For those who have not been closely following along, there has been a significant dust-up in the past few days in the MRA segment of the manosphere, the focus of which was the presence of MGTOWs (see *) in the penumbrae of the MRA segment. Specifically, a certain Kristina Hansen, who had been an editor at Paul Elam’s site A Voice for Men (currently the leading flagship for the MRAs on the internet), had spent quite a bit of time on YouTube critiquing MGTOWs (or at least some of them) in the context of her engagement at AVfM, and more generally for MRA advocacy in the non-internet “real world”.
The context of this is interesting to me, both in its broader and narrower elements. First, the broader, and to some degree shared, context.
Broadly seen, the context is a more general time of stock-taking in this part of the internet that has been taking place over the past month or so. We’ve seen numerous posts in the part of it that I tend to spend more time in here and here, and also here, but interestingly in other areas as well, such as the self-styled neo-reactionaries here and here — in these places, there is a general sense of “what are we really about here” going on, with the often inevitable corollary of “who doesn’t belong here” and “well, if [that] is here, I am taking my ball and going elsewhere”. In the context of the the kinds of places we inhabit here, which are generally filled with posts and commentary that is anything but politically correct and socially acceptable, it seems appropriate and even necessary to sometimes take stock of where we have been recently, where we are going, and who is coming along for the ride.
The specific case of the MGTOWs is interesting because it cuts across the various nooks and crannies of this part of the internet, and impacts all of us. As a result, we’ve seen very similar critiques raised of MGTOWs in traditionalist Christian blogs, both in posts and in comments, as we have from progressive, atheist antifeminists such as in L’Affaire Hansen. The commonality is striking, really, in terms of the substance of the critiques. This suggests a significance that perhaps is rooted in issues that are, or can be, common to groups or even individuals who have, on the surface at least, very different ideological or values perspectives.
The typical critiques are familiar to most readers: MGTOWs are bitter separatists who scorn engagement with society and any kind of activism or movement building, and who therefore are to be rejected as problematic, negative, and destructors for those of us who are interested in building a more positive future. A milder version of this holds that MGTOWs are fine as long as they really do go their own way, and shut up while doing so. A more virulent version brands them as losers, misogynists, or even outright Satanic. The interesting thing about these critiques, again, is that they cut across ideological divides and are shared by people who share pretty much nothing else in common intellectually.
I suspect that the reason for this is to be found in the precise moment in time that this part of the internet, in its various forms, finds itself. The progression of individuals through the kinds of counter-cultural thinking that the manosphere in particular presents tends to follow an identifiable pattern. The details differ somewhat depending on where a specific man is coming from in terms of life stage and status, but the general progression is as follows: (1) orientation (wherein much is denied, but much information is taken on board), (2) rage (wherein anger is flowing freely, largely against unnamed cultural agents who have “lied” to the individual), (3) re-orientation (wherein a new world view is substituted for an old one, and here there lies a branching), and (4) new paradigm (wherein a new lifestyle and/or approach to these issues is undertaken based on the re-orientation). There is obviously a good amount of branching associated with the re-orientation phase (with some people opting for activism, and others for debauchery fueled by Game, and others for enhanced monogamy fueled by similar principles, and others for walking away from relationships with women, among other things). This branching cascades into the new paradigm phase as well, and conflicts begin to emerge.
In the normal setting, these would be both seen and experienced as simply different therapies in how different men deal with coming to terms with reality as it is. The difficulty, however, stems from the emergence of a movement concept, or the stirrings of one, in the same context. This is natural, given the timescale we are talking about — i.e., there is now a larger number of men who are past (3) and in (4) and among these some are going to be interested in forming a movement or different movements as a part of their new worldview and paradigm. This enhances conflict, because the men who have also been through the progression, but landed in different paradigms, are viewed as either potential recruits or, if not, as enemies to the new-found cause. This is further enhanced by the fact that once things approach this kind of volume (which is nowhere near a “critical mass”, but is well beyond the formative stages as well), the development tends to attract outsiders who are interested in corralling this energy for their own use. This can come in the form of men who have not been through the process themselves but come equipped with a pre-formed ideological or cultural war they wish to wage, and who want to access those men who have been through the process as foot soldiers in their own crusades, as well as in the form of women, who often come into one of these movements from other ones where they were dissatisfied for various reasons, but who still often seek to cross-pollinate the ideas of their former ones with the new one.
And that brings us to the matter of Katrina Hansen.
I am not an MRA as most of my readers know. I went down that path several years ago and came to conclusion that it isn’t terribly effective, or likely to be, in any context which supports traditional values because these are too countercultural to form the realistic basis for a comprehensive legal reform, and therefore lack the kind of support needed to be enacted. So I do not involve myself with them for the most part. However, the case of Hansen is illustrative of the broader problem we face at this point in the history of the manosphere, and that is this: how do we support individual men through their process of coming to terms with reality as it is while avoiding the temptation to become a more exclusivist movement due to pressures coming both from the size, and from some interlopers who are fundamentally destructive to the process?
One key lesson from the Hansen affair is that, in this specific context, the involvement of women at the highest levels, especially the kinds of women who tend to have an interest in activism, is problematic at best. This isn’t because women are evil, but rather because they tend to bring perspectives that are not helpful to men as they are working through their process, on the one hand, and, on the other, tend to want to contextualize things in a way that makes sense to their life experience as women — which is what we see reflected in the general world around us, and is therefore not what the manosphere exists to do. Anonymous 71, the former Irlandes, noted this well when he wrote:
In an MRA/FR group with real goals, female participation is the kiss of death. This is not intuitive, but it is reality. I am going to tell what happened in our FR group, but I contacted other groups to see how things went with them. Most of those in groups that accomplished NOTHING proudly said they had women helping, and they also sadly admitted they had a constant number of suicides among members. Our suicides dropped to zero once we ousted the women.
[a]. The women, mostly second wives or girl friends, who attended meetings, demanded half of the group’s work be to help women, in the name of equality. Women already have the Army; Air Force; Navy; Marines; National Guard; State Highway Patrol; State Bureau of Investigation; Sherriff; City Police; DHS; the local DV center; and the entire Federal and State Budgets at their fingertips. Men have nothing except imputed payments for this and that and threats of jail if they can’t pay. Our annual budget was probably around $200. Yet, these fiends insisted we had to be ‘fair’.
[b]. They demanded we not allow men to whine; men are “supposed to act like men.” See suicide info above. After we (okay, I, under authorization of the State President) got rid of the women, our meetings emphasized counseling techniques and suicides dropped to zero.
[c]. The minute anyone attempted to enforce group bylaws, which generally meant telling an obstreperous woman to sit down and shut up, other men would do a great imitation of Don Quixote and rush to the attack against the vile brute who actually dared to seek justice for MEN. (For those unfamiliar with classic Spanish literature, Quixote was a senile, doddering old fool on a knightly crusade in his private world of dementia, and could not tell the difference between a windmill and the enemy, nor between a horrid female fiend and a woman of flawless purity.)
[III}. MEN ARE INCAPABLE OF COOPERATING TO STAND UP TO WOMEN. This is the ultimate reason MRA/FR groups are inevitably doomed to fail. Men simply cannot organize to stand up to women. Not now; not in the Greek Empire; not in the Roman Empire; not ever.
No, I am not contradicting my statement that in Mexico men cooperate to keep women under control. Men can do that. But when women once take control of the entire system and raise a generation of children, men can’t get it back. It it were possible, we would still be speaking Ancient Latin or Greek.
But the issue extends beyond women, to activism in general as undertaken by some in this space. Note that I am not against activism for those who wish to engage in it — it is one path, one paradigm, that men can embark upon after they go through the process of coming to terms with reality. But in order to be integral to the manopshere as a whole, and not to denigrate the process of other men through it, this activism has to be done in a way that is not directly designed to tear down the other paradigms with which men emerge from the process. Critiques and disagreements are of course inevitable, but the systematic and willful tearing down of different paradigms that have emerged from the same process is not. It is a choice. And it is neither the best nor the only one available to us.
Note that this is not a one-way street. MGTOWs themselves are some of the harshest critics of those who embrace other paradigms, and that is equally unhelpful. Again, criticism is great, because it sharpens everyone’s sword, so to speak, but the kind of tearing down we have seen here of late is typical of the development of political movements and is detrimental to permitting the detoxification process — which is really the principal function of the manosphere at this stage, and one which has a long way to go before having the broad impact it needs to have — from taking place properly.
Activism is not the problem. Neither is MGTOW. And I say this knowing that I am basically neither of these. The problem lies in the kind of death-grip conflict that we saw in Weimar emerging in these groups — something which serves to weaken them all. What we can take away from the Hansen situation is that, taking the manosphere as a whole, we need to be skeptical of those who would marginalize certain elements of it to forge their own programme, whether activist or not, whether men or women or both together. This is very unhelpful at this point in the development of this space, even if its rise was somewhat inevitable. By identifying it for what it is, and by isolating these destroyers for who they are, we can hopefully get past this inevitable phase of development and keep moving more men through the process of coming to terms, and thereby helping more of them deal with reality as they see fit, and not as others would have them do.
* MGTOW is an acronym that means “men going their own way”. It is a term that has described different kinds of men over the past ten years or so. It initially referred to men who were going their own way, apart from the “official” men’s rights movement, but has since then morphed into a term describing men who disavow either marriage, relationships with women, or both. In the interest of full disclosure, I am not an MGTOW.