In this piece I’ll be looking at the opposite of MGTOW, at what MGTOW isn’t, in order to throw MGTOW into relief against impostors. Naturally, this is my own take, one of numerous that abound on the Internet and one that comes with no special authority and no assumption that I speak for others.
By now many are familiar with the concept of male self-determination as a basic working definition for MGTOW. Self-determination is the practice whereby a man makes choices and decisions based on his own preferences and interests, monitors and regulates his own actions, and is generally self-directing.
That leads to a consideration of the opposite of male self-determination, i.e., determination of self by other (DOSBO). Determination of self by other limits the definition of MGTOW and in one stroke negates the claim that MGTOW can mean anything a person wants it to mean. By applying the DOSBO rule, no person can qualify as a MGHOW if he hands over a significant amount of his sovereignty to another entity. Here are some examples illustrating DOSBO in action.
Example 1: Pro-feminist men
On the face of it, we might assume pro-feminist men are self-determined for having made a choice to be led by the spirit and letter of feminism. It hardly needs saying that this amounts to a false assumption.
The only self-determined decision such men make is an initial one to give up self-determination altogether in favor of determination of self by other—which is, of course, the antithesis of self-determination and thereby disqualifies MGTOW status according to the DOSBO yardstick.
Example 2: Married men
This example is a bit trickier because it raises the question of whether the DOSBO factor is actual or merely potential for a particular married man. Marriage as an institution carries many cultural and legal values, from the symbolizing of a couple’s love in ritualized form through to the cultural and legal implementation of a gynocentric contract.
So the question to ask about any man entering into marriage is this: Is he entering the marriage to willfully participate in a gynocentric charade? Sadly, the vast majority of men are doing precisely that, which indicates that the DOSBO factor is actual—such a man cannot qualify as MGTOW under this definition.
Alternatively, if a couple undertakes to symbolize their love through the ritual of marriage while at the same time imagining they are rejecting the gynocentric aspect imposed by the state, can that man call himself a MGHOW while the DOSBO factor looms in potential due to his wife’s latent legal power? Is this man, rare as he may be, a MGHOW?
This is where I stop short of saying he absolutely cannot be—although I would certainly call him foolhardy if he entered a marriage while knowing the enormous risks involved. He is actually a MGHOW in behavior because he presently “does his own thing,” but he is potentially a man whose life can be determined by his wife and the government if she so chooses. While I look at what is actual instead of what is potential, I’m forced to conclude that he retains some semblance of a MGHOW.
Example 3: Traditionalists
Like marriage, traditionalism needs defining because not all traditionalism is the same—it is not all gynocentric. Traditionalism is a big basket of historical practices that may or may not be limiting of male self-determination. To simply say “All tradition is bad for men” is a blunt instrument that begs debunking. A better approach might be to ask, Which aspects of traditionalism are limiting to male freedoms?
“Traditional gender roles” is a more precise name for the problem, although it too suffers from lack of discrimination. Is it some traditional gender roles, most traditional gender roles, or all traditional gender roles that are bad? Was it bad for married men and non to have the freedom to enjoy male-only fraternal organizations such as the Elks, Masons, Golden Fleece, and others,1 or was it oppressive for bachelor and married men alike to have male-only drinking saloons, pool halls, or sporting clubs? These too were the result of traditional gender divisions.
To use a more controversial example, was it limiting of male self-determination for a woman to stay home during the first two years after giving birth (not beyond!) to breast-feed while the husband worked, or is it limiting for the neotraditionalist couple of today to employ the same traditional role division whereby the father stays at home and bottle-feeds a baby while the woman works full-time?
Are not some aspects of traditionalism benign?
While I leave the answer to these questions open, I’m going to suggest that a much more precise term than either “traditionalism” or “traditional gender roles” would be traditional gynocentrism. Gynocentrism is the main perpetrator in limiting male freedom, and for that reason it is more precise to finger the gynocentric thread of traditionalism.
Moving beyond subjectivism
As a limiting principle, DOSBO delivers MGTOW from the meaninglessness of subjectivism, delivers it from the claim that MGTOW has no inherent meaning, or that it can mean whatever the hell a person wants it to mean. It gives a precise meaning with real meta ideological commitments. Whether or not DOSBO proves of wider value is not important, but it will hopefully stimulate discussion about what precisely are the things that all MGTOW hold in common.
 Edward Ward, The Secret History of Clubs, published 1709. [This is one of hundreds of titles detailing traditional male clubs, guilds, and fraternities. The examples given show that the clubs were riotous places of laughter, male bonding, drinking, inventing and collaborating on various projects, and above all were places to enjoy a little self-chosen freedom. Married and bachelor men alike participated, and in the majority of clubs no women were allowed to set foot].
Feature image by James Cridland