schools fear spreading Andrew Tate’s misogyny

When Abbie Marsh (not her real name) overheard a 15-year-old boy at the West Midlands school where she works praising Andrew Tate, the influential social worker known as “the king of misogyny”, she asked him if he understood Tate’s views about a woman. The boy replied, “Well, men are better than women, so he’s right.” All his friends nodded their approval.

Marsh reported the call to her school’s security director. She says misogyny is common, even among students as young as 12, and is convinced that Tate’s films fuel it. “I heard one student at the playground introduce his girlfriend, and as soon as she was out of earshot, several friends asked him if they could ‘try’ with her, she says.

“I don’t think the staff are fully aware of who Tate is and what he stands for,” he adds. “I’m worried about these boys’ girlfriends.”

A 36-year-old Briton is in custody in Romania after being arrested with his brother Tristan on December 29 as part of an investigation into human trafficking, rape and organized crime. But while the spotlight has shifted to his activities in Eastern Europe, UK schools fear Tate’s boosted media profile over the last few weeks could make his influence stronger than ever.

Many parents may be hearing about Tate for the first time, but schools across the country say he is already a very familiar figure to many of their students. Many train teachers to talk about it with students. Some hold special assemblies or use in-person social and health education lessons to encourage students to question the content they post.

Teachers say boys are often drawn into his “glamorous” ultra-macho world by softer fast car or fitness content. But in his videos, he also says that women are the property of a man, they cannot do the job as well as men, and they belong to the house. He believes that rape victims should “be held accountable” for their attacks and boasts of looking for 18-year-old girls because they are “fresh”.

Michael Conway, whose company Men at Work trains school staff to talk to boys about these topics, says: “Algorithms enable someone like Tate to be very familiar to boys aged 14 to 18.”

Conway has conducted sessions at 50 schools on online misogyny. The teachers picked up on Tate’s influence in each of them. One teacher told of a lesson on sexual consent in which a boy quoted Tate as saying that if a woman goes out alone at night and is attacked, it is her fault. Conway says teens also mention Tate as a form of “microaggression” towards female teachers.

In one session, Conway discussed the sexist “make me a sandwich” meme used by some men on social media to demean women. “The teacher said, ‘I have a boyfriend in 10th grade who always writes MMAS at the end of my homework,'” she says. “She didn’t know what that meant until now. But he tried to humiliate her.”

Conway believes that Tate “prepares” young men in a similar way to terrorist groups or gangs, and his image of “clear success” seduces boys desperate for connection.

A teacher at a primary school in North London agrees. “It’s the most vulnerable and socially awkward boys who are drawn in and give them a sense of belonging to something that is very dangerous.” She describes the “extremely vulnerable” 10-year-old “praising Tate and parroting his wicked ideas” as “creepy”. School lessons on respect “can’t compete with the tide of online misogyny,” he adds.

Helen Hinde, deputy headteacher at Meols Cop Secondary School in Southport, shared the Tate training material with other schools and asked her staff to look out for any mention of him. “Boys are attracted to him because he tells them he is successful and rich. It sells a lifestyle,” he says. “When we mention his hatred of women, some justify it simply by creating a successful life for himself.”

But she is “determined” to educate her students about the darker implications of what she says. “We don’t want to blame young people. We want them to learn to challenge the attitudes they encounter online.”

Ben Karlin, who advises teachers on Twitter on how to counter Tate’s influence, says: “It’s important to try to explain what he’s doing and why. Yes, he’s successful and rich, but he made his fortune off of you. Recognize that not everything he says is hateful: it’s his whole tactic.”

Related: Andrew Tate: an investigation that could topple the ‘king of toxic masculinity’

Karlin describes Tate’s influence as “massive seduction” and urges schools to talk about him, as well as explaining how he “played” social media platforms and exploited their algorithms. “He may go to jail, but there will be another one playing the same game,” he adds.

Thomas Michael, assistant security manager at a West Midlands school, says schools need to talk openly with boys about the Tate champions’ problems. “I told our nine-year-old boys that I grew up in a male-dominated family where aggression was celebrated. I got into fights. Then I realized that I had to change. I asked them, “Does that make me less of a man?”

However, he warns that some well-meaning schools only increase Tate’s popularity. “There are a lot of videos on TikTok of kids recording Andrew Tate’s gatherings and they love to make fun of it,” he says. “He tells them that the teachers don’t want them to hear the truth. Schools do the work for him.”

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