Word has it that there’s a “sex drought” in play in America right now – and everybody seems to have their own theory for what’s causing it. From overindulging in Netflix binges to the ubiquity of free online porn, social media addiction to large numbers of young adults living with their parents, theories about the cause of the sex drought abound.
Calico isn’t sure what’s causing the alleged sex drought, but she is sure of one thing: The guys who blame it (and a litany of other societal ills) on women failing to live up to some sort of ‘obligation’ to provide sex to men are so far off the freaking mark, they’re facing in the opposite direction of the target.
Still, Calico is not entirely without sympathy for the blue-balled fellows who call themselves “incels” (although her husband sure is), even if she thinks they’re misguided at best — and downright scary at worst. It’s clear engaging them in a rational, productive conversation about sex isn’t going to be easy, but Calico thinks we must try to do so anyway. Read all about it in her latest post, “Nobody ‘Owes’ Anybody Sex.”
by Calico Rudasill, Sssh.com Porn Movies For Women And Couples
“You know, when I was a youngster, if he couldn’t get laid, a straight guy with any pride at all basically had two choices: He could keep his mouth shut about his total ineptitude with the opposite sex, or he could make up some bullshit story about a hot girlfriend he has back in Montana – who, conveniently, none of his friends will ever meet.”
That’s what my husband had to say about “incels,” the community of hapless, lovelorn fellows who spend their days whining about (and blaming women for) their sexless existence, when I asked him for his take on the phenomenon.
That wasn’t all he had to say about the subject, of course. But suffice to say if incels are looking for sympathy or encouraging words from someone sensitive to their plight, they needn’t bother seeking any from the man with whom I share my bed.
“Seriously,” he intoned at one point, “these dopes either need to content themselves with jerking off to porn and/or the cartoon chicks in their favorite hentai series, or just get it over with already and jump the fuck off a tall bridge.”
Sympathy for the Devil Incel
Personally, I have some sympathy for incels (more than my husband does, at least) – but it’s the same sympathy I have for anyone who has an unfulfilled desire for sex to be a part of their life. In my perfect world, everyone would be getting as much of the sort of sex they desire – provided the sort of sex they desire is consensual and enjoyable to all parties involved, naturally.
That said, like a lot of women, the more extreme rhetoric from some within the incel population doesn’t just freak me out, it scares the hell out of me.
As EJ Dickinson observed in the Rolling Stone piece I linked to earlier in this post, the idea “that women ‘owe’ men sex – and that men who are deprived of this resource will go on to commit grotesque acts of violence – is propagated not just by violent misogynists online, but by seemingly rational, level-headed people.”
“There is a line between incel culture and general sexual frustration,” Dickinson writes, “but it is increasingly becoming a blurry one.”
To me, it’s imperative that we try un-blur that line. And while part of me agrees with my husband, we’re never going to appeal any incel who may be willing to listen to reason by saying “Go die in a fire, asshole,” no matter how emotionally satisfying it may be to say it to him.
Extending the Olive Branch
The first thing we need to do, as difficult as it may be to work up any enthusiasm for the idea, is to convince these guys things aren’t as hopeless as they seem. In other words, if he’s ever to establish a positive sexual relationship with anyone, it seems to me the first step is getting an incel to think of himself as something other than a completely unfuckable lout.
In my experience, the notion that everybody has a somebody (or even many somebodies) out there who would find them attractive is basically true. It’s often expressed in not-so-great ways by those who market porn – you know, the “Sure, these performers are gross-looking, but there’s a porn-market for anything on the internet!” line of adult industry thinking. But the bottom line is what people generally think of as “mainstream” notions of attractiveness are just that: what the ‘mainstream’ thinks. It doesn’t come close to reflecting the immense range of preferences and desires people feel.
I know plenty of women who like guys with more than a few ‘extra pounds’ on them, for example. If there’s an incel out there who thinks the reason he can’t find a sexual partner is that he’s overweight, he’s starting from a flawed premise. The question is, how can we communicate that fact to him and get him to trust the advice?
I don’t have an easy answer for that question. I do know one thing, though: Rhetorically browbeating people into submission isn’t likely to succeed in winning them over in any meaningful way.
And Here Comes the “But….”
While I think the only way to win over an incel (and to be sure, some are so far gone there’s no prospect of talking them off the nihilistic ledge on which they’re perched) is to engage him and encourage him to see both himself and the women he desires as full-fledged human beings, we also have to draw a line in the sand when it comes to this notion of women “owing” men sex.
Let’s be clear: Nobody owes sex to anybody. This doesn’t mean people in relationships shouldn’t expect frustration and dissatisfaction from their partners if they consistently decline to have sex with those partners – it just means that being in a relationship doesn’t obligate either partner to have sex on some sort of set schedule.
Again, I don’t have any easy answers for how to persuade incels that their worldview is why they’re not having any sex, as opposed to not having any sex being the cause of their worldview. For those who have truly gone off the rails, it may not be possible to reel them back in at all.
I do think the broader online community should try to reach out to incels, though, because without some pushback that offers more than disapproval and mockery, we’re likely to see more of these guys drifting off into the frightening fringe.
Calico’s work has appeared under various pen names in adult industry trade journals and on several mainstream op-ed portals, including the Huffington Post.