Andrew Tate and the Lost Boys

Battle of Ideas festival 2023, Sunday 29 October, Church House, London

Recorded at the Battle of Ideas festival 2023 on Sunday 29 October at Church House, London.


From bad influences to rebels without a cause, society has always worried about young men. But the recent popularity of the influencer and self-titled ‘king of toxic masculinity’, Andrew Tate, among young men – and even pre-teen boys – has left schools and parents in a panic. Such is the fear of Tate’s influence that headteachers have reached out to the Department for Education for guidance on how to talk to their lads about his misogynistic views on women.

But the Tate phenomenon is complicated: many young men claim to take his messages about women with a pinch of salt, instead finding meaning in his proselytising about ambition, self-sufficiency and becoming ‘a man’. In fact, almost everyone agrees that we need to talk about men – from campaigns to improve their mental health to authors like Caitlin Moran releasing books called What About Men? The question is, why do we seem to be getting it so wrong?

Some argue that contemporary feminist discussions about young women, from ‘He for She’ campaigns to the fallout from the #MeToo movement, often seem to put boys down in order to raise girls up. Others argue that the contemporary condemnation of ‘toxic masculinity’ has eliminated any discussion about what a ‘positive’ masculinity might look like, leaving boys to turn to online figures to find out how to grow up.

Has our nervousness about masculinity left us unable to talk to boys about what it means to be a man? Does the popularity of Tate and other influencers prove that sexism is still a problem, or should we be more concerned that large numbers of boys are turning to strangers online for life guidance? Are we dealing with a generation of lost boys, or is this crisis in manhood simply a twenty-first century version of the problem epitomised by The Wild One’s Johnny Strabler?

Nick Dixon
comedian; presenter, GB News; host, The Current Thing; host, The Weekly Sceptic

Dr Ashley Frawley
sociologist; author, Significant Emotions and Semiotics of Happiness

Matilda Gosling
social researcher; author, Evidence-Based Parenting and Teenagers – The Evidence Base (forthcoming)

Dennis Kavanagh
director, Gay Men’s Network

Toby Marshall
film studies teacher; member, AoI Education Forum