What Does it Mean to be a “Good” Man? Part 1, Andrew Tate Edition

Trigger warning: discussion of sexual assault and suicide 

 Why would you be with a woman who’s not a virgin anyway? She is used goods. 

 Women should bear some responsibility if they put themselves in a position to be raped.  

 I’m not a r****, but I like the idea of just being able to do what I want. I like being free.  

These are some of the many misogynistic remarks made by Andrew Tate, an American-British internet personality and professional kickboxer. With over 12.7 billion views on his videos across social media, as of August 2022, Tate has become infamous for advertising a dangerous form of masculinity, one founded on the principle of women’s inferiority. Tate’s rhetoric captivated the internet, influencing the youth’s, especially young boys’ perception on women, sexuality, and masculinity. 

Ever the cigar-smoking playboy, Tate is often surrounded by wads of cash, beautiful women, and by his beloved Bugattis, of course. Andrew Tate uses this persona to style himself as a self-help guru, offering his fans, overwhelmingly young men, a recipe for becoming like him, a “high-value man.” His online financial education program, Hustlers University, claims to help customers “compound their success” to over 100,000 members, including some as young as 13 years old. Tate’s self-made fortune, as well as his promise that all who follow Hustlers University and adopt his ideologies will be able to achieve similar riches, has awarded him an almost cult-like “hero” status for some men. Junior Raphael Berbain, a football player on the school team, stated, “his target group is people who want to be like him: A rich guy with a bunch of girls doing whatever he wants. He seriously could have been a role model for young men if his points on women were less combative.” Though it is true that Hustler’s University has helped some members launch businesses and attain new riches, truthfully, it’s not Tate’s financial success that has transformed him from an obscurity into a world-renowned figure of infamy, but his comments on women, and his questionable history with them.  

Tate’s documented, violent history begins with his ill-starred appearance on Big Brother, a 2016 reality tv-show, in 2016, though was eventually expelled after a video of him leaked beating his then-girlfriend with a belt. Then in 2017, after being investigated for abuse allegations Tate moved to Romania. In a now-deleted video, he admitted that: “40 percent of the reason I moved to Romania’ was because rape laws are more lenient there. I’m not a f****** rapist, but I like the idea of just being able to do what I want.” Well, being able to “do whatever he wants” apparently consisted of alleged kidnapping…and rape. In April 2022, his home in Bucharest was raided by Romania’s Directorate for Investigating Organised Crime and Terrorism after being tipped off by the U.S. Embassy that a girl was being held against her will at his property. Romanian media reports suggest that in fact, a 21-year-old from the U.S. and a young Romanian woman were being held against their will. Tate is now being investigated by The Romanian Prosecutor’s Office for unlawful deprivation of liberty, human trafficking, and rape. No verdict to the charges has been made as of yet. 

Since then, Tate has become notorious for his degrading view of women. He often refers to women as “females,” a term evoked to criticize, devalue and debase women by reducing them to their reproductive and sexual parts. His repetitive use of the term points out a bigger trend of Tate’s in which he strips women of their humanity and objectifies them for their sexual use. Comments like “virgins are the only acceptable thing to marry” (not the use of thing for women) and “women who do not want children are miserable stupid b******” have garnered over 2.5 million views according to an Analysis by the Center for Countering Digital Hate. Furthermore, his dehumanizing ideologies are then violently enacted via his flirtation with domestic violence. Once in a video, he acted out how he’d attack a woman who ever accused him of cheating, saying “it’s bang out the machete, boom in her face and grip her by the neck. Shut up b**** sex.” Due to such content, Andrew Tate is currently banned from Tik tok, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube. However, this ban barely makes a dent in Tate’s online presence due to accounts run and managed by fans that repost his content. Nonetheless, Tate claims that big tech de-platformed him because he “had a large swatch of the population agreeing to very traditional masculine values.” 

This sentiment that “true masculinity” is under attack is one often echoed by Tate who claims most of the world’s young men are denied access to the sexual marketplace because social media has made them invisible, a message that has gained popularity in traditionally “masculine” activities and sports. Tate proclaims that average men with normal jobs “don’t really exist” online, because they struggle to gain followers and replies to their direct messages, and thus “don’t really matter.” He blames this online invisibility as the reason why many men feel lonely and lost and views himself as “championing, to a degree, their issues by saying to them, ‘Look, that is unfair, perhaps, but that’s the way the game works. You need to become a man of importance or you’re going to suffer the pain of being invisible forever. Here is how you do it.’” 

Though it is true that striving to become the best version of oneself, whether financially or even physically, is an admirable goal, framing it in the context of online invisibility in relation to women, is misguided. It reinforces the idea that a man’s self-worth is dependent on his online presence, on women, and on using this excuse as a reason to make degrading comments about women. 

“Men who are very insecure of themselves, he provides an explanation for their failure,” said junior Enrico Monte.  “Part of his explanation is a misinterpretation on how women see things. I think he sees women as animals who want to leech off men. But you don’t have to have money to get girls. I think girls want to see ambition, I don’t think they see wealth as a precursor to love. He sees love as a business transaction when, in my opinion, it’s not.” 

Yet, it is this man, this alleged rapist and abuser, who has become an icon, a self-proclaimed champion of traditional masculinity. But if traditional masculinity is defined by disrespect, abuse, and violation, then I am terrified. Terrified, because if becoming a true “man” means demeaning women then it begs the question, in the age of “toxic masculinity”, what makes a good man? 

Unsurprisingly, most of the teenage boys I interviewed had conflicting emotions surrounding Andrew Tate. Across the board, they valued Tate’s stance on hard work and determination, as can I, but all abhorred his position pertaining to women. “On the basis of just who he is, I disagree with most of the things he says,” said senior Sam Cleminson. “Though, I like his value of working hard. But then the stuff says about women, a lot of violent things especially, skews my opinion against him.” Beyond condemnation, a lot of them couldn’t believe that Tate’s rhetoric on women is his actual thoughts. “I think it’s funny because I am laughing at him,” Monte stated. “It’s so out of pocket, I’m laughing at him. He abuses and does terrible things to women, but everyone laughs at him because they think he is not a real person. They can’t differentiate reality from humans online.” The word “funny” often came up in my interviews. I hypothesize it did so because Tate’s rhetoric is so extremist, so outlandish that it seems fake. Thus “funny” is not a term employed to describe the humorousness of his content but instead signals a response to Tate’s rhetoric that is marred by confusion and discomfort.  “He (Tate) puts on a persona…” concluded senior Gustavo Armendariz. “It feels as though he is laughing at the stuff he says.” However, it is important to note that laughter can be a double-edged sword as it can defend those who spew misogyny. As pointed out by sociologist Dr. Peggy Orenstein, “funny is a haven, offering distance when something is inappropriate, confusing, unnerving, or horrifying. It makes sexism feel transgressive rather than supportive of an age-old status quo”  

Yet, some of the topics holistically agreed upon were Tate’s views on suicide and how our society avoids discussing men’s problems. “I think the fight for women’s rights and feminism is a very good thing and yet it has come to the point where a lot of men feel like it’s not okay to be a man anymore…The conversation has shifted where if you acknowledge that men also have problems that it will hurt women.” Armendariz stated, “we should address both issues. I think a lot of men’s issues, especially when it comes to suicide, overdoses, [how men are] more likely to drop out of high school, less likely to graduate, and on top of that all that are barraged with conflicting messages of how they are failing to live up to the concept of modern masculinity.” 

Similarly, Raphael Berbain exclaimed that one of the points he agrees with Andrew Tate is on his stance of male suicide and the mental health crisis numerous men are facing. He exclaimed, “I agree with his point on male suicide, like have you really tried everything, take the easy way out.” junior Phillip Masick, captain of the Football Team, pointed out that often mental health is a taboo topic in men’s social spheres and that Andrew Tate provides a refreshing stance of mental resilience. “I wish young men had more persistence. There have been instances where even when depressed and stuff you feel unmotivated to take care of yourself, you have to keep going .” Masick also admits that Tate’s thoughts, though refreshing, can condemn vulnerability, emotional maturity, and mental health avoidance. “Mental health has been presented to me, to men, that we shouldn’t be depressed or stressed. If it’s a subject I can avoid, we will often avoid it.” 

Hence from our conversations on masculinity, I have concluded that it is the fear of emasculation that drives men to denigrate women. Amongst boys, acceptance as one of the “bros” often means requiring a reductive view of feminity, such as sensitivity. There’s this subconscious message to reject feminine qualities or be rejected. Boys’ emotional spectrum is often reduced to that of lust, jealousy, exhilaration, and anger. Anger is safe for boys in our society. It’s an easy replacement for when they’re lonely, scared, confused, or sad. Funneling those emotions into a rage, rage against women, rage against themselves, has been the metric for how strong, and true of a man they are. It is an anger Andrew Tate understands and wields all too well. However, the truth is, as many of the young men I interviewed agreed, resilient men don’t conquer women, but respect them as human and in turn value themselves similarly.  Masick admitted, “I wish men wouldn’t strive for social acceptance, that they would be more comfortable in their own skin”. Truly good men protect without dominating. Are assertive without being aggressive, humorous without insulting, courageous without recklessness, and strong without hurting the weak. So my question to all the young boys and men reading: are you brave enough to be vulnerable? Are you confident enough to support women? Are you responsible enough to let go of rage?  Do you call out commentary that endorses sexual harassment or will you be the reason another woman says “me too”? It is not emasculating to embrace tenderness. Neither of these qualities is innately feminine, they are innately human so why do men, and why do we all as a society reject it so? Feminism empowered and liberated girls to be anybody they wanted, and it’s time boys have the same freedom,