Have you been on social media, recently? Did you see Greta Thunberg tweet “That’s what happens when you don’t recycle your pizza boxes,” on December 30th, in response to the arrest of Andrew Tate on suspicion of organized criminal exploitation of women including rape and trafficking? This preceded Andrew Tate’s misogynist Twitter troll of the teenager known for her environmental activism bragging about how many cars he owned and their “enormous emissions”. In response to Greta Thunberg suggesting he email her at email@example.com Andrew Tate released a rambling, peculiar video response, where he prodded her about non-recycled pizza boxes. It is speculated that Romanian law officials pursued Andrew Tate because of those pizza boxes – takeaway containers believed to be from a Romanian pizza chain.
If you haven’t heard about Andrew Tate, he is a British former kickboxer with US lineage and came to fame after appearing on a British reality television show. After a video of him appearing to show Andrew Tate beating a woman with a belt emerged, he was kicked off the TV show and into a manosphere self-help enterprise. His meteoric rise into social media fame was next with video clips posted to Tik Tok where he promoted ‘Females don’t have independent thought. They don’t come up with anything. They’re just empty vessels, waiting for someone to install the programming’ his preference for only dating teenage young women, and his belief that rape victims should “bear responsibility” for their assaults. Though videos of him had been viewed upward of 11bn times, he was eventually banned from most if not all of his social media accounts.
At BWSS, it is part of our work to monitor gender, violence, and technology, and we have observed an escalation in ‘men’s rights’ groups on the internet, collectively known as the ‘manosphere’, who believe they are waging a ‘virtual war’ against women in order to re-assert their perceived ‘supremacy’ they believe has been stolen from them by women, feminists and the work of organizations like BWSS. This misogynist and racist ecosystem has been associated with mass and serial killings of women and girls in North America and in Europe. We monitor and seek government action on these radical ideologies to help prevent future killings but also to prevent the further proliferation of misogyny in the hearts and minds of boys and young men. Andrew Tate is extremely popular with teenage boys and he has used his popularity to exploit the fears and insecurities that boys and young men may have in a culture that is shifting over the past 40 years and significantly since Me Too. The Me Too Movement has made a dent in defending women from a sexualized, intimate partner, and domestic violence and the equity backlash is in effect from those who resist these shifts in gender dynamics in the culture.
Andrew Tate offers self-improvement advice that leverages well-worn tropes steeped in hyper or toxic masculinity, he positioned himself as the poster boy for so-called ‘alpha males’ overtly anti-woman and anti-feminist. He insists that these beliefs are necessary to become successful in today’s world. He is enormously successful in generating income from his training programs where men could take courses on how to use misogyny to be successful and the seemingly endless list of fans who create social media content espousing his views. According to the ‘alpha males’ doctrine, it’s necessary to manipulate women and girls in order to keep them ‘loyal’, and exploitative sex is defined as the ultimate goal. There is one video we discovered where a teacher reported that boys in her class as young as 11 years old were praising and mimicking Andrew Tate. There has not been sufficient self-help or improvement information for boys and young men on healthy definitions of manhood and masculinity.
Recently, the world was horrified at misogynist developments in Afghanistan as the Taliban issued a mandate banning women and girls from education in that country. Closer to home, in Winnipeg, we were horrified to learn of another man with radical right affiliations who is believed to have serial killed Indigenous women in that city. Andrew Tate is part of the same fabric of men who objectify girls and women as lesser beings and who are preaching to millions of boys and young men how to have sexual and social relationships with women. It is these poisonous toxic definitions of social relationships that we continue to work to disrupt. Instead, we seek and promote health and wellness and equality in intimate relationships and social equity and redress historic and contemporary harms. Whether we are talking about the pick-up artistry movement from the 2000 or this latest version in the manosphere the predatory behaviour within and around the involuntary celibate or incel movement this disturbing, expansive, and expanding online subculture requires sustained action within all levels of our society.