I have discovered a new condition. It's called Involuntary Celibacy
, or incel for short. What is incel you ask?
Involuntary celibacy, or incel, is the state of a person who has not established an intimate relationship or engaged in sexual intercourse for reasons other than voluntary celibacy or sexual abstinence. The term is used especially for adults who, despite general expectations, have had little to no sexual or romantic experience. [Wikipedia]
OK, and the causes of incel?
Loneliness. Love shyness. Sexual frustration. Romantic envy. Missing the boat. Playing an agonzing, tantalizing game of catch-up. It’s alarming that a problem so destructive can be all but virtually ignored by both serious sociologists and the mental health community. It can be argued that incel is a symptom of a deeper root cause and that this cause should be the greater focus of investigation. The most obvious reasons for some incels would be social phobia or a significant degree of social incompetence. However many incels are also actually outgoing, charming, humorous, gregarious, approachable types who resemble most people already in relationships. Yet they find themselves in the same social situation of the stereotypical shut-in. Many introverts involved in serious relationships or are even married. There are no easy causal explanations.
Right, I can buy that there are valid disorders, illnesses, and diseases that get ignored by various parts of the medical community (i.e. fibromyalgia), but so far I'm not exactly sold on incel as a disorder deserving of medical recognition. Furthermore, if there are "no easy causal" explanations, and sufferers can be either socially inept, suffer from depression, or be perfectly charming, how on earth can we come up with diagnostic criteria? Or is the only symptom lack of sexual relationships?
To help simplify matters, when I say incel, I mean to include only men and women above age 25, who are not incarcerated and do not have any physical handicap that could get in the way of a relationship. For now I don’t want to include the medically celibate or prisoners and other people in strict single-sex communities in the discussion yet--even though they do actually qualify as incel--mainly because the reason for being incel is so self-evident there. I would also defer discussion on very youthful incels because I believe most people understand in the adolescent and young adult years, people are expected to stumble and get rejected, and some frustration is a natural way of life, even though it can certainly be no less troubling in one's social development.
Right, so a disabled person over the age of 25 couldn't possibly be depressed that zie is incapable of having the sort of relationship zie assumes hir able-bodied friends have? And an incarcerated person couldn't possibly be depressed about lack of human intimacy with someone zie loves? Wait, they are
incel? Why are we excluding them? Oh, oh, because well, golly gee, of course we know why those
people aren't getting laid. It's so obvious! You just can't possibly compare them to all the "outgoing, charming, humorous, gregarious, approachable types" not getting any nookie. And certainly
able-bodied, presumably law-abiding
people under the age of 25 wouldn't be upset when their friends have relationships and they are late bloomers.
But I do very much want to address the problem of mature emotional frustration of people in a sexually permissive society, who have reasonably advanced sexual knowledge, even if it is all secondhand, especially for incels who are outgoing, are quite socially competent and are free to mingle with whoever they please. In these cases, the frustration is compounded because the sufferer has difficulty pinpointing the reason they are like this. It’s not as easy as in the last century where one could be frustrated from being in the wrong class or wrong sort of family or neighborhood. Because we live in an increasingly global community, there would seem to be no excuse not to connect with people, but incel cases still exist and, I think, much more prevalently than it would seem.
Sexually permissive society? Hey, when did the virgin/whore dichotomy go away? Did I miss a news flash? And when did porn count as good sexual education?
"...the sufferer has difficulty pinpointing the reason they are like this." And instead of looking at themselves to figure out what might be the cause, they blame the medical community for not paying attention to their plight? Yes, because people die every day from not getting laid. Oh, wait...
There’s also the feeling of helplessness and that the situation is somewhat out of their hands; after all it takes another reciprocating person to form a couple, and even doing everything right is no guarantee, as incels understand too well. Obviously luck plays a role in the success of many relationships, but luck affects non-incels as well; why does fortune frown on them in particular?
Where have I heard this before? "Women only like jerks!" "Men only date sluts/bitches!" "I'm a Nice Guy! Why don't women like me instead of those assholes?" "I'm a Sweet Girl! Why don't men want to date me instead of those bitches who just use them?"
Ohhhhhh. Now I remember. The poor persecuted Nice Guy/Girl(TM) has decided to adopt a term to apply to hirself.
Actual lack of sex is not only the most misunderstood aspect of incel, but in many cases, it’s also beside the point. Some incels have had opportunities for casual or paid sex but have declined them because they don’t consider them a real relationship (or in the latter case it’s illegal for them in their residential jurisdiction.) What they are truly missing is the affectionate touching, holding and kissing and unconditional give-and-take that true couples the world over enjoy.
This right here I can get on board with. Ignoring the legality of paying for sex, some can't afford it or wouldn't know where to look, and really, sex is
more rewarding in the context of a long-term, loving relationship for most people. Avoiding one-night stands or single encounters with a person is also completely understandable, but I thought incels were incapable of getting sex. Apparently they are choosing
not to take presented opportunities because it doesn't fit their needs/desires, which, again, is completely understandable and should probably even be lauded as emotionally/mentally responsible behavior. Acknowledging your limits is always a good thing, but I think I've found the crux of the problem.
When I found myself single at 21 after my three-year relationship ended, I had several opportunities for sex. All of them would have likely been one-night stands, or very short-term relationships. Like what's quoted above, I desired intimacy as opposed to only sex. I wanted an emotional committment, and I knew even back then that I can't have sex without love. It was nearly a full year before I had sex again, and there were times when purchasing batteries instead of condoms that I wondered if I was being silly. Yes, there were even a few nights when I whined to a friend or to myself that I wasn't getting laid, and I worried about carpel tunnel syndrome. However, I chose
to turn down the opportunities for sex. I chose
not to engage in any sort of sexual activity with anyone who wasn't seeking a relationship. I accepted that the consequences for my choices were that my bed would be empty for what might be a long time, and in the interim, I put myself out there as a single woman, and was honest with myself and potential partners about my expectations.This
is why I really can't buy the incel movement. It's not involuntary celibacy if you're turning down opportunities for sex. You have, for whatever reason, made a concious decision not to engage in certain behaviors that limit your options. Illnesses and disorders are not a matter of choice. You either have/get them or you don't.
I'm sorry, I understand the desire and drive for sex. I understand what's it's like to go without and how much it can suck. However, instead of being proactive about "fixing" the problem, you come up with a term to hide behind and so you won't have to address the actual problem: You. Want to know what you're doing wrong? Ask the people who turn you down. It might seem silly and feel awkward, especially if you've just been rejected, but learning what turns people off from you can offer you invaluable insight. Will it hurt? Yes, the truth often hurts, but if you can find friends who are honest with you, it will be an asset for you in the long term. Yes, this might mean you have to change things about you, and address the root causes of your negative behavior, but that's all part of life and growing up. Trust me, you are far more appealing relationship material if you can prove to others that you Handle Your Shit, and Get Over Your Issues.
Finally, if you do feel suicidal, or feel the need to turn to drugs and/or alcohol to deal with your issues, please, please, please get help. It is not lack of sex that's the issue at that point - it's that you have a problem that needs immediate medical attention.Cross-posted to Dreamwidth.