Posted in Gender

Why I Have SOME Sympathy for MGTOW

There appear to be three “branches”, if you like, to the men’s movement. I think the one for which I have the most sympathy would be MGTOW (or Men Going Their Own Way). MRAs seem to be a largely right wing group (which I am not and do not identify with a large majority of their arguments). PUA seem to be about manipulating people based on pseudo-psychology and quack theories. In the middle is this group MGTOW.

While I certainly don’t identify with all their philosophies and don’t agree with everything they say or do, there are some useful ideas at the core. I don’t agree with their separatism and rejection of long-term relationships, for starters. I don’t believe in the apparent message that women as a whole are not to be trusted. But there are positive areas as far as I can see and some of them are similar to messages that feminism attempt to impart on women too.

Self-Ownership

What is self-ownership? It’s the sense of belonging to yourself taking responsibility for your own life and seizing back your autonomy. While feminists might say that men never lost it, I would strongly disagree in the strongest possible terms. There are certain social expectations placed on men – to settle down, to do his duty, to take the lead, to show himself capable and independent (with social penalties for not doing so). To “be a man”. Self-ownership is the rejection of the expectations of how man are supposed to act and doing as you please, realising you are answerable only to yourself.

Rejecting Being a Husband and Father

It’s a growing movement and we don’t have to identify with MRA or MGTOW to realise this. Men are only now waking up to the fact that there is more to life. We are only just waking up to the negative messages associated with being a bachelor. While women are encouraged to see that they can be more than wives and mothers, men who reject conventions of relationships of marriage and fatherhood are only seen negatively. Basically, they are either a “Player” who must use women for sex or a “Man Child” who lives in his parents’ basement playing video games. Always there is this insistence that a man’s reason for being is to provide for a wife and child(ren). A single woman who says she does not need a man is seen as a good thing but a man who says he does not need a woman is likely to be called a misogynist amongst other things.

Not Giving a Shit

I like the “water off a duck’s back” approach to how men are shamed for the choices we make. In this respect, MGTOW is very much like feminism – I don’t have to answer to anybody, ever. My choices are my choices and who are you to comment, interfere or judge? This may be the most difficult one to implement as the expectations that men follow social norms. Not just centred on fatherhood and marriage, but how we allow ourselves to be transformed by women. So often, we stop being interested in the things that interested us before. Once again, we are shamed for these choices and expected to follow couple’s or family pursuits.

Men Not Being Defined by their Usefulness to Women

Because when it really comes down to it, what are the modern advantages for a man in getting married? What are the advantages for a man to be in a long-term relationship? I ask this as somebody who is in one. I am with my girlfriend because I choose to be and because the benefits of being with this wonderful, intelligent, funny and amazing woman is where I want to be right now. Many men stick with unhappy relationships because they are defined only by their usefulenss to their partner – as a provider for her and their children (if they have any). Many men feel they are not valued in themselves but for their uses to their current partner (as an appliance).

It’s Important for Men to Support Each Other

I also feel encouraged by the emotional support that men now give each other in movements like this. Man hugs are acceptable, as is breaking down in front of your male friends. Male bonding has always been a source of ridicule and humour, but in recent years men’s issues charities (especially mental health charities) are starting to promote the benefits of close male friendships and taking it for what it is.

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Author:

I go by the name of Frank Speaking. My blog "In the Mind of Men" (former name Chin Up, Chest High) started out as a chronicle of my mental health recovery. Now it is a forum where I discuss issues related to male mental health.

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