The Sunday Mail (Queensland)

Misogyny then violence

Anti-feminists prone to right-wing extremism, study finds

- DAVID HURLEY david.hurley@news.com.au

MEN with anti-feminist views are prone to becoming rightwing extremists, a new study has found.

Research at Swinburne University found that YouTube was a breeding ground for bringing people with antifemini­st views together with right-wing extremists.

The study also argues that federal and state government policies do not address antifemini­sm as a gateway to extremist violence.

Associate Professor Christine Agius (pictured) said the study found YouTube, more than other sites such as Twitter, helped facilitate links between men with anti-feminist and extreme right-wing points of view.

“YouTube is a fertile ground for bringing these viewpoints together,” she told The Sunday Mail.

“On Twitter there was a lot of pushback against anti-feminist views. On YouTube these communitie­s were crossing over with each other.”

The study found radicalise­d online communitie­s fulfil an emotional need for men, and anti-feminism/misogyny can lead to far-right extremism and extremist violence.

“We found on YouTube a whole lot of material linking the two,” Prof Agius said.

“We are trying to emphasise a link between anti-feminism and the far right.”

This year there has been a surge of ideologica­lly driven violence in Victoria, including a neo-Nazi invasion at Halls Gap and an alleged assault on a media building security guard by the leader of the National Socialist Network.

Australian Security Intelligen­ce Organisati­on directorge­neral of security Mike Burgess last month revealed that ideologica­l extremists make up 40 per cent of the domestic spy agency’s terrorism caseload.

He said COVID-19 had reinforced extremist beliefs on social and racial divisions.

“So-called rightwing extremism has been in ASIO’s sights for many years,” Mr Burgess said during his annual threat assessment on March 17. “Ideologica­l extremism investigat­ions have grown from around onethird of our priority counterter­rorism caseload, to around 40 per cent. “This reflects a growing i nternation­al trend.

“The face of the threat is also evolving, and this poses challenges.

“People often think we’re talking about skinheads with swastika tattoos and jackboots … today’s ideologica­l extremist is more likely to be motivated by a social or economic grievance than national socialism.

“More often than not, they are young, well-educated, articulate and middle-class – and not easily identified.

“The average age of these investigat­ive subjects is 25, and I’m particular­ly concerned by the number of 15 and 16-yearolds being radicalise­d. They are overwhelmi­ngly male.”

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