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Is Andrew Tate a reassurance to Arab Men?

Beirut Today Agreed not to report the full names of the persons interviewed in this piece due to concerns about their privacy. 

At a time when Andrew Tate seems to be receiving significant backlash from several online communities and social media networks, the former British-American kickboxer has been hailed by several followers residing in the Arab world.

When asked why some men are such big fans of Tate, the answer is nearly always the same:

“I mean he’s got a big mansion, super cars, and unlimited women… he is the G.”

Tate can arguably be labeled as one of the most popular and controversial men on the internet right now. The principles that he espouses gained infamy and widespread criticism due to claims of violence, misogyny, masculinity, conspiracy theories and self-proclaimed ideologies about hard-work, with the extent of some extreme invitations to escape the “matrix” on social media.

With his striking, glossy shaved head, cobra in a devil’s mask chest tattoo, his tough masculinity and an oppulent display of cigars, Lamborghinis, and bands of cash, he was reported by the Guardian to have more searches on his name than Donald Trump or Kim Kardashian as of July 2022.

Some edited clips and TikToks of him mostly depict him discussing ideas such as reinforcing traditional gender roles and placing pressure on men to maintain power in life and personal relationships.

In one of his clips on a private jet, Tate taunts his brother, Tristan, for eating sushi. Eating “rice in a circle” will make men weak, Tate says, whereas his “masculine” meal of fried chicken “makes men strong.”

“You know who eats sushi? Little f****** soy boys,” Tate said in the video. “Little fucking Democrats.”

Despite the expressed feelings, it appears that a significant number of the individual’s supporters are young males, with notable numbers coming from communities in the Arab region. 

This conclusion is not 100% accurate, but rather drawn from observing numerous TikTok videos and YouTube commentaries where they passionately defend him. With all of these numbers, the question arises: what could be the reason behind this support?

These types of videos may possibly resonate with certain groups of supporters in the Arab world because at the core of it, the phenomenon of Arab men supporting Tate can go back to the patriarchal pressure of power, dominance and ego placed by society. 

Although the scene seems to be decreasing, in many parts of the Arab world, traditional gender roles and patriarchal values remain deeply ingrained within the culture. Men are expected to be the “providers” and “protectors” while women are often relegated to secondary roles, which creates an imbalance of power structures.

At the center of the discussion on Arab men supporting his views, Tate has denied holding misogynistic views in a statement and accused his critics of taking old videos of him out of context and amplifying false narratives about him. He went on to assert that he has nothing but positivity to spread regarding all people, whether male or female.

Tate also criticized the media for spinning a false image of him on repeat, and Instagram for bowing to pressure. However, despite Tate’s denial, his views and actions have continued to be a source of concern for those advocating for gender equality and challenging sexist attitudes and behaviors in the Arab world.

After Tate’s conversion to Islam, several arguments arose regarding whether Tate is following Islamic rules and regulations in what he preaches, or if his conversion has been used as a propaganda tool. Are his beliefs “religious”, or is religion being used as an excuse to perpetuate hate?

Some of Tate’s supporters expressed how some of his views do indeed comply with Islam, but others saw them as extreme principles.

A supporter, who wished to remain anonymous, told Beirut Today that Tate’s views of women do not necessarily comply with Islam, and if some do, are expressed in an aggressive and unjust manner that is not explained the same way in Islam. He added that he believes Tate is trying to improve his views on women and power structures given his recent conversion.

Aya, an Islamic feminist, who chose to only go by her first name, disagreed with the abovementioned idea.

“I believe that Tate’s conversion to Islam serves as a propaganda tool to gain followers from other regions than his own, such as the Arab world,” she said. “Because knowing the Arab world and the existence of communities that might have the same cultural views and misrepresentations of Islam as his, is a resort for him to gain a fan-base and be a reassurance to them.

“His views on women are actually very culturally-based, as in they derive from cultural and traditional practices that resonate with [parts of] the Arab world, rather than purely Islamic ones,” she added.

Andrew Tate’s views have not only drawn the attention of Arab men, but also some Arab women. When asked about their opinion on Tate, several women who chose to remain anonymous have said the following, “you know, although I do condemn his misogynist and extreme views on women, some of the things that he says actually make sense.”

In an interview with Javad Hashmi, an Islamic studies scholar at Harvard University, Hashmi said that Tate complies with Akh-right bros, a group that promotes a version of Islam infused with misogyny and opposes western values. 

Therefore, the reason why these beliefs redonate with some individuals is because most of them face social and financial marginalization due to systemic Islamophobia and racism. Alternatively, these audiences seek an ideology that can obstruct the inferiority complex arising from perceived second-class statuses.

Although this phenomenon also serves as an entry point for exploring broader issues of gender and sexism in the region, it highlights the need for more open and honest conversations about gender roles, power dynamics, and the dangerous impact of projecting phrases and promoting acts that reinforce sexism on both men and women on social media.