Every time there is progress, there is pushback against it. This pattern has repeated itself throughout history, and the last couple of months have shown that the history being made in 2022 is no exception. The fight of early wave feminists led to victories like universal suffrage, while the constant fight of new wave feminists has led to increasing female leadership, among others. Yet, recently, Roe V. Wade was overturned, and people like Andrew Tate are capable of building a huge platform on social media to spread a message that goes against the progress made to empower women.
Change always comes with resistance, and Tate and his followers represent a group of people that is not willing to give up the privileges that come with a patriarchal society. Thus, they resist progress. Tate gained a big platform because he gives a voice to this portion of society that many of us would like to ignore, or refuse to believe is real, but which will not cease to exist: those who still wish to see women as objects, who do not believe they’re capable of leadership, and resist all the progress being made towards gender equality. There was also a part of society that fought against racial equality after Brown v. Board of education, as there are people who support extreme right-wing movements as a reaction to the rise of the welfare state. Those who resist progress are the ones who lose something when there is change. They will never cease to exist, and it is unlikely that we will ever change their minds. Hence, as progressives, our job is to ensure that change is implemented despite them. How can one do that, though?
Take Andrew Tate’s followers as an example. Attention was brought to the fact that his content was reaching the timeline of young boys, whose minds and ideas are still in development, and thus are extremely susceptible to influence and manipulation – especially by someone who makes promises of easy success, money, and power. Those young boys who are the leaders of tomorrow have easy access to this content because social media algorithms bombard them with this type of information as soon as they make one google search like “who is Andrew Tate.” It is the leaders of today, then – namely, those in charge of social media platforms- who are accountable for ensuring that this misogynistic mindset does not leave a permanent imprint on the next generation. It is up to TikTok, for instance, to conduct a thorough operation with the purpose of deleting all the accounts impersonating Andrew Tate, and ensuring videos reproducing his hate speech are taken down. This is much more urgent than one could think: TikTok videos are around 28 seconds long, and young users of the platform (between 4 and 18 years old) spend around 82 minutes on it a day. This means that a young man who sees Tate’s content can quickly end up spending over 9 hours a week hearing about how, in Andrew Tate’s words, “there’s no such thing as an independent female”, or how women should “bear responsibility” for being raped.
Those of us who are committed to an agenda of equality – be it in regards to race, gender, sexual orientation, or whatever else- tend to focus on trying to change the minds of the people who disagree with us. This article was originally supposed to be about how the argument of “free speech” does not protect Andrew Tate, because even freedom of speech has limits- when it crosses over into hate speech territory, it’s not a freedom anymore; it’s a crime. However, the chances that someone who actually believes in that argument read this article would be very thin – confirmation bias is already an inherent part of the human mind, and modern algorithms emphasise this bias to exponential degrees. That article would only have reached people who already agreed with my statement, as this one will likely only reach those who are for progress and equality. Hence, trying to change minds will lead us nowhere but to heated and useless debates; fighting for change while ignoring the loser’s voices will.
Fear not, though, because fear is what these people want to inflict on us. History has shown that progress always wins in the end. Despite the fact that there’s still much work to be done, crushing misogyny will be no exception.
Featured image by: New York Post