Whilst recent headlines reveal that one in five young men who have heard of the self-proclaimed misogyny influencer, Andrew Tate, think favourably of him and that female pupils and teachers are reporting an increase in sexual abuse in the classroom, the sad truth is many young men are struggling with their mental health, feeling lonely and undervalued in their communities.

It was no surprise then that our first online Youth Work Insight session, entitled Breaking Stereotypes: Navigating Misogyny with Young Men, brought together over 180 sector professionals to hear from experts on how they can further their practice with teenage boys and young men. 

Youth workers understand that adolescents’ understanding of masculinity is informed by the different influences and cultures they are exposed to. The luxurious lifestyle of the self-proclaimed ‘misogyny influencer’, Andrew Tate, has provided an alluring ideology for young men looking to mask their vulnerability and maintain a social status within their peer group. Through creating a space for open and honest conversations, youth workers create a learning environment where misogynistic behaviour and perceptions of women can be challenged.

By Abbee Mclatchie, Director of Youth Work, NYA

Louise Mullany, Professor of Sociolinguistics at the University of Nottingham, described how misogynistic views which might be called out in the real world are able to flourish online: “Hate crime and death threats for example have exploded in society since the advent of social media. The inhibitors we rely on such as body language are gone. Our young people need to be given the skills to recognise that aggression in an online space has the same negative impact on people. There’s also a permanent record of comments made digitally, and things can go viral very quickly, which makes it much more difficult to contain.” 

In the session, Michael McKenna, Assistant Director with YouthAction Northern Ireland, highlighted that: “adolescents males often have a restrictive understanding of what is brave and courageous but youth workers, through the relationship of trust and understanding of the context of young men’s lives, can open up conversations about masculinity and masculinities that enable them to look at healthy and unhealthy behaviours.”

Furthermore, enabling young people to have a say on issues that matter to them in their communities, improving their interpersonal skills, providing them with positive role models and helping them to gain agency over their own lives are fundamental to building confident young men.  

Ben Hurst, the Head of Facilitation and Training at Beyond Equality, explained: “It’s important to point out that we treat young men like adults who have full cognitive ability, and they are still adolescents and developing empathy. They’re experiencing puberty and developing their own personality and are leaning into danger and boundaries and are not aware of the impact of their behaviours long-term.

In short, the session affirmed that whilst the challenges for youth workers contending with misogynistic beliefs are great, they are well placed to support young men to explore their masculinity, define their personal values and how they wish to be seen by others, as a vehicle for changing prejudiced attitudes and behaviours.  

NYA’s Youth Work Insight and Connect practice sessions are designed to provide spaces for critical reflection, debate, sharing latest research and best practice about working with young people. Keep your eyes peeled for the next in this series of gender focused sessions. Visit: NYA Events.

With thanks to our guest panellists: 

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Related resources: 

National Youth Work Curriculum 

Level 4 Certificate in Professional Development (Youth Work)

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