T.W. Misogyny, Sexual Assault, Violence

[Editor’s Note: We have not linked to some sources used to avoid supporting Tate or affiliated parties]

I first heard of Andrew Tate during a morning peruse of Twitter. In a half-asleep haze, I saw a tweet that read like an alarm: “go onto Andrew Tate’s instagram right now & look at how many people you know that follow him.” I saw only one person, someone I hadn’t spoken to in months. But, knowing what I know now, even one person is too many.

You might have seen his name make headlines this week for being banned from Facebook, Instagram, and now TikTok. Even though officially removed, his presence lingers in the clips and quotes being constantly shared on Youtube and on dedicated fan-created websites. On TikTok, a simple search of his name brings ups over 20 fan accounts that have over 10,000 followers apiece. More than ever, it is important to know who he is, why he has been removed, and to take him seriously for the danger he poses. We cannot allow the people we know to fall into his trap.

Andrew Tate is a former boxer and content creator whose divisive views have both shot him to internet stardom and raised concerns about the growth of misogyny in online spaces. His views range from the deeply bizarre to the outright dangerous. His commentary on breakfast and how it ‘breeds arrogance and laziness’ is laughable, but his expressed preference for nineteen-year-olds over older women due to their being ‘fresh’ and easier for him to ‘put [his] imprint on’ is far more concerning. In short, Andrew Tate is the figurehead of a cult of personality which thrives off of demeaning women in the name of male empowerment.

A motivational speaker of sorts, he presents himself as capable and confident and offers guidance on what his viewers should do to attain the personality and lifestyle to which he owes his fame. Yet, the real messages he spreads underneath this guise of personality are hugely damaging. He tells his audience that ‘depression isn’t real’ and that they have been hoodwinked into believing that it is a medical condition. Tate describes depression as a feeling that people submit to in order to make excuses for their dissatisfaction with their life’s circumstances rather than working to change them. He does not treat it as the incredibly serious condition that it is. 

This is especially concerning in light of male suicide statistics; according to Samaritans, the male suicide rate in England is 15.3 per 100,000, whereas the female suicide rate is 4.9 per 100,000. In Tate’s view, it is feminine to express emotion, and femininity is demeaning, and thus encourages his male viewership to dismiss serious mental health conditions in order to preserve their masculinity. In a quote taken from a fan-made YouTube compilation of Tate’s content, Tate says ‘you’re depressed because you’re fat and you can’t get a girlfriend.’ He places value on conformity to his personal view of the ideal male form, judging success based on the ability to attract women. People who fail to achieve this ideal are belittled and insulted.

Of course, the controversy does not end here. In a video captioned ‘How Tate handles his Girls’, he enacts hitting an imaginary woman: ‘slap, slap, grab, choke, shut up bitch, sex.’ The consent of this hypothetical woman is dubious at best and non-existent at worst. In the clip, Tate’s understanding of masculinity is revealed as so fragile that it sees female agency as a threat that must be eliminated. He enacts this out in his own life and, at the time of writing, is currently under investigation for human trafficking in Romania. In my view, his behaviour reveals a man who endorses beating and insulting women until they submit, and actively encourages others to do the same.

Time and time again, Tate maintains that it is men who deserve the final say over women. He instructs his audience: ‘you need to become the kind of person who doesn’t take disrespect from females.’ He teaches his viewers to expect female compliance, as women who refuse their advances pose an affront to their understanding of masculinity and its promised power. His apparent remedy to this is violence, as the quote above suggests. In line with Tate’s thinking, a man achieves more than gratification when he does this, it is a victory that his masculinity has awarded him.

The effect that his content has had on young boys is palpable. One teacher wrote such concerns, stating that the children she teaches are ‘starting to genuinely believe that being successful is synonymous with abusing women.’ Insecure, impressionable men and boys want a role model to make them feel special and to give them something to aspire to. Andrew Tate should not be that person. They want someone to praise them for the traits they possess and he supplies the demand. He says: ‘One of the key components of manhood, always has and always will be, that we have the ability to control ourselves and not act emotionally.’

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting to feel special, but Tate draws on a postulated innate value of ‘manhood’ which brings an audience that believes themselves superior to the women who Tate asserts are emotionally unstable by contrast.

He is not empowering young men, he is radicalising them. Young men are learning that, if they express emotion they are weak, if they do not have girlfriends they are failures, and if they do not receive female subservience they are not adequately reaping the benefits of manhood.

This radicalisation is especially concerning given he is on amicable terms with far-right figures such as Tommy Robinson, the co-founder and former leader of the English Defence League, and Alex Jones, who has recently been sued for defamation after falsely claiming that the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting did not happen. 

Andrew Tate’s divisive presence brings the consideration of whether he really believes what he’s saying, or whether he is simply trying to be controversial. Ultimately, I don’t think it matters. Whether or not Tate himself believes what he’s saying, his words have a detrimental impact on those who engage with his content, and his followers will believe and spout the same rhetoric.

It falls on us regular people to pacify such sentiments when we see them in our friends and family. The popularity of Andrew Tate is concerning and, even with his removal from social media, it is clear that his presence will have a lasting impact. This should not be a discouragement but a call to action; those who stand up to hateful rhetoric like his will always have the final say on its impact on those around us.