The WRONG Way To Deal With The Incel Phenomenon (And Ideas For A Better Way)

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When dealing with complex social issues, people have a frustrating tendency to propose solutions that cause more problems. Some of them are unintended and manageable. Some are just absurd and untenable.

I say that as someone who has stated before that complaining about a problem without pursuing a solution amounts to little more than empty whining. I’m in favor of confronting major issues, be they small-scale problems on a local level and bigger problems that may end up being an existential threat to the human race.

However, most reasonable people agree that attempting to solve a problem with a bad solution is akin to killing a fly with a machine gun. Even if it works, it causes plenty of damage and creates an entirely new set of problems that need solving.

This brings me to what I feel is the most asinine issue to emerge since religious zealots got needlessly outraged over the Teletubbies. I’m referring, sadly, to the incel phenomenon and believe me, it makes me miss the days when the Teletubbies were a problem.

I’ve mentioned it before and I’d really prefer to talk about less frustrating topics, but this is quickly evolving/devolving into an issue that isn’t going away on its own. People have started dying because of this phenomenon. Some depraved individuals are already being idolized because of it. This is not one of those things that will blow over after the next Kardashian scandal.

Before I go any further, I need to make clear that I do not think highly the incel phenomenon. It brings out the absolute worst in those who espouse it. I also do not associate incels with other movements involving men’s rights, gender equality, or any mainstream political ideology. These individuals are their own entity.

Their deplorable behavior and demeaning attitudes are solely on them. Their hatred, misogyny, and violent acts are not the least bit justified. I can only manage so much sympathy for those who identify as incel, given the recent news surrounding them. With all that being said, I’m going to try and be fair in addressing this problem.

As much as I abhor the ideology of self-identified incels, I don’t deny that they’re real human beings who are in a state of deep distress. I also don’t deny that their distress is painful to them. Others can call it pathetic all they want. To them, the pain is real.

This is a group of people who genuinely feel that they are the victims of a gross injustice. They see themselves as individuals who have followed all the rules that society has laid out for them. They believe themselves to be good, decent people who are worthy of sex, love, and intimacy. To them, the fact that they aren’t getting any of that is akin to denying a starving child food while donating meals to Bill Gates.

It certainly doesn’t help that popular culture has been selling us all the narrative for decades that being a nice person will get you the lover you want. Since kids, we’ve been led to believe that if we just follow the examples of our favorite photogenic heroes, we’ll get what we want. It always works out in the movies and on TV. Why shouldn’t it work out in real life?

Anyone with a passing knowledge of reality knows why that sentiment is dead wrong. We all have to learn at some point that we are not the heroes of our own story. Things don’t always work out. Life isn’t fair. Nobody owes you anything and the universe doesn’t give a wet fart about your feelings.

It’s a painful revelation, but for those in the incel movement, that pain is too much. It’s not that they haven’t gotten over it. It’s that they’ve given up. They call it “taking the black pill” instead of the red pill. Rather than the truth offered by “The Matrix,” the black pill is akin to just waving the white flag and conceding the battle to the machines.

In this case, though, the machines are the social conditions that ensure incels will never have sex, find love, or feel intimacy. Like sexual and romantic nihilists, they stop trying to navigate a world that they believe is actively working against them. They don’t try to change it or help it. They’re just left wallowing in their hatred and misery.

To some, it’s self-deprecating melodrama. I think it’s tragic. I even understand to some extent how certain people might look at the challenges before them, see how many forces are working against them, and not even try because the odds are so stacked against them. Whether or not that’s actually true doesn’t matter. This is their mentality and it’s a very damaging mentality.

It’s for that reason that the potential “solutions” some have set forth seem intent on either furthering that damage or exchanging one problem for another. One emerging “solution” comes in the form of something called enforced monogamy. It’s not quite what it sounds, but it still lends itself to a great many problems.

The logic, on paper, makes some sense. It posits that in a sexually free market, most of the women will only pursue the top tier of men. It works if you have the looks of Brad Pitt or the bank account of Warren Buffet, but for most everyone else, they’re left behind. As such, monogamy must be rigidly enforced and promiscuity significantly discouraged.

It could take many forms. People who have sex with one too many people could be taxed, fined, or jailed. People who refuse to marry someone could be required to do so. If someone doesn’t sufficiently perform they’re monogamous duties, then they’re subject to both condemnation and punishment. Whatever form it takes, the inherent flaws ensure this “solution” will only incur more problems.

Never mind the fact that human beings, as a species, may not be naturally monogamous. Never mind the fact that sexual monogamy is exceedingly rare throughout the animal kingdom. For the good of society and repressed incels, it has to be imposed and enforced. I’ll give everyone a minute to fume over that half-hearted effort at sarcasm.

In any case, this recourse requires that some segment of the population be oppressed to placate another. Historically speaking, that has never worked out. Sure, using the power of society to guide and/or micromanage sexuality might grant a little intimacy to those who wouldn’t otherwise have it. It will also significantly undermine the freedom and liberty of another individual.

It doesn’t just exchange one problem for another. Whenever society tries to micromanage peoples’ lives, it tends to collapse and not just because it fails the Boredom Filter. Human beings are complex and difficult to manage. Trying to manage the unmanageable is destined to end in failure.

While it’s doubtful that forced monogamy will ever gain favor in any society outside “The Handmaid’s Tale,” other less oppressive solutions have been put forth, relatively speaking. They largely center around legalizing sex work or hastening the development of sex robots.

While I’ve spoken favorably about sex robots and advocated the decriminalization of prostitution, I don’t think either would resolve the incel issue. In fact, I think it would make the situation worse.

Even if we all woke up tomorrow and discovered that prostitution was legal and sex robots were perfected, the incel phenomenon would still exist because those who identify as such would still feel like failures. Even if they had plenty of satisfying sex with prostitutes and sex robots, the fact they had to resort to those means would only affirm their failure.

On top of that, those working in prostitution who served them would probably be subject to stigma of their own. That’s on top of the stigma already associated with sex work. There would be a similar stigma on the manufacturers of sex robots or sex dolls, which has already drawn ire from sex-negative feminists.

In the end, not only will incels still feel angry and resentful, but those associated with this “solution” would have a reason to feel that way too. Given the breadth of that problem and the inherent flaws of the proposed solutions, is there any recourse that is both effective and tenable? I believe there is, but it’s not one of those solutions that’s simple, direct, and requires the passage or removal of a particular law.

The incel phenomenon was born of chaotic social issues that were further compounded by mass media and popular culture. Before solutions like prostitution and sex robots can even enter the conversation, the stigma associated with sex, both for the incels and those involved in sex work, must be confronted.

The idea that anyone who has too much sex or not enough sex deserves stigma is the primary driving force behind controversies surrounding sexuality. Whether it comes from uptight religious zealots or radical feminists, heaping stigma on someone else’s sex life is both damaging and demeaning.

Beyond confronting the stigma, it’s also important to educate those who identify as incels that it’s not entirely hopeless. They can still find love, sex, and intimacy. Part of that process, though, involves learning that they are not owed sex and they have to actually work for someone else’s affection.

That could come in the form of helping people develop better social skills. It could also come in the form of identifying those in the incel community that have legitimate issues with mental health. At the end of the day, they’re still people. Helping them should be prioritized over resenting them.

Re-shaping attitudes and teaching better social skills will be a slow, arduous process. People do have a nasty tendency to cling to their hate. However, it is possible to help someone overcome it. I believe most incels can be helped and are deserving of it. Only those who commit acts of violence should face such scorn.

This is not the kind of effort that one particular gender must take on. It has to be a collective effort, which I know will upset some who feel incels are an exclusive manifestation of toxic masculinity, a term I still contend is inherently flawed. We’re all still human, regardless of our gender. If some of us our suffering, then we’re still the one’s responsible for confronting it.

We can’t expect the incel issue to resolve itself. We also can’t expect those who identify as such to change just because others scorn, mock, or hate them. At some point, one side has to take a deep breath, be the adult, and confront the issue in a meaningful way.

Chances are it’ll get worse before it gets better. It’s also likely that both incels and those who despise them will hate dealing with the issues associated with them. However, that’s exactly why it’s so important to address. The longer a group of people remain at the mercy of stigma and self-loathing, the more suffering the world around them is likely to incur.

7 Comments

Filed under Current Events, gender issues, human nature, political correctness, sex in media, sex in society, sexuality

7 responses to “The WRONG Way To Deal With The Incel Phenomenon (And Ideas For A Better Way)

  1. AJ

    No argument that what incel’s need more than anything is to be encouraged to develop self confidence and social skills and a self pittying ghetto is not helpful.

    I think you misundertsatnd what enforced monogamy is. It is just a society which strongly encourages monogamy. This could be serial mongamy it does not need to mean partnership for life. It definitely need not involve intrussive government involvement and micromanagement of relationships. It is exactly how western society had been for millenia until quite rcently. At the moment, in the west at least, society actively works to discourage monogamy. A young mother witha low income male partner is better off becoming a single mother, if she wants to split up and to exclude the father from her children’s lifes she has many tools available to her and she is encouraged to do so with constant propganda about strong single mothers. Men in the media are constantly demeaned and depicted as incompetent, selfish and dangerous. Men and boys are discriminated against and disadvantaged in education, the criminal justice system, healthcare, social support and the job market.

    Simply encouraging partnership amongst parents by removing the incentives for single mothers and ending the active discrimination against men would help the situation enormously.

    It will not eliminate the issue but it would make it much less acute, give a clear path to depressed young men and in general we would have a healthier society.

    • Thank you for your comment. When researching this, I found all sorts of conflicting interpretations of what enforced monogamy entails. I think it’s one of those terms that is just evolving too quickly for anyone to make sense of, which is why it’s so loaded.

      But I’m glad you brought up social skills because I think that is the key. I’ve noticed that many of those who identify as incels seem to be lacking in this field, but social skills are like any skill. They can be developed and refined. I used to have poor social skills, but I’ve done a lot to improve them over the years. I just think those skills aren’t as emphasized for either gender, which only makes the issue worse.

      Thanks again for your comment. I appreciate it.

  2. Rob

    Thanks for actually taking the time to draw the distinction that Incels are their own group, and unrelated to any of those in the manosphere such as MGTOW, or MRM. Mainstream media is all too quick to lump them all together as the same, when they are clearly not.

    Regardless of what enforces monogamy, or any other issue for that matter, you have hit the nail on the head here. Heaping more scorn on those who claim to be Incel is not helpful. It feeds into their persecution complex, and deepens their resolve that they belong in the group. We need to start early and teach children the realities of the world (that they may not be good enough, the world is not fair, they may not be the resounding success that they hope to be). This will stem the flow of new Incels, because these children will be forced to learn about failure, negativity, and how to deal with them. For those currently under the banner, we need to try to show them another way with an open hand outstretched in friendship and empathy, not the back of our hands cuffing them for not living up to arbitrary societal standard. Sadly, for many they are too far gone to do anything with.

    • Thanks a lot for the comment. I appreciate it. Talking about this issue is very difficult. I debated on whether or not I should bother, but I think it’s too relevant to avoid. I wanted to make clear that incels are basically extremists and they’re obscuring other relevant issues involving gender. That’s why we can’t ignore them and need to address them in a meaningful, compassionate way.

      I still had a hard time on deciphering the meaning of “enforced monogamy.” In every meaning, though, the stigma associated with sexuality seems to keep compounding the issue. I think that needs to be addressed along with the poor social skills of those who feel isolated. It’s a tough issue to deal with, but one I think will only get worse if we go about it the wrong way.

  3. It’s truly shocking how un-self-aware females are. Incels are killing females fir two reasons:

    1. These men are mentally ill.

    2. Females treat them horribly.

    The result is crazy men killing horrible bitches.

    Teenage girl gets shot in the face by a boy who was obviously unstable and she led him on. Who is at fault? The bitch who led the boy on. He was crazy. He isn’t responsible for his actions. She wasn’t crazy she she was responsible for her actions.

    Only bitches of women drive men to kill.

  4. Gordo

    I think the term “incel” itself is part of the problem. “Incel” has 2 different meanings that are too often treated as the same thing.

    “Incel” is a misogynist philosophy. I won’t bother to go into it because the author has covered it pretty well. But “incel” also has a simpler meaning. It simply means “involuntarily celibate”. It is simply a person (usually a man) who wants to have sex, but cannot find a partner. There could be many reasons for this besides a misogynist mindset. He might have a stutter, or be painfully shy…etc. It’s not a philosophy, it’s just a state of being. For most women, or guys who don’t have trouble attracting women, it can sometimes be hard to empathize with guys who struggle with this, but it’s just harder for some guys than others. It doesn’t make them bad people.

    But when a person who self identifies as the second type of incel (state of being) reads a scathing critique of the incel philosophy such as yours, the distinction can easily be lost on the reader. He finds out that not only is he a loser, but he is a woman hating monster on top of it. This lays another level of self-loathing on a man who probably already suffers with low self esteem.

    So, the worst thing to be is an “incel”. And a man will do anything to escape that label. How does he do that? He can either attack the “involuntary” part by mental self flagellation for having normal sexual urges. Or he can attack the “celibacy” part (as if there isn’t enough pressure on young men to prove their sexual prowess)…that’s where trp and pick up artistry come in. He might become a sleazy pick up artist, but ANYTHING is better than being one of those hated incels.

    I don’t have all the answers, but simply coining a new term for state of being incels to differentiate them from followers of the incel philosophy would be a start. “Romantically challenged” or something (I actually don’t like that term but I’ll use it as an example). Simply to be able to say to a struggling man “No you aren’t an incel, you are just ‘romantically challenged’, it’s not the same thing” i believe would do a lot to stop incel philosophy recruitment.

  5. Pingback: Milestones, Publishing Plans, And Gratitude | Jack Fisher's Official Publishing Blog

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