RECENTLY, a British teenager showed me a YouTube video of a “kickboxer and influencer” called Andrew Tate. Apparently, the man – a butch type – had some interesting views about gender relations. I saw that Tate was “passive aggressive”, or just plain aggressive, and asked to stop the video.
A few days later, Tate was arrested in Romania for human trafficking and possible rape. This was after a high-profile spat with climate campaigner, Greta Thunberg, age 19, whom he approached about his 33 gas-guzzling cars. When he requested her email address, to send the “enormous emissions”, her reply was “firstname.lastname@example.org”. This eye-watering putdown quickly became one of the most popular Tweets of all time.
Andrew was miffed about the challenge to his manhood (plus he didn’t get the joke), so he produced a video ranting at Greta, featuring cigars and pizza boxes that he “would not recycle”. The discarded boxes, bearing a pizza company logo, helped prove he was in Romania, where he was wanted by the police. This brought about his arrest. Suddenly, he was capitulated into the international news. And the cars have now been confiscated.
Meanwhile, I realised that my teenage sons follow Tate, and one reads his “Hustler’s University”. This teaches young men about drop shipping opportunities, copywriting, freelancing, cryptocurrency, etc. for 50$ a month. It’s difficult, with copywriting or freelancing, to fund a playboy lifestyle, with private jets and fast cars. However, this idea is clearly aspirational to adolescents.
Tate’s outpourings include how women are partly responsible for rape, how he likes girlfriends aged 16-18 because he can “imprint them”, how he would grab the neck a girlfriend who accuses him of cheating, how his women must stay at home making coffee, not go out clubbing, be good wives and mothers… Yes, this all sounds very Taliban, the members of which are now reportedly concerned about his wellbeing. He has reportedly converted to Islam.
On social media, the algorithms are cleverer than we think. With TikTok largely pushing the content at a young, male audience, the social network failed to safeguard its platform against gender-based hate speech. Clearly, the algorithms didn’t target middle-aged mothers, although a friend’s 15-year-old daughter in Spain received the content.
Despite Tate being “deplatformed” from most social networks in August 2022, his videos are widely available on YouTube. Elon Musk reversed the Twitter removal in November 2022. Tate’s content attracts billions of views. Some of it is available in Spanish.
Twitter has been criticised over copycat fan accounts that post for Tate and say “the Matrix” is out to get him. The conspiracy theory appeals to Far-Right types who support Tommy Robinson, Trump, Nigel Farage, etc. (Tate’s friends). Just like his populist allies, Tate is anti-abortion – another patriarchal attempt to control women’s rights.
Here in rural Spain, the problem is twofold and a menace for parents of adolescent males.
Statistics from 2022 show that gender violence in Spain is growing fastest amongst under-18s – a demographic heavily targeted by Tate.
We already have a machista society. Equality minister, Irene Montero, is mired in controversy over the Solo Si is Si law, designed to make convicting sex offenders easier. It’s had the opposite effect, with some rapists being released early. Debate continues over whether the law is badly worded or if some male judges are machista.
In December, gender-based murders spiked in Spain. At least nine women were killed by their current or former partners, making it the deadliest month of 2022. The total number of femicides was 50, compared to 48 in 2022.
On November 25, 2022, thousands marched in Madrid and Barcelona for the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. Themes were “no is no, anything else is rape” and “we women are not goods”. PM Pedro Sanchez asked men to help stop machismo.
Studies show that domestic violence is more likely to occur where “attitudes and behaviours reinforce men’s dominant position over women”. Teens being encouraged to view women as “bitches”, “hoes” (sic) and property is a big step in the wrong direction. Even a Franco era booklet on being a good wife avoided depersonalisation.
Despite the violenicia de genero campaigns throughout Spain, some men born in the Franco era find it hard to change their views. It’s commonplace for this demographic to call females “hembras” (mares) or even “putas” (prostitutes) and say that women should be at home mopping and not visit bars or drink alcohol. Tate is now bringing similar attitudes to the younger generation. He even calls himself “the king of toxic masculinity.”
A 15-year-old British teen told me: “Most women hate him because they don’t like masculinity, but who do they call when their house is burning down, or they are being robbed – masculine men. People think a masculine man means a strong man that beats up his wife, while Tate means protect and provide for his family, and expect her not to go out clubbing with other males.”
With most professions trying to promote gender equality, and people are free to socialise with friends of any other gender, this is a worrying development – coming from the mouths of teens. When Tate speaks about “imprinting”, he’s done it already.
I suspect that Spain’s first female army general, Patricia Ortega, appointed in 2019, or Eva Araujo, Andalucia’s first female firefighter, would soon “do a Greta” and dismantle the guy.
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