Wow. At last, here is someone who says that being a man is hard but you still have to commit to it. The kickboxer who turned a TikTok star, Andrew Tate can appeal to masses of young people by talking about masculinity as a positive thing and not a disease. His message resonates with many people but at the same time, the world built on misogyny- hedonism, materialism, extravagant luxury, unlimited sex- that he presents instead of the ideal that is nurtured by the culture, is not really a better alternative.
Texts that objectify and even humiliate women could set the alarm bells on in people’s head, but it is certainly becoming more and more likely: Tate's recent arrest for human trafficking and rape is not a power against (the "Matrix") revenge campaign against him for outspokenly exposing its intentions.
The rise of Andrew Tate is a symptom of the fact that boys today are growing up in a culture that is hostile to masculinity and most of them have to navigate this minefield without real role models- so many families lack a father or at least his real role acting father. There is no one to teach them how to be a man, how to use their energy in constructive ways.
Tate's case is also interesting from the point of view that it drew attention to certain subcultures and thus to the current crisis of the male role in a wider context. His name is particularly often associated with for example, incels (combining the words
“involuntary, celibate”), that is people living in forced celibacy. Not that he's one of them but they definitely have one thing in common: misogyny.
Despite not being part of everyday vocabulary, the term "incel" has been in use for thirty years: it was created in 1993 as a short form of the name of the Involuntary Celibacy Project website. The online group was invented by a Canadian woman- at her request, appearing everywhere only as Alana- while she was still a university student, in order to build a support community for those who, regardless of gender, have never been in a relationship or have not been in a relationship for a long time.
After a while, Alana left the network, whose primary cohesive force was anti-feminism. And since the advent of social media, interest groups that "expose" the myth of the oppressed status of women have appeared on more and more online platforms, the entirety of which is now referred to as the manosphere.
The manosphere includes, for example, Pick up Artists, Men Going Their Own Way (MGTOW) and Men's Rights Activists (MRA) which categorically reject marriage and having children called wilding. (Men's activism dates back to the late 1970’s, it was sparked by protests against discrimination experienced in the functioning of the justice system, such as divorce and child custody cases.) These are the most well-known along with incels, who are usually highlighted as the most violent.
Incels are basically characterized by organizing their identity around their inability to form romantic relationships. They believe that women have too much power over men because of men’s biologically coded need for sexuality. (This is why the existence of female incels- the so-called femcels- is not even acknowledged.) Women are usually referred to by dehumanizing terms such as "femoids", "foids" or "FHOs (Female Humanoid Organism"). The so-called The 8/20 rule is considered valid: 20 percent of men "monopolize" 80 percent of women. Those who have figured out how society really works are called redpilled (after the movie The Matrix). Such men who have "swallowed the red pill" think that with their realization, they can now manipulate women for sex and power. The incels, on the other hand, are already at the “black pill”: they are also aware that the system can not be fooled.
Repulsive, innately inferior beta males (as they see themselves) will never find a partner under current conditions: the "Plan" is to eliminate them from the gene pool through natural selection.
According to some experts, young people can easily become radicalized in an online environment that amplifies voices of misogyny. The mass murders committed by the "heroes" of the incel panopticon are also attributed to this.
In 2014, the 22 years old Elliot Rodger stabbed a total of nine people to death in California and in the end committed suicide. The manifesto he left behind revealed that he wanted to "punish all women" for depriving him of sex. He is often referred to as "St. Elliot" on incel forums and the term "going ER" (from Elliot's monogram) has been incorporated into the group's special dictionary meaning "to become a mass murderer".
Chris Harper-Mercer shooting in Oregon in 2015, Scott Beierle in a yoga studio in Tallahassee in 2018 and Alek Minassian in Toronto in the same year with a truck driving among passers-by with a similar motivation. All of them referred to Elliot Rodger in videos and farewell messages and Minassian announced the outbreak of the "incel revolution" on Facebook before the attack but none of them were committed members of online forums. Referring to these cases, in recent years more and more people have drawn attention to the fact that the incel movement can be a form of terrorism.
However, Spiked magazine writer Naama Kates, host of the Incel podcast, has interviewed hundreds of incels over the years and has come to believe that, despite the media image, most of them are lonely, depressed youth and do not support violence (The Moral Panic over Incels). Yet experts of fight against terrorism routinely refer to them, Kates says "to get more funding." (Incidentally, Psychology Today also reported that the judge in Minassian's case stated in his closing arguments that he "lied to portray the murders as related to the incel movement and to gain more media attention.")
While Kates condemns the normalization of misogyny in incel groups, she also warns that dealing with a problematic subculture is a very different challenge than fighting extremism.
Florence Keen, a researcher at the Center for the Study of International Radicalization at King's College London, also warned the BBC against a black-and-white interpretation of a very complex movement, adding that the UK should not follow the Canadian approach of treating incels as a threat and put under increased surveillance. (Incels: A New Terror Threat to the UK?).
Objective research indeed allows us to conclude that the talking points about incels often stem from unfounded social beliefs. What is clear about them is that their mental health is remarkably poor.
In a study led by William Costello of the University of Texas for example, more than 70 percent of incels met the criteria for moderate or severe depression (compared to one-third of the control group). Costello added to the results that “in previous surveys conducted on incel forums, 82 percent of participants strongly considered suicide. (…) It seems that extreme incel behavior manifests itself more in suicide than in terrorism.”
The 2021 publication of the European Commission's Radicalization Awareness Network also admits that "there is no clear answer to the question of whether incels are politically motivated." On the one hand, they talk about changing society in a way that is beneficial to them, even an "incel revolution" but on the other hand, they want to be seen as a subculture and not a political movement (The Incel Phenomenon: Exploring Internal and External Issues Around Involuntary Celibates).
The transformation of the initial self-help community into a hotbed of misogynistic ideology is partly the result of social media algorithms exposing young men to increasingly extreme content. The British feminist dramatist, Ella Hickson attributes the phenomenon to "the visual power of capitalism"- according to a statistic, the average person sees more than 3,000 sexualized images of the female figure every day.
In no age was it easy for a young man to enter the male role (it was not by chance that some form of initiation developed in most civilizations), but the social processes of our time make this even more complicated - in fact, the perception of both sexes is distorted. Brenda Todd, a developmental psychologist at City University in London, claims that men as a "class" have been criticized so much that young people have the impression that being a man in itself is problematic (Spectator: There's more to the men's movement than Incels) . "Masculinity" has become almost a swear word and is almost always used in conjunction with the adjective "toxic". Canadian anthropologist Samuel Veissière believes that in the trace of MeToo, the tendency to classify all masculine expressions as toxic has intensified, while the healthy, protective qualities of men are not recognized at all.
Culture- in the name of "freedom"- really suggests to young men that they really have no calling, that their gender doesn't have to have anything to do with how they live. Feminine men are products of left-wing "progress" and the other anti-feminists, also childless and familyless will end up- by different paths- but in the same place. If all men start going to the gym and live only for casual relationships, not much will change on a social level. But not on an individual level either: an empty way of life does not allow a person to leave a real legacy. The protective and sustaining role mentioned by Samuel Veissière, on the other hand, could be a mission that gives meaning and purpose (and vice versa: not fulfilling it can lead to depression).
When Andrew Tate declares: “I am the highest status male on the planet, women don't expect loyalty from me, they only expect it from more loser men"- this is not masculinity but inner insecurity. True masculinity involves loyalty, which Tate claims is a sign of inferiority. There have been "staunch bachelors" in every age, but now as a movement the attitude that marriage is a trap for men (MGTOWs see traditional relationships as institutionalized male slavery). Yet this is really just drifting with the prevailing culture, which encourages everyone to focus on their own personal needs. They argue that men are biologically programmed to desire beautiful women, while leaving out of the equation that loving someone is not about any kind of programming, but is transcendent. The key to the survival of our civilization is not if everyone becomes an influencer or withdraws from women, but if, despite all difficulties, there are committed fathers and well-led, strong families.
(Translated by Anett Harmath)