UK schools fight misogyny peddled by online influencer Andrew Tate
Andrew Tate, a 36-year-old former kick boxer, is being investigated along with his brother on accusations of “forming an organised criminal group, human trafficking and rape”. Both men deny the charges. When this news broke, many adults learned for the first time of this British man’s existence. However, for many teenagers he was a familiar name.
When Nick Hewlett, head of London school St. Dunstan’s College, was told about controversial online influencer Andrew Tate by a parent, he’d never heard of him. However, it soon emerged that many of his students were familiar with Tate’s misogynist posts on social media. Hewlett’s solution, and that of some other schools, is to talk openly to students about Tate’s rhetoric.
Tate’s name was one of the most-searched-for terms on Google in 2022. He is known for his ‘motivational’ videos, in which he lays out his vision of masculinity and success. For him, success is synonymous with wealth, domination, and possessing women and luxury cars. In one of his most disturbing messages, he talks about women being “the property” of men.
In a tweet, he wrote:
A man without struggle is never going to be a powerful man… If you’re going to be a hero, you’re going to suffer.
He also said:
Masculine life is war.
‘Talks about women like objects’
Just mentioning Tate’s name is enough to set off a heated debate among teenagers. 17-year-old Kieran told Agence France-Presse (AFP):
At one point, I thought his message was good. He was encouraging men to go the gym. He talked about masculinity while a lot of men are lost. They are asked to behave in a certain way.
After Tate’s arrest Kieran reconsidered:
After his arrest, I talked with my mother and my sister and I realised how serious it was.
Tate has been banned from a number of social media sites but that has not been enough to stop him reaching minors. Kieran said he has tried to block Tate from his social media but keeps seeing the content popping up anyway. Kieran’s friend Jon said he likes some of Tate’s messages, but has noticed that he “talks about women like objects”.
“I’ve never liked him,” said Lilly, the only girl in the group.
To deal with the problem, St. Dunstan’s has added Tate’s story to a lesson topic already being taught.
From the age of 11, students learn about gender stereotypes and equality. At the age of around 13, they cover toxic masculinity. Hewlett said:
We have 1,200 children here. So, inevitably, some are going to be falling under his influence – or his spell.
If schools don’t respond to that, who is going to challenge their views? (…) You’ll create a generation of young people who have a completely distorted view of what success looks like.
Natasha Eeles heads Bold Voices, a social enterprise she founded in 2018 that visits schools and universities to teach students about gender inequality. She said she first heard of Tate in May 2022. Currently, 70% of schools that contact her want her to talk about him. Last autumn, Bold Voices put together a toolkit to help parents start a conversation with children about Tate. The advice includes asking open questions such as “What do you think of him?” and explaining what misogyny and homophobia mean.
Michael Conroy, founder of Men at Work – a social enterprise that helps teachers and social workers talk to young men – said:
There’s a panic and fear among lots of parents, carers, teachers about Andrew Tate.
Teachers say young men are frequently bringing him into the classroom by quoting him, whatever the context.
For example, in a business studies class some will give him as an example, saying: “he’s the greatest businessman in the world”.
While Tate is being held in detention pending investigation, his videos are still going viral, and he and his close allies are still tweeting. Asked whether a jail term would reduce Tate’s influence, Conroy was skeptical:
If he stays in jail, let’s not be naive. Others will fill the space.
Featured image via YouTube screenshot/Sky News
Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse
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