The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) released a report on the connections or overlap between misogyny and white supremacist violence. The report titled “When Women are the Enemy: The Intersection of Misogyny and White Supremacy” is available online here.
The interconnected nature between violent misogynists and white supremacists – especially the alt right – is disturbingly clear. They use and feed off of one another’s hateful rhetoric. Over the past several years the ADL reports that it noted particularly vile commentary and violent activity from the misogynist incel/MRA/PUA (Pick Up Artist) groups. These communities also provide some men with a clear path into the white supremacism and anti-Semitism of the alt right.
The report makes it clear - for what it is worth - that not all misogynists are extremists. However, it goes on to note that misogyny can serve as a bridge to the white supremacist and anti-Semitic ideology of the alt-right. The ADL observes that it is not a huge leap from feeling threatened by women’s quest for equal rights to feeling threatened by minorities’ quest for equal rights. It seems, not surprisingly, that these two hateful ideologies are powerfully intertwined.
Misogyny is not new, but it has taken on slightly (it ought to be far greater) more prominent profile as a matter of concern after the murders in Toronto by Alex Minassian, a self-described involuntary celibate (incel)(there is a very compelling argument to not calling these individuals “incels” as it may elevate their status because they are simply misogynists). Individuals like Minassian believe that women “owe” them sex. If they are not having sex, then these men who adhere to this misogynistic thinking, blame all women. The underlying theme on incel/misogynist message boards is that the current sexual “marketplace” gives women too much freedom to choose their partners, which leaves some men being “cheated” out of what they consider their sexual birthright.
The ADL report concludes with a number of policy recommendations that merit a vigorous conversation. Among the proposals is one to “bolster community resilience to hate” and to “fund education and prevention programming” including funding for “research and services to better understand the drivers of gender-based hate and fund evidence-based programming to counter it.”
Although the ADL report focuses on misogyny and white supremacy, it is important to note that misogyny plays a vital role in the nihilistic ideology of the Islamic State (ISIS). In October 2014 ISIS’ online publication DABIQ featured an article on the virtues of sexual enslavement of women who did not believe in ISIS’ deviant version of Islam. Rukmini Callimachi’s expose in the New York Times on the Islamic State’s “theology of rape” and Ihsaan Tharoor’s analysis of ISIS’ sexual slavery practices in the Washington Post offer greater insights.
The ADL report, and the earlier reporting of Callimachi and Tharoor, are valuable resources, but their worth is diminished if they merely shock and frigthen the reader. Outrage and disgust are natural responses to this material, and it needs action in response to it.
One important takeway from the ADL report is the interconnectedness of violence. Addressing prevention and early intervention of targeted violence does not need to be a stand alone effort. It should be seen as an integral part of a community’s broader violence prevention work. The recommendations set forth by the ADL are ones that sexual violence prevention advocates can take the lead on alongside advocates for human rights and civil rights. This once again drives home the point that preventing targeted violence is an intersectional, multi-disciplinary effort.