By Saman Nisar
2022 saw the rise of so-called ‘red pill’ influencers churning content online, claiming to hold an alternative to ‘woke feminist’ culture and positioning themselves as ‘anti-establishment’. Whilst the red pill movement and incel culture aren’t a new phenomenon, the extreme degrees to which their ideas permeated both online and offline reached worrying heights this past year.
Such red pill influencers include Elon Musk, Jordan Peterson, and Andrew Tate. All labelling themselves as ‘anti-establishment’ whilst all being part of the ruling class themselves. Ironically, their anti-establishment stance never translates into struggling against the capitalist system that constantly holds men, women and queer people under oppression, but is one fighting against feminism and the basic rights and dignity of women. The genuine anti- establishment ideas of socialism on the other hand, fight against the racist, patriarchal ruling class.
The rise of Andrew Tate has been horrifying to watch for many women and queer people across the globe. Watching men (and sometimes even women) fawn over him and defend his derogatory views on women, sexual assault, and mental illness continues to be a scary experience for all those who are all too familiar of the dangerous effects of the patriarchy and misogyny.
Tate’s record of misogyny
Andrew Tate’s rise to fame started as an MMA fighter before he appeared on Big Brother UK in 2016. He was ejected after a video of him hitting a woman with a belt had been circulated online. His reach has grown exponentially since the summer of 2022, amassing millions of followers on Twitter, TikTok, and Instagram. This is on the basis of teaching impressionable young men how to turn themselves into ‘alpha males’ by ‘constantly hustling’. He provides ‘lessons’ in how to dominate and control women. He has also used this following to promote revenue for his online course Hustlers University, a course claiming to offer financial literacy to his followers and turn them into multi-millionaires, when in effect it is really just another pyramid scheme.
His controversies aren’t just that he spews extremely misogynistic views about women, but that he himself is a self-confessed rapist and abuser. Far from providing an alternative to society’s ills, vile figures like Tate represent and perpetuate the worst aspects of capitalist oppression.
Recent recordings obtained by Vice News include the ‘alpha-male’ influencer admitting to the sexual assault of a woman in the UK, a case which the CPS failed to prosecute even with the police believing the survivor’s account, showing once again the failure of the police and justice system under the current capitalist system to protect women and hold powerful abusive men accountable.
In fact, two other women also came forward with their accounts of brutal assault at the hands of Andrew Tate with Hertfordshire police taking four years to pass the case to the CPS, and the CPS again failing to prosecute. More recently, following a Twitter spat online with climate activist Greta Thunberg, Tate was arrested by Romanian officials on suspicion of human trafficking and sexual assault.
The following behind Tate has come alongside an alarming rise in expressions of misogynistic ideas in schools. Taken together, these trends form part of a backlash among a section of society against the gains of women’s movements such as #MeToo in recent years, also reflected in the social media campaign against Amber Heard last year.
Though Tate isn’t the sole reason for the widespread misogyny we’re seeing online and offline, in schools, workplaces and mainstream political parties, he represents the most extreme side of it. Men like Tate claim to hold an answer for disillusioned young men feeling like they have been let down by the system, which we all can see is in crisis. This key crisis in society however, is not one of masculinity, or of ‘traditional values’, as these right- wing talking heads claim.
In the context of economic and social turmoil, driven by the cost of living crisis, pandemic and war, working class people – with women, LGBTQ+ people and youth at the forefront, have organised to challenge the oppression, poverty and exploitation represented by the capitalist system. For the ruling class and its unfortunate supporters, however, movements and ideas which undermine the oppression, exploitation and division capitalism thrives on are a threat. This is the underlying driving factor behind the ramping up of the ‘culture wars’, and hateful discourse around feminism and gender ideology, manufactured by right-wing figures and politicians looking to maintain a base of support and maintain the capitalist system that serves their interests.
Working class men have been let down by the system. But it hasn’t been by the global women’s movement or what Tate’s followers refer to as ‘the matrix’. It has been by the capitalist system and its inherent patriarchal nature that exploits working class men, women and gender non-conforming people for their labour, convincing them that the answer to their personal problems lies in an unhealthy relationship to productivity and masculinity, one that subjugates women and anyone who is not a cis man.
As a Muslim woman, it has been particularly scary watching many Muslim men defend Andrew Tate, when the same benefit of the doubt is never given to Muslim women or queer Muslims. In November 2022, the latest census from the Office for National Statistics reported that 50% of Muslim households lived on or below the poverty line, which is more than twice the national average of 18%.
Instead of channelling energy into fighting for an improvement to the conditions of British Muslims, The Tories and capitalist media prefer to use the breakdown in community support to divert anger towards reactionary ends. But the ‘red pill’ movement and right-wing ‘alpha male’ ideology are a dead end. This is particularly ironic considering the rampant Islamophobia inherent to the right.
Whilst the disillusionment with the current capitalist system offers an explanation for the rise in the red pill movement, it is by no means a justification for the abhorrent treatment and views held by followers of the ideology towards women.
What sort of alternative do we really need?
The solution to the crisis in society is not the reinforcement of masculine ideas of dominance, the traditional nuclear family, or the capitalist gender division of labour. The solution can only be found through building a multi-ethnic, multi-gender, multi-faith movement based on working class solidarity and the liberation of women, men and queer people from oppression under the patriarchal capitalist system.
This was something that has long been recognised by the international workers movement and socialist feminist revolutionaries throughout history, and it must be something that the current working class movement in Britain emphasises in the struggle against oppressive work and social conditions.
The ongoing strike wave represents an important step toward building a movement that can provide an antidote to the disgusting ideas and practices of Tate and other rotten figures. This struggle of ever wider sections of working-class people of all genders, has exposed where the true fault lines in society lie. We are pitted against a Tory government, and a capitalist class as a whole, that is presiding over a deep crisis in society even as they continue to make a profit off of our misery.
To prop up their rule, they are desperately whipping up division and falling back on so-called traditional values. For a certain layer in society, these ideas have gained an echo on social media, now being reflected in schools, colleges and in society more widely.
But the far more dominant trend in Britain has been support for the strikes, coupled with an undermining of support for the anti-immigrant and anti- trans rhetoric put forward by the government. This serves as an example of the strength a working class movement can have in cutting across such ideas.
Strike and protest against misogyny!
Young people in education, where Andrew Tate’s ideas are gaining an echo amongst disillusioned young men, can take inspiration from the coordinated strike action by the working class. Education workers should support students in taking a stand – organising protests and school walkouts against misogyny, whoever it comes from be it the establishment, teachers or fellow students. Socialist Feminist Alternative (SFA) will be calling for such protests on International Women’s Day (8th March) in a show of strength against misogyny and violence against women and girls.
The trade unions have a key role to play in fighting the cost of living crisis, which disproportionately affects women workers. But this can be taken even further. Women and gender non-conforming people are at the forefront of the strikes taking place – as NHS workers and teachers, for example – alongside workers in traditionally male-dominated industries, such as rail and postal workers. This shows in practice how solidarity can be built, a united movement of the working class taking collective action, showing we have more in common than divides us.
Socialist Feminist Alternative is active in these movements, arguing that it is not just enough to abstractly call for unity – the workers movement must actively stamp out misogyny and LGBTQ+phobia and emblazon the demands of the anti-oppression struggles on its banner.
By linking the strikes to the fight to defend reforming Gender Recognition Act and for self-determination in Scotland, as well as for the rights of refugees and all others oppressed under this system, we can build a powerful movement of working-class people to bring down the Tories and build a society run democratically, in our interests and provide a real alternative to this decaying capitalist system. That is something of which the hateful rhetoric of Andrew Tate and others is incapable.