Picture credit: DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP via Getty Images
Artillery Row

Talking to young man about Andrew Tate

You cannot educate the urge to transgress out of young men

Alright boys.

I’m here to talk to you about being a man, yeah?

About being a real man.

You might have heard that being a man is about taking “red pills” and being a “Top G”. 

Pssht. That’s totally lame, man. That’s totally cringe. And you know what’s even more cringe?


You see, impressing women isn’t about having muscles or being an “alpha male”.

It’s not about Rolex watches or millions of dollars.

It’s about educating yourself on the history of gendered oppression.

All the ladies love a man who educates themselves on the history of gender oppression.

Unless they don’t.

Which is of course entirely their right.

And being a man isn’t about Lamborghinis and “getting bitches”.

I mean, I don’t have a single Lamborghini and look at me now…

Talking in a school.

No, being a real man is about taking care of your mental health.

Real men take care of their mental health.

Real men check in on their mates.

Real men know that there is no such thing as “real” men because the idea of ranking men by their “realness” is itself an artefact of toxic masculinity — and, besides, “men” considered as a category that represents anything but outward anatomical differences is itself a problematic social construction.

Any f**king questions?

News that Labour wants to “help schools to train young male influencers who can counter the negative impact of people like Andrew Tate” is very, very funny. Bridget Phillipson, Shadow Education Secretary, thinks they would provide a “powerful counterbalance” to such “red-pilled” influencers.

Look, I bow to no one in my dislike for Tate and his imi-Tate-ors. That a porn mogul turned Muslim convert is a Pied Piper for young right-wing men is incredibly depressing, even before one remembers that he has been officially charged with sex trafficking. That the tune he plays is a joyless, unmelodic drone about contempt for women, dull consumerism and mindless status-seeking only makes it more so. He’s probably the worst person Tucker Carlson has interviewed, and Tucker Carlson has interviewed Vladimir Putin.

But is the transgressive thrill that teenage boys presumably acquire from listening to Tate and similar influencers going to be reduced or increased by schools desperately trying to shepherd their students away from them? Does anyone really think authority-endorsed influencers — presumably spouting the kind of fashionable pieties that Tate and others exploit to pose as the alternative — are going to turn them off him? I’m reminded of my youth pastors desperately trying to tell us that having sex before marriage was, like, totally uncool.

It is a lot easier for young men to have strange ideas about young women when they do not actually spend much time around them

I could be wrong, but I suspect that most young Andrew Tate fans listen to him largely for the same reason that young men listened to Eminem fantasise about his ex-wife’s murder or Marilyn Manson talk about being the Antichrist — it annoys the adults. For social conservatives, is tempting to raise such subjects as family breakdown and the influence of online pornography, but while they may be factors — and are certainly bad things in themselves — I’m not sure you need them to explain why young, hormonally unbalanced lads have a brief attraction to a foul-mouthed multi-millionaire with a fleet of sports cars and an army of half-naked women. That doesn’t make it pleasant. But it does imply that for most it is “a phase”. I suspect that in a few years you’ll be able to write the Onionesque headline, “Andrew Tate Now Going Door-To-Door Trying To Shock People”.

What might make the “red-pilled” world more harmful for some of today’s teenagers is that today’s teenagers are so enormously online — not so much being exposed to the rhetoric of personalities like Mr Tate as being immersed in it. Getting kids away from their phones and around each other should be a priority. It is a lot easier for young men to have strange ideas about young women when they do not actually spend much time around them.

What would I have said if one of my students had asked me about Andrew Tate when I was a teacher? What I have said in this piece, I suppose, though I doubt it would have made much of a difference. Perhaps I would also have told them that Andrew Tate’s wealth depends on telling young men what to think and what to do. You don’t want your English teacher hectoring you about what to do in life — but do you want a strange bloke in Romania to do it instead?

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