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The intersection of misogyny and white supremacy


The Anti-Defamation League, report, When Women are the Enemy: The Intersection of Misogyny and White Supremacy, MRAs, incel, alt right, violence against women, feminismTo fully comprehend either white supremacy or misogyny, we have to attempt to understand both.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) – a Jewish NGO based in the USA which fights antisemitism and all forms of bigotry – considers misogyny a dangerous and underestimated component of extremism.

And its recent report on misogyny, ‘When Women are the Enemy: The Intersection of Misogyny and White Supremacy’, marks the start of an ongoing effort to investigate the ways in which people in the white supremacist, incel and MRA orbits feed and inform one another’s poisonous hatred of women.

Every day, as virulent white supremacists make their hatred known, we immediately and rightly call them extremists, but we have not, the report says, been nearly as unequivocal in our condemnation when it comes to men who express violent anger toward and loathing for women.

In fact, these groups warrant a side-by-side examination, it continues. There is a robust symbiosis between misogyny and white supremacy; the two ideologies are powerfully intertwined.

While not all misogynists are racists, and not every white supremacist is a misogynist, a deep-seated loathing of women acts as a connective tissue between many white supremacists, especially those in the alt right, and their lesser-known brothers in hate like incels (involuntary celibates), MRAs (Men’s Rights Activists) and PUAs (Pick Up Artists).

This cross-pollination means the largely anonymous outrage of the men’s rights arena acts as a bridge to the white supremacist and anti-Semitic ideology of the alt right.

After all, it’s not a huge leap from “women’s quest for equal rights threatens my stature as a man” to “minorities’ and women’s quests for equal rights threaten my stature as a white man.”

It also means that to fully comprehend either white supremacy or misogyny, we have to attempt to understand both.

One of the most powerful inspirations to violent misogyny across all of these movements – alt right, MRA, incel – is the baseless charge that white men are victims who are falling prey to feminism, changing social norms, progressive thought and politics.

In many ways, Donald Trump’s 2016 victory – secured after a recording of the candidate bragging about sexually assaulting women was made public – was a glorious vindication of misogynists’ worldview.

Just as white supremacists, anti-Semites and Islamophobes have been undeniably emboldened by the Trump administration’s rhetoric and policies, it seems clear that misogynist extremists feel validated and empowered by the ascendance of a man who they believe views women through the same reductive lens: as sex objects without agency and humanity, as faithful but lesser helpmeets, or as harpies coming to steal their power.

“I’m in a state of exuberance that we have a President who rates women on a 1-10 scale in the same way that we do and evaluates women by their appearance and feminine attitude,” Pick Up Artist RooshV wrote on his website a week after the election.

“We may have to institute a new feature called “Would Trump bang?’ to signify the importance of feminine beauty ideals….”

The report – which marks the first time the Anti-Defamation League has investigated misogyny as a component of extremism – makes a number of recommendations to law enforcement, anti-bias and tech communities on how to combat violent misogyny:

Build understanding among law enforcement leaders and organisations about the nature of misogynist hate;

Encourage legal and policy mechanisms to ensure gender equality;

Include gender-based content in anti-bias education and conversation about civil rights;

Bolster community resilience to hate, and fund education and prevention programming;

Create an ongoing dialogue between civil society and the technology sector;

Ensure tech platforms have inclusive comprehensive Terms of Service – and that they are broadly, appropriately enforced;

Increase efforts to filter out offensive content;

Create specifically-tailored solutions to combat misogyny, depending on the nature of the platform and the harassment; and

Consider the ramifications of account removal on the victims of harassment.

And it says that in the wake of eight years of relatively progressive social policies under America’s first black president and faced with the prospect of the first female president, white men voted overwhelmingly for Trump – someone who has made no secret of his disdain for non-whites and women.

At least some of these voters presumably saw Trump as a corrective, a bulwark against the fear that their privileged status – as men, as white people – is at risk.

“When we see the vile hatred that comes out of the white supremacist movement, we immediately and rightly call out this hatred as a dangerous threat,” Jonathan Greenblatt, the chief executive and national director of the League, told the Independent: “The hateful and sometimes violent rhetoric of misogynist groups should be treated no differently.”

To read the full report, click here.

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