No one has ever had a pleasant experience walking into a teenage boy’s room. Whether it’s the week-old food crumbs and the unwashed clothing scattered around the disastrous room or the unnamed, lingering stench that seems to be a staple in every young boy’s room, it’s generally something you’d want to avoid doing. In recent times though, this environment has become more dangerous than most can imagine.
Andrew Tate is a commonly known name to anyone who’s on the internet, having several viral videos and controversies to explain his notoriety. The US-British citizen became relevant on social media, specifically the app TikTok, in 2022 due to his widely controversial comments and opinions, specifically about gender roles in society. This mindset goes beyond that of the classic idea that “women belong in the kitchen and house while the men work.” He instead completely believes that the sole purpose of a woman is to serve “their men,” (implying that they are property.) This includes sexually, as he views women as sexual objects created for his pleasure.
While misogynists on the internet aren’t new, people like Tate in particular pose a much more severe threat. Tate’s influence has spread to young boys all over the world, reinforcing the same harmful and sexist ideals feminists have been working to overcome for decades. This has created an incredibly worrying foundation for the next generation, and the only way to solve this issue is to recognize the root causes and threats it poses to future society.
In her Guardian article, Sally Weale discusses the effect widespread misogyny online has had on male students in schools. She reveals that teachers have reported seeing concerning behavior between followers of Andrew Tate and other girls at school, with “one boy […] pinning his girlfriend to the wall by her shoulder; another was seen trying to confiscate his girlfriend’s phone.” The idea that men have ownership and control over women is having a real influence on young boys, in turn affecting their interactions with women in the real world. The effect goes beyond sexist “jokes” between male classmates.
The issue goes deeper than just influencers like Andrew Tate, though. Hannah Ewens brings up the issue of anti-feminism seen in young boys and men both before and after the pandemic revealing that, “A growing number of experts across the fields of feminism and anti-extremism were already worried about a young male backlash against young women and their socio-political gains before the pandemic.” Head of the charity HOPE not Hate who conducted this research, Rosie Carter, furthers this by explaining that in post-pandemic times, far-right ideals that are seen in many of Tate’s oppressive rants are affecting the minds of these boys through social media and the internet. They are vulnerable to this manipulation due to insecurities surrounding feminist ideals. Tate and others who share these mindsets convince these boys that their manhood and value are being attacked by feminists, who are trying to put themselves above all men. This gives them the idea that they must prove themselves, which is done through the bashing of women, or “putting them in their place.” This need to be the superior gender becomes a gateway drug into the dangerous agenda Tate pushes. By validating these boys and reassuring them they’re the only ones worthy of respect, Andrew Tate brings in more supporters to believe in his rants.
It may be easy for others to brush off influencers like Tate, especially considering his arrest and sexual assault charges against him taking him off of social media, however his ideals still linger in the minds of young boys. This still inevitably affects young girls and women. As long as these boys continue to think of women as objects with no value besides serving men, the cycle will only continue. Saying influencers like Tate are simply dumb people who no one listens to is not only ignorant but lessens the value of how seriously harmful the legacy he left behind is. Even when he is not physically present on social media, his ideology is just as dangerous.
Dismissing the women who express concern for the issues misogynists online is even more concerning, yet something that happens consistently both through the internet and in real conversations. The phrase “she can’t take a joke,” is thrown around constantly whenever a girl takes offense to remarks commonly made by Tate supporters and other teenage women-haters that are disguised as jokes to deflect from the criticism they receive for it. Is the issue her humor, or the poor excuse for a dated sexist “joke” today’s boys attack her with? This doesn’t come out of nowhere. These influencers start with small comments, (that aren’t funny to anyone but the maker), and once they get the reaction they were looking for, take it as an opportunity to make women feel targeted and unsafe.
It’s impossible to monitor everything on the internet. With content being produced at every moment of the day and put out into all different kinds of media, completely wiping all harmful people off the internet is unrealistic. However, it just takes one person to begin subtly normalizing misogynistic ideals until it becomes as big a problem as this. It’s not too late to change and better the mindsets of all the boys people like Tate have infected. By consistently working to minimize the toxic masculine mindset through teaching its dangers in school and at home, while also staying aware of the kind of media you and the people around you are taking in, we will have already made a large step in the right direction. We can’t control what others are saying on the internet, but we do have control over our responses and what we do to try and make it a healthier place. This includes addressing the issue of misogyny head-on rather than sugarcoating it as something of the past, and making sure we are educating boys about the dangers of misogyny just as much as we would girls.