rMGTOW or The New Wave Within The Manosphere
This article is fictional and was made for the course Radical Subcultures Online.
Jasper van der Heide
Another day, another odd internet subculture – as it appears in today’s digital world. “Reflective Men Going Their Own Way,” rMGTOW in short, stands and fights like its namesake (MGTOW) for the autonomous man in modern society who strides through life without a wife. Perhaps one might think at first: But why a new subgroup? There is one crucial aspect that distinguishes these groups: Such men do so in a reflective way, well aware, as they say, to “protect women from men”. In this article we will introduce you to the world of the “Feminist MGTOW” and bring you closer to their founding story, their attitude towards #MeToo, the differences to other male subcultures and the challenges they face in the fierce online culture war.
How it all started
The hashtag #MeToo, rather known as a women’s movement, has not left activists in the men’s world untainted. For the rMGTOW community this was the moment of its origin. In December 2017, two months after the start of #MeToo, the primal counter-reactions to many profoundly misogynist commentaries were found within the online manosphere such as r/MGTOW, where founders and early members of rMGTOW originally sojourned. Thus, the foundation of a new subculture was created which still seeks the goal of a centralized man, yet respects women in their being. This of course met with great resistance from the original MGTOW community. However, other men in the community held similar views, many of them already felt alienated with the MGTOW movement since the attack by a member of the manosphere in 2014 (Dewel, 2014), and the overall hatred within the community. The community was however not limited to members of the manosphere. For some men this was also their approach to the hashtag #HowWillIChange, which was created by men discussing how they prevent future harassment by men (Hod, 2017). Another key moment was the Toronto mass killing in 2018. This attack was again perpetrated by a member of the manosphere (Bilefsky & Austen, 2018). Since then the community has steadily grown.
Central to their philosophy is a life in reflection and the preservation of a positive mindset. Especially with regard to today’s society, the individual is increasingly placed in the focus of its own attention. The wide range of possibilities offered today, due to digitalization in particular, allows everyone to realize themselves – becoming the best-possible version of their own life. This is the aspiration of rMGTOW and is represented by the ‘r’ in their name. In everyday life, people are influenced, among others by the people surrounding them or the values they were raised with. Here, the intrinsic problem arises: The society is built up on perceptions of men as sole breadwinner and women who are in dependency due to their only role as mother. It is a man-made framework which, despite much progress, is still deeply rooted in the understanding of humanity to the present day. That is why there still are women accused by MGTOW of exploiting men for the sake of money. #MeToo was merely the beginning to break up these inequalities from their roots. Therefore, a thorough separation of both sexes must be implemented in order to re-enter a healthy society. With a fundamental comprehension of an independent woman which can only be achieved by the woman’s own contribution, it is possible to overcome gender distribution problems.
The original MGTOW movement too aspired towards a life of male self-control. Therefore, a clear separation from the female world is inevitable. In their eyes, any situation that involves a female component will lead to the ultimate downfall of the man (i.e. divorce or loss of custody) (Cornelisse, 2019). Whereas they also focus on self-preservation, members of rMGTOW enhance their ambitions to further become a better and more positive version of themselves. Although many men had been part of MGTOW for a long time, this one-dimensional, hate-filled outlook on women was no longer identifiable for many of them. They considered MGTOW to be too much focussed on complaining about women and society, and too little on how to be content with one’s life. Coupled with their less misogynistic view, this has created a community focussed on living a good life in a reflective way. Concerning their reflective posture, rMGTOWers want to base their philosophy on what they see as rational thinking. They do still believe in the red pilled nature of men – an expression (in the analogy of the movie The Matrix) which describes the belief of a natural given condition of a linear, sexual discrimination due to the male testosterone which had its rise in the beginning of the 2010s. The manosphere picked it up rapidly to spread this message to the greatest extent. According to Alexandra Stern, an American professor of American Culture and Women Studies, it is the moment of awakening, the recognition of the real truth and the consequential release of the deceiving social structures (Stern, 2019). By swallowing the red pill, the man recognizes his superior position within the traditional gender distribution and thus prevents himself from becoming a dishonourable beta or incel under the modern influences of feminism (Stern, 2019). While they too recognise this perception as the very nature of men, they have recognised that such behaviour is eventually harmful to both sexes. Given the sexual nature of men and its detrimental effects on women, a separation of men from women is considered indispensable. Consequently, their philosophy entails the identical quintessence as that of the competing MGTOW: Men and women shall be segregated. However, there is one crucial aspect that sets the two apart. Members of the MGTOW purposely go their own way in order to protect themselves from the women. In their opinion and as a result of the affirmative feminism in particular, women already occupy far too much space in society which they abuse to their advantage in a corrupt way. rMGTOWers, by contrast, may also decide for their own path, but does so for precisely the opposite point of origin: They want to protect the women.
“They need our protection against us”
Although rMGTOW considers themselves feminist, this is actually limited and somewhat pragmatic. In many cases, their decision to ‘go their own way’ is made to advance their own goals. Often this happens as a way to prioritise their career without the distractions of having women in their life. Thus, many of their standpoints correlate with those of the Men’s Rights activist movement (MRa), including discussions on male suicide or their rejection of identity politics. Similarly, they disapprove of many feminist agendas, such as the female quota, as they believe it limits men’s ability to advance their careers. Nevertheless, their pragmatic relationship with feminism is still visible in one of their slogans: “They need our protection against us”. Although the positive message is that they recognize the problems men have created, they also focus on that they need to protect women. In this sense, their version of feminism mainly keeps their masculinity intact. And while fourth wave feminism also supports greater opportunities for men to share feelings and emotions (Grady, 2018), this is still considered too feminine within the rMGTOW community. This all makes them rather difficult allies within the feminist sphere. On the one hand, these men are in the feminist’s view a significant improvement compared to other more misogynist subcultures of the manosphere, as they support victims of rape and sexual harassment. On the other hand, their ideas of a non-binding coexistence of both sexes contradict that of these women. After all, feminism does not necessarily mean for them to live isolated from men. When it comes to the natural conditions in particular, their opinions differ enormously. Feminists in favor of equal rights for both genders see it as a moment to rewrite conventional values and refuse to accept a hierarchical order of men above them.
A small part of the rMGTOW community advocates for homosexuality as a way to avoid women. These are partially inspired by lesbian separatism. This is however highly controversial within the community. Some simply reject it because they are not attracted to men. Others point to the fact that this simply replaces a female distraction with a male one. In particular because, as they like to point out, men can also be raped or sexually harassed. The position of this small group has also drawn criticism from the LGBTQ+ community, as they reject using homosexuality as a solely way to avoid women.
MGTOW vs. r/MGTOW – Round One
This new diversion has sparked a feud between the reflective and the original MGTOWers. The latter considers these members of the new movement as blue pilled. Especially those who had been part of MGTOW before joining rMGTOW came under fire by labeling them as traitors. Similarly, members of rMGTOW blame those of MGTOW for being too hateful to reflect on men’s predatory behaviour. Instead, rMGTOW considers themselves as those that chose the red pill, while members of MGTOW “drank the Red Kool-Aid”.
While they may disagree on this point, they all share a common goal: the only way for a man to live a happy life is without a woman. This would make them natural allies. And indeed, some in both communities have argued that despite their differences, they should work together to achieve their ambitions. However, since the hate-filled behaviour is not consistent with the positive mindset of rMGTOW, many of their followers do not desire an alliance between the two groups. Likewise, some of the MGTOW adherents who do not want to cooperate with ‘cucks’ see it the same way.
It went so far that several rMGTOW supporters were also actively calling for quarantining the r/MGTOW subreddit or preferably banning it. According to them, this would create an opportunity to convince these users to join the more positive rMGTOW or prevent other users from finding r/MGTOW. However, others fear that this will lead to MGTOW endorsement, bringing their negativity to the rMGTOW subreddit. The MGTOW subreddit was quarantined at the end of January 2020, in response to a planned attack by a MGTOW supporter (Owen, 2020). However, this has so far not led to a significant increase in subscribers on the rMGTOW subreddit.
Culture War and Political Compass
The demographic makeup of r/MGTOW as well as their rejection of many feminist points would make this new subculture part of the manosphere. But although the manosphere already is not a coherent group of subcultures (Nagle, 2017), rMGTOW is even more out of place with their advocacy for women. Whereas MGTOW evolved from libertarianism and is now more associated with the Dark-Enlightenment or white-nationalist alt-right (Zuckerberg, 2018), rMGTOW is grounded as libertarian by supporting political freedom and a democracy for both sexes. However, its shared stances with Men’s Rights Activists makes them not completely libertarian, as this requires involvement of the state. On the political compass they would thus fit mostly on the libertarian right as be seen in the illustration below.
Where they gather
Similar to subreddits like r/MGTOW and r/MensRights, most top posts on r/rMGTOW are image screencaps of articles and tweets which are standing in support to their goals as a autonomous man. Among their most top posts is a photo of Harvey Weinstein with a walker before his trial with the caption “Make sure you don’t end up like him!”.
Less upvoted, but as an essential part of the subreddit are discussions on how to live as a rMGTOW. These are often relatively positive, like discussing how to get children without committing to a woman. There are still many with more misogynistic views, as well as members of other manosphere communities that come to troll rMGTOW. The moderators of the subreddit however are very strict, removing anything they consider “not being reflective enough”, for this is exactly their quintessence, that distinguishes them from other male groups.
Bilefsky, Dan. & Austen, Ian. 2018. Toronto Van Attack Suspect Expressed Anger at Women Retrieved from: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/24/world/canada/toronto-van-rampage.html
Cornelisse, Jimi. 2019. Cucks, Keks, and Pepes: A linguistic approach to studying user migration from the Manosphere to the Alt-Right
Dewey, Caitlin. 2014. Inside the ‘manosphere’ that inspired Santa Barbara shooter Elliot Rodger. Retrieved from: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-intersect/wp/2014/05/27/inside-the-manosphere-that-inspired-santa-barbara-shooter-elliot-rodger/
Grady, Constance. 2019. The waves of feminism, and why people keep fighting over them, explained. Retrieved from: https://www.vox.com/2018/3/20/16955588/feminism-waves-explained-first-second-third-fourth
Hod, Itay. 2017. Men Join #MeToo Campaign With #HowIWillChange: ‘Guys It’s Our Turn’. Retrieved from: https://www.thewrap.com/men-join-metoo-campaign-howiwillchange-guys-turn/
Nagle, Angela. 2017. “Entering the Manosphere” in Kill All Normies: Online Culture Wars From 4Chan and Tumblr to Trump and the Alt-Right. London: Zero Books.
Owen, Tessa. 2020. US Coast Guard Officer Facing Gun Charges Researched ‘How to Rid the U.S. of Jews,’ Court Docs Reveal. Retrieved from: https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/939kmv/us-coast-guard-officer-facing-gun-charges-researched-how-to-rid-us-of-the-jews-court-docs-reveal
Stern, Alexandra Minna. 2019. “Red Pills for the Masses: Metapolitical Awakenings” Proud Boys and the White Ethnostate: How the Alt-Right Is Warping the American Imagination. New York: Penguin.
Zuckerberg, Donna (2018). Not All Dead White Men: Classics and Misogyny in the Digital Age. Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0-67-497555-2.