Tuesday, March 1, 2016

And Now Brought To You By Feminist Rabbis: Jewish MGTOWs

And Now Brought To You By Feminist Rabbis: Jewish MGTOWs
By Akiva Wasserstein

As an avid reader of the Daas Torah and Torah-Halacha blogs, I wish to thank both Rabbis' Eidensohn for being some of the only voices of reason in a Torah world seemingly gone mad. The churban of Jewish homes and it's associated collateral damage of children at risk resulting from the malfeasance of some of our haughty askanim, new-age therapists, and greedy rabbis is reaching crisis mode. Some examples of the consequences of this insanity are to be found in the pages of this blog, where we have become acquainted with some really tragic cases of needless human suffering. But unfortunately the fallout spreads wider and deeper. 

Like other men I first discovered MGTOW, an acronym for the grass roots movement known as Men Going Their Own Way, by coming across the unofficial and informal version of it first. In my case, this was through conversations I'd had with divorced fathers who quietly and without fanfare informed me that they hadn't had the stomach to try their hand at marriage again. One of these men, who was older and had married off his children, assured me that he keeps busy by working during the day and studying the Talmud at night. Although I was taken aback, I made no real attempt to convince him or any of his comrades that they were making a mistake, even though I realized that what these people were saying seemed to contradict normative Jewish teaching. 

Today I understand that what they were trying to tell me is that they are MGTOWs. These are men who have eschewed committed relationships with women, especially in regards to having children with them. They were going their own way and doing their own thing. What they probably hadn't realized was that many other men were doing the exact same thing, but this time under a Madison Avenue style banner and catchphrase.

I found myself at once heartened and saddened by this phenomenon. MGTOW crystalizes in one word (if indeed it is one) everything I had always imagined a fraternity of disenfranchised men would be like. Yet it pains me to think that such a time-honored institution as marriage might soon be relegated to the museum of human sociology. I think it would be worthwhile to analyze what some of the factors for the MGTOW experience coming into existence might be in order to try and avert what might already have become the new issue to be discussed at the Aguda Convention, and an apalling new chapter in the shidduch crisis. 

Who exactly has decided to ride this MGTOW train out of the station of conventional thought? On one side it is populated by males who were scarred and burned by a ruthless and gynocentric Family Court system that has parted them from their homes, their family, and their hard-earned money. On the other hand, we are finding younger men who have seen and heard all of the horror stories from their married friends and relatives across the aisle, and who have decided instead to opt out. With somber statistics in hand declaring marriage in the 21st century to have a success rate of slightly more than 50%, these men are coming to the realization that the act of giving a ring under the chuppah has about the same chances of a positive outcome as a ring toss at the carnival. And what's at stake here is not a stuffed toy, but rather the forfeiture of his very home, where the only place he seems to have any use anymore is over the mantlepiece as a stuffed animal.

Where is the communal outrage against a system that regularly dispenses this type of injustice towards many a hapless male who wanted nothing more than to make his marriage work, only to find himself one day on the outside looking in on a world he once knew but no longer recognizes? How could things have been allowed to deteriorate this way with nary any effort being made to stop the freefall that leads us to the suffering of all these victims, the men, women, and especially the children? How did we even get to this point?

The Torah commandment to be fruitful and multiply and the Mishnaic dictum exhorting an 18 year old to enter the chuppah is so well known to religious Jews that no alternative course of action could possibly be imagined, barring of course the usual excuses for delaying tying the knot until whatever scholastic or financial goals are met. But let us not forget that marriage is in reality also a multi-billion dollar business, involving a myriad of interests such as jewelers, caterers, florists, photographers, musicians, and even matchmakers, online or otherwise. The skeptic may wish to contemplate for a moment the sheer irony of more and more wedding halls being located these days in 'industrial zones.' 

And if the marriage then fails? Now it's time for another multi-billion dollar industry known as family law, with an endless supply of divorce lawyers and judges with a vested interest in propagating as much misery as possible. The recent documentary "Divorce Corp" has done a great job of exposing much of the corruption in this field, but it has only scratched the surface. There are energy companies who can sell twice the amount of heating oil to a family living in two homes, and there's extra gasoline to be dispensed for driving cars on long distance visitations. Each divided family even consumes double the amount of wine for kiddush and havdala, amounting to an extra 50 bottles or so per year.

Another obvious area of culpability would be the government. In generations past, parliaments favored strong families, which have in turn been the foundation of strong societies. It is only recently that the paradigm has shifted in favor of single-parent households that are headed overwhelmingly by women. The reason for this is because in the past, the male was the dominant figure in the home and in the workplace. His existence was vitally important socially and economically, so obviously no law would have been passed that might cause his disaffection. The 20th century however has seen upheavals in the social order, specifically women's suffrage, the Great Society, and women joining the workforce, that have caused priorities to change. Now we are witness to the vicious cycle of what happens when government has access to a new stream of revenue by taxing women's income, using the money to invest in social programs, and in turn securing the votes of the recipients of all that largesse, keeping the same politicians in power to continue the cycle. It becomes clear to see how the male has now fallen out of favor. And with no man around the house, the children fall into dysfunction as well, necessitating more government programs, while also providing a steady supply of marginalized youth to populate the military, or whom otherwise might totally submit to authority. In light of all of the above, is it any wonder that marriages are allowed to go bad in such numbers?

Enter the MGTOW man. He has found a strange solution for a society that has estranged HIM. He knows that marriage and divorce totally favor the woman, while providing scant benefit for the man. But in the Torah community, where having children and teaching them is a positive commandment, and where a man nonetheless is strongly discouraged from living alone, MGTOW is simply not an option. 

This is why there needs to be the greatest of outcries against this atrocious situation. It is sadly not difficult at all to imagine how a young man who has done his homework nowadays could come to the conclusion that he must think twice before taking the leap of marriage. If an investor would find himself facing a proposal with a 50% chance of losing everything, and deciding therefore to balk at that risky venture, would we be so insolent as to question his judgement? How much more so should we be understanding of someone who has decided to be exceedingly careful with his very own life and sanity! It goes without saying that this intolerable situation needs be changed. Fortunately for all of us we have some very good people who have been doing much to finally start turning the tide on our corrupt leaders. By staying the course now we may finally get the chance to eradicate once and for all this deviant feminist agenda from our midst so that the holy institution of marriage can once again take it's rightful place in our lives.

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