Bates started the Everyday Sexism Project in 2012, when she was 25, to provide a platform for people to document their experiences with sexism. The entries are a distressing tapestry of incidents ranging from street or workplace harassment to harrowing stories of violence and rape. With upwards of 100,000 testimonies, the platform is the largest data set of its kind and serves as a staggering reminder that acts of sexism continue to be perpetrated against women on a daily basis.
For years, twice a week, Laura Bates visited two British schools to discuss an array of topics including the impacts of gender stereotypes, the portrayal of men and women in the media, sexual consent and healthy relationships. Two years ago, Bates noticed a stark shift in the way boys were engaging with the conversations that she was attempting to have.
Despite the vast distance separating the students, they all had the same resolute confidence and were regurgitating the same false statistics – which led Bates to believe this was, in some way, a form of radicalisation.
When pressed about their opinions, the students provided names of extremist figureheads and communities that Bates knew existed online. To further understand the mechanisms behind this trend, Bates went undercover for just under two years, navigating through the complex maze of the manosphere.
Image: Keith Heppell
Incels, the ‘Men Going Their Own Way’ movement and pick-up artists
What she found was a burgeoning radicalist movement that was brainwashing young boys. Bates became uncomfortably familiar with Incels (involuntary celibates), men who blame women for refusing to have sex with them; the Men Going Their Own Way (MGTOW) movement where men renounce interacting with women; and the growing million dollar pick-up artist industry which is most commonly attributed to Neil Strauss’s The Game.
In these communities Bates saw countless examples of grooming, radicalisation, the encouragement of the massacring of women and detailed instructions of how best to infiltrate the minds and networks of young women.
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