Uncomfortable with Rights

I don’t know if you all have heard of the ‘incel’ movement but it’s an interesting social cancer and I see a lot of chatter about it on reddit and twitter. As long as I have no need to interact with these incels I find them fascinating, though if I actually had to meet on win real life I would be terrified and angry by turns.

An incel is a self proclaimed ‘involuntary celibate’, a man, usually a white man, often with bad self care, and always with a chip on his shoulder over female rejection. He has been ‘forced’ to be celibate because no woman will consent to have sex with him and when he watches others having sex, reads up on sexual marketplace theories and its place in Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, he gets angry that he’s not getting laid.

The normal reaction when you try something several times and it doesn’t work out is to examine your premises and perhaps make some changes. In this case, perhaps stop expecting sex from women who aren’t sexually attracted to you. Perhaps work on that hygiene issue or your entitled attitude. For an incel, their reaction is to blame women for their ‘involuntary celibacy’. If only women weren’t sluts who won’t have sex with them then they would get laid. Some even go so far as to suggest that women be forced by the government to have sex with them in order to meet their physical need for and right to sexual satisfaction and in order to redistribute resources in the sexual marketplace.

These thoughts drift through my mind sometimes because I do encounter clients with bad hygiene, who are overweight, older, less attractive, medical issues, all the excuses incels use to justify their right to be angry at a lack of sex, and I *do* believe that they have the same right to access erotic services as anyone else. However: they have to be nice to get it and that’s what the men in this social movement* are missing.

In Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, we have, in order of importance: physiological needs such as sleep and food, safety, love and belonging, esteem, and self-actualization. We will sacrifice safety in order to get food or water but we *should* not sacrifice safety for love and belonging, though many of us do. Very few of us achieve self actualization, but love and belonging can be conflated with sex and safe sensual touch and in today’s world it is not uncommon. This is what people mean when they say that warm touch is a need and a human right.

So let’s talk about rights now. I listened to a podcast the other day about curb cuts and one of the things advocates said while fighting for them is that wheelchair bound or otherwise impaired individuals have the right to get around freely and safely so they need curb cuts. In the sex worker’s rights movement I hear people say that we have the right to work unimpeded and safely. Even our country’s founding documents cite inalienable, god given human rights. Unfortunately, no one has a right that he hasn’t been given by others. I have the right to make free use of my apartment because the owner *chooses to honor that right* not because he is forced by god. The owner of my building has rights to it’s use as long as others *choose to honor it*. It could be taken by imminent domain, by force, or by the big earthquake and the owner has no recourse unless others *choose to allow it*. You see where I’m going?

With food and sleep and safety, you can theoretically rely entirely on yourself if you live in a place with no other people around. As soon as you search for love and belonging, however, you must behave in a way that encourages other people to *choose to honor* your right to physiological needs being met, your safety being secure, and your belonging. In turn, you must choose to honor their rights to safety and health and here is where the ‘right to sex’ argument breaks down. Your corn nuts don’t give a shit whether you’re an asshole or not, but your lover absolutely will. If you want your needs to be met, you must in turn meet the needs of others. Sometimes what you offer is safety from a bad home life, sometimes it’s love and belonging in return, often it’s a cure for loneliness and still more often it is financial stability (yes, even in marriages). You can kill and eat a creature without its consent or grow and harvest a garden without asking permission from the plants, but if you want to live with someone and make love to someone, you either force them, which I think we can all agree doesn’t work out well, or you work with them to reach an agreement.

This ties in with the argument that payment negates consent; that it’s a type of forcing. That because I say ‘no’ to sex but then change my mind when offered compensation, I haven’t really changed my mind, I have been coerced into sex which falls under the umbrella of human trafficking.

There are two reasons this argument is awful, the first being that it tells potentially predatory folks that once they’ve paid me, my consent it irrelevant. It encourages people to say things like “I paid her so it wasn’t rape” or “I paid for you so you’re doing it even if you don’t want to.” This is an awful mindset and as irritating as it can be from a consumer perspective to know your service provider can revoke consent in spite of payment, it’s an important thing to reinforce.

The second reason this argument sucks is because it singles out sex as the only exploitative labor. There are a lot of things I have done that I wouldn’t have without being paid. Cleaning the girls bathrooms in college, standing at a desk seven hours a day checking in hotel guests, staring at a computer for hours trying to figure out these stupid charts… None of these tasks were ones I ‘freely consented’ to. If your reply to that is ‘but you’re inviting a stranger into your body, it’s different’ then you are both right and showing your hand. Sex is different than cleaning shower heads and I am happy doing either, depending on the circumstances. But you have just revealed that it isn’t labor or payment or even exploitation that you have a problem with, it’s sex, and unfortunately that’s something you should be taking up with your therapist, not US senators.

*I say social movement because sometimes as young men mature and educate themselves they outgrow these attitudes. I don’t think anyone should be condemned for feeing lonely and angry when they’re young and trying to find a community of support. That said, a recent terrorist attack in Canada [https://www.vox.com/world/2018/4/25/17277496/incel-toronto-attack-alek-minassian] tells us that this, like many other movements backed by anger, is not innocent.

One Reply to “Uncomfortable with Rights”

  1. Your thoughts about the incels are interesting. As I know one of these characters I’m forced to point out one physical description you’ve omitted, the large dandruff flakes covering the dark blue uniform and coating the transplanted hair on his head. One other thing, he and others like him are almost always trump supporters. Fortunately for you, a lady in your field will be able to avoid these types. It’s a pleasure reading your blog. Keep it up.

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