Love And Death In The Incel World

When incels started shooting women, it seemed to me that I had read an analysis of something similar. It took me a while, but I recalled Leslie Fiedler’s Love and Death in the American Novel, from the early 1960s. Seems like now might be a good time to look at that book.

In the early 1960s, second-wave feminism was just getting started in the United States. Birth control pills were new. The civil rights movement was ramping up. AIDS and public recognition of gay issues were in the future. I wondered whether Love and Death could still be relevant. I hadn’t read it in a long time and didn’t remember much of it.

I looked it up and bought a copy of the revised edition from 1966. The original was 1960, before Betty Friedan’s Feminine Mystique, although after Simone de Beauvoir’s Second Sex. I skimmed the sections about earlier literature, but the critique of 19th century literature, particularly James Fenimore Cooper, Herman Melville, Henry James, and Mark Twain was clearly relevant.

My recall of the general themes was correct. Fiedler’s treatment of race and gender issues was careful and, I think, acceptable in today’s environment. A bit heavy on Freudianism, perhaps.

What I recalled was that Fiedler showed that male friendship was at the center of much American literature, often with a man of color as sidekick to the main character. Relationships with women were onerous, but few if any adult sexual relationships with either gender. Fiedler also notes that these novels do not contain well-written female characters. The female characters are a few poorly written stereotypes.

We see the same themes in today’s buddy films. But how do we go from a largely asexual plot line to the sense of injury incels feel at their lack of sexual partners?

Fiedler finds in 19th century literature a simple division of women into two types, as are non-white males: Good and Evil. The Fair Maiden is slender, virginal, very white-skinned (often milk-white!), blonde and blue-eyed. The Dark Lady is a sexy brunette, representating poison and danger, sex and death.

Somewhere between Henry James and F. Scott Fitzgerald, the Fair Maiden and Dark Lady are merged into one character. In Hemingway, Faulkner, Fitzgerald, the snow maiden becomes the gold-digger. During the 20’s, another shift takes place. The Good Bad Girl is the assertive one who gets ahead; the passive Good Good Girl is likely to be raped.

Fiedler’s analysis of the novels written in the 1950s is, not surprisingly, more limited. We’ve had a little more than 50 years since that revised version of Love and Death. Let me outline how those themes have continued through novels and popular media.

Fiedler barely mentions Norman Mailer, who both wrote and lived these themes, having stabbed his wife and almost killed her. John Updike wrote of the men of suburbia and their appended wives. Johnathan Franzen continues to write of suburban male malaise.

Buddy films are a popular genre, with “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” blending into the western genre in a way that would have made James Fenimore Cooper proud.

Computer games, coming out of a masculine-identified computer culture, perpetuate the negatively dichotomous view of women. Gamergate, in which male gamers vilified and attacked women criticizing and trying to change the game culture, was a direct predecessor to the incel phenomenon.

Incels posit two kinds of woman: Stacy, who is buxom and fertile, and Becky, who is skinny and wears yoga pants. This illustration, including commentary (and spelling errors), seems to come from an incel website, but I let Vox do the looking for me. The commentary seems to see both women as undesirable. Stacy lines up in many ways with Fiedler’s Dark Lady stereotype.

Stacy is unavailable to incels; she prefers the more aggressive and masculine Chad. Evolutionary psychology in the form of sexual just-so stories is part of incel thought. The sexual revolution, which was only beginning in 1966, allowed men to expect unlimited access to women for sex. It is the thwarting of those expectations that the incel shootings act out. Fiedler points out with respect to Hemingway’s Catherine in Farewell to Arms that “Only the dead woman becomes neither a bore nor a mother”.

There’s a book to be written about why these themes are so attractive to Americans. Fiedler didn’t say much about that; it’s sociological rather than literary criticism. But his analysis shows a historical misogyny that long precedes the incel movement.


Cross-posted at Nuclear Diner.

Why They Thought It Would Work

I wrote about this on the twitter machine, which usually is just where I post crap and tell toadie journalists and nazis to go fuck themselves, but I think this is worth repeating. A refresher on what the dipshits Wohl and Burkman tried to do:

The office of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, has asked the F.B.I. to investigate what appears to be an effort to smear him, stemming from suspicious emails offering women money in exchange for fabricating sexual misconduct claims against him.

“When we learned last week of allegations that women were offered money to make false claims about the special counsel, we immediately referred the matter to the F.B.I. for investigation,” Peter Carr, a spokesman for the special counsel’s office, said in a statement on Tuesday.

The plot appeared to be the latest, and one of the more bizarre, in a string of attempts by supporters of President Trump to discredit Mr. Mueller’s investigation as a hoax and a witch hunt. Mr. Mueller is investigating whether any Trump associates conspired with Russia’s 2016 election interference and whether the president tried to obstruct the inquiry. He has secured six guilty pleas and a trial conviction in the 17 months he has overseen the investigation.

That’s the gist of it- they were conspiring to find women and pay them/bribe them to come forward with phony allegations of sexual misconduct. It’s idiotic and offensive, but it is also a very, very serious thing. Just this conspiracy alone is probably (remember, IANAL- I am not a lawyer) a felony for obstruction of justice, as they were doing this to bring down Mueller and obstruct his current investigation. It will, in all likelihood, cascade into a series of other tertiary felonies, as this dipshit brigade will probably lie to the FBI when questioned (felony), attempt to get everyone to tell the same story and coax witnesses (another felony), attempt to destroy evidence and smash hard drives and erase emails (felony), and so forth. Again, IANAL, but it sure feels like this is the road we are going to travel.

The details of our stupidest venture into dirty tricks are also humorous and staggering in their incompetence, as any investigation into Surefire Intelligence, the vehicle for this “scheme” (no disrespect to actual schemes intended), is sure to bring the yuks:

The “intelligence firm” that prepared the allegation, SureFire Intelligence, was linked to Wohl due to DNS registration records saved on These records show that someone using the email was involved with the domain registration for


When searching for the various employees who list their employment as SureFire Intelligence, nearly all of them use stolen profile photographs. In particular, many of these photographs use the sepia-toned filter that was likely used to disrupt reverse image search algorithms.

Their “Tel Aviv Station Chief” uses a photograph of Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli.

It goes downhill from there.

But to me, the most depressing aspect of this whole thing (now that I have sufficiently buried the lede for this post) is WHY they thought it would work.

They thought that they could easily find women to come forward, accept money, and lie about sexual misconduct on the part of Mueller because THEY DON’T BELIEVE WOMEN WHO HAVE BEEN VICTIMIZED. They think it is all made up. They don’t believe women are sexually harassed, they don’t think they are assaulted and raped, they think everyone coming forward is doing it because they have ulterior motives, whether it be fame, fortune, or in Dr. Ford’s case, they love abortion so much that they just had to stop Kavanaugh.

It never once occurs to them that these women in the #metoo movement are coming forward because they are victims. It just doesn’t even cross their minds. To them, they are just opportunists. It never occurs to them that the women who come forward do so at great risk to themselves, in ways that impact their emotional well-being, their financial well-being, and their physical safety. It never occurs to them that the women who come forward are going to be re-victimized, are going to have to relive the trauma of the original assault that they in many cases have repressed for years just to get by. It never occurs to them that they don’t want ANYTHING other than to be believed and to try to stop this from happening to another young woman. It never occurs to them that the women who come forward will be met with nonstop abuse and harassment, be called liars, have their motives questioned, their private lives destroyed, and everything else we have seen.

And the reason it never occurs to them is because to them, women are not people. They are objects- servants when needed, playtoys for sexual release or gratification, impediments in the workplace when it comes to promotion, things to look at, things to help them feel better about themselves, and in this case, tools to achieve a political ends.

And that’s the most depressing thing about this scandal.

Scary Times for Men

This is pretty genius:

Here in youtube for those of you with twitter issues:

The Laughter

The Wall Street Journal has a headline tonight.

Trigger warning: Talk about rape below the fold. I find this very upsetting myself.

Read more

“Never Again, Baby” (Open Thread)

Those familiar with abuser behavior will recognize where we are in the cycle with Brett Kavanaugh, who wrote an op-ed in the WSJ reassuring us that there will never be a repeat of last week’s unpleasantness:

I was very emotional last Thursday, more so than I have ever been. I might have been too emotional at times. I know that my tone was sharp, and I said a few things I should not have said.

Josh Marshall wonders if the op-ed is a sign that the GOP doesn’t have all the votes lined up after all. I’ve made my calls, written emails etc., and will continue to do so, but I’ve resigned myself to seeing two confirmed misogynists staring back at me when I see photos of the United States Supreme Court.

The op-ed is just the candy-and-flowers stage of the abuse cycle, and here’s the “never again, baby” paragraph:

Going forward, you can count on me to be the same kind of judge and person I have been for my entire 28-year legal career: hardworking, even-keeled, open-minded, independent and dedicated to the Constitution and the public good.

If we just give him what he wants — what he’s entitled to — he’ll stop hitting us. He promised.

Open thread.