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Elliot Rodger

All the Lonely People: The conversation we should be having about men and virginity

If you read this blog, you know how important issues like identity and community are to us, including those of self-identified older virgins. In light of the killings at UCSB, and the torrent of misogynist hate speech 22-year-old Elliot Rodger left behind, I think there is an important conversation to be had that includes men and virginity right now. But it's not the one about the poor sex-and-love-starved virgin male (And by the way, there are many 22-year-olds who haven't become sexually active yet) Many of his rants were made on behalf of "incels" (involuntary celibates) with whom he identified but also despised. Before this weekend, most people had never heard about the incel community, but I know there are incel-identified folks in our audience as well as contributors to The V-Card Diaries. I also know the original community is a welcoming female-inclusive space far removed from the hateful rhetoric of Rodger and his ilk. (Tracy Clark-Flory did a great story focusing on that community's hate speech so I won't link to them here).

I wrote a story for Nerve as a way of framing the conversation about men, virginity and shame. I think it's important to point out that many adult virgins of all genders (who don't want to be virgins) feel some shame or frustration about their situation. It's how they deal with it and who they blame for it that makes all the difference. I'm grateful to the members of the You're Not Alone incel board for their participation and assistance in this story, and to our intern Alexa Cucopulos for her amazing research.

Here's an excerpt of the story:

“In a society where sexuality is always in our faces, if you don’t have the tools or access, or aren’t comfortable establishing intimacy it’s going to isolate you from social environments,” explains Dr. Burgess. “You don’t want to talk to your family or friends for fear of being teased or ostracized, and that’s why these incel groups have become especially valuable.”

So, why did the misogynistic groups proliferate, leaving the more introspective and female-friendly groups like You’re Not Alone, and other sites like the sub-reddits Forever Alone and Forever Alone Women, feeling like outliers?

Society still defines sex by intercourse and ejaculation, and masculinity by the tally of those sexual conquests. Men who buy into this mythology end up feeling both entitled to it, and frustrated at not getting their due. When they can’t fulfill their expected masculine roles, they blame women for not giving them what they think they deserve, instead of examining themselves and the mythology they were raised with [...]

I can only speculate that these men already had misogynistic and entitled ideas about the women they felt they were owed, and began to take advantage of the growing echo chamber and megaphone of the Internet, looking for kinship in spaces that reflected their attitudes back at them"

Please read the full story and leave your comments here.

Comments on the UCSB murders and older virgins: Please add yours...

We just got this comment on the post A Shout-Out to Older Virgins from Some Older Virgin, referring to the horrible murders at UCSB this weekend. Many reasons have been floated for why Elliot Rodger did what he did, including the series of quotes I posted earlier dealing with the climate of toxic masculinity and misogyny, part of the MRA and PUA movements Rodgers was so interested in. Feel free to post your own thoughts on the events or on what Some Older Virgin wrote:

"As a 44 year old virgin, who has posted on here before but haven’t recently, I can’t get over that 22 year old UC Santa Barbara Student who rent on a rampage killing people and himself. He cited the fact he was a 22 year old virgin and who couldn’t get love and sex from women. A 22 year old virgin thinking that somehow at that age he not only should be at a certain level in terms of sexual/romantic level but that he would be so depressed about it that he decided to kill people and himself?

"I mean there are some people out there like myself, that have way way more to be depressed about but would never dream of then killing people and then myself. Ya I get plenty depressed and have thought about suicide before but I would never seriously think about going on some rampage. I hope that what happened in Santa Barbara doesn’t cause people to have even more preconceived stereotypes about virgins than society already has."

“Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.”

“Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.”–Margaret Atwood

“If I can’t have you, girls, I will destroy you” “If we can’t solve our problems we must DESTROY our problems...One day incels* will realize their true strength and numbers, and will overthrow this oppressive feminist system. Start envisioning a world where WOMEN FEAR YOU." Elliot Rodger, as quoted by The Southern Poverty Law Center, one of the first to call the shooting a hate crime.

"...Whether any theoretical mental illness had anything to do with his rampage, it doesn’t negate the fact that he grew up believing in a toxic form of masculinity. That he believed he was entitled to women’s affections and to women’s bodies - and that being deniedwhat he thought was his due meant that the best thing he could do is go murder as many people as he could to punish them. Because that was exactly what he was doing: punishing people for the crime of not fucking him. Of forcing him to be a virgin, of making him less than a man. Because that is exactly what the cultural narrative of masculinity says. A woman who is a virgin is a prize, holding her “special gift” for a “special person”. A male (not a man, a male) is a failure. He is a boy, not a man. He is a failure, because masculinity is rated in two axis’ - in our capacity for sex and our capacity for violence." –Dr. Nerdlove, Paging Dr. Nerdlove on Tumblr

"Because of the misogyny he so plentifully expressed, I read the manifesto looking for examples where he would have been rejected by women.  Oddly enough, there are none, unless we count a girl who pushed and yelled at him in childhood, because he first bumped into her.  Other examples are of the type where a woman he smiled at didn't smile at him, where a woman he said "hi" to didn't respond.  If female rejection was what he mostly blamed for his suffering, where is that rejection in his manifesto?  Or did he expect women to flock to him, without any necessity to make an effort to meet them or talk to them? I cannot say for certain.  But the impression I got is that he never approached women at all, that he expected women to approach him, and when they did not, he felt enormous pains of rejection." Echidne of the Snakes

"So what can we do to stop this? We can refuse to participate in policing other people’s sexuality. We can call it out when we see others doing it. We can petition the media to address the misogyny and sexual double standard when discussing these murders. We can talk about it- blog about it, post status updates about it, write school papers about it, talk to friends about it. When it happens online, we can report it. But we have so much work to do." Dr. Jill McDevitt, The Sexologist on Tumblr

"@virginitymovie: #YesAllWomen because being a man is not defined by whether you've put your penis into a vagina." One of our contributions to #YesAllWomen, many powerful ones at this thread

* Incel is short for involuntary celibacy. Not all incel groups or hubs identify with Men's Rights or Pick Up Artist beliefs, and can be very supportive and female-inclusive. I'll be writing about this in another post.