Up Front by Emma Hart


The Real Victims, Here

The other day, I was talking to a friend about the awful petition against Debbie Hockley. He was really amused that it only had 400 signatures, and not so long ago I would have agreed with him. These poor pathetic little boys, huddled together in their internet bunkers, so terrified of women they have to threaten them with violence. Mock them. Ignore them.

The thing is, sometimes they come out of their caves, and they kill us.

If, until recently, you were unaware of the existence of incels, 1/ well done, and 2/ I’m sorry, you must have had a shit few days. If you’re still thinking, (probably not for the first time) “Emma, what the fuck are you talking about?” here’s a quick primer.

“Incels,” or “involuntary celibates,” are part of the online male supremacist ecosystem. The Southern Poverty Law Center added male supremacy to the ideologies tracked on the hate map this year, because of the way these groups consistently denigrate and dehumanize women, often including advocating physical and sexual violence against them. On the internet, the male supremacist ideology takes a few different forms. One of the newest forms is “incel.”

Incels grew out of the pick-up artist movement, which purports to offer men strategies to persuade, pressure, cajole or trick women into sleeping with them. When those strategies (or “game”) unsurprisingly proved unsuccessful for many men, they became deeply bitter. To an incel, sex is a basic human right for all men. So the women who deny them that right are committing a heinous — and punishable — crime.

There are two things I want to note about incels. Firstly, they’re not after sex. No, hear me out. They don’t want to get laid. They wouldn’t visit a sex worker. They want sex slaves. Their sense of entitlement to women is not limited to their bodies. The woman they want is a lingerie model with a string in her back you can pull to hear one of five crawlingly obsequious phrases. They want women, not so much for real relationships as for pets. If the Canadian government actually did what one of them demanded and issue “everyone” with a girlfriend, the very first thing they’d do is complain that she wasn’t hot enough.

Secondly, they’re not victims. There is no sympathy to be felt for them. They’re not the way they are because women won’t sleep with them. Women won’t sleep with them because they’re the way they are. They’re no more victims of selfish vain women than Trump racists are suffering from “economic anxiety”.

They cannot be fixed by giving them sex. Nor should they be. Anyone asking any women – including sex workers – to give themselves up to be raped by an utter shit-weasel in order to stop him murdering is not a person I can comprehend. Them not getting laid is not the problem. Them feeling utterly entitled to women is the problem. That’s what needs fixing. 

This isn’t the only example of weirdly-placed victimhood that’s had me pondering lately. Poor Israel Folau, all those people calling him a homophobic idiot just because he said something idiotically homophobic. Christians are the real victims here. And poor white people, getting called racist. There was some bitter amusement in watching people rushing so fast from defending racism to defending homophobia they didn’t notice they’d changed sides of the sacred Free Speech debate.

Earlier in the year, when I was dealing with the fallout from The Tweet, there were a bunch of comments that, despite my best efforts, stuck in my head. One was a woman who said, “I wonder what happened to make her such a victim.” Heaps of people accused me of playing the victim, or being a professional victim.

Hi. I’m Emma, and I’m a victim.

That’s not something to be ashamed of. It’s not a word I’m going to dodge. All it means is that someone else did something to me. It’s not a failing. When people call me a victim, and imply that I’m weak, I’m not Fighting Back and Soldiering On, what it means is that I’ve spoken up, I’ve spoken out. That is me fighting back, and they don’t like it. I don’t talk about what happened, and I still get shit for talking about it too much.

It took a lot, this acceptance. It’s a weird feeling, the first time you see your name on a police form next to the word “victim”. It took several people telling me I was screaming in my sleep, and a couple of therapists saying “It sounds like you have PTSD” before I accepted that yeah, I probably have PTSD. Spending twenty minutes helplessly crying after being triggered is not a Great Time, and it has yet to make me famous or rich. I am definitely doing this Professional Victim thing wrong.

So if I’m going to get slagged off for being Such a Victim, allow me to stand up and take the Victim Podium. Again, two things. One, stop using the word “victim” as an insult. Two, stop applying it to the people who victimise us. They don’t have a fucking point. They’re not just expressing an opinion. We shouldn’t just be nicer to them if we want to stay alive.

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