The Incel Rebellion

Beth-Girdler Mason

On 23rd April 2018, a man drove a van into a crowd in Toronto, killing ten people and injuring fourteen others. The man arrested was 25-year-old, Alek Minassian and before his attack, posted on Facebook a cryptic message of ‘The Incel Rebellion has already begun’. 
The term ‘incel’ refers to online communities where the members define themselves, as ‘involuntary celibate’ and unable to find a sexual partner despite wanting one. The members are predominantly heterosexual males and there are many forums that discuss what it means to be an incel. These forums have become places of violent misogyny, expressing desires to hurt women and sexually successful men. Since its insurgence, there have been four mass attacks by self-identified incels.

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Alek Minassian

Incel Rebellion member - killed ten people

In May 2014, incel Elliot Rodger, killed six people and injured fourteen more at the University of California before killing himself. He left behind a manifesto and YouTube videos explaining his hatred of women and anger at not having a girlfriend. Incel forums praise Elliot Rodger as a saint, emphasising his initials in words, such as hERo, when referring to others who have attacked people in similar ways. Rodger was noted as blaming the ‘oppressive feminist system’ and was quoted as urging those to “start envisioning a world where WOMEN FEAR YOU” along with being referred to as a ‘supreme gentleman’ - his violent acts proving that he is anything but.

Following Rodger’s attack, Chris Harper-Mercel killed nine and injured eight in Oregon in 2015, following Rodger’s crime to excruciating detail, killing himself afterwards and leaving a manifesto. In 2017, Chris Atchison, who went under the pseudonym of Elliot Rodgers, killed two people in New Mexico before shooting himself. There has been an incel attack every year since 2014 and the rise of the incels are becoming more prominent, mimicking ISIS-like attacks and have strong similarities to white supremacy.

The term ‘incel’ was originally coined by a woman named Alana in the 1990s from Canada. She made a website called ‘Alana’s Involuntary Celibacy Project’, where she created a community to discuss celibacy in terms of social anxiety and was overall aimed as a place of positivity. Originally a neutral and non-judgemental place, Alana passed the website on after a few years and her positive community term has since been hijacked and progressed to misogynistic and violent hate sites. Alana has more recently gone on to make a website called Love Not Anger: Beyond Involuntary Celibacy, what her original cause was aimed towards before its violent corruption. 
Incel forums are all over the internet. In November 2017, Reddit banned its incel subreddit which had amassed to 40,000 members. Forums are still online with discussion boards asking about how to get away with rape, what people would do before committing suicide and why they aren’t finding a sexual partner. These reasons include women suffrage, ban on prostitutes, lack of women chastity and immodest clothing. 

Along with these reasons, ‘Chad’s’ (men who are successful with women) ‘Stacey’s’ (attractive women) and ‘Becky’s’ (less attractive women) are blamed and targeted. They also use the term of The Black Pill, where there is a third option from the red and blue pill offered to the character Nero in The Matrix, where it discerns that the game of men and women is rigged from the start. Incels believed they are set up to fail in sexual relationships and that the political system and feminism is against them and is why they cannot have sex.
Incel forums have been present for some time, but since the Toronto attack this April, it has been thrust back into the light.
It is hard to ignore that this year of #MeToo and the Time’s Up movement, where women are standing up and being heard more than ever before, has unfortunately caused the incel movement to rise up more forcefully. Feminism and equality between the sexes has become more prominent than recent years and society has taken note, with the Red Carpet being an advocate for social change and the hashtag #MeToo sweeping social media. However, incels seem to want to step back to the time when women were unable to work, vote and were in the role of ‘homemaker’. Many discussions stem from the idea that women should lose their rights, should fear men and that the incels should be able to do what they want to women. 

The discussion boards are at times hard to follow, with discussions ranging from being angry that they cannot get women to notice them, ranging to discriminating women for having sex and desperately wanting a sexual partner. Some forums make outrageous statements, for example they exclaim that anyone with a ‘pussy’ cannot join their movement, they refer to sexually active women as ‘roasties’, likening their genitalia to roast beef due to their sexual activity and praising people who stay celibate for 30 years as this supposedly gives them magical powers.

The online world is a place for good and also a place for bad. With dating websites and apps, such as Tinder, Bumble, and eHarmony, the online world promotes and offers to help those who haven’t found love in the conventional way. However, the sordid corners of the internet birth innocent ideas, like Alana’s website, that spiral out of control. 

The Incel Rebellion has become much more than a group of people who aren’t having sex and has become more of a political ideology. Feminism is seen as an oppressive force against incels and there have been calls to the government to produce a girlfriend program, to find men girlfriends. It all seems quite contradictory, that they want to be noticed by women but also want to hurt them and don’t think women should be able to have sex liberally. They call women ‘sluts’ and ‘whores’ as they won’t succumb to what they feel is owed to them so they have taken to killing instead. It is misogyny gone mad and the incel rebellion seem intent to rewrite history, where women were submissive and told to ‘Lie back and think of England’ when in bed with their husbands, a ‘duty’ that women back then were told to uphold.

The online age provides the privilege of privacy and anonymity, which unfortunately does not work to the advantage of the government trying to stop attacks and groups like the incel movement. Reddit was right in closing down their forum but there is always one or many others hiding somewhere where dedicated followers know where to find them or even to create them. Even googling the term incel, a site popped up and having glanced at it for no more than ten seconds, it not only twisted my stomach but left me shocked at how easy it was to find and how the forum was the third option on the Google search. Shutting down these forums would be a step in the right direction but it doesn’t stop another Elliot Rodger or Alek Minassian from walking into a public place and murdering people. Despite their contradictory and insane ideals that can easily be brushed under the carpet, the threat they pose is a deadly one and one that should be concentrated on fully before the incel rebellion becomes the new norm in the mainstream media and the news.

Beth Girdler Mason