A parent’s guide to Andrew Tate, the self-proclaimed misogynist
Nittya Rizza, a teacher at Markham, first Googled Andrew Tate after one of her year 12 students asked if they could have a debate on him – and what she found worried her.
“It was terrifying,” she says.
The 36-year-old right-wing influencer and self-proclaimed misogynist made headlines this week after he was arrested in Romania and charged with sex trafficking and rape. Many people have been scratching their heads as to why exactly the former kickboxer and “Big Brother” contestant was attracting so much attention.
But if you don’t know who he is, there’s a good chance your teenage kids do.
At a time when parents can no longer walk past the family computer to see exactly what their children are consuming online, some educators said Tate has become more relevant while children are not attending in-person school due to the pandemic and are missing opportunities to Socializing in person and relied too heavily on social media platforms to fill in the gaps.
Tate’s fans say he champions men’s rights. But his critics say he’s espousing views that could radicalize some boys against women — he was banned from Twitter in 2017 after tweeting that women who are raped “must have some responsibility” (sic). (His account was recently restored after the platform was bought by Elon Musk.) He has also argued that women are men’s property and are not allowed to drive. In addition, he uses social media platforms to do this, which her parents may not take seriously.
He “exercises a great emotional appeal to this younger generation of men who are down and lonely and haven’t been socialized properly,” says Rizza. “They believe they can be empowered and gain social capital with what Andrew Tate is teaching them.”
Here’s what you need to know about Tate.
Tate rose to prominence as a contestant on Big Brother in 2016 and has since amassed a huge following on Instagram before his page went offline, with fans independently sharing his content on TikTok. The hashtag #AndrewTate has surpassed 13.7 billion views on the platform.
While some of his content saw him face online bans, his alleged real-world choices led to tougher action this week, with police in Romania arresting him and his brother Tristan and charging him with sex trafficking and rape.
According to Romanian police, the brothers conspired with Romanian citizens to trick women into coming to their mansion in Bucharest, the New York Daily News reported. When the women arrived, they were physically and psychologically intimidated and then forced to stay and film pornographic videos, police said.
Tate has said he used to have “girlfriends” for his successful online webcam business.
Investigators said at least one victim was allegedly raped twice, and six alleged victims were rescued from the premises.
Earlier in the week, Tate clashed online with Greta Thunberg, the celebrated 19-year-old Swedish climate activist. On Tuesday, Tate tweeted a photo of him next to a Bugatti, boasting about owning 33 cars and asking for her email address so he could send her a “complete list of my car collection and their respective enormous emissions.”
After she punched him, he tweeted another video of him smoking a cigar and continuing to taunt her with a pizza box on the table in front of him – Jerry’s Pizza, a shop in Romania. Twitter users said this was one of the reasons Romanian authorities were able to locate his whereabouts and arrest him, but police said this was not true.
The online fight was more in line with what Tate was previously known for.
As TikTok gained popularity among youth during the pandemic, videos of Tate gained popularity, as did his words about women not being allowed to drive, shouldn’t leave the house, being owned by men and being worth less if they are one long time have dating history. They often appeared in clipped videos posted by other users.
Rizza’s entire 12th grade class at Markham knew Tate and engaged with his often hateful online content, fueled in part by the pandemic, social isolation and increasing time spent behind screens.
In her experience, her students and other young men turned to Tate after feeling offended by the #MeToo movement, feminism and rumors of sexual assault against girls.
Luc Cousineau, a professor at Waterloo University who researches masculinity, misogyny and men’s rights activism, places Tate in the category of “right-wing misogynist crooks” — which includes “pickup artists” and others who target disenfranchised young men feel left behind by a society that has emphasized women’s rights.
There are some dynamics that set Tate apart from other right-wing online personalities who exploit young men’s insecurities about wealth and relationships to make money, Cousineau said. Most importantly, Cousineau argues that Tate encourages violence.
“What effect does it have if, for example, you’re a new woman-identifying teacher in her mid-20s starting in, say, a high school classroom, and you have 16-, 17-, 18-year-old boys subscribing to Andrew Tate … your students subscribed to someone who encourages violence against you, he said.
Also of note is Tate’s ability to make his content viral.
“What’s new about Andrew Tate is that he figured out the algorithm… it’s a bit of a mystery how that came about, but either he figured it out or someone on his team really figured out how to use his presence , especially on TikTok,” Cousineau said.
One method that seems to have had success was trying to promote Tate’s companies like Hustler’s University – a series of online “courses” that promise “students” financial success by mastering “a high-paying skill, your online business.” launch and use modern investment strategies” – people were told to post videos of Tate that would spark controversy on social platforms to increase their chances of going viral.
Part of Hustler’s University’s business model was to pay users a commission if they got other “students” to sign up using their affiliate links, many of which appeared in the same bios of those who constantly watched Tate videos online posted.
Tate has since been banned from TikTok, and the platform said content featuring him would be removed earlier this year. Still, the hashtag #andrewtatequotes reached 1.1 billion views, with the same content they said would be removed being available immediately.
TikTok tends to have a younger demographic than either Twitter or Facebook. Cousineau said it’s worrying to see Tate so popular with teenagers, who may feel more pressured to follow his advice.
“At 36, the reaction is, oh, I’ve been left behind … at 16, the message is, well, if you don’t fight for it today, it will never be accessible to you or anyone you know,” Cousineau said.
He added that he doesn’t believe Tate was actively courting this demographic, but that he simply mastered the platform that was most likely to reach them.
Tate’s videos online spread quickly – like most controversial content – but it wasn’t just TikTok that made him famous.
In 2016, Tate was banned from Big Brother for a video of him hitting a woman with a belt. A second video surfaced shortly after, in which he told a woman to count the bruises he appeared to have inflicted on her, the Guardian reported. Both Tate and the woman denied any abuse and said the clips showed consensual sex.
In September 2017, Tate was criticized by mental health charities for saying depression wasn’t real, and in October of that year he said women should take some responsibility for being raped during the #MeToo movement.
Despite this, Tate does not always propagate such rhetoric, often urging young men to strive to become better and work on themselves, have a strong mind and compete to be a “winner” in society, a Sort of a self-help brand that can be used to introduce people to Tate before they’re exposed to his more controversial content.
Now his own future remains to be seen as he remains detained and charged in Romania.
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