As MGTOW (Men Going Their Own Way) I’m opposed to marriage for myself, and as MRA (Men’s Rights Advocate) I’m opposed to how marriage and marriage laws are presently administered. I would not recommend marriage to any straight man – there are no benefits to men and many pitfalls.
I will never marry but as a hypothetical exercise AVFM editor Peter Wright and I have been discussing the question of whether marriage can be salvaged and reformed as an institution. As Peter noted in an article:
Aside from those differences over origins, both sides agree that gynocentric marriage – its culture, customs, laws, taboos – must be utterly abandoned, not reformed. Notice here I refer to gynocentric marriage and not to a marriage of the minds, hearts, dreams, goals, projects, and bodies that might come with non-gynocentric relationships.
To understand the issues of marriage in the modern context, let’s review the historical purpose of marriage and invent some new terms for the old and new forms of marriage as they now stand, just as “mail” became “junk mail”, “email”, “snail mail”, “voicemail” and “spam.”
These new terms, in rough historical order, are:
- Biomarriage – the first, pre-society pair bonds.
- Andromarriage – the legal codification of biomarriage that includes contractual obligations for both men and women.
- Phallomarriage – the religious co-option of andromarriage to serve the divine.
- Gynomarriage – the current version of andromarriage with no benefits or protections for men’s interests.
- Egalmarriage – an egalitarian form of marriage we have yet to create.
I apologize to the reader for having to introduce so many new terms but to disentangle the fraught subject of marriage we need to be crystal clear on what types of marriage we are talking about.
In the beginning, before laws and large societies, there was biomarriage – biological marriage – a partnership, enduring or not, for producing, rearing and caring for the children of sexual unions. Yes, there were ancient adoptions but in human lore they end badly – that troublesome Moses kid didn’t do his adoptive p’s any favors. Even the elderly and infertile could still biologically marry to support an extended family or cement an alliance but for our purposes “biomarriage” suffices as a working concept.
We say that biomarriage is the basis of civilization for good reasons: biomarriages produce children, who produce grandchildren, who produce extended families, who produce clans, that produce villages, that produce towns, that produce cities and states, that produce nations, that produce empires, that conquer worlds.
Biomarriage has some distinctive gender roles based on biology: women bear and nurse children; men protect and provide for mothers and children. Single men and single women were less successful at producing viable offspring and so natural selection caused genes that encouraged biomarriage to become widespread compared to those genes that did not.
Strong men were better at fulfilling the obligations of being fathers and women who chose those strong men left more progeny, so men became bigger and stronger over time as their genes spread. This is why women hitting men is still seen as less serious than the reverse: she is testing his strength and endurance in the face of pain to gauge his ongoing suitability as a mating prospect. A man who hits a woman – even defensively hitting her back – is displaying a weak intolerance for self-control in the face of pain and society reviles him regardless of the viciousness of the provocation unless he takes on an impressive amount of damage first.
Men who selected women based on markers for fertility – youth, breasts, hips and swayback – also were more successful at reproduction. To the dismay of modern feminists, these mate selection preferences still dominate human coupling: women still swoon for strong, successful men and men still have standards for women’s attractiveness. Weirdly, feminists still rigorously enforce the unequal violence standards that disadvantage weak men while they oppose beauty standards that equally disadvantage ugly women.
To maximize the effectiveness of biomarriage at producing viable offspring, over time, certain details of biomarriage were codified into religious and civil law, including: sexual fidelity (especially in women, to protect fatherhood), durability (to protect women and motherhood), and presumptive consent to sex (to maximize fertility and protect both father/mother from spurious rape allegations). This new form of marriage was androcentric – based primarily on the needs of men to guarantee fatherhood – so I’ll call it “andromarriage.”
These obligations were basic to andromarriage: break one and the andromarriage was destabilized, so harsh penalties, including death, were used to enforce those laws.
In times when the tribe with the biggest army wins, any threat to fertility threatened all the lives of the group. This point is important and we’ll come back to it later.
With the rise of gynocentrism and leisure culture, the harsh penalties for violating the andromarriage laws began to erode – as our preferences for expanding the purview of women increased we became less willing to hold women to any standards or responsibilities. We now see women as lifelong children: too weak, frail, stupid and mercurial to be trusted with adult responsibility when it comes to adhering to the strict requirements of an andromarriage contract. Western countries now look on places that stone adulterers as barbaric even though we were killing them ourselves not that long ago. A woman stoned to death is a woman held to adult standards that feminists now reject.
When “No Fault” divorce arrived in my home state Texas in the early 1980’s andromarriage as a viable institution was dead and gone – I realized my desire for a pair bond was impossibly risky and pointless under the new law. My college sweetheart and I broke up. She took up with a married man; he divorced his (2nd) wife to marry her; they annulled their putative marriage 4 months later and her non-husband remarried his prior wife, who thus became his 2nd, 3rd and 4th wife depending on how one wishes to count their marital odyssey.
Modern marriage became a sick joke sustained by the inertia of fairy tales rather than a firm societal commitment to it. The only groups of any note promoting marriage were homosexual organizations who wanted the legal, psychological, and social validation of being eligible for it. I remember Texas singer/politician Kinky Friedman (and others) remarking once that if gays wanted the hell that is marriage, they were welcome to it.
The modern ideal of gynomarriage as “love” without consequences for women is bad enough – it ignores the former obligations of the andromarriage contract, the care of children, and the health (both mental and physical) of the couple. When combined with alimony, child support and domestic violence laws weighted against men, andromarriage became “gynomarriage” – gynocentric marriage – a legal cudgel for women to extract men’s wealth, protection and resources and give nothing – not even sex nor children – in return.
Now, if I were a religionist obsessed with sin and purity, I’d be tempted to reject marriage because of gay marriage: in the religionist way of thinking, the existence of homosexual marriage contaminates the holy ordinance of marriage with sin, and such affronts to purity must be forsworn. One might understand this religious perspective on marriage as “phallomarriage” – phallocentric marriage – marriage to please the divine order with the man as head-of-household and woman as his loyal helpmeet. Phallomarriage, like the andromarriage of old, uses punishments like prison, beatings and executions to enforce its edicts.
Phallomarriage is a crude attempt to turn back the clock and restore some features of andromarriage. It is based on outdated assumptions that are unworkable in the modern world.
I don’t see gay marriage as problematic at all – in fact, it has the potential to help rehabilitate straight biomarriage by destroying the gendered presumptions of marriage roles in both law and in the popular understanding of what marriage should be: egalitarian. I DO have a problem with trying to rehabilitate andromarriage, phallomarriage or gynomarriage – we live in an age of egalitarianism now (or at least, one that overwhelmingly, if superficially, presumes itself to want egalitarianism). There can be no going back; marriage can only evolve, not regress.
Can we craft a form of marriage – call it “egalmarriage” for “egalitarian marriage” – that can serve both human pair-bonding instincts and egalitarian sensibilities?
We no longer need the severe child-producing focus of biomarriage – the world population is such that we can and must de-emphasize procreation as a basis for marriage. 99% of the world’s population could die overnight and biomarriage would still be unnecessary to human survival until about 99.99% of the population perishes – our fertility has been too successful and is now a threat to humanity through overpopulaton, pollution, disease, and the exhaustion of resources like food and water.
For egalmarriage to work, I believe we must rebalance the scales and limit the property and child custody rights women have in gynomarriage.
Specifically, eliminate “community property”. A husband keeps what he earns – a wife would have no claim on half of his salary or retirement. Likewise, a wife keeps what she earns. The couple can negotiate for any shared monies but the presumption of sharing must be eliminated. Marriage would still have mild economic benefits for the couple – maintaining one home is generally cheaper than two – but a marriage windfall to one spouse at the expense of the other would be gone.
The reasoning for this is simple: equal systems are inherently unstable, they inevitably tip to one side. To stabilize egalmarriage, ironically, we must make it so unequal that both partners are encouraged to preserve it: the high-earning spouse feels that her earnings are safe and the low-earning spouse is motivated to please the high-earning spouse and negotiate value for those services.
To make it very simple: spouses must need each other in as many and extreme ways as possible for a marriage to work.
For example, a husband might wield economic power while the wife wields sexual and reproductive power. Such a relationship is stable as long as each maintains their power. If the husband loses his economic power, the wife leaves and if the woman neglects her sexual assets, the husband leaves.
Eliminating the “community property” concept restores full economic power to the husband (or wife), motivating his wife (or her husband) to hit the gym and master Cosmo’s latest sex tips.
In a similar way, making child custody equal (with no child support transfer payments between the divorced couple, of course) after divorce will destabilize divorce (and thereby stabilize marriage): women will be less tempted to divorce when they know that there is no financial advantage to be gained from it. In this way, egalmarriage circles back the the stability of biomarriage but with a relaxed fertility standard: the hyperproduction of babies is no longer critical to egalmarriage. Couples might marry for companionship with children as an option rather than an expectation.
But should we do it?
Reforming marriage will never occur, as noted above. Perhaps a new form of marriage – egalmarriage – can be created in parallel to the current gynomarriage to eventually replace all versions of marriage 1.0, just as email and vmail are replacing snail mail. Perhaps many different types of marriage could be invented to address the needs of the polygamous, the polyamorous, the cosplayers and/or the bestiality crowd. (That’s a joke, folks.)
I’m MGTOW. I’ve got no need or desire for any sort of marriage, nor will I live to see new forms of marriage come to pass. Still, I think it is an interesting thought experiment that helps us come to terms with the problems of marriage, whether men should engage in it, and where we can bury the corpse.
To be clear: I do not endorse any form of marriage. I do, however, have compassion for those men who have a suicidal desire to try it.