When men go on strike

partingways

According to Corrine Barraclough od News.com.au, “There’s a growing movement of men in Australia called “Men Going Their Own Way” (MGTOW). It’s an offshoot of the men’s rights movement but rather than getting stuck in and tackling issues, these guys have vowed to stay away from women, stop dating and not have children.”

And it’s not just men with bad experiences tuning out and dropping out; it’s also boys who see the men and think this is all just too difficult and dangerous:

Tom [not his real name], 15, from NSW is what you could call the growing number of TGTOW (Teens Going Their Own Way).

“It’s probably not true of all women, but I’ve got the feeling that women are dangerous. Maybe the men around me have just had bad experiences,” he tells news.com.au.

“It’s scary being a teenage boy; I’m not sure how it’s all meant to fit together in the future,” says Tom.

“Last year, my uncle lost everything because his wife of 40 years decided she didn’t love him anymore. Just like that, she randomly got up and left. It got nasty and he lost everything — his house, cars and loads of his money. There’s no way I’m ever getting married.”

Of course, teenage boys look at other males in their life to gather some perspective on life. Seeing an older brother go through the trauma of false allegations in a messy breakup can also leave scars.

Tom says, “My older brother, who’s 20, was dating a girl for a few months. She turned really nasty in the breakup and made a string of allegations to the police. That made me suspicious of women too. My brother’s a good guy.

“Why should she be able to just say what she wants, accuse him of anything and then get on with her life like that? It doesn’t seem fair to me. I’m not sure what rights I have. Maybe none?”

One should not overestimate the extent of the trend or generalise over it. But it is a symptom – even if extreme one – of the disquiet, disconnect, dismay and despair in the new world that the feminism, particularly its newer generations, has brought and wrought.

In Tom’s story we have a microcosm of realities faced by men in the situations of crisis and conflict:

  • Family law, in theory and practice, is now structurally biased towards women and against men. The unspoken presumption that underpins the judicial institutions at the centre of custody and property disputes is that women are the victims of both personal and structural, emotional hardship and/or violence, and need to be protected and compensated. That many indeed suffer so, does not justify blanket lazy ideological assumptions being privileged over specific facts.
  • Laws against domestic and sexual violence can be, and are, used not just as a shield but as a sword. Allegations are tossed lightly in the knowledge that the very raising of these issues almost automatically reverses the onus of proof: men are forced to defend themselves and prove the proverbial “when did you stop beating your wife”, while questioning the accuser – the very act of defending oneself – is itself considered a form of further abuse. Men (for they are mostly men) are presumed guilty until proven innocent, except they are never quite proven innocent, at least not sufficiently to recover their reputation, while unproven allegations are routinely used to weigh the scales of justice against them.
  • Ridiculous laws govern property, including in de facto relationships, where again primarily men can lose a substantial part of their assets accumulated over their entire lives thus far, in some cases without even the proverbial “partner’s toothbrush in your bathroom”.

The potential emotional, legal and financial costs of a relationship break-down are considered by an increasing numbers of men to be so high – while the odds of a successful one sufficiently small, and the odds of legal redress in a system skewed against men even smaller – so as to make the whole proposition seem like a fool’s bargain.

While initially feminism was all about obtaining equality – political, economic, legal, social – for women who have been denied it throughout history (and who can disagree with that?), having scored so many notable successes, the new waves of feminism have concerned themselves with extracting revenge for the past wrongs, with promoting superiority instead of equality, and with combating real and imagined misogyny with misandry. It’s a zero-sum game, where one gender’s loss is, and should be, another gender’s gain.

I don’t believe in collective responsibility and collective punishment, particularly on an intergenerational and historical basis and scale. Call me naive, but I don’t think I – or anyone else – should be punished today because (mostly female) witches were burned in the 16th century, or because women got the vote later than most men. And I don’t believe that cosmic justice requires, after millennia of patriarchy, the polar reversal of gender roles and priviliges to institute the next few millennia of matriarchy. I don’t believe in male supremacy and I don’t believe in female supremacy, or white or black or brown, or tall or good-looking or intelligent or wealthy or Catholic supremacy. We are all in this together.

There are more and more stories like those of Tim’s and his male relatives. The future of our society is bleak if it is to be shaped in a scorched earth war of the sexes.

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