The recent attack in Toronto has generated lots of OMG Incels! discussion in the mainstream media, including explanations of what an incel is. This is a good thing, though as David Futrelle says, incels have been vile for a while — it shouldn’t have taken Toronto to wake people up. San Bernadino incel and murderer Elliott Rodgers went on his killing spree four years ago; incels celebrated his anniversary (May 24) last year and I’m sure they’ll do so again. In another case from last year an Australian neo-Nazi plotting a shooting spree said his lack of sex was one of his motivations.
But what’s really scary is that people in the mainstream express alarmingly sympathetic or similar views to the outraged incels. Economist Robin Hanson wonders why we fret about economic inequality but not sex inequality. And now it seems male supremacist guru Jordan Peterson, believes we should take action to appease the incels. His solution? Enforced monogamy. Not in the sense of banning divorce, but in some fashion mandating that women pair off with the incels (“Otherwise women will all only go for the most high-status men, he explains, and that couldn’t make either gender happy in the end.”).
And yes, I clicked through to the source article and that is indeed what he says, though he doesn’t give details. Perhaps because there’s nothing he can say that would make forcing women to pair off with men sound reasonable or sane. It’s particularly telling Peterson opposes economic redistribution, but feels the incel threat is so great, redistributing women is A-OK (let’s let the terrorists win!). I’m guessing that as sexual frustration doesn’t drive women to go around committing terrorist acts, Peterson won’t feel the need to force men to make them happy (or perhaps like many incels he believes even fat and ugly women get laid all they want).
Peterson is mainstream enough that the NYT’s Bari Weiss portrays him favorably as part of an intellectual dark web, saying politically incorrect things nobody else dares say. Yes, saying male dominance is justified by male superiority is soooo edgy! Nobody else out there is saying things like that.
It’s not even new. Back in the Reagan era, antifeminist George Gilder argued that men simply don’t have the instincts to behave like responsible human beings unless they have a woman to civilize them. Marriage makes men mature; without it, they’re just self-destructive thugs. So women have a duty to society to put their lives on hold and marry men. Much like Peterson, the focus should be on low-status men. Losers. They’re the ones who need uplifting. Rush Limbaugh made the same point in the 1990s: men can be dangerous savages or they can be responsible members of the community. It’s up to you, women (why yes, this is very close to the explanation for twenty-something slackers I’ve written about before) And claims that male killing sprees are women’s fault go back at least a decade.
And for a final example, we have right-wing Christians Jared and Douglas Wilson (unrelated) who in addition to believing women should have no rights, have also expressed a view that for men, sex is all about conquering and dominating while women’s role is to submit: “the sexual act cannot be made into an egalitarian pleasure party.” I think incels would be down with that — and as far as I know, conservative Christians still consider the Wilsons as legitimate thinkers in good standing.