Toxic masculinity trend in Australian schools: Monash University study, Andrew Tate manfluencers

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Female teachers across Australia are exposing a disturbing trend of toxic behaviour emerging in male students.

A Monash University study released this week found male supremacy and toxic masculinity were on the rise in Australian schools.

The research, authored by Dr Stephanie Wescott and Professor Steven Roberts explores the power of “manfluencers” like Andrew Tate creeping into classrooms and changing the way boys interact with their female teachers and peers.

Tate has attracted a cult following from young men by sharing content ranging from male empowerment to more insidious messages like women are the property of men and rape victims should bear some responsibility for their assault.

He is currently facing charges of human trafficking and sexual aggression in Romania.

Former high school teacher Halley Metcalfe said the rising tide of toxic masculinity was one of the main reasons she walked away from her career in education.

She said she witnessed “targeted, weaponized language used to antagonise women” that worsened after the Covid pandemic when students became immersed in online worlds.

Ms Metcalfe told Sunrise on Thursday her experience was not isolated.

“We’re seeing a lot of female teachers and female education support staff saying they’re experiencing a lot of really underhanded psychological manipulations from male students in classrooms,” she said.

“It’s very different than previous experiences.”

Thirty female teachers across public and private schools in Australia were interviewed as part of the study, and unanimously reported a shift in the behaviour of boys intersecting with a return to face-to-face schooling and the rise of Tate’s popularity.

“[Students] make joking references about Andrew Tate to try and get a reaction from the girls or some female staff. They know exactly the type of polarising figure that he is, but they feel safe enough to put him into the classroom as a joke,” said one NSW school teacher.

Ms Metcalfe said the students are facing a barrage of damaging messages from social media and podcasts that is reinforcing their behaviour.

“Students had spent so much time on their devices and their algorithm is literally feeding them whatever they’ve been liking and looking at. We’re seeing a lot of mimicked behaviour,” she said.

“Not just because of Andrew Tate, as much as I hate saying his name on air, but also the movement he has created.

“It has created podcasts of young men spitting the same sort of stuff that students are bringing into the classroom now.”

The Monash research follows the Albanese government’s announcement in October of a three-year trial project to combat toxic masculinity in schools.