How Criminalizing Sex Work Creates Male Violence

Toxic masculinity,  sexual frustration and puritanical laws that violate personal agency make for a volatile, deadly combo.

Until earlier this week I had no idea that there was a group of men online who self-identified as ‘incel’, as in, ‘involuntarily celibate’. Obviously I have always know there were guys who couldn’t get laid, and I also knew that such men could be bitter, toxic and even potentially violent as a result of their lack of affection. I just had no idea it had become a rallying point, but given the internet, it makes terrible sense.

The response I have seen in most of the media has been to do what seems intuitive to most people, and call these types out as creeps and pariahs with a rehashed friendzone complex. While there is certainly some truth to that, I don’t see that kind of self-righteous name calling doing much to fix the problem. Like most of our recent public discourse, the issue is getting drowned out in a blitzkrieg of signalling, equivocation and division. It has become yet another media storm of ill will and provocation that fails to address some underlying issues and work towards an actual solution.

The first thing to remember is that these men are victims of toxic masculinity themselves. Their own identity, desires and expectations were formed by socially constructed narratives that they had no control over. They apparently had nobody close to them to help them sort through these issues and ideas, and so just absorbed signals from their environment about manhood that made them feel cheated and deprived. Which is true. They have been cheated and deprived of the emotional complexity required to sort through these issues; while at the same time being prohibited from healthy alternatives.

Sex work is not just about…

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