Videos featuring guys expressing divisive views about women and masculinity are very popular on social media.
The most frequent visage in these videos is that of social media influencer Andrew Tate, despite the fact that he has personally been suspended from Twitter. Jordan Peterson, a conservative psychologist, is also still present. The prevalence of their hot views and “owning” moments of feminists is aided by algorithms that reward fury. However, their ostensibly logical justifications for the value of masculinity hide a more sinister aspect that could hurt both men and women.
Traditional gender roles are at the centre of the arguments made by Tate and his peers. They argue that while women should support their partners and raise their children, males should be physically fit and seek resources and status (in today’s world, money and fame). Women who conform to these standards deserve to be taken care of. Women who don’t ought to be punished.
These arguments represent the way psychologists view sexism. The notion of ambivalent sexism states that there are two forms of sexism that frequently coexist. The first, known as benign sexism, stands for concepts that appear beneficial but actually work against gender equality.
Men and women are different but complimentary, for instance. Consider Peterson’s idea that order and chaos symbolise masculinity and femininity, respectively. This concept appears to be advantageous for everyone on the surface because men and women may rely on one another to make up for shortcomings. It might imply, for instance, that men are better at putting their ideas into action whereas women are more creative (chaos) (order).
Men and women are actually more alike than different. However, because we as humans enjoy classifying ourselves and others, we obsess over and overemphasise the distinctions. As a result, men and women may be cast into predetermined roles.
The second kind of sexism, aggressive sexism, expresses categorically unfavourable judgments based on gender. For instance, someone can think that women are manipulative, naturally inferior, or overly sensitive. This is a common occurrence in Tate’s videos, which are also full of references to the necessity for men to control women and sexist obscenities.
These opinions are rationalised by Tate and Peterson as intellectual approaches to comprehending the world. However, these types of sexism reinforce gender stereotypes, which might make people feel less capable of challenging them, for example, by choosing occupations that aren’t traditional. Dealing with this is essential for society advancement because the greatest problem solving requires a varied variety of perspectives.
Furthermore, there is a link between increased tolerance for sexual assault and intimate relationship violence and hostile sexist beliefs in particular. Normalizing ambivalent sexism could normalise these viewpoints in turn. There is no doubt that this might harm women.
Equality as a ‘threat’
In the West, there has been significant progress toward equality. As more and more women hold positions of leadership in business and government, gender stereotypes are evolving. However, despite the reality that equality helps everyone, it is met with opposition at every turn.
People like Tate and Peterson frequently use the argument that men’s needs and concerns are constantly disregarded to support their points of view. In fact, male health, homelessness, and suicide have typically received less attention and funding.
But to use these concerns as a justification for opposing greater freedom for women is to perpetuate the myth that men and women are competing for dominance.
When one group feels threatened by another, usually when the other group is gaining power and wealth, the “us vs. them” perspective does show up in political discourse. When people believe that one group’s success necessitates another group’s failure, this perception of competition may be much more heightened. According to this perspective, men’s possibilities must be suffering as a result of women’s rising social position. Those who hold this view can be driven to roll back the gains made in gender equality. But this idea is founded on a flawed premise. Regardless of gender, gender equality really promotes greater economic growth and, consequently, more jobs for all.
Talking it through
The good news is that comprehending this framework of zero-sum competition offers potential remedies to the opposition to gender equality. Research on intergroup relations has consistently shown that bringing the opposing sides together, allowing them to converse on an equal footing, and establishing common objectives lessens hostility. By opening dialogues about gender issues in a way that does not make males feel threatened, we can start to lessen anti-feminism sentiment.
We should assist them in realising that everyone, not just women, benefits from equality. Economic growth, improved health outcomes, and a greater range of possibilities for the entire population are all influenced by gender equality.
Promoting positive male role models who represent this message is also important. Everyone will gain from bridging this gap since it will make influencers like Tate far less alluring.