Misogynistic content is ubiquitous on the internet: from stand-up comics making ‘harmless’ jokes about their wives and girlfriends on stage to toxic influencers making intentionally violent posts that are bound to result in real life harm. As a woman observing this trend, it is impossible not to feel helpless, as often there is not much to do except report the accounts and hope for the best.
This week, there was a glimmer of hope when Facebook, YouTube, TikTok and Instagram all banned misogynist influencer Andrew Tate, who was gaining an alarming number of followers across platforms for his hate against women. Tate, of course, continues to be his toxic self and has immediately taken to other platforms to keep making problematic posts. This makes it clear that while banning the worst of them is a start, nothing short of larger systemic change will make any substantial difference in a culture that comfortably considers its women second class.
The onus is on our men to do better: to recognise their regressive attitudes, take responsibility for their role in the imbalance and bring about change, both within and without. Here are five men who are setting an example by using social media to make a difference.
Run by Minnesota-based podcaster Destyn L., @rethinkingmanhood aims at “bringing men together to unlearn patriarchal masculinity and making space for men to heal, grow, and learn”. In his posts, the author shares personal anecdotes from his life growing up in the African-American community and draws from them valuable insights about the ways in which traditional masculinity harms and limits masculine expression. The topics he delves into include violence, shame, self-control, homophobia, sadness, etc. The page also features book recommendations and conversations with other content creators and experts on various issues. In one of his most powerful posts, the author speaks of the importance of men expressing their affection with their friends while also holding each other accountable when they behave in harmful ways. Destyn shares gentle, loving affirmations at the end of his posts that reassure men that they are worthy of love, empathy and care.
Male sexuality is typically oriented towards gratification, whereas most men tend to be hesitant or anxious to delve deeper into pleasure, says Cam Fraser, an Australia-based men’s sex coach. This, among other factors like guilt and shame around sex, is a leading cause of dysfunction in men’s lives, he says. Through his posts on Instagram (@thecamfraser), the expert connects the dots between common male sexual problems and possible emotional undercurrents, also sharing tips and tricks to break the pattern and bring about change. In one of his posts, he speaks of the tendency among men to outsource the responsibility for their own sexual responses and behaviour, impressing upon the importance of owning upto them in an embodied manner. Through his writing, videos and podcast (Men, Sex & Pleasure), Fraser adresses important issues such as domestic violence, porn addiction and slut-shaming.
Lorin Krenn is a teacher and author who speaks powerfully of the masculine and feminine polarity and how it plays out in intimate relationships. Every individual has masculine and feminine polarities within and they interact with the polarities of the people they come in contact with in different ways. Through his posts and reels on @lorinkrenn, Krenn shares insights about the awakened masculine and the awakened feminine energy as well as the importance of shadow work (confronting and integrating the repressed, neglected parts of our being). “Everyone has red flags.There is not a single person in this universe who does not have a shadow to deal with,” he writes, adding that it is one’s commitment to overcome barriers to love and connection that matters ultimately. Krenn also has a podcast, free ebooks and training programmes on offer.
Also Read: The various facets of masculinity in India
Challenging gender roles
Run by NYC-based comedian S Shetty, this page takes a lighter approach to challenging patriarchal conditioning. Several of its reels feature conversations between the comedian and his dad wherein the former says something goofy or ignorant about women and the latter sets him straight. For example, when the comedian says he’s ‘helping out’ his partner with chores, the dad corrects him saying, “When you are a grown man living in the same house, you shouldn’t be ‘helping’ with the chores, you should just be doing them, as it is your job as much as it is hers.” Effective as they are endearing, these reels may help a lot of men rethink the ways in which they might have come to take the women in their lives for granted.
Calling out toxic behaviour
The Instagram page called @thespeechprof reaffirms the idea that humour is a great way to challenge hateful behaviour on the web. This user, called Professor Chesko, hilariously takes down posts and reels on TikTok and Instagram that claim to have figured out female psychology, male dating preferences, the secret to a great relationship and whatnot. For instance, he recently responded to a male content creator who proclaimed that “men prefer debt-free virgins without tattoos” and another that said “masculinemen do not care about a woman’s opinion”.Chesko sometimes gives the trolls a good talking-to and sometimes, a snarky comment does just as well. Besides such reels, Chesko also shares anecdotes and insights about his life as a parent, which are often just as funny.
Indumathy Sukanya is an artist and independent journalist based in Bengaluru