MHRM, MGTOW, and creating a counter-culture

A recent discussion between Paul Elam and Dean Esmay about the upcoming film The Red Pill should help people understand how many of us view the ‘Men’s Human Rights Movement’ (MHRM) and Men Going Their Own Way (MGTOW). I found it so inspiring I spent a few hours hammering out a transcript of the relevant bits to share below. I hope you get as much out of it as I did. The relevant bits start at 3:38 minutes into the video. –PW

Paul: I wanted to have a discussion for a few minutes a little bit on the nature of social movements, of how they happen, and the fact that this is a part of the process. It’s not like with American civil rights that a bunch of African Americans got together and said, “Hey, our rights are being violated,” then all of a sudden white America said “Oh, yeah, Ok, boy, that’s really true, so let’s just fix it up.” The idea that any social movement has ever made progress without there being conflict, without there being condemnation…. there were other black people that were just outraged at the beginnings of the civil rights movement and who wanted nothing to do with it. It was the same thing with feminism, the same thing with gay rights, it was the same thing with any kind of movement I can think of – there’s always an initial reaction from society to condemn it, to put it down, to make fun of the people that participate. First they ignore you, then they make fun of you, then they fight you and then you win, and we are reaching the fighting stage of this battle. And of course we get mostly negative press: that’s why we need to have a movement! It’s because of these entrenched ideas.

So what do we do with this contingent in the men’s movement that somehow thinks that our success is measured on getting people to say things nice about us, and getting people to write good things and to make good movies that speaks our point of view? And I’m saying this about a lot of people I respect; I’m not trying to put anybody down. But is seems to me a sort of not looking at history the way all social movements have developed and taken that into account when analyzing what’s going on now.

Dean: Some people get immediately angry when you start comparing us to any other civil right movement, which is a little frustrating because they are saying, for example, if you make a comparison to black civil rights they say, “What, you are saying you have it as bad as people with segregated lunch counters?” If you mention Jews in Germany they say “Oh you are saying your just as badly off as as that,” and if you mention almost any other movement, people seem to think we’re saying it’s exactly the same for us. Well no it’s not, because if you look at any of those social movements none of those were exactly identical either – all we are doing is drawing parallels. And when looked at from that context, I actually think the most relevant movement to compare us to if anything is the gay rights movement, maybe just because it’s more modern, but it is more contentious, homosexuality hits buttons in people in ways that others don’t.

So let’s look at the gay rights movement: the epochal moment of that is generally agreed to be something called Stonewall, where a bunch of gay men (oh and by the way mostly men, almost entirely men) got tired of police raids coming into gay bars and arresting everybody for being gay, and pretty much rioted over the thing. And so there was Stonewall–then as everybody knows gay rights just broke out everywhere and it was all over. Right? NO, is didn’t. Apartheid in South Africa, is our situation that bad? No, that’s not the point. The point is apartheid in South Africa, there was the movement to end apartheid, how did it go? Forty years of apartheid and then Nelson Mandela walks out of prison and it’s over. Is that how it went? NO! But it’s how it looks in the history books.

Even if you look at something really big, say the fall of the Soviet Union, if you are young enough or you are just not thinking hard enough you think that what happened is that one day there was the Soviet Union, then the Berlin Wall come down, and it was over: democracy in Russia. Did that happen that way actually? NO! It is still playing out in fact. Martin Luther King gives the ‘I have a dream’ speech in 1963 – an epochal moment on human history. In 1968, five years later, there’s race riots still, in fact maybe the first race riots if I remember right.

I think within the men’s rights community we have our cynics who think none of this will change, and I think this is where some of the more hardcore MGTOW (men going their own way) come from – none of this can change, it’s all biological determinism, it really can’t change, people cant change, men won’t change, women won’t change – to which I say no, and I don’t have to choose either social constructivism OR rabid genetic reductionism.

Paul: Part of that that really bothers me sometimes is that, 1. if this were solely biological determinism, and everybody was cast into a role that they could not break out of, we couldn’t have men going their own way. That phenomena could not exist. Now, is it different, yes. The fact of the matter is that this is the first movement that really does challenge gender roles. This is the first movement that really does go against a lot of human drives. And it makes it tougher for that reason – there’s no doubt it’s harder. I look at it from an understanding of counter-culture, and I think that is a critical part of understanding what’s happening here. There is not going to be a men’s rights day parade in Washington DC with 200,000 people on the green, and a Men’s Rights Act passed in Congress, and all these things that we normally consider iconic of civil rights movements. What there can be though is counter-culture, and there already is one: MGTOW is a counter-culture; MRAs are a counter-culture, both men and women. they are people that have taken the Red Pill and have changed their perspective, or whatever you want to call it. But they are forming a sub-community that is growing, just like we saw with the Romantics, like we saw with the bohemians, like we saw with the beatniks, and like we saw with the hippies. You can call hippies whatever you want – you can’t say they didn’t change the culture.

Dean: The Hip-Hop movement.

Paul: Yes, all these things have a tremendous impact on the culture at large. That’s how you change a culture, is with counter-cultures. It’s the only way that cultures change and that’s what’s happening right now. What happens is that more and more people start looking at this stuff and challenging their own ideas, and that’s already happening. But we’re not going to get there by worrying every time a journalist writes something that’s nasty. Just spell the URL correctly, spell my name right – get it [the message] out there, get more people to the site, get more people to the MGTOW forums, give more people a way to look – those comments out there in the internet actually change things for the better. And the comments now look tremendously different than they did even two years ago; and article out there that comes out that is profeminist, none of its going unchallenged any more, they have to delete it in order to keep their forum clean.

But I wanted to talk about this because I just wanted to reiterate the idea, and maybe try to infuse more of this in discussion – that we are not here to make friends with the mainstream. We are not here to maybe one day wake up and have every legislator in every State suddenly talking about our issues. Eventually that will happen, it will become a part of the culture, but the way we get there is the way we’ve been going, which is to talk about this stuff unapologetically. And to have other people, people like CAFÉ do great work, and they don’t take the same track we do. But I remember as a kid watching the Olympics and seeing a runner –I forget his name- but he got a gold medal, and instead of putting his hand over his heart when they played the national anthem, he raised the black fist for black power, and that was needed at the time, that was a part of a counter culture, a movement that eventually brought real change to society. And I raise mine too!

Dean: I can’t emphasize this point enough. I’ve met a lot of people within the men’s movement, and some outside of the men’s movement, mostly MGTOWs and some PUAs who think that what men’s rights activists do is we go out, and we primarily lobby government officials, and try and get new laws passed and sign petitions. Well we do a little of those things but the fact of the matter is that we mostly engage in counter-culture exactly like you just mentioned, Paul.

I’ll tell ya, just mention for example the civil rights movement of the 1960s. I don’t think this point can be missed. After the civil war and the end of slavery, people were  denied all sorts of fundamental basic human rights for about 100 years, almost to the day. In 1964 President Lyndon Johnson staked his entire presidency on getting something called the Civil Rights Act of 1964 passed. While there were some little things in it to criticize, it was the legislation that went bang – there will be no more discrimination in the United States.  It was followed in one year we had the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which guarantees a voting right to everybody no matter what; if they were of age it didn’t matter, no more literacy tests, no more of that bullshit, counting jellybeans in a jar. No, everybody gets a vote.

So, civil rights are now established in America? Not really. Three years later we saw riots. three years later (I believe it was the 1968 Olympics where that guy was raising his fist in black power?),  and we saw all sorts of civil unrest through the 1970s around race issues, and we still haven’t fully resolved race issues, although I think you’d be a fool not to think things were orders of magnitude better now than they were 50 years ago.

Similarly here, we can see all the legal changes we want. For example we’ve seen this new move Divorce Corp, where the director is trying to get a movement together to change laws on child custody and divorce in the United States. Those may pass, but this will not necessarily mean things get better overnight, because a: there will be a lot of remaining issues,  and b: the courts have historically found ways to get back to doing business as usual regardless of what the legislation says. So I believe in my heart that anybody who isn’t in this thinking that short term is ten years, and that long term may mean 100 years, is not thinking straight. And if you don’t have that level of patience then you need to get it. That’s why I for example have always considered the MGTOW, even the ones who say “I’m not a men’s rights activist – I don’t want it, they’re full of shit they are wasting their time” — that’s why I’ve always believed that every MGTOW, whether he wants to admit it or not is a form of men’s rights activist. Because just the act of saying “I’m not playing this game anymore” is an act of disobedience to the wider culture and become something that we MRAs can point to and say, “you see those guys, now you can keep calling them losers, and whiners and whatever you want but guess what; there’s more and more of them all the time – you think you might wanna stop and question your own assumptions as to why those guys see things that way?”

Paul: Dean that’s why no matter how much flak we get from some of the more extreme MGTOWs out there, the isolationists who point at MRAs and say we’re a bunch of manginas or whatever, we are always going to support the MGTOW community and the idea of men going their own way. We are absolutely going to be behind that with every resource we can and every way we can and publishing literature on that, because the best solution that this culture has is showing men, one at a time, that they don’t have to buy this bullshit corporate lie, marriage lie, and everything else that’s going on out here that really just sort of grabs men from the moment they are born and raises them to be useful and disposable – that they don’t have to participate in that. And the worst that feminist governance makes things for men then the more that that philosophy is attractive to them.

We’re not really building the movement, feminism is, and certain aspects of traditionalism is, building the MGTOW movement. Certainly running around –and I know Dean and I disagree on this, or we might- but running around using guys on the battlefields to go kill and die for corporate interests is not a really great alternative for men, it doesn’t work out so good in the long run; I’ve been in the VA hospital enough and seen the results to know how good that is for men in the end. But they’ve never felt like there’s been an option, men felt like there’s the military traditional route, then the option to go the feminist route, but there really wasn’t many options and now there finally is one; there’s an alternative for men to say, “Y’now something, I don’t have to do any of this stuff. I can make my own way, I don’t have to climb the corporate ladder and become a success in the eyes of other men, I don’t have to run around dedicating my life to pleasing women, I can do what I want to do”  – and they are actually starting to take up on it despite the biological determinism that’s preached by some of them.

Dean: That’s right, men are opting out of marriage and commitment all over the world, not just in the United States, Canada and etc. They’re opting out all over the world and a lot of then don’t know why they are, but the more that we spread the message the more of them will start to think “yes, this is why, I’ve never thought about it before but yeah.” And I believe more men will start asking the hard question of “Oh, well you want to have a relationship and make a baby with me, well I might like to make a baby but why would I do that, and what’s in it for me?”  And that’s just a shocking question to normal ears in this culture. But that can change. There’s a lot that can change, but I don’t believe any effective political change will happen without cultural change first – which is why what you are saying about counter-culture is absolutely correct.

I have a theory, a rather radical theory, so somebody can check me on it. Google up sometime something called “preference falsification,” which is a psychosocial theory as to why there are sometimes very sudden social changes when people didn’t think anything was going to change at all. I’m actually pretty much of the opinion that, in shorter time than people might believe, feminism might get a stink on it faster than people might think it will.

Paul: I think it’s already happening.

Dean: I think it may even fall as an ideology, and here’s where I get in trouble with some of my friends in the movement: if feminism falls as an ideology and nobody takes it seriously anymore, we actually have a bigger problem to face waiting on the other end anyway. Which is all the things that Warren Farrell talks about, all the things Tom Golden talks about, most of the things that you just talked about: if we find the vilification of men ends, does the end of using men as disposable utilities come with that? Does the end of men seeing their identity through the approval of women end from that? Does the social expectation – “Oh, well feminism is dead, therefore it’s your job to be the provider” reappear?

So even if we see the Women’s Studies departments shutting down one after the other, and more and more women (which by the way we are seeing all the time) show up and say, “I’m not a feminist, this is bullshit, I don’t want anything to do with it” — feminism could evaporate and become a minor ideology that nobody takes seriously anymore, or that people actually loathe like the White Supremacist movement, and still the underlying problems will be there. Which is why, once again, the movement has to be about creating a counterculture and getting men to stop thinking of themselves in terms first and foremost of what women or society expects of them, but start thinking in terms first and foremost of themselves as human beings, and as male human beings second, and pondering what that means. But you are not a disposable utility, even if you choose to do something “heroic” (I don’t know if I even want to put that in scare quotes), something heroic like be a fireman, or go ahead and join the military because you don’t quite share Paul’s view that all of our wars are for corporations- you’ve chosen that because you chose it, because you made the thought process that, “No, this is what I really want to do, I believe in that conflict over there,” or “I believe I want to fight fires” or “I believe I want to be a cop and I want to save people,” or whatever it is. But you didn’t do it because, well, “this is going to make me a man.”

Paul: I think it’s really important to remember that as we see more and more women, as we already are, saying “I’m not a feminist, I hate feminists because…” – fill in the rest of that sentence guys, it’s, “I’m not a feminist, I want a man to take care of me.” That’s what you’re hearing from most of these women. What do they say – NAWALT….. well I was talking to somebody the other day and I heard a new one – EWALT: Enough Women Are Like That. I think it’s really important to remember that; we’re not just fighting feminism here, we’re not just trying to overturn discrimination in family courts. When feminism falls, and it will, because it’s a sick corrupt ideology that can’t stand the pressure of any weight on it – it’s like a house of cards that will eventually buckle – we think we are seeing that now. But when it does I can promise you a resurgence of male utility-oriented traditionalism is going to rush in and claim victory; all I’m saying is don’t let it claim you at the same time, because if you do and that’s your agenda, then we are right back at square one with gynocentrism, and personally I don’t want to be there.

Dean:  Because you just mentioned gynocentrism I’m going to mention Peter Wright’s awesome site, which goes into the historical roots of a lot of this stuff –a lot of the stuff feminism is secretly based on that they don’t even recognize-  and why you don’t have to believe that all this shit is simply embedded in our genes and unchangeable. Also go to where Peter Wright is doing some stellar work in bringing forward ‘men going their own way’ material. Also know that all MGTOW have our full support in order to define themselves in their own lives – and competing sites too, we welcome competing sites; we need as many voices as possible including voices who don’t like us- more power to it.

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