Philosophers have only interpreted the world. The point, however, is to change it.
The American community is changing but is it changing in a way that most of us would like it to change? Two of the forces that are driving cultural disintegration are paranoia among men and expressions of fear and anger roiling on social media. We are going to focus specifically on the men who fear women and the anger being expressed by them in an overt and public manner. Does this group of men, the self-labeled “incels” (short for “involuntary celibates”), represent the fear experienced by men around the world in general?
“The recent mass killing in Toronto by a man who once called for an ‘Incel Rebellion’ has drawn attention to an online community of men who lament being ‘involuntarily celibate’ and dream of a social order granting them access to the women of their choice.” Incredible as it may seem, the beliefs, attitudes and values of incels are but the tip of the mostly unconscious behavior of men worldwide. Is it too late to change the direction in which the global community is heading?
First, a little historical context. “For white men across the Western world, special rights and privileges once came as a birthright. Even those who lacked wealth or power were assured a status above women and minorities.” Fast-forward to today and the narrative has changed in the minds of some men who believe they have lost their former privileged position. “Some of these men may go in search of more extreme ideologies that make sense of their feelings of anger and loss, and seem to provide a solution.” Psychologists have revealed that conscious feelings of anger and loss are preceded by the often-unconscious experience of fear of the other which can include women.
So how does an aggrieved male react with his imagined worldview? Before social media he would have vented his anger in a local bar with his buddies or with colleagues on the golf course. Today, he can connect and commiserate on popular social networking sites and thereby feed his anger and connect with potential allies in taking action. “The alt-right-wing populism, men’s right groups and a renewed white supremacist movement have capitalized on many white men’s feelings of loss in recent years.”
Since a person’s worldview determines their identity we can see what many men are ultimately seeking. Social media has empowered men to take action to alter their personal narratives and change their self-concepts. Without meeting in person men can find allies occupying a storyline similar to theirs and thereby derive a more powerful identity.
Men who fear that women have usurped their power want to reverse the power equation. They come to believe that psychological or physical violence can accomplish this for them. Or as Michael Kimmel, a sociologist who runs the Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities at Stony Brook University put it: “With enough suffering, they can no longer ignore and ridicule us, they will fear us instead.”
Insight # 33: History informs us when something needs to change.
- See History: His-story and Her-story on this blog and in Chapter One of The Human Community, by Roy Charles Henry, page 97.
- Taub, Amanda. “‘Incels’ Aren’t Alone in Online Harvesting of Men’s Sense of Loss.” The New York Times. May 11, 2018, page A5.