A Brief Look at “Incel” Hysteria

Individuals of the libertine persuasion, those who take delight in the kind of bland sex-positive advocacy for which there are now countless figureheads on the internet, have suggested to me many times that the availability of internet pornography is behind recent falls in sexual violence, beginning roughly in the early 90s. I did not think that was abjectly insane, but it was certainly hard to miss some inconvenient background details: homicide, and many other kinds of crime, fell in the 90s, which casts immediate doubt on pornography as causal. No one quite knows why it happened, but there are several hypotheses, some spicier than others.

It is important to mention that this period of declining violence (~ 1990-2005) is a mere blip within a trend which has been going on far longer. Technology, broadly construed, may be responsible for some recent declines, and before that, the aggressive genetic selection against criminality that took place in Europe over several centuries.

One wonders: when was the last time that rape was a viable reproductive strategy – that is, more likely to result in descendants than to result in imprisonment and ignominy? World War Two seems a good recent example: the Red Army managed to leave hundreds of thousands of descendants through the rape of foreign women of the nation they were at war with, but that is quite different in terms of its social consequences, i.e. has much weaker selective force acting on it, than raping women in one’s social in-group or clan. All this is amplified, too, by the availability of abortion, which renders births from rape in the First World basically non-existent at this point.

So, the type of rapist who rapes the enemy’s women in war has a distinct psychological profile, and is probably far more common, than the type who rapes at home. In the modern West, the latter type make up almost all “rape data” after controlling for immigration. Exactly what do we know about those people?

Genes do not seem to contribute much to the variance of propensity to rape adults in Sweden. Then again, possible confound: Sweden. However, I would not be surprised if the pattern holds true even in undiversified regions. For instance, it could be that the heritability of within-group rape has declined over time because its “adaptive” function, if it ever had one, is now a dead end. So now, it (within-group rape) survives because the genes that increase the likelihood of doing it are normally implicated in other, more reproductively successful behaviours.

All of this should cast doubt on the idea that the incel “phenomenon” will trigger a rape epidemic. Men who rape (again, excluding wartime rape) have different brains from men who do not, regardless of whether they are celibate. And anyone saying that men need more “sexual outlets” to ward off the incoming Incel Rape Army is full of shit. There has essentially never been a society where long-term relationships (or even short-term liaisons) are men’s only chance at sexual access, even where alternative means are “banned.” Pornography and prostitution are banned in South Korea, yet approximately 23% of men there have visited prostitutes.

The average marital age for males in western Europe has been 26-28 for centuries, and a goodly portion of the population never married, even back when marriage was far more of an idealised social norm. Current trends are really not all that terrifying.

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