our language, our data and our strategies. Sex is – by definition – the fundamental axis on which sexual harassment plays out. Sex is the key determinant of who does what to whom in terms of sexual assault, voyeurism, stalking, image-based abuse and intimate partner violence. Sex is a key determinant in types of criminality, mental health challenges and radicalisation. This is not reasonably disputable.

Whatever the role – teacher, social worker, counsellor, youth worker, law, family support etc – of the professionals we work with, the issues below are familiar, to varying degrees:

  • Sexual Harassment of (mostly) girls and young women in schools, public spaces and online by (mostly) boys, young and adult men
  • Coercive Control (mostly male to female) starting to manifest itself in early adolescent relationships
  • Porn is ubiquitous and consumed by ever-younger children with inadequate societal intervention, protection and challenge
  • Domestic Abuse of all kinds is a daily reality for huge numbers of women, some men and – of course – many children, for whom it may seem like a ‘norm’
  • Image-based abuse of (mostly) girls and young women by (mostly) boys and young men – and, of course, adult men
  • Boys and young men being at risk themselves from aggressive behaviours of other males
  • Boys and young men being at risk of grooming and radicalisation into criminal or extremist behaviours and beliefs (e.g. #gangs #incels #religiousfundamentalism #countylines)
  • Boys and young men having elevated vulnerabilities to some mental and physical illnesses and conditions – often linked to a fear of seeking help, the constraints of gender stereotypes or lack of expressive vocabulary
  • Boys and young men having elevated incidences of risk-taking behaviours, often part of seeking the approval of others or being unable / unwilling to resist negative peer-pressures

The list, sadly, could go on. We look at all of this, in the media, in our schools, our charities, our organisations, our public services and our own families and social networks and think ‘what can we do about it?’

We believe it is true that the overwhelming majority of professionals working with boys and young men…

want:

  • to proactively support the safe, healthy and empathetic development of boys and young men
  • to optimise their organisation’s work around #Safeguarding #Equality #MentalHealth
  • to develop their skills and abilities in facilitating vital, constructive dialogues with boys and young men

see:

  • that #sexism #misogyny and #maleviolence are powerful social influences negatively affecting the lives of girls and women, primarily, but also, in different ways, those of boys and men
  • that offering boys and young men an innovative, single-sex space and structure in which to reflect on social and cultural messages about ‘being a man’ would be a concrete step forward
  • that their organisation needs to ‘do something‘ and that the time is now

Let us, together, name the problems. Let us, together, acknowledge the sexed basis and dynamics of so many of these problems. Let us, together, do the work.

Thank you.

On TV. Needed more time…

I was offered a slot on GB News, which I took. It’s hard to get a message with any depth or complexity across in a very short time – especially when you have no idea how short it will be. I’d rather not have left this segment where it ends, as you will understand if you watch it, but that was out of my hands. In any case, hopefully, the case is made for constructive preventative work with boys and young men.

Street lights and and the rest of the mitigating strategies are of course useful in the immediate here and now where #maleviolence against women and girls is rampant – but they are no answer to the root cause of this violence. We urgently need concerted, constructive, evidence-based, frank and challenging work with boys and young men, addressing values and beliefs around the value of women/girls relative to men/boys and all the harms that flow therefrom – to prevent the development of adult perpetrators.

Prosecution once identified and arrested? Yes.

Out of social circulation once convicted? Yes.

Preventative work to strategically reduce / end incidences of perpetration in the first place? YES!!

A Plea for a Reality Check. Fingers Crossed…

I was invited to speak at an All Party Parliamentary Group the other day. I was one of several other speakers, experts in Sex Ed, Safeguarding and how heavily lobbied institutions can get it badly, wrong.

I spoke about:

1. The scandalously minuscule amount of strategic, programmatic work with boys & young men aimed at unpicking societal conditioning around #sexism & #misogyny

AND

2. How the misogynistic, irrational quackery of #queertheory jeopardizes that vanishingly-rare work by destroying the language needed to make any sense of our material, lived experiences as males and females within patriarchy.

I had 6 mins, so did what I could.

Michael Conroy of Men At Work C.I.C. speaking APPG, Sept 2021

#10Dialogues for Boys and Young Men (and Those Working With Them)

Men at Work C.I.C. has produced 10 CORE Dialogues for Boys and Young Men (and Those Working With Them) a FREE manual for educators, youth workers and other professionals and volunteers working with boys and young men. It is the fruit of 6 years of focused and intentional work with teenage boys and young men in education and other youth settings. Each of the dialogues have been used many times and you are guided, step by step, in facilitating them.

It is a sequential, self-consolidating programme, thematically split, aimed at facilitating constructive and meaningful dialogues around the social messages to which boys and young men are exposed in multiple ways. Its exploration of themes of respect, personhood, safety and empathy, directly engages with the root values of sexism and misogyny and has a relentlessly practical focus on ways in which boys and young men can support both their own healthy development and be a positive and respectful presence in the lives of women and girls.

The #10Dialogues are available FREE to those working with boys and young men – download here.

The follow on materials – ‘MORE Dialogues’ come as part of a training package (in person or online) for those wishing to take efforts to engage boys and young men in these vital ongoing dialogues further and deeper.

Contact menatworkorganisation@gmail.com if you would like to discuss training for yourself or your colleagues.

Thanks and best wishes

Michael Conroy

Men At Work C.I.C.

“Men At Work’s #10Dialogues programme provides boys and young men with a space where they can exercise their individual agency to reflect, learn and make crucial decisions about what it means to ‘be a man’. All boys and young men deserve to have a choice about the values and beliefs they want to carry with them through life. I am excited for boys and young men who take part in this Men at Work Programme.”

Sarah Wigley, Domestic Abuse Consultant and Trainer

“A timely, engaging and practical toolkit for engaging boys and young men in positive conversations about the world around them. In over 20 years of experience of working with men and their violence, the consistent response I have heard is ‘why haven’t I been encouraged the talk about this before?’. Well here is that opportunity – with a range of accessible materials, training and support to enable boys and young men to engage in this dialogue and to make a positive contribution to those around them.”

– Alan Garner, Facilitator of Perpetrator Intervention Programmes

Romeos and Red Flags

A sample worksheet for a discussion group with boys and young men in which a recent media article originating in https://thetab.com/uk/nottingham/2020/08/18/uons-romeo-sent-over-100-handwritten-letters-to-find-his-juliet-49043 but then picked up by national media outlet @DailyMirror (whose now-deleted article was screen-shotted to create this worksheet) is looked at critically in terms of language, values and behaviours.

Click here for PDF download – text clearer than in jpeg featured image /above