TW: Mentions of Misogyny, Sexual Violence, Violence towards Women, Racism, and Homophobia
We live in a digital age. This isn’t a controversial or revolutionary statement; the world around us is constantly adapting to suit our growing dependence on technology, particularly with the rise of social media. Apps like TikTok, which saw an increase in popularity in 2018 after merging with Musical.ly, dictate trends, charting songs and albums, and can even become a source of income with the new career choice of ‘influencer’ gaining traction. However, the ease of gaining a platform on social media paves the way for potentially harmful role models to step into the spotlight and negatively influence impressionable people using these apps. With targeted algorithms, it isn't a difficult task to reach a certain target audience - and that’s exactly what Andrew Tate has done.
Born in the US, Andrew Tate is a 36-year-old ‘internet personality’ and former professional kickboxer who first entered the mainstream public eye after a brief stint on Big Brother - he was removed from the seventeenth series of the show after a video was released of him beating a woman with a belt (despite both Tate and the women stating that they were friends and that both parties consented to the actions in the video), as well as a series of old tweets of Tate’s that contained racist and homophobic slurs. Regardless of his online popularity reaching its peak in 2022, Tate hasn’t shied away from controversy in the past; in now-deleted tweets made by him in 2017 amid Harvey Weinstein sexual assault allegations, Tate stated that “... if you put yourself in a position to be raped, you must bear some responsibility. I’m not saying it’s okay you got raped.”. He also has connections with far-right politicians and public figures in the US and UK, showing support for Donald Trump, and Nigel Farage, going as far as describing Tommy Robinson, an Islamophobic ‘activist’, as a “solid guy” with a “good heart”, according to The Guardian. Old clips of his misogynistic and backwards views towards women have recently resurfaced via ‘fan accounts’ on TikTok, where he unashamedly identifies himself as a sexist; he wholeheartedly believes women are the property of men and endorses violence towards them. In one clip, he claims that “...there’s no female alive, even with a machete, that would stand a chance against the immense power I possess.”. In another, he states he wouldn’t give CPR to another man as it is “gay”.
The combination of his bigoted views and lavish, millionaire ‘playboy’ lifestyle poses a real threat to women and girls. With the platform he has gained recently, Tate can now reach millions of young and impressionable boys who see that emulating him - from his taste in cars to his violent behaviour towards women - is the way to achieve a similar lifestyle. Whilst he has been banned from Facebook, Instagram, and Tiktok (in addition to Twitter - yet he has recently returned to this platform), irreparable damage has already been done in radicalising young people and manipulating innocent desires for wealth and success, sending them down a new alt-right pipeline in a similar vein to Ben Shapiro and Jordan Peterson. By encouraging a ‘masculine brotherhood’ and portraying himself as a self-help guru with the knowledge that supposedly will bring success and monetary gain to those who listen (and fork out $49.99 monthly to ‘join The Real World’ according to his website), Tate creates a new generation of men who hold the potential to enact violence on women offline. Despite Andrew himself being banned from TikTok, videos of him remained up on the platform and were pushed via the algorithm to an even wider audience, despite appearing to violate the app’s Community Guidelines.
Removing people like Tate from social media after the damage is done is not enough - his violent views need to be broken down in a wider conversation about the impact of misogyny, racism, and homophobia and how they are often spread through social media, as well as vigilance from apps such as Tiktok and Instagram, who should be able to remove this content before it makes as much of an impact as Andrew Tate has.
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Cover Image courtesy of Mia Sale
Writer Charlotte Green Avid reader, cat lover, and intersectional feminist. She/Her