If someone would have told me two or three years ago that in 2021, I would be tagging Ted Cruz in posts about wishing his dad had pulled a Simon from Bridgerton, I would have laughed and shaken my head.
All to say - I've consumed far more social media in the past week than I care to, but I've noticed a lot and there are two things that are getting beyond irritating to me, and I think they're causing harm.
Stop making Incel jokes.
I've seen a lot of Incel jokes in the past 24 hours and I think it has to be looked at what's truly being said. Because making fun of Incels is a very roundabout way that truly progressive people can still commodify women as objects and perpetuate a culture that values looks over kindness.
I cannot give you a full detail of what the Incel community is if you are unfamiliar with the term. I lack neither the full capacity nor the time. This Vox article is excellent.
Adapting to that definition, and I cannot emphasize this more, I don't think that not getting any should be an excuse to commit a crime.
Most people I know have gone through some sort of sexual drought. Be it 2 days, 2 weeks, 2 months, 2 years, etc - it's different for every person's sexual drive. Those same people (that I know of) have not committed a crime because they were pent up.
The Proud Boys are often cited as an exception to Incels, mainly because have some truly voluntarily celibate patterns, but it doesn't matter. A lack of sex is not a defense in court, but the court of Public Opinion has always been a different monster. So that's the one I'm attacking today.
Americans are so confused about sex. Women are both commodified and sexually liberated. We are some of the highest consumers of porn but get incensed when someone breastfeeds a baby. These two things are not the same but they're often confused to be the same because, in America, nudity is an explicit function of sexuality.
If you were to write down what you thought was a normal sexual drive, what would you think the answer would be?
I guarantee you that if I surveyed 100 people, I think there would be medians, outliers, and everything in between. It speaks to the importance of finding a compatible, understanding, and empathetic partner, not necessarily changing to extensive degrees.
I can't prove my point, but I can reinforce it.
I went to a very liberal arts college, the kind that emphasized how they produced well-rounded adults. English and theater majors had to take science classes, and science majors had to take the widely abhorred "Responsible Self", an intro literature class. I remember it to this day – for me, it was on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, at 9:00 a.m. We read the Bodhisattva, Invisible Man, On Liberty, and the Confessions of St. Augustine.
If I could party with anyone from the past, I think it would be Augustine of Hippo. A sinner, who basically tried to curb his ways, Augustine is probably the most likable historic author I ever read. There is no one more approachable, more accessible than he is. Back to Responsible Self -
One dreary Kansas City morning, while discussing Augustine, our professor could not wake us up. His questions to the class went unanswered, his insights went without admiration. He was not about to be in part 2 of Dead Poet's Society.
Suddenly without warrant, he asked us, "Why are there nude beaches in Europe?"
That drew giggles from my classmates.
His response is plastered in my mind.
He basically told us that because in America, nudity is associated with sexuality. One cannot be nude in America without associating it with sex.
We're a confused people, largely devoid of nuance. The virgin must be awful to look at and the sexually prolific man is absent of a soul. Why deal with nuance when extremes are so much better?
Incel jokes crown sex as something to be achieved and women as trophies moves us away from talking about sex as something consenting adults do.
What if the baseline society value of sex stopped there?
And what if personal choice seeped in?
What if we didn't make fun of Incels?
What if we let people who wanted to wait, wait?
And those who didn't want to wait, we educated them on safety?
When you make fun of Incels, here is an honest to God potential pathway for them.
Young, impressionable men are getting on unmoderated websites like 4chan and 8chan to seek out community when they haven't lost their virginity by a certain age. From there, it's surprisingly easy for them to fall down extremist rabbit holes because fascists love these boards, ripe with rants about women and how feminism/social justice warriors are terrible. Their agenda fits right in. In a 2018 published study on bellingcat, Robert Evans surveyed 75 fascists to figure out how they became red-pilled -
4𝘤𝘩𝘢𝘯 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘪𝘵𝘴 𝘥𝘦𝘴𝘤𝘦𝘯𝘥𝘢𝘯𝘵 8𝘤𝘩𝘢𝘯 𝘮𝘢𝘬𝘦 𝘶𝘱 𝘢 𝘭𝘢𝘳𝘨𝘦 𝘤𝘩𝘶𝘯𝘬 𝘰𝘧 𝘸𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘪𝘴 𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘮𝘰𝘯𝘭𝘺 𝘬𝘯𝘰𝘸𝘯 𝘢𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘢𝘭𝘵-𝘳𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵. 𝘛𝘩𝘦𝘴𝘦 𝘱𝘭𝘢𝘤𝘦𝘴 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘤𝘰𝘯𝘴𝘪𝘥𝘦𝘳𝘦𝘥 𝘧𝘢𝘪𝘳𝘭𝘺 𝘮𝘰𝘥𝘦𝘳𝘢𝘵𝘦 𝘣𝘺 𝘧𝘢𝘴𝘤𝘪𝘴𝘵 𝘢𝘤𝘵𝘪𝘷𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘴 𝘪𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘋𝘪𝘴𝘤𝘰𝘳𝘥 𝘤𝘰𝘯𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘴𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯𝘴 𝘱𝘳𝘦𝘴𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘥. 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘢𝘭𝘵-𝘳𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵 𝘪𝘴 𝘰𝘧𝘵𝘦𝘯 𝘳𝘦𝘧𝘦𝘳𝘳𝘦𝘥 𝘵𝘰 𝘢𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘦 “𝘢𝘭𝘵-𝘭𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵.” 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘪𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘯𝘵 𝘴𝘦𝘦𝘮𝘴 𝘵𝘰 𝘣𝘦 𝘩𝘢𝘭𝘧𝘸𝘢𝘺 𝘣𝘦𝘵𝘸𝘦𝘦𝘯 𝘢 𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘮 𝘰𝘧 𝘦𝘯𝘥𝘦𝘢𝘳𝘮𝘦𝘯𝘵 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘢𝘯 𝘪𝘯𝘴𝘶𝘭𝘵. 𝘍𝘢𝘴𝘤𝘪𝘴𝘵 𝘢𝘤𝘵𝘪𝘷𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘴 𝘷𝘪𝘦𝘸 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘢𝘭𝘵-𝘳𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵 𝘢𝘴 𝘴𝘪𝘭𝘭𝘺, 𝘣𝘶𝘵 𝘢𝘭𝘴𝘰 𝘢𝘴 𝘢 𝘤𝘳𝘶𝘤𝘪𝘢𝘭 𝘳𝘦𝘤𝘳𝘶𝘪𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘨𝘳𝘰𝘶𝘯𝘥.
Stop. Making. Incel. Jokes. It doesn't create fascism, it creates its breeding ground, rich with a skewed dialogue about what they think truly makes men, men.
Many things brought us to January 6th. Toxic masculinity is one of them. There is a reason why so many incel jokes are directed towards men and not so many towards women.
And maybe this is just me, but so many of my romantic relationships have revolved around timing. Things were hyper-stressful for me, and good for them, and vice-versa. How can we HONESTLY expect people to compensate for timing? Life is weird and throws unexpected obstacles.
The Capitol terrorists don't look like a good smelling bunch, don't get me wrong. But I don't think Incels would exist to the degree that they do if we didn't tell men that they aren't men until they have sex, or inherently link a man's worth to it. And I don't think they would coagulate into this movement where they need solidarity and find it more in the macho-fascism than they do in kind and compassionate relationships with women.
Or men if they're into it. Whatever.
Sexual liberation is a good thing, but overcorrection doesn't fix the problem. It redistributed the shame. Which I'm starting to believe manifests itself in ugly, sad, dangerous ways.
Long diatribe to say - Incel jokes to me simply say that a lack of sex that drove men to storm the Capitol. I just kind of think that (on top of fascism/white supremacy), it was their ingrained masculinity that values the cult of the soldier that probably contributed to it.
Stop making stupid/redneck jokes.
And here is where I went into a rage.
There is an Instagram page called, "Homegrown Terrorists". From what I understand, the account creator is using computer effects to enhance security footage and acting as a hub for tips. It's a place for me to start to get confirmation on other news sites. They recently posted this video, and I cannot even big to describe it, but we must figure out how to disengage QAnon is one of my main takeaways.
Underneath it, reads a comment - "Did they recently close a Golden Corral?"
HAHHAHAHHAHAHHA so funny.
So ripe with tried stereotypes about country bumpkins I failed to laugh.
I know it's a lot to rage about, on the basis of one comment alone, but - liberals are making the same mistakes. Over and over again.
I highly recommend reading "Strangers In Our Land". A book so dear to me in its sheer amount of empathy, it's conclusions are fascinating.
One of my main take-aways from that book is that people are frequently voting against their best interests. Furthermore, a narrow conception of what intelligence is - well, it's doing great harm to our society. And when I watched that video referenced above, I didn't see a dumb woman. I saw a woman who could benefit from the very things I believe in, including making mental health services widely available. She's not stupid - she's in crisis.
When we make jokes about country hicks, we largely ignore the fact that (1) America's heartland grows our food and has a particular type of intelligence and (2) it's kind of falling apart, due to things like the Opioid crisis and large farming pillaging it.
I am a registered Democrat. There are certain things I believe that I'm willing to talk about openly. I believe that Universal Basic Income would not just help our marginalized communities, but poor white people who feel ignored and who are struggling to make ends meet, many of whom are facing the opioid epidemic. I believe that a Democratic agenda is more likely to take care of everyone. So just to make sure I'm clear - I voted for Joe Biden.
I am not equivocating direct assault on our Capitol with being right or any sort of justification for their terrorism. In just this day alone, a story came out about a man who beat a Capitol police officer with a hockey stick. I would not be surprised if Blue Lives Matter came out of his throat at some point, making him a hypocrite for his action. Being heard takes many forms, and apples are not oranges. Invading the Capitol on the day votes were counted is not the same as wrecking a Target.
It's just enough, I guess, to point out hypocrisy. It's unsatisfying. People are hypocrites. I probably am - and so are you. Pointing it out is probably just the first step.
I've been in non-profit work for almost ten years now, and I want to see more than clarity around hypocrisy. I want to see some action. So many people are content with just leaving the momentary intellectual feel of superiority at the door. I want more. I want help.
If you called the insurrectionists stupid in the past couple of days, just like my arguments against calling them Incels and leaving at that - well, it's just too simple.
Here I risk offending people more, so I want to proceed with caution.
My mother recently retired from teaching special education for twenty years plus. I grew up with children in my house over the summer for tutoring. Special education children have potential. Jobs like Kroger cart pushers and anything with machine belt automation are giving them the pride of a paycheck. I have seen some of the worst cases of mental inhibition possible.
Stupid is a social construction. It's about what we value, as a society. These kids I saw - they may not be able to quote Marcus Aurelius, but they can do function in society. And none of them was a Capitol rioter.
The insurrection has to do with what's in people's hearts, which is taught and learned through many sources, including parents and media consumption. And the pull and push of society.
When I think of the Capitol rioters, I don't think stupid as their automatic setting. I think of people who were lied to and absorbed it as Gospel, who likely believe things about the Bible that I don't believe, and who want some basic things that they frequently vote against their own interest for.
Again - I surely hope that if you have called the terrorists stupid or have talked about how our educational system has failed people - 𝐩𝐥𝐞𝐚𝐬𝐞 𝐡𝐞𝐥𝐩 𝐮𝐬 𝐩𝐮𝐬𝐡 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐞𝐝𝐮𝐜𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐚𝐥 𝐫𝐞𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐦. Defend your teachers, who experience horrendous rates of burnout. Advocate for apprenticeships as a pathway for kids who like working with their hands. Volunteer. Tutor. There's so much work to be done.
I cannot listen to complaints without action anymore.
2021 is probably going to be a weird and horrible year, but I hope you find a way to show up for all of it.