In my mind, there are some people that will never deserve sympathy.
I know it seems hypocritical, spending so much time advocating for universal love, kindness and respect, and then being so conditional in practice. So, to be more precise, I don’t believe that anyone who has ever amplified any form of hate should then derive sympathy when they are faced with the repercussions of their actions.
If it’s not obvious, I’m talking about Andrew Tate.
Having just lost his fifth appeal against his continued detention, Tate is now to remain in custody until 29th March. For anyone unaware of the accusations against both Tate and his brother, the two were arrested on suspicion of human trafficking, rape and forming an organised crime group.
They were found in their home in Romania, after the Romanian Police were alerted to the fact that Tate had ordered pizza from a local restaurant, the address of which was visible on a box in a video he posted as part of one of the most iconic exchanges on Twitter, between himself and Greta Thunberg — the 20-year-old climate activist.
Again, if you haven’t been following the story, it all started when Tate shared an image of himself standing next to a Bugatti, saying that he owned 33 cars, and tagging Greta Thunberg, asking for her email address, in order to “send a complete list of my car collection and their respective enormous emissions.”
Thunberg then responded to this, saying “Yes, please enlighten me”, before offering up a fake, mocking email address, which ended with “@getalife.com”, a tweet which very quickly became one of the 10 most-liked tweets in history, with over 3.5 million likes.
Desperate to protect his pride and (unfathomably toxic) masculinity, Tate filmed a video of himself smoking a cigar in his Romanian residence, trying to pick holes in Thunberg’s tweet and telling her to “get a life”. He then demands someone off-screen to bring him pizza, and orders that the boxes are not to be recycled, only to then expose the branding of the Romanian pizza chain, ‘Jerry’s Pizza’, a clue which seems to have prompted the Romanian authorities to investigate his location, though they have not commented on this.
As Thunberg put it, “this is what happens when you don’t recycle your pizza boxes.”
But many people, particularly boys and young men, have sustained their support of Tate, and continue to share the opinions that he has perpetuated. One of the most common repetitions of his views is the statement that, in certain circumstances, women are actually asking to be assaulted, or even raped.
Tate previously explained that, just as you wouldn’t carry an expensive item in a dangerous area, alone, at night, women should not wear “provocative” clothing or walk around alone.
Obviously, this is problematic — for a multitude of reasons: the first, of course, is his comparison of women (human beings, with emotions, opinions, the right to autonomy, the right to respect, and that have a capability of experiencing life-altering trauma) to mere items. That’s not to say, of course, that anyone in possession of something expensive deserves to have this item stole, but still, there is no way of equating a victim/survivor’s life and safety to an inanimate object, something that can be insured and replaced.
But surely if someone has had something stolen from them, the victim may still very well suffer from a sense of trauma, right?
Well, yes. The victim may potentially not want to walk in the same place, the may feel the need to adopt and extreme (and exhausting) amount of caution, and may constantly be looking over their shoulders, concerned about the people around them, or even begin to blame themselves for what happened to them. But these are all the same issues, if not a muted version, of what rape victims/survivors face. Thus, while Tate is trying to reduce women to these objects that he believes he can own, it is absolutely imperative that we continue to see victims/survivors as human beings, who may go forward with an inability to trust both the people around them and even themselves, who may continue to feel uncomfortable in their own skin long after their experience, and who categorically do not ever deserve to be in their position.
In addition to all of this, another of Tate’s major errors in this idea is the image of rape only occurring in some dark alley, by some stranger. In a recent assembly at Brampton, led by the organisation Everyone’s Invited, we were informed of the recent statistic that in 5 out of 6 reported cases of women being sexually assaulted or raped, the perpetrator of these acts was someone that the victim/survivor knew. In fact, around 50% were committed by a partner or ex-partner. Often, therefore, these attacks were carried out as a result of coercive control of the victim/survivor, rather than on some random night, in some random alleyway, by some random person.
Other outrageous incidents involving Tate include when an audio recording of him was obtained, in which he admitted to raping a woman asking her, “Am I a bad person? Because the more you didn’t like it, the more I enjoyed it”; or when he stated in a video reposted all over social media that he prefers to date 18—19 year-olds, because he can “make an imprint” on them, and that women are a man’s property.
However disgusted you may be right now, it should only unsettle you more to know that there are so many people to admire him for these comments, as is the case with one man in the US, who, when his girlfriend began to open up to him about her experience with sexual assault, merely states that Andrew Tate was “‘Top G’ — he can rape whoever he wants.”
This is the dangerous mindset that we have to be alert to. This mentality that women belong to men, that men are entitled to women, that men are in charge of a woman’s autonomy and that it is therefore men who have the power to decide if a woman says yes or no.
These followers are seeing women as existing solely for sexual gratification. But, as Tim Squirrell, the head of communications and editorial at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (an organisation that works to find solutions to issues of extremism and misinformation), notes, “it’s important first to emphasise how young Tate’s audience is. They’re broadly not men, they’re boys.”
These boys who are beginning to believe they have to prove themselves to be seen as men, even when they are not yet adults. Boys who are beginning to experience the world of sex and relationships. Boys who are beginning to discover pornography and are faced with the task of sorting the fact within it from the fiction — something which is really not going so well right now.
Pornography is a billion-dollar industry, with huge, elaborate productions, designed to construct false representations and narratives of sex and relationships. While, at first, this may seem harmless, we must also remember that pornographic videos are also linked to hateful ideology, with 97% of videos on porn sites portraying women as targets of violence and discrimination. What’s more, 9/10 porn films depict some sort of violence or agression, while 88.2% of the most popular porn scenes involve abuse of women, where the vast majority of perpetrators or aggressors are male. And, while some may think that we would be able to decipher what should and should not be taken into real-world relationships, it has also been reported that 60% of people in sexual relationships have been coerced or forced into re-enacting scenes seen in porn. This is becoming increasingly prominent among younger age-ranges, as 1/8 girls between the ages of 14—18 have experienced choking; equally, in recent years, 60 women have been killed in recent years during ‘rough sex’.
Needless to say, these problems must be addressed with seriousness and with speed. These are real issues, with real people’s lives, safety and wellbeing at stake.
But none of this seems to matter to Tate’s entirely vapid and insipid followers.
One writer for Vice explains that “Andrew Tate’s impact is octopus-like and stretches far beyond the internet. The ‘alpha male’ influencer’s deeply misogynistic messaging is parroted on school grounds, in workplaces and even within relationships, despite his recent arrest and social media ban.”
His die-hard followers gawk at his achievements, at his money and status, at the platform he has on social media. And they cannot for the life of them see what he’s doing to them — I almost pity these people, so unaware of how they’re being brainwashed by Tate and his accomplices.
I always say that I honestly believe that, if anyone listened to Tate for long enough, we would all end up agreeing and adopting his ideas. This is because Tate has such undeniable oratory skill: he has this way of speaking that makes anything sound like mere logic and reason, like basic universal fact, like it’s the only rational way of seeing things. And this is so clearly present in Tate’s followers, who have evidently been convinced — no, indoctrinated — by his constructions, and then repeat his words, in the exact same order, with the exact same tone and intonation, the same ease, the same toxicity.
Some might even argue that this is a rhetoric mirroring that of Donald Trump’s supporters, convinced for years to take his word as gospel, which critically led to more than 2,000 of them storming the U.S. Capitol on January 6th 2021, in an unsuccessful coup against the elected government that succeeded Trump’s Republican Party.
What’s unfortunate is that, just as with Trump, at first many people seemed to ignore what Tate was doing. We were optimistic, to say the least, that he wouldn’t have such a far reach, and that people would be smart enough to resist what can only be described as a seduction of the minds of those who are so afraid of tarnishing the image of their masculinity that they feel forced to take such extreme stances and even pursue violent means to prove themselves. However, I truly believe that, in reality, these are weak people. I know it seems unfair to say such a thing — after all, those who are preyed on by vicious figures, coerced into these cult-like groups and tricked into adopting opinions that they otherwise may never have thought of, are in a way victims themselves. We are not born hateful. We are not born misogynistic. Rather, undoubtedly, we are born feminists: no one is born believing that some people have more or less of a right to equality and respect than others. The patriarchy teaches us that. People like Andrew Tate teach us that. Thus, people either remain true to what we were born as, feminists, or we allow ourselves to be indoctrinated and used by those who have no real care for us at all, merely seeking to profit from our ignorance and confusion, at the expense of everyone else.
So, I suppose it is a question of strength, of power: are we as a society really strong enough to overcome this oppressive grasp that Tate has on us, and move on from what he so vehemently preaches? Or will we be so weak that we willingly and blindly bend to whatever he (and people like him) continues to dictate that we must think and behave?
By Sarah Clif, student