Looking up to Andrew Tate: how society has failed boys and young men

"How badly have we failed young men if toxic Andrew Tate is their idol?”

By Olivia Leahy – Volunteer writer for not only pink and blue

It’s been pretty hard to ignore the name Andrew Tate in the news recently – and with good reason. Andrew Tate, the “self-proclaimed misogynist influencer,” and former kickboxer and Big Brother contestant, was arrested this month due to allegations of human trafficking and rape [1]. He has a worldwide following of nearly 4 million, and recent videos on TikTok with the hashtag #AndrewTate were viewed nearly 13 billion views [2]. He was previously banned from Twitter for stating that women should “bear responsibility” for being sexually assaulted [3]. These horrific views being promoted on a global scale is frightening, but not as frightening as the devastating reality of Tate’s influence on young men. Teachers in England are reporting that more and more of their male students are referring to Tate as a “top G” and believe that Tate is giving them a voice [4]. In the words of The Telegraph columnist Madeline Grant, “how badly have we failed young men if toxic Andrew Tate is their idol?”[5]

Why are boys and young men idolising Tate?

Andrew Tate’s online content consists of misogyny and toxic masculinity in fairly equal measures – the latter is why boys are watching his content; the former seems to come with the parcel. From the point of view of teachers, “boys are often sucked into his ‘glamorous’ ultra-macho world by more benign content on fast cars or fitness.”[6] However, once Tate has captured their attention with his boastfully ‘masculine’ hobbies, boys are inundated with sexist and misogynistic language and views that Tate normalises. Tate’s opinions range from the old-fashioned sexist, like women are a man’s property, to outright disgusting, boasting about “seeking out 18-year-old girls because they are ‘fresh’.”[7] Tate is also normalising and promoting misogynistic language and behaviour, giving young boys the sense of superiority and power. Teachers have further warned that influencers like Tate “are giving boys ammunition to ‘fight back’ if they are accused of misogynistic behaviour.”[8]

What also cannot be underestimated, is the sense of community and belonging Tate seems to give to boys and young men; during a time when boys may feel like they don’t belong, and when they are trying to figure themselves out, boys and young men are incredibly vulnerable to influence and persuasion. It is hugely dangerous, for once one boy joins this community, it’s not long until his friends do as well, which normalises these opinions further. Kids don’t like to stand out, especially at school, so if all of the boys in your class are idolising this community, then it’s hard for those who aren’t not to get caught up in it. In the words of a primary school teacher in north London, “It’s the most vulnerable and socially awkward boys that are drawn in and given a sense of belonging to something that is very dangerous.”[9] 

The Impact of Tate in schools

The impact of Tate’s opinions in schools is staggering and hard to ignore; according to iNews, “overt sexism is on the rise in schools due to … toxic social media influencers.”[10] From the increased use of sexist language, to the harassment of female classmates, the misogynistic content created by the likes of Tate is creating a toxic school environment for all children. It was even reported that some male students have started “refusing to take any assignments from women.”[11] This is terrifying, for girls and women in schools are now being treated disrespectfully because of the content consumed by male students online. Children as young as ten have been heard “praising Tate and parroting his vile views,” in the classrooms and hallways [12].

what is the role of gender stereotypes in this?

Negative and harmful gender stereotypes play a huge role in the increased misogyny in schools, and the horrific opinions of Andrew Tate. Tate’s views are founded in gender stereotypes, from his beliefs that women should stay at home and that women are a man’s property, to his belief in male superiority and power.  But let’s face it, these views are normalised from a very young age. How often is ‘girl’ or ‘girly’ used as a pejorative? One of the key insults that boys can give each other is that they are ‘a girl’.

The normalised gender stereotypes we see in young children all feed into this thinking. If young children are not seeing gender diversity in books, films and other media, and if they are not taught about the role of women in history, and if they don’t see leading female characters in the books they study at school, then when they are growing up into a teenagehood influenced by the likes of Tate, why would they question it? Why would they see that it’s wrong? If their young childhood is filled with idols or characters celebrated for their toxic masculinity, and women are only ever portrayed as quiet, weak or unimportant, then boys are going to grow up almost ready to consume the sexist content of someone like Tate, because surely it’s just their childhood portrayals on steroids?

so, what are schools doing to combat this influx of misogyny?

It’s clear that schools’ usual lessons on respect “can’t compete with the tidal wave of misogyny online,” so what are schools doing about this crisis?[13] Some schools have announced the development of “a special syllabus to re-educate teenage students who have been brainwashed by the misogynistic content created by the jailed influencer, Andrew Tate.”[14] While this is vague, it is also promising.

Some schools have been more specific in their measures to combat the effects of Tate in schools. In Catford at St Dunstan’s school, teachers have “drawn up entire lessons focussed on Tate, with content tailored to different age groups. Year 8s might get a lesson on what stereotypes are and where they come from, while older students will take part in more of a discussion-based lesson about Tate.”[15] In any case, something needs to be done to tackle this continuing issue, for while Tate is imprisoned, his opinions live on online. 

we have failed boys and young men

The long and short of it is that we have ultimately failed boys and young men as a society, if men like Andrew Tate are their idols. What is it that we’ve led them to believe if they idolise Tate? We need things to change, drastically, by teaching boys about gender stereotypes and exposing them to more gender diverse media at a young age. In the words of Sarah Longville, “they’re not bad children, they’re just using language that they don’t understand.”[16]

So, we need to focus on educating children so that they are aware of negative stereotypes, and we have to start young. This is not just about educating at the point where children are seeing influencers like Tate, but it is about the need to challenge these stereotypes long before they are embedded. That includes looking at what we teach, how we encourage children to play, and the language we use as adults and parents around them. We also need to help boys and young men find a sense of belonging and community, and help them navigate the tricky teenage and tweenage years. We have lots of resources on our resources page, including a download on how to challenge gender stereotypes.

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Photo 1 by Patrick Case: https://www.pexels.com/photo/b…

Photo 2 by Taylor Flowe on Unsplash

[1] [2] [3] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-64125045

[4] [8] [10] https://inews.co.uk/news/andrew-tate-sexism-rise-schools-pandemic-2028795

[5] https://www.instagram.com/p/CnR9BugOVut/?igshid=MDJmNzVkMjY%3D

[6] [7] [9] [12] [13] https://www.theguardian.com/society/2023/
jan/07/andrew-tate-misogyny-schools-vulnerable-boys

[11]https://www.reddit.com/r/Teachers/comments/
wqvn9a/the_rise_of_andrew_tate_is_ruining_my_freshman/

[14] https://www.firstpost.com/world/uk-schools-developing-lessons-to-
re-educate-teens-brainwashed-by-andrew-tates-misogynistic-content-11949582.html

[15] [16] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-64234568

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