Incels and entitlement: something’s wrong with our men

Something is seriously wrong with our men. Our young, white men in particular. It’s easy to see the links when it’s all laid out in front of you: the vast majority of mass killers are men, violence against women is common of many mass killers many – or most – of whom openly hate women. Recently ‘Incels’ (a label that means ‘involuntary celibate’) have been in the news, thanks to one incel who decided he was so angry he needed to take it out on society by killing people. And while we’re now having a welcome discussion about how dangerous misogyny can be, I can’t help but think we’re not fully addressing the problem.

What are incels?

 

Incels are a subset of misogynists who hang out in dark corners of the internet raging that no women will fuck them. They’re straight, usually white (and their misogyny comes with a whole heap of racism as well), usually young men who believe that they have been made ‘involuntarily celibate’. That’s just a fancy way of saying no one wants to sleep with them, but their actual philosophy is about coming up with ways to punish those who won’t sleep with them, or force themselves upon people because they think they have a right to sex. They discuss sex as if it’s a precious natural resource that should be dispensed fairly among the population, rather than as an activity for which both parties need to consent. They spit poison about women who don’t want to sleep with them, as if they are withholding sex that these men are entitled to. They joke about rape, but they also talk with deadly seriousness about rape, devising ‘policies’ to make their lives better such as:

“Women who have had more than 9 sexual partners and single moms should be forced by the state to date and have sex with incels that can’t get any women.”

That’s a real suggestion, by the way. And it’s a real suggestion that’s easy to dismiss: if someone’s ‘solution’ to a perceived problem is ‘let’s do The Handmaid’s Tale’ then you know it’s not a real solution.

So this blog post is meant to be about incels. But when I write about incels it’s easy for people to dismiss the problem as ‘just some horrible internet men’ and move on far too quickly. When discussing incels (and misogynists more broadly) on Twitter, I often get replies telling me how best the problem could be dealt with. Some say incels should be locked up, or worse, others suggest we never talk about them, thus starving their pathetic agenda of the oxygen of publicity.

Other people – mostly women – say something very different. It’s the same thing we’ve been saying for years and years. Since Gamergate, since the rise of the Men’s Rights Activist, and since Twitter and Facebook shoved us face-first into a conflict with the very same guys who used to ping our bra straps at school and tell us we were disgusting if we refused to fuck them women have been saying: listen to us. Understand that these men are dangerous. And recognise that they are only part of the problem.

Incels are the tip of the iceberg

Incels are terrible, sure. They define themselves by whether they are having sex, based off an idea of sex that sees sexual activity as the most important thing about someone, coupled with a truly grotesque idea that they have a God-given right to sex. The latter point is wrapped up in a grotesque entitlement – they think that women must be controlled and doled out like our bodies belong to them, and as if our choices do not matter. As if we’re humanitarian aid and everyone who hungers for us deserves their fair share.

Incels are pricks and, yes, the violent and dangerous ones need to be locked up.

But this isn’t just about incels, is it? It’s about all those pockets of misogyny that bubble up online. Gamergaters – the crowd of raging young men who doxxed and harassed women in the video game industry for years. Pick Up Artists who train young guys to treat women as if we’re an unsolvable mystery, and in the pursuit of fucking us they should do anything other than ask what we actually want. It’s about Men’s Rights Activists who are deeply concerned about false rape accusations but silent on the very real problem of rape. Those who are all for their own freedom but aren’t sure women can fully be trusted with ours.

And perhaps you’re still with me, because these clowns are easy to dismiss too – lock ’em up! Ignore ’em! Call them pathetic losers and move on!

But this entitlement to women’s bodies – and time, attention, respect, love – isn’t confined to Reddit forums and 4Chan, so this post isn’t just about those guys either.

It’s about men who hurt women, because they believe it is their right or because they can’t get their heads round the idea that women think and feel and desire and hurt like they do. Their friends who know it happens but say nothing.

It’s about the men who grope women in the workplace and then get bristly when you tell them it’s not OK, because they aren’t willing to see this woman as something other than a toy for them to play with. Men who coach other guys on how to get laid through manipulation and sometimes outright threats – as if women are vending machines and when you have the cheat code you can get – and you DESERVE – exactly what you want.

It’s about the people who joke about these things as if they’re not a big deal. Or those who’ll stand up and loudly defend the right to joke about these things, while caring nothing for the women who have actually been hurt along the way.

Those who reply to an article about consent by asking ‘what about accused rapists, though? How do we protect them?’ Or respond to sexual assault by asking ‘what was she wearing?’ or ‘why didn’t she just leave?’

It’s about the people who tell me how awful incels are, then suggest we solve the problem of male entitlement to sex by simply legalising sex work. After all, incels won’t be a problem if we just get them laid, right? So we’re back to The Handmaid’s Tale, except now it’s a subset of women – sex workers – who are being thrown to the angry, violent wolves who feel entitled to their bodies.

This post is for the people who’d condemn incels as monsters, but write me long emails asking how they can ‘get’ their wife to fulfil their sexual fantasies. Or tell me that I should feel sorry for the men who lash out at women, because as a woman I can never understand the pain of someone who doesn’t get the sex they’re owed. The men who’d condemn those who went to the awful President’s Club dinner, but only offer solutions in the form of how women should change their behaviour. As if it’s reasonable to expect women to just step round each dangerous, invisible trap that is laid for us by a man who thinks he’s entitled to our attention.

Those who hate misogyny but still feel a little twinge of doubt when they hear how angry I am about it: she’s surely overreacting, no? Those who are worried we might go ‘too far’ with all this stuff and it’s probably time we stopped now because the accusations are getting a little too close to home.

Those who stand by awkwardly while their good friends joke about this.

Men I know who have sympathised with abusers and discredited victims and told me I’m being ‘too emotional.’ Who tell me I need to ‘listen to both sides’ when one of the ‘sides’ either explicitly or implicitly sees me as less than human.

It’s about the men who start any conversation about male entitlement to women’s bodies by distancing themselves from the perpetrator: I’m ashamed of my gender, not all men do this, I’m honestly one of the good ones!

This is a post about incels. But it’s actually a post about all of us. Those who do terrible things, those who joke about it, those who defend them, and those who stand by.

And above all – above all – it’s for those who say ‘not me!’

If you’re a man and you’ve read this far: well done. Other dudes will no doubt already be tweeting me to say ‘not ALL men’ or explain that they’re disappointed in me for laying the problem at their own front door. So here’s a treat for those of you who’ve read this far: it’s not just men who are at fault here. I am at fault too. I’ve frequently failed to challenge people when they’ve said misogynist things – out of fear or awkwardness or sometimes not being able to find the right words. I’ve acted non-consensually on a number of occasions: not just during sex but in small ways on a daily basis. I have almost certainly given space to terrible, misogynist people – in the comments here on my blog, or in Twitter chats, or elsewhere, when maybe I should have blocked and moved on.

But we all have, haven’t we? We’ve all live in a society that encourages this point of view: that tells men they’re entitled to women’s bodies. If you can look at your whole life and see not one single example where you’ve espoused these views, heard someone joke about them and laughed along, or more likely simply turned to look the other way when this stuff has been happening, then frankly you’re either a liar or a saint.

Many, many men feel entitled to women’s bodies. They feel that way because they’re told that they are entitled to women’s bodies. They are fed messages that support this theory, they hear jokes that rest on the assumption that this theory’s right. They see violent rapists being given slaps on the wrist, or going entirely unpunished, or even being lionised for their bravery in the face of bitchy, accusing women. They see men use their power as a means to coerce women for sex, and they watch them get away with it. Again and again and again.

Still there’ll be some people who get angry because I’ve said ‘men’ feel entitled to women’s bodies. I could qualify and say ‘young men’, or ‘young white men’ or ‘young white men who have been radicalised in gruesome corners of the internet’, and perhaps that would save a few comments or salve a few consciences.

But it’s not what I want to say, and more importantly it’s not the whole truth. Incels aren’t the start and end of the problem – the problem’s way bigger than that. It’s in the way we talk about sex, and the way we disregard women’s autonomy. It’s in conversations that offer sex workers as a kind of human shield to protect ‘other’ women from violent men, rather than recognising that these violent men are a threat to all of us. In discussions where I’m encouraged to listen to – and sympathise with – men who see me as less than human.

The problem isn’t just some individuals who feel entitled to women’s bodies, it’s that many still believe women aren’t really people at all. We are somewhere between pets and chattel: to be rescued or protected or punished or controlled or shared around like so much apple pie.

Something’s wrong with our men, and we need to put it right, but we can only put it right if we acknowledge the whole ugly problem.

This is not about ‘incels’ – it’s about all of us.

48 Comments

  • Muddy Feet says:

    ” it’s that many still believe women aren’t really people at all.”

    Exactly.

    Brilliant piece, thanks.

  • I’m really glad that you updated from the earlier piece. I read that earlier piece shortly after I’d come across the incel phenomena and along with other things I’d been researching it made me angry and upset at the way society has let down everyone involved, female and male.

    I won’t get into whatabouterry on nuances since this is a real problem for all concerned and your analysis seems essentially correct.

    I kind of divide the problem in to two. Solving either half alone is not half a solution.

    The first part is the young males. From a traditional view of society, boys have for millenia entered the male hierarchy at about the age of 13. This used primarily to be military and largely morphed in to apprenticeships and blue collar jobs. A clip around the ear was an incentive to learn the norms of male society (yes I know, that leads to some of the second problems). I’ve known this first hand since I started working in a mill when I was 14.

    What we’ve arrived at today, especially with this demographic is that we keep them as children until they are 18 under the guise of treating them as young adults. Consequently, when they do reach 18 and are told to be adults they have difficulties, the brain linkages haven’t been made and never be made. We end up with the phenomenon of the 30 year old teenage virgin who’s angry as hell. It’s no coincidence that until quite recently the most fearsome elements in armies going back through recorded history were typically comprised of males aged 14 to 20, the age where they are the most aggressive and have little understanding of personal mortality when there’s glory to be won.

    We talk about this young demographic not having role models, yet we’ve discarded the process by which they had role models without having any thing in its place. For example, many will not be taught by a male teacher until they reach high school. Resentment of female teachers can be very strong at this point and ingrained.

    The second part of the problem is indeed, those traditional male hierarchies. Although they have generally worked to turn teenage aggression, energy and angst to more productive forms of behaviour and responsibility, they reach a limit because within the hierarchy there are natural alphas. This is where the domestic abuse and controlling attitudes reside. Many do transcend that but it is inherent in the barely tamed alpha stance.

    To my mind, the first problem requires a means of providing the young males with a means of entering in to a male society. As far as they go, the traditional societal solutions do work. The second problem is bigger, it’s how to mature the attitudes and behaviours of that male hierarchy. There’s a point where they cease to develop. I’m sure it’s a self-centric choke point in that development, the male no longer has anything to learn regarding responsibility for his own survival. Therefore, he rarely develops empathy and concern for others beyond considering them as possessions. How we solve this one, I don’t know. All I do know is that it’s counter-productive to just tell any male not be aggressive without providing a sublimating outlet in return.

    This has been longer than I meant. However, I do want to thank you and others for pointing me at some of these topics again. These are scary and horrific.

    • Girl on the net says:

      Hmmmmm so I massively disagree with this: “The second part of the problem is indeed, those traditional male hierarchies. Although they have generally worked to turn teenage aggression, energy and angst to more productive forms of behaviour and responsibility, they reach a limit because within the hierarchy there are natural alphas. This is where the domestic abuse and controlling attitudes reside. Many do transcend that but it is inherent in the barely tamed alpha stance.”

      I think that these ‘traditional male heirarchies’ are one of the biggest contributing factors to the dangers that people – not just women – face. We should not be telling young men that their ‘worth’ as men is in any way related to how aggressive and domineering they are. Your use of words like ‘alphas’ raises my hackles: men aren’t dogs, they’re human beings, and I don’t think language like this is helpful.

      But I do kind of get what you mean, I think, in that you’re talking about the ways in which men have been encouraged to ‘be men’ in the past, and the fact that young men these days may struggle to see that there is a ‘place’ for them in manhood (am I getting this right?). If so I definitely agree in part, and I’ve written a bit more on it in my comment to Phil below. https://www.girlonthenet.com/2018/04/30/incels-entitlement-somethings-wrong-men/#comment-579749

      • Yes, you understood the main point.

        All I was trying to convey was that these structures have evolved over millenia to channel and control the destructive and even homicidal tendencies of young males.

        For modern times we can discuss how we need a further maturing process for these structures. What I don’t like is the idea that because we don’t like some of the outcomes from these structures that we totally abandon and dismantle them. This is likely to result in increased male aggression because even the imperfect restraints have been removed.

        Educating the primitive hind-brain of our species is not going to be accomplished easily or quickly.

        • Girl on the net says:

          Hmmmmm I think what I disagree with here is your evopsych interpretation:

          “All I was trying to convey was that these structures have evolved over millenia to channel and control the destructive and even homicidal tendencies of young males.”

          Evolution doesn’t act ‘to’ do anything – it isn’t directional or intentional. So I don’t think that your evolutional model really explains things – I’d probably say that much more of it is to do with the way our society rewards men who perform masculinity in the ways they’ve been taught, rather than evolution.

  • John Hawcock says:

    A lot to think about here. Thanks for posting it.

  • FA says:

    The reason most mass killers are men, is the same reason most of the people in goals are men, and the same reason most of the homeless are men and the same reason that most CEOs are men. We are a sexually dimorphic species, and while on most measures we tend to have the same mean, men usually have greater variance. That simply means the outliers are far more likely to be men. To see why, throughout early history 80% of women reproduced, while only 20% of men did. Men are generally more inclined to risk taking because that is the best method of ensuring a mate. If you want proof, look at all the girls now sending Nikolas Cruz love letters, while David Hogg couldn’t get a date to the prom.

    The other lesson from history is that the less chance young men have of securing a partner, the more unstable the society becomes. Those men have nothing to lose, and are willing to take more extreme risks as a result. Marriage, and enforced monogamy was an effective solution, as it meant that even the most successful men could not monopolise all the women. That’s been breaking down since the sexual revolution. More recent research shows that having male role models around is vitally important for children, but particularly boys. Of the recent mass shootings in the US, most have come from broken homes, for example. That’s also been breaking down as boys aren’t even likely to encounter male teachers.

    This is one of the best articles I’ve seen on incels:
    https://www.thedailybeast.com/sympathy-for-the-incel

    • Girl on the net says:

      I don’t understand what this has to do with what I wrote, I’m afraid. Are you saying that none of the things I mentioned happen? Or that they’re not a problem? Or are you suggesting a solution somewhere and I’m just not making the connection?

      Edited to add: “Marriage, and enforced monogamy was an effective solution, as it meant that even the most successful men could not monopolise all the women.” You are also talking about women as if we are not people.

  • Marco Marco says:

    I think those violent people know that they’re not entitled to sex. Rather, they are desperate because they have a natural need for sex and have no education on how to behave around women.

    Being totally awful around women means even more isolation and if depression kicks in they might become violent.

    I think mostly, this problem should be solved with education. They should learn the following:
    – the woman’s main sex organ is the brain
    – imagination and future partnership is more important to a woman than immediate pleasure
    – women have a natural tendency to be attracted by powerful, respected man (as judged by other men)
    – men are attracted mainly by physical appearance, women are not.
    – either she “feels” an attraction or not. there is no bargaining, no amount of gifts or attention will ever work if there is no feeling.

    It’s really hard for young men who have absolutely no clue about women to figure out these things.
    I saw lots of women falling in love with “jerks”, because the “jerks” acted like they were respected by other man (but they were not).
    And I saw lots of men obsessing over someone who was not interested, their man brain saying: “I’m good for her, I would make her happy, why won’t she like me?” without understanding that no amount of logical thinking will ever work on a woman’s feelings.

    Thanks for the article.

    • Girl on the net says:

      To be honest, it feels like you’re doing that thing I was talking about in the article – falling into the trap of thinking women aren’t people. I don’t think you realise you’re doing it either but most of your examples rely on teaching men that women are a homogenous mass who’ll all behave in exactly the same way, and that way is radically different to the way ‘normal people’ (i.e. men) will behave. You’re talking about women like we’re outliers, and as if all our motivations can be easily understood with a set of very simple rules. In fact, we’re people, and we have complex reasons for doing things, and different beliefs, desires and needs. Unless I’ve wildly misunderstood something, I think you’ve missed what I was saying.

      • Marco Marco says:

        I’ve only just read your reply.

        OMG It’s true, I did fall into the trap of stereotyping women. Of course there is no set of rules to understand people. I’m sorry it looks like I’m reinforcing the wrong view. And of course I didn’t realize I was doing it.

        First things first, you’re talking about men being violent. I think that violence comes out of depression.
        Some men feel entitled to get sex because they desire sex so badly but they can’t get it. Instead of curing their depression by actually talking to women, they flip the coin and think “there’s nothing wrong with me, my lack of sex and intimacy must be other people’s fault” in this case, women’s fault. I’m sure we agree that view is horrible and wrong, you say it’s too much tolerated by society, yeah society should do its job to counter that view, but I think the root cause is the individual who is utterly clueless about his own sexual desires and that of other people.

        So what I really wanted to highlight, is that my list of “rule of thumbs” are all things that I think are really, really difficult for men to understand. If only they understood those things, they would be less depressed and less violent and less “blame the women” type.

        Let’s try adding the matching element of my list for the men (average, typical, not everyone is the same) sexuality, see how they look.

        – the main man sex organ is the penis
        – immediate pleasure is more important to men than future partnership or romance
        – men have a natural tendency to be attracted by beautiful women, as judged by their own beauty standards.
        – women are not attracted just by the physical appearance, men are.
        – a man might feel no attraction but still be incredibly happy to receive an offer for sex.

        I think most women will learn all those things about men easily, but I think most men will only know about their desire, will not understand women’s desires.

        Or let me try it this way: A man who talks to women about their feelings and their desires about sex, will understand that his own feelings and desires about sex are incredibly different. While a man who never talked to women about intimacy, and thinks that man and women have similar sexual impulses to his own, is going to find it really hard to understand why his search for sex and intimacy always fails. That’s why I think the only possible answer is education, i.e. a society that views talk of sex and intimacy as perfectly fine and not embarrassing.
        Also, it might sound stupid, but I really think sex workers can help immensely those men who are indeed feeling terrible because they haven’t had sex in a while, and they can’t bear the thought that no sex is coming.

        Thanks again.

  • Greg says:

    I have no solutions for this problem and I think the extreme incidents are going to get worse before they get better, leading to more state control and violence as the battle between tolerance and “ism’s” accelerates. In a more connected world where more casual violence is caught and punished, those who want to perpetuate it will feel more and more trapped and lash out to greater extremes, leading to more surveillance and control over their lives, leading to more extreme acts. Change in humanity is both positive and violent. Let’s hope the generations that come after embrace the new tolerance and better resist the violence that the intolerant throw out their in vain attempts to stop it. Keep up the education, but know that nothing worthwhile comes easy.

    • Girl on the net says:

      Hmm. I’m not sure you’ve understood the point I was trying to make with the blog post. I agree with you that there’ll always be people like incels who take ideology to extremes, but my argument is that we need to tackle the root causes (i.e. the beliefs/entitlement/failure to see women as fully human) via education, examination, and challenging these attitudes where they come up. I don’t think it’s ‘easy’ at all – I think probably my blog implied the opposite? It’s difficult, but it’s a responsibility that we all share, and change we can all contribute to.

      • Greg says:

        I guess I believe the education is out there, at everyone’s fingertips, but so is the anti-education which the incels are embracing. Except for government taking away rights to free speech, the incels will continue to embrace a community of entitlement they preach to each other. It’s the only thing that keeps them motivated. Take that away and you have a bunch of nihilistic losers that have merely unfocused hate. Just like most ardent racists, incels are not just casual mysoginists, shouldn’t be looked at as confused, but actually rather knowledgeable sociopaths, a danger to society. The only way to truly eliminate them is to target them directly as well as those who create them, using the violence of the state to cut off their ability to interact, and even then there are the pitfalls of a benevolent totalitarian society.

        • Girl on the net says:

          “Except for government taking away rights to free speech, the incels will continue to embrace a community of entitlement they preach to each other.”

          See, this is why I wrote the second half of the post – this problem is *not* just limited to incels, it’s woven into the fabric of our discourse. There are things that all of us do which feed into this, so there are many things we can do to help stop it.

          • Greg says:

            Yeah and it’s a long road. Too many men and women are already set in their ways no matter how much you tell them it’s wrong. It’s a generational shift and will take more than a generation to effect. In the meantime, my plan is just to be the change I hope to see.

  • Wayne says:

    “The most obvious answer is ‘because I’m a pervert’ – I like sex; I like talking about it, reading about it, doing it, watching other people do it, and hearing other people’s stories.” In case you don’t recognize this, its from your about page. Save your preaching for another time and place.

  • Phil says:

    A very thought provoking article!

    Lots of things to ponder, but in terms of what’s potentially causing the problem – i believe a lack of positive male narrative is having a large impact.

    While women currently have an extremely positive narrative (and rightly so) as they search for equal pay, equal rights, ‘Me Too’ etc., there is an achievable vision of a positive future for women. However, for men a lot of what we have prided ourselves on historically has been diluted e.g. physical strength/being the breadwinner/passing on the family name. This in itself is not a terrible problem, but no new male narrative has jumped in to replace it which has resulted in men living with an antiquated view of what being a good man is.

    So, to address the Incels and misogyny as a whole, it could be that through lack of a real positive narrative for a good male life (and the existence of many bad narratives e.g. Donald Trump) they have reverted to thoughts of their human value being solely about having sex (conscious thought), and having offspring (unconscious). Then as with any dangerous thoughts, depression/anxiety can turn them extreme and violent.

    To improve the situation, men need to have more opportunities for what they can grow up and become, rather than just a husband and breadwinner.

    Just my thoughts written quickly on my commute :)

    • Girl on the net says:

      Yeah, so I think I’d agree with you on some of this (although I wouldn’t necessarily say that women have a ‘positive’ thing going on – we’re still battling against a huge amount of historic sexism and societal expectation), and I think a fair bit of it would come under what feminists would call ‘toxic masculinity’. Men are given really strict and harsh standards about what it looks like to ‘be a man’, and those standards are impossible to meet and allow for no personal freedom/wriggle room, and are often outright harmful (i.e. ‘boys don’t cry’ which makes it harder for men to seek help when they are struggling with mental health problems etc).

      So I think where I’d disagree is that I probably wouldn’t say men need more role models to perform this kind of masculinity and give them something to look up to: I’d argue instead that we need to change our narrative and stop expecting men to all cram themselves into this box marked ‘masculinity’, instead helping them work out what they actually want/are comfortable with, and supporting them in growing up to be the person they want to be.

      • Jonathan Lindberg says:

        I really appreciated how you expressed in the last portion about helping men have something good to look forward to.
        It’s a tragedy when we can’t understand or help eachother and only see blame.

  • Girl on the net says:

    Interesting that my post said ‘this isn’t about incels: it’s about all of us’ and yet so far nearly all of the comments have focused on how to solve the problem of incels. Anyone care to chip in about the second half of the post? That *is* my suggested solution to incels/MRAs/other terrible men doing awful things – we need to change the way we all talk about sex in society, and stop talking about women as if we are not people, which is why some of these comments feel a little tangential to me.

    • Sara says:

      I think there are constructed narratives that impact on men. Socially, particularly in the UK and USA, we’re still a very repressed society in that sex and sexuality isn’t discussed openly – sex education classes, for example, do little to touch on the emotional side of things, or even the fun side. They’re little more than a mechanical rundown of an act we’re biologically programmed to know how to do anyway.

      We still have an almost Victorian attitude towards and yet there is a contradiction in that we’re bombarded with sex and sexualised imagery on a daily basis. Adverts, TV shows, movies, video games, etc. all use sex because sex sells. Unfortunately, because we’re unwilling to have simple conversations in schools, at home, and even within the different media that uses sex to shill its wares, we end up with an extremely one-sided narrative – sex is great, women are sexy, pursuing them makes a man a man. How many movies tack on an unnecessary ‘romantic’ subplot that gives Muscles St. Roids a “reward” for saving the day in the form of a sexy lady who had all the characterisation of a left-over slice of pizza? It’s been a staple of pop-culture for so long – the man does manly things and is rewarded with ‘the girl’, who he’s no longer with by the time of the sequel, because drama requires all relationships implode.

      Consequently, society’s permissive attitude in media but repressive attitude in the everyday creates this bizarre reality where men are encouraged to seek sex to prove their manliness like the guys in the games and on TV, but are doing so because they’re only seeing part of the whole. It’s not a term I like, but they’re seeing the ‘objects’ – women become a goal, they’re a reward for doing things that are considered ‘of men’ and they are not a person. Sex is gaining XP to level up in life.

      We need better discussions in schools and at home to balance out the other influences. I’ve met numerous men who don’t even believe that men and women can be friends – one has to be trying to shag the other. This is such an awful attitude and that needs to be addressed as well because it only furthers the idea that women are an achievement. The idea women & men cannot simply be friends is dehumanising in a way because it puts the focus on the woman’s sexual availability rather than the woman’s sense of humour, mind, thoughts, feelings, etc.

      You’re right in that we need to do more to call out negative views, language etc. and I think we need to do more to promote positive views, by having discussions as awkward as they might be and even doing simple things like promoting authors, artists, etc. that create developed male and female characters that interact with people in a normal, healthy way.

      And we need to call out the bullshit of alphas/betas and such crap. Nobody, male or female, should be lauded for being aggressive, violent, controlling, coercive, abusive, domineering etc. towards other people. It reinforces negative ideas, and worse, it tries to forcefully shape other men’s own perception of themselves. A man who gets a bit weepy during movies, takes candelit baths and likes to cuddle is infinitely more attractive to me than some ‘alpha’ douchebag.

      • Sara says:

        Sorry, this wasn’t supposed to be a reply to that specific post. Ugh. Brainfart.

      • Girl on the net says:

        I don’t have much to add to this other than that I agree and I think you raise some really good points – especially re: talking about things in a positive way, and driving the conversation forward by highlighting the good, as well as calling out the bad – thank you! <3

    • Greg says:

      I guess we are here talking about sex and talking about women as people…what more do you expect us in support to do? We vote for the right people, we push the agenda of equality…what more do you want?

      • Girl on the net says:

        I want you to acknowledge the second part of the article, and understand why your comments read like you were trying to distract or distance yourself from the main point I was making. I don’t think I’ve been mean or rude to you, I just didn’t want to go down the sidetrack that you wanted to go down, because I felt I’d already addressed this in the post. But you’re not alone – as you can see most of the comments bypassed the bit where I said ‘this is a problem for all of us’ in favour of talking about the specific issue of incels.

    • Audrey says:

      There is an article in Harper’s Bazaar that I think relates to the second part of your post that you might like.

      https://www.harpersbazaar.com/culture/features/a19158567/what-is-rape/

      • Hazelthecrow says:

        Thanks for sharing. That is all so very true to life as I experience it, and I’ve got the chills all over again. I will be remembering the phrase freeze and appease.

  • Phil says:

    I think my point on women having a positive narrative isnt to say that everything is good in the here and now. Lots of opression definitely still exists throughout the world and closer to home. But i think there is a visible upward trajectory, that gives something to fight for, work to achieve. Whereas i think men are perhaps seeing more of a negative trajectory, and aren’t sure where their role in the world is going as a result.

    I agree entirely with you that men shouldn’t be cramming themselves into a box. We need to expand the box so that it encompasses all of what a human can be. E.g. you are masculine by default of being a man. However you chose to be doesn’t affect that.

    How we can expand the box? I’m not sure there’s an easy answer but it probably lies with mass media and them stopping from stereotyping in coverage which affects all people, especially the young.

  • gravbeast says:

    Good post. Sorry to see (as you say) so many commenters taking it as an invitation to offer pet theories on ‘how to solve the incel problem’.

  • Hazelthecrow says:

    *shudder*
    When you wrote about a ‘God given right’ it reminded me that twisted people like these have always existed, and have had a very big hand in shaping the ickier bits of organised religion. Literally huge religious tracts all over the world have been written by them, for them, enforced by the. Can’t have women? Become a priest, make not having women and theorising about all the ways sex in general and women in particular are evil your profession!

    #notallreligiouspeople

    • Greg says:

      In my opinion, religion is a trailing performance indicator. Once true mental belief changes, religion follows suit…bar violent elimination of practitioners.

  • It’s perhaps worth remembering that we are all struggling against THOUSANDS OF YEARS of society being run to benefit men at the expense of women, with immense amounts of propaganda about the various imaginary friends men came up with to justify and reinforce the idea that women are not human, but more of a cross between a breeding animal and a domestic appliance.

    We have made progress, most of it in the last hundred years or so, towards spreading acceptance and understanding of the idea that women are people and that they have a right to autonomy but it’s slow progress. There is still a long way to go, but many of us are still moving in the right direction.

    • Girl on the net says:

      You’re right of course, and I know it’ll take a long time. And of course you’re also right that lots of people are moving in the right direction. I just get so utterly frustrated with the number of nice/well-meaning men I speak to who refuse to take ANY responsibility at all for ANY of these issues. I mean, see some of the dudes commenting on this for an excellent example: most are talking about how to solve the problem of incels, few are saying ‘OK I recognise how I contribute to this and where I might be able to make a helpful difference.’ Makes me want to weep. But you’re right that it’ll take ages, it’s just so fucking frustrating that in the meantime so many people refuse to even admit there’s an actual problem.

  • Lexy says:

    Great writing, GOTN! You are on a roll with analytical and persuasive essays lately. If you ever want to tackle Eric Schneiderman and his anti-choking law, I would be interested to read your thoughts.

    • Girl on the net says:

      Thank you! I definitely have some thoughts about that guy. I’ll write something if I have time to! Hoping that a piece I contributed to on this topic will go live soon as well, but it was for someone else so not sure if/when it’ll go up!

  • Neil says:

    I’m late to the party with this, but just to say that you do the “ranty ones” so well. This is a superb piece, GotN.

  • Scarred says:

    I’m coming out: I was an incel, lost my virginity after I turned 30. So I kind of understand where all of this anger comes. Now I know I’ve been told many lies when I was a child and teenager. Be nice and polite to girls, help them, etc. and they will appreciate it, understand how good man I am and if I ask them for a date, they’ll come. I was also told that by working hard I can achieve my goals. I thought this applies to getting a girlfriend too. It took me more than a decade to realise all these lies. I felt I’m great guy: don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t gamble, don’t beat up women, have a decent amount of money in the bank – yet I had to accept that a childless, non-obese woman is out of my reach. I never had one for free. I made peace with myself, accepted my fate. Now I’m married and never ever have to ask a date from a woman – it still scares me to death to go out dating.

    The problem is: this truth is really scary. It takes away hope. It’s a part of life that totally out of control. How would any talking about sex solve this problem? “My son, you’re introvert and small – forget women under 30 or under 80 kg – have a nice life!”

    • Girl on the net says:

      I think I can help you understand the problem here: you’re not a ‘great guy.’ Firstly, you seem to think that ‘don’t beat up women’ is something that you should genuinely be lauded for, as opposed to what it actually is, which is a basic standard of human decency. On top of this, you seem to think that ‘childless, non-obese women’ are the only women of value: you are literally reducing women to two very simple traits, and basing their worth solely on those (pretty arbitrary, if you ask me) traits. I weigh over 80kg, btw, and I am over 30 – your message implies that I am entirely worthless, along with any other woman who fits the same criteria.

      You seem to think that you have difficulty with women because you are short and an introvert. I disagree on both counts with this: firstly you literally HAVE A WIFE. How are you sitting there bitching about how no women want you when one has literally married you? That’s dismissive and disrespectful to your wife, and yet another mark in the ‘you are an arsehole’ column. On top of this, I should point out that your height and introversion are probably entirely tangential to your perceived problems with women: the reason you struggle is because you do not see women as people.

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