Andrew Tate’s Empire Proves the Toxic Male is Thriving

Andrew Tate, the self-termed “King of Toxic Masculinity” who espouses polygamy and compares women to property, is certainly a reflection of the “toxic male’s” unapologetic resurgence amidst today’s “me too” backlash… but he’s also a result of our current culture-war-obsessed media machine, which values and rewards those who stoke controversy. So what specific version of manhood is Tate offering, and why is it selling today?


Andrew Tate’s rise to fame has been rapid, but how did someone with such openly misogynistic views build up such a devoted following in a short space of time?

Andrew Tate: You’ve got your sword and your wife starts talking and you’re like shut up, cook! - Tate Speech/YouTube

The self-termed “King of Toxic Masculinity” who espouses polygamy and compares women to property is certainly a reflection of the “toxic male’s” unapologetic resurgence amidst today’s “me too” backlash… but he’s also a result of our current culture-war-obsessed media machine, which values and rewards those who stoke controversy. After his early brush with fame getting kicked off the UK Big Brother due to accusations of abuse, his recent online worship and acceptance by alt-right figures like Alex Jones, Paul Joseph Watson, Nigel Farage and Tommy Robinson show exactly how he got his foot in the door.

So what specific version of manhood is Tate offering, and why is it selling today? Tate isn’t a politician, and his message isn’t even overtly political. His social channels aren’t about who to vote for, but instead a kind of manifesto for masculinity, aimed at an audience of young boys who are trying to figure out their own identity. Most shockingly of all, he’s retained an army of Top G defenders even after facing charges of organized crime, human trafficking, and abuse. So how does such a morally bankrupt and ethically depraved individual still garner so many loyal supporters in today’s day and age? Here’s our take on Andrew Tate, the Pied Piper of misogyny, and why so many are dancing to his tune.

Andrew Tate: I run hustler’s university which is now currently the biggest online education platform in the world. We’ve grown extremely fast. I’ve got 110,000 students inside of a year. - Vice/YouTube

Birmingham City University Professor Robert Lawson told Vox that Tate’s version of masculinity is such a seductive sell because it combines the “idea of the alpha male, the man that’s in control [and…] always gets what he wants” with “conspicuous consumption […] a very jet-set lifestyle,” and regressive relationship models where “The man is not just the protector but the patriarch, the provider.”

Lawson also attributes Tate’s popularity with young men toMichael Kimmel’s idea of aggrieved entitlement [...] the idea that over the course of the last 20 to 30 years, the world has changed in a way that has decentered primarily young, white men, and …Someone like Tate is attractive because he recenters young white men [...] and basically says, “You’re important, you’re needed, your masculinity is needed to fight against all of the changes that are happening in the world.”

What underpins Tate’s worldview is his belief that now, traditional notions of masculinity are under threat. And…he’s right. It’s just that they’re under threat because those traditional notions of masculinity are facing valid criticisms for how they subjugate women and the LGBT+ community (and actually don’t even benefit most straight men unless they’re at the top of the hierarchy.)

Andrew Tate: You name the biggest conquerors that you can possibly name from history. Genghis Kahn, Alexander the Great, all of them, they all had 100 wives, bunch of children, big G, normal! That is how men are designed to be. - JustPearlyThings/YouTube

In Tate’s mind, men like him are being pushed out in this new, more tolerant world. Lawson says Tate “tries to normalize misogyny” and make it “seem socially acceptable” by wrapping it in “a discourse of rationality.”

Andrew Tate: If some of my views based very firmly in absolute professional, by extension absolute reality, come across in a misogynistic tone. Then that is YOUR problem! - The Don Tate/YouTube

So in that respect his worldview is aligned with right-wing commentators who are explicitly wading into culture war debates and trying to make the progressive side sound unhinged – like Matt Walsh, whose transphobic “What Is A Woman?” documentary is a call for a return to regressive gender norms.

But perhaps the reason Tate has taken off with young boys in particular is because his image is very aspirational. He’s not Jordan Peterson, speaking in pseudo-intellectual terms to grown men. He’s all flashy cars and plush mansions and big cigars, speaking in a language young people understand. So if Tate is telling people that masculinity is under threat, then what they’re seeing is that their own ability to get those same fast cars, riches, women…all that is going to be taken away.

In Tate’s pre-influencer career, he was a kickboxer, and a pretty good one at that.This is the image Andrew Tate is selling. A bona-fide fighter, a champion, who is now taking on a much bigger battle. And because he has this history of success, people see it as a battle he could win. They’re primed to listen to how he got his success — and how they could get the same.

Joe Rogan: He’s a legit world champion kickboxer, he’s a hard man, who doesn’t buy any p*ssy bullshit. - The Joe Rogan Experience/YouTube

Andrew Tate is a creation of the internet, and his popularity reveals just how prone the digital spaces we’ve come to exist in are to being manipulated. An investigation by the Observer revealed that his surge in popularity on TikTok was as a result of a specific, coordinated attempt to game the algorithm. Followers flooded the site with videos of him, the more controversial the better, in order to achieve the maximum amount of views.

One of the dangers of platforms directing views toward controversial material is that – while some may initially click due to the shock value – they could be increasingly convinced by what they hear. Like other viral provocateurs, Tate’s no-holds-barred manner of speaking and total departure from politically correct language makes him incredibly appealing to many internet dwellers. Despite rumors swirling that he’s a “troll” or often “in character”, Tate never drops the facade and there’s no punchline or acknowledgment that he’s behaving egregiously for some higher commentary or purpose. So whether or not his over-the-top performance is in some ways an act of trolling, the reality is that to many he’s received as entirely sincere, and his underlying messages are resonating with fans. So regardless of how true this “Top G” persona is, or the degree to which fans take everything to heart, the bottom line is the harmful views he espouses have built him an army of supporters.

The Guardian’s Shanti Das writes, “In less than three months, the strategy has earned him a huge following online and potentially made him millions of pounds, with 127,000 members now paying the £39 a month to join Hustler’s University community, many of them men and boys from the UK and US,”

This method of gaining traction and building an audience through stoking controversy and manipulating algorithms is becoming a new norm. The divisive Brexit campaign in the UK was played out on social media, with misinformation allowed to spread unchecked and in favour of the Vote Leave campaign. Donald Trump used similar tactics throughout his Presidency, leading to the attempted insurrection of January 6th.

Jaron Lanier: The people who are paying, or maybe not paying, just using this system in a clever way to get at you are not necessarily pleasant people. - Channel 4 News/YouTube

But nearly a decade after both those events, it looks like nothing effective has really been done to limit these tactics. Andrew Tate was banned from twitter, tiktok, facebook and instagram, and though his Twitter was reinstated, he doesn’t need to be active on these platforms for his videos to spread. He then drives people to buy entry into his “Hustlers’ University,” which describes itself as an “online money-focused community providing education and coaching to over 100,000 students worldwide.” Now in the UK, courses that aim to help school teachers fight Tate’s popularity amongst young boys are selling out, while teachers are also urging parents to step in and have those conversations at home.

But if social media channels can’t stop his popularity, what chance do teachers and parents really have?

Andrew Tate: It’s gotta be short, snappy, hard hitting content and then you have to push people to something you control. - Free Speech/YouTube

This isn’t the first time rhetoric like Tate’s has been popular. Neil Strauss’ The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists was a huge hit when it was published back in 2005, and its view on gender norms wasn’t that far removed from Tate’s. Tom Cruise’s pick-up artist character in Magnolia is cut from the same cloth, and the fact that film came out in 1999 illustrates that these kinds of men were already present in the culture, and there was an audience out there for them.

Barney Stinson: Every woman, no matter how initially repugnant, has a mermaid clock: the time it takes for you to realize you want to bone her. - How I Met Your Mother

But as Lawson told Vox, people have been pushing this “crisis of masculinity discourse” all the way back in the 1970s or 1980s “through the men’s movement led by people like Robert Bly and so on, where there was a sense of reconnecting with your own masculinity as a way of fixing the world.”

Really, what Tate belongs to today is self-help culture, and right now we’re in a golden age for those kinds of texts. Whereas previously this genre was targeted at women, now men are being courted, with publishers preying on the exact same uncertainty that Tate is seeing in his audience. This is amidst widespread talk of a greater crisis in our culture for many young men and boys. So, feeding on that anxiety, you have the explosion in popularity of people like Jordan Peterson, Johann Hari, Mark Manson, and yes, Andrew Tate.

But, what is that guidance, exactly? Where most self-help texts direct the reader or viewer on how to change and become a better version of themselves, these voices’ guidance for men feels more geared towards not changing, and instead boosting self-esteem and self-belief, even when that comes at the expense of others. For Andrew Tate, his message is clear: the problem isn’t men, it’s everybody else.

Andrew Tate: You need to find a way to some degree to escape the matrix. - TateShorts/YouTube

This invocation of The Matrix — if you ignore the irony that it’s a film made by two trans filmmakers and widely interpreted to be, at least in part, an allegory about the transgender experience — is also in line with a wider alt-right, toxic masculine rhetoric that’s been a fixture of online culture for several years. The subreddit r/TheRedPill was, for a time, one of the most active communities on the internet, with The Guardian’s Stephen Marche describing the “reality” its advocates believe to be living in as one where “women run the world without taking responsibility for it, and that their male victims are not permitted to complain.” And while Reddit stepped in to quarantine this and other similar subreddits, research has shown that this cracking down only intensifies the beliefs of those audiences – which makes sense when you hear that Tate claimed “The Matrix attacked” him when he was arrested.

Andrew Tate: If you’re a law abiding man inside the matrix, your future and the life that is laid out for you is nothing but depressing. - TateShorts/YouTube

Right now, Andrew Tate and his brother Tristan are in police custody in Romania on some pretty horrific human trafficking charges. And it seems like the image he’s worked so hard to present is maybe starting to crumble, with a recent Guardian article claiming his pad is “less Hollywood hideaway, more rundown meat factory.”

Maybe this public embarrassment will cut him off at the knees, and damage his credibility so much that his followers will migrate away from him. Or maybe this will just be more fuel to the fire, more evidence that he is an underdog and that people are out to get him.

Andrew Tate: Strike one is they try and shut you up and discredit you, strike two is they put you in jail, strike three is they try to kill you. - ILoveExpensiveThingsDaily/YouTube

The truth is that even if he does disappear, someone similar will take his place. The only potential solution is for young men to start hearing another compelling narrative aimed directly at them – one that boosts their self-esteem without making everyone else the problem, and tells them they can become anything they want without making them victims. We need a narrative for young men that doesn’t push them to the margins but allows others to exist in the center of the story, too.


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