(Trigger Warning: Description of violence against women. Reader discretion advised.)
More than six months after self-proclaimed misogynist and controversial influencer Andrew Tate was arrested in Romania, he has been charged with rape, human trafficking, and forming an organised crime group to allegedly sexually exploit women, BBC reported on 20 June, Tuesday.
Tate – and his brother Tristan, who was also arrested and has been charged – had been under criminal investigation since April 2022. Both had denied the allegations.
The trial could to take several years, according to BBC.
Shortly before his arrest in December 2022, Tate, who was banned on several social media platforms for hate speech and misogynist comments, had engaged in a viral Twitter spat with climate activist Greta Thunberg after he boasted about his cars and their emissions. Thunberg had hit back, saying that Tate could mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A former kickboxer, Tate was back on Twitter in November 2022 after Elon Musk's takeover of the platform.
The 35-year-old British-American is not a new face of misogyny. In fact, he has almost made a career out of it after a failed one in kickboxing, with each of his baffling TikTok videos – centred around his core belief that a 'woman is a man's property' – garnering millions of views.
So, how did he become so (in)famous?
Andrew Tate – A 'Failed' Kickboxer
Andrew Tate was born in 1986 in Chicago, Illinois, and raised in Luton, England. He worked as a TV producer, before entering the professional kickboxing circuit. But it was his appearance in Big Brother in 2016 that made him a 'celebrity' – and pushed him into the public eye.
Tate made headlines when he was removed from the reality show, after a video of him violently hitting a woman with a belt and verbally abusing her emerged on social media. He received further backlash when he claimed that the actions in the video "were consensual," adding that he was still friends with the survivor of his assault.
In another video, he is shown telling another woman to "count the bruises" he allegedly caused on her.
Controversial Comments on Sexual Assault
In October 2017, when both the UK and the US was gripped with #MeToo movement – after Harvey Weinstein's sexual assault allegations – Tate said that women should “bear responsibility” for being raped.
On Twitter, he wrote a series of tweets:
“If you put yourself in a position to be raped, you must [bear] some responsibility. I’m not saying it’s OK you got raped. No woman should be abused regardless. However with sexual assault they want to put zero blame on the victim whatsoever. A man looking at you or whistling at you or asking your name isn’t harassment."
“Women have been exchanging sex for opportunity for a very long time. Some did this. Weren’t abused,” he also said.
The backlash only made him more famous – but the only silver lining was Twitter banning him from their platform.
In a 2018 post on Facebook, he claimed the “decline of Western civilisation” after seeing a poster at Heathrow airport “encouraging girls to go on holiday as opposed to encouraging being a loving mother and a loyal wife."
The TikTok Fame: Billion Of Views
That should have been the end of Tate's story. But it was not. He emerged more boisterous, and more misogynistic.
According to The Guardian report, since January 2022, repackaged videos from interviews with Tate over the years have been going viral on TikTok. The report, which accessed data, pointed out how in August alone, the clips tagged with his name have been watched more than a billion times.
But here's where it gets interesting. These posts do not come from Tate himself, but his followers – who are boys as young as 13 years of age – from various accounts using his image as a display photo, and all members of Hustler’s University.
The so-called university is a learning platform, funded by Tate himself – the members of which are told that they can earn up to £10,000 a month through lessons on crypto investing, and by recruiting others to Hustler’s University, earning 48 percent commission for each person they refer, The Guardian reported.
In one guide, Hustler’s University “students” are told that attracting “comments and controversy” is the key, the newspaper reported.
“What you ideally want is a mix of 60-70% fans and 40-30% haters. You want arguments, you want war.”
In one of the videos, posted from an account with Tate’s name and face, he describes: “I inflict, I expect, absolute loyalty from my woman. I ain’t having my chicks talking to other dudes, liking other dudes. My chicks don’t go to the club without me, they are at home.”
In yet another absurd video, he is heard saying that a man shouldn’t let a woman go to a restaurant or nightclub "with her friends if he isn’t there too, and that she should stay at home instead."
Tate has also said “probably 40 percent of the reason” he moved to Romania was because it was "easier to evade rape charges."
What Women's Charities Want?
A spokeswoman from domestic abuse charity White Ribbon told MailOnline:
“Men and boys regularly watching and listening to negative presentations of masculinity may begin to adopt these attitudes and behaviours, believing that they are acting as the ‘ideal man.’"
Andrea Simon, director of the End Violence Against Women coalition, told The Guardian that many of the Tate videos appeared to “clearly violate” TikTok’s terms and said that “by taking no action,” the platform is “facilitating and ultimately profiting from the potential radicalisation of its young male users.”
In a statement, TikTok said it took misogyny seriously, and claimed that that the platform was "actively investigating" which accounts breach its rules.
A spokesperson said: “Misogyny and other hateful ideologies and behaviours are not tolerated on TikTok, and we are working to review this content and take action against violations of our guidelines. We continually look to strengthen our policies and enforcement strategies, including adding more safeguards to our recommendation system.”
(With inputs from The Guardian. The above article was first published in December 2022. It has been updated to reflect the charges pressed against Andrew Tate and his brother Tristan.)