If Andrew Tate is anyone's ideal of masculinity, we are in bigger trouble than I thought.
On top of all the misogyny, racism, homophobia and classism the kickboxing champion and Internet huckster has embraced as his brand, he's just such a whiner.
Seriously. Any time anything goes wrong in Tate's life — like, say, when he was kicked off all mainstream social media platforms last year for saying, among other things, that women bear "some responsibility" for being raped or when, just recently, he and his brother Tristan were arrested in Romania in connection with human trafficking and rape allegations, he whimpers that there's an interplanetary conspiracy against him.
He apparently thought (and I know this because he said it to podcaster James English) that anything goes in ol' Romania. He moved there from the UK five years ago, he said, in part because he was tired of those countries where women could accuse men of assault and rape and, you know, be believed.
As it turns out, Romania is also one of those countries. Not that he sees it that way. "The Matrix has attacked me," Tate said as he was perp-walked out of his home.
That's right. Andrew Tate, a self-anointed alpha male who believes that anyone who is not rich is a loser and that women should never attempt to compete with men, doesn't even have the guts to come up with his own conspiracy theory. Instead, he stole it from a series of movies. That were made, it simply must be added, by two trans women.
But then exploiting women is Tate's chosen profession. Publicly, he is in the business of grooming anxious or disaffected young men into women-hating narcissists while taking their money through the self-promoting if well-named online, earn-more-now scheme "Hustler's University."
But his fame and alleged fortune are built on the abuse, physical and otherwise, of women.
In 2016, he was thrown off Big Brother when a video surfaced in which he appeared to be hitting a woman with a belt and shouting abuse at her. (He later said it was a consensual activity edited to make him look bad.) Then he and his brother started a webcam business in which women told sob stories to men who then paid them. At the time, Tate told English, "I was a pimp." (A webcam business may in fact have spawned the recent Romanian investigation.)
Somewhere along the line, he decided that the Matrix was real, and that he was the only person who could lead his (male) followers into "the real world," where they would rule by subjugating women and making lots of money from the Internet.
Well, not "making" money. As he himself explains, only governments can "make" money; the rest of us just "take" it.
He himself takes money from his fans through Hustler's University, a US$49-a-month (RM215) get-rich-quick program that "teaches" men to break the Matrix and earn big bucks via Amazon side gigs, freelance copy editing and, of course, web-cam pimping.
Oh, and also by editing and posting videos of Tate explaining why he is the only person who understands "the real world."
This is one reason so many Tate videos find their way into so many young men's feeds. And, subsequently, why so many boys and young men are starting to echo Tate's brand of toxic masculinity online and off.
If it sounds insane that a Big Brother reject turned webcam pimp turned schemer would be anything more than a cautionary tale, there is one thing Tate is actually good at: Grooming young men to follow in his footsteps with a hypnotic brew of alpha-male fantasy and adolescent "stop telling me what to do, Mum" grievance.
Blatantly tapping into white male paranoia, which has fuelled a rise in racism, sexism, antisemitism and homophobia and transphobia (not to mention the Jan 6 insurrection), Tate is rigorously and relentlessly provocative. When he is not flexing his cash, cars, abs and cigars or talking about his fitness routine or all the millionaires he texts, he is endlessly whining about how tough men have it, about how people don't understand that the world –the Matrix – is enslaving them.
His rage – which is just whining with the volume turned up – targets young men who feel confused, angry or undervalued. Young men easily persuaded to feel that a diverse, equitable and tolerant society will strip them of status, that their behaviour is being censured not because it is abusive or violent but because it is male.
Young men who also want cash, cars, abs and cigars and believe Tate when he says they can have all these things and more by rejecting 21st-century social norms.
Before he was kicked off most social media platforms, many parents, educators, women and non-brainwashed young men expressed concern that Tate's ruthless male supremacy marked a fever pitch of the manosphere - online male communities that promote sexism, including violence against women. (One of the first notable groups, hosted on Reddit, was the Red Pill, another reference to the Matrix, so Tate might not have lifted his conspiracy theory from the films; he could have just gotten it from Reddit.)
Although Tate poses as an uber-mensch prophet, the only thing that distinguishes him from other manosphere whingers is his ability to work the scroll-dependent, short-form attention span of social media. Young men who might not have been able to stomach his 30-minute (often self-contradictory) diatribes just loved the clicky quotes that fed the us versus them social-media paradigm.
Predatory behaviour comes in many forms online: non-consensual webcam conversations; requests for nude photos that are then shared; adults posing as teenagers to engage in exploitative and illegal "relationships"; revenge porn.
But there is also psychological exploitation, the kind can draw a young person into a terrorist cell, steal his identity or twist run-of-the-mill insecurity into paranoid delusions that women (or Jews or immigrants or whoever) are the enemy.
That is what Andrew Tate has been doing, and profiting from, all these years. That is what Elon Musk recently allowed to return to Twitter.
But sometimes irony wins. Tate's arrest might have slipped under the cultural radar if it hadn't come so swiftly on the heels of a brief Twitter war with climate activist Greta Thunberg.
A few days ago, Tate, who really does appear to hate women who stand for something, offered, apropos of nothing, to email Thunberg a list of all his purported sports cars and their emission rates. Thunberg told him he could reach her at smalld—email@example.com. Tate, of course, could not let that stand. He made a remarkably childish video to tell her that she was the one with the small d— and that he wasn't going to recycle the two pizza boxes in front of him.
When he and his brother were arrested the next day, many people theorised that the pizza box labels had led Romania police to his house.
It wasn't true, but before he tangled with Thunberg, many people did not know who Tate was. Hence all those explainers on platforms including this one. Now we're all watching. Not in a "join Hustler's University now!" way. More in a "Wait, are you the kind of guy who follows Andrew Tate" or "We did not give you a phone so you could watch this crap" way.
On the other hand, it did give Thunberg the thing Tate covets most: The last word: "This is what happens when you don't recycle your pizza boxes."
If you're looking for an actual definition of masculinity, that's a pretty good one: Real men recycle. – Los Angeles Times/Tribune News Service