TW: This article contains graphic descriptions of violence.
I’d heard the name Andrew Tate floating around before, something to do with a failed stint in the Big Brother house and an association with “pick-up” artistry. As with many sexist individuals who seem to exist on the periphery of popular culture, I chose not to pay much attention to him.
That is, until he popped up on my TikTok feed, describing how he would beat a woman who tried to defend herself against him: “Listen, women can’t fight. You’re not designed to fight […] I will pick you up with one hand, by your titty, and bodyslam your ass.” He then demonstrates how he would punch a woman “till her face is collapsed” if she “tried to resist.”
The visceral, violent nature of his misogyny forced me to pay attention. As well as noticing his appearance on several podcasts, I realised that most of the people calling him out were – you guessed it – women. As though the responsibility to challenge misogyny lies solely in our hands.
The charity White Ribbon has called on TikTok to remove Andrew Tate from the platform, noting in a statement to the MailOnline that “Men and boys regularly watching and listening to negative presentations of masculinity may begin to adopt these attitudes and behaviours, believing that they are acting as the ‘ideal man’.
“Not only does this create a lot of pressure on men and boys, often affecting their mental health and self-image, it also creates dangerous cultures and environments for women and girls to exist in.
“Sexist and derogatory comments exist on the same spectrum as controlling behaviour and physical and sexual violence, which creates environments where men go on to murder women.”
At the extreme, men’s ability to call one another out can have terrifying consequences. Wayne Couzens – who was a serving police officer when he murdered Sarah Everard – was reportedly known by some of his colleagues as ‘The Rapist’, due to the fact he made female colleagues feel uncomfortable. As sickening as this is, it raises important questions about men’s role in reinforcing misogyny and violent attitudes towards women.
Hira Ali, author of HER ALLIES: A Practical Toolkit to Help Men Lead Through Advocacy, explains part of the rationale behind men not calling one another out. She explains, “For men it is awkward because there is the long-standing ‘bro code’ that is hard to break and sometimes even the ‘good men’ refrain from adopting active responsibility for fear of being judged or saying something wrong.
“This is referred to as ‘bystander apathy’ – research by American scientists Latané and Darley shows that the larger the room and the crowd, the more likely it is there will be diffusion of responsibility. People tend to believe it is better to mind their own business, keep their head down and avoid conflict when it comes to issues of political correctness.”
Hira adds that some men also fear the “wimp penalty,” which refers to a situation in which “taking action against gender bias may mean potential loss of acceptance from male peers and a [perceived] risk to their manhood. Research shows that men experience social penalties, which are often harsher than those women face – when they deviate from their assigned gender scripts.”
Mark Greene, an author at the Good Men Project, further explains that, “In our hierarchical, dominance-based culture of masculinity, men showing weakness of any kind leads to an instant loss of status.
So what can men who want to break out of this pattern do? Mark notes, “When men are ready to challenge a friend on bad behaviour towards women, here are a few things to remember. We can challenge their actions, not their identity. For example, say “Talking that way is not cool” vs. “You’re an idiot for talking that way.” We can call them in instead of calling them out.
“If the harm done is not immediately impacting a women or girl, we can choose to take a friend aside and speak more privately [instead of] challenging them in front of others. If a friend chooses to take such feedback as an attack, it says a lot about the quality of the friendship.”
It’s clear that there are a wealth of resources available for men who want to resist the misogyny of the status of quo. I really wish they’d use them.