In the past few days, there’s been a lot of talk about “incels.” Incels are involuntary celibates — men, generally, who want to have sex but cannot find a willing partner. They’re in the news because of a 25-year-old Canadian mass killer who rammed his van into a crowd of people, killing 10 and injuring 15; the killer had written a Facebook post stating that the “incel rebellion has already begun” and “all the Chads and Stacys” (incel slang for attractive people) would pay the price.
This has led to a bevy of thinkpieces about how to solve the problem of incels.
Ross Douthat at The New York Times has pointed out that for purposes of discussion, there are two types of incels: men who can’t get laid as a general rule, and people perceived by the Left-wing to be victimized by a society that has unfair standards of sexiness (“the overweight and disabled, minority groups treated as unattractive by the majority, trans women unable to find partners and other victims, in [the Leftist narrative], of a society that still makes us prisoners of patriarchal and also racist-sexist-homophobic rules of sexual desire”).
Douthat suggests that the solution posed by those who see involuntary celibacy as a problem to be solved will be the redistribution of sex: the growth of the sex worker industry, and demand for new technologies like sex robots. Douthat points out that our society has embraced the “Hefnerian” ethos of plentiful, variety-seeking sexual activity — and that just as with other measures of happiness unequally distributed across society, Leftists will seek a redistributive solution.
Douthat is undoubtedly right. He’s also right that conservatives have a solution that the rest of the world calls benighted and stupid: a sexual morality that takes into account commitment, and sees commitment as the fundamental need to be fulfilled before consummation of sexual activity. If we measure happiness by commitment rather than by amount and variety of sex, the onus is placed on us to better ourselves in preparation for commitment — we must become worthy of someone else’s commitment, too.
This, of course, is an ancient sexual ethos, and a far more fulfilling one. I’ve been married for nearly ten years and my wife and I have two children, but before our marriage, I was voluntarily celibate, as was my wife. That’s not because of some prudish rejection of sex, but because sexual consummation was a joy to be celebrated once earned through commitment to another human being. Placing sex into the context of commitment means restoring it to its proper role, rather than as the goal of life itself.
In this world, virginity isn’t seen as something to be condemned at all. It’s seen as the norm, not as a shortcoming. It’s seen as a sign of respect for your partner — you respect that person enough not to treat them as vessels for sexual pleasure, but as a person whose trust and love you must earn before mutually pleasurable physical activity takes place.
If sex is the goal of life, however, then we fall directly into the trap Douthat discusses: we treat unequal distribution of sex as a societal problem rather than an individual one. You have been victimized, because everyone but you is having sex, and having sex is the norm — but you're not normal, and thus you have been cast out. Poor you.
If we treat commitment as the goal of life, then responsibility lies with you, not with society at large. We hear the common complaint among incels that “women just don’t get me.” It’s far rarer to hear men who work on themselves and make themselves marriageable partners complain that they can’t find a woman willing to get married. A sex-first society suggests that you are owed sex. A commitment-first society suggests that you owe someone else your commitment — and the work necessary to earn someone else’s commitment — before sex becomes worthwhile.
But we’ve discarded that morality. In the process, we’ve turned men into sniveling brats complaining that they can’t get for free what they should have been working to earn. And then we write thinkpieces about their victimhood. What nonsense.