Why we still need feminism: The sexist extremism no one likes to talk about

In a world where mega misogynists such as Andrew Tate and other red-pill men have access to social media to proliferate their ideas of toxic masculinity and male superiority, sexism has evolved with the times. These people can now meet and share ideas to grow a ‘manosphere’ where a toxic masculinity viewpoint can not only flourish but gain a loyal following and support. In an environment in which comedian Matt Rife, who rose to fame through his loyal and dedicated female following, can grow from even more notoriety through a domestic violence joke that landed very badly, it can easily be argued that we still need feminism. Although we no longer need to campaign for the right to vote, it seems instead we must campaign for the right of women’s safety. I am an advocate of freedom of speech and personally think a joke about domestic violence can be funny, but it’s all about context. Not only would his audience be full of women, but to also make the victim of the violence the butt of a joke is not funny. It is important to add humour to serious topics, but one in which we aren’t laughing at the victim but rather at the attacker would go down much better with the audience. Humour works best when it punches up not down, like Matt Rife did, pun intended.

However, now more than ever, the anti-women movement which is getting more and more media coverage is the rise in the incel community, a community that can sometimes have a fatal impact on women. 

Incel comes from the phrase ‘involuntarily celibate’ and it is a small corner of the online ‘manosphere’ which is dedicated to hating women simply for being women. This rise in the incel community reflects the radicalism of terrorist groups in which people, particularly young men, are being drawn in and indoctrinated into having derogatory and violent attitudes towards women.  It is hard to track how many people are members of the community due to its anonymity, however, in its name, over 100 people, mainly women, have been killed or injured over the past 10 years.

This relatively new problem is why discussions about sexism and misogyny are still important to this day. The incel community stems from its core belief that women do not find them attractive and therefore do not want to sleep with them, so, therefore, are the cause of their social alienation and loneliness. They believe that men are entitled to sex, and when it is not given to them, women deserve to be blamed and punished accordingly.

These platforms celebrate violence and rape against women as punishment for their own lack of romantic success, and they encourage discussions of how to carry this out. The incel community takes things to the extreme. These platforms don’t only discuss violence but can also give detailed plans on how to rape, kill and abuse not only women but also how to carry out mass shooting sprees, and there are even message threads on how to carry out suicide for men who feel so isolated and alone by their lack of positive interaction with women. 

In the modern world when it comes to dating, it can easily be seen that women have more power. For the first time in history, women are not in a position where they need to rely on a man to be financially stable. Instead, women are now independent meaning they can be ‘pickier’ when it comes to choosing a long-term partner. It does not surprise me that a higher percentage of women are choosing to be single or stay celibate for a significant period of time. This, in addition to the use of dating apps, creates an environment in which your physical appearance has had more significance in your dating life than ever before. I have male and female friends, both of which on dating apps, and I can definitely say that women get more matches than men.

These online forums create a community for like-minded men facing similar problems in their dating life to engage with each other and turn their low self-esteem into aggression for the people causing their unhappiness and loneliness, or in other words, women. I remember the shooting two years ago in a nearby city to where I live, Plymouth, in which a member of the incel community was driven by hatred and loathing of himself and others to kill 5 people, including his mother, and then himself in a shooting spree. Due to the intense radicalisation and spread of hate that the incel community members experience, they are starting to be considered a terrorist threat.

This article was inspired by a recent book I read by Laura Bates, ‘Men Who Hate Women’ (2020) in which she gives an in-depth discussion into the incel community sharing messages verbatim sent by community members which use a range of derogatory terms for women and attending an incel celebratory event in which she physically spoke to members undercover. Her experience in the ‘manosphere’ is horrific as it discusses how not only do the members support rape, but they also blame women for the 0.6% of accusations of rape proved false which have the power to ‘destroy’ men’s lives, therefore creating the attitude that they may as well harm women anyway.

However, it is not all doom and gloom. Laura discusses how these men have been sold a lie that they should fear women, as they have the power to destroy their reputation through false rape claims. Instead, “it is the abusive men who risk tarnishing all the men with the same brush”. It is these men who hate women that suck more men into their community of hatred and resentment. Men, and especially impressionable boys, need to be protected from the rabbit hole that these online platforms can be and from their own radicalisation. Having open discussions about sexism and the incel community could save the lives of women and men and create a world where love, peace and protecting mental health are at its heart.

Sexism evolves as society changes, and that is why feminism is still an important topic of conversation to this day and should be seen as something to encourage and support rather than to resent and repress. The topics that people don’t like to talk about are often the most important conversations to have.

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