Social media can be a powerful tool. It can allow people to connect with loved ones, meet new friends, promote education around important social topics, find like-minded communities, and expand hobbies and interests. While social media can be an expansive space for connection, the content and public figures that sometimes are boosted on popular platforms are not always positive influences on society.
A recent public figure garnering a lot of negative attention is a social media personality named Andrew Tate. Tate’s rise to fame might be controversial and shocking to many, but there are deeper implications as to why someone like Tate can accumulate such a passionate and loyal following of disaffected young men. In this episode of the Modern Intimacy Podcast, Dr. Kate Balestrieri and Jeanelle Marina Mendez-Viera discuss the effect Andrew Tate has had on increasing misogyny, the alt right pipeline, and how he used his fame, wealth, and power to not only abuse women, but to exploit the men that admire him.
Who is Andrew Tate?
Andrew Tate is a prominent British-American social media influencer who rose to fame in 2022 for his controversial and outspoken sexist and toxic masculinity based opinions. Before becoming an infamous social media presence, he got his start in the kickboxing industry, but found he could make much more money selling membership subscriptions teaching men how to be “ultra-masculine” and live a life of luxury. Tate eventually started appearing on podcasts and very quickly, became a hot topic on social media amongst camps who loved and detested his worldview.
Andrew Tate has been a seemingly unstoppable force on the internet for months and lately his popularity has been a crucial factor in landing him in the hands of authorities. As of the date of this article, Andrew Tate and his brother Tristan, have been arrested by Romanian police on charges related to human trafficking and rape. The Tate brothers were arrested at the Tate Compound in Bucharest, Romania where they have been hiding from Romanian authorities, until Andrew accidentally confirmed his location in a video posted to Twitter.
While many have described Andrew Tate as nothing more than an internet troll, his influence has shown to be much more significant than your run of the mill internet trolling. Andrew Tate’s rhetoric is resonating with young men and speaking to their frustrations and fears about dating, gender roles, masculinity, rejection, and identity. It can be argued that Tate is also linked to what’s called the alt right pipeline as he and the people like him both promote and align with the anti-social justice and pro-patriarchy ideology.
What is Andrew Tate’s Connection to the Alt Right Pipeline
The alt right pipeline is a means of conceptualizing the radicalization that often occurs via social media, video games, and message boards that promotes white supremacy/white nationalism, anti-political correctness, hate speech, antisemitism, and sexism. The community within alt right sectors of the internet is usually comprised of young men that feel they are fighting to save western civilization (i.e., white cultural values) from progressive movements.
The alt right pipeline often includes fringe groups such as white nationalists, the red pill community, those obsessed with conspiracy theory, neo nazis, pick up artists, and incels. You might be wondering that the alt right pipeline and Andrew Tate have to do with each other and it all comes down to the lens in which they view the world and others they view as less deserving of rights and freedom.
The (predominantly white) men that make up many of the communities within the alt right pipeline are aided in the growth of their radicalization thanks to figures like Andrew Tate and their rhetoric. Tate is able to capitalize and exploit the angry, scared, and lonely men that are looking to the internet for answers to their declining social life and mental health. These men often do not have communities of their own in real life and take to forums like 4Chan to find their people, usually those who are even more disillusioned and angry, thus confirming the rage and hate they feel towards society.
The Alt Right Pipeline Strategy
Many of the communities within the alt right pipeline offer a sense hope to insecure men who feel lost in life. They lure young men in under the guise of self-help and promote a “masculine” lifestyle which often includes advice to exercise, make as much money as possible, and seek the attention from women. It might sound innocent enough on the surface but the problem arrises when the advice doesn’t work automatically and the young men are told to blame women, liberals, feminism, and any other straw man, which takes the onus of self-discovery and growth off the individual, making society responsible for their lack of success and happiness.
As time progresses, these young men resonate more and more with the alt right messaging and it becomes an ideology. While some men are able to escape, many are not so lucky and before long, they are embedded within a community that is sexist, racist, homophobic and transphobic, and overall in disagreement with anything that doesn’t involve the uplifting of white male power and domination over everyone else they see as below them or subhuman.
As young mens’ views become more and more radical, they simultaneously become more disconnected from their loved ones and society. They are isolated within an echo chamber that feeds off each other’s anger and insecurity. Andrew Tate is just one figure amongst many that helps walk men into the eye of the alt right hurricane, letting them get swept away, not caring what it’s doing to their sense of self and real connection with others offline.
What is the Solution?
It can be challenging to empathize with people who feel so much hatred towards a community or identity you are a part of or the communities you care about and respect. To some, they feel these young men have dug their own graves and deserve whatever comes to them for choosing such a radical community to be a part of. While that frustrating can be valid, it can help to keep in mind that there are larger systems at play when we look at why people end up in radical social groups such as cults and fringe alt right groups.
The alt right pipeline is a larger social issue and one that is worth examining so we can learn why and how it happens, as well as how we can meet these young men where they are at and hopefully help them see the world through a different, more empathetic and less black-and-white type of way. It’s not easy work. Dismantling systems of oppression is emotionally and physically exhausting, but its work we all benefit from in the end.
Solving the “Andrew Tate problem” and the oppressive systems he stands for won’t happen over night. Talking about and calling out oppressive language and messaging when you hear it is one thing you can do on an individual level. Not everyone will be receptive to what you have to say, but if starting that conversation can get one person thinking about the way they are living their life, it can be worth it.
We can’t shut down about these conversations, as hard as it can be to constantly feel like you have to defend your existence and the existence of others who are marginalized and oppressed. It is necessary work and each day, we can hope to inch closer and closer to a more egalitarian and empathetic society.
Janelle Marina Mendez (she/her) is a feminist human rights leader turned certified human rights consultant. She is the first and only person to author, lobby, and enact intersectional military and veterans’ legislation. Her first intersectional legislation was the Restoration of Honor Act of 2019 which was signed in to law in New York State.
On the federal level the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. enacted the Safe-to-Report Policy and the Department of Defense is in the process of enacting Mendez-Viera’s Military Industry Regulatory Authority legislation that was written in to law in Congress’s NDAA of this year.
Janelle is the subject of an evidential biography titled Boricua Gringa by British author Eleanor Wait which details her experience being sex-trafficked as a teenager while enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in a time where there were no laws in the U.S. to protect against state-sponsored child sex trafficking. After years of injustice, Mendez launched the Military Sexual Trauma Movement, a feminist human rights organization to enact the United States’ first intersectional military and veteran laws.
Janelle talks with Dr. Kate about the Radicalization Pipeline, how she developed it, and how it’s hindering egalitarian relationships built of mutual respect.
They also talk about her work as a human rights leader.
She is passionate about the state of the disaffected males and its effect on how women are treated.
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