Andrew Tate and the Death of Liberal Feminism
This is not a story with a good guy. Not a story where Andrew Tate is the hero, even if it sounds like it.
I loathe Tate. He is a pervert, a pimp, a pornographer.
He is also a symbol. Tate symbolizes massive cultural changes happening in the West regarding how we see relations between the sexes. His cartoonish, hyper-masculine persona attracted so much attention because it flies in the face of convention, and proclaims a message that contradicts every venerated institution. Whatever criticisms we might make of Tate, it must also be said that his message has resonated with millions and toppled a destructive prevailing orthodoxy.
Tate could never have reached the peak of his popularity had it not been for the long cultural dominance of liberal feminism. A former kickboxing champion, Tate rose in prominence by stepping into the ring and challenging the accepted mainstream narrative. This alone made him honorable in the eyes of many.
By challenging such a powerful opponent, he revealed its underlying weakness. For many people, particularly young people, liberal feminism had been an oppressive and coercive force. Tate’s blistering scorn made it clear that in spite of being the voice of institutional authority, liberal feminism was old and tired, a story most had long ago ceased to believe.
Almost everyone speaks incorrectly about feminism. We use the word “feminism” casually when what we are really referring to is liberal feminism. Feminism is not monolithic. Rather, it is a varied movement tied together only by an interest in women’s place in society. Liberal feminism differs, for example, from radical feminism, new feminism and reactionary feminism.
Liberal feminism is its own thing. It is the kind of feminism that most emphasizes the values of liberal modernity. Liberal feminism is marked, above all, by its emphasis on the central value of all postwar liberalism : equality.
The solution to every problem between men and women, from a liberal feminist point of view, is the ever greater realization, often through government fiat, of this abstract value. Equality, like all abstractions, must be defined. Under the sway of liberal feminism, equality was defined fundamentally as sameness.
Men and women were assumed, in spite of all evidence to the contrary, to be the same, to operate along the same lines in our emotional, intellectual and sexual lives. Both sexes have, liberal feminists insisted, the same desires, impulses and capacities. Our embodied nature as male or female, they told us, was a superficial accident. We can see now where accepting that lie has gotten us.
Equality, as defined by liberal feminism, required liberating women from the old strictures of law and custom to participate equally with men in our materialistic and sexually destructive culture. Liberal feminists focused particularly on the professional world. Any job, social position or role reserved solely for men was an offense to equality and therefore required a transformation.
What mattered most was that women not be prohibited from participating at the highest levels in the emerging global capitalist order. More than anything, being equal meant being equally capable to earn and to buy and, above all, to tithe to the government in the form of ever greater taxation.
Liberal feminism also pushed the lie that promiscuity had no consequences for men, and that to be truly free women were required to be just as promiscuous as they imagined their male counterparts to be. In short, being equal meant being equally free to subject oneself to the neo-liberal regimen of meaningless sex and even more meaningless acquisition. Pain in the soul, liberal feminists promised, could be soothed by a new sexual partner or a new tv.
It could not be. The reign of liberal feminism only increased the pain of each successive generation brought up under its sway. The failure of our cultural quest to soothe our existential ache with stuff and sex, left the younger generations yearning for something better, something that would resonate, would explain their experience and point them in a new, more fulfilling direction.
Enter Andrew Tate.
Tate’s rejection of liberal feminism and its insistence on the sameness of the sexes spread across the web like a digital fire consuming the house of the old guard. First on Twitter, and then on TikTok, his clownish parody of masculinity drew in millions hungry for a novel, if inflammatory, message: men and women are not the same. This message exploded because it acknowledged two truths liberal feminism had sought to suppress: that sex differences are real, widespread and undeniable, and that far from finding these differences a source of oppressive burdens, millions find them fun.
Liberal feminists must face the uncomfortable truth that a not insignificant minority of Tate’s followers are young women with whom his message resonated more deeply than their tale of oppressive patriarchy and drab sexual sameness. Andrew Tate’s bombastic proclamation of sexual difference went up against the West’s official account of cross sex relations and won. Liberal feminism while not yet having thrown in the towel is down for the count.
Tate, his nearly numberless faults not withstanding, did the West a service by breaking the spell that kept us all so long in an airless room. Thanks to Tate, a window has been thrown open for something new to blow in, some more humane and realistic paradigm we can hope.
And for that, we must give the devil his due, even when he shows up in the form of Andrew Tate.