Manosphere groups have their own websites, which are attracting increasing traffic, even up to millions of viewers. They can also be found on popular social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and TikTok.
Controlling women entering politics
Female politicians from Australia to Europe and the US are revealing how they are the targets of sexist threats from right-wing groups and their adherents. For example, politicians such as Katharina Schulze of Alliance ‘90/The Greens in Germany and Sibeth Ndiaye of En Marche ! in France have been targets of coordinated attacks, centering predominantly, but not exclusively, on their gender. They are disproportionally singled out when compared to their male party colleagues who hold the same political views.
In this respect, it is interesting to note that two women leaders of the conservative Christian Democratic People’s Party (PP) in Spain recently felt abused by some male party authorities. Isabel Natividad Diaz Ayuso called accusations of corruption leveled at her a "cruel and unfair smear campaign" when it was reported that detectives were privately hired to gather information on her. The harassment ended with the dismissal of the former PP's president. In a recent book, Politicamente Indeseable, PP legislator Cayetana Álvarez de Toledo y Peralta-Ramos recounts in detail how she was harassed as her popularity was rising. As Europe remains behind with its ability to promote women's participation in politics, these cases might indicate a concerning trend.
In the United States, misogynist discourse is also gaining supporters, with anti-feminism an easy entry point to the online far right as well as a mobilization rallying point for conservatives, including followers of former president Donald Trump. Misogyny is used predominantly as a primary outreach mechanism among the Republican Party’s most extreme members. Democratic Party member of the House of Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, known familiarly as AOC, has received sexist abuse not just from online trolls but even in public from Republican legislators. In 2020, Rutgers University Professor Mona Lena Krook, author of the book Violence Against Women in Politics, wrote in The Washington Post: "Sexism and misogyny may not be the only source of abuse. Politically active women such as Ocasio-Cortez, who inhabit the intersection of more than one marginalized identity — including those based on race, class, age, sexual orientation and religion — may be more likely to come under assault. The same is true for women who are more visible politically or who express open support for feminism and other social justice causes."
Raising walls in a time of war and tension
As Europe is engrossed in the war in the Ukraine and bellicose and nationalist rhetoric gains space across the political spectrum, it would not be a surprise that men will be portrayed as the “saviors” and “protectors” of the European spirit. If this is the direction of future political developments, it will not be surprising to see this affecting the pacifist stand of feminist groups across the region – including those which have recently gained some power by promoting “feminist foreign policy principles” of disarmament and the need for dialogue among emerging powers. War is the perfect fuel to nurture policies aligned with control, hierarchy, the use of force and discriminatory values as enablers of security.
The US, meanwhile, could again experience a wave of even more extremist discourse, which has been stoked by Trump and his enablers and followers, as the political calendar proceeds through mid-term elections through to the next presidential ballot in 2024. A United States deeply damaged by the pandemic, the January 6 insurrection and intensely preoccupied with countering Russia and China might mean that policy interests will more and more place the ideas of protecting borders, creating employment only for locals and focusing on national-security measures at the center of the political discourse. All of these may well impede or even roll back progressive and inclusive feminism.
The walls are rising again. With growing vehemence, this is happening largely in the Global North. Mobilized women everywhere must continue to unite in pushing forward their vision of liberty, dignity and rights for all. In difficult times, it is the right time to nurture the idea that it is possible to create a world offering opportunities for every human being.
An Arabic version of this article was published in the Al-Mashhad magazine, issue no. 4, March 1, 2022, pp 47-53.