Incels: the return of the foolish virgin?

A new BBC Three documentary examines aspects of inceldom – the modern phenomenon of young men who would like to have a sexual partner but cannot get one and instead of going out and finding one, stay at home on their computers venting their grievances against society.

Dr Kaitlyn Regehr, of the University of Kent, explained to The Telegraph (London) that ‘incels include anyone who is sexually inactive not by volition’, adding that ‘the most heavily publicised element is the discourse around violence, to take revenge, because they’re not having sex and feel entitled to sex’.

It seems that along with the minimum wage and a guaranteed pension, some young males feel they are entitled to sexual activity with someone else. This is indeed a new idea, but if they have a grievance, perhaps it should be directed against the sex education lessons that taught them that it is perfectly normal to ‘have sex when you feel ready’ - which their youthful minds interpreted to mean ‘when you feel like it’.

This indeed is a rapists’ charter, since rapists believe they are ‘entitled to sex’; and if there are aggrieved ‘incels’ there are also young women who are the ‘involuntary’ victims of casual sexual encounters leaving them feeling abused and betrayed, and feeding the equally modern #MeToo movement.

Instead of producing young men and women anxious to please each other and thus win a mate, sex education makes schoolchildren feel that ‘everyone else’ is ‘doing it’, leading to an outbreak of FOMO – Fear of Missing Out.

We have gone from a society that valued sacrifice, self-restraint and patience to one in which every stray impulse is encouraged – leading to a firestorm of sexually transmitted diseases and abortions but also psychologically damaged lives

From virginity being seen as the normal state of the unmarried, and altogether wholesome and sensible, it has become the butt of humour, while the promiscuity satirised by Hogarth in The Rake’s Progress (his ‘progress’ is really degeneration, both physical and moral) has been replaced by that glamorisation of promiscuity, James Bond. As befits a figment of the imagination, 007 can sleep with countless women but never catch anything nasty, or find himself telling a pregnant girlfriend to have an abortion.

In the real world, the ‘incels’ should take comfort from the fact that they are not risking their health; that they are not siring several children for whom they take no responsibility; that they are not responsible for telling their girlfriends to ‘get rid of it’.  

In Jesus’ parable of the foolish virgins, there were also wise virgins, who held themselves in readiness for the bridegroom’s return; if the ‘incels’ wish to be bridegrooms they should emulate the wise virgins, who were always prepared to do their duty and so were admitted to the wedding feast. 

Ann Farmer lives in the UK. She is the author of By Their Fruits: Eugenics, Population Control, and the Abortion Campaign (CUAP, 2008); The Language of Life: Christians Facing the Abortion Challenge (St Pauls, 1995), and Prophets & Priests: the Hidden Face of the Birth Control Movement (St Austin Press, 2002).


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