The Ungrateful Heart

The MGTOW Symbol

I.

I hesitate to write about current events for this blog unless I feel that those events are somehow paradigmatic. Unfortunately, that seems to be the case with the beatings of leftist protestors by Tea Party activists in the last weeks before the midterm elections: a particularly vicious head stomping in Kentucky, and a similar attack in Washington. I deeply fear political violence, even in the rare cases in which it is justified. Political violence is the failure of society: after just one blow, everyone’s lives and rights are only as secure as their own power to protect them. Unlike Jon Stewart, however, I won’t simply attribute this violence to general incivility. As the political blogger Josh Marshall notes, these acts have a distinct character that is not simply reducible to fanaticism:

What stands out to me though is how each one of these seems to be a nutshell symbolism of the boiled down essencethe precipitateof blue and red state America, almost to a degree we wouldn’t buy from a writer if we found it in a novel. . . Each time it’s middle-aged or retired right wing white guy in violent encounter with early-twenty-something Dem woman with either cropped hair or more or less crunchy appearance.

It’s not just right wing activists attacking left wing activists. Middle-aged men are attacking young women. Rarely is violence against women so public.

There is no necessary connection between misogyny and the Tea Party’s radical libertarianism. However, that kind of libertarianism does seem to attract men prone to extreme misogyny. Consider a particular sub-culture within the odious Men’s Rights movement: MGTOW or “Men Going Their Own Way.” What is a MGTOW? As a facebook group for men who self-identify as MGTOW explains:

MGTOW (”Men Going Their Own Way”) is a way of life which refuses to defer to women in defining the worth of men. Instead, it focuses on positive male aspects, inviting men to go their own way in life. The one piece of MGTOW advice I’ve followed the closest is “live for yourself.” Go your own way for your own reasons, for your own prosperity, and for your own happiness. What this translates to practically (for me) is that having a relationship should be peripheral and complementary to a life where you’re already satisfied.

In practice, the MGTOW or “ghost” lifestyle involves avoiding long term relationships with the opposite sex, with the possible exception of mail-order brides, foreign women who can be easily dominated. It is distinct from the PUA (Pick-Up Artist) lifestyle, but it is often linked to it. Both lifestyles have poisonous attitudes towards gender relations and relationships in general: all relationships are defined by power, and it is in your interest to maximize your power within those relationships. As a man who identifies as both a MGTOW and a PUA puts it:

Game is largely about social dominance. A woman will test a man with ‘shit tests’ before sleeping with him to see if he is a true alpha or if he is faking it. If he fails to demonstrate alpha power he will never be boyfriend material. Does this sound a little like feminism? They ‘shit test’ men in general and then treat us with contempt for pandering to them. This is like the poor Niceguy who runs around women as an errand boy and yet is called a wimp and a creep behind his back.

It’s not difficult to see how this worldview might lead someone to libertarian politics, but in any case, MGTOW explicitly connect their views on gender to their views on government. The third plank of the MGTOW Manifesto calls for “a limited government.” The ultimate goal is not only “[to] instill . . . masculinity in men” and “[to] instill . . . feminimity in women,” but “to take away everyone’s ‘right’ to vote on other people’s affairs thus rendering it impossible for political organisms and ideologies to impose their personal will on everyone else.” A MGTOW sees the welfare state as the political manifestation of an evil feminine ideology. MGTOW frequently quote works that contain gendered descriptions of tyrannical government:

“The ‘land of the free and the home of the brave’ has been transformed into a socialized Big Brother nanny state.”

“The government is like women. They love to spend what they didn’t earn themselves.Women got the vote. And then voted for entitlement, and more government and police to replace husbands and fathers.”

When women got the vote, it was inevitable that government was going to become more powerful, more intrusive, and more ‘protective’ (ie. more coddling), because women are hard-wired to treasure security more than uncertainty and danger. It was therefore inevitable that their feminine influence on politics was going to emphasize (lowercase ‘s’) social security.”

Just as a MGTOW sees women as controlling succubi that destroy the independent life to which a man is entitled, he sees government as a tyrannical scheme that limits a man’s freedom through oppressive taxation and legislation.

Few of the Men’s Rights arguments carry much weight. It’s ridiculous, for example, to claim that a country that has only ever had 38 female senators is matriarchial. As for the libertarian arguments, let’s apply Lenin’s favorite analytical technique: when someone says “Freedom,” ask “Freedom for whom? To do what?” What sort of “freedom” are the MGTOW calling for when they bemoan women who have the temerity to reject their advances? What sort of “freedom” calls for limited government, but also calls for men to “[u]se any rights to the benefit of other men as well as themselves?” The “freedom” the MGTOW demand is a freedom to dominate others and to ignore obligations to society. It is a freedom that has more to do with a twisted reading of Nietzsche than with Locke.

Yet however ridiculous and offensive the arguments of the MGTOW can be, I find some of their writings quite moving. The voluminous blog and forum posts of MGTOW are characterized not just by political polemic, but confessions of deep-seated pain. These men feel alienated from women who reject them, a society they feel does not value them, and a government that they feel they have no control over:

“While I love this place, if I let it be my only outlook on life I would have eaten a bullet by now, as we focus too much on news reports of insane feminists, corrupt politicians, and the many ways men’s lives are fucked by dealing with American women rather than the things that make each of us happy…”

“I never had a single date in high school. I asked out a couple of girls on a date, and all except one said no followed by lame excuses. One even became angry at me and treated me like dirt for the rest of my senior year. As for the one girl who said yes… We arranged to meet up at a central meeting place on the high school campus where she inevitably has to pass by after her last class. On the day and time that our date was supposed to happen, she HID BEHIND A WALL (her head was peeking out so she could check to see when I’d leave) AND THEN RAN AWAY when she saw me coming toward her from a distance.”

Whether or not their pain is justified, it is undeniably real. A patriarchal society that defines male sexual conquest as success and female rejection as humiliating failure has made these men miserable. Ironically, these men have resorted to coping strategies that they would likely classify as “feminine” in order to alleviate this misery; for example, joining communities that encourage them to openly share their feelings. Even as their political principles promote sociopathic individualism, they seek the comfort of community.

II.

What tortures these men, ultimately, is a narrative about what it means to be a man. And to combat that destructive, subconscious social narrative, nothing is more useful than a cultural production that actively seeks to bring the basic assumptions of that narrative under scrutiny. For this reason, these men should be answered not only with vigorous feminist critique, but with the greatest American cultural production of the last decade: the Sopranos.

Consider the last episode of season three, “Army of One.” Tony faces two crises in quick succession. In the previous episode, Jackie Aprile, Jr., the son of Tony’s deceased best friend, tried to rob a card game of Made Men in an effort to make a name for himself among the Mafiosi. The robbery is a fiasco; the men, members of Tony’s own organization, demand Jackie’s head, and Jackie goes into hiding as Tony tries to peaceably resolve the situation while maintaining his own credibility. Eventually, with Tony’s tacit approval, Jackie’s own stepfather arranges to have him killed. At the same time, A.J., Tony’s son, has gotten himself expelled from his private school for stealing the answers to an exam. Tony’s conclusion is that “the place was too loose, too easy.” Tony then goes on a tirade about how he works so hard to pay for “a six thousand square foot house, big screen TV, food on the table, video games, all kinds of scooters and bicycles, Columbia University and for what?” When A.J. pointedly responds by saying “Sucks to be you,” Tony slaps him across the face and promises “a new regime.” He then plans to send A.J. to a military school.

The Sopranos tricks you into sympathizing with Tony in the moment. As you watch the episode, it’s easy to see from Tony’s perspective. Jackie’s troubles are due to a decision Jackie himself made, a decision that puts Tony in an impossible situation. And in the midst of all of this stress for Tony, A.J. can’t manage just to stay out of trouble? The truth, however, as only Carmela has the courage to tell Tony, is that Tony and his macho, individualist ideology are indirectly responsible for the fates of both A.J. and Jackie, Jr. Jackie, Jr.’s robbery, for example, is modeled on one Tony pulled off successfully, a robbery that catapulted Tony into the ranks of the Mafia elite. As for A.J., why would A.J. follow the rules when his father is a law unto himself? Even Tony, in his limited way, has an inkling of the truth. When the headmaster of a military academy explains to Tony and Carmela the army’s current motto, “Be an Army of One,” Tony responds by asking, “This Army of one thing, what happens when each army of one decides, ‘Fuck it, I’m not going over the top of the foxhole,’ or, ‘Why don’t I just blow the lieutenant’s head off?’ Because, y’know, they’ve been told, y’know, you’re an army of one.” The individualism and militancy prescribed by a patriarchal society is ultimately a recipe for sociopathy.

There is another way, as Carmela points out: “Why be an army at all?” The intense tragedy of this episode is that even within the episode, the alternatives to Tony’s brutal mindset are everywhere. When A.J., in response to the prospect of him going to military school, has a panic attacka malady that afflicts Tony and afflicted Tony’s fatherTony blames it on “that putrid, fucking, rotten Soprano gene.” But the illness that fells both Tony and A.J. is not biological. It is the result of a society that demands impossible things from men: A.J. ought to subject himself to inhuman discipline, Tony ought to kill without remorse and never show weakness or empathy. This is a society we have chosen. This is a society that inevitably results in, as this episode unflinchingly insists on showing us, a young man lying in a coffina needless, unjustifiable tragedy.

Alternatives are available. In the ending, Uncle Junior serenades a family gathered together to openly console each other in their grief. We can choose, following Carmela’s metaphor, to put down our arms, to give up some of our freedoms in order to find strength, support and love in an understanding community. Instead, we choose to live accordingly to the worst aspects of what we deem “masculinity”sociopathy, violence, stoicism. We blame ourselves for not being “tougher,” for not being “alphas,” for being “niceguys”; we fail to ask why we have to be armies at all. The song Junior sings at the funeral, “’Core ‘N Grato,” again and again laments the singer’s “ungrateful heart.” But the truth is, the heart has nothing to do with it.

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12 Responses to The Ungrateful Heart

  1. CC says:

    Few of the Men’s Rights arguments carry much weight. It’s ridiculous, for example, to claim that a country that has only ever had 38 female senators is matriarchial.

    (a) “Can you name even one pro-male Senator?” Jack Kammer, If Men Have All the Power, How Come Women Make All the Rules? (b) By what criteria are we defining a “matriarchy”? Men comprise about 50% of the population but (i) comprise over 90% of workplace deaths, (ii) die an average of about 7 years earlier than women and receive less health care funding; by sheer longevity, women receive clearly preferential treatment (see Kadar’s “The sex-bias myth” in The Atlantic or Satel’s P.C. M.D

    let’s apply Lenin’s favorite analytical technique…

    Lenin? Are you serious? Lenin was a dictator and murderer on a grand scale. (a) He and Trotsky et al. condemned over 80% of the Russian population as “class enemies,” and killed thousands of innocents. (b) His entire political theory was demonstrably and empirically false (see Sowell’s Quest for Cosmic Justice

  2. Emily says:

    Let me just say, for starters, I’m super glad this is something you chose to write about. Its interesting for me to read this right now and notice how you picked up and are thinking about masculinity in the context of american patriotism or nationalism, or at least some idea of political order, as that is much of what my research in Croatia is about right now, espeically the reciporical relationship between large institutional changes (ie conflict/democratic transition/secular to relgious state) and masculinity(ies). I struggle, however, with the average joe and the diversity of the average joe, the guy who isnt thinking about feminism actively and how his behaviors reinforce the gender dynamics you are speaking about here. Ultimatly, for me it comes down to what you were saying about community- its about finding that balance of the freedom to be an individual and the comfort of a community. I often find that that is one of the pros of having a gendered world, instant “hey im a dude too” wherever i go kind of comradery. So i guess my question is, if its about building new communities how do we ensure these communities don’t replicate a similar kind hiearachy? This getting long winded. Anyway I think its great.

  3. dylansuher says:

    CC:

    a) “Can you name even one pro-male Senator?”

    Sure, I’ll bite. Tom Coburn. Tom Coburn believed that lesbianism was spreading over Oklahoma like a plague, and that female high school students had to be prevented from going to the bathroom together as a quarantine measure. Maybe you have a different reason why someone would want or should be able to interfere in a woman’s (and not a man’s) personal life like that. I think he’s trying to keep the women open for men, personally. Or hey, Mike Johanns, one of the many Senators that work to preserve the right of men to decide when a woman should have a baby.

    (b) By what criteria are we defining a “matriarchy”?

    I tend to use the traditional criteria of a government made up of women. It seems like it would have been an awful hassle for women to have orchestrated a massive conspiracy that gave them the real power even as it denied them the vote until 1920, and protection from workplace discrimination until 1963.

    Men comprise about 50% of the population but (i) comprise over 90% of workplace deaths

    I wonder if this might be because women have traditionally been barred by men from taking on the often lucrative jobs that might result in a fatality.

    die an average of about 7 years earlier than women and receive less health care funding; by sheer longevity, women receive clearly preferential treatment

    No, see, preferential treatment exists if you have two identical cases that receive different levels of treatment. If a woman gets more health care funding because she lives longer, she is getting the same amount of treatment a man would. Though perhaps it would be more just if we were to let women die earlier, to achieve precious life expectancy parity. I’m not even going to get started on taxpayer-funded viagra…

    Re: Lenin, I never once defended his policies or his government, and never would. I never even defended his ideology. I just defended that one analytical technique, which I think is a useful tool, and until you successfully argue that that specific technique is problematic or results in the absurd destruction Lenin carried out, I don’t think you have much to stand on. I think it’s possible for Lenin (and most every political figure, really) to have some good ideas among the bad ones. As for his “entire political system” being “empirically false,” I would like to see that proof, as, to my knowledge, that would be a feat quite unprecedented in the history of political thought.

    Thanks for commenting!

    Emily: I am becoming increasingly convinced that the great struggle of this century will be the struggle to end violence–verbal, structural and literal–against women. As for communities without hierarchy, well, that’s the million dollar question for the Left, isn’t it? If I had a really good answer for that one, I’d be leading the revolution right now, but my feeling, with regard to the specific concern you raised, is that it has something to do with rejecting mystified, arbitrary communities and embracing transparent, constructed communities. So, don’t identify with your nation (whatever that means, whoever that includes); identify only with the state you are a fully empowered citizen of. Or, to use a similar example, don’t identify with your Freshman Floor, identify with people who have similar interests to you. OTOH, I think valuing comfort in identity is dangerous too. The way someone gets to be an ethical individual is by never being quite satisfied with their own behavior or with the group that they identify with. But like you said, it’s maybe harder to sell that point to the average Joe, so baby steps, baby steps.

    Come back any time, Em!

  4. Gabe says:

    First of all, great post. As always, I am totally enamored with the kind of writing you guys are doing. And congrats on your first troll! May you have many happy returns.

    This is one of those areas where I really want to agree with you but find myself so torn I can’t wholeheartedly endorse your position. Here I think you’ve masterfully analyzed a real problem and properly taken the pulse of a disturbed and potentially dangerous group. But I can’t agree either your genealogy or your prescriptions.

    I think I’ll be clearer if I dive straight in. You say, properly, that for these dregs of our society “all relationships are defined by power.” You even identify this with a Nietzschean rather than a classically liberal viewpoint which I’d also agree with.

    But let me remind you with an example from both an ancient and a contemporary thinker that this idea has a more complex history and present form than you seem to imply.

    Plato’s Thrasymachus says “justice is the advantage of the stronger ”and only power truly defines the good. Eventually he is convinced otherwise by Socrates but he’s as good a place to start as any for this school of thought.

    More recently, Foucault (who was basically a Nietzschean at heart) believed in the centrality of power to all relationships not just oppressive ones. Indeed for Foucault there was no utopian future beyond power but only the interplay of power relationships that could become more or less repressive, never conclude. That’s an idea I’d like to return to.

    My point is that we are not simply reaping the whirlwind that Rand other distasteful right wing nuts have sown. While these half-wits may think they are following in that tradition they are as much Foucauldians (albeit only in their analysis, not in their oppressive ends) as libertarians. What I am trying to show is that pathological -individualism is not so closely tied to one viewpoint or social tradition. It’s a lurking danger of political life, a permanent rather than a transient problem.

    Your alternative, it seems to me is community, is peace, is cultural change through persuasion rather than force, is giving up small freedoms for larger gains. I don’t particularly mind any of those things, but I am uncomfortable placing the weight of the wrong so squarely on the American tradition and so far away from more permanent human problems and our corruptible ideals. After all, somehow we have managed to progress even in the last 30 or 40 years into a significantly less [literally] violent, less [overtly] misogynist, more open nation. Isn’t that just as much a part of the “society we have chosen”? It becomes much more difficult to explain that progress if we proclaim wholeheartedly that the dominant culture is one of oppression and violence (either literal or metaphorical). The Thrasymachans among us will remain, not because of the Tea Party or sexually frustrated men, but because of a primordial voice that shouts “might makes right” inside each of us, male and female, and that we must refute.

    Moreover, to complicate the picture even further I’d say you obscure the importance of hierarchy and violence in defeating the very problems you decry. I’ve hammered home this point enough in other discussions but when society changes even to a more just mold I believe it is not because we are moving beyond hierarchy but that we are erecting a more just hierarchy. It is also because of the symbolic and real violence of suffragettes and civil rights activists and the real and compulsary state violence that can (and should!) be used against those who attempt to translate their misogyny into action that we have arrived here. Now the implicit violence of political life in the last 50 or 100 years is more submerged and used towards better ends, that’s good, but it remains the basis historically and symbolically for all states. Woman’s rights and status won’t be based on an escape from human power or violence but on a more equitable and civilized sharing and tempering of that violence. I guess I would like to think I am a feminist in the sense that I believe that women share no more or less the human propensity towards hierarchy and towards violence and towards a communal life based in both those things. Moreover, I’d say that they should share the same rights and responsibilities to use violence to protect their rights and interests as any other groups. Or to use Malcolm X for purposes he’d never accept: “It is criminal to teach a [wo]man not to defend [her]self when [she] is the constant victim of brutal attacks.”

    Political life is always based in original violence and the sins of community formation, whether it’s Machiavelli talking about the death of Remus as the basis for Republican Rome or de Maistre writing:

    All grandeur, all power, all subordination rests on the executioner: he is the horror and bond of human association.

    Now of course I’m not interpreting him to be talking about the literal death penalty here but the same kind of mythic foundational violence that we cannot escape. What we can hope for is not the illusion that violence is not one of the bases for human political life, but the Burkean understanding that we can draw a veil over that “immense altar…perpetually steeped in blood” [Maistre] that is the foundations of the state and prudently pursue justice and the good not power alone.

    On your interpretation of the Sopranos I have mixed feelings. Honestly, I think David Chase’s views are even starker and more nihilistic than you are claiming. There are no clear cut formulae for creating a moral community in his eyes no real hope for reform of American culture away from its violent ethos and original sins. Let’s look at some communal alternatives that are shown to be almost as inwardly corrupt as the mob within the Sopranos universe. The church, the political community, and law enforcement are all corrupted by their own pathologies as culpable in real violence or exploitation. There are real cries for escape and disarmament (most poignantly by the Jewish psychiatrist to Carmella) but most characters always dragged back for a tragic end. Those that make it out unscathed are usually simply lucky, I certainly can’t detect a common bond between them. Someone as depressed as David Chase is not going to give us such an easy way out, such simple alternatives as disarmament or refusal, and here I think he truly does flirt with nihilism. Indeed on multiple occasions he even seems to accuse the audience with our inescapable fascination with violence, our cultural death wish, for fueling the violence you seek to end. Chase interrogates our culture of violence but I am unconvinced he provides us with the cultural tools to transcend it, even if we wished to do so and such a thing were possible.
    r
    And don’t even get me started on the problems with rejecting arbitrary communities. You want a “transparent constructed” community, let’s all go seasteading with Patri Friedman, we’ll bring a copy of Mare Liberum and live a merry life on the open ocean. I will never tire of this interpretation of modernity, this “hubristic, autochthonous will to autonomy and self sufficiency.” I will take my arbitrary, mystical communities: my family, my quasi-mythical NYC, etc.

    But seriously, thought provoking stuff. Keep up the good work, y’ins.

  5. dylansuher says:

    Gabe:

    With regard to your points on Foucault et al., I basically wholeheartedly endorse the majority of what you wrote. A year or so back, I started to describe myself intellectually as a “conservative,” although I tend to not do that so much as I define that word differently than pretty much everyone else who uses it, I vote Democrat, and yeah, let’s face it, it’s pretentious as all hell. For me, what conservatism means is the productive use of discourses: not the Marxist fantasy of liberation from all power relations, but a reshaping of inevitable power relations towards a more just society. The point I am making about violence is really, I think, Burke’s point, that violence is inevitably present in all social relationships, but it makes a great deal of difference whether it is mediated through a formal, social discourse, or it is left for each to use as they please. I suppose the real difference for me is that, based on my reading of Confucius, I believe strongly that it is possible to both reflexively obey a discourse and for that discourse to be transparent and open for adjustment/critcism, although maybe not in the same moment. So to get to your final point, I think what I am proposing is a bit more complex than the simple constructed communities you deride, in that there is never a freedom to opt out of the society or the essential moral guidelines accepted by consensus. It’s a point I ought to build upon in a later post, perhaps.

    Re: The Sopranos, Todd VanDerWerff, who is, as you well know, my favorite critic of The Sopranos, sums the overall philosophy of the show as this:

    I’ve been saying here and there throughout the run of this series that one of the big themes of The Sopranos is the idea that people don’t change. And while I do think the show is tilted toward that viewpoint, many of you are right when you say that that’s not exactly right. It might be more accurate to say that the series believes this: All people have the capacity for change, but real change is so hard and involves so much trenchant self-examination that few people ever even attempt to do it.

    I think that’s basically right, and as evidence, I’d point to “Employee of the Week,” which is the moral fulcrum of the series. Moral choice is hard, but when it comes down to it, there is always an opportunity to say “no,” as Melfi does at the end of that episode. Now, you may not be satisfied by this simple existentialism. But I think it’s wrong to characterize Chase’s vision as totally nihilist. I mean, it’s definitely not the most positive view of humanity. But there is a way out, for those who would grab it.

    Thanks for playing!

  6. Ming says:

    Love this. Love the engage all comments attitude, Dylan – a simple practice-what-you-preach in civil discussion. I would love to read a post on communities and it sounds like Gabe yearns to do a guest post. =) P.S. Meet up for a warm beverage in the city sometime?

  7. dylansuher says:

    Ming,

    Definitely. We’ll have to set a date!

  8. Max says:

    Part I of your post, and the link between politics and identity, reminds me of a great book on the subject: Don’t Think of an Elephant by George Lakoff.

  9. Cro123 says:

    I lost you at “obligations to society”.

  10. Fishman says:

    I suppose I am a little late to all this, just a few thoughts…. And, I only just found this article…. but wow. There are some obvious blind spots here you either didn’t consider willfully, or perhaps just didn’t know.

    I don’t agree with the MGTOW movement, though I think they make some strong points. I also don’t agree with the Feminist movement either, it is every bit as misandronistic as the MGTOW folks are misogynistic. Though most feminists cannot honestly see it that way.

    Look at it this way, we have set up a society that provides very few if any incentives for men to marry women or take care of them, or do much of any of the stuff we were expected to do in the (to borrow a tv meme) world of “Mad Men.” I am not saying that society was better at that point, or that we should go back to it. What I am saying though is that men and women had distinct roles, and there were sanctions for breaking the rules. This no longer exists, yet both men and women are being shoehorned into an arrangement that works for neither side, and financially is very harmful to men on average.

    I have a significant other. We are together because she isn’t demanding we get married. And she does give me space. And I get sex pretty much whenever I want it. She asks for fidelity, and for my time when I can give it to her, and she receives it. She is very rare. I doubt I would be able to easily find another woman like her.

    Most women nowadays do not truly operate on that level. And if a marriage ends, statistically most women begin the dissolution, and they benefit from it’s dissolution financially in inordinate rates. There are exceptions, but these don’t support the concept of marriage, they make it seem that marriage is like a revolver with the barrel occasionally pointing back at you if you are a woman.

    Why do I bring this up? Because MGTOW is really about the social obligations of women to men within the sphere of marriage. And a general belief that women are not obligated in the same way men are and haven’t been for years. MGTOW is basically correct in that assumption. The problem with them is that they assume a state of utter distrust with all women based upon it. It’s the equivalent of mistrusting all black people because one stole your stereo years ago.

    The problem with modern feminism is an assumption that the natural actions of men are designed to harm women. That our inherent tendencies to violence, or our often extreme libidos, or our dificulty in social situations that lack strong hierarchies are a problem. Feminists often attempt to feminize men, and do not realize there are dangers in doing so (just as there are dangers in masculinizing women). Our violence is either destructive or protective. Our libidos are designed to keep the species going. Our form of socialization is a development of controlling the violence and trying to forge it into something non-sociopathic.

    Women often have a hard time understanding this, and feminists in general rarely understand (and if they do) hate these aspects of masculinity. And they look at the statistical outliers (men who can get along, men who aren’t all that aggressive, men who aren’t all that sex driven) and think they can change all men to this. Not all the world holds to these values. There is this giant part of the world, a faith system named Islam. And most of them make the MGTOW folks look like women’s study majors.

    Feminists are set to cut their own throats. Men and women are meant to compliment one another taking advantage of strengths, and shoring up weaknesses. MGTOW doesn’t see strength in women. Feminists don’t see strength in men. Until we as a society figure out a new arrangement that acknowledges the truth, we’re gonna have problems.

    • Fishman says:

      +++

    • dylansuher says:

      Hello Fishman, thanks for stopping by. And thanks for engaging respectfully!

      So, just to reply to two parts of your argument, first:

      Look at it this way, we have set up a society that provides very few if any incentives for men to marry women or take care of them, or do much of any of the stuff we were expected to do in the (to borrow a tv meme) world of “Mad Men.” I am not saying that society was better at that point, or that we should go back to it. What I am saying though is that men and women had distinct roles, and there were sanctions for breaking the rules. This no longer exists, yet both men and women are being shoehorned into an arrangement that works for neither side, and financially is very harmful to men on average.

      This is probably a cultural difference, but one aspect of MRM arguments I find difficult to understand is the high value men within the movement put on marriage. I am heterosexual, monogamous and generally predisposed to long-term relationships (currently in one right now). What I value most in romantic relationships is a long-term, stable partnership, and to me, that means having a partner I can go through life with, smart enough to advise, challenge, and engage me; independent enough to have a life of her own and to be her own person. I expect, in the course of those relationships, to support her emotionally, and sacrifice some of the independence of my life for something stronger and more valuable that I would get from emotional intimacy. From my own personal experience and from what I’ve observed, I think that a man who has trouble making that sacrifice will have trouble finding meaningful relationships–but that has little to do with feminism.

      That, to me, doesn’t necessarily entail marriage. I would like to get married eventually, but only to solemnify the strong bond that would already exist, and to serve as a marker of an important stage in my life. I would never expect or want to “take care” of my partner financially, or for her to be “obligated to me.” That, to me, would not be a love that came freely, and would therefore mean less. I also think any woman who would expect or want that would not be the kind of strong, independent person I would want to be with. I don’t see any necessary value in men and women occupying distinct roles that they have no choice in, and I certainly don’t see any value in sanctions to enforce those roles. I don’t feel the need to be a “provider.”

      Point being, if you think marriage is a bad arrangement for a man, you ought not get married. And if you don’t like a woman pressuring you into marriage, don’t date a woman who would pressure you into marriage. For a movement so concerned with masculinity, the MRM people sometimes seem surprisingly hesitant to take responsibility for their decisions!

      The problem with modern feminism is an assumption that the natural actions of men are designed to harm women. That our inherent tendencies to violence, or our often extreme libidos, or our dificulty in social situations that lack strong hierarchies are a problem. Feminists often attempt to feminize men, and do not realize there are dangers in doing so (just as there are dangers in masculinizing women). Our violence is either destructive or protective. Our libidos are designed to keep the species going. Our form of socialization is a development of controlling the violence and trying to forge it into something non-sociopathic.

      I’m always going to have a difficult time accepting arguments based on what is natural. It’s very hard to tell what is natural, since we’ve never yet seen a person in a “natural state,” that is, without a culture that tells him or her who he or she should be and what they should do. What is “natural” varies depending on time and place. The Thai and other cultures believe that there are not two, but three sexes. The Mosuo of China would be very confused by your description of gender roles: they’re matriarchal. And, of course, less than two hundred years ago, it was accepted as natural fact that black people were less intelligent than white people. Consider even the term you use: “libido.” That term comes from Freudian notions of how the mind works that have been largely discredited. Most modern psychologists believe that Freud overemphasized the importance of sex to the psyche. Yet, at one time, that was thought to be a scientific description of the mind.

      More importantly, as you hint at, why should it matter what is natural anyhow? We choose not to do many things that our hominid ancestors did because we want to live in a better world. Our hominid ancestors almost certainly practiced infanticide and likely, infantophagy, and we don’t do that anymore. We cook our food and wear clothes. Human culture is not natural and never has been. So why not change it again to better suit our modern lives?

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