In a recent post, I said that unlike in the case of most groups that share a generalized grievance, in the case of the so-called incels (‘involuntary celibates’), I just could not see what an external solution to their complaint might look like. Via PZ Myers though, I came across this post where the problem is particularized and a solution is suggested.
The problem (as seen by the author of the solution) is that sophisticated makeup techniques that currently exist enable women to look much more attractive than their intrinsic looks warrant (they can lift themselves up from a 3/10 to a 7/10) and hence they have an inflated view of themselves that results in them looking down at men and rejecting them even though those men are really their peers in looks. The solution starts from the premise that makeup should be banned and goes on from there.
The solution is very specific and concrete and also requires governmental action. It is also completely nuts. My guess is that it is from a parody site but while not serious, it does have the benefit of showing how there is no solution to the problem that the incels face that does not start from within themselves, from self-reflection about what they might do and how they might change to resolve their situation.
Meanwhile, Josh Marshall wades into this area and finds a libertarian economics professor at George Mason University who actually endorses a variant of this idea that ‘sex inequality’ (i.e., the differential access to sex that people have) should be ameliorated.
Hanson is talking about the fact that some people have more access to sex with people they find attractive than others. Hanson then sets out to explore policies that might ameliorate this “sex inequality” because to him there’s nothing fundamentally different between differences in wealth and different levels of access to sex with people you find hot. The idea that inequality of access to inanimate objects might be fundamentally different than access to other people’s bodies is one he is either unable to or perhaps unwilling to grasp.
So what are the policy solutions? He is at pains to make clear that “Rape and slavery are far from the only [policy options]!” Thanks! But the gist of his suggestions are actually quite similar to, if more antiseptic and sophisticated, the proposals one finds on the nutso incel message boards.
One is making major cash transfers to men who aren’t getting enough sex on the theory that the wealthier a man is the more attractive he becomes and thus more likely to get sex. More telling are policies for “promoting monogamy” and “discouraging promiscuity.” The idea here is that if people have fewer sexual partners and are locked down into monogamous relationships, the population of unsexed women will go up and thus create what amounts to a captive audience for sexual overtures from members of the incel community. This really is a dumpster fire of law-and-economics nonsense in a high-speed collision with the human condition. What I marvel at is that this isn’t some crank with an anonymous account on Twitter. It’s a tenured professor of economics.
Maybe Hanson is also trying his hand at satire. Who knows these days?
This situation illustrates the importance that people give to physical attractiveness. This is not anything new and has probably existed from time immemorial. But this whole business of quantifying it on a scale of one to ten and then obsessing over that one factor to the exclusion of almost everything else might be relatively recent because of the ubiquitous ranking that is now available. For most people in relationships, I suspect that the value placed on looks is highest at the beginning (because it is the most visible trait) and tends to decrease over time, as other factors like compatibility, considerateness, kindness, sense of humor, and generosity come to the fore and are seen as being more important to one’s happiness. So incels might want to think about how much of those qualities they possess and what kinds of situations bring them to the forefront. Going into any new encounter with a chip on your shoulder and an air of grievance and entitlement is a surefire way to ensure that people will not want to get to know you beyond the superficialities.