Home /  Columns /  Opinion


It's sexism, misogyny and fear, wrapped up in a hatred towards feminism and anger towards women. 

It's the 'manosphere' - an echo chamber where young men hang out and where their insecurities are fed on by some of the most vile men on the internet. 

And it's far from harmless - some of these acolytes are inspired by each other to commit mass murder. There have been nearly 100 deaths in North America alone connected to this. 

Their heroes are people such as Andrew Tate, the former kickboxer who has now been arrested for sex trafficking in Romania. He may have been de-platformed but there are plenty of new voices taking his place. 

Victoria University criminology PhD student Angus Lindsay once hung out on the edges of this world, and his knowledge of the memes and language in it led to his thesis on the manosphere subculture of Involuntary Celebates, or Incels. 

On The Detail, he explains what this world involves. 

Angus Lindsay says figures like Tate promote themselves as socially, economically and sexually successful role models, but they are united by a hatred towards women and particularly towards feminism. They foster the perception that men are losing power or status in modern society. 

"These ideas have been floating around for society - and arguably upholding a patriarchal society - forever," Lindsay says.

"But now there is this idea that men are afraid of shifting gender relations...[such heroes are] leading young men into a state of fear and anger that they're losing status, power and privilege."

Lindsay says there's this "zero sum thinking" that if women are lifted up, men will lose out - a perception that men's place in society is no longer the dominant one. That they are victims of a global assault on masculinity.

He says we have to take seriously the appeal of the manosphere to these lost, disenfranchised young men - and we should be critical of it, calling it out. 

"We should also understand that for many of these kids, it does provide a community, a place of belonging...some direction, some certainty, some solutions - even if some of those solutions are deeply problematic." 

He says despite being hyper-connected online, we are all incredibly lonely, and young men are less likely to seek help. 

Kyla Rayner is on the board of RespectEd, which is a consent education group which has been going into schools to talk to kids around issues such as romantic relationships, friend groups and dating, in the context of preventing sexual harm. 

"As we find more children are living online, and living in digital spaces, they're receiving a whole heap of mixed messaging," she says. 

"What we're seeing is that young people are doing the same thing that young people have always done, which is they are looking for belonging, connection...they're looking for guidance around these new areas in their lives that are emerging around romance and dating, and the online space is a really accessible space for them to go out and find that community. Unfortunately we don't have control around what children are exposed to around when they're going online.

"The manosphere is a place that has perhaps the most extreme ideologies that are the drivers behind this gendered violence, and they're hooking into young people's insecurities, and their curiosity, by providing some role models that we know are upholding those really harmful views." 

Where to get help:

Sexual violence

NZ Police

Victim Support 0800 842 846

Rape Crisis 0800 88 33 00

Rape Prevention Education

Empowerment Trust

HELP Call 24/7 (Auckland): 09 623 1700, (Wellington): 04 801 6655 - push 0 at the menu

Safe to talk: a 24/7 confidential helpline for survivors, support people and those with harmful sexual behaviour: 0800044334

Male Survivors Aotearoa

Family Violence

Women's Refuge: 0800 733 843

It's Not OK 0800 456 450

Shine: 0508 744 633

Victim Support: 0800 842 846

HELP Call 24/7 (Auckland): 09 623 1700, (Wellington): 04 801 6655 - push 0 at the menu

The National Network of Family Violence Services NZ has information on specialist family violence agencies.

Related Posts