Don’t know how to spot an incel? We’ve got you covered.
A few months ago, the UK was devastated by a mass shooting in Plymouth where five people, including the gunman's mother Maxine Davison, and three year old Sophie Martyn, were murdered by Jake Davison. In the lead-up to these attacks Davison had uploaded Youtube videos comparing himself to “‘involuntary celibates” and discussed ideas within the misogynistic culture that is the incel movement.
If you’re immediately confused by the link between the video and the crime, the incel online community is dangerous, and draws in very harmful men. Sky News reported that in the US alone there have been six mass shootings because of self-identified "incels", killing a total of 46 people. These men who commit such atrocities become martyrs in the community, such as self-identified incel Elliot Rodgers who, in 2014, killed six people in Isla Vista, California. Terrifyingly, he was praised in the online incel community for his actions.
So, you know how dangerous they are, but if you’ve just heard the term in passing on the news or flying about as a bad insult you’re probably still confused who they actually are, and why their actions are so brutal. In short, incels hate women and blame them for a lot. Incels, (derived from the phrase “involuntary celibate”) are men who claim they’re excluded from fulfilling their sexual desires and having relationships with women as a result of not fitting the stereotypical ideal of masculinity - attractive and athletic. In turn, incels blame women, holding them responsible for their situation which leads to hate-fuelled and misogynistic online discussions within the incel community. Such discussions go as far as praising each other for sexually harrassing women, applauding rape, and commending murder.
"Incels (derived from the phrase “involuntary celibate”) are men who claim they’re excluded from fulfilling their sexual desires and having relationships with women as a result of not fitting the stereotypical ideal of masculinity..."
It hasn’t always been this way though; in the 90s, incel forums were in place for all genders and all sexualities to discuss the struggles of dating and to support each other, and the term “involuntary celibate” was actually coined by a woman. By the mid-noughties, however, the community morphed into a space fuelled by misogynistic hate-speech, mainly accommodating heterosexual men.
Incel forums of today use such terminology as the “blackpill”, which attributes a man’s sexual success to unalterable biological traits such as his jawline, eye socket shape, cheekbones, as well as height. The community also uses specific terminology when referring to a gendered social hierarchy, incels being the bottom of the barrel. First, we have “Chads”: conventionally attractive cisgender men who, according to incels, can get any woman they want. They believe only 20% of the population is made up of “Chads” but 80% of women, who they refer to as “Stacies”, are only interested in these men. According to the maths, they are convinced this means that women are to blame for focusing all their attention on a seemingly unattainable subset of men.
"According to the maths, they are convinced this means that women are to blame for focusing all their attention on a seemingly unattainable subset of men."
So, what sort of people become a part of this community? What would drive a guy to become a part of this hatred? Well, people are mainly attracted to the online community because of previous neglect, rejection or humiliation at the hand of a loved one. With a lack of real-life friendships, or multiple failed romantic endeavours, emotional growth is stunted, and they place all responsibility of their unhappiness on women.
After learning what an incel is, the dangers they pose, and why they fall into this community, how can we prevent it? In the aftermath of the Plymouth shooting, Scotland have taken a step to educate teachers to spot the behaviour of incel extremism early on, in an attempt to deter the individual from this development. If you're unsure yourself on how to spot incel behavior, there are a few key signs you can look for. Incels are often self-deprecating and see themselves at “less than” in society. Also pay attention to how they view women and relationships - are all their exes “crazy”? Are “all women the same”? As a bystander, especially as a heterosexual man, you can help vulnerable guys to get out of this mindset, possibly by sharing your own experiences of relationships.
I think the most important thing to take away from this article is that incels can be dangerous and it is becoming a more widespread community. Researchers have speculated as many as 100,000 men to be involved in the movement. We need to do our best to educate and prevent men from joining this community, hopefully as more people including teachers and parents are educated on the subject we can prevent young men from identifying as “involuntary celibates”.
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