Thursday, May 03, 2018


I know you probably can't read this stuff -- the point is there's a continuum.

Incel (involuntary celibacy) is the “face” of forces that are constant but take different forms over time and place.  I read about the huge numbers of men who can find no wives in China because of the practise of suppressing female infants.  I remember a movie I saw once about a northern Japanese island where there was a man who could find no wife and in desperation ended up in big trouble for molesting someone’s sled dog.

But it’s not really a matter of sex — rather it is a problem of gender roles.  Since the earliest days of agriculture, even in the swidden agriculture of tropical settings, a unit of economy has been man/wife/children.  This is now deeply disturbed by the ability of women to prevent conception, to act potently in war because of electronic control of large machines, and to demand market equality in cities.

So much of society has been organized around the idea that a man must earn enough to support a family.  This was how proposals were evaluated.  Many accommodations were made for them.  Around here the old women of the rez would say, “He’s good-looking, but can he earn a living?”  Now the story has shifted to the idea that instead of a woman producing a child almost as an agricultural product, to the notion that a man “gives” a woman a baby which is the thing she most cherishes and desires.  The government then pays the bill.  

Both these ideas commodify children, maybe “mercantilizng” them if the marriage has difficulty conceiving so must have procedures that cost thousands and may be painful or humiliating.  A friend told about standing by a nurse who was looking at his semen under a microscope to see the state of his sperm, which he just produced in a small private room.  They had a tendency to be passive, which was the problem, so the nurse was urging them on.  “Go, you wigglers, go!”  In the days of ag centrality to the culture, children who could work and inherit were keys to success.

Incel is not about children either.  It is about the attribution and possession of power.  Sex is ALWAYS involved with power.  The more one is desirable, the more one accumulates power and money, which are highly interrelated.  So why is same-sex desire not a solution?  It can be, but in the minds of some, usually rural, they cling to old ideas in which man/man is not a solution.  Yet I suspect that it works for some, even if covert, and gets a lot of work done.  In the city it can be a sign of sophistication and even more elite and aesthetic than the conventional pair.

Some of the men who are Incel material had mothers who held them close, cherished and praised them or bound them with doubt, kept them at home and even paid their way.  When such men find a congregation led by a woman, a "mother", they assume they will be treated with the same indulgence.  A man came to my office and said explicitly,  “You are here to meet all my needs and I need sex, so what time shall I come by your place?”  The woman side of this idea, esp. if she is ethnic and from a background where a strong woman ran the household and men were a luxury, might be astonishment and might be rage.  (The attractive power of ministers is diminishing as they lose power, respect and money.)

When I was still a layperson during the time when talk about sex first became more respectable, an old man showed up in a women’s group, asking for help because he had never had sex, but his mother had just died and now he wanted the experience.  We talked it over behind his back and decided that even if one of us took him home for the night or we made a collection and paid for a sexworker, he could only be disappointed.  He had romanticized a spontaneous act into a whole fantasy of ecstacy.  So en masse we took him out for ice cream instead.

At one time romantic assumptions about desire were prevented by the definition of virtue as virginity and/or faithfulness.  The belief was (and persists in some circles) the idea that — when created — humans were divided into two halves, one male and one female, and that this means that somewhere on the planet is the person who perfectly fits one’s “half” and completes it.  I do not observe this to be true, though I know the feeling.  It was lovely.  I was married.

A recent doctor who had served women’s clinics asked me to fill out a form that asked how many times I’d had sexual relationships.  I was a bit boggled.  What’s the norm?  What was being implied?  I’m old so much of my life was before the sexual revolution.  I had tried "relationships" and discovered that I am far more emotionally involved and living in the myth than men.  One was pretty bitter and one was sad because it had to be broken — we were a mismatch sociologically.  And I did NOT want a family, not even his.  

Do Incel men not have other family?  Have they no friends with whom to share?  Can they not go to school or apprentice or otherwise improve their “metrics”?  Isn’t there something they can make the center of their lives — which will probably enhance their ability to attract someone?  But it’s so much fun to obsess together and run through the streets with the Alt-Right and tiki torches!

The advertising world constantly baits the Involuntary Celibates with the idea that only struggling with someone pleasingly controllable while lying on silk sheets with champagne close at hand, one's teeth newly sparkling, is real life.  Married life is seen as a woman providing praise and a clean kitchen nicely decorated.  

Liberal leftwing churches are obligated to consider each individual with respect, which can become indulgence.  UU’s are also supposed to use their heads and find solutions, new patterns for relationship even in communes and even as solitaries.  (There is a long monastic tradition but also a long hermit practice.)  Intellectuals are often in the middle, but they can be resented and attacked as though they were women — powerless, fair game.  These issues are interrelated and often present danger in the form of jealousy or misunderstanding, hatred of learning.  How does a church cope with this if they no longer pretend they have married a God?  Incel evidently feels political passion will suffice.

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