This is what schools are doing to combat men like Andrew Tate. But will it work?

Former kickboxer and social media personality Andrew Tate has established himself as one of the most influential – and controversial – voices on the internet.

The so-called 'king of toxic masculinity' first came to international attention (and gained international notoriety) in 2022, with an explosion in audience numbers across his social media accounts including TikTok, Instagram and YouTube. 

His videos gained billions of views and his name was googled more than Kim Kardashian's or Donald Trump's in July of last year.

Watch: Andrew Tate is challenged during a BBC interview. Post continues below.

Video via BBC.

Tate gained traction quickly among social media users for his divisive brand of social commentary. While he concentrates in part on business, money and lifestyle advice, his messaging is also fundamentally misogynistic. Tate has been deeply criticised for spreading sexist ideologies to young men in particular, including ideas that women "belong" to men, that victim-survivors of sexual assault and harassment should "bear responsibility" for what they have experienced, and for encouraging sexual violence and coercion against women.


Tate is also currently awaiting trial for charges of sexual assault, human trafficking and forming a criminal gang to sexually exploit women in Romania.

While he has now been banned from the majority of his former social media accounts, Tate continues to wield influence, with more than 8 million followers on X (formerly known as Twitter) and hordes of fans continuing to spread his messages on mainstream platforms. 

His influence among young men has proved deeply troubling. One survey conducted by masculinity research organisation The Man Cave looked at 1,300 Australian school boys and found that 92 per cent knew who Tate was – and 25 per cent looked up to him as a role model.

Teachers in Australia and the UK have also reported that more students are referencing Tate in classrooms and employing the same sexist language the influencer uses.

Dr Stephanie Wescott is a lecturer from Monash University who, along with her colleague Professor Steven Roberts, has been researching the effects of Tate's influence in Australian schools.

Dr Wescott explains that sexism, misogyny and harassment have always been prevalent issues in schools but there is a direct connection between these ideologies being propagated on the internet and the behaviour of some young men and boys. She tells Mamamia that across all types of Australian schools (private and public, primary and high schools) women have reported a shift in many boys' behaviour since returning from COVID-19 lockdowns. 


"Boys were coming back from that time treating women differently and treating girls differently. They had this incredible disrespect for them, they were overt in their sexism and misogyny.

"They were very competent in their misogyny and in making incredibly sexist claims about girls and women." 

Dr Wescott explains that there is a clear connection between the ideologies that boys are repeating in schools and what Tate has been publishing online. She refers to phrases such as 'Top G' (which refers to a capable, masculine man) or claims that women can't drive as 'Tate tropes' and says that this language is used to provoke women and girls in schoolyard settings.

Some of Tate's influence has been so aggressive and disturbing, Dr Wescott says, that some of her study participants have chosen to leave their careers in teaching.

Now, the Australian government is stepping in to try to combat the influence of Tate and other similar internet personalities among young men, implementing a $3.5 million program to tackle harmful messages of extremist toxic masculinity on social media. 

The strategy, known as the 'Healthy Masculinities Project', will launch in 2024 as a three-year trial consisting of face-to-face programs and presentations at schools, sporting clubs and other community organisations, to eradicate gender stereotypes perpetuated online and encourage respectful relationships.


The funding for the project is part of the government's $11.9 million First Action Plan Priorities Fund, which has been allocated under the National Plan to End Violence Against Women and Children.

Listen to the Mamamia Out Loud team discuss Andrew Tate below. Article continues after podcast. 

The Minister for Social Services, Amanda Rishworth, announced the project, saying that educating "boys about healthy masculinity and providing them with positive role models are important steps to ending cycles of violence".

While Rishworth has stated that grant rounds of the trial will open in early 2024, there have been no further specifics on which organisations will receive the funds or how the project will be run.

Dr Wescott says that she welcomes the acknowledgement of the issue in schools and that the government funding is a first step towards progress.

"Schools are just microcosms of broader society, so anything that we see is just replicated in schools. That's why they are the sites of such potential, where we can do positive work with young people to stop these social issues from continuing generation after generation."

However, Dr Wescott also points out that $3.5 million, while applaudable, is a modest amount of money to tackle what is a broad, multi-faceted issue. Following the government's announcement, Dr Wescott and Professor Roberts published a statement cautioning that the use of this money should not go towards "quick-fix" approaches that won't be effective in the long run.


"One thing that we do know is that programs need to be long term, not just one-off or a single-day guest speaker."

Dr Wescott says that structures that can speak to students for their whole school lives are ideal, as well as programs that include peer engagement and involve boys learning from people of all genders.

The announcement of the government program came shortly before it was reported that six women had been killed in 10 days as a result of family violence in Australia. Dr Wescott said that these atrocities highlight the need for schools and governments to take serious action. 

"There's a lot of pressure at the moment on governments to respond meaningfully to the crisis of violence against women... there's a lot of people who are very angry at the moment. 

"So, we hope that [the government] will consult with experts and they will listen to what we know works and use an evidence-based approach – because this is too important to not get right."

Elfy Scott is an executive editor at Mamamia.

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