Section: 6.3 Government responses

Misogynistic extremism

This section outlines how different governments classify and respond to misogynistic extremism within their national policies on violent extremism. It details the specific categories used to identify this form of extremism and the terminology employed to describe it. The overview highlights how each country integrates misogynistic extremism into their security frameworks and law enforcement strategies, providing a comparative perspective on the legislative and policy measures used to address this type of violent extremism, noting that it is not exhaustive and is accurate as of the date of publication.

What is ‘misogynistic extremism’?

‘Misogynistic extremism’ (also referred to as male supremacist terrorism or misogynist terrorism) is conceptualised in the context of misogynistic incels (involuntary celibates), male supremacism,far-right extremism, terrorism, and ‘the black pill’ ideology. This term encompasses a range of ideologies and behaviours that are rooted in extreme misogynistic beliefs, often linked to broader extremist movements. Misogynistic extremism is not only associated with acts of violence but also with the ideological underpinnings found in various male supremacist and far-right extremist groups. These ideologies promote gender-based violence and discrimination, contributing to a culture of extremism that specifically targets women and upholds male dominance.1 [see section male supremacy and inceldom].

The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism (ICCT)2 in the Hague highlighted that counter-terrorism experts didn’t initially recognise misogyny as a motivating ideology for mass violence. That changed in 2018 when the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START)3 and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC)4 recognised misogyny and male supremacy as drivers of terrorism, labelling them as a "rising threat”.

The term ‘misogynistic extremism’ is conceptualised in academic and policy discussions as a form of ideologically-motivated violent extremism (IMVE) rooted in misogyny. This concept is primarily associated with the online ‘manosphere’ subcultures, which include male supremacist groups like incels. Misogynistic extremism involves the radicalisation of individuals through exposure to extremist misogynistic rhetoric and ideologies online, which can lead to real-world acts of violence. These violent acts are often motivated by a belief in male supremacy and a resentment towards women's empowerment and gender equality.1

The literature describes misogynistic extremism as overlapping with far-right extremism, sharing common ideological components such as rigid gender hierarchies and the endorsement of white supremacist views. (See section misogyny, violence and violent extremist ideologies).

A 2019 guidebook5 from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe highlights that many violent extremist organisations (VEOs) including Daesh, incels and far-right extremists, use rigid control of gender roles as a recruitment strategy. These groups promote an image of men as hyper-masculine warriors, while women are depicted in various roles: passive caretakers, objects of sexual gratification, or as ‘the enemy’ deserving punishment.

These groups also use historical narratives that glorify past eras when men fought and died on battlefields, promoting a masculine ethos centred on physical strength and honour. Women, conversely, may be cast in roles that support these narratives, like the ‘tradwives in far-right movements, who are presented as upholding traditional domestic duties and opposing feminist notions of gender equality. According to findings from a 2023 investigation6 by the Global Network on Extremism & Technology, far-right tradwives use ideological radicalisation, social media influencing, and a sophisticated understanding of social media platforms to commodify far-right ideology.

According to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe guidebook,5 VEOs also leverage sex-based oppression and gender-based violence as tools, employing tactics such as sexual slavery, human trafficking, and restrictions on women's rights to establish and maintain control. Some women within these groups adopt and promote these oppressive structures, actively opposing feminism and supporting the group’s ideology.

Further reading: What is ‘misogynistic extremism’?

Studies and articles: Misogynistic Extremism

Government responses to misogynistic extremism

The United Kingdom

The United Kingdom’s Strategy for Countering Terrorism 2023 (CONTEST)7 recognises three primary domestic terrorist threats: Islamist terrorism, extreme Right-Wing Terrorism (ERWT) and Left-Wing, Anarchist and Single-Issue Terrorism (LASIT). The Strategy also highlights that conspiracy theories can serve as gateways to radicalisation and sometimes violence, presenting unfounded claims that blame specific groups or influential figures for social and political issues. These theories, which adapt old narratives to current contexts, cover a range of ideologies and themes such as religious or ethnic superiority, antisemitism, misogyny, anti-establishment, and anti-LGBTQI+ grievances.

The Prevent programme is a government-led, multi-agency programme to stop vulnerable individuals from becoming terrorists and forms part of the UK Government’s wider Counter-Terrorism Strategy (CONTEST).8 According to the Prevent duty guidance for specified authorities in England and Wales,9 violent individuals associated with movements or subcultures like incels could potentially meet the criteria for terrorist intent or action. This determination depends on whether they use or threaten serious violence to influence government policies or to intimidate the public.

According to the User guide to: Individuals referred to and supported through the Prevent Programme, England and Wales,10 the categorisation of concerns in previous years was divided into four high-level categories: Islamist; Extreme Right Wing; Mixed, Unstable or Unclear; and Other. Incel ideologies were categorised under Mixed, Unstable or Unclear ideologies.

To enhance transparency and offer a more detailed view of trends, in 2022 the categorisation was expanded to 10 high-level categories. This expansion involved breaking down the previously broad 'Mixed, Unstable or Unclear' category into more specific ones. The current categories of concern include: Islamist, Extreme Right Wing, Incel, School Massacre, High CT Risk but No Ideology, Vulnerability Present but No CT Risk or Ideology, No Risk, Vulnerability or Ideology, Conflicted, and Other.

Counter Terrorism Policing (CTP)11 has launched a specialised website called ACT Early | Prevent radicalisation to provide advice, guidance, and support for anyone who is concerned that someone they know may be at risk from being radicalised by terrorist or extremist content online.

See the UK Government Response to: Gendered Hate.

See the UK Government Response to: Online misogyny.

Further reading

Studies and reports: United Kingdom

Scotland and Northern Ireland

In line with the United Kingdom, Scotland uses the Prevent strategy to de-radicalise and disengage individuals involved in extremism and uses similar categories. The Revised Prevent duty guidance: for Scotland (2015),12 updated last in 2023, highlights that Prevent activity in Scotland may include threats from Islamist extremism, white supremacist ideologies from right-wing groups, Northern Ireland terrorism and separate anti-sectarianism activities. In this context, sectarianism is defined as acts of violence towards a specified religious other. The 2022/23 Prevent referral data13 from Police Scotland used the categorisation of concerns from previous years which includes the four high-level categories: Islamist; Extreme Right Wing; Mixed, Unstable or Unclear; and Other.

The Prevent Duty, applicable under Section 26 of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015, extends to England, Wales, and Scotland but not to Northern Ireland. In Northern Ireland, the main threat is domestic terrorism rather than international terrorism. Consequently, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) works with other UK security agencies to address international terrorism, while also managing local terrorist threats.14 These threats include Northern Ireland Related Terrorism (NIRT), International Terrorism (IT), Extreme Right-Wing Terrorism (ERWT), and other forms such as Left Anarchist and Single-Issue Terrorism (LASIT).

See Scotland and Northern Ireland Response to: Gendered Hate.

See Scotland and Northern Ireland Response to: Online misogyny.

Further reading

The European Union

The European Commission adopted a new Counter-Terrorism Agenda15 for the European Union (EU) on December 9, 2020, outlining a strategy for countering terrorism across EU member states. The agenda sets out actions to be taken forward at national, EU and international level across four fronts: anticipate, prevent, protect and respond to terrorist attacks.

This approach is a core component of the Security Union Strategy, which was adopted by the Commission in July 2020. The Strategy includes a broad scope of security measures, including the EU legal framework to protect children and prevent child sexual abuse, anti-corruption polices, common European policies on cyber attacks, online fraud and forgery and removing illegal online content.15

The European Commission is also supporting local prevention coordinators through the Radicalisation Awareness Network, which connects frontline practitioners from across Europe with one another to exchange knowledge, first-hand experiences and approaches to preventing and countering violent extremism in all its forms.15

In 2015, the Justice and Home Affairs Council tasked Europol with creating the EU Internet Referral Unit (EU IRU), as part of the wider EU Internet Forum, to reduce the impact of internet content promoting terrorism or violent extremism.16

The European Union Internet Forum17 (EUIF) developed the EU Crisis Response Protocol, a voluntary mechanism to help coordinate a rapid, collective and cross-border response to the viral spread of terrorist and violent extremist content online.

In addition, the EUIF is addressing the emerging challenges posed by Violent Right-Wing Extremism’s (VRWE) presence online. It has undertaken initiatives to develop a list of VRWE groups, symbols, and manifestos aimed at facilitating online content moderation for industry stakeholders.17

A significant legislative development is the adoption of Regulation (EU) 2021/784 on addressing the dissemination of terrorist content online, which came into effect on June 27, 2022. The regulation provides the legal framework at European level for member states to protect citizens from being exposed to terrorist material online. To support the enforcement of this legislation, Europol developed‘PERCI’,18 a technical tool that went live on July 3, 2023. The tool has been successfully used by some member states to transmit both removal orders and referrals to online platforms, facilitating the swift takedown of terrorist content. Previously, the process of removal of such online content was entirely voluntary on the part of the tech companies. As of 31 December, 2023, 23 member states have designated competent authority(-ies) with the power to issue removal orders as established in the Regulation.

Lastly, although the European Union has not introduced specific legislation targeting misogynistic extremism or the incel phenomenon, the Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs of the European Commission has taken steps to understand and address these issues. In October 2021, they published a report titled Incels: A First Scan of the Phenomenon (in the EU) and its Relevance and Challenges for P/CVE.19 The report provides an overview of the incel phenomenon in the EU, its relationship to violence, and key challenges for practitioners in prevention and countering of violent extremism (P/CVE) in reaching this community.

While the EU may not have specific laws targeting misogynistic extremism, individual member states may have their own national regulations or laws to address this threat. Additionally, such issues are still covered under broader EU policies and legislations, such as the EU Digital Services Act, which regulates digital platforms to mitigate risks associated with online content. Other EU initiatives aimed at combating gender-based violence, including measures to end violence against women, also contribute to addressing these issues across the Union.

See the European Union Response to: Gendered Hate.

See the European Union Response to: Online misogyny.

The United States of America

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are the primary federal agencies responsible for preventing terrorist attacks in the United States. The FBI leads federal investigations into domestic terrorism and oversees domestic intelligence operations. Meanwhile, the DHS is tasked with generating information on terrorist threats. This involves coordinating with federal, state, and local government agencies, as well as private entities, to ensure a comprehensive approach to national security.20

The FBI and the DHS classify domestic terrorism threats2021 into five groups: racially or ethnically motivated violent extremism (RMVEs), anti-government or anti-authority violent extremism (AVEs), animal rights or environmental violent extremism, abortion-related violent extremism, and all other domestic terrorism threats. The last threat category might include misogynistic extremism. All other domestic threats include using violence to further ideological agendas, with actors who may have bias related to gender, religion, or sexual orientation.2021 In their joint 2022 report, the DHS and FBI noted incel violent extremists as posing a persistent threat of violence against women, heterosexual couples and others perceived as successful in sexual or romantic pursuits. Three lethal attacks motivated by this ideology have been carried out in the United States since 2014, resulting in 17 fatalities.21

In their 2019 threat assessment report, the US Secret Service recommended that those who work in assessing and preventing violence threats familiarise themselves with men using tech platforms to promote misogynistic views and hatred towards women.22

See the United States Government Response to: Gendered Hate.

See the United States Government Response to: Online misogyny.

Further reading


The Canadian Security and Intelligence Services (CSIS) identifies three types of extremism in their 2022 annual report. These are Ideologically Motivated Violent Extremism (IMVE), Politically Motivated Violent Extremism (PMVE) and Religiously Motivated Violent Extremism (RMVE).23

In their 2022 report,24 CSIS indicated that IMVE has four sub-categories: xenophobic, gender-driven, anti-authority and other personal grievance-driven violence. CSIS notes that IMVE threat actors can be motivated by more than one grievance or occupy more than one of these sub-categories, or transition from one to another.2324

To address the threats of ideologically motivated violent extremism, a 2022 report of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security provided some recommendations. They proposed that the Government convene a summit with the provinces and territories to improve training for mental health and social services for frontline practitioners. The training should enable early interventions that address violent and misogynistic movements while promoting resiliency training. They also proposed to increase research funding to better understand and counter all forms of IMVE – including gender-driven violence.25

See the Government of Canada’s Response to: Gendered Hate.

See the Government of Canada’s Response to: Online misogyny.

Further reading

Studies and reports: Canada


The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) adopted new terminology in early 2021 to describe terrorism and violent extremism. The framework uses two broad categories: Religiously Motivated Violent Extremism (RMVE) and Ideologically Motivated Violent Extremism (IMVE).26

The current definitions don’t explicitly mention extremist groups or ideologies such as incels or misogynistic extremism. However, ASIO categorises ‘specific-issue violent extremism’ under IMVE, which could potentially include incels.

The Australian Government has launched an initiative called Living Safe Together, which provides resources to the Australian public as well as one formal channel to report online extremism. Living Safe Together uses different categories for violent extremism.27 These are ideological violence, issue-based violence and ethno-nationalist or separatist violence.

Australia's National Counter-Terrorism Plan26 has recently been updated by the Australia-New Zealand Counter-Terrorism Committee (ANZCTC) to address and adapt to emerging threats.

Under the Online Safety Act 2021, managed by the eSafety Commissioner, Part 8 addresses the handling of material that depicts abhorrent violent conduct. This part grants the eSafety Commissioner the authority to direct internet service providers (ISPs) to block access to content that promotes, incites, instructs in, or depicts abhorrent violent conduct. To enforce this, eSafety can issue a blocking request or a more formal blocking notice, depending on the severity of the situation.28

Before issuing any blocking directive, eSafety must assess and be convinced that the material’s online presence is likely to cause significant harm to the Australian public. Should ISPs fail to comply with a blocking notice, eSafety has several enforcement options available, including seeking an injunction or imposing civil penalties.

The blocking mechanisms outlined in Part 8 are primarily activated during online crisis events, which are not legally required to be declared but are recommended in a protocol collaboratively developed by eSafety, Australian ISPs, and the Communications Alliance. This protocol, which complements the powers under Part 8, details the necessary administrative procedures to efficiently notify ISPs of a potential crisis, ensuring a coordinated response to mitigate threats.

Part 9 of the Online Safety Act 2021, titled the Online Content Scheme, establishes a framework for regulating illegal and restricted content online.29 Key features of the scheme include:

  • Complaint System: Individuals can lodge complaints about online material they believe is illegal or should be restricted, breaches of service provider rules, and violations of industry codes or standards.
  • Investigation and Enforcement: eSafety has powers to investigate complaints independently and decide on the appropriate actions to address them.
  • Content Removal and Restriction: eSafety can issue notices directing online service providers to remove or restrict access to certain types of material under specific circumstances.
  • Regulation of Industry Practices: The scheme allows for the registration of industry codes and standards that govern illegal and restricted online content, and eSafety can set service provider rules for certain providers.
  • Legal Enforcement: eSafety can take enforcement actions against service providers who fail to comply with notices, including seeking civil penalties. Additionally, eSafety can request the Federal Court to halt the operations of online services that pose a significant risk to community safety.

The scheme targets both ‘Class 1’ and ‘Class 2’ materials, as defined by Australia’s National Classification Scheme. "Class 1 material" covers severely harmful content like child sexual abuse imagery or content advocating terrorism, while "Class 2 material" includes content inappropriate for children, such as online pornography.

See the Government of Australia’s Response to: Gendered Hate.

See the Government of Australia’s Response to: Online misogyny.

New Zealand

The New Zealand Security Intelligence Service (NZSIS) uses the following categories when referring to motivations or ideologies behind violent extremism: politically-motivated violent extremism, faith-motivated violent extremism, identity-motivated violent extremism, and single-issue-motivated violent extremism.30

In their 2023 annual report,31 NZSIS described a new categorisation for individuals who hold highly personalised ideologies without a strong commitment to any specific violent extremist or terrorist group. These individuals are now characterised as having 'mixed, unstable, and unclear ideologies’. Over time, such individuals often explore and adopt various aspects of extremist beliefs that resonate with them personally. The NZSIS categorises these individuals based on their primary ideology in their data, which may be identity-motivated, although this categorisation can change over time.

According to the 2023 Digital Violent Extremism Transparency Report32 by the Digital Violent Extremism Team (DVET) at the New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs (DIA), identity motivated violent extremism includes ideologies that seek to promote an in-group, and subjugate an out-group, based on identity characteristics such as race, sexuality, gender and political identity. This term now more accurately encompasses what was previously known as racist far-right violent extremism, including ideologies like white supremacy. Additionally, identity-motivated violent extremism also covers male supremacist ideologies, such as incels.

The DVET use some additional categories for non-ideological violence and unclear violence. In their 2021 Digital Violent Extremism Transparency Report,33 misogyny and anti-rainbow ideologies were listed as contributors to single-issue violent extremism. However, in their 2022 transparency report, DIA reclassified content related to misogyny and anti-rainbow sentiments under identity-motivated ideologies.34

He Aranga Ake is a disengagement framework developed under the Countering Terrorism and Violent Extremism Strategy. It’s intended to create case-specific intervention plans for individuals vulnerable to all types of violent extremism. The programme is designed for individuals who might present a threat of violence or harm to a community or themselves due to their association with ideologies linked to violent extremism. The framework brings together seven government agencies: Oranga Tamariki; the Ministries of Social Development, Education, Corrections, and Health; the Security Intelligence Service; and Police.35

According to the Joint Statement of the Co-Chairs of the third Christchurch Call Leaders’ Meeting in 2022, key actions were endorsed by the Call’s leaders, including, “Recognizing that there are demonstrated linkages between targeted violence and online hate-based movements and ideologies, including, for example, online misogyny, gender-based hatred, and other hate-based, discriminatory prejudices, deepen the evidence base on the links between these factors as potential vectors for terrorism and violent extremism.”(p3)36

As a result, the Christchurch Call Community worked on deepening the evidence on the role of gender-based extremism online as a contributing factor in violent extremism and terrorism online, and deepening engagement with organisations representing communities impacted by terrorism and violent extremism online, including women, LGBTQIA+ communities, youth and intersectional communities.37

At the 2023 Leaders’ Summit, leaders welcomed the report on Misogynistic Pathways to Radicalisation prepared by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) in association with the Christchurch Call and the Global Partnership for Action on Gender-Based Online Harassment and Abuse. They also noted the importance of taking action to address anti-LGBTQI+ violence and gender-based violence as vectors of radicalisation.37

The Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993 (FVPCA) was amended in 2021 through the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification (Urgent Interim Classification of Publications and Prevention of Online Harm) Amendment Act. This amendment was prompted by the March 15 terrorist attacks and aimed to close legislative gaps by introducing new regulatory powers, including interim classification assessments and take-down notices.

Specifically, under section 22A of the Classification Act, Te Mana Whakaatu the Classification Office can now make an interim classification assessment if a publication is 'likely' to be objectionable. This power enables the Chief Censor to act swiftly in crisis situations by notifying the public about potentially objectionable content when there is an urgent need for such information.

Part 7A of the Classification Act empowers Te Tari Taiwhenua the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) to issue take-down notices to online content hosts. These notices require the removal of publications classified as objectionable, or illegal, or the prevention of their access by the New Zealand public. Initially, the DIA attempts to use the content host's trusted flagger programme and in-platform reporting systems to remove the objectionable content. If these methods prove ineffective, a formal take-down notice is issued, which requires the content host to either remove the content or restrict public access and preserve a copy for investigation or legal proceedings. Upon issuance, content hosts have 24 hours to comply with the notice to remove or restrict access to the illegal content.

See the Government of New Zealand’s Response to: Gendered Hate.

See the Government of New Zealand’s Response to: Online misogyny.

Further reading


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.