Boys Will Be… Radicalized Online? Andrew Tate, Men and the Alt-Right Internet, and How it all Hurts Women
“I was getting on a plane and I could see through the cockpit that a female was the pilot and I took a picture and I said, ‘most women I know can’t even park a car, why is a woman flying my plane?’ and they banned me.”
This quote is from the internet’s latest manosphere celebrity: Andrew Tate. A former Big Brother contestant who was pulled from the show after a 2016 video was released of him hitting a woman with a belt, he has now made a name for himself as the internet’s “king of toxic masculinity.”His videos offering advice to young men about women, fitness, motivation, and more went viral in the summer of 2022 and sparked weeks of discourse on virtually every social media app. Some of his ideas include that a woman’s body count is “probably the #1” way to judge her, women should have to obey their male partners, and women should “take some responsibility” for rape. These comments and the uproar that came from them led to his eventual ban from platforms like Twitter, Tiktok, Instagram, and more. But the damage has already been done— many have already observed disturbing statements made by young boys since Tate’s rise to fame. One teacher made a Reddit post entitled “The rise of Andrew Tate is ruining my freshmen boys” that states “…just this week I had to have 6 convos with families about their sons saying shit like ‘women are inferior to men’ ‘women belong in the kitchen…” For context, Tate had almost five million followers on Instagram before being banned.
Tate has been a hot topic of discussion recently, but he is hardly the first of his kind. He is just one irregularly mainstream famous member of the “manosphere” – an internet culture term referring to the part of the internet dedicated to discussing men’s rights and taking down feminists (think men’s rights activists, incels, etc.). This community has been around for a long time, and misogynistic internet personalities who brand their advice as “motivation” for men have been around for almost as long as video-sharing platforms. In the past, more blatantly misogynistic conversations were happening in more hidden chat rooms, but they are now occurring on main social platforms. But how did they get onto the feeds of so many young men? And how do a few Andrew Tate videos lead to a much deeper societal issue of misogyny and alt-right beliefs? Much of this can be attributed to a phenomenon known as the “alt-right pipeline.”
The alt-right pipeline is a term that has been used to describe how alt-right internet indoctrination works, and how it often happens to young men. Wikipedia defines it as “a conceptual model that describes how certain beliefs or traits can lead one to the alt-right or similar right-wing extremism through internet radicalization.” In other words, if young men already have one set of beliefs (perhaps misogyny, maybe transphobia, or homophobia) and find themselves on anti-SJW or antifeminist videos, it’s a lot easier for them to become full-blown members of the alt-right. Sometimes, boys aren’t even seeking out these videos- they fall right into their laps via social media algorithms.
YouTube is famous for being one of the first social media platforms with an algorithm of its kind. The goal of the algorithm is to draw the viewer in and keep them there by recommending videos the user will find enticing. They also want to recommend videos that will evoke emotion, as a watcher having an emotional response to content will compel them to keep watching videos. YouTube also began its internet journey by promising to be a platform that allowed all sorts of opinions and ideas to thrive. While in theory, this seems great; the internet can often act as a place for community and discourse— it became an issue as time went on, as unregulated content promoting white supremacy, misogyny, and even Nazi imagery went unflagged on YouTube for a long time.
Today, TikTok plays a huge part in the alt-right pipeline. Its algorithm is perhaps even more ingenious than YouTube’s. It has a similar idea of drawing you in with enticing and emotion-evoking videos that are made to match all of your niche interests, but it also has an obvious infinite scroll (which is regarded as one of the smartest, yet most addictive social media designs). TikTok is a relatively new app, so it’s been hard to measure exactly the effects this is having on populations and the spread of misogyny, alt-right beliefs, and misinformation. However, the few studies that have been performed do not look great. Some studies have found that interacting with just a few slightly transphobic or misogynistic videos is enough to eventually land you on full-blown alt-right TikTok.
Besides the effects of dangerously smart social media algorithms, Tate’s content, as with many men who become the stars of the manosphere, is just alluring to young men. He’s everything a man should be. He’s fit. He’s got money. He’s had sex with plenty of women. And rather than simply boasting and bragging about it, much of Tate’s content is advice. He offers a program called “Hustler’s University,”an “online skill-focused community providing education and coaching to over 100,000 students,”which advertises to men by claiming the skills they learn at HU will make them rich and successful. Not only is Tate the aspiration for men everywhere, but he is also promising that other men can become him for just $49.99 a month.
Tate’s content and online communities have also allowed men spaces to vent their frustrations, but it often turns into a women-bashing circle jerk. Men who were told their whole lives that women owe them sex and have been unsuccessful in their pursuits turn to other men to vent about it. This can turn into blaming women for not wanting to have sex with them instead of reflecting on why a woman not wanting to be with them feels so socially degrading. Instead of holding serious conversations about depression, Tate gives them a place to discuss their “demons” and tells them that if they just grind harder, things will work out eventually. For men who are insecure about themselves, their love lives, and more, Tate offers an outlet and a sort of hope. We live in an increasingly community-less world. It’s hard to find people who care to talk about mental health, especially for men, who have been encouraged by the patriarchy to bury their innermost feelings (unless those feelings are anger). In a way, it makes sense that boys find this online community and feel attached to it.
But not only are these unproductive ways of handling conversations about success, mental health, and dating, but they ultimately will end up hurting about half of the population- women. When men make their conversations on mental well-being about women and how women rejecting them or being too independent is the reason why they’re unhappy, they hurt more people than they help. There are many deeper reasons for the unhappiness of men than female rejection, and women should not feel the need to cater to men and do as they please with the alternative being widespread internet misogyny.
It’s hard to come up with a solution to this growing issue. Scarily intelligent social media algorithms are a major part of our lives now, and as long as they produce profit, they’re not going anywhere. Combine that with ever-increasing male frustration with female independence and feminist movements, and it can feel hopeless when we see constant emergences of manosphere celebrities. Some say talk to little brothers, cousins, etc. about what they’re watching online, and while that’s all well and good, doesn’t that once again put the onus on women to make sure the men in their lives don’t believe they belong in the kitchen? A world where men can openly worship a man with video evidence of abuse against him is not an equitable or safe one. More than anything, Andrew Tate and his five million Instagram followers are proof of what many women have been saying for a while: things aren’t that much better for us. There’s still a lot of work to do. And women are tired of doing it.
Sofia Nolfo is a Junior CMD major who is worried about this generation. They can be reached at [email protected].