How common is involuntary celibacy and why is it so unknown?

One could say that involuntary celibacy, or ‘incel,’ is a marginal phenomenon and that that is the reason why it’s scarcely mentioned, besides the comedy movie with Steve Carrel that I personally despise and which I don’t think I need to refer to by name. The truth is that almost no research has been done on the subject matter, so it’s hard to estimate how many of us there are. I can only assume the reasons why no research has been done, but I think the following has something to do with it: involuntary celibacy is usually treated as a consequence of mental disorder and is not seen as a state of being in its own respect (which is one reason why the incel article on Wikipedia was merged with the article on celibacy, incel not being a recognised medical condition in its own right worthy of an article)

I don’t think that’s fair. With the way things are, people will go to any length to maintain the notion that it’s impossible to not be able to get girls without something being wrong with you and that you have to fix it. Anything else is not in line with the trendy Just-World-fallacy of our neoliberal, capitalist society. That someone can be incel due to factors outside of his own control would shatter the notion that a person’s actions bring morally fair and fitting consequences to that person. It’s age old since almost every religion and ideology has some version of heaven and hell. Society’s entire belief system is based on that thought, but it is incorrect. People just don’t want to see it.

Taking this belief away would force successful people to see that they’re just lucky with the system favouring them while hard work often had little, if anything, to do with their successes. We see this with relationships: people tell us to “work” for a relationship while simultaneously telling everybody “it just happened” or “it just clicked” when asked how they got a relationship. That seems like an oxymoron to me, more so given that I can think of several incels who changed absolutely nothing about themselves and stumbled into a relationship at a later age.

The truth is that the system semi-randomly distributes success to people. In acknowledging this, successful people would accept that they’re part of a machine they have little sway over and which they, out of self-interest, propel further while refusing to let others share in their success, something which they’d rather not believe given that it’d make them (or should make them!) feel guilty. Most people don’t like to believe they’re cogs in a machine, heavily determined by external, uncontrollable structures and agents such as social class, caste, religion, gender, race, ethnicity, culture etc.

They prefer to believe they have agency in the sociological sense of the word, meaning that they have actual choices and that these choices matter in the greater scheme of things. People also like to assume that this applies to everyone. But tell me, what’s the sociological agency in the dating life (or lack thereof) of an autistic person? It’s hardly productive to tell him to suck it up and stop being autistic,  or is it? In order to reduce guilt (subconscious or not) about maintaining a system that propagates inequality and suffering, it’s better to devalue the victims by shaming them for “not trying hard enough” or somehow being “defective” and in need of fixing.” Just like the wealthy like to accuse the poor of being to blame for their own poverty, people accuse incels of being to blame for their dateless situation. As far as I’m concerned some people are just shit out of luck, and not necessarily for lack of trying. The result is a feeling of shame among incels, such shame that they’d rather deny their incel status and lie about their relationship history. This is unproductive and, also, shame is not something a person should live with.

That concludes my cultural criticisms for today, so now we can go on and get an estimate of how many involuntarily celibate people there are and conclude if this is a problem worthy of more attention by both the scientific community and society as whole. One article states that about 5% of men and 2% of women past age 25 have never had sexual intercourse (the majority of them involuntarily so, outside religious abstinents). Another article says 13.9% of men and 8.9% of women aged 25-45 have never had sex. The middle ground between these articles means 9.5% of men and 5.5% of women (so 7.5% on average) older than 25 are still virgins and therefore, most likely, involuntarily celibate. That is a lot, more so when translated into absolute numbers: if we take the 18+ age brackets [1] of the United States (which I assume can act as a model for the rest of the Western world) we have 10-11 involuntarily celibate men alone, never mind women. Brian Gilmartin, in his book Shyness in Love: Causes, Consequences and Treatment says 1.5% of men are so pathologically shy or socially inept (40% of his test subjects had Asperger’s Syndrome) that they cannot connect meaningfully with prospective partners (though the book has its flaws, it also has merits). If you assume this figure is closer to the truth, it still means about 2.25 million men in the United States out of roughly 150 million are and will remain celibate, many of them throughout their entire lives.

We can conclude that incels are not necessarily losers, freaks, creeps and whichever other pejorative terms our critics, online and offline, have reserved for us. Involuntary celibacy is a distinct social problem, or so it seems. It should be looked into, even if only because of the fact that due depression, and other mental problems resulting from this issue, incels are less productive members of society. It should be noted that incel is a factor in “spree killings” as they happen every once in while: almost all of these men were inexperienced with women. In his diary, George Sodini specifically mentioned not having had sex for two decades as a reason for his actions, namely killing three random women in an aerobics class before committing suicide. Most incel men will never resort to such madness, but without help and acceptance, rather than ignorant shaming, they’ll never become the people they could be either. They shall suffer in silence instead, understandably (given that older virgins are treated as a joke) afraid of being shamed and becoming a laughing stock if they ‘come out of the closet’. Terrible things like this will continue to be committed by those who fall through the holes in the system.

7.5% is a lot and if it was 0.5% instead the victim blaming would probably be the correct response, since it’d be a maladapted minority if it was that small. But it’s not that small. I seriously doubt personal responsibility can account for so many people being perpetually dateless, sexless and fundamentally alone. I’d sooner think the dating world is flawed.

[1] For the sake of argument and to save myself a mathematics-induced headache, I assumed the numbers could be extrapolated to other age brackets as well.

A delayed introduction

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It has occured to me that so far I’ve failed to introduce myself, beyond mentioning that I’m an involuntarily celibate or incel person that is. I suppose it’s silly to not introduce yourself first. You don’t do that in job interviews and whatnot, but what’s been done cannot be undone I suppose. Therefore I shall introduce myself now by way of a miniature autobiography.

I’m from the Netherlands, from the picturesque southern province of Limburg to be exact, where I’ve lived my entire life so far. I was born in 1990 and am now 23 years old. What I can remember from my childhood is that it was a fairly happy one. I had a number of friends that was to my liking and I wasn’t bullied in elementary school, fortunately, but elementary school itself was boring to me because most of the subjects were too easy. IQ tests would later reveal that I have a somewhat above average intelligence (not on Sheldon Cooper levels, mind you, but still I was ahead of my peers). I could have chosen to skip eighth grade and go straight to high school, but chose not to because I would lose all my friends (which happened a year later anyway). Besides my intelligence, another thing that stood out, and which causes me trouble even today, is my very strong shyness. I suppose I was a bit socially awkward back then, but since kids are developing socially at that age it wasn’t noticed in elementary school.

The excrement hit the proverbial fan when I entered high school, which is where the extent of my social awkwardness was revealed. I made only a handful of friends/acquaintances and had almost no social life because well, I didn’t enjoy going out all that much. I dislike crowds, dancing and music so loud I couldn’t hear myself speak, which sums up all the popular venues my peers went to at the time. Besides that, I was bullied on rather severely which didn’t make my school life any more enjoyable. Bullying only served to make me even more of a recluse, spending most of my time reading books, watching TV or reading all kinds of depressing stuff on the internet. I got interested in alternate history (for example ‘what if Germany won WW II or ‘what if the Confederacy won the American Civil War’) around that time, having had an interest in history dating back to elementary school already. I spent my time on that, as well as on computer games.

And of course I felt attraction to girls my age, but I was clueless on how to relate to them. The first girl I fell in love with was in second year. A problematic issue that many incels have was revealed: when I fall in love, I feel extremely powerful emotions almost from the very start, causing me to invest emotionally way to early. The result is that when my heart gets stomped on I fall into major depression. Given my social retardation my clumsy advances were of course not recriprocated and she didn’t even like my (quite the opposite!). The incel world even has an official term for this: one-itis or oneitis, being obsessed with one person. Wikipedia calls it ‘limerence’:

Limerence is an involuntary state of mind which results from a romantic attraction to another person combined with an overwhelming, obsessive need to have one’s feelings reciprocated.

This happened to me a couple of times in high school because due to my Asperger Syndrome (see below) I have mild OCD tendencies (OCD and attachment issues generally cause ‘one-itis’ if modern psychology is to be believed). The final one was the last straw. I got into a major depressive episode that lasted for the better part of eighteen months, until the end of high school. It of course didn’t help that the object of my infatuation hung around with other guys and flirted with them, while only wanting to be friends with me. In that sense, being torn apart by going to different universities (she to Amsterdam, me to Leuven ) was a good thing. Being around her did diddly squat in healing me mentally. In those eighteen months I had suicidal thoughts, although I never acted on them. I was supremely miserable and lonely. The end result was a pathological fear of rejection that persists until today.

Considering I too wanted affection and intimacy, I visited a prostitute not long after I turned 18 and lost my virginity to her. And there another issue was revealed: I couldn’t perform sexually. I did get an erection, but couldn’t maintain it inside a woman’s vagina (I don’t know if condoms have a part in this, because I’ve never done it without one). The issue is that conventional, penetrative vaginal sex does little for me, it doesn’t tickle my fantasy. That’s because I’ve had a suboptimal psychosexual development due to using porn as a substitute (masturbating about 3x a day) leading to a preference centred around oral sex. In the beginning, I tried to have intercourse with prostitutes because I thought I was ‘supposed to’, but after a while I said ‘fuck it, it’s my money so we’re doing what I want’. That has worked miracles and prostitution has been a godsend in that it significantly reduces my craving for intimacy, affection and sexuality, making my life bearable. In the present, I’ve built up a professional relationship with a friendly, attractive 28 year-old prostitute from Greece.

And then, in 2009, I went to the Catholic University of Leuven (Belgium), where my depression slowly subsided. I started the Bachelor of Arts in History, which I successfully completed in 2012, followed by a Master’s programme which I also completed successfully. I made more friends and acquaintances than I had hoped for once I found a venue to my liking, namely the Faculty Bar of Arts. I, however, didn’t develop enough socially and did not overcome my shyness and awkwardness. The girls I felt some kind of attraction to barely knew me, so I avoided them like the plague to avoid ‘one-itis’. The handful of attempts I made ended with me crashing and burning. Now that I’m looking for employment, it looks like I’ll celebrate my 24th birthday as a single man without experience outside prostitutes (if I have the motivation to even throw a birthday party).

Also, in 2009, I was diagnosed with a disorder in the autistic spectrum, i.e. high-functioning autism or Asperger’s (whichever you want to call it, although the latter is not in DSM-5). Socializing is difficult for me, and a person who was extremely introvert I don’t mind spending a lot of time by myself, engaging in purely solitary activities and hobbies.

I’ve gotten to the point that I’m completely apathetic and lethargic when it comes to the subject of relationships, with occasional bouts of melancholy in between. I’ve accepted that I will be a ‘john’ for the rest of my life, unless I get lucky somehow.

With that I conclude my late introduction. I hope it was informative and helpful. Thank you for your time.

Evolution of Superstition http://bit.ly/1g7ReIg

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Hilarious. Reblogged this from atheist assessment. Time to get serious though, and time to go off on a rather distant tangent because, undoubtedly, the religious will characterize this image as offensive for mocking religion.

I don’t get how children having imaginary friends for too long (at an older age than they should be having them) is a problem while adults gathering in a room to talk to their imaginary friend is considered no big deal at all. Instead religion is something to be respected and venerated rather than something to be problematized. After all, Judeo-Christian values are what our civilization is based on and religion often acts as a positive force, like through charity for example and, more broadly, by trying to make sense of the world. That, however, doesn’t change the fact that people, even in the 21st century, go to war because God wills it, supposedly, and because the other guy is wrong, evil, immoral, decadent and whatnot.

But when atheists criticize religion, they’re being intolerant and disrespectful. I don’t see why everybody should just, automatically by default, show religion respect and tolerance, at least if being critical of religion makes you intolerant and disrespectful (which it doesn’t in my opinion). Why should atheists give deference to religion? NY Times columnist Nicholas Kristof is among the worst and says that atheists are “mean” and “intolerant” for having the gall to say that there is no good reason for theism and that religion is harmful. He has also said that “the tone of this Charge of the Atheist Brigade is often just as intolerant — and mean. It’s contemptuous and even …a bit fundamentalist.”

Christian author Os Guinness has expressed hope for a “respectful exchange of ideas somewhere between the militant extremes of religious violence and militant atheism.” Note how Guinness contrasts “religious violence” and “militant atheism” as if they were opposites on the same spectrum. This is a reprehensible distortion of reality because there is nothing comparable between religious believers who are willing and able to justify torture, mass murder, and terrorism on the basis for their religion; and are atheists who use harsh words, pointed criticism, and sometimes even mockery to make their case against religion.

Assuming that such people are sincere in thinking that a comparison can be made, they may fear atheists’ criticisms as if they were an act of violence against their beliefs. This would indicate how much they fear criticism: serious, sustained criticism of the reasonableness of religious and theistic beliefs may be perceived as being likely to destroy those beliefs, just as violent religious terrorists destroy buildings. In other words, atheistic criticism of religion is feared as being too strong and successful. They’re afraid.

Robert Wright, a visiting lecturer at Princeton, has said that atheists who criticize religion may “undercut the very thing that makes America work as a civil society”. Since when has America required people to hush up criticism of powerful traditions or institutions? Atheists in America represent a specter of doubt, questioning, skepticism and criticism (and even blasphemy.!) and that those are exactly things that are allowed in a democracy. Criticism of many kinds has brought social evolution, often for the better. Where would we all be if nobody questioned social issues? We’d be living in a society based on uniformity, stagnation and wherein everybody shuts up because it’s the respectful, tolerant thing to do. That reeks of dictatorship to me. No, religion is not what makes America (or any other democratic country) work as a civil society. Freedom is the underlaying principle.

My last point of contention that I will mention today is that, well, mention any of this in other areas of disagreement, when their side is doing the mocking and criticizing. You won’t see conservative Christians condemn Tea Party slurs against the Democrats.

When we atheists have the gall to speak out and actually say what we think, a bad situation becomes intolerable. People like Kristof and Wright don’t offer substantive counter-arguments to atheists’ critiques of religion and theism because they have none to offer. The best they can do is cry that the critiques shouldn’t be raised to begin with. They can’t say that openly because they recognize that this is genuine intolerance, so they try to saddle atheists with fake claims of intolerance in hope of getting them to self-censor.

 

Why I started this blog/what is involuntary celibacy?

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The reason why I started this blog is largely thatincelblogger, and particularly this recent response to one of the posts that he wrote:

“Why don’t you and your greasy incel friends just date each other and stay about 500 feet away from all other people (especially women) at all times? EVERYONE’S PROBLEM SOLVED. You sick fuck.
You are not entitled to anyone’s love or attention. Especially with such a shitty anti-woman personality such as yours. If you and your bronie friends all just sat in a circle and jerked each other off you would all feel much better.
Fuck you all very much.”

Basically, my point with this blog is to show that not all people who define themselves as involuntarily celibate or incel are not all “entitled sick fucks with shitty anti-woman personalities who should stay away from women.” I can understand personally why the blogger in question elicits such responses since I’m on the same internet forum as he is and consider him a pathetic joke and frequently clash with him. Nonetheless I found the content of the response quoted above to be offensive because I’m not “greasy” and neither am I a “bronie [misspelled?]friend” of this guy and would certainly not feel better jerking of in a circle of fellow incels, much less with this guy present (he dislikes me and I don’t think someone as deranged as him could refrain from attacking me if I ‘dared’ to disagree with him and act like a “zomg librul MONSTER”). Not all incels are the same, and I’m fed up with this guy giving us a bad name. Each incel is different, just like people are different.

For those who don’t know who this guy is, he, like me, is involuntarily celibate (incel), or says he his (he has a ‘friend with benefits’ thing going on, so I don’t really count him as such based on the definition of incel, see below). What he’s advocating is a program to set up dating challenged men with women, dating challenged or not, which is dubitable proposal in my humble opinion. He has demanded that the Croatian government does this for him and has sent numerous letters, the content of which sometimes resulted in arrests. He once asked a judge to have sex with him and needless to say she didn’t reciprocate, instead threatening with legal action if he did it again. He did the same with a female therapist, who subsequently didn’t want to see him again if I’m not mistaken. In his utter desperation he’s even demanded that his mother have sex with him to relieve his incel, and he accuses his parents for murder because his incel might result in suicide. If he decides to kill himself due to his incel, then in his opinion his parents are murderers for not doing anything about it. He’s been to various therapists (if his words are to be believed) over the past decade, none of which have been of any use. He blames it on the therapists. I wonder if he’s just a lost cause, psychologically.

As for what involuntary celibacy or incel is, the shortest possible definition can be found on Wikipedia and is thus:

“Involuntary celibacy is generally the state of being unable to find a partner with whom one wishes to engage in sexual intercourse.”

Considering thatincelblogger is currently getting laid, I don’t define him as incel anymore. A more elaborate and strict definition is this one, which can be found on love-shy.com:

“Involuntary celibacy is defined as being unable to obtain a romantic partner within six months, for whatever reason. Incels tend to be otherwise healthy individuals, who may or may not suffer from social anxiety issues.”

This is a problematic definition because it includes a shit ton of people, obviously. Many people undergo periods of six months or more in which they are single on an involuntary basis, and therefore I limit incel to those with practically no experience in dating, sex and relationships despite wanting this and trying to obtain it. By this I mean people who have generally missed most or all of the following milestones in transitioning from puberty to adulthood: holding hands, kissing, oral sex, losing one’s virginity, commitment to a long term relationship and then, finally, marriage and children. The dates at which these milestones are ‘supposed’ to occur are of course rather fuzzy and arbitrary, so a consensus on what is normal and at what age you should start to worry is difficult to establish. After all, some lose their virginity at 14, others at 19, some even later.

In the article “Involuntary Celibacy: A Life Course Analysis” (The Journal of Sex Research 38 (2): 159–169) Donnelly defined the sexual trajectory as “dating, sexual experimentation and mating”, taking place somewhat linearly, at least once by the mid to late twenties. Besides that Donnely seems to imply that lack of experience may beget further involuntary celibacy because missing these milestones sets people on a radically different sexual trajectory. Simply said, the longer you go without experience, the harder it is to get. Shame to come out as an ‘older virgin’ in our sexualized society undoubtedly has a part in this. By the time your 20-24 or so, people plainly assume you’ve had at least some experience. The media and the internet actively contribute to shame and fear of ‘coming out of the closet’ as incel by portraying older virgins as creepy, socially retarded guys who live in their mom’s basements where they play computer games all day while putting misogynistic posts online in between, complaining about incel.

Other factors identified by Donnelly’s 2001 life course analysis as causes of incel:

  • Shyness
  • Inability to relate to others
  • Poor Body image
  • Living arrangements (e.g. living with parents or roommates; in an isolated area)
  • Work arrangements, lack of transportation

As for love-shyness, the definition of that can be found on the website dedicated to the subject:

What is Love-shyness? And are you love-shy?
What is involuntary celibacy (incel?) And are you incel?

Short answer: It’s datelessness! It’s romantic inexperience, and extreme difficulty forming romantic relationships. If you want to cut to the chase and discuss your problem, head over to the Love-shy.com forum. If you have further questions, read on.

If you came to this site looking for answers as a dateless person, then you have come to the right place. Love-shyness, simply put, is the inability of a person to participate in the normal sexual processes that everyone around him (or her) can easily engage in. The Love-shy individual typically finds themselves “shut out” of normal socio-sexual interactions. If any one of these applies to you, you can be considered love-shy:

  • An extreme difficulty obtaining romantic partners, to the point of not being able to obtain any at all
  • Extreme anxiety, awkwardness, and difficulty relating to romantic courtship situations, like asking someone out
  • Generalized social anxiety that inhibits your potential and limits your ability to thrive
  • Lack of friends, or a small number of close friends, and a difficulty in forming friendships with people
  • A lack of interest in forming friendships, and social interactions, with the only real desire being that of obtaining a partner
  • A feeling of being “left out” and alienated from society, and people in general

These are all characteristics that describe Love-shys. A person need not meet all of the criteria to be considered love-shy; in its distilled definition, love-shyness is simply extreme anxiety and difficulty related to opposite (or appropriate) sex interactions.

As this site and its active forum demonstrates, you are not alone if you are Love-shy! Love shyness is a condition that is estimated to affect 1.5% of males.

With this I shall conclude my first blog post. More information shall follow in future posts.