Andrew Tate’s toxic trap and how it harms girls and women

By Stephanie Wescott and Steven Roberts

In early 2023, the UK media began reporting the presence of Andrew Tate’s ideas and messaging in schools, with a seemingly connected change in behaviour of boy cohorts towards women teachers. Articles were published detailing how British teachers ‘see misogyny every day’, that schools were planning to ‘re-educate’ teenagers brainwashed by Andrew Tate, and that teachers had been advised not to discuss Andrew Tate with their students.

As researchers located in Australia, we observed this reporting on the presence of Andrew Tate’s ideology in UK schools with interest, and wondered in what ways, if any, was Andrew Tate reaching, and possibly changing, boys in Australian schools. While there is a long history of research into sexism in Australian schools, the recent rise in popularity of ‘manfluencer’ figures—internet personalities who share extremist ideas about masculinity and sexist ideas about women—of which Andrew Tate is a particular popular figurehead, calls for renewed investigation into the way these personalities might be informing boys’ views on girls and women.

In our just-published paper on this topic we report on our ongoing project—the first known study on the influence of Andrew Tate’s influence on boys in Australian schools. Drawing on interviews with 30 women from across Australia, who teach in both primary and secondary settings and across the Catholic, government and Independent sectors, we explore accounts of a widespread, discernible shift in boys’ attitudes and behaviours towards women and girls. 

This shift was identified by each of our participants, characterised by behaviour overtly informed by Andrew Tate’s ideology, underpinned by a palpable masculinist supremacy, and culminating in accounts of unrelenting sexual harassment and misogyny encountered at participants’ schools. We explore each of our key findings below. 

Infiltration of Tate ideology

Teachers unanimously reported during our interviews that changes in boys’ behaviour intersected with the growth of Tate’s popularity online. They shared that many of their students use Andrew Tate’s name to provoke girls and women in the classroom, that boys express freely how much they admire him, that they often share some of Andrew Tate’s beliefs about women (for example, ‘Andrew Tate says women shouldn’t be able to drive because they get into more accidents than men’), and that they have adopted Andrew Tate’s belief that men are victims of women’s increasing power and status in society. 

Teachers also reported their students aligning with Andrew Tate’s belief that the charges laid against him are the result of a global conspiracy and that Tate is being unfairly vilified for his views on women. This makes it particularly difficult for teachers to challenge boys on their respect for Tate, when concern can be dismissed as part of the same conspiracy responsible for Tate’s arrest. 

One of the key issues with Andrew Tate’s ideology in schools is that superficially, he presents as espousing a type of masculine success—wealthy, athletic and dominant with very clear rules on how to enact masculinity in the world. Disturbingly though, alongside boys’ engagement with Tate’s messaging on wealth, fitness and success, are other narrow and dangerous versions of masculinity that are founded on power, aggression and misogyny. 

Male supremacy

Participants in our study described a resurgence of behaviour they described as male supremacy. Women reported increasing expressions of aggression and domination, unreasonable demands made of women teachers, and boys patronising girls and women. These behaviours have been accompanied by the use of Tate’s phrases to belittle and dehumanise women and girls, as well as the use of Tate’s mannerisms and ideas to wield dominant power in classroom interactions. 

One of our participants reported that it is common for boys to demand more labour from women teachers, another described experiencing frequent expressions of male superiority, such as boys placing their feet on furniture or surrounding women teachers on yard duty, deliberately derailing lessons and dominating time and discussion, while another described the presence of an overwhelming culture of ‘entitlement and audacity’ from cohorts of boys that her school was unable to counter. 

These examples, as well as others provided by women teachers, which include dismissing English texts written by women as not worthy of study, behaviour that constitutes gaslighting, belittling and dehumanisation, profoundly affect women at work. Women reported frequently engaging in combative interactions that challenge and undermine their gender, their political orientations, and their stance on Tate. 

This behaviour, which women largely attribute to boys’ consumption of Andrew Tate content, led to one of our participants observing that ‘schools are not a safe place for teachers.’ 

Sexual harassment and misogyny

Although education research has long documented sexual harassment of teachers and girls, participants reported a wave of renewed and targeted harassment. This behaviour is causing huge disruptions to work and education, and in some cases prompted teachers’ resignations. 

In our paper we report an instance of a student spitting in his teacher’s water bottle, objectification of women teachers’ bodies, sexual moaning noises, sexual harassment at school functions and in the classroom, and gendered slurs yelled at girls across the classroom. One of our participants observed that she ‘can see the influence of [Tate] in how my male students talk about girls.’ 

These examples serve as indications of the denigration of girls and women through sexual harassment, expressions of dominance in the classroom, and strategies that legitimate gender inequality. 

Where to next?

In response to these findings, We argue that there is an urgent need to invite conversations in schools about sexism and sexual harassment, and to allow women and girls to be heard. There is a need for open discussion about the impact of misogynist influencers on boys and their behaviour, developing relationships and identities. School-level responses to this issue must be broader, long-term and more comprehensive to have an impact on the kinds of behaviour we have reported on in this article. 

We are also interested in furthering the emerging research agenda examining ‘manfluencer’ culture and its consequences for educational settings; in particular, how leadership-level responses and school-wide policy approaches, for example, can tackle systemic and cultural problems in school that perpetuate violence against girls and women. 

Stephanie Wescott is a lecturer in Humanities in Social Sciences in the School of Education, Culture and Society, Monash University Faculty of Education. Her research explores socio-political phenomena and their intersections with education policy and practice.

Steven Roberts is a professor of Education and Social Justice in the School of Education, Culture and Society at Monash University Faculty of Education. He is a sociologist and has published widely in the areas of Critical Studies of Men and Masculinities and Critical Youth Studies.

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33 thoughts on “Andrew Tate’s toxic trap and how it harms girls and women

  1. Matt Zarb says:

    This is brutal. And it will take men standing up to say ‘this is wrong’ for our boys to listen and take notice. The biggest issue seems to be that we (teachers) are one of many influences. If our words are met with resistance at home and in society, then change can only happen when enough young men see through the Tate charade, and call it for what it really is.

  2. Stephanie Wescott says:

    Thanks for your comment, Matt. The women in our research agree; they would like more allyship from men in schools. And yes—teachers aren’t the only or most powerful influence in young people’s lives, and so the counter-messaging needs to be embedded, long-term and transformational.

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