contemptus mundi: MGTOW rebellion against gynocentric world

contemptus mundi, MGTOW paradise

Medieval Europe, like most human societies, was profoundly gynocentric. Yet medieval Europe was relatively tolerant of dissent compared to codes of conduct now pervasive in the U.S. and similar societies. Medieval forefathers of today’s MGTOWs wrote explicit statements of contemptus mundi (contempt for the gynocentric world) in which they sharply criticized women and urged men to withdraw from the gynocentric world.

Christianity in medieval Europe was interpreted gynocentrically. Consider a brief account of Christian salvation history:

A woman was the cause of human ruin,
of humanity’s redemption, woman was the cause.
A woman was the cause of humanity’s fall from Paradise,
of humanity’s return to life, woman was the cause.
A woman, the first mother, made angry Him,
who made merciful a woman, the virgin mother.
Eve was the means that separated humanity from its protector,
the virgin was the means by which God would become a man.

{ Foemina causa fuit humanae perditionis,
Qua reparatur homo foemina causa fuit.
Foemina causa fuit cur homo ruit a paradiso,
Qua redit ad uitam foemina causa fuit.
Foemina prima parens iterum reddit illum
Quem facit esse pium foemina uirgo parens.
Eua fuit medium quod homo foret absque patrono,
Virgo fuit medium quod Deus esset homo. } [1]

In gynocentric society, whatever matters is all about women. In medieval gynocentric society, woman were understood to cause all evil and all good. In modern gynocentric society, women cause all good; all evil, which men cause, hurts only women; and all of a husband’s success should be credited to his wife.

Beneath superficial titles, women in actual practice are the leaders in gynocentric society. Men follow women and obey them. So it was with Eve and Adam in medieval Christian understanding:

But Eve was destruction to him whom she ought to have helped,
and having sunk first, she sank her spouse in the depths.
And, since deceptive words of a deceptive wife tend to deceive,
she willingly deceived hers in this way.
A wicked enemy makes the woman wicked, and the man by the woman.
Each believes the wicked one, and each is made wicked.
The enemy deceives him through her while destroying them.
He takes both from God; he gives both to himself.
The enemy tempts, the woman delights, the man obeys,
and because of this triple wound of death, humanity sins. [2]

{ Sed fuit exitium cui debuit auxiliari
Et submersa prius mersit ad ima parem.
Et, quia fallacis fallacia fallere sponsum
Verba solent, sponte fallit et ipsa suum.
Hoste malo mala fit mulier uir per mulierem.
Credit uterque malo factus uterque malus.
Hostis eum fallit per eam, set eos perimendo.
Tollit utrunque Deo donat utrunque sibi.
Hostis foemina uir temptat laetatur obedit
Et trino mortis uulnere peccat homo. }

Both the woman and the man sin. But the man sins through obeying the woman. With men subservient to women in gynocentric society, sin is thus prevalent.

Perceiving grave gender injustices and righteously angry, medieval MGTOWs advised men to protect their lives by fleeing from women. Medieval MGTOWs refused to idolize women, and they frankly acknowledged women’s power over even the strongest men:

Listen to my teaching if you want to avoid ruin.
Woman is a fragile thing, a slippery thing, a childish thing;
fickle, wilful, with nothing in her but quarrel.
She snatches your heart and takes it away and softens chests of iron.
The first woman cast the first man down to the bottom.
Woman vanquished Samson, David, and Solomon.
You are not greater than Samson, David, and Solomon.
Woman deceived our trusting, first parent.
If you seek the Lord, flee from conversation with women.
Their conversation is nothing but bitter venom.

{ Audi doctrinam, si uis uitare ruinam.
Foemina res fragilis, res lubrica, res puerilis,
Mobilis, indocilis, nil in ea nisi lis.
Cor rapit et tollit et ferrea pectora mollit.
Prima uirum primum mulier deiecit ad imum.
Foemina Sansonem fregit, Dauid et Salomonem.
Non est Sansone maior Dauid et Salomone.
Foemina credentem decepit prothoparentem.
Si Dominum quaeris, fuge colloquium mulieris;
Colloquium quarum nihil est nisi uirus amarum. } [3]

Medieval MGTOWs recognized men’s psychological weaknesses, affirmed men’s value as beloved children of God, and urged men to act decently rather than insanely pursuing Venus (sex):

Shun flighty Venus, flee the enticing woman,
a despised thing, a changing thing, a hurtful thing.
In every way she is a thing full of knots,
a poisonous thing, a worthless thing, a wicked thing.
No one imbued with love can maintain moderation,
and he thinks what harms him can be delightful.
Since you are an image of God, an illustrious thing worthy of victory,
an heir of heaven, a companion and jewel of the saints,
despise her glittering apparel and deceitful face.
The shining beauty outside is inwardly full of sorrow,
shit, and muck, very much like a beast of the herd.
Despise the stench of Venus, follow Decency.
The first makes the mind insane, breaks the body, and empties it.
The other causes the mind to flourish along with the body.

{ Sperne uagam Venerem, fuge blandiloquam mulierem,
Rem despectiuam, rem fluxam remque nociuam.
Omnibus illa modis res est plenissima nodis,
Resque uentosa, res uilis, res uitiosa.
Nemo modum seruare potest imbutus amore
Et quaecumque iuuat posse iuuare putat.
Cum sis imago Dei, res inclita digna trophei,
Haeres coelorum, comes et gemma deorum,
Fulgentem cultum, fallacem despice uultum.
Forma decora foris intus est plena doloris,
Stercoris atque luti pecorisque simillima bruti.
Despice foetorem Veneris, sectare pudorem.
Haec mens insanit, haec corpus frangit, inanit.
Altera florentem reddit cum corpore mentem. }

Biological evolution has made males and females for each other. Most men don’t regard women as a fish regards a bicycle. Yet under oppressive gynocentrism, men may rationally choose to go their own way in relation to women. Men can develop their minds and bodies and be decent persons without women.

The literature of contemptus mundi makes clear that men don’t govern the world. According to today’s orthodoxy, men throughout history have subjugated women under patriarchy and treated women as men’s property. Why then did some men express contemptus mundi and seek to flee from women? One might speculate that they realized that women hate men. That’s no more plausible than believing that men hate women. The vigorous voices of men’s sexed protest throughout history are best understood as men ineffectively crying out under gynocentric oppression.

The literature of contemptus mundi rejects worldly values, vigorously declares that worldly pleasures and worldly honors soon pass away, and urges men to seek eternal goodness. Its message is blunt and forceful:

What is flesh? Vile earth. What is the glory of the flesh? Smoke.
Every honor is fleeting, excess of possessions perishes instantly.

{ Quid caro? Vilis humus. Quid carnis gloria? Fumus.
Omnis honor fluxus, rerum perit illico luxus. }

Yet it also shows personal sympathy for men and considerable psychological insight:

Wretched me, what shall I do? I carry a wound under my chest,
a wound of stinking, inveterate sin,
as if I were carrying death under the same chest.
As often as I have cleansed it and applied plasters,
so often has the healing burst from corruption.
I have put on a thousand bandages of no value.
The skin is always burst, there is never hope of deliverance.
Every hour this soul of mine is full of sorrow.

{ Me miserum, quid agam? Porto sub pectore plagam,
Plagam peccati ferientis et inueterati,
Tanquam si portem sub eodem pectore mortem.
Quem quoties laui, toties amplustra ligaui,
A corruptela toties est rupta medela.
Mille ligaturas ammoui nil ualituras.
Semper rupta cutis, semper spes nulla salutis.
Sic totis horis mea mens est plena doloris. }

In medieval Europe, Cupid, serving the goddess Venus, was known to shoot men in the chest with arrows to cause them to suffer love madness. From a modern, scientific perspective, desire for women is deeply rooted in men’s human nature. Having to flee women and the gynocentric world is a bitter pill for men to swallow. Yet compared to the more enlightened Middle Ages, within today’s reign of ignorance, anti-men bigotry, and superstition, more men with better reason have contempt for the world.

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[1] Chartula contemptus mundi ll. ll. 735-42, Latin text from Gutiérrez (2009) p. 266, English translation my adaptation of Pepin (1999) pp. 73-4. In adapting Pepin’s translation, I’ve removed the de-gendering of male human beings through generic references to homo / man. Following the above quote, the next two lines provide a further gynocentric contrast:

A woman, the first mother, was hateful, malicious, and proud;
a woman, the virgin mother, was chaste, kind, and gentle.

{ Foemina prima parens exosa maligna superba;
Foemina uirgo parens casta benigna pia. }

Building upon the pairing of Eve and Mary, scholars have made broad claims about a virgin / whore binary in characterizing women. Those claims are far over-blown. However, within gynocentric society, characterizing women is much more prevalent and important than characterizing men.

Chartula contemptus mundi was composed in the second half of the twelfth century. Pepin (1999) p. 55. It characteristically begins “This page of ours sends greetings to you, Beloved {Chartula nostra tibi mandat Dilecte salutes}.” Only the first 374 lines of Chartula contemptus mundi are included in some manuscripts. That shortened version is sometimes entitled “Poem of Exhortation {Carmen Paraeneticum}.” It is sometimes addressed specifically to “Rainald” rather than “Beloved”. Id.

Chartula contemptus mundi is associated with contemptus mundi literature that was widely disseminated in medieval Europe. Bernard of Cluny in the twelfth century wrote a much longer poem, De contemptu mundi. Before becoming Pope Innocent III in 1198, Cardinal Lotario dei Segni wrote a similarly themed poem entitled On the misery of the human condition {De miseria humanae conditionis}. Chartula contemptus mundi came to be included in the Eight moral authors {Auctores octo morales} that formed the core of late-medieval school instruction in Latin.

A comprehensive critical edition of Chartula contemptus mundi isn’t available. Pepin (1999) translated Chartula contemptus mundi according to the text printed by Matthias Bonhomme at Lyon in 1538, as represented by the copy in the Beinecke Library, Yale University. Gutiérrez (2009) provides the Latin text in the Libri minores of Antonio de Nebrija, probably from 1511. Schroeder (1910), freely available online, also provides a Latin text. Printed editions of Auctores octo morales from the late fiftheenth and early sixteenth centuries include the Latin text of Chartula contemptus mundi. Here’s an online example from 1538. In adapting Pepin’s translation, I’ve followed Gutiérrez’s Latin text.

Subsequent quotes from Chartula contemptus mundi are similarly adapted from Pepin’s English translation and provide Gutiérrez’s Latin text. They are (by Latin line number in Gutiérrez’s text): ll. 717-26 (But Eve was destruction…), 477-86 (Listen to my teaching…), 797-810 (Shun flighty Venus…), 400-1 (What is flesh?…), 615-22 (Wretched me…).

[2] Pepin translated peccat homo as “the man sins.” Pepin (1999) p. 73. That seems to me a significant mis-translation in the context of trino mortis uulnere and the prior verse.

[3] Pepin’s translation omits l. 379.

[image] A smiling monk in a lush garden writes an edition of Contemptus mundi. Title page of Contemptus mundi. Hecho por Juan Gerson Chanciller de Paris. Toledo: Juan de Villaquiran, 1523. Image via the Bridwell Library, Southern Methodist University. This book is actually an edition of Imitatio Christi by Thomas à Kempis. The smiling monk, the lush garden that includes flowers, trees, birds, rabbits, and a monkey, and the surrounding floral border suggests that medieval intellectuals didn’t interpret Contemptus mundi in the dour, narrow-minded way in which modern scholars typically read it.


Gutiérrez Galindo, Marco Antonio. 2009. Antonio de Nebrija. Libri minores. Salamanca: Ediciones Universidad de Salamanca.

Pepin, Ronald E. 1999. An English translation of Auctores octo, a medieval reader. Lewiston, N.Y.: Edwin Mellen Press.

Schroeder, Edward. 1910. “Ein niederrheinischer De Contemptus mundi und seine Quelle.” Pp. 335-374 in Nachrichten von der Königlichen Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen, Philologisch-historische Klasse aus dem Jahre 1910. Berlin: Weidmannsche.

5 thoughts on “contemptus mundi: MGTOW rebellion against gynocentric world”

  1. Wow. Is this geocentricism innate to Catholicism and the Eastern Orthodoxy? I don’t know much about most, but it seems like the worship of the mother Mary in the Catholic church stems from this, and it seems like this sentiment has also crept deep into Protestantism, as they have been praising women as the savior of man for several years now. Sad, sad stuff, but interesting to see that it isn’t new.

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