“I’m so glad I grew up without the internet or social media” is a phrase that most teenagers and young adults have probably heard from their older family members on various occasions. Blaming social media for all our current problems is certainly a little too simple, but when making these statements, our parents and grandparents have a point – a bigger one than we like to admit. Even as a 21-year-old, I catch myself thinking “I’m so lucky TikTok wasn’t around when I was at high school.” Because back then, I never would have imagined that a man whose exact words are “This MeToo era bullshit has not protected women, it has just destroyed the safety of men” has 4.5million followers on Instagram and videos that are viral all over TikTok.
If you haven’t heard of Andrew Tate before reading this article, congratulations, your TikTok feed must be one of the non-contaminated ones. And also, sorry for making you read through the following quotes of his.
The Infamous Andrew Tate & His Degradation of Women
Andrew Tate is earning his money as a self-proclaimed entrepreneur running the “Hustler’s University” and teaching young men how to become wealthy and (mis)treat women. While his videos have only recently gone viral, Tate is not entirely new to the internet. In 2016, the former kickboxer was thrown off Big Brother after a video was published of Tate beating a woman with a belt. According to Tate, everything was of course completely consensual.
After his house was raided by UK authorities on behalf of a woman claiming that Tate had hit her, Tate decided to leave for Romania under the pressure of the investigation. Tate explains in a video that if you’re a man living in any Western country, any woman can destroy your life, but “in Eastern Europe none of this garbage flies”. He also states that one of his reasons for living in Romania is that “I’m not a f**king rapist, but I like the idea of just being able to do what I want”.
And this is the same guy who now teaches teenage boys how to talk to women on TikTok – with an ever-growing audience.
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How is it possible that a man, known as the King of Toxic Masculinity, has reached high popularity among social media users based on the fact that he degrades women? The 35-year-old has gone viral making statements like “The reason 18 and 19-year-olds are more attractive than 25-year-olds is ‘cause they’ve been through less dick” or “If you live exclusively just with a chick, you’re not going to be as competitive as a man”. It seems to me as though especially now, parents have every right to be concerned about their teenage boys’ social media consumption given that they’re learning that women are less worthy than men, nothing more than a possession and that men make themselves too vulnerable if living in a monogamous relationship. Another TikTok video shows him lying on a bed, explaining how to choke a woman and then force her to have sex with you.
Whose Side is TikTok on?
It comes as no surprise that in addition to being misogynistic, Tate also spreads homophobic content. One of his videos in which he says he knows how to perform CPR but won’t perform it on another man because he is not gay, proves his lack of intellect. However, TikTok caters to extremely young audiences, namely 10 to 19 year olds, who are much more easily impressionable and may possibly find his content entertaining rather than disturbing. And with up to 11.6 billion views, Tate is more likely to show up on any teenager’s TikTok feed than not. Unfortunately, Tate is not the first nor last person to think the way he does. But he is one of the few with the power to spread his words over to billions of people thanks to TikTok’s rapidly spreading algorithm.
It is clear that Tate poses a serious threat to women’s ongoing fight for equality.
How come, if Big Brother was able to deny Tate TV presence six years ago, TikTok cannot ban Tate in 2022? Does this mean we are moving backwards instead of progressing? And although Tate is at the root of the problem, the fact that his videos gain such massive popularity and that he has 4.5 million followers on Instagram, sends a clear message to women: many men find the idea of beating up a woman entertaining enough to watch Tate’s content. It is clear that Tate poses a serious threat to women’s ongoing fight for equality. 1 out of 6 American women has been the victim of attempted or completed rape in her lifetime. In a time when women’s lives are this unsafe, Tate has become another reason for women and girls to fear for their safety. And if TikTok and Instagram don’t begin to take action, their stance toward women becomes more questionable than ever before.
Edited by: Debby Mogot