Before Alek Minassian used a van to kill 10 and injure 15 people this week, he left a message on Facebook. It exclaimed, “The Incel Rebellion has already begun! We will overthrow all the Chads and Stacys! All hail the Supreme Gentleman Elliot Rodger!”
Incels, or “involuntary celibates,” are a hate group.
That’s not up for debate. Incels—which, along with Pick Up Artists, Men’s Rights Activists, and Men Going Their Own Way, comprise a portion of the manosphere—believe that women (who get labeled “roasties,” “femoids,” and “Stacys”) flock to other men (“Chads”) who are not them. This enrages them as they feel they are owed sex by those same women.
Boy, does that make them hate women. Sometimes they do not even see the extent to which their ideology is one of hating women, but that doesn’t lessen the fact that it’s a remarkably hateful worldview.
Alek Minassian isn’t the first Incel to kill people. Elliot Rodger, referenced in Minassian’s post, was another self-described “incel” who murdered 7 people after leaving a video describing his intent to kill “every stuck up blond sorority slut” who would not date him. He remarked “I don’t know why you girls are not attracted to me, but I will punish you all for it.”
This kind of rhetoric isn’t surprising to any of us who have had to deal with members of this corner of the manosphere. It may be to others.
At first, a lot of people are probably apt to sympathize with men who are lonely. People will tweet things like: “I’m not defending Minassian, if this narrative is even real. Frustrated, lonely people are sad cases that deserve some sympathy and constructive advice, not dogpiling mean-girl demonization.”
Partly we do that because we’re humans and we know that loneliness is very hard on people.
We, socially, grant a lot of allowances to men who are lonely. We root for characters in countless romantic comedies and decide that they deserve a female character not because they’re worthy of her, but because they want her a lot. Behavior that would, quite reasonably, scare women in real life is presented as being incredibly romantic. Largely because we see the situation through his eyes, not hers.
Social expectations about how women owe men sex and companionship (they don’t) allows these men to see themselves as nice guys denied their rights. In Elliot Roger’s manifesto, he described himself as being a “supreme gentleman”. Doubtless he actually believed that about himself. He did not seem to register that women declined to date him not because they always went for assholes, but because they could tell he was filled with the kind of rage that would lead him to kill 7 people.
It is worth repeating, in light of this, that, while their loneliness may be real, Incels hate women. Their existence is not about being lonely. If it was, it would be more about them all organizing fun social functions to assuage that. It is about blaming women for their loneliness.
Some of their posts on the now-banned Incel reddit group boast titles like “I’m going to start shaming sluts at my university,” and “Another Reminder that if you marry a non-virgin you are marrying a degenerate who has been ransacked by another man.”
There’s a lot of slut-shaming. And a lot of complex theories about who gets sex and who doesn’t.
The ideology of the manosphere focuses a lot on disproved notions about men being alphas and betas. Alphas are supposedly men who trigger lust in women, while women settle down with betas only because they offer financial stability. Or, as they pithily term it “alpha fucks, beta bucks.”
When you look at the men who are labeled alphas and betas, though, you’ll notice it gets weird in a way that might surprise you if you are a woman or a normal human.
The members of the manosphere exist in a bizarre world where Donald Trump is considered the ultimate alpha. Fox News even declared as much, remarking that “The Left has tried to culturally feminize this country in a way that is disgusting. And you see blue-collar voters—men—this is like their last vestige, their last hope is Donald Trump to get their masculinity back.”
Donald Trump is a 71-year-old obese man whose wife physically recoils at his slightest touch, and who other women have said they slept with out of a sense of sad, self-hating obligation. That doesn’t seem so sexually irresistible to me.
Meanwhile, Dwayne The Rock Johnson gets labeled a beta because, “he has a receeding [sic] hairline. beta trait. not to mention he plays a beta in a lot of his movies, like the one where he has to take care of a kid that isn’t [sic] his or whatever.”
I think The Rock is going to be fine in terms of attracting…well, everyone. Just, literally, everyone. Probably in part because he plays characters who do nice stuff, like take care of kids.
John Legend, a successful musician who has a famously happy relationship with his supermodel wife, gets labeled a beta, too.
Being an “alpha” in the manosphere has less to do with whether you’re actually attractive to women than whether you publicly demonstrate sufficient contempt and disregard for women.
That is not the way towards a healthy relationship. For all Incels and other similar groups rage about the “feminization” of society ruining their chances, relationships are actually better than they have been in a long time. Marriage rates are up and divorce rates have dropped to a 40-year low, because people are marrying people they actually like.
The notion that women would choose to be with someone because they had compatible personalities is pretty impossible to grasp for people who believe that women are barely human. Lest it sound like I’m exaggerating, you can tell from posts on MaleForeverAlone reddit like, “Can femoids even be considered human?” which state “The female part of our species, though technically human, completely and utterly lacks the essence of being that one would call humanity. By lacking all empathy, compassion, self-awareness, and capacity for logic or reason, there is little to separate the femoid from a beast of the field.” Commenters agree that “The woman and their cuck slaves have no concept of loyalty, honesty, gratitude, honor, chivalry, conscience and empathy.”
The notion that women should love you—and they probably will not do so if they are forced into relationships with you—doesn’t register for people who believe women are incapable of human traits like love.
When Incels tweet after the van massacre in Toronto that they want “a state implemented girlfriend program,” it is a suggestion that strikes most people as so absurd that it seems like a joke. After all, no reasonable person would want to be with someone who didn’t happily and consensually enter into a relationship with them. Why would you want a sex slave who would doubtless hate you?
But that puzzlement hinges upon the idea that you think women are people, who have feelings. If you don’t, and you just view them as machines to stick your penis and frustrations into, then it’s a totally reasonable suggestion.
And if it still seems like a joke—this isn’t even the first time Incels have suggested there should be a government program in place to help them get girlfriends.
Obviously, this seems so absurd as to be hilarious. But then, when people in the KKK declare that black people are genetically inferior, it’s also absurd. We’re just more used to hearing it and identifying it as hate speech.
We are not used to seeing misogyny as something that creates hate groups. In large part, that’s because recent decades have been the first time in history that women have not had to couple with terrible, violent men out of economic need. The sad truth is that there was a time when these guys would have had romantic partners. Their romantic partners would have just hated them.
There are still people who find the fact that worldview could actually motivate murder a bit surreal. Surely, people are apt to wonder, the Incels are just joking. We like to think that maybe they’re just being hyperbolic when they talk about wanting to kill “normies.” People first dismissed the suggestion that Alek Minassian’s post was real as a hoax, or trolling, until it was confirmed by Facebook executives.
Maybe some Incels do just think it’s all a joke. But when your ideology has a body count, whatever it started out as, it’s not laughable anymore.
They’re a hate group. Like many hate groups their goal is to use terror to inspire fear in anyone who is not a member of that group. When members respond to Minassian’s attack by writing, “ER doesn’t always have to be violent, it just needs to be strategic and punish normies in some way, they need to be in constant fear for EVERY ASPECT OF THEIR LIFE, killing normies from my perspective is kinda pointless but this is still good, I prefer acid attacks to mass killings though, wonder who is going to do a ‘mass acid attack.’”
There’s no reason to think that’s a joke. They’ve already killed 20 people.
Groups that intend to terrorize individuals are never a joke. They’re terrorists, who we should treat with horror and rage.
Now, you’re never going to see President Trump tweet that “misogyny has no place in this modern world.” That’s for a few reasons. One, misogyny is a four syllable word. Second, because as someone who thinks it’s cool to grab women by the pussy, there is no reason to assume Trump thinks believing you’re owed sex is a bad thing.
Groups that comprise men like Rodgers and Minassian must be denounced at every possible turn. They should be treated like any other hate group.
Because if they’re not, then terrorists win.