The new feminist frontier on community-based learning

Popular feminism, online misogyny, and toxic masculinities



Adult education, Digital feminist activism, Misogyny, Social movement learning, Toxic masculinities


Feminist activism has always promoted informal learning opportunities for men and women. Internet, along with ICTs have expanded these opportunities by affording large-scale feminist mobilising and connection. Yet the digital environment is not only enhancing feminist campaigning but also facilitating the contexts to abusive behaviours flourish. Departing from the concept of social movement learning, in this article, we examine the significance to adult education of the large-scale reinvigoration of feminist activism in tandem with the surge of anti-feminist and misogynist ideas in the digital environment. We argue that just as online social media brought unprecedented opportunities to provide social movement learning, it offered the same tools to misogynists groups, mostly led by a toxic understanding of masculinity. By co-opting the same online opportunities, the feminist movement enjoys, individualised and collective toxic masculinity agency is a potential foe to match, reinventing the same struggle, demanding an ongoing battle towards deconstructing patriarchy.


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Author Biographies

Rita Basílio Simões, University of Coimbra

Rita Basílio Simões holds a PhD in Communication Sciences. She is Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Arts and Humanities of the University of Coimbra, at the Department of Philosophy, Communication and Information. Researcher at the NOVA Institute of Communication, she has expertise in feminist media studies, digital media, journalism studies, gender violence, and communication law. Currently, she coordinates the Portuguese participation on the Global Media Monitoring Project and leads the Portuguese Project “Online violence against women: preventing and combating misogyny and violence in a digital context from the experience of the COVID-19 pandemic”. She also directs the Working Group on Gender and Sexualities of the Portuguese Association of Communication Sciences.

Inês Amaral, University of Coimbra

Inês Amaral is Associate Professor at the Faculty of Arts and Humanities of the University of Coimbra. PhD in Communication Sciences from the University of Minho, Inês is a researcher at the Centre for Studies in Communication and Society. Currently, she is a member of the projects teams “(De)Coding Masculinities: Towards an enhanced understanding of media’s role in shaping perceptions of masculinities in Portugal” and “Online violence against women: preventing and combating misogyny and violence in a digital context from the experience of the COVID-19 pandemic”. Her main research areas include audiences and media consumption; social networks, participation and social media; media and digital literacy; gender and media.

Sofia José Santos, University of Coimbra

Sofia José Santos is Assistant Professor in International Relations and Co-Coordinator of the PhD Programme “Democracy in the Twenty-First Century” at the Faculty of Economics, University of Coimbra, and a Researcher at the Center for Social Studies, where she coordinates the DeCodeM project as a Principal Investigator. Since 2008 she has developed research on media and masculinities, media and international relations, internet and technopolitics. She holds a PhD and an MA in International Politics and Conflict Resolution by the Faculty of Economics of the University of Coimbra, a degree in International Relations from the same university, and a Diploma in Advanced Studies in Communication Sciences from ISCTE-IUL.


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How to Cite

Simões, R. B., Amaral, I., & Santos, S. J. (2021). The new feminist frontier on community-based learning : Popular feminism, online misogyny, and toxic masculinities. European Journal for Research on the Education and Learning of Adults, 12(2), 165–177. Retrieved from