I was surprised to see Tim Patten’s “MGTOW: A worldwide boycott of marriage” on the pages of A Voice for Men not long ago. Not that everything the article said was wrong, but it contains at least one gigantic whopper. I doubt Patten knows it’s a whopper, because that lie has been repeated so many times by people pushing their own personal agendas. But it’s still a lie, a damnable lie about Men Going Their Own Way, and it needs to be identified for what it is.
This lie about Men Going Their Own Way seems to have mostly been promulgated by self-serving women and men calling themselves “MGTOW” on YouTube—women and men who have in the last year or so regularly attacked the Men’s Rights community with a seemingly endless array of paranoid conspiracy theories and abusive lies. Including the gigantic falsehood that Patten repeats: that somehow, MGTOW became an emergent phenomenon through YouTube. In Patten’s telling this started around 2008, and it may have—on YouTube. But that’s not where MGTOW started and it’s not where it got its greatest strength either.
This bullshit mangling of history, giving the YouTube community way too much credit, marginalizes and dismisses the earlier Men Going Their Own Way, some of whom are still around. It also denies the ongoing work of MGTOW in all sorts of other places that aren’t all that well-known on YouTube.
The phrase “Men Going Their Own Way,” or variants such as “going his own way,” or “go his own sweet way,” is now hundreds of years old. Many of the original internet forums and sites where MRAs first promoted Men Going Their Own Way (MGTOW) are gone now, but some are still here. The best place I’ve found so far in researching the earlier Men Going Their Own Way is on the venerable forums known as The Nice Guy. There you can find original discussions, circa 2005, among the then-current MGTOW philosophers and how they hashed out their beliefs. There you will also find the original road sign logo those men, some of them married, created. You’ll find it here: http://www.the-niceguy.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=10353 (registration required to view).
Modern YouTube MGTOW Sectarians may object that this 10 year old thread is “social conservatism” and that the MGTOW community has “evolved” since then. This is bullshit on multiple levels, but it ultimately comes to this, Gentlemen (and Lady): you don’t get to say how the “MGTOW community” evolved. You only get to say how you and your friends evolved. No one put you in charge to make that call for all Men Going Their Own Way, and I for one completely dispute that you have any such authority. In fact all I see out of you is ignorance and blind hubris. Especially when, so often, you clearly have no idea what you’re talking about.
Furthermore, those spinning tales of the “MGTOW is YouTube based” frequently partake in even bigger lies. They often believe a conspiracy theory that goes like this: scheming MRAs somehow discovered that “men’s rights” was going down in popularity but “Men Going Their Own Way” was growing, so Paul Elam suddenly decided he cared about MGTOW and got busy writing about it, but in an attempt to make it more mainstream and palatable, Paul Elam tried to tell MGTOW they can be married. But thankfully, alert and vigilant True MGTOW On YouTube exposed the dastardly plot and now all know the truth: Marriage and MGTOW never! Can’t be done! Un-possible! Only that lying monster Paul Elam and his cult followers say different!
To be blunt, all that is an incredibly womanish lie; it’s dense, multilayered, and carefully crafted so that every reasonable discussion of it can be torpedoed by changing the subject, shifting the goalposts, and other Rationalization Hamster moves. Those who defend this lie, this indefensible false allegation leveled at innocent men, are also guilty of marginalizing the work of other Men Going Their Own Way who are certainly not named Paul Elam, and some of whom can’t even stand Paul Elam.
I honestly suspect that most of those promulgating this conspiracy narrative are the products of single mother homes, because they’re such girlish brats so much of the time, and their narrative is such pathetic gossipy schoolgirl drama and backstabby lies.
Here’s reality: Men’s Rights sites such as Anti-Misandry, Nice Guys, A Voice for Men, and others, have a much larger audience than all the most prominent YouTube MGTOW combined—in fact you could add them all up and throw Girl Writes What and the Honeybadger Brigade on top of all the YouTube MGTOW, and you still wouldn’t have as big an audience as A Voice for Men alone has, let alone the older and more venerable Men’s Rights sites and forums. And these online forums and web sites have been pro-MGTOW continuously for 6 years in AVfM’s case and 10 years or more in others.
In other words, a lot of people have been MGTOW a hell of a lot longer than the snotnosed punks on YouTube who moved in and declared themselves the experts.
Peter Wright, by the way, is a name the YouTube MGTOW are surprisingly quiet on, considering that he is the primary author of this book on MGTOW that many of the YouTubers unjustly maligned without reading it, or by suggesting that if they’d skimmed a few articles that were early draft chapters on AVfM, that means they read it. They didn’t. Peter has been a Man Going His Own Way for well over a decade, much longer than Johnny-come-latelies like Bar Bar or Stardusk or Sandman or the snotnosed punk who calls himself “Mayor of MGTOWN” (let alone total lunatics like “MGTOW Mafia,” “Sexy MGTOW,” or the Dave Futrelle of the YouTube MGTOW Sectarians, “RazorBlade Kandy”) and his book should be read by people who want to know what the authentic Men Going Their Own Way phenomenon has always looked like–and still does.
The paranoid YouTubers rarely or never mention Peter Wright, even though, ironically, his book (a book which most of them never bothered to read before viciously attacking it with bogus reviews) is the primary source for their paranoid and abusive conspiracy theories about Paul Elam trying to “hijack MGTOW” even though there’s nothing objectionable to any sane person in that book.
It’s pretty funny when a hijacker turns his gun on you and says, “Why are you hijacking us?” If there was ever a good example of DARVO, it’s the idea that Peter Wright wrote a book to subvert MGTOW.
And how pathetic is it that those peddling the conspiracy theory about “hijacking” rarely even mention Peter Wright’s name?
Now here is the truth about Men Going Their Own Way: from the very beginning, MGTOW have recognized that Men’s Rights Activism in the political sphere—lobbying legislatures, staging protests and demonstrations, signing petitions, etc.—was going to take possibly decades to succeed. And, they’ve long recognized that the Men’s Rights Movement might never succeed.
The fact that Men’s Rights Activism might fail has been well-understood by MRAs for decades, which is why Men Going Their Own Way was promoted first by MRAs and why it’s always been respected by MRAs.
After all, MRAs created the Men Going Their Own Way logo, promoted the name, the acronym and the philosophy. And MRAs always said that if a Man Going His Own Way did not want to be an activist, did not even believe in activism, that was fine too, because MRAs support men steering their own destinies completely independently of the Men’s Rights Movement if they want to. No one’s obligated to be an activist, after all.
The MGTOW project was, and is, both simple and profound: help individual men break the shackles of women’s expectations, and also break the shackles of other men’s expectations. In a misandrist, gynocentric culture that prioritizes the comfort and security of women, it’s about helping men decide for themselves exactly what they want out of life, and helping them if possible to reach those personal goals, whatever they are, with realistic expectations and fully armed with as much information as possible about how society, and the law, actually works, rather than how they think it should work or wish it works.
Those personal goals might be to remain bachelors and to learn to be happy and self-fulfilled in the bachelor life. Some might date casually, or use sex workers. Others might forswear intimate relations with women entirely. Still other Men Going Their Own Way, having strong biological urges toward procreation and fatherhood and companionship, might pursue long-term relations with women.
In all cases, the goal of the wider community would be to help each individual Man Going His Own Way figure out how to reach his own personal goals: should he cohabit, or should he get the marriage license? Should he stay in his own state, province, or country or should he hightail it to places where fatherhood and family are still respected? Should he just call the whole thing off because women aren’t worth it and he’s both safer and happier being single? Those are all his choices, and nobody else’s, and the only real rule would be never to shame a guy for making choices you wouldn’t, so long as he isn’t hurting or misleading anybody.
The point of all this was never to, under any circumstances, dictate to a man what his choice would be, even if some found his choice odd or questionable. The goal of movement MGTOW was to help individual men find themselves and find what they wanted, and help that individual man craft the best way to get it—for himself, in his own way.
Fast forward to the last few years, and what might be called the Militant MGTOW Sect began on YouTube and a few other places, such as Nacho Vidal’s old MGTOW Forums. And in the last couple of years, these sectarians have suddenly decided that it is absolutely impossible for a man to be married and still a Man Going His Own Way.
This idea—that a married man may not be MGTOW—is a lie. It is an abusive lie that is sometimes harmful to the men who hear and believe it. It is also spitting straight into the face of those who first founded the Men Going Their Own Way movement on the internet, some of whom remain active to this day. It is a betrayal of MGTOW. It is a subversion and hijacking of it. It is a redefinition, and a toxic one. And it should not be allowed to stand.
Why should it not be allowed to stand? Why should we not just accept that the popular YouTube set have helped MGTOW “evolve” to its current state? First because the original MGTOW have yet to leave the stage. Second, because the YouTube Sectarians are misleading people, including themselves in some cases. And their advice is dangerous.
Yes dangerous. Not to society, but to themselves and their followers. They’re a bunch of damned fools who are going to get themselves or their friends killed. And yes, I do mean that literally.
Now the fact is that in most cases, men in the English-speaking world (and a growing number of other countries) probably shouldn’t get married, because the laws on marriage are generally not favorable to men. However, that is the general case; anyone who tells you there is no benefit to marriage in any man’s case is lying to you.
Repeat: if you say that there is no benefit to marriage to men, you are a dangerously ill-informed fool who is likely to get yourself or others killed.
Repeat again: the man who tells you that there is no benefit or protection to the marriage license just might get you imprisoned or killed.
Yes, that includes your favorite YouTuber, no matter how many subscribers he or she has. And by the way, there’s a good chance that your favorite YouTube “MGTOW” peddling the “MGTOW can definitionally never marry” bullshit is cohabiting full-time with a woman at this very moment. Have you tried asking him? You should, and then if he admits he is cohabiting full-time with a woman—some of the biggest names are cohabiting with women–ask him which legal sources he consulted before he reached his conclusion that cohabiting is safer than marriage.
Because here is another thing every Man Going His Own Way should know: regardless of the fact that marriage is generally a bad deal for men, cohabiting with a woman without a marriage license frequently, and indisputably, reduces your rights and renders you more vulnerable than if you got the state-approved piece of paper.
This is not a moral case for marriage. I will repeat my own observation that marriage in the United States and many other countries is quite obviously a contract of dubious value which frequently reduces men’s rights and leads them to harm.
However, the outcomes to cohabiting without marriage are frequently worse, and if you doubt it you can not only talk to a lawyer, you can also talk to me or other MRAs who have dealt with sobbing, suicidal men whose lives are being destroyed by a woman they refused to marry because they thought avoiding the marriage license would make them safer, when it turned out that being unmarried was more legally hazardous to them.
A sane rational man might look at that and say “All right, so you’re saying marriage is bad but cohabiting can be even worse. Why shouldn’t I just avoid women entirely?”
Please don’t make me repeat myself: this is why choosing to remain a bachelor is a perfectly honorable, sane, and rational choice. Which is what I already said.
But if you are talking to one of those who, like most men, needs physical intimacy, and if he’s one of those men deeply wants children and family, you need to be helping that man either overcome those urges or, if he can’t or won’t overcome them, you need to be advising him to make a sane judgement based on all the legal information available to him on what his best moves to protect himself in case of disaster would be.
And if you’re anything but an insane ideologue, you will admit that if the legal climate where he lives, in his particular life situation, makes him safer with the marriage license than he is without it, he should carefully consider this before making his final call.
Will all men benefit from a marriage license? Once again: no. In most cases, probably not. But the final call must be made not based on your opinion of how things should be, it must be based on a firm understanding of that individual man’s circumstances and the relevant laws where he lives. And it will ultimately be up to him and his personal list of priorities to decide which way comes down most in his own favor. Which only he can say, and nobody else, not his parents or his teachers or society and certainly not his favorite YouTuber.
He needs to Go His Own Way, and decide for himself what he wants and how best to get it.
If you state that there is zero benefit to a marriage license, you are lying not just to yourself. You’re lying to everybody who listens to you. So please, let this sink in for you:
It is possible to have an illegal, immoral contract which is in many ways stacked against you—which is nevertheless much better and safer than no contract at all. And that is legal reality, not Dean Esmay’s opinion. Consult a lawyer if you doubt me. I’ll even help you find one, if you’re serious.
This cannot be emphasized enough so I’m going to repeat it until I’m convinced everybody’s heard it: Cohabiting or reproducing with a woman frequently leaves you with fewer rights and protections than getting the marriage license would. That is not “advocacy of marriage.” That is an indisputable, empirical reality.
Suggesting that this is an ideological stance I’m taking is like suggesting that it is Dean Esmay’s ideological position that the Earth revolves around the Sun, whereas your ideology states that the Sun simply must go around the Earth.
Your opinion of how things should be does not necessarily match reality, gentlemen. And if you are telling men there is never any benefit to a marriage license, you are lying to those men and may get those men killed with your lie.
Many men come to either Men Going Their Own Way or the broader Men’s Rights community due to a nasty divorce. This is unsurprising, since most people refuse to believe things are as bad as they are in Family Court until they experience it themselves. And believe me, Family Court is generally brutal to men, especially if they made the wrong choice in wife, or she is easily manipulated by a shark attorney or her manipulative family members or friends who hate you.
However, what this reality about marriage, which the YouTube upstarts won’t tell you, is that no matter how bad you’ve heard it is, the unmarried man who cohabits, or even just dates without cohabiting, frequently has it worse legally. Sometimes, a lot worse.
If you, Mr. YouTube MGTOW Expert, are sleeping nightly next to a woman without a marriage license, the indisputable reality is that in many cases, depending on where you live, you have far fewer rights and far fewer protections than if you went ahead and got the license. Yes, even though the marriage license is arguably an illegal and immoral contract, even though marriage frequently screws up men’s lives, cohabiting or even just dating women without marriage is, in some cases, even more likely to screw your life up.
Screwing your own life up just to match some vague principle looks an awful lot like encouraging men to dispose of themselves for the greater good to me. What’s it look like to you?
Oh and by the way, if you drew up cohabitation agreements? Once again check with a lawyer, as in many jurisdictions no matter what you wrote down and how well-crafted and clever you think it is, a judge can take one look at your cohabitation agreement and flick it away like a filthy tissue dripping of snot, then proceed to give your children and pretty much everything you own to that woman who you, on principle, refused to get married to.
Whereas if you were married your lawyer might have been able to protect at least some of your assets, or at least your access to your kids.
Not reliably. Just more reliably than your proud “I will never get a marriage license” stance.
This reality—and it is reality, gentlemen, not Dean Esmay’s opinion—does not mean Men Going Their Own Way should marry. No one ever said they should. Just that they could. If cohabitation and children was the goal those men set for themselves. The true MGTOW community would not shun those men; it would urge them to get the strongest possible legal and personal advice so that their eyes would be wide open about both the benefits and the pitfalls of whatever choice they made. Including, by the way, the pitfalls of choosing bachelorhood, which can, if you aren’t careful, lead to despondency, isolation, depression, and more, especially if you are not cognizant that regular contact and compassion is a real human need in most men, and not just something you can shrug off blithely. If you choose permanent bachelorhood there are a ton of benefits, but if you’re a rationalist you know that nothing is without its down side, and that you need to look at the down side and take prudent measures for your own mental and physical health.
In any case, if you doubt me on the indisputable, empirical reality that the marriage license frequently gives you more rights and protections than the unmarried, I suggest you ask a lawyer in your jurisdiction what protections a marriage license gives you over cohabiting with a woman, or what an accidental (or not so accidental) pregnancy means to the unmarried versus the married man. Odds are very good that in numerous cases, you have far more rights and protections, both as a matter of law and a matter of practicality, than you would if you refused the marriage contract.
I had an acquaintance who said he’d never get married. He committed suicide earlier this year. He hung himself one night and was found literally swinging from the rafters by his father the next morning. He wasn’t being allowed to be a father to his daughter with a woman he never married, a woman who decided her new boyfriend would make a better dad than he did. After struggling with it, he seems to have eventually decided to just end it all, right at around the age of 25.
In reality if he’d married the girl he’d have had more access to his own child—the legal reality in the state I live in. And, being an otherwise poor man, he had no property to lose to his child’s mother anyway. His only issue was his daughter, whom he was not allowed to see regularly or help rear in any significant way.
But let’s not have the YouTube community talk about my late friend Nate, because his story is inconvenient to the “marriage is always poison to a man, no matter what” bullshit. Thinking like that got my friend Nate dead, and helped assure a little girl would never really know her real father.
How long before it gets one of your friends or followers dead too?
If you want to refuse that license as a matter of principle or to make a personal statement, fine. Just don’t lie to men and tell them that’s a safer choice than getting the marriage license. Because frequently, that’s the opposite of the truth. And no, that is not Dean Esmay’s opinion, that is a legal reality that any halfway competent attorney can explain to you in minutes.
If you say MGTOW “definitionally means you aren’t married” you have just exposed the fact that you don’t understand MGTOW, and furthermore, you just attacked wide swaths of the MGTOW community. Those who hew to the original philosophy are in no way obligated to recognize you as anything but another branch or school of thought of MGTOW—and we have every right to notice that what some of the YouTube “MGTOW” guys are advocating is likely to get more than a few men killed.
If you want to advocate lifelong bachelorhood, go ahead. It’s an honorable choice. It has many benefits, financial and emotional. Just don’t lie and claim that MGTOW definitionally means “no marriage, no exceptions” because many who first promoted MGTOW would never have agreed with you, in fact some of them were married with kids at the time and are still married with kids now.
And those guys, the real Men Going Their Own Way? They know as well as I do that sometimes, the marriage license is better than cohabiting, and that even if both sucks, one is worse for them than the other. And we’d all like to see that change. Or at least I think most sane guys would like it to change.
Either way, only one group has attempted to redefine MGTOW: the YouTube Sectarians, who abandoned all reason in order to assert, contrary to precedent and objective evidence, that MGTOW simply can’t marry. Sorry, that may be the best default advice, but it is far from the universal best advice.
I will likely not bother listening to or responding to any of the Youtube sectarians on this question, for most of them have proven to be unwilling to listen, feverishly still caught up in their Witch Hunt and their “MGTOW” tribalism. But I will probably have at least one more article that looks even more at the history of MGTOW and its philosophy, especially the claim that the original MGTOW was “social conservatism” or “tradconism.” No, it really wasn’t, though some elements of traditionalism were always there. But in the meantime, here’s some links for the open-minded to explore:
YouTube MGTOW sectarians have bullied their way into silencing all objections to false assertions that smear the character of every man who questions them. They’re going to have to get used to the fact that the wider community isn’t going to be letting them get away with that forever. They don’t speak for MGTOW as a whole. They never have.