The internet is swamped with misogynistic clubs, cults and lifestyles collectively known as the ‘manosphere’. Mobilising against a supposed gynocratic conspiracy, this dark corner is dominated by incels, pick-up artists and “the Taliban of the manosphere”: Men Going Their Own Way (MGTOW).
MGTOW (pronounced “mig-tau” by adherents) is an online community of male separatists “living according to their best interests in a world which would rather they didn’t.” Also defined as “common sense for men” by its own website, the members of the community believe that the society is gynocentric than patriarchal to begin with.
The community is populated by heterosexual males who abstain from romantic relationships with women due to an awareness of the “underlying legal structure which treats men unjustly.” The rationale stated behind MGTOW men’s abstinence from marriage, cohabitation, long-term and short-term relationships are the perceived dangers and false accusations of sexual impropriety.
Cancel culture, the #MeToo movement, prevalent divorce rates (72 per cent of those which are initiated by women) and the risk of losing a substantial amount of assets with future income in settlements are major factors backing MGTOW’s philosophies. A firm belief in these philosophies has also led to the creation of ‘MGTOW monks’ who have decided to minimise interactions with women altogether, instead focusing on their “own health, success and happiness.”
Once potential members have embraced the MGTOW ideologies or “taken the red-pill” (a reference to the 1999 film The Matrix symbolising a preference for truth no matter how painful it may be), the MGTOW manifesto includes four stages by which the members of the community can track their growth with.
Level 1 involves the rejection of long-term relationships, later moving onto Level 2 where the members extend this abstinence to short-term relationships. Level 3 is labelled “economic disengagement;” members at this stage refuse to earn more money than necessary to reduce taxation as far as possible. This is done in order to avoid payment towards other support groups like the “elite alphas” or “single mothers.”
The final level, termed “societal disengagement,” is as far as a mainstream MGTOW can go. Here, the MGTOW man drops out of society altogether. While some members chose to keep living in their apartments, others head to the wilderness and drop off-grid—thereby alienating themselves from their friends and family. Those who achieve this level of “ultimate isolation” are considered legends within the community. However, very few members reach this level with the majority floating somewhere between the second and third level.
With columns like ‘MGTOW of the day/week’ dedicated to acknowledging contributions and ‘mantastic’ commitments made by members, the MGTOW website and online community was supposedly launched in the mid-00s by two men under the pseudonyms ‘Solaris’ and ‘Ragnar’. According to its website, the phrase “Men Going Their Own Way” can be found in print and newspaper clippings dating back to 1853 and spanning the 20th century.
“If MGTOW is fire, then perhaps feminism is gasoline” is what greets you if you choose to visit the website despite all of the warning bells tolled by your antivirus software. The platform has a dedicated section labelled ‘Red Pills’ that includes videos, books, posters, testimonials and screensavers. This section is deemed to be “a constant reminder to stay focused in going our own way.” A testimonial featured here equates its purpose to the likes of “telling someone with diabetes that chocolate is disgusting so that he doesn’t eat it.”
With 32,737 members, MGTOW clearly distinguishes its status as a ‘lifestyle choice’ rather than a ‘movement’. “Feminism is a ‘movement’. Gay pride is a ‘movement’. They rely heavily on arranged conferences, loud, organized parades shutting down traffic and gobs of wasteful state funding,” states the website. “MGTOW thrives without any of that.”
MGTOW considers itself a “population of individuals” who are “more than just an email address” on the website. Signing up to the online community is “not a requirement,” but brings you a step closer to “other like-minded men whom you may not otherwise connect within your everyday life.” According to the website’s FAQ section, the highest concentration of MGTOW men is mostly located in (but not limited to) Canada, the US, the UK and Australia. Toronto and its surrounding area is considered to be the epicenter and is termed the “worst city in the world if you are a man” after Sweden by the platform.
MGTOW is “intended for men” and does not permit women to join or engage in forum discussions. The lifestyle is also said to be the polar opposite of a ‘soyboy’: a slang used to describe males who are “feminists, non-athletic, has never been in a fight and will marry the first girl he meets.”
Since 2015, the community has declared Valentine’s Day “the biggest waste in history,” instead considering 14 February as the “International MGTOW Day.” “$14 billion was wasted on women last year—in just one day,” states the website. “Women are so selfish, they would rather allow a child slave to die in Africa (where diamonds come from) than give up just one of their precious Valentine’s Day gifts and extravagant meals.”
The community further stops weddings via its unregistered trademark “Save a Male and Stop a Wedding.” “We have prevented 7 weddings in 4 years. Two of them right in the middle of the ceremony,” boasts the platform’s FAQ’s. “We charge a very small per cent of what the groom would lose in a divorce, which saves him a fortune.”
“Why have a wife when I can have a life?” are common ‘manswers’ to the community’s forum discussions where MGTOW men often seek advice from other members. Such advice is often backed with facts like how 60 per cent of UK brides use dirty tricks to get engaged or how nearly half of all paternity tests prove the male in question is not the father. Many MGTOW men can also be seen pitying themselves for “not reaching Kanye West soon enough.”
MGTOW is said to be a lifestyle that sets back both men’s and women’s liberation movements by 60 per cent. Even with a suspended Twitter account, the community continues to foster a rabbit hole that one can easily trip headfirst into. In her latest book Men Who Hate Women, Laura Bates outlines the insights from her journey into the manosphere posing as ‘Alex’, a confused young man looking for answers on Reddit and other platforms. She vividly describes how body-building networks, online gaming chats, Instagram and YouTube are being used by misogynists and anti-feminists to initiate middle and high school students into such communities.
From declaring feminism as the “biggest cultural failure of the last century” to impacting its own members and the others around them, such hate groups are undoubtedly making waves by red-pilling those who stumble across them. While Men Who Hate Women makes a chilling read, it makes one reconsider the status of these toxic networks as more than just an internet fringe.