The Rise Of The Female Incel

In a world where women can’t trust men, some find themselves celibate as a protective measure.

unhappy girl sitting alone on her bed Dikushin Dmitry / Shutterstock

Katie* is the type of girl who most men would be pretty attracted to. She’s thin, has thick dark hair, and those large, expressive brown eyes that often feel like they have a story to them. She’s soft-spoken and quiet.

Like myself, Katie has a libido. She wants to get laid. She loves watching porn, reading tawdry stories and uses sex toys on the regular. Oh, and unlike me, she is attracted to men exclusively.


Wanna know a secret? Katie is single and celibate.

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Katie’s celibacy is not something she feels she has much choice in.

Katie is one of many women who consider themselves to be "involuntary celibate." But, unlike the typical incel movement, she’s not violently angry about her situation. She doesn’t go out of her way to anger or insult men. In fact, she doesn’t go near men at all.


The truth is, Katie stopped dating because she no longer feels like it’s safe for her to do so. She was in multiple relationships where men claimed to respect her desire to be child-free, only to find out they lied. Rather than be hurt again, she walked away from dating.

She also stopped having sex for the exact same reason. After the end of Roe v. Wade, Katie was scared that a man might rape her, impregnate her, and force her to carry a child she didn’t want.

She also knew that men would blame her for "choosing wrong" or "not being nice enough" if rape happened. Like many other women, every experience she had with men eventually turned into an ugly surprise.

Eventually, she felt like she was just waiting for the other shoe to drop — even when it came to hookups. Will this guy try to pressure her?  Will he insult her body or slut-shame her afterward? She just couldn’t tell.


So, out went her sex life.

We often talk about how women don’t want relationships, but we don’t talk about how women may still want sex.

Relationships and marriage are not what they used to be. Women are starting to recognize it and are not as into them as they used to be. I’ve seen plenty of women just use men for sex the same way men use women.

But there’s an undercurrent we don’t really talk about either. We don’t talk about the women who want sex, but no longer feel safe engaging with men sexually at all. This is not a situation anyone wants to be in.

While women may be pulling away from men, it’s not something they truly want to voluntarily do. It’s an act these women are choosing because men have genuinely become terrifying for them to be around. Or, it’s because their mental health can no longer afford rejection, abuse, or pain.


Celibacy is not voluntary if you are worried that the next guy you approach might snuff you, rape you, or blackmail you just because you wanted sex. It’s an act of self-preservation. It is not something they want to give up on, but rather, something they feel they have to.

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There’s a certain unspoken grief that occurs when you realize the sex you always wanted to have will never happen.

To a point, I think that everyone who has experienced moments like this — incel or otherwise — understands that grief. It’s a bit of heartbreak. It makes you wonder why you weren’t enough, or why people can’t just love you the way you need to be loved.


I’ve heard more than one woman who admitted to crying because she felt she’d never have a partner who actually cared enough to give her an orgasm. Many more openly admit that most men don’t care about a woman’s pleasure at all.

A lot of female incels I know also feel exhausted from being told that they should sleep with people they’re not attracted to. I mean, why put yourself through that? It’s not going to be good sex if you don’t even like the person you’re being intimate with. 

What’s sad is that most women grew up on media that told them that sex would be great with guys. You end up with a lot of the same phases of grief that one goes through when you find out the dream career you wanted is not possible.

There’s anger, feeling lied to, a feeling of despair, sadness…Yeah, it hurts. But wait, there’s more.


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The stigma around being "the girl who can’t get laid" also leaves them to suffer in silence.

Do you know how society talks about women and sex drives? Everyone says, "Women have it so much easier. They can get sex whenever they want."

Can they?

Are you *sure* about that?

Because that’s really not true. I speak as someone who has had serious dry spells and as someone who’s a model. It’s not always easy to get laid. Being upfront about wanting casual sex makes men think you’re desperate, and being desperate means men avoid you too.

Then there’s the struggle that can happen if you are not conventionally hot or overweight. Then men, any men, won’t give you the time of day. Like, some won’t even speak to you as a friend. It’s awful. I ought to know. I’ve been there.


While men can all wax poetic about how hard it is to get laid, women don’t really get that same privilege. They know they’ll get mocked, derided, called names and then told it’s their fault for everything.

They don’t want to be attacked for admitting they can’t get laid. So, they suffer in silence.

No, it’s not just men who are feeling lonely, disappointed and heartbroken by the sex recession.

So far, we’ve seen so many articles wringing their hands about how bad men are feeling over the lack of dates they’re having. Well, it’s not just men. One of the great tragedies of this era is the way that people of all genders have started to give up on finding someone for them.


It’s not just relationships. It’s also the fact that a lot of people find their hands forced to give up on physical intimacy too. I wish that I could come up with a viable solution for this, but I can’t. Both genders are traumatized in their own way — and I’m not sure this even can be fixed.

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Ossiana Tepfenhart is a writer whose work has been featured in Yahoo, BRIDES, Your Daily Dish, Newtheory Magazine, and others.