Men Going Their Own Way

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MGTOW logo as shown in episode "Men at War" of the BBC series Reggie Yates' Extreme UK[1]

Men Going Their Own Way (MGTOW /ˈmɪɡt/) is an anti-feminist, misogynistic, mostly online community advocating for men to separate themselves from women and a society which they believe has been corrupted by feminism.[2] The community is a part of the manosphere, a collection of anti-feminist websites and online communities that also includes the men's rights movement, incels, and pickup artists.[3]

Like other manosphere communities, MGTOW overlaps with the neoreactionary alt-right movement[4] and has been implicated in online harassment of women.[5] The Southern Poverty Law Center categorizes MGTOW as a part of the male supremacist ideology.[6]


MGTOW ideology emerged in the early 2000s, although it is not clear where it originated.[7] A blog called No Ma'am was one of the first sites dedicated to the ideology, publishing a "MGTOW Manifesto" in 2001.[8] Earlier members of MGTOW were largely politically libertarian and focused on individual self-reliance in accordance with traditional notions of masculinity.[9] Over time, the movement's focus shifted toward male separatism.[9] MGTOW discussion forums have included the subreddit r/MGTOW, created in 2011, smaller auxiliary subreddits, and MGTOW Forum, an independent website that emerged in 2014. Following Reddit's 2017 ban of a large incel subreddit, r/MGTOW was briefly the largest and most active manosphere forum on the site.[10]

MGTOW and other manosphere communities overlap with the reactionary, white nationalist alt-right[4] and other white supremacist, authoritarian, and populist movements worldwide,[11] Both MGTOW and the alt-right believe that feminism has destroyed Western society.[12] Far-right commentator and polemicist Milo Yiannopoulos is credited with helping to popularize MGTOW with a 2014 Breitbart article titled "The Sexodus", in which he described men who were eschewing women, love, sex, and marriage because of feminism.[12]

Researchers have implicated MGTOW communities in online harassment of women. r/MGTOW and MGTOW Forum are among the communities which "have been growing in size and in their involvement in online harassment and real-world violence", according to computer scientist Manoel Horta Ribeiro and colleagues.[13] Shortly after publication of a 2020 preprint of a paper examining manosphere groups online, Reddit quarantined r/MGTOW, a restriction the platform applies to subreddits determined to be "extremely offensive or upsetting to the average redditor" which prevents them from earning advertising revenue and requires visitors to agree to seeing potentially offensive content before entering.[14] r/MGTOW was banned in August 2021 for breaking the site's policies against promotion of violence and hate.[15]

On October 6 2022, Global News reported that there were hidden tags labeled "#mgtow" in videos uploaded by the team-managed YouTube channel of Canadian Opposition leader, Pierre Poilievre, since March 2018.[16] Poilievre said he immediately had his team remove the tags as soon as he was made aware of them, when questioned about MGTOW Poilievre stated "I condemn this organization" and "we on this side reject all misogyny and all acts of extremism, and that is how we will always conduct ourselves over here".[16]


Members of MGTOW communities are primarily heterosexual, white, middle-class men from North America and Europe. Unlike some other manosphere groups, MGTOW is exclusively male.[17] MGTOW often disavow hierarchies and claim to be leaderless; some deny that MGTOW is a group or movement at all, instead emphasizing each member's individuality and independence within a collective.[18][19] Researcher Callum Jones and colleagues write in New Media & Society that "while the precise number of MGTOW followers is unclear, it appears to be a popular and growing group within the Manosphere: the subreddit r/MGTOW has grown from 54,000 members in early 2018 to 104,000 members in early 2019 and there are 32,859 members listed on one MGTOW forum."[20] As of 2018, MGTOW was smaller than both the men's rights movement and the pickup artist communities online, with MGTOW Forum having over 25,000 subscribers and r/MGTOW having over 35,000.[9][failed verification]


At the center of MGTOW ideology is the notion of male separatism and the belief that society has been corrupted by feminism.[21] MGTOW groups are misogynist and anti-feminist, believing that feminism has made women dangerous to men, and that male self-preservation requires dissociating completely from women.[22] Like other manosphere groups, they believe there is systemic gynocentric bias against men in society,[23] including double standards in gender roles[21] and bias against men in family courts.[12] MGTOW endorse the belief shared by other manosphere groups that women follow a similar pattern in dating and marriage: young and attractive women are promiscuous and engage in "hypergamy", having sex with numerous men and abandoning a man if a "higher-value" man shows interest. They believe women gravitate towards "alpha men" who are attractive but mistreat them, reinforcing the ideology of feminism. According to MGTOW, as women begin to age, they settle down with "beta males" who provide for them financially, but to whom they deny sex, sometimes engaging in extramarital sex with more attractive men; these relationships ultimately lead to divorce, in which the women will be favored by the courts due to what MGTOW call female privilege.[24]

Scott Wright and colleagues at Monash University write that "MGTOW propagate extensive and wide-ranging passive or undirected harassment and misogyny on Twitter."[25] Fellows at the Institute for Research on Male Supremacism publishing with the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism have said that members of MGTOW "openly disdain women, and normalize it through online harassment."[26] The Southern Poverty Law Center categorizes MGTOW as a part of the male supremacist ideology,[6] a category they began tracking on their hate group tracking project, Hate Map, in 2018.[27]

Men in the MGTOW community use jargon shared by the broader manosphere, including the red pill and blue pill metaphor borrowed from the film The Matrix. Those in the manosphere who have been awakened from feminist "delusion" to the supposed reality that society is fundamentally misandrist and dominated by feminist values are said to be "redpilled" or have "taken the red pill"; those who do not accept that ideology are referred to as "bluepilled".[28] Other jargon includes pejorative terms for other men such as "beta", "cuck", "soy boy", and "white knight".[29]

MGTOW men gauge their participation in the movement on a series of four levels.[30] At the first level, men believe they are used and manipulated by women (called "situational awareness" or the "red pill"[31]) but still believe in the value of marriage; they are sometimes described as "purple pilled".[32] At the second level, men reject long-term relationships, cohabitation, and marriage, but will still participate in shorter term relationships and sexual encounters.[33] At the third level, men reject short-term relationships and limit their interactions with women.[34] At the fourth level, men minimize their engagement with the state and society, including employment; this is called "going ghost".[30][note 1]

Relation to other manosphere groups

The MGTOW community is a part of the manosphere, a diverse group of websites, blogs, and online forums promoting some forms of masculinity, hostility towards women, strong opposition to feminism, and exaggerated misogyny.[35] In addition to MGTOW, the men's rights movement, incels, pick-up artists, and father's rights movements also make up the manosphere.[36]

Men's rights movement

Although some consider MGTOW to be a part of the men's rights movement,[37] others have cited MGTOW's separatist ideology as distinguishing them from the men's rights movement, which engages in activism to try to drive societal change.[38][31] According to Donna Zuckerberg, early MGTOW groups were primarily libertarian and opposed to "big government"; this led to a rift with the men's rights movements who wished to lobby for governmental change, particularly with regards to custody and divorce law.[9]

Pickup artistry

The MGTOW community has a reciprocal disdain for pickup artists (PUAs) due to their differing opinions towards women. Whereas MGTOW focuses on separating entirely from women, pickup artists focus on developing techniques to have sex with women. PUA communities have mocked MGTOW as "Virgins Going Their Own Way".[9] MGTOW communities deride PUAs as being entirely dependent on women's approval, and because they place so much value in attaining sexual success with women, MGTOW says PUA communities contribute to what they see as overvaluing of women in gynocentric society.[39]

Explanatory notes

  1. ^ The MGTOW Wiki divides social and economic disengagement into separate levels.[31]


  1. ^ BBC (2016).
  2. ^ Wright, Trott & Jones (2020), pp. 910–911; Nagle (2017), p. 94; Lin (2017), p. 78
  3. ^ Hodapp (2017), p. xviii; Jones, Trott & Wright (2020), p. 2; Ging (2019), p. 644; Zuckerberg (2018), pp. 15–17; Nagle (2017), p. 93
  4. ^ a b Zuckerberg (2018), p. 19; Chemaly (2019), p. x
  5. ^ Wright, Trott & Jones (2020), p. 909; Nagle (2017), pp. 18, 94; Ribeiro et al. (2021), p. 196
  6. ^ a b "Male Supremacy". Southern Poverty Law Center. Archived from the original on 7 June 2018.
  7. ^ Lin (2017), pp. 87–88.
  8. ^ Zuckerberg (2018), pp. 27–28.
  9. ^ a b c d e Zuckerberg (2018), p. 19.
  10. ^ Ribeiro et al. (2021), p. 201.
  11. ^ Chemaly (2019), p. x.
  12. ^ a b c Nagle (2017), p. 94.
  13. ^ Ribeiro et al. (2021), p. 196.
  14. ^ Basu (2020).
  15. ^ Thalen (2021).
  16. ^ a b Boutilier, Alex; Bimman, Abagail (7 October 2022). "Conservatives call off probe into misogynistic tags on Poilievre's YouTube channel". Global News.
  17. ^ Lin (2017), pp. 77–78.
  18. ^ Wright, Trott & Jones (2020), p. 911.
  19. ^ Lin (2017), pp. 91–92. "Most of my informants on Reddit adamantly deny MGTOW as a movement, and fashion it more as a like-minded internet collective."
  20. ^ Jones, Trott & Wright (2020), p. 3.
  21. ^ a b Lin (2017), p. 78.
  22. ^ Nagle (2017), p. 94; Lin (2017), p. 77; Hodapp (2017), pp. xvii–xviii
  23. ^ Wright, Trott & Jones (2020), pp. 910–911.
  24. ^ Lin (2017), pp. 88–89; Nagle (2017), pp. 95–97; Ging (2019), pp. 648–651; Van Valkenburgh (2018), p. 9
  25. ^ Wright, Trott & Jones (2020), p. 909.
  26. ^ Jasser, Kelly & Rothermel (2020).
  27. ^ Janik (2018).
  28. ^ Winter (2019), pp. 51–54; Lumsden (2019), p. 99; Ging (2019), p. 640; Zuckerberg (2018), pp. 1–2, 12–13; Nagle (2017), pp. 93–94
  29. ^ Wright, Trott & Jones (2020), p. 920.
  30. ^ a b Lin (2017), p. 90.
  31. ^ a b c Hodapp (2017), p. xviii.
  32. ^ Lin (2017), p. 90; Nagle (2017), p. 94
  33. ^ Hodapp (2017), p. xviii; Lin (2017), p. 90; Nagle (2017), p. 94
  34. ^ Hodapp (2017), p. xviii; Lin (2017), p. 90
  35. ^ Hodapp (2017), p. xv; Lumsden (2019), pp. 98–99; Marwick & Lewis (2017), p. 13
  36. ^ Jones, Trott & Wright (2020), p. 2; Nagle (2017), pp. 86–87; Zuckerberg (2018), p. 15–17
  37. ^ Schmitz & Kazyak (2016), p. 4.
  38. ^ Jones, Trott & Wright (2020), p. 2.
  39. ^ Zuckerberg (2018), p. 123.

Works cited

Further reading

External links

  • The dictionary definition of MGTOW at Wiktionary