Cracking the code of the manosphere

07 Mar 2023

To celebrate International Women's Day this year, we are sharing the work and stories of our community's change makers in fighting for gender equity and justice.  

Dubbed the 'King of the manosphere', Andrew Tate's strong stance against feminism and his toxic attitudes towards women more generally have appealed to thousands of men across the world. 

The 'manosphere' is a broad term referring to a collection of online groups of men that share misogynistic and anti-feminist views towards women.  

ANU clinical psychology studentand PhD candidateat the Global Institute for Women's LeadershipBrooke Franklin-Paddock is basing her thesis on understanding the 'manosphere' and the psychology behind the appeal of these types of extremist groups.  

 "I want to bridge my research with the clinical side of things - I am hoping to look at whether isolation and loneliness play a factor into the motivation of why some men to align themselves with these types of groups and beliefs." 

While her PhD is still in its infancy, Brooke's work will also explore social psychological factors, such as how men perceive the gender hierarchy and what role this has on their attitudes towards women. 

"We need to tap into what you could call 'acknowledgement of privilege' assigned historically to men. Preliminary findings suggests that men who dismiss this and believe women have a higher status in society than men, are more likely to agree with misogynistic and anti-feminist beliefs." 

The world of social media has also contributed to this problem.

"Many young people are algorithmically vulnerable to seeing these attitudes and beliefs. If accepted as true, and internalised as one's own, a dangerous barrier can emerge for women's basic rights of equality and safety within society." 

"People like Andrew Tate play into these attitudes. It's really concerning when you read these things and you can see the degree to which some people find these ideas appealing." 

Brooke noted the burden to tackle these issues is alsoappears to be falling onto teachers, and there first needs to be an understanding of what causes these attitudes before we know the way to address it.   

"One of the aims of my PhD is to be able to understand how to best support young people who come across these ideas online. I hope my research will help to identify protective factors that we can foster to make anti-feminist and misogynistic ideas less enticing to young people on the internet." 

For more stories and events celebrating International Women's Day at ANU this year, visit our IWD space.