Uh-oh, does this mean a rise in ‘incels’?

Christopher Ingraham tweets a link to an article that he wrote for the Washington Post has gone through the data compiled in the General Social Survey and says that the number of young men who have not had sex during the previous year has nearly tripled in the last decade and has now reached 28%.

In that same thread, Ingraham says that the percentage of young men under 30 who have not had sex since they turned 18 has risen even more sharply.

It is not clear if this trend is due to voluntary reduction and abstention or involuntary. We have seen before the phenomenon of ‘incels’, the name given by themselves to those who are involuntarily celibate men who blame women for this situation and have on occasion taken out their rage and frustration in acts of violence, mostly targeting women.


  1. sonofrojblake says

    Interesting that women have also experienced a rise in sexlessness, but nowhere near as drastic.

    This would seem to imply that they’re either having sex with each other, or that a smaller pool of men is getting all the available sex-with-women. Or both. Which is more or less exactly what incels complain about.

    There’s also the factor that the graph takes off just as high quality free streaming video porn became ubiquitous. See Jon Ronsons excellent podcast “The Butterfly Effect” for a discussion of the effect of this on adolescent males’ experience of sexuality. Spoiler: erectile disfunction in males under 25 has skyrocketed in the last decade or so.

  2. Bruce says

    Another possibility is that there is no change in celibacy. Instead, the rise in reports of it might be due to the right wing political rallying for incels. This may mean that young men are more comfortable reporting or admitting to their celibacy. In this unique situation, the right may have accidentally become more open and honest. Maybe.

  3. Glor says

    I’d seriously doubt whatever influence the incels had on reporting is anywhere close to the change due to the lessening of “If you don’t fuck (many, hot) women, you’re not a REAL man” type gender policing.

  4. Curious Digressions says

    Erg. Not exactly. According to the article:

    For the overall trend:

    The 60-and-older demographic climbed from 18 percent of the population in 1996 to 26 percent in 2018, according to the survey. The share reporting no sex has consistently hovered around 50 percent, and because that age group is growing relative to everyone else, it has the net effect of reducing the overall population’s likelihood of having sex.

    Regarding young men.
    1. More men in that age range are unemployed. Unemployed people are less likely to have date/ have sex.
    2. Young men are more likely than young women to continue to live with their family of origin. Bringing a date home to mom’s house is awkward.
    3. Available technology provides entertainment alternatives to sex.

    It doesn’t address incels specifically, but why would a woman want to date or have sex with someone who hates women in general and her in particular or who treats her like an appliance for sex?

  5. anat says

    See Why Are Young People Having So Little Sex?, at The Atlantic. In addition to factors mentioned by Curious Digressions, many young people these days are prioritizing solo-sex and solo digital lives over seeking sex with partners, many young people grew up with parents who had them spend way too much time on academics and extra-curriculars to prepare themselves for college/workforce and lacked the time to develop their relationship skills, people using dating apps (especially straight, cisgender people) are using them ineffectively by often seeking people ‘out of their class’ while not seeking people in real life, women avoiding dating new people because of experiences with painful sex in previous relationships (as in partners springing on them extreme behaviors such as choking very early in the relationship), young people being more self-conscious about their bodies.

  6. says

    anat @6

    while not seeking people in real life

    Speaking of which…Mano had recently noted the increase in “Nones.” It is my understanding that church has been a typical place for young people to meet in real life, but, with no good secular alternative, that’s one less venue for us youngins (though, I admit I’m no longer in that 18-30 age range anymore).
    Lack of good places to meet others has been a struggle for me personally. A lot of the social groups I’ve become involved with tend to be more popular with people who are middle age and not with people more my age.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *