Monday, April 30, 2018

The Weird And Wonderful World of Sex Inequality. And How Robin Hanson Would Fix the Incel Problem.

Remember the economist Robin Hanson and his proposal that being raped is less harmful than being cuckolded, provided that the rape victim is first drugged and then will never know about rape? (1)

Hanson has now proposed a new and fascinating solution to the blue balls (2) of online incels, the "involuntarily celibate" men who gather together on sites where the sufferers not only comfort each other but also recommend revenge at the world in the form of mass violence and rapes, and who call women subhuman.  That new solution is the redistribution of sex!:

One might plausibly argue that those with much less access to sex suffer to a similar degree as those with low income, and might similarly hope to gain from organizing around this identity, to lobby for redistribution along this axis and to at least implicitly threaten violence if their demands are not met. As with income inequality, most folks concerned about sex inequality might explicitly reject violence as a method, at least for now, and yet still be encouraged privately when the possibility of violence helps move others to support their policies. 
(Sex could be directly redistributed, or cash might be redistributed in compensation.)

The three bolds are mine.  The first two references to violence are an understanding nod from Hanson to Elliot Rodger, the butcher of Santa Barbara and to Alek Minassian, the butcher of Toronto, and also all those online incels who have been celebrating the destruction of more innocent lives.

Professor Hanson asks why those who want to fix wealth inequality don't also want to fix sex inequality.  Or so I interpret his blog post.   As an aside, if economics wasn't already called a dismal science, professor Hanson's contributions would get us there.

But the comparisons between sex and wealth are flawed in several ways, even in that weird emotionally sterile evolutionary psychology world that Hanson seems to inhabit:

A world where nobody falls in love, a world where marriages are decided on the basis of the woman's breast and hip sizes and the man's bank account size, a world where the goal of men is to f**k the maximum number of women and where the goal of women is to capture the man with the fattest wallet. — That, by the way, is also the world the online incels live in.

The other flaws in the comparison are at least two:

First, wealth can be redistributed from a rich person to a poorer person without violating the rich person's bodily integrity.  That is not the case with the "redistribution" of sex.

This is because monetary wealth is a stock, separate from its owner, while there is no "stock of excess sex" hiding in someone's underpants.  To "redistribute" sex requires that someone can be persuaded or forced to have sex with a person they would not otherwise choose.

Second,  when Hanson talks about differential access to sex he fails to define the groups that we are supposed to compare, but if you read his whole post, his tweets about the post and his responses to the comments attached to the post you will soon realize that the "sex inequality" he is concerned with is between heterosexual men: The so-called Chads (men who the incels think get all the sex that's out there) and the incels (men who therefore get no sex at all).

If we were talking about wealth inequality, then redistribution would mean that the Chads should hand over some of their money to the incels, right?

But the same cannot be done with "sex redistribution," given that every single incel on those web sites wants heterosexual sex (and on his own terms), not sex with the Chads.  Women (a third party, in a sense) are needed for this redistribution to happen. (3)

Although Hansen notes that women, too, might be involuntarily celibate, it's clear that his focus is on the "sex inequality" between men.  The best way to understand women's role in his proposal is as either the sellers of sex (to men who are the buyers) or as the commodity actually sold (access to female bodies)(4).

And this brings me to his actual proposal.  It consists of either direct redistribution of sex or the redistribution of cash in compensation.

Several commenters tried to nail Hanson down on the specifics of how that direct redistribution of sex might be carried out in practice:

Forced sex slavery for some women?  The police would break into the houses of couples who have sex too often, hand-cuff the female partner(s) and move her/them into the bed of some sad incel? (5)  A type of military conscription for young women, a year of sex with incels ( at least some of whom are planning to kill all women because women are subhuman)? (5)   All sex workers would be forced to accept incels as clients, even if the incels come equipped with knives and the hatred of women?

Don't you just love traveling in the world the weird kind of evolutionary psychology has created?

Hanson insists in the discussions about his blog post that the direct redistribution doesn't have to involve force.  But I see very limited scope for that.  The reason Hanson made that proposal in the first place is probably because he does see access to women as a commodity that needs to be redistributed.

What about the indirect plan:  To give the incels more money as a compensation?

Are the incels poorer than the Chads?  I have seen no data on that.  Or perhaps Hanson thinks that the extra money would allow the incels to buy sex from sex workers?

But many incels don't want that.  They want a girlfriend and she must be at least 7/10 on the Trump index of female beauty.

So maybe the idea is that those gold-digging women (created by the weird kind of evolutionary psychology) would be more interested in the incels with fatter wallets?  My guess is that those wallets would have to grow enormous before anyone would consider dating one of those incels who call women in the f**kable age group foids, short for female humanoid, and/or one of the incels who applaud the butchery of innocents.  Men like that are extremely likely to abuse their girlfriends. (6)

Sigh.  It's not good for my mental and emotional health to visit that weird world.  I end up almost losing my ability to feel empathy for those who are without someone to love,  in pain and alone, because the vocal haters push themselves into the foreground of the debate and distort it.

Another distortion is also very likely.  I doubt that anyone has gathered statistics on people who are involuntarily celibate in the US, but my guess is that the majority of them are women.

This is because women live longer, on average, than men and are therefore more likely to be left alone in old age.  But older women who might want to have sex and love are not out there shooting people or killing pedestrians with vans.  So we ignore their sadness, pain and loneliness.


(1)  I did write about that proposal, too.  But Blogger has, once again, removed the ability to search for older posts and I couldn't find it by Googling.

(2)  Believe it or not, I had to Google for the term.  I'm an innocent goddess with pure thoughts.  If you are equally innocent and pure, Google is your friend.

(3)  Because Hanson doesn't really think of women's sexual needs, it is unclear if the women who are to be used in his planned redistribution would be women who have lots of sex, an average amount of sex or very little sex.

(4)  You can usually spot the stories where women are not regarded as human beings with agency by replacing women with "ham hocks" or "beer barrels."  If the story reads equally well in that form, well, you have entered that weird land.

Try that test while interpreting the following tweet, supposedly from a non-incel advocating solutions for the incel problem.  Many think it is a hoax, but if it is one it's completely indistinguishable from the kinds of arguments the online incel sites use.

Replace "women" with, say, "large pecan pies" and "men" or "male partners" with "eaters who nibble at the pies".  No pie is allowed to be covered with whipped cream which might disguise inferior ingredients.  The more nibblers the pie has had, the lower its remaining value.  Leftover pie should be given to those who have no access to pies otherwise. And so on.

Most of that works very well with the proposal:


(5)  These examples are mine.  They are good ones, right?

(6)  The concerns about violence don't enter Hanson's calculus, perhaps because of the commodified aspect of women.  Who really cares if the pecan pie was crumbled in the eating?