It’s no news that men are increasingly abandoning marriage. The mainstream has recognized this as ‘men on strike’ or ‘the marriage strike’. For men themselves, the phenomenon of walking away is not a new idea, but has come sharply into focus with the rise of public discussion. Men now abandoning gynocentric social norms have their own name for themselves, Men Going Their Own Way (MGTOW). Whether we call this a movement or a phenomenon, or just a fad, it is responsive to devaluation of men’s lives. Of course, the MGTOW phenomenon addresses many of the same issues that self declared men’s rights activist address. But the approach each camp takes to male marginalization differs. Rather than attempting to drive social and legal reform through rhetoric, awareness raising or protest, men on a MGTOW path are walking away.
The two approaches can be informatively described as reformers and abandoners. In fact, despite decades of activism, writing and protest by men who seek to reform social and legal tradition, it is the rise in men abandoning conventions such as marriage which has captured mainstream attention. Men complaining, protesting and raising awareness have, in a half century of effort succeeded mostly in cultivating a narrative against them. In contrast to protest, if men en mass refuse to be exploited, and refuse to marry, and refuse to be society’s disposable tools – that society will adapt, or disappear. For those with the intelligence to see it, this scares people. And the self-descriptive phenomenon these men use, that they are Going Their Own Way, means following paths apart from and away from the societally normal, traditional and accepted roles men have filled for the benefit of others, and at cost to themselves.
But in addition to a growing dread of men opting out of their roles as disposable tools, the MGTOW phenomenon has a certain cachet. Men with the audacity and self-possession to reject their socially decreed roles attract a “me too” following eager to lay claim to that MGTOW cool factor. But many of the the cool kid party crashers are doing nothing more than claiming the name. They are not leaving behind the exploitive and gynocentric institutions which practice of MGTOW abandons.
And when this is pointed out, some of the more obtuse adopters of MGTOW identity present the following argument.
“MGTOW, or, men going their own way is simply men choosing for themselves what path in life suits them, and following those choices.”
This is a semantic, literalist interpretation of the MGTOW acronym. But it ignores the real world phenomenon, and the climate of normalized male exploitation driving men to walk away from traditional social conventions.
To a space alien, arriving on earth with no knowledge of human society, – this purely literal interpretation of “men going their own way” would make sense. However to anyone addressing social and legal issues affecting men, the semantic argument, that MGTOW is simply a matter of men making choices, it is a naked and obvious falsehood. Indeed, the semantic argument – offered by elements of the men’s rights movement contains an implied claim that the issues driving both MRA reformers as well as MGTOW abandoners are not real or significant problems. If those problems can be simply ignored in the semantic argument for MGTOW plus marriage, then why should anybody care about men’s issues at all?
Of course, the lie, obvious as it is, has a motive. MGTOW carries a certain cool factor, precisely because in it’s practice, men on a path of MGTOW are making sacrifices and rational choices in opposition to social pressure against them. A man cutting his own path in opposition to pressure to conform demonstrates some powerfully positive qualities. These include integrity, intelligence, independence and fortitude. It is natural that other men want to borrow some of that image.
But for those men who, while not abandoning male exploitive social conventions, still lay an unearned claim to MGTOW identity, there is a consequence deeper than merely insulting men actually practicing a path of MGTOW. To understand this, the context in which the Going Their Own Way phenomenon occurs must not be forgotten. The man strike, the opting-out of men, the walking-away phenomenon occurs in response to a climate of disregard for men’s humanity. Men are disparaged even as they are used as the fuel and motive force of our society. It is men who reject this use, leaving exploitive conventions like marriage that has driven public awareness of the MGTOW phenomenon. This manifests in places like Helen Smith’s book, Men On Strike, and in all ensuing public discussion of what the mainstream calls The Marriage Strike.
So when The Man Strike, The Marriage Strike or the abandoner movement is re-defined by men who understand these issues, and their re-definition includes men making the choice to marry, the most effective element of MGTOW is absent. The part of the abandoner phenomenon that gives it political relevance is removed by claiming a man can be MGTOW and married. Men self actualizing, doing the inner work on themselves to shed self destructive and gynocentric beliefs? Nobody cares about that except those men themselves. And so-called men’s advocates claiming that MGTOW and marriage are compatible are not ignorant of this fact.
But the argument continually reiterated by non-practicing adopters of the MGTOW label is that “going their own way” means, men simply making choices. Ignored is the obvious reality that every man makes choices. Therefore, MGTOW includes everyone, including male feminists. Of course, this is self-detonating flim-flam. This rhetorical hocus-pocus comes from the same individuals who, prior to trading integrity for a whiff of popular appeal, rejected marriage as a coercive path of bondage to the state through a woman’s fiat. The semantic argument that MGTOW just means choice is the argument for marriage. A strike on marriage is how the outside world recognizes the MGTOW phenomenon. The rejection of marriage is how the abandoner movement summarizes itself to outsiders. And the argument for Marriage, the semantic argument from men’s rights advocates is a cynical and depraved betrayal of men.