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Who is Teaching Our Boys to be Men?

Secret, seductive and insidious, our boys are listening to people we would never invite home. Where once we knew when teenagers were out and could be caught ’hanging around with the wrong crowd’ now it’s different. They are in their room, on the net and ‘doing their homework’, but when they emerge, they are sullen, angry and espousing views that offend.

Chances are they have been doing more research than required for school and have encountered Andrew Tate, known to 90% of 500 young men surveyed by Mathew Defina, psychologist and Head of Impact at The Man Cave, a preventative mental health and emotional intelligence charity for boys based in Fitzroy, Melbourne. Tate is an American born, British raised ex-kickboxer, social media influencer and self-professed misogynist whose videos have been watched by 4.7 million followers. Recently arrested in Romania, on charges of human trafficking, rape and forming an organised criminal gang, he has claimed to be too smart to read, needing action and constant chaos and that once in a relationship a man can do as he wants to a woman. Repeated misogynistic views have lead parents and educators to fear the effect he has on children as young as primary school age in Britain and Australia.

Defina’s research suggests 1/4 of the young men who know of Andrew Tate look up to him and 1/3 relate to his message, and those admirers are vocal. While many young men do not support his misogynistic view they are drawn to his clarity and conviction about who he is and what it means to be a powerful and successful man.

As practitioners we need to be aware of influencers and work with parents to speak to young men about their views in a way that allows their perspective to be expressed. As Mathew Defina advises we need to access the material and have a conversation that does not make young men feel ‘wrong’ because they are espousing views that are abhorrent. Rather, we need them to feel heard, their underlying concerns understood and offered a conversation that may allow a different perspective to evolve, one that emerges from intelligent collective cognition with a caring adult.


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