The Donnelly study, officialy titled "Involuntary Celibacy: A Life Course Analysis", was the first academic study to take the concept of involuntary celibacy seriously, and has been cited dozens of times by academic literature, including peer-reviewed academic research. The study was also peer-reviewed and published in the The Journal of Sex Research in 2001. This study introduced the use of the expression "involuntary celibacy" as an academic sociological term. Alana's incel mailing list was coordinating with the professor of sociology Denise Donnelly and a team of Georgia State University researchers to use her community as a beginning for research on the causes of involuntary celibacy in early 1999.
Definition of incel[edit | edit source]
'Involuntarily celibate' is a valid academic sociological term popularized in the Donnelly study. In the study, an involuntary celibate is a person who would like to have a "willing" partner to have sex with, but cannot find one for six months or more. The period of time to determine when one can be considered an involuntarily celibate was chosen by Denise Donnelly as six months, as that factored in that some sexually active people go weeks without sex, and people start to worry about their sex lives after a certain period longer than that period.
The study[edit | edit source]
The questionnaire for the study was filled out by 60 men and 22 women who identified as involuntarily celibate. Findings showed that involuntary celibates may come from broad sexual and personal backgrounds.
The participants were divided into three categories: 1) virgins, who had never had sex, 2) singles, who had sex in the past but were unable to establish current sexual relationships, 3) those with romantic partners but currently in sexless relationships.
Of the virgin involuntary celibates, 76% were male, and 24% were female. Men in the study reported they felt trapped by being stuck in the role of the initiator of dates, while the women in the study reported that they felt like they should not initiate romantic or sexual encounters.
Overall, 35% of respondents felt dissatisfied, frustrated, or angry about their lack of sexual relationships regardless of their current partnership status. Most involuntary celibates appeared to feel despair, depression, frustration and a loss of confidence.
The study also found grounding for a common incel concern of today: that as sexual and relationship milestones are missed, it becomes harder and harder to achieve normality going forward. Many felt that their sexual development had somehow stalled in an earlier stage of life, leading them to feel different from their peers and that they will never catch up.
Involuntary celibacy, a valid academic sociological term[edit | edit source]
While the Donnelly study's sample size was quite small, the study has been cited 62 times in scholarly literature, including an encyclopedia about family life, a peer-reviewed sociology journal, and various books by accredited sociologists and an accredited anthropologist, giving the term "involuntary celibacy" academic legitimacy, at least as a sociological term describing a real-life circumstance.