The growing rift between men and women

I’ve just read an article in The Sunday Times about the rise of ‘Men Going Their Own Way’ or ‘MGTOW‘ – a movement which involves men choosing to actively distance themselves from women, and refrain from marriage or having children.

“Men are more confused and bewildered by the world and its women than ever before,” writes Martin Daubney of The Sunday Times.

The choices of these ‘MGTOW’ are largely due to perceived risks of marriage and starting families, such as a financially crippling divorce, or being abandoned by their partner for a ‘better model.’

And the extremities of this movement are admittedly quite disturbing. Some men even push their views to the point where they theorise that women may be innately incapable of love. YouTube is the perfect platform for individuals to express how they feel about women, and their beliefs and interpretations of all women’s behaviour – because of course, it can be so broadly generalised and confirmed, and because indeed we are all the same and lack individuality. Sandman is one channel that perpetuates such beliefs.

My first reaction could have easily been one of incredulous anger. It would be easy to judge ‘MGTOW’ to be the stubborn, narrow-minded tarnishing of all women with the same brush…

But instead I felt saddened. There must be reasons for these men to feel so compelled to avoid love, procreation and in some cases even casual sex or conversation with women. Why do these men feel alienated and disenchanted to such an extreme level that they have lost faith in women, and feel that there is no hope of ever creating a loving relationship?

Arguably, these men are for the most part, reacting and responding in their own way to some of the flaws within the feminist movement. Flaws that do need to be rectified. They have recognised, and perhaps even experienced firsthand, how some of the changes brought about by the cause for equality of the sexes, may have actually put men at a disadvantage on some levels. I agree that this is unacceptable. But I do not believe that detachment and cynicism is the correct response, nor is it a solution – it is the creator of deeper problems that must be patiently undone.

But men are not the only ones putting love, relationships and marital union at arms length…

The Skirt Club is another example, albeit from the female side, of the sexes losing interest in interacting and understanding one another. Women meet and engage in sexual orgies as part of an exclusive, members only women’s club. On the surface, it appears to be a purely hedonistic pursuit – the opportunity to receive decadent, no-strings gratification and explore one’s sexuality. But perhaps for some women, there is another layer to their membership. Could a feeling of unfulfilled needs and a perceived lack of understanding from male partners be driving some women away from long-term heterosexual relationships?

There is a fracture in the default setting for relationships. The very existence of the depicted ‘normal’ relationship, and one that has such specific definitions, is in my eyes a contributory problem. There are very deeply ingrained, traditional expectations and values that we unconsciously feel that we must meet, in order to achieve happiness, longevity and normality in a relationship. This forgets the unique complexity of a bond between two individuals, and homogenises problems and personal circumstances almost out of existence. The painted ideal relationship relies heavily upon traditional notions of masculinity and femininity, that may actually be incredibly restrictive and harmful to the health of a relationship.

As an example, one could draw on the fear that the MGTOW men feel that they will be ‘swindled’ out of their independence and freedom by getting married and having a child with a woman. This fear is partly a result of women being copiously cast as the role of the main nurturing figure when raising a child. And marriage appears to be such a frightening and disadvantageous state,  because ultimately there is the risk of women being given precedence over men in terms of parenthood, as made evident by custody and child support legal disputes. Marriage is no longer perceived as a loving union, but a means of entrapment.

The restrictive nature of strictly defined gender roles is the cornerstone of the burgeoning misunderstanding happening between men and women. By adhering to the bizarre social norms, we are losing touch with each other as individual humans. The priority of putting on an appropriate performance is destroying the connectivity that should be felt between the two people in a loving partnership.

In addition, the sense of self-entitlement that is found in both sexes needs to be re-evaluated, and hopefully eventually eliminated. There are warped expectations at play. A random example: that a woman be regularly showered with gifts of affection in a heterosexual relationship, to ‘remind her’ that she is loved. Or that a man is subservient and weak if he listens to how his female partner feels and takes her emotions into consideration; ultimately displaying traits that are traditionally feminine. I strongly believe that successful relationships revolve around selflessness and motivated understanding of one another, and an intuitive and active attention to one another’s needs. And these needs are obviously going to vary between different relationships.

However, I also believe that a moderate amount of selfishness is normal and very human – we have to recognise our own personal needs and fuel them on a daily basis, in order to survive and retain emotional stability. It is a balance between nurturing oneself, and the loving bond with another human being, that has become warped to the point of disillusionment, fear; fostering a startling apathy towards building loving, long-term relationships

Reflecting on my years as an adolescent, I remember seeing so much miscommunication, warped dialogues and over-inflated expectations between partners in relationships. Why isn’t it the norm to simply talk calmly, and openly with one another about what we need, and how we are feeling? When and how did the virtue of listening whole-heartedly to the thoughts of somebody else disappear? We need to prioritise empathy and understanding. We need to be more willing to work together, in order to fix the problems that are driving men and women apart.

There is also the linked problem of sexism being perceived and personified as a bloodthirsty war by some groups. This encourages disenchantment and anger from both sexes, as we both fear for our freedoms and fight to avoid perceived oppressions. We should be working harder so that feminism instead is undoubtedly defined as the desire to achieve balance and fairness between men and women, for the benefit of us all. We need both sexes to be engaged, and on board for this to work.

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