Breaking the Cycle of Online Misogyny: A Guide for Parents

Feb 14, 2023 | children online, online safety

This Valentine’s Day will see a heart-warming outpouring of love online from men everywhere, directed towards their female partners. But misogyny will also be very much in evidence today, and every day, online. Hatred towards women is currently thriving in the digital world, with high-profile influencers like Andrew Tate leading the way with their controversial and offensive content. Tate has faced criticism for his behaviour toward women, which includes objectification, verbal abuse, and promoting harmful ideologies, but he has an army of ardent young male fans who hang off his every pronouncement and post.

Online misogyny harms

In her book, Men Who Hate Women, Laura Bates wrote about the dark pockets of the internet where misogyny thrives underground. But, with the advent of influencers like Andrew Tate, misogyny is very much going mainstream and it can have long-lasting impacts on children, particularly girls. Girls exposure to misogynistic content can lead to deteriorating self-esteem, body image issues, and a feeling of vulnerability. It’s vital that parents become aware of the threats of misogyny online, educate their children, and empower them to stand up against it. Here are some suggestions for encountering and combating online misogyny:

For Girls:

  1. Know your worth: Remind your daughter that she is valuable and deserving of respect, no matter what someone says online.
  2. Speak out: Encourage your daughter to speak up against misogyny, whether it’s in her own social media interactions or in real-life conversations with friends. Talk to her about influencers like Andrew Tate and explain their views are harmful and wrong.
  3. Find supportive communities: Encourage your daughter to connect with groups and individuals who share her values and beliefs and can provide a safe and supportive environment.

For Boys:

  1. Educate yourself: Teach your son about the dangers of misogyny and how it can harm not just women but also the larger community as attitudes pervade society and distort behaviour.
  2. Be an ally: Encourage your son to speak up and stand against misogyny whenever he sees it, whether online or in real life.
  3. Lead by example: Model positive and respectful behaviour toward women and set a good example for your son to follow.

Parents must educate themselves about how online misogyny proliferates, which influencers promote it, and be proactive in protecting children from exposure to it. Here are a few tips for parents:

  1. Monitor online activity: Keep an eye on your children’s online activity and be aware of the influencers and content they are following.
  2. Teach critical thinking skills: Encourage your children to think critically about the content they encounter online and to question the motivations of those who promote misogyny.
  3. Promote positive content: Encourage your children to seek out positive and empowering content and role-models who promotes equality and respect for all.

Positive alternatives to Andrew Tate

Finding healthy role-models and positive online content to suggest as an alternative to influencers like Andrew Tate will help protect pre-teen and teen boys against getting sucked into internet rabbit holes of misogynistic content. Some good role-models to suggest might be;

  1. Hank Green: Hank Green is a YouTuber and entrepreneur known for his educational content and his positive and inclusive approach. He has built a large following through his work with the popular YouTube channel “Vlogbrothers” and promoting science, technology, and critical thinking skills.
  2. Yes Theory: Yes Theory, three young men in their 20s, host a YouTube channel known for travel and adventure content which promotes the message of inclusion and respect whilst having fun. (I’ve interviewed Thomas on my podcast series and he’s a great listen).
  3. Marcus Rashford: Marcus Rashford is a professional footballer and forward for Manchester United Football Club and England. He is known for charitable work, particularly his efforts to combat child poverty, and his positive and inspiring approach to advocacy.
  4. MrBeast: MrBeast, real name Jimmy Donaldson, is a popular YouTuber and philanthropist known for his creative and entertaining videos and his commitment to charitable causes. With a following of 133 million on YouTube attracted by his fun and lighthearted approach to content creation, he is often praised for his positive impact on the YouTube community.

Just as Valentine’s Day shouldn’t be the only day to think about love, one day of the year isn’t enough to think about the harmful effects of online hate. Influencers like Andrew Tate thrive when boys and young men lack positive or alternative role models. Parents should be alert to the dangers to both girls and boys, all year round.

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