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Growing Concerns of Misogyny and Sexism in Australian Schools Linked to Influential ‘Manfluencer’

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Amidst an alarming escalation of sexist and misogynistic behaviors among students in Australian schools, a recent study by academics from Monash University sheds light on the infiltration of anti-feminist ‘manfluencer’ Andrew Tate and its repercussions on the youth.

Stephanie Wescott, a Lecturer in Education, and Steven Roberts, a Professor of Education and Social Justice at Monash University, emphasized the pressing need for a zero-tolerance approach to address this concerning trend.

Tate, known for his controversial views and currently facing legal issues in Romania, targets teenage boys with his misogynistic content, prompting an investigation into his influence on school environments.

In their research published in 2023, Wescott and Professor Roberts interviewed 30 female teachers from various Australian schools, unveiling a surge in sexism, misogyny, and sexual harassment perpetuated by students. The study highlighted the explicit impact of Tate’s ideologies on the attitudes and actions of young individuals.

The report narrated instances where students displayed support for Tate by setting his images as desktop backgrounds, testing teachers with provocative statements aligning with Tate’s beliefs, and mimicking his gestures.

According to one teacher, a noticeable change in behavior was witnessed in a student who transformed from a polite and creative individual to endorsing blatantly misogynistic views, attributing them to Andrew Tate.

Wescott and Professor Roberts contextualized these incidents within a broader backlash against gender equality achievements, particularly attributing the rise in misogyny to movements like #metoo.

The educators emphasized that despite teachers’ appeals for intervention, school managements often overlooked the severity of the issue and failed to respond adequately.

These findings echo a recent survey in Adelaide, where teachers reported commonplace misogynistic language and physical intimidation within school premises, reflecting a longstanding culture of sexism in Australian educational institutions.

Calling for a decisive national campaign against violence towards women and girls in schools, Wescott and Professor Roberts urged the use of explicit terms like ‘sexism,’ ‘misogyny,’ and ‘violence against women.’ They stressed the importance of identifying and confronting these behaviors directly to foster inclusive learning environments.

The academics advocated for standardized guidelines and policies to tackle incidents of sexism and harassment, proposing a uniform code of conduct for schools to ensure a consistent and coherent approach to addressing such issues.

While the Consent and Respectful Relationships Education (CRRE) framework exists to educate students on consent and respectful behaviors, its implementation across different states remains varied, prompting a call for a more cohesive approach nationwide.

Wescott and Professor Roberts underscored the urgency of transforming schools into safe and inclusive spaces, emphasizing the necessity for sustained interventions to combat the pervasive crisis of violence against women plaguing Australia.

Rachel Adams

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