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We Created The Incel Menace

Before I get into today’s column, I’d like to take a moment to thank all those who’ve bled and died for this country on Memorial Day… and to extend my condolences to all those who’ve lost loved ones in defense of this nation and its ideals.

There was a shooting in Arizona last week. A young man named Armando Hernandez, Jr., just 20 years old, shot up a shopping center in Glendale. Fortunately, Hernandez was not just a coward, but an ineffective one; he wounded 3 people before immediately surrendering to responding officers (who would certainly have shot him dead had he not given up).

Hernandez streamed some of the shooting on social media — de rigueur for mass shootings these days — and revealed, after his arrest, that he was an “incel.” The term refers to involuntary celibacy. These are young men who, for years (Hernandez said he had contemplated the shooting since the age of 16 or 17) obsess about the fact that they are unlovable, that no woman wants them, and that — while they desperately desire to have sex — they are doomed to remain virgins. Hernandez specifically stated to officers that he targeted couples, because he wanted them to feel the pain he felt every day.

Hernandez is not alone.  His is not the first “incel” attack on innocent people. He is one of many young, socially marginalized men in the United States (and around the world) who are consumed with violent rage over a state of affairs that they feel powerless to change. They want to have sex, yes, but more than that, they desire the same physical closeness that any person desires from a relationship. In short, they are human, if socially awkward.  Desiring someone who does not want you back is part of the human condition… but the incel movement is a relatively new state of affairs in Western culture.

Incels should not be confused with the “MGTOW” movement (shorthand for Men Going Their Own Way), a social movement in which men — often divorced and embittered by abusive relationships — vow to have little to do with women, relationships, and marriage. Neither are they like the “grass eater” movement that seems to have originated in Japan, in which young men forsake career and marriage in order to lead voluntary lives of largely celibate eternal adolescence, playing video games and pursuing whatever hobbies amuse them. No, incels are a modern product of a modern, paradoxical social issue: promiscuity.

I render no judgment on promiscuity in this column. Rather, I point out the simple fact that as monogamy has broken down, simple math dictates that a larger number of men end up marginalized. In a culture that values monogamy, the most desirable men and the most desirable women pair off and are “taken,” leaving plenty of other men and women to also pair up.  Once a man or woman is “taken” he or she is no longer part of the equation. The result is that more people pair off and make couples — because it’s either pair off or remain alone.

When society shifts to rampant promiscuity, as ours has since the sexual revolution of the Sixties, an important mathematical equation emerges. Free to have sex with whomever, whenever, the majority of women prefer the top tier of most desirable men. Read “desirable” as handsome, confident, accomplished, wealthy… whatever metric comes to mind. The result is that a smaller percentage of men is having sex with a larger percentage of women (because they’re no longer limited to one each). And because that promiscuity is culturally acceptable, the women selecting that smaller percentage of men accept as normal that each man has had many more partners.

The remnant in that equation are the less desirable men — men who women might, yes, “settle for” (and then be perfectly happy with) in a monogamous culture. They are left behind because, compared to the higher-value men, they are seen as having little to offer. Our culture, meanwhile, amplifies this by ridiculing men who “can’t get girlfriends” as losers and virgins (“virgin” is a common insult online).

The double standard is a painful one. Women who are less than runway-model perfect, who desire the man of their dreams, are viewed with Bridget Jones’ Diary levels of sympathy by society (as they should be). Men, meanwhile, are told the equivalent of “get good, n00b!” and reviled as pathetic debris if they have difficulty meeting and engaging in relationships with women.

Worse, their increasing desperation about this state of affairs — for, fundamentally, they simply desire what all human beings desire, which is closeness with another human being — creates a vicious cycle. Women are repelled by desperation, and can easily sense it. The famed incel Elliott Roger, who stabbed and shot a number of men and women in 2014, complained in recorded videos that he was handsome and had money; why, then, did women not desire him? The answer was that they could smell his desperation (and probably his mental instability). He, like so many incels, was trapped in a cycle he could not break.

This is not to absolve violent incels of their crimes. Far from it; they deserve the harshest penalties imaginable, for they have targeted innocent women and men whose only crime is having something that incels want. Rather, it is to explain that the rising incel problem, and its concomitant violence, are a product of mathematics… of an equation that we, as a society, have set in motion.

Any man who feels violent rage toward women (or women and the men in relationships with them) is not normal. He needs psychological help. Armando Hernandez, Jr., is not a good person. He is not a “misunderstood person.” He is a bad person who deserves to go to prison for his attacks on innocent people. But incels like Hernandez “weren’t a thing” in the 1950s. This is a new problem created by a shift in culture — and unless we figure out what to do about it, our society will only generate more vicious, angry predators like Hernandez and Elliott Roger.

I realize I am identifying a problem, but not providing a solution. I’m not sure what that solution could be. The promiscuity genie is out of the bottle; putting it back seems unlikely. What, then, are we to do? Until we can answer that question, we will create more angry, potentially violent, thoroughly marginalized young men who are driven by desires they have little capacity to control. Their lack of control is their own fault; our refusal to acknowledge the threat is ours.  Meanwhile, our media and our politicians will continue to use their violent outbursts to demand more “gun control.” Society will throw up its hands and wonder where this problem comes from.

And the problem — a problem we created — will continue.

2 thoughts on “We Created The Incel Menace”

  1. I’m not so sure that there’s a “rising incel problem” so much as greater willingness to own up that that’s what’s bothering people. Of course, our lords-and-masters in the press love having a new boogeyman to scare people with.

    Involuntary celibates, I believe, are far likelier to harm themselves rather than others. I’m told that suicide attempts are fairly common among them.

  2. There’s a flip side to this record, those that ended up with far more than their “fair share” of women over the decades thanks to the fortune of just being born at the right time to take advantage of the “free love” era where women appeared to be in active competitions to see who could have sex with the most men. Of course, experience shows that many of those women are just as miserable as the incels; numerous divorces and cancelled relationships over matters ranging from trivial BS to boredom leading to multiple infidelities. Also, the embrace of ever-more-militant feminism has resulted in rejecting more and more of their female biology.

    For the men, it had other consequences. Dramatically more women means a dramatically higher chance of becoming involved with someone that is mentally unstable and violent, random children from multiple partners resulting in child support obligations, venereal diseases, finding a settled home life difficult to achieve, and, of course, boredom with a single sex partner when you’ve previously had access to dozens per year if it is achieved.

    Decades previously such a man would have been referred to as a womanizer, rake, cad, or just a poonhound. Parents would actively teach their daughters to avoid such men (which, ironically, would lead a substantial portion of them to seek them out). Now, they are just labeled, at worse, a “player” but is more likely to described as just unable to find the right girl. Give him 30 years and another 300 women and he’ll still be looking, even if he really is looking at that point. A century ago such men typically aged out of such behavior and would get married (or at get a serious girlfriend) to a woman of equally colorful history.

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