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The current Conference time is: 14th Aug 2022, 11:45:40pm CEST

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Parallel session - I.2 Preventing And Tackling Forms Of Gender-Based And Intersectional Hate Speech Through Formal And Non-Formal Education
Wednesday, 02/June/2021:
12:00pm - 2:15pm

Session Chair: Barbara Giovanni Bello
Session Chair: Laura Scudieri
Location: Room 9

Session Panels:
I.2. Preventing and Tackling Forms of Gender-Based and Intersectional Hate Speech Through Formal And Non-Formal Education

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Matteo Botto

University of Genoa, Italy

The manosphere is the set of online platforms composed of communities like anti-feminists, alt-right, incels (involuntary celibate), men's rights activists, and pickup artists. What brings all these communities together is an ideology called The Red Pill (TRP), which rejects feminism as a political project (Nicholas and Agius 2017) and supports the idea that feminism has put in crisis contemporary men, deleting their identity (Ging 2019).

The anti-feminist backlash is not typical only of the manosphere. Several scholars researched its characteristics online and offline in politics, media, and social movements (Ging and Siapera 2019, Van Wormer, K. 2008, Petchesky 1981). Alongside these researches, this study aims to understand the anti-feminist beliefs in the manosphere from the people frequenting these communities. No study faced this topic specifically, so it would be essential to analyze the manosphere's anti-feminist revendications more profoundly, alongside the studies upon the TRP official contents (Van Valkenburgh 2018), and the content analysis did in specific manosphere communities (Jones et al. 2020, O'Malley et al. 2020). In this way, it would be possible to give activists, educators, social workers, and policymakers more tools to deconstruct this phenomenon, preventing future harm to women and feminist personalities.

The focus is on one of the most frequented anti-feminist communities of the Reddit manosphere, the subreddit r/antifeminists, with more than 20.000 users. The researcher used the constructivist grounded theory (Bryant and Charmaz 2019) to analyze 120 posts using Atlas.ti.

The first findings show that the main anti-feminist revendications can be summarized in 5 points: feminism as a brainwash; deconstruction of the father role; oppression of white men; biological view of masculinity and femininity; view of the LGBT+ community as the deconstruction of humanity.


  • Bryant, A. and Charmaz, K. (eds. by) (2019), The SAGE Handbook of Current Developments in Grounded Theory, London, Sage Publications.
  • Ging, D. (2019), Alphas, Betas, and Incels: Theorizing the Masculinities of the Manosphere, in Men and Masculinities, vol. 22, n. 4, pp. 638–657.
  • Ging, D. and Siapera, E. (2019) (eds. by), Gender Hate Online Understanding the New Anti-Feminism, London, Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Jones, C., Trott, V., & Wright, S. (2020). Sluts and soyboys: MGTOW and the production of misogynistic online harassment, in New Media & Society, vol. 10, n. 22, pp. 1903–1921.
  • Nicholas, L. and Agius, C. (2018), The Persistence of Global Masculinism: Discourse, Gender and Neo-colonial Re-articulations of Violence, London, Palgrave Macmillan.
  • O'Malley, R. L., Holt, K., and Holt, T. J. (2020). An Exploration of the Involuntary Celibate (Incel) Subculture Online, in Journal of Interpersonal Violence.
  • Petchesky, R.P. (1981), Antiabortion, Antifeminism, and the Rise of the New Right, in Feminist Studies, vol. 7, no. 2, pp. 206–246.
  • Van Valkenburgh, S. P. (2018), Digesting the Red Pill: Masculinity and Neoliberalism in the Manosphere, in Men and Masculinities, pp. 1-20.
  • Van Wormer, K. (2008), Anti-Feminist Backlash and Violence against Women Worldwide, in Social Work & Society, vol. 6, n. 2, pp. 324-337.


Miguel Ángel López-Sáez

Rey Juan Carlos University, Spain

This contribution presents an instrumental study to validate the Spanish adaptation of the Evasive Attitudes Scale of Sexual Orientation (EASOS). This instrument has proved useful in detecting possible ignorance of the situation of lesbian, gay, bisexual and queer (LGBQ) people and its possible relationship with contemporary homonegative attitudes.

Evasive attitudes are structured around three dimensions: (a) stigmatization and contempt for all issues outside of heterosexuality, normalizing violence and justifying silence in the realms of politics and education regarding any LGBQ content; (b) educational discourse about society as egalitarian and just, in which a heterosexual analytical gaze dominates, obscuring the stressors and traumatic effects for LGBQ people; and (c) denial of heterosexual privilege, accepting premises that ignore and minimize the implications of being of a particular orientation.

Deliberately choosing to "not know" or to ignore the realities of oppressed people can be especially serious in psychosocial and educational terms. "Not knowing" is itself LGBQ-phobic, as it ignores and denies the violence suffered by non-heterosexuals. Moreover, when a deliberate action such as the "right not to know" is at stake, knowing is being evaluated as a grievance. This right is presented as a supposed neutrality in the face of a "homosexualizing conspiracy". Ultimately, the cultivation of deliberate ignorance allows for the concealment of systemic inequality and the non-recognition of subjects of privilege.

There is a need to incorporate high-level monitoring of explicit and implicit attitudes among future professionals in education and psychosocial intervention. Given that non-consideration of LGB identity and its importance can be a good indicator of heterosexism and homonegativity. When differences associated with sexual identity and/or orientation are ignored, perspectives are adopted that produce incomplete and insufficient interpretations.It is dangerous to be "blind" to LGB realities that circumvent social and individual barriers to experiences of inequality and injustice.

The 596 heterosexual students who participated were given a Spanish adaptation (reverse translation). A confirmatory factor analysis was performed to study the fit to the factor structure of the original scale (aversive heterosexism, institutional heterosexism, and heterosexual privilege). The internal consistency of the subscales was adequate (.70-.83). Convergent validity showed positive correlations and significant predictive levels between the EASOS and several attitude scales and sociodemographic variables. The results provide evidence that the EASOS is a suitable instrument for assessing LGBQ negativity, particularly in the field of psychosocial intervention.


Barbara Bello

Università degli Studi di Milano, Italy

The contribution aims to reflect on emerging forms of online hate speech, e.g. zoombombing, which have increased due to the massive proliferation of webinars and online conferences due to the covid-19 pandemic.

Firstly, the present contribution aims at contextualizing the phenomenon within the ongoing debate about the role of law in preventing and tackling online hate speech, in a perspective of law and society. Then it zooms on some cases recently occurred during gender-related events: in fact, while these phenomena do not concern gender only, this identity ground belongs to those ones that mostly attract them. It finally delves into the role of civic society as a social actor that seems to supply State’s action in sensitizing about these specific perils of the web and in timely responding to these emerging needs.


Annalisa Verza

Università di Bologna, Italy

This contribution aims to discuss some of the possible ways to counteract the culture of gender-based hate speech, starting from secondary school civics and law courses (nowadays, the subject of academic teaching in Didactics of Law) and widening the view beyond.
Firstly, this analysis will address the key elements that are now most commonly associated with the explosion of hate speech in the digital domain, and its particular 'reactive' character. Secondly, on the basis of this assessment, an attempt will be made to evaluate the extent of the possible educational impact of some models of workshop activities aimed at immunising young people against such preconditions of hate speech degeneration.


Paola Parolari

Università di Brescia, Italy

Sexist hate speech is fueled by a misogynist culture that is still very widespread in our societies all around the world. Such culture constantly assumes and (re)produces gender stereotypes, which – explicitly or implicitly – portray women as inferior to men. In the last decades, several international law instruments have stigmatized the social and cultural roots of discrimination and violence against women, requiring states to take all necessary measures to eradicate these roots. In this perspective, the “Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence” (best known as the “Istanbul Convention”), devotes the whole Chapter 3 on the prevention of violence to establish the obligations of the state parties as regards awareness-raising actions and education. In particular, article 17 on the “Participation of the private sector and the media” is particularly relevant as far as hate speech is concerned, since this specific form of violence against women is often conveyed and amplified by the media, especially social media. After a brief overview of the provisions of Chapter 3 of the Istanbul Convention, the presentation will first discuss the role of gender stereotypes in sexist hate speech and violence against women in general. Secondly, it will highlight the role of (social) media in reproducing those stereotypes. Finally, it will try to assess whether the Istanbul convention provides an adequate response to sexist hate speech in the era of the new communication technologies.


Francesca Bertelli, Giacomo Viggiani

Università di Brescia, Italy

Inequality affects LGBTI people also within the educational system, where stigmatization of sexual and gender minorities at school is a persisting problem (Valfort, 2017). According a US survey (Grant et al., 2011) LGBT youth experience high rates of harassment: 63% of respondents has been victim of acts of discrimination impacting on the quality of life, including bullying, teacher bullying. Rates of mistreatments increase when other intersectional factors, such as race, intervene. The success of the currently adopted anti-bullying policies is not monitored and there is no follow-up. Furthermore, the first qualitative research conducted within the EU project SOT-SchoolsOut reveals a general reluctancy to report homotransfobic bullying, accompanied by a wide difficulty of teachers in qualifying it as such and by a tendency to minimize. Regardless of their belonging to minorities, students have the right to a safe learning environment, where they can feel welcomed and accepted. The education system can play a key role both in developing policies that protect youth from discrimination and in promoting a cultural change that, going far beyond a remedial approach to the advocacy of LGBTI rights, educates younger generation to mutual respect on the basis solidarity and equality, protected and guaranteed by the Italian Constitution and worldwide affirmed as common values (ia Apostoli, 2016, 2019; EU Charter of Fundamental Rights; ONU Human Rights Declaration). Gender stereotypes and sexist culture are not eradicated in Italy (Gender Equality Index 2020 ranks Italy 14th in the EU on gender equality; see also Viggiani, 2020) and the school system is not flawless in challenging inequalities, especially with respect to the inclusion of LGBTI students. Up to now, some raising awareness leopard-spot initiative have been undertaken, but they appear insufficient to stimulate the necessary transformation that is, first and foremost, a cultural one. To pursue such a transformation, it is necessary to establish a dialogue between key stakeholders: teachers, students, families, religious representatives and policy-makers. The ideological connotation that the topic of LGBTI inclusion still assumes and the «fears» preventing discussion of topics such as sexual orientation and gender identity at school show that the most urgent need is to overcome cultural barriers and tackle the issue on the common ground of fundamental rights. For this purpose, the adoption of a Restorative Approach (ia Hansberry, 2016) could be a successful strategy both to prevent discrimination and to tackle existing cases (Hopkins, 2002) shifting the focus from the need to punish the bully to the need to repair the harm. Discriminations injury victims and communities and a restoration process could allow to comprehend the wounds generated by the hate-motivated conduct and the prejudices underpinning it and, thus, to understand that they threaten universal human rights (see Patrizi’s Co. Re. Model; Patrizi, 2020). To this purpose, restorative practices (community conferencing, circles, autobiographical restorative writing) could be implemented in schools, eg during hours of civil education, religion, as well as during anti-bullying activities and represent the occasion to start re-shaping education in order to make schools and society more inclusive and just.


Silvia Semenzin

Complutense University of Madrid, Spain

Despite being often publicly framed as a gender-neutral issue, which mostly depends on individual responsibility and the ability to protect oneself on the web, online violence has been showed to be gendered and to disproportionally hit women, girls and sexual minorities (EWL, 2018). Online sexual violence, which includes verbal abuse, such as hate speech and cyberharassment, and image-based sexual abuse, like the non-consensual dissemination of intimate images (NCII), is a complex deep-rooted social phenomenon that should be understood in relation to existing power structures and their intersection with algorithmic architectures and affordances (Semenzin and Bainotti, 2020).
In this sense, challenging harming stereotypes and taboos on gender identities, online sexuality and tech neutrality is essential. Comprehensive sexual education, based on the understanding of cognitive, emotional, social, relational and physical aspects of sexuality (UNESCO, 2018), has been showed indeed as key in tackling problems such as gendered violence, online hate and gendered discrimination (Ketting and Ivanova, 2018). At the same time, civic digital education that includes discussions on the role and power of digital platforms, is also very much needed to prevent and contrast online hate.
In Italy, where women and girls are still the first target of online hate, followed by sexual minorities (Vox, 2020), sexual, affective and civic digital education is still worryingly lacking (Beaumont et al., 2018; Eurydice Report, 2019). In this context, many bottom-up initiatives promoted by young people are arising to fill the gap left by political institutions in contrasting cyberviolence.
In this presentation, I discuss the work of Virgin & Martyr, an Italian collective project that aims to spread awareness and information around comprehensive sexual, digital and social emotional learning in order to tackle gendered cyberviolence. Virgin & Martyr is based on a new interdisciplinary approach which strives for inclusiveness, intersectionality and sex positivity which acknowledges the intersection between social inequalities, gender violence and digital technologies. In the past year, the collective has taken part into several projects of peer-to-peer education, formal education in schools and universities, social media awareness, training courses for professionals, political campaigns and activism. In this regard, I argue that Virgin & Martyr represents a relevant and original approach that could help to think of new paths of formal and informal education for creating safer online spaces.

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