Monday, May 14, 2018

Male Sexlessness is Rising, But Not for the Reasons Incels Claim

Male Sexlessness is Rising, But Not for the Reasons Incels Claim. Lyman Stone. Institute of Family Studies, May 2018. https://ifstudies.org/blog/male-sexlessness-is-rising-but-not-for-the-reasons-incels-claim

A recent terrorist attack in Toronto, which left 10 people dead, has brought global attention to the “incel” movement, which stands for “involuntarily celibate.” The term refers to a growing number of people, particularly young men, who feel shut out of any possibility for romance, and have formed a community based around mourning their celibacy, supporting each other, and, in some cases, stoking a culture of impotent bitterness and rage at the wider world. In a few cases, this rage has spilled over in the form of terrorist attacks by “incels.” While the incels’ misogyny deserves to be called out and condemned, their ideas are unlikely to just go away. As such, the question must be posed: is the incel account of modern sexual life correct or not?

Incel communities tend to believe a few key facts about modern mating practices. First, they tend to believe women have become very sexually promiscuous over time, and indeed that virtually all women are highly promiscuous. The nickname incels use for an attractive, sexually available woman is “Stacy.” Second, they believe a small number of males dominate the market for romance, and that their dominance is growing. They call these alpha-males “Chads.” Finally, they tend to argue that the market for sex is winner-take-all, with a few “Chads” conquering all the “Stacies.” The allegedly handsome and masculine Chads are helped along by social media, Tinder, and an allegedly vacuous and appearance-focused dating scene, such that modern society gives Chads excessive amounts of sex while leaving a growing number of males with no sexual partner at all. These left out men are the incels.

This view is basically wrong. But it turns out to be wrong in an interesting and informative way.

How Much Sex Are People Having?

First of all, we may wonder about the actual trends in sexual behavior. Using data from the General Social Survey (GSS), it’s possible to estimate about how often people of different groups have sex. For this article, I will focus on individuals aged 22-35 who have never been married, and particularly males within that group.

Most groups of people age 22-35 have broadly similar amounts of sex; probably something like 60-100 sexual encounters per year. Never-married people have the least sex, about 60-80 encounters per year, while ever-married people have more sex, about 70-110 encounters per year, on average. Historically, never-married men have reported higher sexual frequency than never-married women. However, in the 2014 and 2016 GSS samples, that changed: never-married men now report slightly lower sexual frequency than never-married women. This is mostly because men are reporting less sex, not that women are reporting more sex. Female sexual frequency is essentially unchanged since 2000. In other words, a key piece of the incel story about rising female promiscuity just isn’t there.

But sexual frequency may be dominated by “Chads” and “Stacies.” What we really want to know is what share of these men and women have not had any sex. The graph below shows what share of these young men and women had not had sex at all in the last 12 months, by their sex and marital status. .

[Full text and charts at the link above.]