The Rise of the Involuntary Celibate - OZY | A Modern Media Company

The Rise of the Involuntary Celibate

The Rise of the Involuntary Celibate

By Eugene S. Robinson


Because permanent solutions to temporary problems suck.

By Eugene S. Robinson

You are special. So special that everything you could have ever wanted — especially if your wants are framed by what television tells you, you should want — you should reasonably expect to be yours. Standing on the sidewalk in Brooklyn of the ’70s my friends and I would play the “that’s my car” game and obsess about what we’d have when we got to the age when you could get what you wanted.

It started with cars. Then apartments. Clothes. Games. Guns (Brooklyn is, after all, part of America). Girls or, more precisely, women. 

The order wasn’t specific, but the grouping was: What we would have that we wanted. Neglecting the higher-level thinking that would fundamentally have us understand that women are not to be had but are part of an equal process of joining. Specifically the hope was that we’d find someone who loved us enough for us to believe that we had “achieved” the love portion of the equation.

Then? Then we grew up and began the heavy lift of adult living. How we came to understand the world versus how we thought we would and whether it was a “success” probably played on how well we were managing to pay our rent. And to date? Not a single one of us has killed anyone in some sort of postmodern cri de coeur over all of the women (or cars, clothes, games or guns) that we haven’t been getting. 

Is it any wonder that mother-son “incest porn,” or fauxcest, with actors who aren’t related “playing” actors who are, is on the upswing and being driven by millennial interests?

Which brings us to the so-called incel rebellion, a flag raised for the involuntarily celibate, men who are tired of being told to tough it out and are much more than tired of seeing handsome, well-adjusted, athletic men “get” all the girls. So much so that they’re advocating rape in Reddit groups and feeding a hatred that has seen both guns — mass shooter Elliot Rodger — and rented vans, with Alek Minassian looking at 10 counts of premeditated murder, used to kill “normies.” Actions being claimed as part of a rebellion that’s a palliative to the rejection the so-called betas feel in the face of an alpha world that ignores them.


The media has stumbled over itself in response, pegging the attacks, rightly so, on misogyny. Is it an off-brand Trumpism and social panic? Possibly. A general cultural malaise? Sure, why not. All of which congeal around this idea that men are now in crisis. This despite the fact that, according to the FBI, men account for 80.1 percent of people arrested for violent crimes. 

“I have never arrested a woman for rape. Or murder, actually,” says retired San Francisco cop Eddie Williams about his more than 20 years on the force. Which doesn’t mean women don’t murder. You’re just not overwhelmingly likely to be murdered by a woman. But men have overwhelmingly been murdering men for a long time. And raping them and women too. And committing property crimes as well.

So men are just now in crisis? Men have been the crisis it seems, and the only difference now is that without a full-scale military conflagration, more of these men are back home, not getting mowed down in world wars. Back home when that whole college thing didn’t work out. Or in their dorm rooms, if it sort of is. And they’re angry, not so much about the sex they’re not getting — that can be gotten from paid professionals — but about the lack of confirmation of their specialness in the form of a doting woman.

And is it any wonder that mother-son “incest porn,” or fauxcest, with actors who aren’t related “playing” actors who are, is on the upswing and being driven by millennial interests, according to aggregation sites like Pornhub and YouPorn?

Not really. Because they are special. So special. 

Is there a solution? Does there need to be? The “crisis in masculinity” seems to be a self-correcting problem. Killers go to prison, even killers with wives and girlfriends, who they sometimes kill or sometimes don’t. Is there a way to keep from being collateral damage because a guy, or several hundreds, can’t marry Scarlett Johansson? There are small ways in the form of social safety nets and networks, but largely, no. Killers will kill. But can we cut down on the number of killers with outsize understandings of what they’re entitled to as a casus belli?

To paraphrase former presidential candidate Carly Fiorina, you don’t have a God-given right to anything.

Sure. But let’s start with you. You’re not that special that everything you could have ever wanted, you should reasonably expect to be yours. And something else, to paraphrase former presidential candidate Carly Fiorina: You don’t have a God-given right to anything other than life, liberty and the “pursuit of happiness.” Also, notice it’s the pursuit of happiness, not the attainment of happiness.  

Successful living and romance revolve around the kind of hard work and chance taking that, in 2018, many are constitutionally opposed to, since, like in the movies, everything is always supposed to be … easy. It’s not. For anyone. Especially those being shot or run down.

Besides which, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information in a 2009 paper, perceptions of reduced circumstance have a negative outcome on a variety of health indexes. So it really might be just as easy as changing your mind. Try that, most certainly before murder. It just might work.

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