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Anti-Bullying charity announce findings of major ‘Masculinity and Misogyny’ report

Gary Hart October 18, 2016

Masculinity and Misogyny in the Digital Age.


Anti-bullying charity¬†DITCH THE LABEL¬†publishes a major new report today called ‚ÄėMasculinity and Misogyny in the Digital Age‚Äô.

Ditch the Label have partnered with leading social intelligence company Brandwatch, evaluating 19 million tweets from the US and the UK over the span of four years in order to better understand the current climate of misogyny and what it means to be a man, as expressed across social media.

The research is a response to key findings from Ditch the Label’s Annual Bullying Survey 2016, the first major study to look at why young people bully others.

The survey found that those who identify as being male or having grown up in a male-dominated household were more likely to bully than those who identify as female or who have greater female influences at home.

The report found that 1 in 3 of all discussions associated with masculine behaviour on Twitter referenced violence with the types of violence discussed ranging from physical aggression, gun violence and domestic violence to war.

Females were found to be the largest perpetrators of misogyny on Twitter with over half (52%) of all misogynistic tweets written by women. Nearly 3 million misogynistic insults were sent on Twitter over a four years period.

Key findings include:

Masculinity on Twitter:  The research analysed discussions on what it means to be a man in four key areas: how an individual behaves, how they look, their personality and lifestyle preferences.

1 in 3 of all discussions associated with conversations about what it means to be a man on Twitter referred to violence. The types of violence discussed included physical aggression, gun violence, domestic violence and war.

Crying was the second most mentioned subject associated with masculinity (1 in 3 conversations) and seen very much as a non-masculine behaviour.

Lack of emotional response and stoicism were also associated as being masculine behaviours.

Heterosexuality was the third most mentioned subject associated with masculine behaviour. 2 in 5 conversations mentioned heterosexuality and homosexuality was a key theme. Homosexuality was often used in a negative sense to criticise behaviour seen as non-conformist.

Prince provoked debate: The largest peak in conversation surrounding masculinity occurred on April 21 with 15,385 mentions. 82% of the day‚Äôs mentions were discussing Prince, who passed away the same day. Authors discussed how Prince‚Äôs masculinity wasn‚Äôt fragile and how he was able to show the world how ‚Äúdiverse and complex‚ÄĚ masculinity could be.

The most prominent UK counties for sending tweets reinforcing ideas of masculinity were East Renfrewshire and Neath Port Talbot.

Facial Hair was the most frequently mentioned physical attribute associated with masculinity, followed by Muscular Physique, with words such as jacked, brawny, sturdy, and rugged used to describe masculine appearance.

Drinking Espresso and Americano coffees were seen as masculine behaviours, more so than drinking Lattes, Frappuccinos and flavoured coffees.

Beer is seen as a masculine drink, however drinking wine and cocktails are seen as being feminine.

Men with an interest in sports are the most likely to comply with masculine stereotypes.

What it means to be a man is a growing talking point. However, masculinity-related insults remain prevalent. This is especially the case among authors associated with family and parenting, suggesting these terms and attitudes may be transferred to future generations.

Things are changing with stereotypes on masculinity being challenged. Twitter users are beginning to challenge and redefining ideas of masculinity. Brands and some media sources are beginning to challenge existing stereotypes.

Misogyny on Twitter:

Females were found to be the largest perpetrators of misogyny on Twitter with women authoring 52% of all misogynistic language.

Nearly 3 Million misogynistic insults were sent on Twitter over a four year period.

The most prominent UK counties for misogynistic tweets were Tyrone and Merthyr Tydfil.

Twitter users who were interested in sports and music were twice as likely to send misogynistic tweets.

US States with lower levels of misogyny tend to be stronger bases of Democratic support. Democrat-strong regions are less likely to tolerate misogyny or transphobia in online discussion. States with high levels misogynistic language are also likely to exhibit less racial tolerance in the data.

Misogyny has grown significantly as a talking point since 2014 and engages both male and female authors online.

Liam Hackett
Liam Hackett

Liam Hackett, Founder and CEO of Ditch the Label, says: ‚ÄúWe know from our existing research that men are more likely to perpetrate bullying behaviours and are less likely to tell somebody if they are experiencing bullying themselves. Culturally, males are often made to feel as though they are not allowed to express their emotions in the same ways in which females are encouraged to. This report is crucial in helping us to better understand the constructs of masculinity so that we can work to proactively reduce rates of bullying and to help us encourage more men to reach out for support. We also explored the usage of misogynistic language used across Twitter to help us better understand the broader gender landscape, so that we can campaign for greater gender equality.‚ÄĚ

Edward Crook, Research Manager at Brandwatch, adds: ‚ÄúThis project was a great example of how data can be used for social good. Using Brandwatch, we were able to uncover some surprising trends on how gender is perceived in the US and the UK today. Advertising plays a major role in reinforcing notions of gender, so it‚Äôs promising to see brands begin to challenge and redefine these constructs.‚ÄĚ

To read the full report, click here: