By John Lee Pendall
I didn’t know what an Incel was until I read reviews of the Joker movie.
I’m frequently out of the loop when it comes to current events, and that’s not an accident, I work really hard at having no idea what’s going on. When I turned 30, I kind of threw up my arms and said, “I’ve seen enough!” and retreated into myself. But I’ll still come out of my cave for laughs, beauty and art.
I think that Joker is a masterpiece, and I was interested in what others had to say about it. That’s when I ran into a bunch of critics saying that it condones Incel violence.
“What is an Incel?” Our all-knowing Lord and Savior Google told me that it stands for “Involuntarily Celibate.” It turns out there’s a whole subculture of sexually frustrated (mostly) men who are blaming women for all their unhappiness. Not only that, but many condone rape, mass murder and suicide.
Alright, let’s talk about this. First off, no, Joker isn’t an Incel manifesto. It’s a story about poverty, corruption, and how—in a broken system—the mentally ill fall through the cracks. I quietly resent it when someone—whether they’re a self-identified Incel or a critic of the movement—shifts the narrative away from that. That’s because I passionately support both mental health advocacy and the collapse of civilization.
Secondly, I’m a 34-year old virgin. I’ve only ever known unrequited love. So I get the loneliness, I get people wanting a support group for that. What I don’t get is the hatred and misogyny.
If you’re an Incel Buddhist, then you’re violating the Third Precept—harmful sexuality. So, if there are any Incel Buddhists reading this, you’ve gotta let go of your hatred. You’re not suffering because you’re a victim of feminism, you’re suffering because of clinging and craving. Even if you got what you wanted—a society where males rule everything and women are subjugated to the role of live-in maids/nannies/sperm receptacles—you’re still not going to be satisfied.
Craving doesn’t stop when you get what you want, it only stops when you see that everything changes.
I still crave love and companionship, sure. Sometimes I crave it so much that I feel like an open wound and I don’t know how I’ll manage to keep going. But I can’t blame women for that pain. I can’t even blame society or myself for it.
Life is just painful sometimes, and that’s all there is to it. You just try your best to keep your belly full, your chin up, and your heart open and keep moving forward.
And if it wasn’t loneliness causing me pain, it would be something else because pain comes from clinging and craving, and there’s always something else to cling and crave. Love isn’t gonna solve all our problems. In fact, it’ll give us a bunch of brand new problems to deal with. Also, like I said, everything is impermanent. We lose what we love—this is an inescapable part of life.
You know what I did all these years I’ve been single? A lot of stuff. I’ve traveled the country, I’ve recorded albums, written books, studied the world’s religions and philosophies, trained my mind to do neat stuff like perfect recall, hung out with friends (all of whom complain about family life), and so much more.
I’ve lived a full life, especially for being blind, autistic and a perpetual bachelor. More than that, I’ve been able to be close friends with so many amazing women. I’ve gotten to know them as they are, since there was no romantic pressure for us to censor ourselves, and that’s a beautiful gift.
Sure, I’ve fallen for a few, but that’s par for the course, and it doesn’t usually mess up the friendship. In some cases, it’s made us closer than ever.
I know it isn’t easy being perpetually single, but it isn’t any easier being in a relationship. And if sex is all that you’re interested in, ask anyone who’s had a lot of it and they’ll tell you that even that gets old after awhile.
That’s the First Noble Truth, baby: dissatisfaction is our factory preset. We either:
- Don’t get what we want
- Get what we want and realize we didn’t really want it
- Get what we want and get bored with it
- Get what we want and lose it
Those are literally the only outcomes when it comes to craving. Incels, you’re stuck at option 1, but things don’t get any more satisfying if you move onto the other possibilities, and getting bent out of shape about it doesn’t help anything.
I mean, come on guys, I’m in literally the same situation you’re in, but you don’t see me driving a van into a crowd because I’m not getting laid. It just doesn’t make sense, and I can’t empathize with something I don’t understand.
From what I’ve read, a lot of Incels feel subhuman yet entitled. If you’re an Incel who’s reading this, you’re not subhuman. You are worthy of love, acceptance, kindness and understanding. A lot of people live without those things and that causes a lot of harm.
So, if you’ve never been given any of that, give it to yourself. Accept yourself as a loner, be kind to yourself by finding ways to make a fulfilling life on your own. Understand your own mind and stop relying on others to tell you who you are. Or, you can take it a step further and give others the love and acceptance that no one gave you. You can break the cycle, you can be the person you needed when you needed someone.
That said, even though you’re worthy of love, you are not owed it or entitled to it. No one is entitled to anything, life doesn’t owe anyone anything. Don’t let the lights, buildings and indoor plumbing fool you—the cosmos is wild. It can’t be tamed and it will not yield. You can either hide from that fact in shallow delusions, or you can own up to it and thrive within it as part of it.
Either way, leave the Joker alone, alright?
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Editor: Dana Gornall
If this piece moved you, you might like to read:
- A Buddhist Stuck in the Wheel: Can We Be Buddhists without Leaving Home? - July 19, 2021
- Perspective and Morality: Sometimes It’s all Relative - July 13, 2021
- Death of A Question Mark: Living Without Understanding - June 29, 2021