Quillette recently posted an article about incels that is doubly strange.
Written b y Rob Brooks ,a professor of evolution at the UNSW in Sydney, the article purports to explain the roots of inceldom and to offer “practical” solutions to this “dangerous phenomenon.” His discussion of incels and their motivations is strange and not altogether convincing. as for his solution, well, I never expected to find Quillette, often referred to as the house organ of the “intellectual Dark Web,” to call for incels as a class to rise up against the rich.
We’ll get to that last bit in a minute.
Brooks thinks the incels are are a symptom of a larger problem known to psychologists as the “young male syndrome.” Basically, this means that young men “whose circumstances furnish few prospects of finding a partner” are going to walk around pissed off and horny all the time. Some, Books suggests, will turn to reckless behavior in an often futile attempt to wow the chicks. Others, in our internet age, “fulminate on social media.” And boy howdy they do.
Traditionally., Brooks explains, society dealt with thhe “young male problem” by dispensing with the surplus of young males.
Political leaders have long channelled men’s desperation to avoid incelibacy by enlisting them to fight. A man who survives the army emerges with more social and economic capital which improve his mating prospects.
Also, dead dudes don’t date.
War and conquest tend to keep a lid on a society’s Incel problem. When young men fall in battle, the survivors find it easier to attract mates. In cold economic terms, the supply of potential brides begins to exceed the demand from potential grooms.
Seems a tad simplisitic, no? All of Brooks’ arguments are like this — “just so” stories about human behavior that reduce all of human history to what he and other evolutionary psycholgists see as the demands of human reproduction.
Brooks also offers something of a materialist explanation for incels’ woes.
Economic inequalities affect mating markets, too. Big disparities in the distribution of wealth leave large numbers of poorer, usually younger men, with little to bring, economically, to a relationship.
Yet somehow poor men who don’t spend their lives screeching about “foids” online manage to find themselves sexual partners. Indeed, as far as researchers can tell, there’s no “sex gap” between rich and poor. They have similar amounts of sex.
The problem for incels isn’t that they can’t can’t afford to take Stacy to a fancy restuarant. It’s the fact that they hate women, and themselves, and women can smell their misogyny and general dysfunction at a distance. Elliot Rodger, the incel spree killer who has been adopted by incels as a martyr, was a rich kid who drove a BMW. He was also creepy as hell, and that’s what drove the women away.
If Brooks doesn’t seem to get even the basic facts about incels and their motivations straight, it’s not for a lack of data. Indeed, as he points out in the piece, he and several other evo psych researchers put together a vast database of Tweets — billions of them — and were somehow able not only to locate the incel tweeters but also to tell where, roughly, they lived.
I don’t know how and I’m not going to read their paper to find out. Brooks sums up their “findings: and gives them an evo psych spin.
Turns out Incel tweets come mainly from places with high income inequality, low gender inequality, and where men outnumber women. The findings make sense because big income disparities leave poorer men with less to offer a mate, small gaps between women’s and men’s income: mean fewer women need to marry for economic security, and relative scarcity of women means fewer men can find a mate. All of these conditions lead to more Incels.
I will grant that in areas where there are literally more men than women it is harder for men to get a date. The rest of it Brooks seems to have pulled from the air, seeming to impose his preconceptions on the data rather than letting it speak to him. He acts vaguely surprised that his data seems to
chime with some of the things Incels themselves say online: that women’s gains in education and earnings, and the presence of a minority of rich, super-attractive men have cut them adrift from the mating market.
I don’t think he was any more shocked than Captain Renault was “shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on” at Rick’s Cafe Americain in Casablanca . It looks like he went in expecting to find just what he says he found in the data — essentially taking incels’ own explanations for their inability to date and making them his own.
It’s at this point that, after assuring his readers that even if he believes some of incel ideology he’s not a violent misogynist himself,, Brooks climbs on his soapbox and calls for incels to rise up as one against the rich.
Incels, and people concerned about them, would do well to recognise the value of gender equality and the deep societal burden that misogyny and violence impose, and then to find better outlets for their frustration.
Indeed, our study suggests one such outlet: the battle against rising income inequality. The evidence that large gaps between rich and poor are toxic not only to the poor, but to the vast majority of people in a society, can no longer be ignored.
Am I actually agreeing with this guy? On this one point I think I am.
Incels would do well to swallow their wounded masculine pride and to work alongside social and economic justice groups to reverse inequality.
Oh, but Brooks isn’t done quite yet. He’s got a book to plug.
In my new book Artificial Intimacy, I consider not only political solutions but some technological fixes involving virtual reality, robots, and a new generation of matchmaking algorithms. I hope that Incels and the societies that house them have the maturity to try them out.
I don’t know what he means by ” a new generation of matchmaking algorithms” but I can tell you one thing: the incels will be far more comfortable with sexbots than they would be “work[ing] alongside social and economic justice groups to reverse inequality.” I kind of feel bad for the sexbots, though. Maybe they’ll rise up against their owners. Certainly seems more likely than incels joining up with the left.
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