Supporting schools to tackle online misogyny

Posted on 07.05.24

Farah Hussain, UK Feminista’s Director, on the support schools need in their vital role tackling the influence of online influencers 

Judging women by their virginity and promoting violence against them. This is the kind of behaviour being normalised by social media ‘influencer’ Andrew Tate, who is currently awaiting trial in Romania for rape, human trafficking and forming an organised crime group to sexually exploit women. Worryingly, 45% of 16-24 old boys and young men say that they have a positive opinion of him 

The teachers UK Feminista works with tell us that they are in urgent need of guidance and advice on how to tackle the spread of harmful attitudes towards women and girls in their schools. That is why the Department for Education’s decision to tell teachers to ignore Tate is disappointing. Some months on from The Guardian’s article and the DfE announcing that they would be issuing guidance, teachers are still waiting and sexism in our education system is continuing to cause immeasurable harm.  

In 2017, UK Feminista and the National Education Union carried out research which showed that sexism is widespread in UK schools. Over a third of girls in mixed sex schools said that they had experienced sexual harassment at school. Sexist language was common, with 64% of teachers reporting that they heard it on at least a weekly basis. Meanwhile, over a quarter of teachers said that they did not feel confident tackling sexism.  

This government has put schools and teachers in a difficult position. Schools have a duty to tackle sexism, sexual harassment and misogyny, but have not been given the tools to confront some of the most harmful perpetuators of sexism today – misogynistic online influencers. Content posted by misogynistic online influencers showing fast cars, fitness and luxury lifestyles attracts boys and young men. Once they’re engaged, they are bombarded with harmful views and ‘advice’ about women. Teachers urgently need the tools to combat extreme misogynistic views espoused by popular online influencers like Tate, but the DfE advice that teachers can effectively tackle Tate’s ideas without confronting them directly is unhelpful. People like Tate already has huge popularity and avoiding naming them risks contributing to their aura of being ‘taboo’. 

UK Feminista has developed a suite of resources for schools and colleges including guidance and classroom activities on addressing the impact of misogynistic online influencers. UK Feminista also provides a range of further training and resources to support schools and colleges to take a long-term and consistent whole school approach to ending sexism and sexual harassment. To find out more, visit UK Feminista’s online resource hub for teachers.