Of late I’ve noticed lots of noise on the social networks about men’s rights, hinting that manhood is under threat. But I ask myself: who’s threatening our manhood? A growing number of vocal men (under popular hashtags such as #MRA and #MGTOW) seem to have zeroed in on the source of this threat: women. Well, at least women who differ with their opinions (and those of men who have become puppets of feminism – AKA #manginas).
Women the world throughout (whether or not under the banner of feminism) have been gaining more and more ground where it matters: political representation, recognition of their plight, career opportunities, shared parenthood, reproductive rights and a long list of etc. Some even say many so-called developed societies have in fact achieved an overbalance for women’s rights into what amounts to trampling on men’s rights and threatening the very fabric of society. And this is where these so-called warriors come in: they are here to alert us about the imminent doom of all things masculine. Although there are many banners (and a few independent minds), the most accepted labels are MGTOW (men going their own way) and MRA (male rights activists).
As a believer in individual freedoms I am naturally inclined to rebel against societal expectations, but I’m also weary of the intentions of anyone who wants to fight for my rights. In this case, shouldn’t I – a man- listen more carefully to the ideals and warnings espoused by these proponents? Why is it that all these warnings still sound like noise to me? Am I burying my head under the sand?
In a recent conversation I realized the answer has been staring at me from the get go: these manifestos, these ideals, these men, do not represent any notion of what I would call masculinity. When I first read the cover page of http://www.mgtow.com/ I expected to see positive, liberating, masculine messages and imagery; what I found was fear, bitterness, insecurity, need for validation (together with an image of some handcuffs).
The experience made me remember a passage in Game of Thrones where Tywin Lannister tells his grandson Joffrey: “any man who must say, ‘I am the king’ is no true king”.
If the so-called enemy is a growing body of women (and their mangina accomplices) lusting to take down all things male, well, they must be drooling in delight knowing that their opponents have cornered themselves in an echo-box of self-pity. If these warriors get their way, I fear, this generation will be left without any positive Male Role Models. Yeah: the kind of man who owned up to his responsibilities, who rolled up his sleeves and got shit done.
Call me old-fashioned, but my masculine role model wasn’t shouting about how we must all rebel against societal expectations: he was living it. He didn’t need us to feel sympathy for him, he didn’t argue for his rights nor complain about those who wanted to trample them: he asserted them and led by example by respecting those of others. He didn’t complain to others about emotional blackmail: he kept his own emotions under check. This older patriarch was not stigmatized by his dominant role as he seems to be nowadays, but neither was he looking for an easy life: he was too busy providing, protecting, defending and caring for what he considered important. And, though ruggedly masculine and never self-pitying, he was a man who would go at great lengths and peril to do whatever was right – many times in the name of his love for a woman (not his fear or loathing of her). Think of Casablanca’s Rick Blaine (interpreted by Humphrey Bogart). How I wish the men of my generation could be remembered as being this courageous in the face of societal, technological and environmental changes at paces never seen before.
Sadly, in the age of social networks we seem to be more and more represented by a generation of men who would rather hide behind a villain and blame their misfortune on the hunger of women. Of course, this is not merely a cause, but quite likely an effect. Those rugged men of the past didn’t have to experience untold levels of privacy violation and attention-whoring – even many classic masculine occupations such as espionage are no longer fulfilled by having cunning, physical prowess, seduction abilities and instincts, but rather by one single ability: systematic coding/data mining, which takes place in dark, air-conditioned cubicles where your biggest adventure is the traffic jam to get there (that is, if you don’t work from bed already). Maybe this powerlessness leads to frustration and by trying too hard to assert our rebellion against a fucked up system, all we do is focus on our fears. But, as men, are we looking for excuses for our behavior or are we going to roll up our sleeves and be the change we want to see? Every time I read men shaming women for having sex, shunning their 50% responsibility in a single mother’s child, looking to blame the victims of rape (not, of course, in the very small percentage of rapes happening to straight men) boasting about their sexual conquests (and in many cases about neglecting female sexual gratification in the process) I fear this is how manhood of the early XXI century will be remembered.
Is all hope lost?
Is there any positive way we can, once again, live like men and stand proud, hand-in-hand with the remaining half of our species, who have shown us an incredible amount of achievements in many arenas in the last century? I contend that these new circumstances, like any others in the past, are ripe opportunities for the taking. By those who take the bull by the horns and embrace the only constant in life: change. Who rather than fear or loathe women, join them in strength to build better partnerships, families, businesses, institutions, societies. As the proud father of a daughter, it’s the first time I’ve felt like I should’ve fathered a son, too.
For the men reading this: How helpful for your rights and opportunities do you think it is to repeat your grievances and recruit more young minds into causes like MGTOW? How truly are you going your own way when the banner itself is about MEN and not you, a man? (MGMOW) How can you begin your own journey as a man by being incessantly bothered by those who think differently? By needing of a following?
But more practically, if going your own way’ makes your life so much better, then why not just do it and enjoy the lifestyle? If you don’t need any women in your life why not just do without them and not make a big fuss? And if they threaten your very ability to do so, how reasonable is it to expect that the solution to your predicaments will come without listening to them and addressing their side of the deal? Maybe learn a thing or two from them?
Hey, but maybe I’m just being wishful and burying my head in the sand while there are women out there taking what’s mine. Poor me.