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Cheat Sheet: Laura Bates

Get to know Laura Bates, a woman who has committed her life to ensuring women get heard, and who's now a global authority on the burgeoning radicalist movements that are indoctrinating boys and men.

Georgia O'Connor
Sydney Opera House

Everyday sexism

In a post #MeToo world, many believe that sexism is no longer as high on the to-do list of the world's problems to fix. But as founder of the Everyday Sexism Project, Laura Bates is continually showcasing evidence to the contrary – “there is a real keenness to say now that because we have talked about it, the problem has gone”.

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.

Image: Sarah Lee/The Guardian

Attack of the manosphere

The reaction to the platform from the manosphere, a network of websites preoccupied with both the men’s rights movement and how to pick up women, was equal parts swift and terrifying. A highly coordinated assault reached Bates’ inbox almost immediately with hundreds of emails a day describing, in gruesome detail, the ways in which men would stalk, rape and dismember her. For fear of giving these groups the oxygen of publicity, Bates instead turned her attention to educating the youth.

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.

Won’t somebody please think of the men!

Increasingly, Bates says, she was met with enormous and angry resistance from her male students. Their beliefs about Feminazis hating men, white men being the true oppressed class of our generation and a plethora of false rape allegations were extreme and deeply entrenched.

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.

Bates’ latest book, Men Who Hate Women, aims to shine a light on the highly effective propagandists, because as tempting as it is to look away, she’s determined that the world should “recognise that these people and communities exist”.

On March 7th, join Laura Bates at All About Women for a discussion on the proliferation of extremist online communities and the radicalisation of boys and men.

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