January 17, 2023 | VICE News

Children are mimicking a hand gesture linked to misogynist influencer Andrew Tate

ISD’s Head of Communications and Editorial, Tim Squirrell, spoke to VICE World News about the context behind schoolchildren mimicking a gesture made by misogynist influencer Andrew Tate.

Teachers have noticed boys performing a gesture that Tate has reportedly appropriated from the yogic practice of mudras. Tate has likened it to a “power-up” that his late father, a chess master, used to do before matches.

Tim told VICE that what is concerning about the repetition of this gesture isn’t about the gesture itself, but what it represents.

“There’s a two-pronged appeal here. For one, you can show your endorsement of controversial people or beliefs without having to say it outright, allowing you plausible deniability and possibly avoiding consequences like detention or censure. You can also signify that you have hidden knowledge – that you’re aware of what this sign means to you and others around you who are part of the in-group who are in the know, and that’s a very appealing identity marker for children and teenagers.”

Teenagers may be making the gesture “ironically,” Tim said, but this doesn’t make it less threatening to teenage girls and teachers to have boys emulating a violent misogynist. “For women and girls who are around it, that doesn’t really make much of a difference – ‘ironic’ endorsement of violent misogyny is, in many instances, indistinguishable from the real thing and creates an unsafe atmosphere for them.”

Further, there have been some claims from followers that Andrew and his brother, Tristan Tate, are part of, or supported by, the fictitious Illuminati organisation. The significance of this, Tim explained, lies in undermining any attack on Tate by positioning the attack as part of an elaborate plot against him.

“If you believe that Tate is being persecuted, then that can make it hard to level some of the most serious and credible accusations at him – that he’s an alleged human trafficker and rapist – because you can say that these are fake charges that have been made up to silence him. That’s ultimately the most damaging thing, because it prevents his appeal from being dampened and makes him a martyr.”