Emory Andrew Tate III, more famously known as Andrew Tate, rose in popularity on social media, sharing his thoughts on women and the supposed superiority of men. As a wealthy and physically strong man who holds championship titles in kickboxing, it is no surprise that his target demographic of young, impressionable men look up to him.
Beyond his controversial online presence, he has also been charged with crimes of sex trafficking in Romania and was allegedly running a criminal empire that involved the exploitation of women against their will. His harmful ideas surrounding gender equality may have harmed women beyond his online messaging. Is his, and many other men’s, sudden rise to fame through their sharing of misogynistic messages simply a result of social media algorithms, or is there more at hand?
While the current allegations against Andrew Tate make it clear how harmful and dangerous he is, they fail to explain why he continues to cultivate an incredibly dedicated male audience. Not only does Tate command an internet army of young men — with his Twitter currently sitting at around five million followers — but he has continued to spread into the fanbases of other prominent internet figures, such as one of the largest Twitch streamers Adin Ross and popular fitness YouTuber Bradley Martyn. Many of these influencers claim Tate’s self-help videos and messages have been beneficial to their lives and can help young men feel more confident and successful.
However, these influencers often cherry-pick which aspects of Tate’s online presence to respond to and ignore the evidence of him directly harming others and the glaringly obvious moments where he preaches sexist rhetoric. Or, even worse, they wholly support the messages and efforts of these misogynistic and sexist men. Lack of media literacy combined with poor education on feminism and gender equality has led these men to promote dangerous individuals to their impressionable fans.
Looking at the men who find themselves so enamored with Andrew Tate, many are blatantly bigoted and looking for a community where their perspectives are accepted. However, there is another class of young men who are simply seeking guidance and believe that Tate has the answers. Oftentimes, these men exist in echo chambers that claim allegations against Tate and many people’s hatred of him comes solely from fake news and propaganda. They lack the media literacy necessary to discern the truth and are undereducated on gender equality. Beyond just their lacking education, some of these men may have grown up in a social climate that shames men who are honest about their feelings and without positive male role models. These circumstances have made it difficult for them to understand women and dating, and even themselves, and it becomes easier for them to seek out outlets like Tate who claim to hold all of the answers. It is also easy for anger and frustration over personal difficulties dating women to translate into the hatred of women that Andrew Tate propagates. Without the support of those around them and education on the dangers of these ideas, they easily begin to fall into a women-hating and women-blaming mindset that is difficult to escape.
Even if Tate falls into obscurity, a new, equally misogynistic figure is likely to take his position. Platforms like TikTok are made to promote short-form content, giving anyone the opportunity to “blow up” and become famous quickly. This content often lacks context and easily allows users to go down rabbit holes of harmful misinformation. This is not specific to TikTok — almost all social media platforms are designed to mass-share any and all information because that is what keeps a large number of people using the platforms.
Many people who at one point supported Tate only knew him from short-form videos that showed him spewing surface-level self-help quotes, giving them a completely different perception of him than if they had read the articles surrounding his allegations of sex trafficking or the video clips of him proudly claiming to have committed numerous crimes. While Tate’s initial rise to fame was built on harmless attempts at encouraging men, social media algorithms have continued to promote his content despite its transition to being blatantly sexist and harmful. Not only has Andrew Tate said aggressive, offensive things about women, but he has also demeaned men who did conform to his idea of a “masculine” male. Of course, social media is about data and statistics, not morals, and as Tate’s content began to gain popularity, algorithms contributed to his rise by promoting his content and similar posts.
Another consequence of the contradictory mass information made available through social media is the phenomenon of cisgender men feeling increasingly lost in a day and age where they incorrectly believe their masculinity is constantly jeopardized. Men like Andrew Tate perpetuate this fear and weaponize it to profit from and grow their audience. Young men are especially prone to falling prey to dangerous figures due to growing up in a patriarchal society. Additionally, men who are neglected as children, either physically or emotionally, tend to equalize isolation with masculinity and struggle to verbalize the pain and struggles they experience because communication is seen as a “feminine” trait. For men who feel this way, social media becomes both an accessible outlet to decompress and a source of encouragement.
Protecting the world from harmful rhetoric created by Tate and other creators is not an easy task, but it is a necessary one. Two vitally important steps that we believe can help require changes in education. High school students are given little-to-no education on media literacy and women’s and gender studies. Without education on these topics, high schoolers are more likely to be misguided by misinformation, fail to research figures before supporting them and fail to understand gender inequality in society. Implementing courses that include these topics in secondary institutions could help students better understand how to avoid dangerous figures like Andrew Tate and understand how his views are inherently harmful to many communities. The implementation of media literacy and women’s and gender studies in secondary institutions would allow for the proliferation of the belief that those topics are just as important as purely technical disciplines, such as STEM subjects, encouraging more people to further their education beyond secondary schools. It would also help students begin to fully understand the complexities of gender and patriarchy and how it impacts their actions and everyday lives.
There is no simple way to reeducate a population who has been convinced that discord between what they believe to be true and what they see in mainstream media is equivalent to that media being inaccurate. People have been trained to consume content rapidly without context. We know that taking action to prevent this dangerous mindset from spreading is the only way to prevent figures similar to Andrew Tate from infecting the minds of young people. While many feel exhausted from hearing about Andrew Tate, news coverage of him is essential to help stop the cycle from repeating itself in the future. As advocates and future leaders, we hope that everyone begins to help push our society forward to a more inclusive future, and is willing to sit down with those you know who have been misguided by Tate or others like him to try to get them to make a breakthrough. This situation is challenging, infuriating and downright disgusting; but it is always important to remember how a lack of education can cause people to become deeply misguided and misinformed. Tackling deep-rooted issues in our education system is an essential part of solving this problem, and making attempts to educate those around us can only help the cause and gain allies in the fight against bigotry online.