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Weekly Digest: Pity the Incel
A mainstream columnist argues for compassion towards many of the involuntarily celibate
Welcome to my weekly digest for September 22, 2023, with the best articles from around the web and a roundup of my recent writings and appearances.
I’m planning to attend at least part of the Gospel Coalition 2023 conference in Indianapolis next week. Ping me if you’ll be there and want to connect.
Pity the Incel
Simon Kuper, maybe the best columnist at the Financial Times, had an interesting column about why we should pity at least some of the incels.
A few incels are indeed dangerous misogynists. However, there’s a much bigger and growing group of unseen incels who live in harmless frustrated misery. We should worry about them too.
Beyond the tiny group of incels who visit these sites, there must be tens of millions of involuntary celibates who never go there. The overwhelming majority probably don’t hate women. They might be your innocuous neighbours or colleagues. And they are proliferating. Whereas old people traditionally worry that the young are “oversexed”, the new generation appears undersexed.
Lindner identifies a bigger trigger for inceldom: female autonomy. Now that women can have good careers, are often happily single and less likely to be exclusively heterosexual, many don’t need men — certainly not low-status men. Lindner cites evidence that females are sexually pickier than males. In one study, “women rated 80 per cent of men’s attractiveness as below average”. Those women who want casual sex tend to seek it among the handsome, well-paid, well-educated “Chads”. One study found that a man in the top percentile of attractiveness receives 190 times more likes on dating apps than a man in the bottom 50 per cent.
The typical incel response isn’t murder but misery. In a poll on the incel.co forum, 68 per cent of respondents reported experiencing “long-lasting” depression. An exacerbating factor is that “many incels are thought to be on the autistic spectrum”, notes Sugiura. “It is unfair to suggest the whole incel community is centred towards violence and hatred,” she writes, “when it is mostly concentrated on self-loathing.”
Click through to read the whole thing. Again, the FT has a pretty hard paywall so I’m quoting as generously as appropriate.
First off, it’s amazing that some of this material is making it into major publications like the FT. But as I’ve said, it’s arguably the best English language newspaper in the world today, and Kuper is their best columnist. He’s willing to show compassion for people for whom it is unpopular to show compassion.
One thing missing from this is that, except in the countries he highlights that practice sex selective abortions and thus have a significant male skew in their population, every male incel basically implies a “femcel” on the other side. The fact that so many women complain today about a lack of quality marriage prospects is the flip side of the incel phenomenon.
Henry Kissinger supposedly once quipped that nobody would ever win the battle of the sexes because there’s too much fraternizing with the enemy. But while neither sex can win, perhaps both can lose.
Best of the Web
Tom Owens: Andrew Tate and the Limits of Civility
Rob Henderson: The Paradox of Liberation - “We sacrificed the happiness of children for the freedom of adults. And because every adult starts out as a child and carries their experiences with them, we get to live with the consequences.”
Marco Fioretti: Thoughts and Tips on the State of Dating - I actually think I’m linked somewhere in there.
CNN: The male loneliness epidemic and how it affects fathers - Many men lack close male friends. Married fathers in particular face some challenges in that their wives often don’t want them hanging out with their male buddies. And many married men tend to become friends with the husbands of their wife’s friends. Which means that if they get divorced, they lose not only their family but their friend network too.
Brad Wilcox: The Two-Parent Advantage
Restorative Faith: Departure - Why I Left the Church - Some people on Twitter were dogging this mainline Presbyterian pastor over this post, but whatever your complaints, the things he’s talking about are real.
Josh Mitchell: A Shrewd Diagnostician - Reinhold Niebuhr saw clearly the catastrophe that was about to befall America.
James Wood reviews Christopher Watkin’s book on Biblical Critical Theory - Wood highlights a point I’ve made before: If you are going to have a critical theory, you actually have to be critical. Too many neutral world type evangelicals aren’t willing to do that when it comes to society. They are only willing to critique it from a therapeutic perspective (e.g., that it leaves us unhappy and unfulfilled because it doesn’t satisfy our deepest longings).
Sheluyang Peng: Immigration is religion’s only hope
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New Content and Media Mentions
This week in the podcast, presbyterian minister Daniel Howe joins me to discuss his book on the Christian Sabbath. I learned some things.
Paid subscribers can read the transcript.
New this week:
The Contradictions of YIMBYism - My essay in Compact magazine on why I’m skeptical of the YIMBY movement. I believe the article is paywalled, but you can subscribe for 80% off by using the discount code “RENN”.
Pay People to Move to Your State or Region? Maybe It’s Not Such a Bad Idea - Why I changed my mind on philanthropically funded relocation incentives.
Your Mentor Is Your Booster Rocket - Future insight on mentoring, noting that your mentor is more than an advice giver, but a key patron of your career.
Are You In an Open Network or a Closed Network? - A look at open vs. closed networks, why open networks are generally superior, and how evangelicalism is a set of closed networks.
Cover image credit: GorillaWarfare/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0