This, by Zoe Williams interviewing author Laura Bates, is terrifying: the toxic world of online misogyny. I think many people appreciate that the internet is a toxic swamp, but I don’t think many people appreciate the scale or the danger of it.
“I started hearing boys at school who already felt that they’d been poisoned against the idea of even having a conversation about feminism. And they were coming out with some quite extreme things: feminism is a cancer, all women lie about rape, white men are the real victims of society … But the moment it really clicked for me was when they started repeating, at schools from rural Scotland to inner-city London, the same wrong statistics.
Women and minority groups have been trying to raise the alarm about this online radicalisation for at least six years, and they have been ignored.
The point Bates makes is both stark and subtle: there is a live community of violent extremists, operating online without censure, generating concrete terrorist attacks in which the perpetrators are very open about their guiding ideology of misogyny, and radicalising young boys
…this world of extreme misogyny is chillingly intertwined with the neo-Nazi one. “The journey of many men who are groomed and radicalised online towards white supremacy starts in anti-feminist forums,” Bates says. “You can see it in the overlap of the lexicon – the entire dense, complex language they’ve created for themselves [red pills, blue pills as in The Matrix, black pills to denote suicidal certainty] – is very similar across both groups.
A lot of white supremacy is predicated on this obsession with birth rates and replacement theory, the idea that white women need to be forced into sexual servitude and raped, in order to bear white, pure babies. The incel movement is obsessed with sterilising or forcing abortions on black women. And some groups explicitly say – they call it ‘adding cherry flavour to children’s medicine’ – that you target kids of 11-up with anti-feminist memes and jokes, and that’s the gateway to white nationalism.”
Many of these tropes – replacement theory, “tradwives” and so on – have infiltrated the mainstream media and politics both here and in the US.