The WGTOW Manifesto…

Equating enemies is often a cheap trick designed to elevate oneself above them both. Nonetheless, it can be fair. An article by Laurie Penny, a bright star of intersectional feminism, is strikingly similar to writings of the “manosphere”. Here, in a piece titled “Maybe you should just be single” one finds strange, resentful generalisations and unmerited claims to victimhood. In its fervent advocacy of female independence it even reflects the MGTOW (“Men Going Their Own Way”) desire to “preserve and protect [their] own sovereignty above all else”.

Penny universalises both the bad and good aspects of her experiences in a manner one can only call irrational. Men, generally, for her, are “not worth it”. They are often “lacklustre, unappreciative [and] boring” people who “have not yet learned to treat women like human beings”. They pressure girlfriends into “organising, encouraging and taking care of [them]” and then are liable to go walkies once they tire of the sex. I can tolerate some polemical overstatement but if such men represent Penny’s experiences of our kind she has been quite unfortunate.

Penny appears to think that once a guy gets with a gal he assumes that he has rounded the corner of Easy Street. Women, she asserts, are expected to “take care of people, soothe hurt feelings [and] organise chaotic lives”. Men, meanwhile, are just expected to “[be] their awesome selves”. Which relationships are these where men do not advise, console and encourage their partners? Who on Earth has she hung around with? In a bizarre flourish, she asserts that young men tend to be so idle that they “do not worry about how they will achieve a “work-life balance””. A friend of mine is working twelve hour days at the moment and I might well pass this on to him.

Having effectively written off the male sex, Penny talks up singlehood. She tells young women that it is “usually better for [them] to be single” as they should be seeking “the kind of adventures you really ought to be having in your teens and twenties”. This is easy for someone who has had her career success and social status to propose but others do not have such grand adventures on their horizons. It is also easy for a young person to propose, for as one grinds into one’s older years it can be harder to meet dates, keep up with friends, make new acquaintances and avoid all the numbing hours of loneliness that afflict the aged.

I will pause to grant that romance should not be idealised. (Idealising romance, indeed, can inspire divorce, for the greatest expectations lead to the bitterest disappointments.) From the briefest of flings to the longest of marriages, relationships involve risk and a great deal of work. So do jobs, friends, hobbies, children and everything else that matters.

Now, jobs, friends and hobbies are enough for many to get by. There is nothing bad, in itself, about singlehood. Yet most of us want to love, and to be loved in return. What to do, if one rejects traditional arrangements? Cynics in the manosphere promote cold-hearted promiscuity, which, in the long-term, sounds like a good way to rot your soul. Penny is more idealistic, saying that love need not be “boxed” into monogamous relationships but should, one guesses, spill out into all kinds of exciting polyamorous directions. If a small subsection of the populace wants to pursue this kind of innovative, untried and, it seems to me, hazardous lifestyle they are welcome. The results of their experiments should be interesting. Most people, however, I suspect, want something more reliably and intimately exclusive. I hope that most parents want this for their kids as well.

Penny closes by saying that being single gives one time and energy to spend on politics. “We have to get on with saving the world, after all,” she writes, “And we can’t do it one man at a time.” What better substitute for romantic relationships could one find than political activism? Why risk being trapped in a tedious and abusive relationship that brings out your worst instincts with one human being when you could could trap yourself in a tedious and abusive relationship that brings out your worst instincts with thousands of them?

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About bsixsmith

I am a writer of stories and poems - published by Every Day Fiction, The London Journal of Fiction, 365 Tomorrows and Det Poetiske Bureau - and a columnist for Quillette, Areo and Bombs & Dollars.
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5 Responses to The WGTOW Manifesto…

  1. Jonathan says:

    Penny doesn’t seem to have the self-awareness to realise that the common theme of all her failed relationships is her.

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  2. Semper Why says:

    Penny is more idealistic, saying that love need not be “boxed” into monogamous relationships but should, one guesses, spill out into all kinds of exciting polyamorous directions. If a small subsection of the populace wants to pursue this kind of innovative, untried and, it seems to me, hazardous lifestyle they are welcome. The results of their experiments should be interesting.

    Based upon her success with monogamous relationships, I think you are correct. It would seem her previous experiences were being used by a man for sex and then tossed aside after her novelty wore off. Imagine how much better her life will be when an established couple uses her for sex and then tosses her aside when her novelty wears off.

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  3. septicisle says:

    I’m usually sympathetic to Penny, but God that is an awful piece. This part especially is just bizarre:

    “In patriarchal culture,” as bell hooks observes in All About Love: New Visions, “men are especially inclined to see love as something they should receive without expending effort. More often than not they do not want to do the work that love demands.” Even the very best and sweetest of men have too often been raised with the expectation that once a woman is in their lives romantically, they will no longer have to do most of the basic chores involved in taking care of themselves.”

    Really? Men, other than man children and teenagers are especially inclined to think they don’t need to expend effort to receive love? That pretty much puts the whole of literature since the year dot up in smoke then, doesn’t it? I’ll accept that yes, there are some men out there who turn into slobs once they’ve, err, not been especially inclined to get that far in the first place, but it does beg just whom it was Penny was hanging about with that apparently has made her think this is the norm. Male lefty activists perhaps, as opposed to say, much more down to earth lefty bloggers?

    There are always two sides to a relationship, in any case. I’m sure Laurie is as lovely in person as she comes across in print, but sometimes things just don’t work out; whether the male partners she refers to would concur they were just going with her to fuck her, who knows. Let’s not pretend though this is just a male trait, as opposed to a trait among the young; no strings didn’t used to be so out in the open, but it’s always been there, just far more acceptable for men. Isn’t that a sort of progress in itself, worth examining?

    “Today, whatever else we are, women are still taught that we have failed if we are not loved by men.”

    Again, sure; but there is also an enormous stigma against and far more jokes made about the men who can’t or are incapable of getting girlfriends, who are still living at home with their parents, usually with their mother, in the basement, the kind of trope that’s been around for years, and tropes don’t exist without there being some kind of truth to it. Yes, there’s the single bachelor out there, but also the sad, loser male, of whom 0.001% turn into misanthropic Elliot Rodgers’ type bastards.

    “Those men are like unicorns. If you meet one, that’s great. You might think you’ve met one already—I’ve often thought so—but evidence and experience suggest that a great many unicorns are, in fact, just horses with unconvincing horns. If you don’t manage to catch a real unicorn, it doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you. Either way, you should have a plan B.”

    And dare I suggest there are horses out there with unconvincing horns that, given the chance, would turn out to be unicorns. It goes both ways, Laurie. Honestly.

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    • bsixsmith says:

      That pretty much puts the whole of literature since the year dot up in smoke then, doesn’t it?

      Heh heh. Good post.

      “Let’s not pretend though this is just a male trait…”

      Women are more liable to end relationships than men, which, in fairness, is often because the man is a jackass but not often enough that we cannot indeed conclude that this a two-way street.

      Yes, there’s the single bachelor out there, but also the sad, loser male, of whom 0.001% turn into misanthropic Elliot Rodgers’ type bastards.

      “Ageing bachelor” is a warning sign for weirdness as well. Think of that poor old Christopher Jefferies bloke who was prematurely convicted of murdering Joanna Yates. Would have been better off if he had a wife.

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