Features Editor Naz Karadede on the allegations faced by Andrew Tate and the dangers of blindly following internet celebrities.
TRIGGER WARNING: This article contains mentions of sexual assault, abuse, and sex trafficking.
Misogyny, sexism, and toxic masculinity – just a few words that have come to be synonymous with the name Andrew Tate. If you’ve been on social media over the past few months, chances are you’ve heard the name Andrew Tate at least once by now, and probably with no good connotations. The former kickboxer and Big Brother contestant became famous after videos of him expressing outrageously misogynist and sexist views were released online. Some of the comments he’s made include things like women belong in the kitchen (the classic misogynist slur; a personal favourite of mine), women can’t drive, and women are men’s property (how original). Oh, and that victims of sexual assault should “bear some responsibility” for what happened to them. Just comes to show how anyone with outrageous views, a decent following, and a good understanding of the algorithm can become a Tiktok “phenomenon”.
Regardless, Tate gained millions of views and followers – and might I add, a lot of money – for expressing his openly misogynistic views, especially from impressionable young people who turn to toxic masculinity as a counterreaction to ‘woke’ culture. Indeed, #AndrewTateIsRight and #FreeTopG became two of the top trending hashtags on Twitter and Instagram over the past few months.
But this isn’t the first time that we have seen this kind of response to woke culture. Some of you might remember Jordan Peterson and Ben Shapiro. Whilst their views were nowhere near as misogynistic as Tate’s, we couldn’t help but hear the occasional remark favouring hegemonic masculinity from both of them, disguised as a slight to ‘political correctness’ and ‘modern-day feminism’. Only this time, toxic masculinity comes at a very high price. And that price is sexual assault.
Who is Andrew Tate?
For those of you who need a reminder or don’t really know the details of how Andrew Tate became famous, he first made a name for himself on the reality TV show Big Brother, which he joined in 2016. Unsurprisingly, Tate was removed from the show merely 6 days after his appearance, after a video of him abusing a young woman emerged. Tate responded to this by claiming that his actions were completely “consensual” and shared a video of a woman, who claimed to be the one in the video, explaining that the whole occurrence was a “misunderstanding”.
Following this, Tate’s past sexist and misogynistic tweets received massive backlash on social media. Some of these include tweets blaming women for sexual assault amid the Harvey Weinstein scandal, bragging about the importance of grooming 18-and-19-year-old girls, promoting violence towards women, and denying the validity of depression as a mental illness. But arguably what cemented Tate’s public image as the “king of toxic masculinity” was an interview on Youtube, whereby he claims to be “absolutely a misogynist” and “a realist” so also “a sexist”. Whatever that’s supposed to mean. Following this, he was banned from Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube consecutively in August 2022.
Since then, Tate has created his own website where he offers courses on non-conventional ways to make money, such as cryptocurrency and e-commerce, dubbed ‘Hustler’s University’. And part of the reason why Tate acquired more than a billion views on TikTok is that he encouraged members of his Hustler’s University to post a tremendous amount of videos of him online. Genius, really. The other part, we can attribute to the media’s growing obsession with countering woke culture. Indeed, over the past year, anti-woke culture gained so much popularity among neoliberals and the right that Florida passed a ‘Stop Woke Act’ for the first time and even Elon Musk claimed to buy Twitter to defeat the “woke mind virus”. And Tate, with his self-proclaimed “traditional masculine” values, if you can even call extreme misogyny that, and hatred for all things feminism, became its superstar. Indeed, one of the first things that Elon Musk did when he bought Twitter was to end Tate’s 5-year ban and restore his platform. Only this time, we found that his views were not so harmless after all.
The sex crime allegations
Only a day after his Twitter feud with Greta Thunberg, Tate and his brother, Tristan, were detained in Romania on December 29 over allegations of sex trafficking and sexual assault. This should come as no surprise considering that Tate has bragged about moving to Romania from the UK in the past so that he could easily “evade rape allegations”. Right.
According to Romanian authorities, Tate, his brother, and two other women were charged with being part of an organised crime group responsible for the sexual assault and recruitment of 6 women into sex trafficking. The Tates specifically are being accused of forcing victims to film and share explicit content on websites such as OnlyFans, but the brothers could also be charged with rape considering that investigations into the matter are ongoing.
On December 30, a Romanian judge approved to extend the initial 24-hour detention by 30 days following the prosecutors’ request. Following this, the brothers’ bid to appeal the extension was also rejected on January 10. In the mean time, Romanian authorities seized a considerable amount of the Tate’s assets, including cars, watches, money, and property, totalling $4 million, to be forfeited to the state and paid to the victims as civil and moral damages. The latest development in the case is that another Romanian court agreed to extend the pre-detention trial time for a second time, until February 27.
What started off as a seemingly performative, comical, and “harmless” display of misogyny developed into full-blown allegations of sex crime. Let this be a warming to all the young men out there who fell too quickly into the trap of supporting Tate’s misogynistic views for being an accurate representation of “traditional masculinity”. And let it be a warming to all the young people out there who fall too quickly into the trap of supporting unconventional internet celebrities just because they are “anti-woke”. Opinions that are grounded on hate are never truly “harmless”.