On April 23, Alek Minassian drove a rental van onto a crowded Toronto city sidewalk, killing 10 people and wounding 14 more. The victims were predominantly women ranging in age from their 20s to their 80s. Minassian was arrested after a standoff with police. But minutes before his heinous attack, he had posted a tribute to Elliot Rodger, a Californian who killed 6 in “a shooting rampage” in Isla Vista, California, writing: “The Incel Rebellion has already begun! We will overthrow all the Chads and Stacys! All hail the Supreme Gentleman Elliot Rodger!”
This made no sense to the vast, vast majority of America.
But it should.
Because some “incels” are part of a scary new brand of terrorism at worst, and all are part of a kind of extreme misogynism at best.
An incel is, basically, a hybrid word for “involuntary celibate.” This doesn’t mean, of course, that everyone who isn’t having regular sex identifies as an incel. Incels are extremists and misogynistic terrorists. They are often members of certain Internet forums: the corners of 4chan, the subreddit r/braincel, and, according to Vox, the website incels.me.
Men — exclusively men, by the way; women are ridiculed and summarily removed from these groups — gather online to bemoan their lack of sex. But they go beyond that. They see sex as something owed to them, something more attractive, successful rich men — “Chads,” as they are called — are getting regularly, while they are denied. There are only so many girls to go around, they believe: “Staceys,” who basically look and act like porn stars, and “Beckys,” average women with some critical flaws who, due to their non-perfection and non-Staceyness, should be sleeping with the incels. Instead, they’re sleeping with Chads or “normies” — regular dudes who are lucky enough to find some Beckys to sleep with them. Except sometimes the Beckys are too busy banging the Chads.
Incels take a very dim view of other people’s monogamy. They believe they are owed sexual pleasure from women like it is their birthright.
Also, if this sounds confusing and sick AF to you, you’re not alone. Welcome to the upside down.
Incels congregate on web forums — always online — and rage about the lack of sex in their lives. And rather than talking about strategies of how to get a girl in a safe, healthy manner, or how to improve their lives to make themselves more attractive to women (like the creepy pickup artist pages), they accept their sexual fate. Embrace it even. A woman, they think, can get laid whenever she wants; a man can’t. This, they think, is grossly unfair. As Vox says, “They are owed sex but cannot have it because women are shallow. This manifests in a deep and profound hatred for women as a group.”
Let me say that again: This manifests as a deep and profound hatred for women. All women.
Vox’s sister site Racked calls incels “a subculture where women are considered extremely shallow, stupid, and evil.” What’s more, among incels, “women in general are also referred to in dehumanizing terms such as ‘femoids’ or ‘FHOs (Female Humanoid Organism).’”
This is chilling stuff, I tell you. These men are dangerous.
But they don’t just hate women. They hate that we’re not living some wet dream fantasy of The Handmaid’s Tale. It’s society they loathe. Society lets “their sexual oppression go on,” according to Vox, and the fact that the sexual revolution and, you know, not living in the dark ages, let women choose their own marriage partners and hence shut out the incels. They envision themselves as oppressed, as a kind of Marxist sexual revolution. The details of which have not been worked out, presumably.
Even scarier? The sheer number of incels. The Daily Beast cites estimates that incel communities have in the tens of thousands of active members.
Are most of them violent? Not according to Jack Peterson, a 19-year-old incel willing to talk to the press. Peterson told to The Daily Beast that “being an incel is not about violence or misogyny.” He explained that “to be an incel is to seek the camaraderie of a group of male peers who provide an outlet where, for once, they can honestly talk about the increasing fragmentation, disconnection, alienation and ostracization they feel in an always-online world in which, as far as they can see, they are not welcome or wanted … there is an acceptance that there is a vile minority who distorts the vision of the community—but that it is not his vision for the group.”
But then there are the incels who are violent. According to the Guardian, incels post threads about how to follow women just to get them to notice you (and presumably fucking scare them). They also note that, “From the way chatroom moderators respond to threats of violence against women, to the reluctance among authorities to name this as a terrorist threat, I am filled with this unsettling sense that because incels mainly want to kill, maim or assault women, they are simply not taken as seriously as if they wanted to kill pretty much anyone else.”
Reddit did remove r/incel, but they moved to subreddits, like r/braincel, which includes this gem: “ARGUING WITH HOLES … Women are bodily weak and mentally inferior, therefore the only way they can win fights or arguments is by highlighting their main asset: If he doesn’t do what I want, I will threaten to make my holes unavailable.” Disgusting. This vile mindset permeates their discourse.
Then there are the ugly ties of the incels to the alt-right movement, which spreads disinformation and the hate politics that helped pave the way for Donald Trump to become president.
The incel movement isn’t about sex; it’s about power — power perceived and power desired. It’s about misogyny. It’s about the shriveled, stunted things that bloom in the dark corners of the Internet, and how those shriveled, stunted things can turn out to be not so shriveled or stunted at all, but instead explosive. And deadly.
We need to be aware and alert, folks.