In every single “young men’s workshop” I’ve facilitated over the past six months, the name Andrew Tate has come up. Tate, a former kickboxer, has made a name for himself hawking his version of “masculinity” online. He has come to prominence based on his views on women and relationships, which include referring to women as “property” and suggesting the use of violence as a mechanism to maintain and control intimate relationships. He has recently been arrested and held on remand for human trafficking, amongst other abhorrent crimes. It is clear why most of the population want nothing to do with Andrew Tate.
What’s less clear is why some young men are drawn to him. In a recent survey of 500 young men conducted by The Man Cave, 90% of boys had heard of him, 30% looked up to him as a role model, and 36% said he was “relatable” (Topsfield & Abbott, 2022). Since it is his click-bait views on women that have received the most attention, what is inferred is that he is tapping into some deep-seated and dormant misogyny among young men, taking, as one commenter put it, “toxic masculinity and throwing gasoline on it” (Madigan, 2023).
There is a thread of truth in this. However, my experience in discussing Tate with young men tells a different story. The vast majority of them disagree with his views on women. What’s more, the trophies he displays as external indicators of “success”, such as the cars, physique, money and fame aren’t the primary goals most of them are drawn to. By digging into discussions around values, I believe the attraction of Tate lies in what he is offering that is either lacking or absent for many young men nowadays – routine/structure, determination and personal development – and this is aligned with research from the Centre for Male Psychology showing that “personal growth” is the single strongest predictor of men’s mental health (Barry, 2021a; Barry, 2021b).
While the appeal of Tate may seem to be a canary in the coal mine, if you scratch beneath the surface of the aggression, sexism, materialism and vanity you find a confused generation searching for treasure in a mountain of trash. It’s our job to get our hands dirty and help them sort through it, so here are some suggestions for how schools can help young men looking in the wrong places for the right reasons: