The undateables: inceldom, entitlement and the state-mandated girlfriend

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Abstract

In the age of Zoom calls and social distancing, loneliness and isolation have become a recent reality of everyday life. While for many people this consequence of COVID-19 merely represents a necessary evil which will eventually subside, there are those for whom intimacy and relationships constitute an unattainable goal no matter the circumstance.

In what has been dubbed 'sexual Marxism' (Sole 2018), some members of online involuntary-celibate forums have begun to look beyond traditional methods of courtship in order to attain relationships. This has seen some self-proclaimed 'incels' calling for state intervention into involuntary celibacy, going as far as to suggest a phenomenon which is popularly referred to as the 'state-mandated' or 'government-issued girlfriend (GF)'. Although initially appearing as an absurd concept, this dystopian midpoint between forced marriage and sexual slavery offers a concerning insight into how some anti-feminist and men's rights groups perceive the 'ideal' role of women in the not-so-distant future.

In this presentation, I begin with an overview of incel ideology and the concept of female hypergamy – the belief system which underpins the archetype of the state-mandated girlfriend - going on to discuss the archetype itself, and determine what, in the view of the incels, her role is within their imagined utopian society. The presentation centres on a short case-study of the depiction of this archetype within Mary Shelley's 'Frankenstein' (1818), considering the patriarchal entitlement at the heart of arguments in favour of 'the right to a relationship'. The presentation concludes by examining the ways in which this figure - and its modern descendants - problematise notions of consent when applied to real human relationships.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 4 Feb 2021
EventGendering 2020(+1): Postgraduate Gender Research Network of Scotland - University of Glasgow [online], Glasgow, United Kingdom
Duration: 4 Feb 20214 Feb 2021
Conference number: 4
https://pgrnscotland.wordpress.com/2021/01/29/gendering-20201-conference-programme/

Conference

ConferenceGendering 2020(+1)
CountryUnited Kingdom
CityGlasgow
Period4/02/214/02/21
Internet address

Keywords

  • masculinities
  • gender studies
  • gender research
  • PGRNS
  • literary studies
  • english literature
  • Frankenstein
  • involuntary celibacy
  • entitlement

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