by Sarah Hughes
Andrew Tate, the planet’s most influential misogynist is behind bars. While we might all be breathing a sigh of relief that his violence and cruelty can no longer be perpetuated in ‘real’ life, we should also be concerned about the very real effect he is still having on his millions of supporters.
If by any chance you don’t know a great deal about Tate; here’s a brief rundown. He’s British, raised on a council estate in Luton. A former kickboxer and sometime Big Brother contestant, he founded Hustler’s University which offered training in cryptocurrency and trading. It also developed into a huge online community where Tate began to share his misogynistic and misguided views about women. Fast forward a few years and he had amassed a social media following of millions, with his videos inciting violence against women and girls garnering billions of views.
It also turns out he was likely running a tidy sideline in people trafficking, rape and organised crime; he was arrested on 29th December 2022 in Romania and remains in custody. But before this capture begins to feel like a triumph of good over evil, right over wrong, we need to pause before we celebrate. Tate still has millions of followers around the world who idolise him, disagree with his arrest and continue to repeat his dangerous rhetoric on their own social media channels.
And sadly it’s not just the incels (involuntary celibate men with a reputation of still living with their Mothers aged 40) who are still singing his praises; schools and parents across the world are seeing how far-reaching his views have become. With teenage girls fantasising about being his next wife, and teenage boys admiring his supercars and lavish lifestyle, there is real concern that parents and teachers are powerless against Tate’s appeal.
Of course, there’s a much wider conversation to be had about the responsibility of social media companies in allowing people like Tate to have a platform for their dangerous content. For seemingly normalising hateful and divisive topics. But just as we saw with Trump and the Capitol riots, platforms like Meta which own Instagram and Facebook, are not quick enough at shutting down incitement to violence. Their algorithms do not stop the most shocking content finding its way into the iPhones of impressionable youngsters.
So what, if anything can we as parents do to negate the effects of Tate’s influence and the effects of other online misogyny?
Ask questions and listen carefully - We’ve all been teenagers at one time and we remember how frustrating it was when our parents jumped to conclusions and we felt unheard. Pick a time when you aren’t rushed and aren’t likely to be interrupted and ask them in a casual way, what they know about Tate and what their views are, perhaps using a newspaper article or TV bulletin as the starting point. My sons’school sent an informative email out on Tate long before his arrest which was a really useful way for me to be able to initiate the conversation along the lines of… “Wow, I got an email from your school today about that Andrew Tate guy… they seem really concerned. Have you ever seen any of his stuff?”
Be savvy on their social media - especially with younger kids and early teens, it’s still pretty acceptable to have password access to their accounts so you can keep an eye on what they’re watching and the communications they’re having in Whatsapp and Snapchat. If your child doesn’t feel comfortable sharing that information, talk to them about why that is, and explain the reasons you want to protect them. Something I find works really well with my sons is asking them to block inappropriate content themselves. Sure, it’s human nature that they’re curious and might view things I wouldn’t choose for them, but they enjoy the responsibility of knowing what to block. Often they’ll come and tell me what popped up and why they blocked it or why they left a group chat if they felt the conversation was inappropriate.Obviously give lots of praise when they take positive action to protect themselves.
Be responsive not reactive - a couple of times I’ve really flown off the handle when my kids have said something which I took to be sexist or anti-feminist. I have come to realise that that’s my sensitivity and at the ages of 10 and 12, they’re still learning. It goes back to the importance of listening and engaging in a conversation to really draw out their views, rather than immediately chastising them for something they may have said without having given it much thought.
Know when it’s time to ask for help - I count myself lucky every day that up to now my three boys are good at open and honest communication. I like to think they feel we can discuss things without judgement. However if the time came where I felt they were being secretive, their demeanour and behaviour had changed and I was no longer ‘getting through’ I’d have no qualms about asking for help. Schools have pastoral staff now who are trained in prevention of extremism and up and down the country they are working with young men and women who have been radicalised by Tate and his supporters. Help is available, we don’t have to carry the burden as parents alone.
Expose children to films and literature with strong female protagonists - This is a tack I’ve taken since my boys were so young. Rather than ever putting men down, I have surreptitiously built women up. Through great stories of real-life heroines (think Malala Yousefzai, Fridha Kahlo, Emily Wilding, Claudette Colvin and Rosa Parks) as well as drawing their attention to the fabulous women they have around them in our family. Helping your children understand that women are equal to men and need to always be treated as such, with respect and reverence, starts close to home. Oh, and before you ask; it’s never too early to start teaching that one!