how influencer ‘manosphere’ sells extreme masculinity to young men

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An online search for “how to be a man” generates nearly 130 million visits and over 12 million videos. Many of them promise hacks or a “big secret” to achieve the pinnacle of masculinity. Spend enough time browsing through this content and you will inevitably come across Andrew Tate.

Reportedly Google’s most searched public figure of 2022, Tate was removed from a range of platforms in August over claims he promoted extreme misogynistic views. Tate is also accused of being at the forefront of radicalizing young men and supporting male supremacy, with parents and educators worrying about his influence on young men and their views on masculinity.

American-born Tate was raised in the UK and competed as a kickboxer before appearing on Big Brother in 2016. After a video of Tate hitting a woman with a belt emerged, producers l ‘retired from the show for domestic violence. Tate refutes this version of events, saying the activities filmed were consensual and that he was fired for the safety of the other housemates.

Like many reality TV stars, Tate then found social media fame. Promoting a jet-set lifestyle – fast cars, private planes, expensive cigars and attractive women – Tate advocates a traditional form of masculinity that exploits notions of male protector, provider and patriarch, and values ​​conspicuous consumption.

He publicly declared that women are like children, a man’s property, a burden, corrupted by sex, lazy and stupid. He claimed that men become weak and uncompetitive if they live with women, that depression is not real, and that success is defined by the power one has over others. He has also been accused of being homophobic and racist.

In August 2022, Tate was banned from Instagram, TikTok, Facebook and YouTube. Tate has since denied being a misogynist, saying he was merely playing a comedic character and that his opinions had been deliberately misinterpreted, misinterpreted or taken out of context. This “it was just a joke” defense is a tried and true method of deflecting criticism and defending misogyny. Linguist Bethan Benwell has studied the use of irony in men’s lifestyle magazines, finding that it allows speakers to espouse controversial viewpoints without taking responsibility.

But it’s hard to reconcile Tate’s explanations of his behavior with what he actually says. A cursory examination of almost all of its content reveals an incredibly disturbing mindset when it comes to gender, in some cases openly promoting coercive control and domestic violence.

king of the manosphere

Tate has become one of the leading voices in the manosphere, a digital space where men talk about “men’s issues” like fitness and health, dating, relationships, finances, divorce, fathers, etc. While these are important topics on which to offer help and support, the manosphere is also a space where anti-women and anti-feminist ideologies have taken root, reinforced by a belief in the inherent superiority of women. men.

Changing gender relations and changing family and domestic patterns have led more young men to experience what sociologist Michael Kimmel calls ‘injured entitlement’ – a state of anger and fear of losing their social status. and their privileges.

In my own research, I have found that wronged entitlement goes hand in hand with men presenting themselves as victims of a global attack on masculinity. My analysis of manosphere spaces on Reddit, for example, shows that men think they are emasculated, disposable, despised, discarded, or even forgotten altogether. It is easy to see, then, how Tate’s message becomes a call to reclaim “lost” masculinity and reassert male authority over others.

Many fear that Tate audiences are being indoctrinated into an extremist and dangerous form of masculinity. As journalist Caitlin Cooper points out:

Tate doesn’t empower young men, he radicalizes them. Young men learn that if they express emotions they are weak, if they don’t have girlfriends they are failures, and if they don’t receive female submission they don’t get enough benefits of masculinity.

A young boy staring wide eyed at a cell phone under a blanket at night

For some young men and boys, resisting that siren call, wrapped as it is in self-improvement talk and led by a cult personality figure like Tate, can be a struggle. Thanks to social media, Tate’s beliefs have become part of mainstream discourse, and it’s not easy to counter these views. Tate peddles a seductive image of male dominance and all the (supposed) benefits and advantages such a thing offers.

What can be done

A number of organizations have developed resources to help parents, teachers and other adults talk to young men showing signs of potential radicalization. The charity Hope not Hate has published advice on how to tackle radicalization in schools, while the Challenging Male Supremacy Project and the Male Supremacism Research Institute offer a range of resources on the dangers of supremacism male. Educators, teachers, parents and friends should challenge male supremacist views when they hear them and provide positive role models for young men to aspire to.

Social media platforms also need to do much more to counter the spread of problematic views advocated by Tate and others like him. YouTube, for example, still hosts countless Tate videos, and it’s not hard to find other examples on TikTok and Twitter. Of most concern is how the new content is curated for viewers. Watch a video and inevitably similar content will be promoted on a user’s homepage. Because I had to watch Tate’s interviews and podcasts to write this article, YouTube and Facebook algorithms are now actively pushing more of his videos to my account.

Some might label the social media intervention as censorship or “cancelling culture,” but there is evidence to suggest that denigration of hate speech is an effective countermeasure against its viral spread.

For those of us who study misogyny and sexism, we always fear drawing attention to the more insidious elements of online discussions that are best left untouched. But if we want to understand how Tate and the Manosphere fit into our society, engaging with its content is a necessary evil. And maybe if we as academics do it, the general public won’t have to.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

The conversation

The conversation

Robert Lawson is a researcher at the Male Supremacism Research Institute.

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