The following gem is from an American Magazine that circulated in the year 1900 called The Bachelor Book. – PW
The following gem is from an American Magazine that circulated in the year 1900 called The Bachelor Book. – PW
In this video Paul Elam looks at the tradition of arranged marriage, while contrasting it to the false sense of superiority Westerners ascribe to relationships based on ‘romantic love.’
While it may seem like a topic of modern MRAs and MGTOW, the burning question of whether men should marry, or more to the point, not marry, is centuries old. That men are rejecting marriage in increasing numbers is well documented, however cynicism about the virtues of marriage is nothing new.
In the premodern period there appeared a movement called the Querelle des Femmes or quarrel about women, which approximates to the current debate between feminists and antifeminists. The centuries-long querelle revolved around discussion of the rights, power and status of women. At its extremes the debate showcased hatred of women on the one hand, and extreme adoration or love of women on the other.
In its broader sense, the querelle encompasses all writing in which the relative merits of the sexes are discussed to ultimately draw gynocentric conclusions. If we consider the longevity of this revolution we can say that today’s feminism is the tail end of a longer advocacy machine for women.
The timeframe of the querelle begins in the twelfth century, and after 800 years of debate finds itself perpetuated in the feminist-driven reiterations of today (though some authors claim, unconvincingly, that the querelle came to an end in the 1700s).
The following excerpt from a paper discussing the querelle, by historian Joan Kelly, is instructive. It was written with a feminist focus, thus leaving out all but the most superficial characterization of the male experience of gender relations. Nevertheless it provides much important history about the longer gender debate and how it underpinned the growth of modern feminism:
We generally think of feminism, and certainly of feminist theory, as taking rise in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Most histories of the Anglo-American women’s movement acknowledge feminist “forerunners” in individual figures such as Anne Hutchinson, and in women inspired by the English and French revolutions, but only with the women’s rights conference at Seneca Falls in 1848 do they recognize the beginnings of a continuously developing body of feminist thought. Histories of French feminism claim a longer past.
They tend to identify Christine de Pisan (1364-1430?) as the first to hold modern feminist views and then to survey other early figures who followed her in expressing prowoman ideas up until the time of the French Revolution. New work is now appearing that will give us a fuller sense of the richness, coherence, and continuity of early feminist thought, and I hope this paper contributes to that end. What I hope to demonstrate is that there was a 400-year-old tradition of women thinking about women and sexual politics in European society before the French Revolution.
Feminist theorizing arose in the fifteenth century, in intimate association with and in reaction to the new secular culture of the modern European state. It emerged as the voice of literate women who felt themselves and all women maligned and newly oppressed by that culture, but who were empowered by it at the same time to speak out in their defense. Christine de Pisan was the first such feminist thinker, and the four-century-long debate that she sparked, known as the querelle des femmes, became the vehicle through which most early feminist thinking evolved.
The early feminists did not use the term “feminist,” of course. If they had applied any name to themselves, it would have been something like defenders or advocates of women, but it is fair to call this long line of prowomen writers that runs from Christine de Pisan to Mary Wollstonecraft by the name we use for their nineteenth- and twentieth-century descendants. Latter-day feminism, for all its additional richness, still incorporates the basic positions the feminists of the querelle were the first to take.1
The paper is worth reading in full, but as mentioned above the author leaves out a substantial exploration of the male experience within the querelle. For the record I would also place the beginnings of the Querelle back further, and least to the writing of The Romance Of The Rose and earlier to the treatise The Art of Courtly Love which both discuss the themes of the emergent querelle, and both generated lively social debate on women’s status and gendered issues.
Isaac Newton proposed the law that for every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction and, by extension, we could say the same law applies to trends within human society. By this reasoning we can assume that a counterforce to the querelle des femmes must have been in full force from the Middle ages through to the modern period. But what form did it take?
As mentioned, the querelle des femmes was part of a more general quarrel between the sexes (querelle des sexes) in which men and women argued in favor of their respective issues. In that context surely men had something more to say for themselves beyond obsessing with the status of women alone; what about their own experiences as men, and where was that experience most detrimentally played out?
Marriage, in a word, is one place where men’s concerns most critically clustered – at least in terms of their literary activism.
During the pre-modern period men’s issues resembled the concerns of today’s MGTOW and Men’s Human Rights Activists (MHRAs), which revolve around discrimination against males in the relational sphere – both public and private.
I recently chanced upon another article which outlined the deeper history under the heading the querelle du mariage or quarrel about marriage. Being a chicken and egg scenario we cannot easily determine whether the querelle du mariage or the querelle des femmes came first, however it is clear that the two traditions served as vehicles for male, and female advocacy respectively.
The following book excerpt provides more detail about this tradition:
The early manifestations of the quarrel often focus on marriage, one of the pressing problems of the late Middle Ages and the early modern period: An uxor sit ducenda (Should One Take a Wife) was a question much discussed by Italian men, and in Germany it could appear as Ob einem manne sey zu nemen ein eelichs weyb oder nit (Should a Man Take a Wife or Not? – Albrecht von Eyb, 1472). In answer to this question male misogamy (hatred of marriage) is expressed as misogyny (hatred of women) and philogyny (love of women) as philogamy (love of marriage).
Christine de Pizan’s praise of women was directed against the misogamists and misogynists of her time, the anonymous text Les quinze joies de mariage (The Fifteen Joys of Marriage) deplored the loss of male liberty in marriage, and a century later Erasmus of Rotterdam presented the misogamist virgin in his Virgo misogamos (The Misogamist Virgin – 1523), who desperately wants to enter a convent but inspired by love she thinks better of it at the last moment. Philogynous texts questioned why women were punished more strictly for adultery than men or why a husband had to be brought (by a dowry); misogamists and misogynists, eg. In England, answered the question by stating that women tend to squeeze money out of their husbands.
In Germany this aspect of the querelle has been largely ignored (interest has focused on voices which argued in favor of women’s intelligence and reason), although the querelle du mariage played an important role here: the wide-ranging marriage debate during the Reformation, in particular in its sensational and scandalous early phases – public betrothals of monks and nuns, closures of monasteries and convents, an epidemic of marriages in Germany to which even French reformers travelled who wished to marry – must be read as an integral part of the European querelle des sexes and the same goes for the marriage debates of the Counter-Reformation. Martin Luther’s Von chelichen Leben (The Estate of Married Life – 1522) speaks quite in the manner of a querelle text by turning against the traditional misogamist attitude:
“What we would speak most of is the fact that the estate of marriage has universally fallen into such awful disrepute. There are many pagan books which treat of nothing but the depravity of womankind and the unhappiness of the estate of marriage […]. So they [young men listening to the advice of a Roman official] concluded that woman is a necessary evil, and that no household can be without such an evil. […] For this reason young men should be on their guard when they read pagan books and hear the common complaints about marriage, lest they inhale poison . For the estate of marriage does not sell well with the devil, because it is God’s good will and work. This is why the devil has contrived to have so much shouted and written in the world against the institution of marriage […]. The world says of marriage, ‘Brief is the joy, lasting the bitterness.”2
I have long wondered where and in what form male activism existed in response to traditional European gynocentrism, but was not clear on what forms it took. From the above description, and from the many anti-marriage texts abounding through old Europe, it’s clear that a historical form of men’s rights advocacy concerned itself with both gynocentrism and the dangers of entrapment within marriage.
Gynocentrism is coming under sustained pressure within the internet age, seeing it increasingly criticized even as it remains powerful as a cultural force. Will the current pushback against cultural gynocentricity see it weaken further? That’s anyone’s guess, but if nothing else we can take pride in the fact that our resistance to it extends back far longer than the laughable Wikipedia article on Men’s Rights would have us believe.
The Wikipedia entry would have us believe that men’s rights advocacy started in the 1970s as a feminist initiative which then deformed itself into an antifeminist backlash. Clearly this is a monumental con driven feminist editors of the Wikipedia entry, one which denies blatant evidence extending back to Ernest B. Bax and before. With the longer history on men’s activism outlined above, I hope you will join with others in calling bullshit on feminist denials of men’s history and lived experiences.
 Joan Kelly, Early Feminist Theory and the “Querelle des Femmes”, 1400-1789
 Gisela Bock and Margarete Zimmerman, The European Querelle des Femmes, in Medieval Forms of Argument: Disputation and Debate (p.134).
Men Going Their Own Way (MGTOW) refers to men committed to self-determination, and to voluntarism within relationships. Defining oneself as a Man Going His Own Way (MGHOW) reveals a commitment to the view that a man has the sole right to decide what his own goals in life will be rather than accepting goals conferred by others, or by social consensus of peers, or higher social status individuals or collectives. Generally, consensus-conferred male identities or goals are recognized and rejected by MGTOW men as prescriptive, utilitarian, and benefiting others at a cost of socially unrecognized masculine self-destruction or marginalization.1,2,3,4,5
The phenomenon of male self-determination goes back millennia under names such as free-man, celibate, bachelor or stag. Sometimes these self-determined or ‘MGTOW’ men formed groups, the earliest known being that of the Anti-Bardell Bachelor Band of 1898.6 The phrase “Men Going Their Own Way,” or variants such as “going his own way,” or “to go his own sweet way,” in reference to men’s freedoms is hundreds of years old.7
The MGTOW phrase was further promoted in 2004 by members of a men’s rights group.8 Two of those promoters went by the online names ‘Ragnar’ and ‘Meikyo,’ and in an online interview Ragnar describes the moment as follows:
You see all the ideas were floating around on the internet. We were frustrated that we couldn’t get men to build an organization, couldn’t get men to come to this damned meeting- everybody was going their own damned way, and the fact that men went their own way, we started to use that phrase and we started to talk about what’s important for men… who’s going to define their masculinity? Well, they actually have to do that themselves, they have to find out what it is for themselves. So, as you have the responsibility for your own actions, well then it’s also your responsibility to define who you are as a man.9
The MGTOW acronym has since enjoyed increasing popularity as a title for male self-determination.
A core tenet of MGTOW is rejection of gynocentrism, the preferential concern for women in both traditional and progressive forms. The gynocentric customs of marriage, romantic love, chivalry and male servitude are wholly rejected by MGTOW as running counter to the goal of men going their own way.
MGTOW is viewed as an evolving consciousness of self-determination and way of looking at the world. It involves making choices in the present that serve ongoing, future self-determination. Conversely, choices made that seriously endanger future self-determination are viewed as antithetical to MGTOW. 11
Unlike the lockstep and dogma of so many contemporary movements, MGTOW is entirely individualistic, even though many men may arrive at the same conclusions from having observed the same phenomena. The MGTOW-symbol suggested by the 2004 promoters shows a path deviating from the main road (ie. individualism), and an arrow (evolutionary potential). The same promoters further suggested that MGTOW is not affiliated politically, and efforts are made to “avoid pulling it to the left or to the right politically.”12 The proposition for political apartisanship, however, carries no moral authority for individual MGTOW who are free by definition to choose any political alignment they wish.
By August Løvenskiolds, (expanding on an older article by Peter Wright)
MGTOW YouTube producer Turd Flinging Monkey (TFM) recently talked about his theory of how historical patriarchies (real ones, not the faux versions feminists are forever whining about) interact with gynocentrism to produce cycles of societal growth and collapse. The theory, referred to as the traditionalism cycle, has appeared in major civilizations. The traditionalism cycle goes something like this:
Here’s the video that describes this in more detail.
The “traditionalism theory” is both descriptive of observed historical patterns and makes falsifiable predictions about how wealthy societies will break down over time if they fail to control gynocentric resource demands.
The theory is a reasonable one; societies start with patriarchs (father-elders) as the controlling class, then move through traditional and progressive forms of gynocentrism before collapsing under their own weight – the inability of resource production to keep up with the unchecked demands of an increasingly indolent yet powerful populace. The theory says that gynocentrism escalates with the advent of abundance if abundance exists in a given culture.
What we appreciate about TFM’s exposition of his theory is that he did some detailed historical research to back it up – something sorely lacking in the discussion of the roots of gynocentrism. Instead of real research we often see pull-it-out-of-your-ass histories or dismissive appeals to biology – “it’s all in the genes.”
The irony that “Turd Flinging Monkey” did NOT pull it out of his ass is not lost on us.
The pull-it-out-of-your-ass kind of history is based on half-guesses, ideology and assumptions with little to no evidence – except perhaps references to items like Lysistrata, a play; Helen of Troy, a myth; The “Rule of Thumb” law authorizing standards of domestic violence (which even feminists admit is a complete fabrication), religious tales, fairy tales, and other fantasy sources – i.e. to assume myths and fables mirror real life has marginal utility at best and is often times just crap: have you ever seen a centaur?
Surely the classical depictions of centaurs must have mirrored real creatures and behaviors or they wouldn’t have mentioned it?! Any thinking person will recognize the problem; relying on ancient mythologies is akin to having future zoologists base the history of equine evolution on episodes of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.
Mythology’s chief value is in metaphor: when the goddess Ishtar’s love interest Gilgamesh spurns her, she threatens to unleash zombies unless her father punishes Gilgamesh for his impudence. The metaphors seem to boil out of this, the oldest of human stories:
Some of those metaphors are useful; some not so much.
The same goes for reductive biological explanations. Aside from the laziness of such approaches, the error in over-emphasizing biology is that biology is a product of environmental pressures that can, and do, change over time. Where you see biology you will always see a facilitating environment shaping it. Changes in environmental conditions (like over-population and resource depletion) could eliminate the biological “need” for gynocentrism entirely – wombs lose value when reducing the population is the only viable survival option for a species.
Fortunately, TFM breaks with the catalogue of errors and is trying to keep his analysis fact-based and real.
With that said there are some major, unspoken nuances that should be added to the conversation. The first is that there are degrees of gynocentric culture in both its traditional and progressive forms. Gynocentric societies are not cookie-cutter one-size-fits-all. Like hurricane categories with wind strengths of one to five, gynocentric culture can be imagined in a similar way – as differing in reach and packing winds anywhere from dangerous to destructive to catastrophic.
Like hurricanes, which become more intense depending on a confluence of atmospheric pressure, temperature, humidity, and wind direction, likewise the intensity of a given gynocentric culture rests on multiple factors. TFM has named one of them in his video: abundance.
Abundance is a good start, one that, in isolation from other factors, can definitely lead to a (lets call it) ‘category one’ gynocentric culture. But as we add more contributing factors the gynocentrism gets more pervasive and more destructive – factors like
As these and many other factors converge the strength of gynocentric culture grows potentially up to a ‘category five’ such as was born in the Middle Ages with the mother of all gynocentric cultures that has spanned over 800 yrs and been exported from Europe to the rest of the world.
We don’t intend to give an exhaustive reply here but will end with a general comment about our present culture. At this point the gynocentric culture birthed in medieval Europe is unprecedented in the long path of history – it was only there, and then, that the combination of romantic chivalry and courtly love was born, along with a bunch of other contributing factors that made this gynocentric revolution the mother of them all. But there’s no doubt there have occurred smaller, less intense manifestations of gynocentric culture throughout history along the lines TFM suggests.
Recognizing gynocentrism and how it hurts men, families and society is critical to the process of limiting and perhaps undoing the toll that it takes on everyone.
An older version of this essay first appeared on gynocentrism.com.
Authors note: The below article was taken as a base commentary and expanded by August Løvenskiolds HERE. While I do not agree with all the expanded points made by August, I have added his article to this website for the purpose of discussion. – PW
The following is a brief comment on Turd Flinging Monkey’s theory referred to as the ‘traditionalism cycle’ appearing in major civilizations. The cycle goes something like this:
Patriarchal traditionalism → gynocentric traditionalism → progressive gynocentrism → collapse.
The theory is a reasonable one; societies start out as patriarchally controlled, then move through traditional and progressive forms of gynocentrism before collapsing under their own weight. The theory says that gynocentrism escalates with the advent of abundance (if and when abundance exists in a given culture).
What I appreciate about TFM’s theory is that he did some actual historical research to back it up – something sorely lacking in the discussion of the roots of gynocentrism. Instead of actual research we frequently see a pull-it-out-of-your-ass histories, or alternatively dismissive appeals to biology – “it’s all in the genes.”
The pull-it-out-of-your-ass kind of history is based on half-guesses and assumptions with little to no evidence – except perhaps references to items like Lysistrata, a play; Helen of Troy, a myth, religious tales, fairy tales, and other fantasy sources – ie. it’s a huge error to assume myths and fables mirror real life. Have you ever seen a centaur… surely the classical depictions of centaurs must have mirrored real creatures and behaviors or they wouldn’t have mentioned it?! Any thinking person will recognize the problem; relying on ancient mythologies is akin to having future zoologists base the history of equine evolution on episodes of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.
Same goes for reductive biological explanations. Aside from the laziness of such approaches, the error in over-emphasizing biology is that biology does not exist, or rather doesn’t exist as a thing-in-itself. Where you see biology you will always see a facilitating environment shaping it.
Fortunately, TFM breaks with the catalogue of errors and is trying to keep it fact based and real.
With that said there are some major, unspoken nuances that I’d like to add to the conversation. The first is that there are degrees of gynocentric culture in both its traditional and progressive forms. Gynocentric societies are not cookie-cutter one size for all. Like hurricane categories with wind strengths of one to five, gynocentric culture can be imagined in a similar way – as differing in reach and packing winds anywhere from destructive to catastrophic.
Like hurricanes, which become more intense depending on a confluence of atmospheric pressure, humidity, and wind direction, likewise the intensity of a given gynocentric culture rests on multiple factors. TFM has named one of them in the video below: abundance. This is a good start, one that, in isolation from other factors, can definitely lead to a (lets call it) ‘category one’ gynocentric culture. But as we add more contributing factors the gynocentrism gets more pervasive and more destructive – factors like male to female population ratio; aristocratic conventions influencing the masses; the presence of military campaigns; and the strength and structure of cultural narratives perpetuating the sentiment (etc.). As these and many other factors converge the strength of gynocentric culture grows potentially up to a ‘category five’ such as was born in the Middle Ages with the mother of all gynocentric cultures that has spanned over 800 yrs and been imported from Europe to the rest of the world.
I don’t intend to give an exhaustive reply here but will end with a general comment about our present culture. At this point I’m still assuming the gynocentric culture birthed in medieval Europe is unprecedented in the long path of history – it was only there, and then that the combination of romantic chivalry and courtly love were born, along with a bunch of other contributing factors that made this gynocentric revolution the mother of them all. But there’s no doubt there have occurred smaller, less intense manifestations of gynocentric culture throughout history along the lines TFM suggests.
Harnessing men’s utility can be witnessed from the erection of Stonehenge to the Roman Empire to the moon landings. Cures for diseases and vaccines to prevent them happened from the intensely intelligent actions of the human male. Exploring new territories and engineering the transport to send people to new places has changed the world, almost all of it through risk and hardship borne by men. Men have driven civilization forward since we first walked away from the African savannah. Men’s blood, sweat, tears and sacrifices are the fuel rods that have always driven the big machine of our society.
Conditioning men, training them to do that, was necessary.
If the world wanted to continue its forward march it needed to entice little boys with fictions of glory that would forge their identities as the architects and the engineers of the world around them. It was an easy sell given the perhaps innate tendency in males to risk and to accomplish more than the man next to him.
We have thus, from generation to generation, raised our men on a steady diet of stories about saviors, knights and world-building heroes. We train them see themselves in accordance with those fables, sometimes brutally. We teach them that their worth is actually their worth to the wants and needs of others. We instruct them to see themselves as worthless for doing or being anything other than what we expect them to be.
This kind of thinking probably had its appropriate place in a world that was driven by constant and immediate survival needs. There is no doubt that without humankind benefitting from male sacrifice, you would not be sitting there reading this over an internet connection in a safe and comfortable environment, perhaps half a world away.
So do we need to continue this kind of dependence on men to sacrifice unthinkingly for the needs of others? Seven billion examples of a species now dominating the planet and traveling the solar system suggest not.
Yet we continue on in the same mode, blinded by habituation and the thoughtlessness that comes with it.
The problem that we glean from this is clear. The labels of hero, savior and other forms of “real” manhood are now just euphemisms for the disposable servants we have become as an entire class of human beings. We proudly retell tales of sacrifice to our sons, even as the story of their own lives emerges – singing paeans to the yoke.
Such are the stories all little boys are raised on:
The stories seem harmless and even cute in isolation from their real-world implications. As fantasies we delight in them. But it pays to remember our identities consist, as Shakespeare said, of such stuff as dreams are made. The stories we absorb are the stories we enact, and in this case we enact them to the neglect of ourselves and our larger human potential.
The psychotherapeutic world has long understood the equation ‘narrative becomes identity’ – and the field is populated with therapies whose sole aim is to construct new narratives for our lives. Beginning with Freud’s ‘talking cure’ and later archetypal psychology, cognitive psychology (scripts), narrative psychology, cognitive narratology (etc.), narrative therapy leads the way to healing and self-respect.
Men, in particular, are story creatures. Our psyches literally rely on them for existence as much as our bodies rely on food. We create stories about “who” we are; about the world we live in and our place in it; and about how we are meant to relate to others – men, women and children. Without them we lack orientation and are left with an existential vertigo.
Whatever you want to call them–scripts, myths, narrations, schema or stories–we can’t live without them. However, like a bad dose of salmonella some narratives will give you a case of mental dysentery leading even unto death by overwork or suicide – such is their power to direct your behavior. Psychologists, good ones anyway, refer to these as pathologizing narratives and try to weed them out of your mental garden.
But who is to decide what a pathological narrative is? Surely it is not the feminist psychologists who now dominate nearly every part of the therapeutic landscape with pathological narratives.
The problem with all mainstream therapy, which is now nearly synonymous with feminist therapy, is that it doesn’t recognize gynocentrism as a problem or perhaps doesn’t see it at all. So they have no model for guiding men out of pathological (gynocentric) narratives and into new ones that might release them from the old script. In fact what they usually do, despite superfical overtures about therapy that focuses on the needs of the client, is actively encourage men to stay lodged in the depth of the gynocentric mythos.
How many men feel (and actually are) waylaid, ambushed and taken hostage by female-centric ideas when they enter couples counseling? How often do you hear that men are resistant to therapy because they don’t want to express feelings, only to see the same purveyors of that idea rush in to shame men the moment they open up?
How many men would benefit from understanding that they cannot begin to identify who and what they are without first ending the unhealthy reliance on women, and others with a conflict of interest, as sources of approval in their lives?
There is a reason that men don’t trust therapists. It is because there are so many therapists who don’t trust men. Those practitioners are more likely to use men than to help them.
We don’t just make narratives up – in many ways they make us up. So it’s important to not let the culture write the script for us, the script that inevitably leads to the belief that we are rapists and emotional failures, that women are damsels, that we are knights in the Order of Chivalry, and that we must suffer our lives for the principles of gynocentrism. Like the tattered novel you just can’t seem to finish reading, throw it in the trash and hunt for a new book, a better book, one that will bring value to your life.
If you are searching for a therapist make sure and ask one question: “Have you heard of gynocentrism?” If they haven’t walk away and don’t hire them. In fact be prepared to do so much walking away that your steps will number enough to walk around the entire planet three times. Doing therapy with men without a fundamental understanding of gynocentism is like trying to teach algebra without a fundamental understanding of mathematics.
The task of the gynocentrism-savvy therapist is to facilitate the male client’s rewriting of his own story. The (completely imaginary) book will have a beginning, a middle and an end with a compelling plot throughout. It doesn’t matter what the new fiction is, as long as it works for the client. It can be anything the therapist helps the client envision for himself during the course of therapy. They leave the therapy sessions with a new novel in which they are the protagonist, leading a gynocentrism-free life of self-determination.
The above underscores the importance of having a healthy narrative to live by. A good therapist can help you achieve that – if you need assistance at all. Some of us, many actually, can write our novels without help. Just make sure that the narrative you adopt is one that allows you to be a fully functioning human being. If your current story doesn’t achieve that, burn it and dream up something new.
Dream big, but most importantly, dream what you choose.
“To be or not to be- that is the question.”
Being is vital to the health of everyman but is rarely given the consideration it deserves: Being at a cafe, being in nature, being with a friend, being at home, being at peace. Smelling the roses. If allowed, these things have potential to replace some of the incessant doing that drives men’s existence too early into the coffin.
We’ve all heard the phrase Women are human beings and men are human doings.1 It’s one of those catchy, hummable lines that everyone agrees with before it slips again from conscious awareness – even as it remains in front of our eyes and in our daily behavior. Even as it slips from awareness the fact remains that doing without being, and being without doing, bespeak unbalanced lives, ones that can and do lead to pathology.
The question we need to ask is what are we doing about it? I don’t mean what are we doing about it as a movement, but what are we, each of us, doing about it in our own personal lives. While some men are already addressing the balance of being and doing in their personal lives, others may still be searching for the right balance, and for a better understanding of what’s at stake.
Pediatric psychiatrist Donald Winnicott contends that not only is being more important than doing in regards to psychological health, but that being must precede doing in order for doing to have significance:
“Being is at the centre of any subsequent experience in life. In fact if the individual has not had the opportunity to simply be, his future does not augur well in terms of the emotional quality of his life. The likelihood is that this individual will feel empty.”
“Now I want to say: ‘After being, is doing and being done to. But first, being.”
“The ability to do, therefore, is based on the capacity to be. The search and discovery of the sense of self, in the context of therapy, is all to do with finding an identity.”
“It cannot be overemphasized that being is the beginning of everything, without which doing and being done to have no significance.”2
Being, according to Winnicott, is more important to mental health, and is ironically the thing males are most encouraged to forego in favor of doing. You’d better not relax and simply be – there is work to be done!
The trend of separating boys and girls along these lines starts early. The boy gets a dump truck and a Bob the Builder toolkit, and the girl receives a Be Yourself Barbie™. Through the person of Barbie girls learn the experience of ‘being’ in a doll’s house, and being relaxed, being pretty, being ugly, being among friends, being at a cafe, being married, or being happy, sad, jealous or vain. That’s the psychological cloth little girls are cut from.
The first question we ask a boy is “What sport do you play,” or “What kind of work do you want to do when you grow up?” Men are taught to be action figures who work, do the wage earning, do the repairs, or do their girlfriend. As long as they are doing something, we assume they are in their rightful place.
But doing can only return value if the person first exists. If he doesn’t exist, all efforts in doing have no meaning because there is no ‘me’ doing the doings. In that instance all doing becomes futile because it never leads to a sense of me-ness. Or, if doing does provide a momentary illusion of me-ness, it all vanishes the moment activity stops. When all is still, with no future plans, he is swallowed by an existential void.
With the modern mandate that men do and women be, there’s a dearth of male models for how to be. So for the purpose of this article lets revive a classical source illustrating what men have lost and why we would do well to rediscover it. For our purpose let’s consult the 2,600 yr old sage Lao Tzu, who cultivated a philosophy of non-doing (Wu wei), defined as follows:
Wu wei (Chinese: 無爲) is an important concept in Taoism that literally means non-action or non-doing. In the Tao te Ching, Lao Tzu explains that beings (or phenomena) that are wholly in harmony with the Tao behave in a completely natural, uncontrived way. The goal is, according to Lao Tzu, the attainment of this purely natural way of behaving, as when the planets revolve around the sun. The planets effortlessly do this revolving without any sort of control, force, or attempt to revolve themselves, instead engaging in effortless and spontaneous movement.3
Being long aware of the doing/being dichotomy, one of the first books I gave my son, at the tender age of 10, was a children’s version of the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu. We read it together and enjoyed some interesting discussion about the wise old sage, especially about his contention that the wise man “Acts without doing” — What did it mean? I’m not entirely sure if we got the meaning right, but we decided it meant to ‘act’ in the way you want to act, without ‘doing’ what others demand or expect from you.
In another translation the old sage says, Act without doing; work without effort. In each of these phrases he seems to be saying let it come naturally, and not from pressures from the outside world.
None of this is to suggest that boys and men shouldn’t be active in the world. Not at all. The good news for men seeking that greater balance is that you don’t have to sacrifice doing in the process. Most men really MUST do in order to be healthy. But there is a distinction to be made here between healthy and unhealthy doing.
It’s one thing to act from a spontaneous sense of self, and yet another to operate from compliance with the wishes of others because you were raised on a narrative of utility. Those living the narrative of utility must first become conscious of that before giving themselves over to an exploration of being, and if that consciousness is not first achieved then it’s guaranteed that your attempts at being will be interrupted by internal guilt or by shaming from those who have most to lose from you walking off the plantation.
As per Lao Tzu we don’t stop doing but rather become more conscious of our motives so that doing can emerge from a different center – not gynocentric duty, but conscious choice grounded in the ability to be.
One of Lao Tzu’s main disciples Chuang Tzu elaborates the topic:
Heaven does nothing: its non-doing is its serenity.
Earth does nothing: its non-doing is its rest.
From the union of these two non-doings
All actions proceed,
All things are made.
How vast, how invisible
All things come from nowhere!
How vast, how invisible-
No way to explain it!
All beings in their perfection
Are born of non-doing.
Hence it is said:
“Heaven and earth do nothing
Yet there is nothing they do not do.”
Where is the man who can attain
To this non-doing?4
Remaining with our fictional character Lao Tzu a little longer, let’s consider the traditional tea-making ceremony he helped to found. Just as Barbie is famed for her tea parties where she teaches girls the arts of being among friends, Lao Tzu is credited with the first Chinese tea ceremony, a ritual centered in the experience of stillness and presence. We may be reluctant to talk about a ‘Tao of Barbie,’ with her narcissistic overtones, but the tea drinking ceremonies of the Chinese and Japanese cultures deserve a nod to the Tao of Lao Tzu.
Taoism, like most ancient religions, talks about the balance between work and repose. By way of contrast, while Barbie also teaches girls that a work/life balance is possible, it’s not certain that Barbie takes the work part of that equation very seriously.
To summarize, a common element running through all narratives about men is doing. We hear it in phrases like “All work, no play,” “Don’t just sit there, do something!,” and “No rest for the wicked.” Men slave for gynocentric culture as its saviors, fix-it men, martyrs, protectors, laborers, office-workers, and heroes – all narratives based on doing. But there’s good reason for men to break from the cycle of servitude to enjoy some moments of being – being for themselves. It’s time we stopped for a cup of tea: ritually made, mindfully sipped, with or without friends, and without a need to watch the clock for the next round of work.
 On Dr. Warren Farrell’s website the phrase “Women are human beings, men are human doings” is credited to his book Women Can’t Hear What Men Don’t Say. Elsewhere he explains: “I think the source here is yours truly. In the late 1960s, when I began speaking in this area, I used to say this. Although I’ve checked a dozen books of quotations and believe I created this, I wouldn’t bet my life on it.” (p.275).
 Jan Abrams, The Language of Winnicott; A Dictionary and Guide to Understanding His Work (1996)
 Wikipedia: Wu wei (June 5, 2015)
 Thomas Merton, The Way of Chuang Tzu (1965)
Perspectives on MGTOW (Men Going Their Own Way) – a significant post-gynocentrism subculture based on the principle of male self-determination.
How to tame men – gynocentrism style
Gynocentrism – why so hard to kill?
MGTOW – facts and fallacies
What are MGTOW against?
Early references to “Men going their own way”
Definition of MGTOW
Self-determination: phrase origins
A MGTOW Yardstick: Determination Of Self By Other (DOSBO)
On the nature of MGTOW self-determination
MGTOW: 12th century style
MGTOW movement of 1898
Bachelorhood as a fine art (1900)
The real history of MGTOW
Authoring your own life
Don’t just do something, SIT THERE
The historical role of gynocentrism in societal collapse
Chasing the Dragon: Superstimuli as a cause of extreme gynocentrism (Video)
Post-gynocentrism relationships between men and women are possible and even desirable for many people. The following articles explore how relationships can be revisioned.
Articles (mostly from AVfM) exploring post-gynocentrism culture. Each article presents a post-gynocentrism paradigm for individual or collective existence.