Thursday, January 28, 2016

[eqjrepzo] Notability of Involuntary Celibacy

The Wikipedia article on Involuntary Celibacy (incel) recently got deleted for the 3rd time (4th nomination), this time "salted" to prevent its re-creation.  This is curious because there is almost certainly something notable going on.  In increasing order of "meta":

There is (or seems to be) the sociological phenomenon of the wide variance in the rate people have sex, after correcting the rate for voluntary celibacy.  This wide variance does not seem to be easily explainable.

More broadly than just about sex, the sociological group labeled "loser" is well-recognized informally, and this group is the one most frequently associated with involuntary celibacy.  The characteristics of this group seem notable: Who gets put in this group and why?  What mechanisms prevent leaving the group?

The sociological phenomenon of wide variance in the rate people have opportunity to have sex might turn out to be an illusion after closer examination.  Whether true or not, there is the phenomenon of the psychological self-perception of involuntary celibacy, and then its effects on psychological well-being, and then its consequent actions.  The phenomenon might be about believing in a fallacy, but many psychological phenomena involve believing in a fallacy.  As with many psychological phenomena, there is also the unexplained aspect of why the self-perception of involuntary celibacy affects different people differently.

More meta, there is the political struggle over the legitimacy of the concept.  It is certainly a fact that people have strong feelings about the subject (as documented in the Wikipedia discussion), the reasons for which are notable.  One of the opposing arguments is a censorship one: involuntary celibacy is an idea that should not be allowed to gain legitimacy, gain traction, because as a legitimate idea could be used as a defense by those who commit violence, often sexual violence, to absolve themselves of responsibility of their actions by blaming it on the psychological effects of involuntary celibacy.

Finally, one of the arguments in favor of legitimizing the concept is that it provides an avenue for social change -- a standardized name for a concept provides a way to talk about it, so the political struggle over legitimacy represents a larger political struggle over change in social practices regarding the selection of sexual partners.  That larger political struggle seems notable.

Should Wikipedia's process in deciding to delete the article be faulted?  On one hand, being a sociological phenomenon about sex, there are few reliable sources: it is of course ethically and practically impossible to do controlled scientific experiments.  On the other hand (ignoring censorship arguments), there is almost certainly something notable going on (even if only political) and a strong likelihood that there will eventually be reliable sources, so at least a stub article seems appropriate.

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