Table of contents
1. Who is Andrew Tate?
Andrew Tate is a British-American former kickboxer who has risen to fame as an online influencer. Although he has since been banned from several social media platforms, he gained popularity and notoriety by producing content in which he promoted a misogynistic world view. For example, he has described women as “intrinsically lazy”, argued that rape victims “bear responsibility” and has spoken about choking women. Mr Tate has also made controversial statements about mental health and posted tweets containing racist and homophobic slurs.
Despite these views, Mr Tate is not an obscure figure. The Guardian has reported that he is one of the most famous figures on the social media platform TikTok, where videos of him have been watched 11.6bn times. The Guardian also said that Mr Tate and his followers have used coordinated action and social media algorithms to boost his profile. His online activity has reportedly generated earnings into the millions, both for Mr Tate and the platforms he has posted on.
Mr Tate has also been labelled as a prominent figure in the ‘manosphere’, the digital space where men talk about ‘men’s issues’ including fitness and health, dating and relationships, finances and fathers’ rights. Although these online communities can offer help and support, they have also become a space where anti-woman and anti-feminist ideologies are prominent, supported by a belief in the inherent superiority of men. In her book ‘The incel rebellion: The rise of the Manosphere and the virtual war against women’, Dr Lisa Sugiura said that although a wide range of groups are present in this space, they are united by anti-feminist beliefs.
2. What is Tate’s appeal?
Focusing on why Mr Tate’s ‘message’ has become so popular, Robert Lawson, an associate professor in sociolinguistics at Birmingham City University, highlighted the work of sociologist Michael Kimmel. Dr Kimmel argued that shifting gender relations and changing familial and domestic patterns have led to some young men feeling what he calls “aggrieved entitlement”. He described this as “a state of anger and fear that they are losing their social status and privilege”.
Citing his own research, Professor Lawson said that aggrieved entitlement “goes hand in hand with men presenting themselves as victims of a global assault on masculinity”. He said that an analysis of ‘manosphere spaces’ on the social network Reddit showed that some men think they are emasculated, disposable, disrespected, disregarded and forgotten. Professor Lawson argued that these views make it “easy to see” how Tate’s message has become a call for men to “reclaim ‘lost’ masculinity and reassert masculine authority over others”. He said this has led to worries that Tate is “indoctrinating” and “radicalising” young men into an extremist and dangerous form of masculinity.
Postdoctoral Researcher and Co-director of Research with the Canadian Institute for Far-Right Studies Luc Cousineau has also focused on Tate’s appeal. He argues that Tate’s rhetoric is not new, and has compared him to individuals who have previously gained fame through their anti-feminist views. He claimed that these men “tap into” a desire for power over others that is socialised into young men, often subconsciously, through the framing of boys as protectors and leaders, and through ideas like ‘boys don’t cry’.
3. What concerns have been raised?
The rise of figures like Andrew Tate has led to concerns that men and boys are being led to extremist and dangerous forms of masculinity that could result in an increase in real world violence against women and girls.
Domestic abuse charities are amongst those who have raised concerns. Andrea Simon, director of the End Violence Against Women coalition, has argued that by allowing videos of Tate on its platform, TikTok was “facilitating and ultimately profiting from the potential radicalisation of its young male users”.
Concerns have also focused on the impact of misogynistic online content on children. Hannah Ruschen, a policy officer at the charity the NSPCC, has argued that viewing material like that produced by Tate can shape young children’s experiences and attitude and result in further harm to women and girls in and out of school, as well as online.
Press reports have contained interviews with family members who have spoken about negative behaviours their loved ones have started exhibiting after engaging with content produced by Tate and other similar figures.
4. What could be done to tackle these problems?
Various organisations have developed resources focused on helping parents, teachers and others talk to young men who have expressed negative views towards women. For example, the Department for Education has published guidance on ‘understanding and identifying radicalisation risk in your education setting’. In this guidance, the department warned that children, young people and adult learners can adopt “a mixed, unclear or unstable ideology that supports extreme violence”. Examples of this include those who direct their anger mainly at women.
There have also been calls for social media platforms to do more to counter the content produced by Tate and others like him. Luc Cousineau has argued that taking individuals such as Tate off social platforms can address his actions and help take him out of the spotlight; although he also highlighted that it is impossible to get all of their content off the internet. Looking forward, Mr Cousineau argued that social media platforms should “cut the revenue streams” available to those like Tate as this would “have dramatic effects on how these people finance their lives and lies”.