Advice to Young Men: Try Not to Be This Cute


Meet the Axolotl, a Mexican Salamander.

For a while, I have been searching for the most fitting totemic animal for the group of young men swelling the ranks of a movement, loosely referred to as Men Going their Own Way (MGTOW).

The MGTOW is a pseudonymous online community supported by websites and social media presences cautioning men against romantic relationships with women, especially marriage[1]. The community is part of what is more broadly termed the Manosphere, a place, author Stephen Marche describes as one where mostly feral boys wander the digital ruins of exploded masculinity, craving the tiniest crumb of self-confidence and fellow-feeling.

How appropriate to have found MGTOW’s totemic animal in a Mexican swamp.

The Axolotl is a salamander exhibiting the phenomenon known as neoteny, or retention of juvenile features in the adult animal. Ordinarily, amphibians undergo metamorphosis from egg to larva, and finally to adult form. The Axolotl remains in its larval form throughout its life. It never grows up. It is the Peter Pan of amphibians.

I’m fascinated with Nahualli, which is Aztec for “shadow soul” or  “animal double”.

If you had been born a Mexica during the time of the Aztec empire, a priest would have attended you on the fourth day of your life. The purpose was for the priest to see, bind, and announce your relationship with your animal double – your Nahualli. It was perhaps, the most important ritual in the life of a Mexica. Traditionally, the Nahualli taught the youth its secrets, skills, and abilities. The bravest and most skilled of the young warriors, for instance, were members of the elite Jaguar and Eagle groups. The Jaguar Knights were the Aztec version of the Japanese ninja – shadow warriors who used stealth and the cover of darkness to hunt and overcome their enemies, much like their namesake, the jaguar. The Eagle Knights operated in daylight hours, attacking with swiftness and sheer ferocity, swooping-in to overwhelm and overcome their enemies, as the eagle conquers its prey.[2]

Let me first declare my biases. I have two daughters, and two sisters. As for the former, no young man will ever meet all my expectations. I recognize this as simply irrational and arrogant…a “father-thing”. For the latter, no man has ever met theirs, or even, I’d venture, their own. I’m talking here about the basics: respect, care, attention, commitment.

I am also ambivalent about traditional marriage, having failed on my first – and “last” try. Like the writer Jack London, I much prefer a “Mate-Woman” than a “Mother-Woman” by my side.

Finally, I resonate with, and share the core tenets of the MGTOW: Self-ownership, Sovereignty, and Self-Definition of what it is to be a man. But from reading many of the comments posted on the movement’s forum, it appears most are missing the point. MGTOW’s principles and ideals are now deafened by the angry burps of thousands of Axolotls.

I know relationships are messy, and fraught with risk. They often crack us open, exposing our vulnerabilities, and require that we constantly bring forth our better selves. And I get it. Sex is now cheap and plentiful, and yes, there is bias against men in family courts…extreme feminism is a major turnoff. Safer then to spend your free time in onanistic bouts between the latest installment of ‘Final Fantasy’ or ‘Tetris’.  Or right-swiping Bethany’s photo, who is more than willing to hook-up with you at no cost, and no strings attached.

But here’s the rub. I believe there is a hidden cost, and it comes in the form of your diminished, or deformed nobility as a man (In the Aztec language, the Axolotl is connected to the God of Deformations).

Let me illustrate this cost by paraphrasing an allegory I once heard on a recorded lecture by the evolutionary cosmologist, Brian Swimme:

Imagine a wide, open prairie. A red-tailed hawk circles above, scanning the field in search for his next meal. Natural selection has developed incredible speed in the hawk, and its eyesight is eight times more powerful than the sharpest human eye. A truly magnificent, noble creature! He spots a mouse. Easy lunch, one would think. But the genius of natural selection has caused mice to be extremely agile and elusive. An exciting chase is set to begin.

Now, let’s say we control the levers of nature, and decide to perform our own natural selection experiment by slowing down the mouse a bit and changing its color from camouflage gray-brown, to neon yellow. Naturally, the need for the hawk’s great speed and keen eyesight will concurrently diminish. Let’s drop the mouse’s speed even further so that the hawk no longer needs to fly overhead, but simply give chase to the mouse on solid ground.

What will happen if we continue this experiment for the “benefit” of the hawk; if we slow the mouse’s speed to a bare crawl?

At the end, the once-majestic hawk would probably lose its wings and feathers, be almost blind, and simply lie on the ground waiting for the mouse to crawl into his gaping beak. Of course, the unintended consequences of our experiment, is that the hawk, in its enfeebled state, would itself become easy prey.

What’s the point, and what does it have to do with you, burping Axolotls?

You see, by effortlessly getting what he wants, the hawk enters a path of degradation, where all its beauty and nobility is rendered superfluous. The hawk’s truest desire is for the mouse to live. Deeply embedded in ‘Hawk’ is the desire for the speed and stealth of ‘Mouse’.

Deeply embedded in ‘Woman’ is the desire for your nobility, expressed by your courtship, seductive cunning, romantic ingenuity, erotic imagination, and your gallantry. Whether you realize it or not, deeply embedded in You, is the desire for women’s elusiveness.

Axolotls might be cute, but Hawks are fierce and noble. Let that be your totemic animal instead, and go find yourself a Mate-Woman, just like Suleiman the Magnificent found in Roxelane, despite the many willing ‘Bethanys’ in his harem.

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[1] Wikipedia contributors. “Men Going Their Own Way.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 11 Oct. 2017. Web.

[2] Rainieri, Caelum and Andersen, Ivory. Illustrated by Raphael Montoliu. “The Nahualli Animal Oracle”. Bear and Company, New York, 2003.



Author: returntothetree

6 thoughts on “Advice to Young Men: Try Not to Be This Cute”

  1. While I have heard (and believe) stories about men’s increasing ability to set the terms of sexual encounters, it strikes me that those who feel unable to navigate these waters are also missing the ability to relate to women as other than sexual objects.

    The old norms of masculinity are falling by the wayside, and, culturally, we haven’t established new norms. this isn’t to say that masculinity needs to be completely redefined, but I think traditional norms allow very little room to develop emotional intelligence and vulnerability.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think men have moved away from growing up to be stoic John Wayne’s (Real men don’t cry!) I think men growing up today are encouraged to express their emotions and to be vulnerable but are never given the tools to do so. I’d be curious to hear a man’s perspective on this as well.


  3. Pretty amazing analogies. Often the mouse runs by survival instinct, and is trapped by the powerful hawk when confused, lost or unguarded. But there are preys of preys, and the Hawk is also very much into wolves and deer, among other preys. Indeed, the pleasure of the hunt is exhilarating. If a woman is more like a wolf, she will be even more elusive, complex and powerful for a hawk to make a greater effort.

    No doubt, the nobility of the hawk is worthy of the respect that an Axolotl will never command. All self-respecting women, and specially an Alpha, wants to be with a man she can admire. A Peter-Pan-type will never do. Extrapolating to humans, a woman needs to admire the man she is with, and a Hawk can command respect and specially when the prey is not a mouse but more like a deer or even a wolf. How is that for a challenge?¡


  4. Thank you to those that have posted comments to date.

    I think that if we all invested equal time in exploring these matters, as we do on endless, circular, and – obviously – fruitless political turf wars, our lives would not only be more balanced, rich, and meaningful, but the world would be a more interesting place, as it always has been for those with curious and inquisitive minds.

    There’s plenty of meat to chew from these initial, insightful perspectives, and from my analysis, they branch out into three main threads:

    1. The Objectification of Women (from Fade Runner 2049); the topic of my next blog post scheduled for Nov 18: Why do men do it?
    2. Old Norms of Masculinity and the Need to Redefine Them (from Fade Runner). Which ones, and how? Anyone care to tackle this one?
    3. Real Men Should Cry – now that John Wayne’s dead – but are not given the tools (from Loren NoL).

    And a daring challenge from Veronica to all women: Be a She-Wolf! Not predatory, but elusive, complex, and powerful, and make men noble again as they strive for your attention.

    That’s it for now.


  5. No, thank you.

    I prefer be alone than with any women out there. I see what happen to good men all around me. One kill himself because he was going to jail for child support.
    I see what the my mother was to my father, he’s working all the time and after she cheat on him she divorce rape him. I never going to see my mother again. He one day said to me i’m living in a small flat but i’m more happy than with your mother… MGTOW are growing at alarming numbers, i was a Portuguese MGTOW before i know anything about this philosophy, thank you feminism to show us that we can be more happy alone than with one sucker from our money. When we see the rates of men kill themselves after divorce because they can pay for child support and alimony. Fuck marriage, pump and dump or pay for a prostitute if you need sex from women.


    1. Thank you for your candid and poignant comment. I get what you are saying, since I too have suffered hardship due to alimony and child support payments. But that was my choice as an adult, so I fulfill these responsibilities gladly. My article is not suggesting that marriage is the answer; there is, Joao, a blissful place between marriage and going you own way, alone.


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