April 19, 2022 - 10:36am

Exhale, everyone. The results from the NASUWT teachers’ union poll are finally in. 

And as the weekend’s headlines all suggest, they paint a very grim picture indeed. Deadly misogyny is “surging” in the classroom, leaving female teachers feeling “scared or intimidated just for showing up to work.” And the reason for all this, of course, is “the influence of the ‘incel’ subculture on teenage boys.”

According to The Guardian, this doubtlessly objective survey “confirms a culture of sexual harassment in classrooms amid influence of ‘incel’ movement.” The findings reveal that a whopping 70% of female teachers “had been victims of misogyny” in their schools. Just over half (58%) of this misogyny occurred at the hands of pupils, while 45% came from senior staff or fellow teachers. Examples of the offending behaviour range from the abhorrent (threats of rape) to the insignificant (“ignoring instructions”) or the profoundly ironic, in the case of one participant, who wrote of: ‘Children making comments about feminism being a terrible thing and explaining it as man hating, or even the wish to kill men.’

How do incels even figure into this equation? The implication that “incel culture” has any connection to the conduct in question remains utterly unsubstantiated. Each piece includes a decorative little morsel, maybe even Jake Davison’s glassy, bovine eyes to go with everybody’s favourite fact-resistant falsehoods about Plymouth. But the best they can do when it comes to the bad behaviour in question is the use of the word “simp.”

For the past year, schools have been trying to combat the rising threat of ‘incel extremism’. In August 2021, Education Scotland spearheaded their prevention initiative with a webinar, which sought to “train” teachers “to spot incel extremists.”

The programme itself, which may now roll out to the rest of the UK, involves peer mentoring that is based on the CURE Violence model. This model was developed to combat gang violence among inner city youth, and utilises the existing relationships between young people to create avenues from those most at-risk to mentors who could provide or direct them to appropriate support.

This has been an effective approach, but it just doesn’t translate in this context. The entire model is dependent on the strength of the peer relationships; one feature of inner city gangs is a directional respect between older and younger members, which has no equivalent for “incel extremists.”

The Scottish peer mentoring programme works by pairing each referral — in this case, the suspected incel extremist — with an older peer mentor, who will effectively guide them away from their current path by “challenging cultural norms” and discussing “gender-based violence” with them.

It’s a far cry from a heart-to-heart over a beer between two Pirus.

It’s almost as though nobody even thinks these things through. Never mind that ridiculous programme, common sense alone should dissuade anyone from implementing a game of “Spot the Incel: High School Edition” with educators who already see themselves as the victims of their pupils’ bad ideas, now “trained” to identify radicals. 

There is something odd about the fact that all of these stories are told from the perspective of the teachers. It suggests that none of these initiatives are really designed to meet the needs of the students, but rather the demands of a humourless, sanctimonious new orthodoxy where everyone is a victim of grooming, abuse, and indoctrination that can only be cured with grooming, abuse, or indoctrination. So please, teachers, break the cycle and stop catastrophising so much.

Naama Kates is a writer, producer, and creator of the “Incel” podcast.