How one dad deals with misogyny content teen boys consume

A close up image of a hand holding a smartphone, possibly scrolling social media.

James Coomber of Wiltshire lives with his wife and their two teenaged sons. He worries about the misogynistic content teen boys consume across the digital space.

See how James deals with misogyny that comes from popular online influencers and celebrities.

Where does misogyny content come from?

James and his wife are increasingly concerned about misogynistic content online, especially in recent years. Much of this misogynistic content comes from well-known influencers and celebrities on social media where his teen boys see it, says James.

“I’ve come across various examples from Andrew Tate to Donald Trump and Jeremy Clarkson,” he says. When these stories hit the news, James talks to his sons and is careful to make sure they feel able to share their own perspective.

“When we first talked about Jeremy Clarkson’s comments about Meghan Markle, there was some disagreement to begin with. [His sons] are both big fans of Top Gear and Grand Tour, and they found it hard to accept that someone they followed and watched for years had made such a derogatory comment,” he says. “Initially they tried to justify the comments, but this was to their hero worship rather than because they agreed with what he said.”

What role does celebrity play in misogyny online?

James often worries about the role celebrities play in shaping the attitudes of the teenage boys who admire and follow them. “It’s fairly easy to discuss why something is inappropriate when it’s a big media story,” he says.

“But what’s more concerning to me is the number of celebrities who use the internet to regularly make more ‘minor’ (in the eyes of the media) comments that aren’t picked up or discussed in mainstream media.

“The statements are designed to be funny or banter, but they’re sexist and bullying behaviour. This drip, drip of sexism tends to be brushed over by the media in favour or more shocking or controversial stories that drive clicks.”

A logo that reads 'The Online Together Project' on a speech bubble with a winky face and a face with love hearts for eyes to represent the quizzes that tackle online hate like misogyny and break down gender stereotypes.

Use this interactive quiz to help children understand gender stereotypes and tackle misogyny online, creating more positive communities.


Image of father of teen boys and teacher, James Coomber of Wiltshire.

James Coomber is a teacher who lives in Wiltshire with his wife and their two sons, aged 13 and 15.

How can you challenge acceptance of misogynistic views?

Both boys are keen users of social media, and James encourages them to never take statements that look like facts at face value.

“It’s so easy to make statements online that look like facts, but I’ve lost count of the number of times one of my sons has told us something as fact, but when we ask where the information is from, it turns out to be TikTok! We always advise them to look up things on known websites such as BBC or other reputable news outlets rather than trusting social media sites.”

James says that the online environment can create a culture where teens see misogynistic behaviour as acceptable. “If it’s okay for celebrities and politicians to make these comments unchallenged in the media, then surely they must be acceptable for teenagers to make?”

As teenagers, the boys also worry about the growing negativity towards young men in the media and worry that online misogyny means men are tarred with the same brush, unfairly.

What can parents do to challenge misogyny?

In light of these challenges, James says he speaks regularly with his boys, and offers this advice to other parents:

  • If a comment is funny or provocative, invite teenagers to consider how they would feel if it was made towards a woman they know and like.
  • It’s important as men that we model the behaviour and respect towards women that we expect our sons to use, and we highlight positive male role models.
  • The car is a great place to have these conversations, because we have a captive audience!
  • Make sure to give time for everyone to give their opinions, rather than trying to impose your own views.
  • Be mindful of the many different news sources available to young people and how much their opinions are dictated by their peers. Parents need to keep an open mind and keep talking!

Digital image of a teen boy who looks worried as he holds his smartphone. Question mark icons are next to him.Find more guidance on tackling misogyny at home, online and in the classroom with our ‘What is misogyny?’ guides for parents and for teachers.


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