Note: I originally wrote this for the website Male Defender in January 2019. Male Defender is now a defunct website so the article has disappeared which is why I’m reposting it here.
Within the varied groups and individuals that make up the manosphere there has been a growing divide over MGTOW or ‘Men Going Their Own Way’. This is due to MGTOW’s rejection of the traditional expectation of men to be the protector and provider of women and children and instead focus on their own needs. MGTOW is viewed by its supporters as the only sensible option in an increasingly misandric society that favours women over men in almost every situation. MGTOW argue by doing this they avoid being exploited by institutions such as the legal system that have adopted a feminist viewpoint. Critics however view MGTOW as simply the opposite of feminism which will only result in more alienation between men and women and lead to societal collapse. Some commentators have also accused MGTOW of been like a cult that attacks anybody that criticises it while men who identify as a MGTOW believe they are individuals making individual choices. One solution to this conflict is to reassess the expectations that are placed on men by societies and how they have developed over time. Men’s traditional role as a provider is important to consider when thinking about this.
For most of human history resources were scarce, work was very physical and death from starvation or disease was always possible. Being able to find or generate resources would have increased the chances of surviving in this environment and men would have been better equipped to do so than women due to their superior physical strength and not having to worry about getting pregnant or miscarrying. Women, however, had an advantage in being able to carry offspring and having less eggs to men’s sperm which meant that they could be choosy with which men they mated with. As a result men would have been more successful at surviving but women would have been essential for reproduction. Therefore both men and women would have needed each other to increase their own chances of surviving and reproducing and so would have had to offer something to each other in return. In such circumstances if women had wanted to discard one man for another or try to go it alone they would have been in serious trouble.
However, while sex roles have a biological basis the world that they emerged from has changed in such a way that men’s role as provider has been taken for granted. In the modern world resources are far more abundant and most jobs available are not as physically demanding as they once were. Advances in technology and healthcare have also made the world a less risky place at least in the West which has led to a change in attitude towards the role of men as providers. In a famine, the man who provides food is a hero but when food is plentiful the man who provides it is a delivery boy. As well as this women can now choose to work full time, part time or be completely supported by a man as they no longer rely exclusively on men to earn money for them. Moreover, governments willingly provide mothers with welfare payments if there is no man around. Because of this women no longer rely on men for survival to the extent they once did but men still rely on women for reproduction.
Men’s role as provider is also viewed at the expense of their role as fathers as they are defined more by their absence working rather than their presence within families. It is often said that traditionally men went out to work while women raised the children which places mothers inside the family and fathers outside of it. As a result parenting and mothering have become almost interchangeable and there isn’t much exploration into the relationship fathers have with their children that is distinct from the mother’s. This attitude is evident in the family courts as judges typically award custody of children to mothers after a divorce in the assumption they are maintaining the family unit with the only difference being the father no longer living in the home. If a man only needs to provide, what does it matter if he doesn’t see his own children? Of course, if men only needed to be providers for women and children then fatherlessness wouldn’t have all the negative consequences we see in our societies.
A mentality of ‘provider as servant’ has developed in Western countries with men’s contributions been seen primarily as materialistic and directed towards their masters – women. Servants have to prove their worth by having somebody to work for whereas masters are able to use servants to do jobs they don’t want to do. In a similar fashion men are expected to do all the jobs women don’t want to do and be grateful for women for giving them attention or be discarded for a better option. Men are also expected to potentially sacrifice their life to protect random women if they are in danger. It doesn’t matter what or how much women demand, men are ‘real men’ if meet their every desire. Young men in particular are expected to ‘prove themselves’ to young women to get their appreciation ignoring that young women have such power over men because they are offering something in return: their youth and beauty. Feminism has encouraged women to make increasing demands of men and mainstream conservatives still expect men to meet their traditional obligations regardless of this. Many men have a servant mentality because they think that they are worthless unless they have a woman who they are working for and being chivalrous towards. As Bernard Chapin has put it, “when a woman has a need, a man must accede.”
The solution to this is neither to dismiss sex roles entirely nor simply return to the roles that were functional in the past without taking into account the current environment we live in. Instead we need to acknowledge sex differences but challenge the perceptions that have developed from them. As mentioned before the real reason men provided resources for women was not to justify their own existence to the superior female sex but because women were unable to do so themselves. Since these burdens have been partly lifted by technology men shouldn’t place their value solely on seeking female approval. In fact it wasn’t a man’s primary responsibility to provide resources for women but to provide for his children. Women were provided for if they provided something in return. The true role of men in society is to provide something that women cannot provide themselves. This originally included resources but more importantly it was men’s own masculinity. Women may now have more independence but they can’t provide masculine strengths to complement their feminine weaknesses (and vice versa for men). They cannot be fathers to their children and they cannot bring a masculine viewpoint to a situation. This means that however societies develop technologically men always have something to contribute to them.
If men are aware of this they can avoid having a servant mentality and instead adopt a ‘provider as master’ mentality. This mentality comes from the knowledge that men have far more worth than whether they are capable of meeting female demands. It does not mean wanting to rule over women but thinking like a master rather than a servant. Much like a doctor or a teacher a master in a relationship provides for the other person something they cannot obtain themselves and so can make demands for his service. A master can also stand alone and feel worthy in himself and not be defined by serving others. A master does not view a woman as a superior who he must placate and so can make judgements about them without fearing rejection. A master can therefore defend himself knowing he has worth and not fall apart when he is shamed for not wanting to be a servant.
If more men thought this way they would be less likely to simply accept the unreasonable behaviour of women and we could make changes to society that would make MGTOW less of a viable option. Although MGTOW could be viewed as rejecting marriage and children I believe it is primarily to reject the ‘provider as servant mentality’ I have laid out.