Section: 1.1 About this project

The story behind our project

Te Mana Whakaatu – Classification Office plays an important role in addressing violent extremist content and safeguarding New Zealanders from online harms. The violent extremism landscape changed dramatically after the tragic events of March 15, 2019, when a terrorist attack in Christchurch claimed the lives of 51 individuals. In response, our office swiftly classified the livestream video and manifesto created and disseminated by the attacker. This marked a new challenge for us and for the global community, as livestreaming atrocities became a disturbing trend.

Subsequently, our office established a dedicated team focused on countering violent extremism. This team comprises two experienced senior advisors dedicated to research, education, outreach, and classification efforts. Supported by our broader Classification Unit, this team is well-positioned to monitor global trends and identify concerning patterns in publications requiring classification.

Our decision to explore the links between online misogyny and violent extremism stems from the unique perspective we have from classifying terrorist and extremist content. Regrettably, such content has become a larger portion of our workload. We've observed common misogynistic threads across various categories of material and sought to gain a deeper understanding of why.

Observations from our classifications

We have observed misogynistic elements in some terrorist and violent extremist content (TVEC) and violent sexual content. We discuss below some of these misogynistic elements found in publications we classified as objectionable.

Male supremacy

Examples of violent extremist publications that the Office has classified as objectionable (imposing a legal ban) that have misogynistic elements include The Great Replacement,1 2011 Oslo Manifesto,2 2022 Bratislava Manifesto,3 and the 2022 Buffalo Supermarket Attack Manifesto.4 These publications were not banned because they contained misogynistic content, but there were misogynistic elements alongside the objectionable content.

The Southern Poverty Law Center defines male supremacy as a hateful ideology rooted in the belief of the innate superiority of cisgender men and their right to subjugate women, trans men and non-binary people. Male supremacists perceive themselves as victims of an oppressive feminist system that they believe has unjustly deprived them of their rightful place in society.

For example, the authors of these ‘manifestos’ make frequent references to the erosion of traditional masculinity by feminism. The Bratislava shooter detailed how he had been radicalised at a young age by ideas of male supremacy. He noted his interest in the “men’s rights movement”.

Male supremacists often reduce women to their reproductive function. They shame women for engaging in sexual activity while also holding the belief that women owe men sex or that it should be coerced out of them. For instance, the Oslo terrorist idealises the “traditional family unit” and gender roles of the 1950s. He blames radical feminism, which he sees as an offshoot of cultural Marxism for “severely wound[ing] the family structure of the Western world”. He decries the “sex-and-the-city” lifestyles of modern women, which he claims distract women from their role to increase birth rates of white children. He fantasises about a “motherless” civilisation, establishing a “network of surrogacy facilities in low-cost countries”, envisioning “artificial wombs” that would create genetically European children and would remove the need for women in society at all.

The Oslo terrorist lists police, cultural Marxists, and the military as “female”. He believes this makes them “physically and mentally inferior”. He decries “soft white men” who are unable or unwilling to undertake acts of violence. The Buffalo shooter draws a similar comparison, before claiming that “Men of the West must be men once more”, implying a belief that violence is inherently connected to masculinity.

The Oslo terrorist imagines men as the victims of radical feminists, who would seek to “destroy the hegemony of white males” and undermine “the intrinsic worth of native Christian European, heterosexual males”. He writes this to justify his belief that women must be killed as part of the impending civil war. He warns followers that they must “embrace and familiarise yourself with the concept of killing women, even very attractive women”.

The ‘Great Replacement’: birth rates, masculinity, and hate

Another common theme in these manifestos is the ‘Great Replacement’ theory and birth rates. The ‘Great Replacement’ is a white supremacist conspiracy theory that claims that white people are being systematically replaced by people of colour. The Christchurch shooter named his ‘manifesto’ The Great Replacement in reference to this conspiracy theory.1 At their most extreme, adherents to the Great Replacement theory embrace accelerationism: the belief that acts of violence can be used to bring about societal collapse and change.

The Buffalo shooter wrote about the inevitability of “white men” being radicalised into violence as a consequence of existential threats to the “white race”. He believes that white women are being sexually abused en masse by people of colour. The attacker frequently references his belief that the sexual assault of white women is being “covered up”, and that this is leading to falling birth rates in the “white race”. He justifies his acts of extreme violence as a proportionate response to the existential threat to the “white race”.

In each ‘manifesto’ men are called on to use violence to protect “the gene pool”. Once they have achieved this, it is their duty to, according to the Bratislava attacker, fulfil their “biological purpose” to procreate. Accordingly, interracial relationships are described by the Oslo terrorist as “the ultimate crime”, while the Christchurch terrorist refers to the same as “genes being bred out of existence”.

The Buffalo shooter believed a man’s duty was to protect ‘birth rates’ by procreating with white women. He described pornography and sex work as ‘distractions’ that simulate ‘actual relationships’.

In the context of white supremacy, references to birth rates can be understood as a misogynistic interest in controlling women’s bodies and reproduction.

The Bratislava shooter writes extensively about their hatred of the trans community, dedicating a page toward invalidating trans identities. The attacker claims that watching someone in their friend circle transition – which they describe as watching someone “self-destruct” – contributed to their radicalisation toward violent extremism.

Transphobia is also a feature of the Buffalo shooter’s writing, in which he describes trans identities as a “mental illness”.

Incel ideology, the ‘manosphere’ and incitement of physical and sexual violence

The Office has classified and banned incel content that promotes misogynist violence and the dehumanisation and degradation of women. The incel (‘involuntary celibate’) concept originated from a late 1990s online forum created by a Canadian woman to support those struggling to find romantic partners.5 Initially a supportive space, the incel community eventually shifted, becoming dominated by young men expressing hostile attitudes towards women.

Incels, who largely self-identify as such, are men who blame women and society in large for their lack of sexual success. They are known for their antagonism not only towards women but also towards men they perceive as “genetically attractive” and successful in securing partners. These men are often derogatorily referred to as “Chads” within incel communities. Incels typically express resentment towards these individuals, believing that their own lack of romantic and sexual success is due to inherent disadvantages in comparison to these “genetically superior” men.

Incels are part of what is called the ‘manosphere’, an umbrella term that covers various anti-feminist, often misogynistic online groups, including Pick-up Artists (PUAs), Men Going Their Own Way (MGTOW), and Men’s Rights Activists (MRAs). Some members of these groups express extreme views including vehement misogynistic and anti-feminist sentiments, sexual objectification of women, and advocating for violence against women.

An example is a video classified by the Office in 2021 as objectionable.6 The video is a capture of a Twitch streamer playing a video game who makes repeated references to his status as an incel.

Throughout the video the streamer refers to women as “foids”: a derogatory slur that combines ‘female’ and ‘android’. The term ‘foid’ also refers to his view that women lack autonomy and agency and are objectified for their capacity for sex. He explicitly targets women in his playthrough of the game, while offering a running commentary over the gameplay footage. He states that he wishes to “purge the world of foids”.

Often the streamer switches between referring to gameplay and referencing people that he knows in real life. He questions why women don’t want to have sex with him. He believes women are “sluts for everybody but me”.

The streamer threatens sexual violence against women who he knows in real life and claims to be sexually aroused while committing violence against women. He further states his intention to commit a mass shooting. He says that he has too much respect for police to shoot them, however, believes that women “don’t really serve any purpose” other than reproduction.

The streamer dehumanises and degrades women to such an extent and degree that he justifies not only simulated violence but physical, terroristic violence against women as well. This video was classified as objectionable for its dehumanisation and degradation of women, and the manner in which it promotes acts of crime against women.

Sexual violence against women and girls

Misogyny appears in content depicting extreme violence or sexual violence against women and girls. Many examples of this have been classified as objectionable. These include games, videos and images depicting or promoting sexual violence, including rape, physical and sexual assault, and child sexual exploitation.

For example, a video game classified by the Office in 2023 as objectionable included sexual activities that are coercive and degrading in nature with a strong element of misogyny, particularly with adult women characters.7 The game also involves incest, sexual violence, and the promotion of child sexual exploitation.

This game promotes and supports sexual violence and the sexual exploitation of women, children and young people. The only likely purpose for this game is the gratification of those with an interest in misogynistic sexual dominance and sexual offending against children and young people.

In the past, the Office has cut or banned hundreds of commercial pornographic DVDs or videos for depicting degrading, dehumanising and demeaning sexual or physical conduct towards women and girls. We seldom classify this content today due to the decline in distribution of commercial pornography on DVD or video. This type of content is now widely available online from commercial pornography sites.

Why research on online misogyny is needed

Based on evidence from our classification work above and findings from our previous research,8 which showed that New Zealanders feel that it’s hard for them to avoid seeing harmful or offensive content online, we recognised the need for further research. This research will allow for a deeper understanding of this issue and build an evidence base specific to New Zealand.

Since 2020, we have observed some concerning trends relating to online misogyny.

Violent extremism and extreme violence

The convergence of misogynistic beliefs with various forms of violent extremism, notably seen in groups like incels.

Misogynistic hate targeting public figures and minority groups

An elevated risk of experiencing misogynistic abuse for women in high-profile roles, and for individuals with intersectional identities, thereby reducing the voices of women and girls in public discourse spaces.

Amplification by algorithm

Algorithms that maximise engagement have contributed to amplifying different forms of this harmful type of content, giving it wider reach.

Reach and speed of spread

Misogynistic campaigns can spread across platforms, and in many cases, have a global reach.


The distribution of gendered disinformation targeting women and girls, further fuelling the above harmful convergence trend.

Declining mental health, declining participation

The negative effects of online misogyny on the mental wellbeing of women and girls, discouraging their participation, silencing them, and exacerbating discrimination.

We wanted to explore the links between online misogyny and violent extremism, leveraging our expertise as a media regulator in content classification and our extensive experience in classifying violent extremist content.

Understanding the real-world impact of online misogyny is key to creating safer online spaces for everyone, including women and girls. By exploring how and where online misogyny develops and grows locally and globally, this research aims to inform evidence-based policy and regulatory responses and support future research.


We understand that this research could be confronting or upsetting for some readers. If you or someone you know needs to talk:

Free call Women’s Refuge 0800 733 843 for support for women and children experiencing family violence.

  • Visit Netsafe to complete an online form to report any online safety issues or free call 0508 638 723 for support.
  • Free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor.
  • Free call Youthline 0800 376 633 or text 234 to talk with someone from a safe and youth-centred organisation.
  • Free call Safe to Talk 0800 044 334 or text 4334 anytime for support about sexual harm.
  • Free call OutLine Aotearoa 0800 688 5463 any evening to talk to trained volunteers from Aotearoa's rainbow communities.