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Men and their podcasts: misogyny in the digital age 

 

“Ideas matter. Ideas that depict women as less than men influence men to treat women as less than men. Ideas that objectify women result in women being treated like objects”, Beth Allison Barr (2021).

There is no doubt that influencer Andrew Tate has left an indelible mark on both the Internet and, arguably, the male psyche. Although his downfall was eventually catalysed by allegations of rape, human trafficking, and his role in forming an organised crime group, not long-ago Tate seemed to have a very specific demographic of men in the palm of his hand.  

These predominantly young men who were captivated by Andrew Tate’s misogynistic hate speech and unabashed hubris, seem to have found solace in Tate’s online presence. Following the arrest of Tate and his brother Tristan in December 2022, the influencer was even painted as a martyr by many of his loyal fans. This begs the question: why did Tate’s narcissistic personality and archaic views on women resonate with so many men?  

One could argue that Andrew Tate went as far as to radicalise young men. In particular, Tate’s straight-talking online persona and insistence on peddling a traditional outlook on what it is to be ‘masculine’ (which largely involved “protecting women”) seem to have appealed to a demographic of vulnerable, young men. At a time when men are being challenged for possessing traditional and unrealistic ideas of gender roles, Andrew Tate used his online platform to normalise and promote toxic masculinity. 

According to a recent YouGov poll, a quarter of young men in the UK agree with Andrew Tate’s views on how women should be treated. Following the fall of Tate and his being banned from most social media platforms, it is these men that continue to subscribe to and spread misogynistic hate speech. 

There is a worrying trend that has emerged online of men, gathered in small and insular groups, discussing their antiquated and certainly questionable views on the respective roles of men and women in modern society. These podcasts, which are particularly influential on TikTok, are a breeding ground for deplorable and unsolicited views on the role of women to ‘perform’ and the right of a man to exercise authority over his wife or partner.  

Most importantly, there is such sincerity in the way that these men deliver their views that they appear almost desperate to make themselves heard. Perhaps this is the crux of the issue: these podcasts fill a void for men who feel that their beliefs are unrepresented or absurd in modern society.  

These attitudes towards women can have very real consequences:

In September, fifteen-year-old Elliane Andam was stabbed after protecting her friend who rejected the advances of her former boyfriend. While ‘femicide’ has been happening for centuries, the platforms available to men holding misogynistic views no doubt contributes to attacks against women. The people hanging onto every word of these podcasters are getting younger and younger and demonstrates how in no way men like Andrew Tate should be deemed suitable role models. Indeed, videos on TikTok of boys no older than 14 show them describing their ideal woman, and how she should ‘perform’ for them. This no doubt shows a radicalisation of young boys who have evidently picked up on the vocabulary and archaic ideas of these podcasters. 

The issues discussed on these podcasts demonstrate how men like Andrew Tate can prey on men’s insecurities (ironically created by the patriarchy) to oppress women. The constant sexualisation and crucially the commodification of women shown on these platforms, reinforce the idea of women being objects which feminism has been attempting to break down for decades. With incidents such as Laurence’s Fox’s misogynist rant on live television, male podcasters are helping to create a collective image of women as sexual objects. 

Ill-informed commentaries on the female experience have never been more readily available to young men. While Andrew Tate’s arrest provides much needed hope, the role of these male influencers in projecting the constructed male fantasy onto young boys and, thus, onto young women is no doubt terrifying. This quote from Margaret Atwood proves particularly relevant: “Male fantasies, male fantasies, is everything run by male fantasies?” (1993). 

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