The problem for men that should worry us all
There’s an article making the rounds titled “The Rise of Lonely, Single Men.” I don’t know about you, but that sounds terrifying. Men haven’t exactly been on their best behavior since the dawn of time, despite being at the top of the food chain, and even when they’re in meaningful relationships. So if this is heading further south, I think we’d better talk about it.
The key ingredients for this rise, according to the author, are:
More heterosexual men than women on dating apps
Women being more selective as a result of this imbalance
Men refusing to address the “relationship skills gap” and thus continuing to lose out on dates
What the author doesn’t get into are the greater societal forces that precede this moment or the potentially catastrophic fallout from an ever-growing group of misanthropes. Instead, he cheerily suggests that this is an “opportunity to revolutionize romantic relationships and establish new healthy norms starting with a first date.”
I sincerely hope it could be that, but this process won’t be as simple as presenting some data and asking for a favor. Any woman, whether or not she’s been on Hinge lately, can tell you that. When she reads the headline “Rise of Lonely, Single Men,” she’s not picturing a line out the door of the nearest therapist. She’s picturing the impropriety, harassment, and violence that often results when men feel cheated or undermined.
That’s because, left to our own devices, we are more likely to seek out commiseration than introspection. As Jia Tolentino puts it in “The Rage of the Incels,” “Men, like women, blame women if they feel undesirable. And, as women gain the economic and cultural power that allows them to be choosy about their partners, men have generated ideas about self-improvement that are sometimes inextricable from violent rage.”
Online forums where these so-called involuntarily celibate men hang out are riddled with these violent thoughts, but so are bars and locker rooms and other places where men, lucky in love or not, congregate. And these attitudes that generations of men have been conditioned to feel continue to infiltrate our homes and our schools and our communities.
It’s not really about dating apps or dorks who hide behind their computers. It’s about power and control and what men have learned to think of as their rightful place in relationships. As Tolentino points out, “Incels aren’t really looking for sex; they’re looking for absolute male supremacy. Sex…is just their preferred sort of proof.”
So, yeah, we have some work to do to establish new healthy norms. We have some good behavior to model. We have a patriarchy to obliterate. That’s gonna take some time. For now, women should continue sidelining these monsters, and men who have already taken some of these steps need to be there to normalize and reinforce what has to change.