Who is Andrew Tate?
Young men need something far beyond his lessons about money, cars, and life
“Do you know who Andrew Tate is?”
I paused over my IHOP brunch. “No. Who’s that?”
My little sister sighed. “He’s all over the place.”
She proceeded to give me the short version of Andrew Tate—that he was a social media influencer, a masculinity guru, and a mega-rich playboy; that he was constantly bragging about his money and fast cars; that he’d talked casually about the violent things he would do to a woman who accused him of cheating. She’d learned all this because her then-boyfriend was constantly quoting him. It worried her. Now it started to worry me, too.
Then again, this boyfriend seemed to have some good qualities. He worked hard. He was protective. He liked the idea of being a strong father who keeps bad guys away from his daughters. He wanted to lead. He wanted to be a “top man,” as Tate said. All of that probably meant he could still figure things out—right?
This New Year’s, lots of people are asking Google the same question I asked it that summer: “Who is Andrew Tate?” After a months-long investigation, the British-American personality was arrested and held for questioning in Romania this week, along with his brother Tristan and two other men. All are suspected of collaborating to bait, trap, and pimp out vulnerable women for a lucrative webcam “business.”
As someone dryly commented, it’s always the ones you least expect.
Even if my little sister hadn’t given me that heads up, I still wouldn’t have had the luxury of not knowing who Andrew Tate was. Because when summer was over, I returned to my job as a high school teacher. There I discovered that my boy students didn’t just know who Andrew Tate was, they were binge-watching him on TikTok (where his own account is banned, but the algorithm has resurrected his short clips through numerous fan accounts). They told me they “didn’t agree with everything he said.” They just thought he was entertaining. They liked his bling. They liked to smoke air cigars while imitating his voice, a strange, glottal accent somewhere in between Barack Obama and a Cockney gangster.
One can overthink the “why” of these things, especially when it comes to young teenage boys. But I was a teacher, so I thought about it anyway as I got to know my “little dudes.” These were nice kids in a nice school, bright, well-loved, ambitious. They wanted to make lots of money—money that they sincerely assured me they planned to use for good. When they watched Andrew Tate, they vaguely knew they were watching a jerk. Still, they kept watching him, because at least he was a weirdly funny, successful jerk. At least he’d escaped “the matrix.”
When I asked if they’d heard some of Tate’s worst comments about women, they were surprised. One had heard some interview where Tate said he “really respected women.” I could actually believe this, because Tate’s content is such a strange admixture of toxic, neutral, and generically positive. He’s even claimed to champion “traditional values,” praising women who become devoted wives and mothers. One viral short holds up his own grandmother as a model matriarch—while savaging lonely single women who chased money and career. We won’t ask what Andrew Tate is really chasing. Different rules apply.
Tate goes through religious phases like he goes through Bugatti supercars. In a shocking twist, Islam is his current favorite. Fundamentally, of course, he’s a pagan, serving up pure uncut decadence. To the sad, lonely, “invisible” men he claims to “champion” on a podcast with Dave Portnoy, he declares that if they don’t want to be “invisible forever,” the only way for them to “win” is to become men “of importance.” Where “importance” is measured in money, cars, and game.
I don’t discourage my little dudes, my little men, when they tell me their big plans. There’s nothing wrong with big plans. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be a big man. But the question they must always ask themselves is why? And for whom? They want to make money so they can “give it to churches and stuff.” That’s good, I say. Keep thinking that way. By the way, have you thought about getting married? Have you thought about having some kids? Because kids are pretty great.
You’ve probably guessed that my sister’s story didn’t end happily ever after. Her boyfriend became possessive, a bully. When he didn’t get his way, he raged and whined that he was a high-quality man, a high-quality man. Finally, she said goodbye, hanging up on him in the middle of an abusive rant.
Who is Andrew Tate? Maybe the better question is “Why was Andrew Tate so popular?” C. S. Lewis gives us the vocabulary for it: Tate was the self-styled action hero for a generation of men without chests. Now that the hero seems to have fallen, and may soon become a villain behind bars, it falls to good men to show our sons the better way—to teach the little men of today how to be the big men of tomorrow.
These daily articles have become part of my steady diet. —BarbaraSign up to receive the WORLD Opinions email newsletter each weekday for sound commentary from trusted voices.