Illustration by Chauncé Christine
TW: Mentions of misogynistic verbal and physical violence
You may be more versed in the darker corners of the internet than I, but I only recently heard of Involuntary Celibates, or as they liked to be called, ‘Incels’. I would describe myself as a particularly knowledgeable person when it comes to patriarchy or misogyny – let’s just say I’ve done my research -but it wasn’t until a few nights ago when my auntie rang me saying she was genuinely scared for my life that I was introduced to Incel culture. She went on to explain how she had watched a documentary about a woman who researched the incel community and found out she was on the incel ‘hit-list’ herself. As I run a feminist blog, my auntie was concerned that I too could become a target for incels. My first thought was that if there was an extremist group out there killing women and genuinely being a danger to society I would have heard of it, so I didn’t take the conversation too seriously (at the time). But then I began to think – could I actually be in danger? Are there really men out there that I don’t even know about plotting to attack or even kill me?
Incels are men who cannot attract women sexually and therefore deal with their frustration by utterly hating women, and I mean literallyloathing their existence. Despite the incel movement actually being set up by a woman (ironic I know, and I’m sure this wasn’t the kind of thing she had in mind), you would be surprised at the number of men out there who blame women for their failed love lives rather than their own mistakes. According to incels, women are all supposedlytoo shallow, looking for ‘chads’ and ignoring the men who are really worthy; the incels.
As my curiosity grew about this strange subculture of men, I began to read up a little more. I quickly realised that in order to find out what these men are really like, I needed to see these so-called dangerous forums for myself. After an easy find on Google, I clicked on the ‘bluepill’ section of the website which is meant to be for interaction between men and women, yet in reality it’s used by men to hurl abuse at any woman who dares comment. I began to see disgusting comments about women straight away and was shocked how this kind of behaviour could go unnoticed by the mainstream media. I instantly felt the need to make these happenings more public. Regardless of whether or not these incels may be dangerous, they still undermine equality and promote toxic perceptions of women (and in case you are wondering, no my auntie wasn’t happy about my decision).
“you fucking ugly woman piece of shit. Show us how ugly you are”
“I called you a whore yes, guarantee your not even a virgin”
“I’m gonna destroy you pathetic sack of shit”
“I have female reproductive organs teehee worship me”
I saw comments calling women whores, bitches, sluts, prostitutes, attention-seekers and stupid, as well as some men even demanding someone “make them a sandwich”. Unoriginal, I know. But what became clear almost immediately was the sheer anger expressed on the forum, something like I’d never seen before. It was as if many of the men on the site literally wanted women wiped from the face of the earth – I’m not exaggerating! And all because we won’t sleep with them.
Misdirected sexual frustration maybe? I think not. In my opinion, this behaviour has stemmed from a lack of control and their inability to accept this. Incels despise the fact that women have free will to choose who they want to shag, kiss and fall in love with: as well as who they don’t. To them, women are objects - a man’s possession and subordinate. These men aren’t looking for an intimate connection or a meaningful relationship (before any of you start thinking “oh they are just lonely”), they just want to exert their dominance over the women they feel entitled to.
Even more concerningly, some of these men have taken hating women a step further and have actually plotted to kill and violently attack women. The ‘logic’ behind these attacks: if they won’t have sex with me, they must die.A hero and almost god-like figure among incels, Elliot Rodger, attempted to break into a sorority house at a Californian college campus in 2014 to kill the girls inside. Yet, when Rodger failed to break in, he instead shot two girls and stabbed three young men he happened to come across. All because he was angry about being a virgin. It made my stomach churn seeing many of the users on the incel forum had their icons set to pictures of Rodger in remembrance of his death and supposed sacrifice to the incel cause. When watching an interview with one of the murdered girls’ parents, I saw the pain in their eyes about how their daughter had simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time. Then, it dawned on me that my auntie’s fears had been completely valid all along. She had every reason to be scared when women are being killed simply for being women.
These men do not deserve pity, but they do need serious help. Bearing in mind how easy it is to access these forums, it does not surprise that growing numbers of young men are getting sucked into this toxic subculture. In a BBC article, 31-year-old James explained how he almost fell through the incel rabbit hole in a desperate attempt to reach out to men who were struggling to find love as he was. James made a lucky escape when he realised the dangers of the forum and that these men weren’t looking for love at all, just hatred. What concerns me the most is how some men are able to adopt these extreme and misogynist views about women and are not challenged on them, they are allowed to gather with other men on these forums and fuel each other’s fires. There definitely needs to be far more awareness raised on the dangers of the growing numbers of incels and more needs to be done to monitor their online activity to ensure no-one suffers at the hand of an incel again.
Read more about incels:
https://www.huckmag.com/art-and-culture/tech/meet-the-women-of-the-incel-movement/ https://www.thecut.com/2019/05/incel-plastic-surgery.html https://www.thecut.com/2019/05/incel-plastic-surgery.html
Article by Jade Ball