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Evo psych prof takes the delusions of Reddit’s dateless dudes as facts — and produces a study only an incel could love

This survey of people I agree with proves I’m right!

By David Futrelle

If you were to ask one Reddit’s self-described “involuntary celibates” just why they were celibate, they would probably give you an answer something like this: Because I’m ugly and short and a socially awkward loser, and in today’s terrible world “Chads” get all the chicks — though back in the good old days I would have been assigned a wife through some sort of arranged marriage or something and thus I wouldn’t be alone and mad and, oh, by the way, women are a bunch of worthless whores.

Apparently these views are held pretty widely on Reddit. In a new paper, Menelaos Apostolou, an Associate Professor of Evolutionary Psychology at Cyprus’ University of Nicosia, looked at a Reddit mega-thread devoted to the question: “Guys, why are you single?”

With help from several other researchers, Apostolou sorted and categorized the 13,429 comments that attempted to directly answer the question, discovering that dateless Reddit dudes were most likely to conclude that they were dateless because they were ugly and/or short and/or socially awkward losers. Typical comments included:

Cause I am ugly as fuck and have been cursed with awful genetics.

Being under 6′0″ means I am invincible to women.

Because I have massive self-esteem issues, I think I’m worthless, and I don’t do social things because I don’t want to inflict my stupid, worthless presence on other people.

If I remotely have a crush on you I’m probably gonna be really fucking awkward. 

Sounds a bit like the Braincels subreddit, minus the extreme misogyny.

It’s not clear how many respondents, if any, commented on “Chad’s” relative dating success, but Apostolou felt the need to inject it into the discussion, not as an incel obsession but as a simple statement of fact, declaring that “men who are … good looking may choose not to commit to a long-term relationship, but choose instead to have many different casual relationships.” (Guess what, dude? Men who are not conventionally attractive can do that too.)

Apostolou also brings up the arranged marriage issue, noting that men who are bad at flirting suffer in the contemporary world, in which people seek out partners themselves. “We can ask whether in a pre-industrial context, where marriages were arranged and/or male-male competition was strong, these same men would be single,” Apostolou writes,

The answer is most probably no. Flirting skills were irrelevant because men did not have to flirt with women: Wives were either provided by parents or obtained through force.

No wonder so many guys today are bad at flirting, Apostolou suggests: Evolution hasn’t prepared them for it!

[I]n an ancestral pre-industrial context, the selection pressures on flirting skills would be weak, resulting in many of our ancestors having poor capacity for flirting. This capacity has passed to contemporary generations who live in post-industrial societies. 

And they. Apostolou  suggests, are kind of screwed.

Apostolou isn’t just reporting what Reddit dudes think are the reasons they can’t get dates. He’s basically accepting their explanations as fact, and adding some convenient “evo psych” rationales to buttress their arguments.  He’s taking the skewed perceptions of Reddit’s single men and treating them like scientific insights.

He is certainly aware that a Reddit thread is not a scientific or demographically representative survey,  and that there is no proof that any of the answers given are actually true. He mentions both of these issues in his paper. But in the end he concludes that most of the respondents were probably telling the truth and that’s good enough for him. “We think … that most people have an accurate understanding of what drives them to be single,” he writes, “so this is not a major bias.”

Really? Because after spending nearly ten years reading (if not always posting on) Reddit, with much of my attention in recent years devoted to incels and MGTOWs and other dudes who can’t find dates (or who claim that they don’t want to), I would have to say that I am a little bit less convinced that Reddit dudes “have an accurate understanding of what drives them to be single.”

Well, that was a bit of deliberate understatement. I’m convinced that a pretty hefty chunk of Reddit’s single men have no fucking clue why they’re single. Incels are convinced that they are too ugly to date women, who only want to date the absolute handsomest of men. Neither of these things are true. When incels post pictures of themselves online to “prove” to the world what horrible ugly freaks they are, most of them look just fine. And women date less-than-perfect-looking guys all the time.

Hell, some of the most romantically successful guys I’ve known have included a pudgy goofball with a weird baby face, a guy with a cleft palate, and a short grouchy schlub who rarely shaved. A former roommate basically lived the life of an incel until his mid-twenties when he suddenly found himself dating a series of women most people would have assumed were out of his league. (And no, he didn’t learn “game”; this was more than a decade before any of that crap.) A friend of one of my close relatives is happily married to a lovely woman even though his face was burnt off by acid when he was four.

Some of these guys succeeded because they’re smart and funny and confident and genuinely decent people; the others, well, I’ve never been able to figure out what women see in them. But they share one thing in common: Seeing only their pictures, Incels would classify them all as ugly “subhumans” destined to spend their lives alone. And they would be wronger than wrong.

Apostolou’s study was posted online only a few days ago by the journal Evolutionary Psychological Science (note to self: do not subscribe to Evolutionary Psychological Science), and it’s already being discussed in the subreddits populated by Reddit’s angriest single men — where it’s seen as belated scientific proof for the incel worldview.

Not that they’ve given Apostolou much credit for coming to the same conclusions they came to long ago. While some took issue with the way the study was being framed — in a way that focused on the social awkwardness issue and downplayed the issue of looks (the incel obsession) — others complained that it was little more than a restatement of what to them seemed obvious.

Pointing to Apostolou’s discussion of arranged marriages, one Braincels commenter sneered: “I have been saying this for YEARS you hack.”

“Another groundbreaking study from the academic journal of No Shit, Sherlock” wrote a commenter in r/ForeverAlone.

If your “scientific” study simply reiterates the accepted, er, “wisdom” of some of the internet’s most hateful and deluded men, you might want to think twice about publishing it. Hell, you should probably reconsider your entire career.

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JessicaRed
JessicaRed
2 years ago

“Hell, you should probably reconsider your entire career.” – pretty much true of everyone in EvoPsych.

Surplus to Requirements, Observer of the Vast Blight-Wing Enstupidation
Surplus to Requirements, Observer of the Vast Blight-Wing Enstupidation
2 years ago

@Moggie:

If you don’t want to be angered by another form of “traditional” marriage, don’t look up “bride kidnapping”. This is still prevalent in at least some of the Stans; in Kyrgyzstan, I think something like half of all marriages involve kidnap (though some of that number will really be elopement).

Legacy of Genghis Khan and subsequent cultures like the Ilkhanate?

Katamount
Katamount
2 years ago

@Scildfreja

This is what I was afraid of. Granted, the academic racists were inside the gates already, but I was hoping that publishers like Springer would have the standards to see through nonsense journals such as this.

@Mish

So I’ll just roll about laughing at the notion that people didn’t flirt Back In The Day. Please, dude, have you not looked at art from different periods and cultures? How about poetry? Novels and stories?

Yeah, I really don’t think they have the attention span to realize that they aren’t the first ones to experience basic things like emotions.

Catherwood
Catherwood
2 years ago

Holy snackers! I spent a lot of time o the ingels subreddit and these guys have ZERO self awareness. They need help but either don’t have access or are convinced that everyone else is the problem. They’d do picture threats now and again and they were mostly normal looking guys who could be leading normal lives if they didnt exude hate and selfloathing from every pore.

Surplus to Requirements, Observer of the Vast Blight-Wing Enstupidation
Surplus to Requirements, Observer of the Vast Blight-Wing Enstupidation
2 years ago

I’d expect something like this from Elsevier, where quantity is Job 1, but it’s somewhat more surprising coming from Springer…

otrame
otrame
2 years ago

I know a guy who us UGLY. Remember the guy who was the disguise for the alien “Mikey” in the first part of Men in Black? The big Hispanic guy? My friend looks a lot like that.

I’ve had a crush on him for years, but have never made any moves on him because he is married–to an absolutely gorgeous woman. We are talking those silly incel’s idea of a ten. And no, my friend is not wealthy, far from it. She makes roughly twice what he does. They’ve been married for more than 20 years.

So to all those incels out there. It’s not your looks. Sure there are silly women who care about such things, but they are actually fairly rare once they are out of their teens.

The reason you aren’t getting any dates is because you don’t actually like women. You have no interest in them as people, you are just looking for a warm place to stick your dick. And women can tell. Most women older than about 15 can tell. That’s why you can’t get a date.

otrame
otrame
2 years ago

@ Victorious Parasol

How about this for a love poem:

Star of my life, to the stars thy face is turned.
Would I were the Heavens, looking back at you with 10 thousand eyes.

Short, amazing imagery. Wonderful, right? Especially since it was written roughly 2500 years ago. By Plato.

Katherine the Adequate
Katherine the Adequate
2 years ago

Being under 6.0″ means I’m invincible to women

LOL! I don’t think incels are invincible, but what does my lady brain know?

Alan Robertshaw
Alan Robertshaw
2 years ago

@ otrame

I’ll see your 500BC and raise you 2000BC 🙂

Bridegroom, dear to my heart,
Goodly is your beauty, honeysweet,
Lion, dear to my heart,
Goodly is your beauty, honeysweet.

Bridegroom, let me caress you,
My precious caress is more savory than honey,
In the bedchamber, honey-filled,
Let me enjoy your goodly beauty,
Lion, let me caress you,
My precious caress is more savory than honey.
Bridegroom, you have taken your pleasure of me,
Tell my mother, she will give you delicacies,
My father, he will give you gifts.

You, because you love me,
Give me, pray, of your caresses,
My lord god, my lord protector,
My SHU-SIN, who gladdens ENLIL’s heart,
Give me, pray, of your caresses

Sumerian love letter, from when Tindr was on clay tablets

Kestrel
Kestrel
2 years ago

While I was reading the comments, this came on the news program I was watching (The Beat on MSNBC). According to PlentyOfFish 34% of their users would choose bad sex for the rest of their lives over dating a Trump supporter. Pay attention to that incels.

Ariblester
Ariblester
2 years ago

@Yutolia, The Green Hash Thing

@Ariblester: re: neurotoxins

Reading the abstract, they seem to be arguing that *BAD GENETICS!!! are responsible for a supposed drop in average IQ in the past few decades. They seem to be arguing against the hypothesis that neurotoxins (i.e. lead and mercury) and other environmental hazards might have a deleterious effect on a developing brain.

*dog whistle for interracial marriage I’m pretty sure

Oops, my bad. That’s what I get for not really paying attention to the abstracts when skimming.

weirwoodtreehugger: chief manatee

TW for violent transphobia:

This is the worst thing I’ve read in a while
http://www.towleroad.com/2018/08/hunting-season/

Poor kid. I hope the cops get their shit together and arrest the people who made violent threats. But it’s Oklahoma, so I’m not that hopeful.

Moon Custafer
Moon Custafer
2 years ago

Being under 6.0″ means I’m invincible

On the contrary, I’ve always thought James Cagney conveyed a certain appealing vulnerability beneath his tough-guy exterior. Not sure whether his <6’ height had anything to do with it either way…

Victorious Parasol
Victorious Parasol
2 years ago

@otrame and Alan

Bravo!

Shadowplay
2 years ago

@Katherine the Adequate

“LOL! I don’t think incels are invincible …”

Only to sense, empathy, and humanity.

Z&T
Z&T
2 years ago

@ Violet the Vile,

“It might be because I am a bit tired this morning, but I cannot stop watching that dog gif.

It’s hypnotic.”

Me too, ha 🙂

Bina
2 years ago

@Moggie:

Bina, I remember Dudley Moore being frequently referred to as a “sex thimble” by the tabloids.

OMG, that pun just made my day.

Also, apropos kidnap-marriages: Apparently that’s a custom among the Hmong of Laos. Or at least, it’s made to LOOK like one, even if the bride knows in advance that her paramour is about to abduct her. So there goes one more “traditional” anti-incel trick that ain’t…

Bananananana dakry: Short-Haired, Fat, and Deranged
Bananananana dakry: Short-Haired, Fat, and Deranged
2 years ago

@Violet the Vile @Z&T

Me three, but largely because I have a great soft spot for Westies since I grew up with one.

dust bunny
dust bunny
2 years ago

Even granting these geniuses all their unfounded unstated assumptions, their speculations don’t make any sense. Why/how/why/WHY would women ever have evolved to appreciate flirting so much if all pre-industrial societies strictly prevented it from ever being in any way useful in choosing a good mate?

Marshmallow Stacy Maximal (formerly bluecat)
Marshmallow Stacy Maximal (formerly bluecat)
2 years ago

re: “kidnap marriages”

There were still cases of it in Southern Italy when I lived there (1988 – 94). Sometimes it was pre-arranged between the couple, sometimes it decidedly was not.

There was one fairly well-reported case where the kidnapper did not managed to rape the kidnappee, so had returned her to her family.
She sued him, partly in order to get it on record that no rape had occurred, because she would have been deemed “spoiled” otherwise.

As for the Laotian Hmong “marriage by abduction”, I’ve read that the villages are surrounded by cabins where couples can hang out. Everyone knows they’re there – everyone helped build them for exactly that purpose – but the family of the girl are supposed to pretend to believe she’s been abducted by a tiger instead (even though there haven’t been any tigers in the vicinity for decades), to save face over the thought she might want to leave them.

The go-between has to do a “good news, bad news” act in order to open negotiations: good news – she hasn’t been eaten, bad news – she wants to get married. The family traditionally refuses to believe them three times before they start discussing anything. I’ve always thought it was psychologically quite pleasing.

vaiyt
vaiyt
2 years ago

“Hello! I think you’re subhuman scum unworthy of basic human dignity and every interaction we have conveys how much I despise you. Can I get a date? Not because I’m even interested in you specifically, I just want a notch on my Date Belt to brag about with other guys.”

Moon_custafer
Moon_custafer
2 years ago

Marshmallow Stacy Maximal @:

I once overheard a conversation on a bus in which someone was explaining to a friend that her people had formerly conducted marriage-by-abduction, and that this was now commemorated by a tradition in which the night before the wedding, the groom’s family and friends *burgled* the bride’s parents’ house, stealing whatever wasn’t nailed down and ransoming it back to the other family at the wedding reception, with the proceeds going to the newlyweds. As this was now a tradition rather than an actual B&E, the bride’s parents were expected to leave their doors unlocked on the appropriate date.

NeonWraith
NeonWraith
2 years ago

I don’t know if I’m right, but when I see comments like this:

Because I have massive self-esteem issues, I think I’m worthless, and I don’t do social things because I don’t want to inflict my stupid, worthless presence on other people.

I begin to realise how incels come to be. For the sake of brevity, I’ve struggled with depression & anxiety all my life, and my childhood left me with a simultaneous need for complete social isolation to protect myself, and an immense craving for intimacy & companionship. I think the key difference, though, is that the self-loathing it left me with is, in my case, all directed internally. I don’t like myself, and see myself as someone that isn’t worth other people’s time / effort, but I’ve never lashed out at those people for feeling this way about myself.

I think an incel reaches that point (for whatever reason), and lashes out instead; it’s all women’s fault because they’re evil, or because of chad, or whatever.

Just a thought, but it fits what I’ve seen. And, ultimately, there but for the grace of whatever deity covers this stuff, go I.

kupo
kupo
2 years ago

I think an incel reaches that point (for whatever reason), and lashes out instead; it’s all women’s fault because they’re evil, or because of chad, or whatever.

Why is the vast majority white cishet dudes? There’s a lot more to it. If social isolation and craving intimacy were the main factors, we would see disproportionate representation of marginalized people, wouldn’t we?

Jesalin: Clit-o-centric Lesbian Goddess
Jesalin: Clit-o-centric Lesbian Goddess
2 years ago

Why is the vast majority white cishet dudes? There’s a lot more to it. If social isolation and craving intimacy were the main factors, we would see disproportionate representation of marginalized people, wouldn’t we?

Exactly. If it were mainly social isolation and craving intimacy you’d see many, many, many more marginalized people represented and also possibly quite a few introverts as well.

Instead it’s primarily cishet white jackasses pissed off cause they didn’t get a free complimentary hot nympho model, simply for existing and having a dick.

Nym
Nym
2 years ago

This Apostolaos is the same Chucklehead that wrote that paper outlining his theory that lesbians and bisexuals exist to excite the sexual attention of straight men in order to be impregnated.
He came to this conclusion after conducting an ever so rigorously designed study in which he interviewed 1,509 STRAIGHT people, of which a percentage said they could get their jollies to the idea of their partner having a homoerotic sexual encounter.

He doesn’t attempt to delve into reasons why men might be gay .

You would not see such a poorly designed study proposed by any of the kids in my classes when I was working my undergrad (bachelors of science in bio ) without getting back a shit grade for it.
UNDERGRAD students couldn’t get away with such nonsense and this assistant professor is out there publishing papers.

Hexum7
Hexum7
2 years ago

IN regards to kidnap marriages, I’m reminded that in the fifties, Hollywood gifted us with a joyous musical comedy romp about kidnapped women and their subsequent Stockholm Syndrome derangement called “Seven Brides For Seven Brothers”

This is a perfect example of sexual propaganda, because the movie is actually very enjoyable to watch if you can ignore the WTF factor.

It even features a jaunty song endorsing the rape of the Sabine women.

Diptych
Diptych
2 years ago

@Neon, kupo, Jesalin: Yeah, I’d say you need both. Incels wouldn’t be incels without their sense of aggrieved male entitlement, but they also rely on that deep misery and loneliness to maintain their group identity. Hence the hostility to any suggestion that inceldom isn’t something they’re born into and that will forever be forced upon them by a cruel society, or to anything that might make them feel better other than hatred and violence.

Robert
Robert
2 years ago

Neonwraith – you just reminded me. Back in college, early 1980s, I was having a challenging time psychologically assimilating my gayness in certain ways. So I sought counseling and therapy.

The option of externalizing my issues and blaming the men I was attracted to for my emotional pain never occurred to me. Just another one of the reasons why I think my having turned out gay was a fortunate thing, since men in this culture are not socialized to hold other men responsible for their own emotional well-being.

Jane Done
Jane Done
2 years ago

@Nym: sounds like another dude who has somehow managed to get almost a dozen (not exaggerating) so-called studies published, all on the exact same topic: PiV is the one true sex and orgasm by any other means is so unhealthy it’s possibly fatal (literally uses the word “deadly”) and women should probably be banned from it (literally calls for medical intervention on women’s bodily autonomy).
Also HIV is a hoax and only teh gays get it.
Did I mention he literally FORBIDS anyone from attempting to replicate any of his studies? And if anyone falsifies his research they’re ‘doing it wrong’? And that he literally cites his own relentless churning out of pseudoscientific homophobic sexist work as a “growing body of research” to support his claims in later papers? Himself. A “growing body of research”.
Only in a patriarchy could a sleazy, lazy, mediocre, misogynistic narcissist have these papers published in a scientific journal.

Violet the Vile, Moonbat Screech Junky
Violet the Vile, Moonbat Screech Junky
2 years ago

Why is the vast majority white cishet dudes? There’s a lot more to it. If social isolation and craving intimacy were the main factors, we would see disproportionate representation of marginalized people, wouldn’t we?

Exactly.

My take on it, personally, is that both of those factors – whiteness and heterosexuality – were the societal gold standard to aspire to for a long while. So people who had those qualities were used to being, well, privileged.

So I’d say anger at loss of innate privilege and aggrieved sense of entitlement are actually the key factors for incels. There are plenty of people who are socially isolated and crave intimacy who don’t behave like incels.

Also, if it was simply loneliness and isolation, there wouldn’t be this insistence on a HB300 or whatever it is they want. They’d be happy just to have a normal girlfriend, even one that wasn’t “hot”.

It’s about competition and proving themselves – it’s not about “I want a girl”, it’s about “I want to be seen to be successful.”

Which is not to say that people don’t find the incel subculture and then “have anger at loss of privilege” fostered in them. I think that’s probably the case. But I also think you have to have that anger already for it to be there to be fostered, as it were.

Valkyrine
Valkyrine
2 years ago

For some reason the “being invisible to women if you are under 6’0″ -thing” sounds a lot like projection to me, where this guy just ignores women shorter than X completely.

Juniper
Juniper
2 years ago

The problem with “Evolutionary Psychology” is that there is already a scientific discipline called “Anthropology” that means “the study of humans.” It’s main sub-disciplines are Physical Anthropology, which leans more towards biology and studies how humans evolved, how we compare with other primates, and stuff like that, and then there’s Cultural Anthropology, which studies human cultures and overlaps more with sociology and psychology.

So it’s a big red flag that everything “evo psych” claims to do is already covered by a scientific discipline that colleges and universities already have actual departments for and that you can get an actual degree in.

But people who aren’t scientifically literate might not get that. It reminds me of Ken Ham’s website can mislead people into thinking there’s some kind of legitimate scientific debate about whether evolution is true, because he uses just enough sciency-sounding language to fool people.

Moon_custafer
Moon_custafer
2 years ago

Re cultural anthropology — Is “cargo cult” still a legitimate term, or did it turn out the Melanisian rituals were really about something else? Because on the one hand it seems like kind of a racist theory: “Oh, they think if they dress up as Westerners modern tech will just appear;” but on the other hand, it’s *really* useful to have a term for when somebody imitates the outward signifiers of something they aspire to, in the hopes of attracting the benefits.

Catalpa
Catalpa
2 years ago

Maybe it’s just me, but I always find it mind-boggling (and more than a bit depressing) when dudes come into threads about incels and go “Yeah, I totally could see myself having gone down that path.” It’s like seeing someone come into a thread about the KKK and go:

“You know, I understand why these white supremacists came to be. I myself had some interactions with rude or mean black people, and I even witnessed black people get jobs/university positions/opportunities that I wanted and did not get! Fortunately, my loathing about my lack of success was directed internally instead of externally, so I decided against going out and burning crosses on the lawns of black people, not like those unfortunate people who decided to join the KKK. But there for the grace of God go I.”

kupo
kupo
2 years ago

Maybe it’s just me, but I always find it mind-boggling (and more than a bit depressing) when dudes come into threads about incels and go “Yeah, I totally could see myself having gone down that path.” It’s like seeing someone come into a thread about the KKK and go:

“You know, I understand why these white supremacists came to be. I myself had some interactions with rude or mean black people, and I even witnessed black people get jobs/university positions/opportunities that I wanted and did not get! Fortunately, my loathing about my lack of success was directed internally instead of externally, so I decided against going out and burning crosses on the lawns of black people, not like those unfortunate people who decided to join the KKK. But there for the grace of God go I.”

So much this

Alan Robertshaw
Alan Robertshaw
2 years ago

@ moon custafer

Is “cargo cult” still a legitimate term,

I don’t know; but I am liking “Cult 45” for Trump supporters.

Moon_custafer
Moon_custafer
2 years ago

Kupo @:

I wish I could find the poem by Ogden Nash in which he goes off on how much he hates the phrase “There but for the grace of God go I.”

IIRC his main argument is that it’s pretty much meaningless – lots of different individuals exist, and we all make different choices, and you could pretty much say that phrase about *anybody,* good or bad, and it would be true but irrelevant.

Plus, it erases credit for everybody who, y’know, refrained from doing bad things.

Nym
Nym
2 years ago

@Juniper thank you for wording so concisely what my frustrations with the general discourse around evo psych.
It makes me a little nuts every time I see someone with either no grasp on psych, evolution or anthropology latch onto certain evo psych ideas and brandish it in a way that reveals their complete ignorance of any of the contributing factors in human behavior and development.
Also I think I’ve run into ken ham stuff before.

Scildfreja Unnyðnes
Scildfreja Unnyðnes
2 years ago

On the topic of “there but for the grace of God”…

We’ve seen a number of comments of this nature over the last few months, since Minassian I think. The comment is always the same: “I see how they turned out that way, I was depressed and angry when I was a teenager, I snapped out of it, that coulda been me.”

Here’s the thing that’s stuck in my head over it. Those “coulda been me” reasons? Being depressed, lonely, isolated as a teenager? That’s the experience of almost every teenager. If that’s all it takes to make someone almost-an-incel, then almost everyone’s almost-an-incel.

Those experiences aren’t defining for an incel. They like to claim that’s why they’re the way they are, but like almost every other group of misanthropic shitheads, they’re wrong about it. They can’t help but be wrong about it. They rely on their distorted worldview that paints them as the eternal victim – it keeps them from realizing their circumstances are their own doing.

I mean, read what they’re saying – in general they aren’t talking about how they’d be okay if they only had a girlfriend or wife or whatever.
Incels are defined by their violent misogyny and their belief that all society needs to be punished until it assumes the deeply patriarchal, punitive structure, in which a woman can either be an obedient housewife (to a violent, domineering man) or a “slut”, open to rape and murder for defying the social order. Many of them don’t even want their own woman-slave. They just want to punish society.

It’s got nothing to do with being sad about not having a girlfriend. They’re angry because they can’t rape, torment, torture or kill women who step over the boundaries of patriarchy.

Please, don’t confuse the isolation, frustration and social anxiety of teenage years with the towering hatred of an incel philosophy. They’re unrelated.

Buttercup Q. Skullpants
Buttercup Q. Skullpants
2 years ago

“I almost became a Nazi, but luckily it was Thursday.”

Murderous ideologies aren’t car crashes that narrowly miss you by inches due to a random quirk of fate. They’re seeds. They blow through the air via the internet, the media, movies, video games, the right-wing uncle who forwards Marine Todd emails and tells racist jokes at the dinner table. Lately it’s become a hurricane.

Those seeds either fall on receptive ground, or they don’t. There’s no dice roll going on. As Scildfreja noted, inceldom goes well beyond just having a sad. They’ve made a conscious decision to forge loneliness and rejection into nihilistic hatred.

Some of the dudes who’ve been in here lately saying “that was nearly me” sound like it’s a given that women are horrible, and it was only through supreme effort and self-improvement that they dodged the bullet of misogyny. Instead of, y’know, the default view being that women are human, and incel hatred thus being a bizarre outlier on a par with Time Cube or Jay-Z being a time travelling vampire. It’s very unsettling.

kupo
kupo
2 years ago

@Buttercup
Oh, but they didn’t want to harm women. It’s just that it would have been easy for them to get into the mentality of cheering on people who murder women for being women. It’s so uncharitable of us to read malice into it.

Buttercup Q. Skullpants
Buttercup Q. Skullpants
2 years ago

@kupo – Ah yes, the old “I personally don’t want to hurt women, but incels do have a valid point” defense. Hatred gets normalized when it’s presented as a “whew, coulda gone either way” situation. As if misogyny, violence, and enslavement are so trivial that, tra la la, it’s like deciding to wear the blue shirt instead of the green one. Either way, it doesn’t affect them.

It’s scary how many white dudes claim to be just a magic 8-ball away from genocide. With the 8-ball being how much deference they hapoen to receive from women and PoC.

Violet the Vile, Moonbat Screech Junky
Violet the Vile, Moonbat Screech Junky
2 years ago

@buttercup @kupo @scild @everyone else

I guess the question is whether we think people are irredeemably tainted by past association. If I once went through a period in my life when I espoused Nazi-ism (I didn’t btw, but for the purposes of a thought experiment) and then came to genuinely realise that it was a hateful ideology and tried as hard as I could to made amends, what does that make me?

This is a genuine “I’d like to know what you think” by the way. I would love to know people’s thoughts on it – because I honestly can’t make up my mind.

On the one hand, I think people who have flirted with Nazi-ism and incel, and then seen it for what it is, can help us understand the mindset thus giving us a chance to stop it. And some reformed former Nazis do brilliant work reaching out to young disaffected men who are at risk, to stop them getting sucked into hate.

On the other hand, I think you don’t end up in an ideology like that unless you already have a very toxic mindset, and does that mindset really change when you leave? Can you ever really be “reformed” from something that extreme?

And at what point does being a Nazi or tending towards incel become unforgivable? Is it when you start believing some aspects of it? Is it when you join a message board? Is it when you kill someone?

Answers on a postcard please….

Catalpa
Catalpa
2 years ago

I guess the question is whether we think people are irredeemably tainted by past association.

No, that’s not the question. The problem that Kupo and I and everyone else has isn’t that there are people who were once attracted to a hateful ideology and that they are therefore BAD FOREVER. (Personally, I think that shitty people can reform themselves and become non-shitty. Other people may disagree, but that’s not the point of contention here.)

The problem that we have is the “reformed/almost” incel dudes who keep coming around are minimizing the toxicity of the movement, trying to evoke sympathy for people who are at best hateful murder-cheerleaders, and are completely disregarding the experiences of people who are the targets of the incels.

They’re going “hey, these guys have a point. It really sucks to be lonely. It’s no surprise that some men people decide to lash out when they are not provided with companionship (which is, of course, something that women were specifically put on this earth to provide to men, but unfortunately for some reason they decide not to provide it equally). I was really close to doing the same thing myself. I bet that most men would have become incels and celebrated women being raped and murdered if they were exposed to the ideology when they were vulnerable. It’s just such an easy thing to do!”

Or, to put it more bluntly “Hi ladies, I was a coin flip away from wanting to see you enslaved, raped, and murdered, because I tragically didn’t always get what I wanted! But don’t worry, it came up tails. I heroically decided to not blame women for selfishly not indulging my every whim. Can I have a cookie for not doing that?”

If someone wants to talk about their brushes with incel-dom and how they realized how awful the ideology is… Well, maybe that’s a discussion that’s best to have with the as-of-yet unreformed incels. I don’t know that you should go into a website that’s dedicated to reporting on anti-Semitic hate crimes and go “hey, I’m a former Nazi, let’s talk about how to better understand Nazis and how to fix them.”

Mish of the Catlady Ascendancy

I realise this isn’t the main thread of conversation here , but Violet’s mention of reformed Nazis reminded me: I’ve recently come across Christian Picciolini who is exactly that – a one-time very prominent, full-on Nazi who now works on getting people (young men, mostly) out of extremism. As far as I can tell, he doesn’t tell “the left” that we need to be nicer to Nazis. Which is refreshing.

I found him because he did some work with Eiynah (aka @NiceMangos) who’s fantastic and has recently been targeted on Twitter by Sam Harris fanboys, so lend her some support if you feel like it 🙂

The wider conversation here, re guys who just missed being incel by chance, or for the grace of god (I hate that expression with every fibre in my being) has been amazing, btw.

Violet the Vile, Moonbat Screech Junky
Violet the Vile, Moonbat Screech Junky
2 years ago

@Catalpha

Point taken, I should have started that post with “my question is” rather than “the question is”. I made it sound like it was related to your discussion, rather than a question I had which sprang out of it. Sorry about that.

Thanks for your response!

Catalpa
Catalpa
2 years ago

@ Violet

Ah, okay. I thought your post was a “the reason why Kupo et. al. are critical towards the almost-incel dudes here is because they think that almost being an incel is unforgivable” sort of thing. I get it now.

The ‘forgivable-ness’ question is a different kettle of fish, and I think it is a complex question to tackle. Forgivable by whom? The specific people who were harmed by the perpetrator? The demographic of people who are targeted by the hateful ideology? Society in general?

What does the ‘forgiveness’ specifically entail? Does it mean that the reformed person is no longer viewed as a threat? Does it mean no longer facing any consequences for their past actions?

Everyone has been raised in a society that is full of biases and bigotries, and we cannot help but absorb some of the bullshit. Racism, sexism, homophobia, etc, all of this has been inculcated in us to some extent or other, because we have been stewing in it since birth. Facing up to our biases and our harmful actions, learning from them, and becoming a less shitty person is a task we all must undertake. Being able to go “okay, I did/thought some awful things, and I need to be better, but my past actions do not define who I can be in the future” is an important thing for everyone to be able to do to make society less shitty. So I think that reformation should be a concept that is widely considered to be a positive, achievable thing.

Some may argue that an extremely hateful ideology like incel isn’t on the same level as, say, internalized misogyny, and that there’s something severely flawed with anyone who is attracted to the extreme ends of the spectrum, something inherently dangerous that can’t be reformed. I like to hope that it isn’t, but honestly I’m not sure.

Anyway, I think that the level of shitty-ness that is unforgivable depends on each individual who could potentially be doing the forgiving. There are some things that means you will never be trusted or liked by certain individuals again. And that’s entirely reasonable. Forgiveness isn’t something that anyone is entitled to. The wronged party gets to make the call, period. (Personally, I think that once the bigot has murdered someone, they’re way too far gone.)

Though, honestly, I would argue that anyone who is striving to earn “forgiveness” in their quest to be a better person is doing it wrong. Their focus is still on themselves, on “I need to make sure that people know I’m better, I need to make sure they’re not mad at me anymore, I need to receive acknowledgement for my efforts, me me me me.” If someone truly wishes to do better, their focus should be on the people who are threatened by the former ideology. Making sure that THEY are protected from the other bigots, making sure that THEY are safe, making sure that THEY have the space to heal. Whether or not the formerly shitty person is granted forgiveness is far, far less important than working to protect those who are still in the line of fire from the hateful ideology.

weirwoodtreehugger: chief manatee

I don’t even think guys are fishing for cookies when they talk about how they might have been vulnerable to the incel community. I think they’re just musing.

What scares me is how there seems to be this almost universal consensus among men that any of them could, if the circumstances were right, turn into a virulent misogynist. What bugs me about all this is men -even the feminist ally men – are so nonchalant about it. If it’s true that any angsty teen is so close to cheering on rape and murder, this is something that every decent man should be fighting back against. Hard. Don’t come into comment sections full of women and talk about it. Go to places full of young men and talk about how you reformed yourself of any toxic thinking you might have had. Vocally criticize everything in our culture that breeds these toxic ideas about women and do it around other men, not here or any other feminist places.

This is why feminist women get frustrated with male feminists/allies a lot of the time. We don’t exist to give you a safe space to vent about how our culture hurts men. We don’t exist to take on the emotional burdens of how you feel guilty about or afraid of some of the underlying misogyny in you. We’re not a club for reformed misogynists. It’s just an additional stress for women considering that we already know how widespread misogyny is and we need some places where there are no expectations that we drop everything to listen to and soothe manfeels.

I don’t think the men who post these comments are trying to be harmful, but it is very unthinking. If you’re thinking of posting a comment about how you could have been a violent misogynist too, ask yourself what you’re trying to accomplish and if it’s on topic for the conversation. We do have conversations about how the patriarchy hurts men too. Sometimes too often IMO. So there are times it’s an appropriate topic to bring up. But if that’s not where the conversation has organically headed, please don’t try to make the conversation go there. This is generally a better topic to engage fellow men with in male dominant spaces.