Unless you’ve been hiding under a pile of unrecycled pizza boxes for the past month, you’ll no doubt be wearily familiar with the name Andrew Tate. At the time of writing, the 36-year-old former kickboxer remains in custody in Romania, after being arrested alongside his brother as part of an investigation into human trafficking, rape and organised crime. But despite the horror of his alleged offences, it’s Tate’s public position as an influencer and internet personality that has sparked concern across the UK.
As far as both sexists and grifters go, Tate is audaciously honest about his game: as well as describing himself as “absolutely a misogynist”, he can also be found on camera admitting that the brothers’ webcam business – in which models take calls from fans in exchange for money – is a “total scam”. He claims that victims of sexual assault should “bear responsibility” for their attacks, that women are men’s property, and so on; views that are becoming so popular among boys that many schools are now hosting special assemblies to try and tackle them. In some ways this can be viewed as the endgame of the Trump era, where traditional right-wing dog whistles have been replaced with explicit calls to bigotry and violence.
With the UK currently facing fresh waves of strike action across various sectors, it’s perhaps worth casting our minds back to some of the successes that industrial action has enjoyed over the years. In 1884, notably, an English trade unionist by the name of Tom Mann published a pamphlet offering a radical proposal: “Eight hours of work, eight hours of rest, eight hours of what we will.” Despite claims to the contrary from US country songwriters, the emergent nine-to-five template did appear to finally offer a balance of taking and giving. Why then, almost 140 years later, does it feel like we have so little time to ourselves?
If you’ve ever been trapped in a conversation about “dream dinner party guests”, you’ll know the curious schadenfreude of watching people work out which aspects of their personality they want to showcase. The last time it happened to me, someone picked Jason Momoa and Channing Tatum for “eye candy”, alongside – who else? – Martin Luther King Jr. While we’ll perhaps never know Aquaman’s views on the Montgomery bus boycott of 1955, the conversation did highlight our society’s continued deference to jacked, hyper-masculine bodies.
People still want to feel part of a congregation. I feel that pull too. I want a life where the people I love can live their lives freely and authentically and with as much joy and sense of connection to the world around them as their hearts can take. After all, the hard work isn’t balancing multiple relationships. The real challenge is to build a world where they’re accepted by everyone else, a world where loving more than one person isn’t seen as a deviant character flaw. That starts with re-examining the antiquated legal framework that still defines our lives.