Sexual violence is increasingly encouraged by the British far right, according to a new analysis documenting how misogyny is used to influence individuals to adopt racist and anti-Semitic views.
Investigators found that comments in favor of rape were “not uncommon” among the British far right and that a culture had taken root in favor of sexual violence. By analyzing the misogyny and anti-feminist channels on the Telegram messaging app, a key online platform for the far-right, they found that sexual assault was an “important topic.”
The report, from the anti-fascist organization Hope Not Hate and the Anti-Semitism Policy Trust, reveals how the far right has become adept at exploiting a perceived loss of status among white males. It follows last month’s Plymouth shooting when gunman Jake Davison killed six people after expressing deeply misogynistic views.
The investigation into the death of teacher Sabina Nessa also shed light on the safety of women in their daily lives.
“The anti-Semitic far-right online is exploiting misogyny and anti-feminism in new ways and forging new connections, meaning that this overlap is an increasingly urgent area of research,” the report said.
Elements of the far right also presented feminism as part of a Jewish schema they used to explain their grievances, including a perception of “war on men.”
Influential figures include Tor Gustafsson Brookes, also known as Catboy Kami, an Australian far-right troll who rose to prominence last year for his misogynist and racist stunts, including making fun of George’s death Floyd.
His English-speaking group on Telegram has more than 10,000 members and has hosted more than 4 million messages in just over a year, including numerous “jokes” and threats of rape.
The researchers took a close look at the “manosphere” – a loose network of sites, forums, blogs and vlogs concerned with masculinity, focused on the belief that feminism promotes misandry rather than equality for women.
They also examined 73 far-right English-language, anti-Semitic Telegram channels and newsgroups, which provided 5,684,738 text messages, and found that the misogynistic content was “rife.” Misogynistic keywords have been detected in over 85,000 messages, with the word “rape” among the most common, appearing in nearly 46,200 messages and “rape” in 3,900 others.
Numerous articles referred to the sexual assault of white women and children by ethnic minority groups, a long-standing far-right trope that allows white men to play a patriarchal role of “protector.” At the extreme margins, meanwhile, analysts have uncovered an “increasingly common promotion of armed rape and sexual sadism.”
Although the subculture remains relatively small, researchers say it has spread widely to extreme online spaces like Telegram and has attracted teens to the UK.
The recent focus on sexual violence has come in part from the Order of the Nine Angles (ONA), a long-standing Nazi Satanist network founded in the UK. The ONA philosophy increasingly influenced pre-existing Nazi terrorist organizations, most notably the AtomWaffen Division (AWD) in the United States and the Sonnenkrieg Division (SKD) in the United Kingdom.
SKD, outlawed as a terrorist group in 2020, has celebrated domestic violence, rape and murder, and is itself a spin-off from National Action (NA), a UK-based terrorist group banned in 2016. Prominent NA members are known to have associated with ONA and have been convicted of sexual offenses.
The pro-rape rhetoric spilled over into the wider pro-terror Nazi subculture, one of the clearest examples being the RapeWaffen Division (RWD), a small, now-defunct AWD dissent that operated on Telegram.
This group obsessively promoted sexual violence, and in private discussions, users solicited and shared videos of female victims of sexual abuse, as well as other acts of violence and murder.
The group’s founder gave his subscribers practical advice on locating and controlling victims in order to sexually assault them.
In June 2020, an American soldier who engaged with RWD, Ethan Phelam Melzer, was charged with a conspiracy to assassinate “as many of his military colleagues as possible”. Melzer has engaged with RWD on Telegram.
More generally, the report reaffirms extreme right-wing support for strongly patriarchal gender norms that have long been an integral part of far-right politics.
“Backward attitudes remain ingrained in some sections of society, and anti-feminists online remain loud and in some cases organized, creating space for the legitimization of misogyny,” he said.
A survey of 16 to 24 year olds commissioned by Hope Not Hate last year revealed a widespread belief that feminism holds men back; more than a third of young people saw it as an ideology that disadvantaged men.
The same poll also revealed an openness to anti-Semitism among many young people; 14% of all young people surveyed, and 19% of young men, said they believed “Jews have unhealthy control over the global banking system.”