The last few days have been uncomfortable for me after social media has reacted to the motivation of the perpetrator of the Toronto van attack, who is an incel.  The topic is uncomfortable for me because, though I hadn’t previously heard of the incel subculture, I see right away that I identify with some of their beliefs.

Strictly speaking, I am not involuntarily celibate.  If I merely wanted to get laid, I could, and occasionally I do.  What I have been unable to do in seventeen years of trying is to find someone with whom to have a relationship.  And since I find casual sex to be unsatisfying and emotionally harmful, there has been very little sex in my life since my divorce.

In any case, I have much frustration and bitterness about my loneliness. I am lonely because of a system that has evolved with the explicit purpose of making it difficult for me to be satisfied. I realize that women are mostly unaware of their participation in this, and even if they were, they would have no reason to do differently, even if their emotions didn’t compel them to do as they do. However, my direct experience is a large history of women rejecting me and choosing others over me. It is difficult not to feel a little bit of resentment each time, but after a couple of decades it adds up, especially on dark nights when I am trying to understand my continued loneliness.

Obviously, people are right to react with indignation to the motive behind the van attack. However, what people are saying is not, “You have no right to hurt people.” What they are saying is, “You have no right to feel that way.” I feel targeted by these statements, because I more or less do feel that way. Indeed, I have to (silently) disagree.

Their (our?) feelings are valid.

Reacting with violence is not valid.

The discussion on social media has been along the lines that women have the right to reject men, and if men are rejected consistently, that’s their problem. That’s true of course, but that doesn’t mean there is no emotional cost to the men who are rejected. It’s not even true to say that a well-adjusted man does not experience feelings when being rejected. We pretend to, of course, but that’s just being a good sport and not taking it out on women who, as just acknowledged, have every right to do the rejecting. Rejection hurts to varying degrees, but it’s never nil. And loneliness hurts (quite literally, if scientists are to be believed). Men must deal with that pain somehow.

In fact, getting online and talking about it with a bunch of other lonely, rejected men is probably a very good way of dealing with it.

Is it important for women to understand this? Is it important for men who are comfortably in relationships to understand it? Not really. They can fuck off, in fact. Is it important for the media to understand it? Well, they’re certainly not helping, that’s for sure (anyway, the media values sensationalism and has no concern for insensitivity or harm they may cause).

So, I will continue to quietly disagree with anyone who condemns incels for feeling the way they do. Walk a couple decades in my shoes.