Obviously most people are already aware of incel, it's just more likely they call it something else. Phrases such as "old maid", "spinster aunt", "dried-up virgin", "ugly creep", "miserable loner" and the all-purpose "loser" are a few examples, but the general concept is the same that has existed in the public consciousness for as long as the idea of relationships has existed.
According to the wikipedia: “Involuntary celibacy is not recognised by most experts in psychology, virtually no research has been published, and no statistics are available...It does not appear to be a concept taken seriously by those who do not experience it...However, conditions associated with involuntary celibacy may include severe depression, self-harm, mental illness and even suicide.”
Loneliness. Love shyness. Sexual frustration. Romantic envy. Missing the boat. Playing an agonzing, tantalizing game of catch-up. It’s alarming that a problem so destructive can be all but virtually ignored by both serious sociologists and the mental health community. It can be argued that incel is a symptom of a deeper root cause and that this cause should be the greater focus of investigation. The most obvious reasons for some incels would be social phobia or a significant degree of social incompetence. However many incels are also actually outgoing, charming, humorous, gregarious, approachable types who resemble most people already in relationships. Yet they find themselves in the same social situation of the stereotypical shut-in. Many introverts involved in serious relationships or are even married. There are no easy causal explanations.
Besides there are other psychological problems out there--alcoholism, shoplifting, self-abuse, gambling, overeating, violent tendencies, drug abuse, nymphomania--that have whole shelves of literature that address them specifically, even though they can also be described as symptons deriving from a variety of other deeper psychological issues. Support groups, counselors specializing in their issues and internet communities are also available for them.
Yet, there is almost nothing written about involuntary celibacy, and incels have almost no professional to turn to for it, aside from maybe therapists--and assuming these therapists care to address the issue specifically and seriously. If an incel suffers depression or anxiety as a result, they can of course address this to a professional, but these incels also have the added grief of feeling their own situation is so peculiar. Not only this but there exists also negative effects from just being incel that are distinct from incel’s sources. (Reiterating one example, not all social phobics are incel, nor vice versa.)
To help simplify matters, when I say incel, I mean to include only men and women above age 25, who are not incarcerated and do not have any physical handicap that could get in the way of a relationship. For now I don’t want to include the medically celibate or prisoners and other people in strict single-sex communities in the discussion yet--even though they do actually qualify as incel--mainly because the reason for being incel is so self-evident there. I would also defer discussion on very youthful incels because I believe most people understand in the adolescent and young adult years, people are expected to stumble and get rejected, and some frustration is a natural way of life, even though it can certainly be no less troubling in one's social development.
But I do very much want to address the problem of mature emotional frustration of people in a sexually permissive society, who have reasonably advanced sexual knowledge, even if it is all secondhand, especially for incels who are outgoing, are quite socially competent and are free to mingle with whoever they please. In these cases, the frustration is compounded because the sufferer has difficulty pinpointing the reason they are like this. It’s not as easy as in the last century where one could be frustrated from being in the wrong class or wrong sort of family or neighborhood. Because we live in an increasingly global community, there would seem to be no excuse not to connect with people, but incel cases still exist and, I think, much more prevalently than it would seem.
There’s also the feeling of helplessness and that the situation is somewhat out of their hands; after all it takes another reciprocating person to form a couple, and even doing everything right is no guarantee, as incels understand too well. Obviously luck plays a role in the success of many relationships, but luck affects non-incels as well; why does fortune frown on them in particular?
It seems non-incels find the idea incredibly absurd that a person of reasonable maturity and attractive would be incapable of getting a mutually affectionate romantic partner. What’s even more incredible is if someone of an advanced age turns out to still be a virgin; the most common misconception people seem to make is that this man or woman must have wanted to be like this in order to end up like this. It’s hard to admit it even to close friends and family for fear of hearing “you’re free to see whomever you please; you have no excuse not to find someone” which can make the sufferer feel worse. Without any external cause to point to, the incel has only him or herself to blame, which can certainly degrade more an already damaged self-esteem.
Actual lack of sex is not only the most misunderstood aspect of incel, but in many cases, it’s also beside the point. Some incels have had opportunities for casual or paid sex but have declined them because they don’t consider them a real relationship (or in the latter case it’s illegal for them in their residential jurisdiction.) What they are truly missing is the affectionate touching, holding and kissing and unconditional give-and-take that true couples the world over enjoy. The most common feeling is that after passing an advanced enough age, they feel they are “missing the boat” and are unable to catch up. Although late bloomers exist in other fields of life, incels find being in such small and written-off company difficult to endure. There’s also the cultural expectations similar to the plight of adults of a certain advanced age who still live with and depend on their parents.
In 2001 Dr. Denise Donnelly and Dr. Elizabeth Burgess of the Georgia State University wrote an article for the Journal of Sex Research concerning their conclusions from an online survey they initated with incel participants.
The purpose of this site and the adjoining media links is to help give incels a real voice that is cogent, supportive and as comprehensive as possible. Although the public may know of incels, their information can only be coming from hearsay or prejudices propagated by the media; it certainly can’t be coming from knowledgeable, informed source articles in print or onscreen, because almost none exist. Not only would non-incels feel inclined to revise their prejudices, but incels who do see themselves represented may feel encouraged to improve their plight, knowing their case is not so peculiar and that avenues of support are out there.