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Misogynistic influencers like Andrew Tate are a danger to young men
The other day I mentioned the 20 year old climate activist Greta Thun Berg in a passing conversation and my 11 year old son said, Oh, I hate her. And then my brain exploded.
Now he does. He did not know who she was, although he does now trust me. And so it was obvious that he was parroting an opinion he’d heard somewhere. I did a little digging. And it turns out that these opinions are straight from the mouth of self-styled YouTuber Andrew Tate, via friend of his who’s apparently into this guy. So who is entertainment. He is a British American media personality who defies neat description but can comfortably be called violently misogynistic and a perpetrator of damaging stereotypes having to do with what it means to be a man.
ANDREW TATE: I have seen so many women fail to park and crash cars and do [bleep]. I do not want a female pilot flying me through a hurricane.
He first found fame on Big Brother, we’re all the towering intellects of our time come from.
And then he was removed from the show after the release of footage that appeared to show him attacking a woman. He’s sort of known for kickboxing, but he’s mostly made his name running a cam girl business. This is where he and his associates get their girlfriends and other women to perform sexual acts on webcams for money. He has described women as intrinsically lazy and said there was no such thing as an independent female. In addition to holding that women bear responsibility for being sexually assaulted, he is charming. He also got into a very public altercation with Thun Berg. And she should I’d say she won this one in a fairly awesome manner because it resulted in his arrest. She is magical. From what I can see. Here’s why Tate is so compelling to young men. I think we can all agree that many, if not most of them are undergoing an identity crisis. They’re being told to be quiet, let women speak. They’re being told not to do things that probably haven’t even occurred to them yet. Yes, it is a crucial cultural shift. It’s vital. But I also get why it’s disorienting and distressing for young men, especially if they don’t have adults guiding them through this emotional minefield.
So when someone like Tate comes on YouTube, telling them what feels very viscerally like, the cold hard truth, like he’s the only one telling it how it is speaking to their deepest fears and anxieties. It can be exciting, it can feel revolutionary even. I feel that way. Sometimes when I read Fleischman is in trouble or three women, when I listened to Brene, brown or even honestly Joe Rogan, I get it. But that’s the thing. People like Tate know that the veneer of being the one to give voice to the uncomfortable truth is a powerful force that can be leveraged to make people follow just the entirety of what you’re selling, which in Tate’s case is this kind of thing.
ANDREW TATE: if a girl comes at you, “you cheated, you cheated.” It’s bang out the machete, boom in her face, you grip her up by the neck.
I’ve raised my children to be hyper aware of the dangers of the internet with misinformation very high up on that list. I talked to them about what they’re consuming online, I have a show about it, which they even sometimes watch this one. I do. In other words, I think I do the things that I’m supposed to do as a parent. And still my children are vulnerable to the likes of Tate. So I thought long and hard about how to talk to them about this. And, you know, the last thing I want is to be that parent being like that Elvis, he just is the devil’s music, and then they just go lock themselves in the room and watch them anyway. I don’t want to shame them for their curiosity. All that does is send me existing behavior underground or deeper inside.
So what I said to my son is that seeking hard truth and understanding of life of self of your masculinity is valid. But it’s not just information that matters. It’s the information source. I can enjoy Joe Rogan, even though I don’t always agree with him, because I have decades of context upon which to draw and I can come to my own conclusions. Our children do not.
So no, I don’t think we should permit our sons to listen to entertain, I really don’t. But I do think that we should pay attention to what they’re seeking out, or what it might be finding them through the algorithm because that tells us what’s going on inside them. And our job then is to help them find what they’re looking for. Help them find books, podcasts, movies, YouTubers that explore these topics, with care, with intelligence and with respect for all humans, not just the ones who agree with everything they have to say
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