The issue of sexual violence has never gone away. The #metoo movement is just one more response to it, though so far one thats been getting more notice than many. In the last, I dont know, month or so, the media at large has at last started to notice the well-established connection between misogynistic violence and mass shootings, and the word incel involuntarily celibate has achieved a greater currency than it had before. I gather incel was first coined to describe the experience of being queer and unable to find someone of the gender you like who likes people of your gender, but it has now unfortunately been very firmly appropriated as a self-identifier for that subset of men who (a) arent getting sex and (b) believe they are owed sex. And this of course has led to suggestions that maybe mass shootings would be averted if more women would take one for the team and have sex with incels. Because, apparently, some people arent content with being horrible human beings in the privacy of their own homes.
I have seen it claimed, mind you, that incels arent real because its not actually hard to find someone to have sex with and these men must be just being needlessly picky (or obsessive) about their choice of partner. I cant hold with this. For some people it may be easy to find people to have sex with, but there are many circumstances which make it difficult for others. One, as already noted, is being the only queer person in your offline circle. Various disabilities physical and social have similar effects. Its not the not getting sex that makes incels horrible people, its the belief that they are owed it. Men who believe theyre owed sex are horrible people whether or not theyre getting it, which brings this digression nicely back to the point.
A couple of weeks ago a guy walked into Santa Fe High School in Texas and shot people, killing ten of them. Following an excellent suggestion thats been passed around Twitter and Tumblr, Im going to refer to the perpetrator as Shooter #101 (this was the 101st mass shooting in the United States this year). The mother of one of the dead, Shana Fisher, has claimed that her daughter was repeatedly harassed by Shooter #101 for a date and ultimately turned him down publicly in front of the school, and that she was the first person he shot. Several articles on the incident have used this for a lede. Apparently it hasnt been corroborated by witnesses which is bad enough, but Ive worked in journalism in a very small way, I can understand going ahead with the article on the assumption that the mother knew what she was talking about. Whats not forgivable is that this was how they framed this element of the case:
And these are far from the worst. You see the narrative being put forward here? Men (overwhelmingly) do the shooting, but never fear, we can always find a way that its ultimately a womans fault. Women are put on earth to meet mens needs, and men go astray when women fail to fulfill that function. Mens sexual and romantic yearnings give them a proprietary right over womens bodies, attention, and time. Most commentators would recoil from this position if it were stated openly; the danger of framing male violence as the headlines above do is precisely that this narrative sneaks under the radar as a tacit premise instead of being exposed to challenge as an explicit proposition. To men who do believe that women owe them sex, this subtextual confirmation helps that belief fit just that little bit more comfortably into their picture of the world.