Exploring Tate-xic Masculinity

Shane Masterson and Jinheon Kim

From remarks such as “I don’t need female friends” to “comply or goodbye, it’s really simple,” social media influencer, podcaster and former kickboxing champion Andrew Tate thrives off inflammatory, divisive content that’s designed to get as many views as possible from his audience of primarily teenage boys. At first, he may seem like your standard internet influencer, flaunting his wealth and sharing jarring opinions for clicks. But, as one travels down the rabbit hole of his content by listening to his “Tate Speech” podcast, social media users begin to notice his more controversial and absurd suggestions.

The Tate brothers, Andrew and Tristan, said they launched their online career by using their girlfriends to manufacture “fake sob stories” in order to rake in “millions” from male webcam callers, as reported by the Daily Mail. Even though the brothers admitted to UK news outlet Mirror that this business model is a “total scam,” the lucrative setup delivered mountains of wealth to the two brothers. With 22 cars, a private jet and an estimated net worth of over $350 million, the webcam porn gig seems to be resulting in more than what the brothers bargained for. However, the industry is ripe with potential for exploitation. As abuse allegations against the Tate brothers began to surface, they left the UK for Romania in 2016, where they allegedly forced a 21-year-old woman to stay with them. According to The Guardian, that investigation is ongoing and was “expanded to cover human trafficking and rape allegations.”

In particular, Andrew Tate’s popularity began skyrocketing after his social media clips went viral. Tate’s fans, followers and subscribers are responsible for accruing more Google searches than Donald Trump or Kim Kardashian in July of 2022, according to Google Trends. “Hustlers University,” his glorified financial literacy course, teaches stock secrets to online subscribers primarily consisting of younger boys. 

The program also instructs its students to post clips of Tate’s shocking talking points on various social media platforms, further spreading content that promotes toxic masculinity.

Even though masculinity is widely seen as an abstract concept, Oxford Dictionary defines toxic masculinity as “a set of attitudes and ways of behaving stereotypically associated with or expected of men, regarded as having a negative impact on men and on society as a whole.” The less politically divisive and more academic term “hegemonic masculinity,” a designation that gender theorist R.W. Connell developed, may be preferred to toxic masculinity; it asserts that “a man is to be dominant in society and that the subordination of women is required to maintain such power,” according to a study published in the National Library of Medicine. The terms mean the same thing in practical use: masculinity being used to justify sexual assault and general misogyny — and being used to hold men back from expressing emotion, vulnerability or behaviors that exist outside of masculinity’s accepted norms. 

Tate sets the example for his fans to act in accordance with extreme toxic masculinity and the “sigma grindset:” a way of life that promotes ignoring everyone else to achieve one’s “masculine” goals. He spreads the idea that masculinity means that men should be powerful. While that’s not necessarily wrong, it doesn’t include the importance of the responsibility that comes with leading and supporting others. Tate hides behind the facade of masculinity to spread misogynistic ideas on his podcast, such as the notions that women are the property of men, can’t drive, belong in the home and should “bear responsibility” if they’re raped; he even goes as far as showing open support for the grooming of younger girls to “make an imprint” on them.

There is a wide spectrum of views on toxic masculinity, with some not believing in its existence. 

Senior and president of Pali’s Young Americans for Freedom chapter Michael Francoeur says that toxic masculinity is “a fake term made by fake people” and disagrees with associating masculinity with toxicity or exclusion. 

“Men who are ‘toxic’ are not an example of ‘toxic masculinity,’” Francoeur said. 

Although Francoeur said that he believes in the “sigma grindset” and “being a lone wolf,” he doesn’t think anyone on the internet is a good representation of what masculinity should really be. 

“Andrew Tate has not changed my views on masculinity,” he said. “If you are looking to the Internet to become a man, you’re not going to become a man. That starts with looking in the mirror…the Internet is full of lies and garbage.”

Many people say Andrew Tate’s projection of masculinity is off the mark and sadly represents a new, troubling social development. 

Pali Unification Director Gio Stewart said that Andrew Tate teaches boys that masculinity is the “power to do whatever you want.” Stewart explained that “real masculinity is the ability for one to use their physical and mental power to protect and fairly lead others.”

Tate’s opinions don’t only reach men; with his prevalence as an internet personality, women have to sit through his refrains on social media as well. Senior Maddie Rondeau said she believes that those who don’t believe toxic masculinity exists “are the ones who believe in its validity. Deep down, they agree with Tate and others and feel validated in their own misogynistic beliefs.” 

Rondeau added that those with toxic masculinity “negatively” affect people around them. “Toxic masculinity directly targets others,” she said. Rondeau said she believes that specifically, Tate’s “anti-women rhetoric has a detrimental effect on the perception of women in society…men like Tate do not uplift men to be more confident.” 

Through his social media influence, Tate continues to hardwire young men to practice what he preaches: a lifestyle of harmful masculinity and one where nothing is as important as the sigma grindset. Though the concept of self-improvement and prioritizing oneself is not wrong, Tate espouses taking these ideals to a worrying extreme.