‘Boys are often targeted and radicalised online’

His videos have been watched 11.6bn times, with Irish boys making up a portion of those views. But what influence is rape apologist Andrew Tate having in Irish schoolyards? Jennifer

Irish Examiner/January 28, 2023

Horgan Investigates

“This boy has just turned 11 and he is looking up at me in the middle of the yard, telling me how Andrew Tate has helped him. And I’m thinking, of course, he’s the perfect victim: A quiet boy with a lot of insecurities.

“I’m thinking this Andrew Tate knows exactly what he’s doing with our young boys.”

Many teachers like this one, a male primary teacher working in Limerick, don’t want to go on the record about their own students but many, even at primary level, report hearing about Tate from their students.

“I mostly hear students mocking him,” says another teacher in an all-boys secondary, “but I’ve come across the odd boy, often a quiet student, who has been influenced.”

Another teacher in a rural mixed school says: “I’ve never heard anything about him directly, but I got a response to a question about a novel that made me suspect that a student had been watching his videos.”

Tate’s arrest on charges of rape and human trafficking in Romania was the first time many Irish adults had heard of him, but younger people here are reportedly well-acquainted with the champion kickboxer, entrepreneur, and anti-‘woke’ influencer.

In July 2022, he was the most Googled name on the planet and in the virtual world of Tiktok, he is a well-established celebrity, where videos of him have been watched 11.6bn times.

Tate describes hitting and choking women online, referring to them as “chicks”, “bitches”, and “hoes”. He has argued that rape victims must “bear responsibility” for their attacks in a clip watched over 2.5m times. The American-born, British citizen fled England in 2017 in the wake of numerous accusations of sexual assault by women there. His move to Romania was a calculated one.

“I’m not a rapist… I like the idea of a man being free. In the West any woman can destroy a man for life… In Eastern Europe none of this stuff flies.” He is currently in detention in Romania, suspected of having recruited victims for a criminal online porn scam.

Female teachers say some male students use Andrew Tate to intimidate them in the classroom.

Students allegedly add the tag “make me a sandwich” to the end of their work, thereby announcing themselves as followers of the influencer.

“I spoke to my boyfriend’s younger brother, who I can chat to on a different level, and he said that Tate is a genius because he says what everyone is afraid to say.

“It’s terrifying that Andrew Tate is having this effect on the next generation. It’s happening and it’s not being stopped.

“There are newspaper articles, but they’re not being discussed. Any 13-year-old boy in Ireland knows Andrew Tate. That’s a real problem.”

Dismissing education

Tate does his best to appear legitimate online. His “university”, in its third iteration, now called “Hustler University 3.0” announces itself as “a worldwide community of over 160,000+ active members learning from a select network of experts in freelancing, crypto, investing, and business”.

For a $50 monthly membership fee people are offered an opportunity to match the extreme wealth and success of Tate, who claims to be “the smartest person on the fucking planet”. The Guardian reports that members, some as young as 13, are promised £10,000 a month by learning about crypto investing, drop shipping, and persuading other people to join.

Tate’s approach is thoroughly and proudly anti-establishment and throughout his online narrative he actively dismisses mainstream education, which, he says, is left-leaning and “woke”.

“We grow stronger every day,” he says of his online university, “while traditional education becomes less and less relevant.”

Tate argues that men or boys should take control of women and become rich and successful. He presents the West as an emasculating culture in decline. He is clear and specific in his world view explaining to his millions of followers: “Women should clean up. Not only should women clean up, women should clean up unprompted… I pay for things unprompted… my card always works.”

Feeding on boys' fears

“Ask any class if they have heard of Tate and the majority will have done so,” says civics teacher Edwin Magnier, who works in a mixed Cork secondary school. He is is happy to go on the record to stem Tate’s influence over other young people in Ireland.

“My awareness of this kind of threat began with the emergence of the alt-right movement. Boys are often targeted and radicalised online.

“I’ve been concerned about it for the last five years and have been actively designing lessons to counteract the world view being taught to our young men.”

As Magnier explains, people like Tate attack young minds before they are educated, and often bad-mouthing mainstream educators is part of their ploy.

“Anyone with an education will see through it; we need to be very aware of it in the last few years of primary, whenever a child is given access to the internet.

“By secondary [level], in my experience, most students laugh at him. He’s a person to ridicule, often used as a meme.

Tate often includes sound advice in the midst of his hateful rhetoric, explains Magnier, reminding young people to work hard for success for instance.

He presents himself as a mentor and if a child lacks an actual mentor in their life, it can be both powerful and persuasive.

“He delegitimises any other adults who might influence their minds in a positive way, like teachers.

“This is a man with 17 expensive cars; he is uber rich and so young people see him as successful. His message to them is that you can be successful too if you overcome your ‘wokeness’. He argues that women are suffering in our culture too because they want to be dominated.”

A 14-year-old girl brought Tate to Magnier’s attention after boys started to repeat his ideas in school.

“His message to young men is that women are property,” says Magnier.

“He tells boys and men to convince girls and women in their lives of that too — in order to manipulate them. “He describes himself as a powerful alpha male who dominates women. He warns his followers against being weak beta males who tend to be unsuccessful.

“He tells them their meekness and inability to stand up to women will mean that women will dominate and destroy them.

“The man is being accused of rape and human trafficking. He manipulates women to make money and is open about that. He is not a role model.”

Ireland’s shortcomings when it comes to sex education are well documented. Spunout, Ireland’s youth information website created by young people, for young people, is concerned about the paucity of relationship education in schools.

“The main source of our sex ed comes from social, personal and health education (SPHE). The current system donates just one hour per week to this subject. This is simply too little.

“Sex ed is something that is very important for children, particularly in the junior cycle.

“They are at an age when they are entering early puberty and without proper education on the subject of sex it can be a confusing time.”

Psychotherapist and author Richard Hogan believes education on Tate needs to start at home.

“We must talk to our children about his views; we must help children to think their way through his destructive and negative ideas about women and men’s role in society.

Students reportedly tell their teachers that they are fearful of sharing their online experiences with parents. They worry that their parents might curtail their usage in future.

“No way would I show my mum what’s coming up on my screen,” one teacher reports hearing from a 12-year-old boy. “She’d take it off me!”

In the UK, where Tate is perhaps best known, the education sector is proactive in its approach. Teachers report the serious “hold” he has on students, as is beginning to happen here. Some schools are running whole-school assemblies entirely devoted to Tate and his ideology.

Men At Work CIC trains professionals who work with boys and young men to facilitate constructive dialogues with them about being safe. They have visited dozens of schools to date. They specifically address the reality of young boys being groomed and radicalised by people like Tate.

Here, Justice Minister Simon Harris had admitted feeling worried about the influence of Tate on boys.

“I think it shows what happens when the State doesn’t step up to its responsibilities. I don’t just mean this State, I mean in general… We need to be much better at providing age-appropriate information around sex education, around gender equality, and through the school curriculum.”

Harris goes on to mention a “zero-tolerance strategy” in the pipeline for Irish schools.

Other commentators argue that Tiktok needs to do far more to protect young users by ensuring all content on the platform is devoid of hateful, harmful messaging.

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