Of course this week’s Douchebag Decree is going to Ross Douthat. If you write a column in the New York Times arguing that sex workers and robots should have sex with terrorists so they’re less mad and sad, you’re a douchebag.
I hate to even summarize the specious arguments in “The Redistribution of Sex,” but Douchethat uses the recent attack in Toronto (which he describes as a “man [seeking] retribution against women and society for denying him the fornication he felt that he deserved” and never mentions that this “retribution” ended with 10 people dead and 16 others wounded) to ask this Very Serious and Important Question: “If we are concerned about the just distribution of property and money, why do we assume that the desire for some sort of sexual redistribution is inherently ridiculous?”
Oh, I know the answer! Women are not property or money; women are human beings! (Also, who’s concerned about the just distribution of property and money? Definitely not conservative men and incels.)
When Ross writes that the sexual revolution “created new winners and losers,” he means that as women and queer communities have gained more autonomy over their private and sexual lives, white heterosexual men are less able to dictate the terms of those lives and experiences, and they don’t like that. White heterosexual men want all that control back, and Bossy Rossy has a solution: Force sex workers and sex robots to have sex with them!
As David Futrelle has documented on his blog, We Hunted the Mammoth, incels are a violent community of misogynists who actively wish grave harm upon all women. Incels write about committing mass rapes and murders all the time. They praise those who attack women with acid and they idolize Elliot Rodger, who murdered six people and injured 14 others in the 2014 Isla Vista Killings. Alek Minassian said that his decision to drive a van in a group of people in Toronto was part of an “incel rebellion.” Ross conveniently broadens the term “incel” to refer to anyone who is involuntarily celibate (which is what the term originally meant), but it’s wacky to pretend there are oodles of nice folks out there who agree with the starkly dystopian premise of forcing women to “redistribute” sex. Misogynists are the only people who think women should be forced to do anything.
When Ross writes that the sexual revolution “created new winners and losers,” he means that as women and queer communities have gained more autonomy over their private and sexual lives, white heterosexual men are less able to dictate the terms of those lives and experiences, and they don’t like that.
Also, Ross, buddy, are you not watching Westworld? It’s a great show, but your proposed solution is the show’s plot—men buy a ticket to Westworld where they can abuse and assault robot women without the dirty complication of hurting actual human women. You might not like how that turns out for humans.
Of course this isn’t the first time Bossy Rossy has thrown his worst ideas at the wall of the New York Times to see if they stick. Just a few months ago, he argued that we should ban porn to solve the problem of rampant sexual harassment and assault and he’s described abortion rights as “a cruel ideology that has licensed the killing of millions of innocents for almost 50 years.” Excuse me if I think Ross doesn’t know shit about the lives of real women. Douchethat publishes all of these bad ideas in the New York Times, and the newspaper deserves much of the shame of this decree for sanctioning these incredibly dehumanizing thought experiments again and again.
This particular thought experiment is not just Bossy Rossy’s bad idea—incels actively believe in and support the proposition that all men are owed the sex that they want and Ross’s column is already having an impact on incel communities like the online incel forum incels.me, where they’re praising Ross for shifting the Overton window (the span of ideas acceptable in public discourse) and for spreading incel ideology within the mainstream. Incels are terrorists and dignifying their warped worldview with serious thought is beneath all of us, including Douthat. Incel ideology has manifested in real violence and mass murder more than once, and pretending their hateful ideas are an inevitable and rational response to our society is embarrassing, shameful, and disgusting.