In today’s edition of The New York Times, Ross Douthat dipped his little toes in the water of a grand thought experiment — that maybe incels, like mass murderer Alek Minassian, kind of have a point and that perhaps we should consider a “redistribution of sex.” Just like how people talk about redistributing the wealth and property of the nation and world, except with vaginas.
“[F]irst it brings me to the case of Robin Hanson, a George Mason economist, libertarian and noted brilliant weirdo. Commenting on the recent terrorist violence in Toronto, in which a self-identified “incel” — that is, involuntary celibate — man sought retribution against women and society for denying him the fornication he felt that he deserved, Hanson offered this provocation: If we are concerned about the just distribution of property and money, why do we assume that the desire for some sort of sexual redistribution is inherently ridiculous?
Over the past couple weeks, we’ve had fellas like Douthat and Hanson (who made it into this weekend’s edition of Garbage Men) pondering wee “thought experiments” about how we could get sex to these poor men who are definitely killing people because they are deprived of it. We’ve had various sites suggesting that being dumped by a woman “fueled” the Golden State Killer’s 12 year murder and rape spree. It is almost enough to make you forget that these crimes were actually committed by men! I mean, sure — they’re the ones doing the killing, but whose fault is it, really?
Douthat’s suggestion is that we graciously take cues from other “radical thinkers” on how to solve this problem. The answer, he suggests, may lie in sex workers and sex robots.
But I expect the logic of commerce and technology will be consciously harnessed, as already in pornography, to address the unhappiness of incels, be they angry and dangerous or simply depressed and despairing. The left’s increasing zeal to transform prostitution into legalized and regulated “sex work” will have this end implicitly in mind, the libertarian (and general male) fascination with virtual-reality porn and sex robots will increase as those technologies improve — and at a certain point, without anyone formally debating the idea of a right to sex, right-thinking people will simply come to agree that some such right exists, and that it makes sense to look to some combination of changed laws, new technologies and evolved mores to fulfill it.
Ah yes. Why shouldn’t our “zeal” for safety, human rights and dignity for sex workers (and all workers!) translate into a benefit for misogynistic potential mass murderers? Either that, or…
But why not go a step further? Over the years, there have been numerous cannibal killers. Jeffrey Dahmer, Albert Fish, Andrei Chikatilo and more. Men driven to kill and eat other human beings. Are we so cold as to not listen to their cries for help? To refuse to provide for them the sweet, sweet human flesh that they so clearly crave?
Perhaps, rather than driving them to go out into the night to kill their dinner, we at least consider a program in which a certain percentage of the population will be required to donate their bodies to cannibals upon their demise. This way, we’d never have to worry about cannibal killers again!
We could even consider making a fake human meat to satiate their desires. From what I have read, human flesh tastes either like veal or pork, so with the technologies available to us today, I’m not sure why we couldn’t come up with a decent substitute and simply shape it into a pair of human buttocks. Surely, right-thinking people will all soon agree that cannibals have a right to human flesh that ought not be denied.
Unless, that is, there is actually something seriously wrong with people who kill and eat people other than their palates.
The problem with establishing a “right to sex” or a “right to consume human flesh” is that people have a right, first and foremost, to their own bodily autonomy. This is much different and certainly more personal than wealth or property redistribution. Sex workers also have a right to their own bodies and a right to say no, and — barring taking away that right — there cannot ever be a “right to sex.”
The idea of “redistributing sex” to these men to get them to not kill women would be considered “negotiating with terrorists” if the terrorists were anyone other than a bunch of angry young mostly white men. The fact is, the vast majority of them have nothing but disdain for sex workers, and absolutely no interest in sex robots other than dreaming about the day when “real” women see that men have chosen sex bots over us and we regret all of our evil ways and beg them to take us back.
What they are mad at is a loss of patriarchal power, and what they are in is a murder cult. They don’t long for companionship with women, and they aren’t even just looking for some “thing” to stick their shriveled dicks in. They hate women and hold a deep resentment about the fact that they do not get to live in a time and place in which we had little economic choice but to marry them in order to survive. They are angry that the sexual revolution took that away from them. They don’t fantasize about normal sex, they openly fantasize about rape as a mode of revenge against us — when they aren’t fantasizing about acid attacks. They fantasize about shaming women. And you can’t shame a sex robot.
There’s a desire, it seems, to see these men as poor little Duckies who, try as they might, just can’t win over the Molly Ringwald of their dreams. Or even to see them as social radicals engaging in direct action in order to achieve justice for a cause. But they’re not. These are not just lonely people we should feel bad for and sympathize with. I have been covering them for years. Trust me, they are violent and they are dangerous and they are deluded. They have created their own reality in what can only be described as a folie à cent mille.
Instead of talking about a “right to sex” or a redistribution of vaginas, we need to be talking about the way we, as a culture, teach men that they are entitled to romantic attention to women. We need to be figuring out ways to deal with online radicalization, and law enforcement needs to be taking the threats that these men make against women — publicly and on message boards everyone can see — as seriously as we would if they were any other organized group of people routinely plotting violence on the internet.
You can’t solve violent misogyny by granting “access to sex” any more than you “solve” Nazis by taking rights away from people of color, or “solve” cannibalistic serial killers by giving them access to human flesh. Women’s bodies are not your thought experiment.
And on that note, it’s your OPEN THREAD.