“Tomorrow is the day of retribution, the day in which I will have my revenge against humanity, against all of you. For the last 8 years of my life, ever since I have hit puberty, I have been forced to endure an existence of loneliness, rejection and unfulfilled desires, all because girls were never attracted to me. Girls gave their affection and sex and love to other men but never to me… I will punish you all of you for it. On the day of retribution, I will enter the hottest sorority house of UCSB [University of California, Santa Barabra] and I will slaughter every single spoiled, stuck up, blonde slut I see in there… I will take great pleasure in slaughtering all of you. You will finally see that I am in truth the superior one, the true alpha male. After I have annihilated every single girl in the sorority house, I will take to the street of Isla Vista and slay every single person I see there and all those popular kids who have had to live lives of hedonistic pleasure while I have had to rot in loneliness all these years… Now I will be God compared to you, you will all be animals, you are animals and I will slaughter you like animals… You too deserve it [to be slaughtered] for living a life better than me. Girls, all I have ever wanted is to love you and to be loved by you. I wanted a girlfriend, I wanted sex, love, affection, adoration… If I can’t have you, girls, I will destroy you… Humanity is a disgusting, wretched, depraved species… If I could, I would reduce every single one of you to mountains of skulls and rivers of blood, and rightfully so.”
These are some of the things that the 22-year old Elliot Rodgers said in a video a day before he went on to kill 6 students and then himself in Isla Vista, Santa Barbara in California in 2014. At the time, it surfaced on the web, the media referred to him as a misogynistic, alt-right, psychopathic, who was also mentally ill. His name resurfaced when it was discovered that the 2018 Toronto van killer - 25-year old Alek Minassian who murdered 10 people, 8 of whom were women - considered him a martyr. As Minassian’s motives and association were investigated, his online activity led to the unveiling of a Facebook post that read,
“The Incel Rebellion has already begun! We will overthrow all Chads and Stacys! All hail the Supreme Gentleman Elliot Rodger!”
Whether Rodgers identified as an Incel or not is unclear, however, Minassian’s post clearly suggests that Rodgers is an adopted hero for the community of Incels.
Incels, or involuntary celibates have been identified as a community, an internet subculture of social rejects, particularly in terms of heterosexual love and sexual activity. It is predominantly populated by white men, fuelled by a blackpilled mentality, i.e., a belief of a reality where some people are destined to fail under all circumstances. Often, this is coupled with the belief that their genetics have failed them, and their physical attributes inhibit their chance at companionship and sexual activity. The response? Vehement hatred towards women. On their website (incels.me), they have a clearly broken down terminology to create selective criteria of admission and participation. An Incel is defined as,
“[a man] who is not in a relationship nor has had sex in a significant amount of time, despite numerous attempts…”
Another category is that of a MentalCel defined as,
“[a man] whose reason for failure in relationships/sex is related to mental illness or major insecurities.”
Then there is a Volcel,
“[a man] who, for various reasons, is voluntarily abstinent and does not engage in sex.”
These three categories of men are unequivocally allowed on the platform. An individual not qualifying for the above but having a blackpilled mentality is conditionally allowed. While females are described as “banned on sight, no exceptions”. This is presumably because, as the website says, “most women have no problem finding partners for sexual or romantic purposes”.
Incels demonstrate absolute hatred for Chads and Stacys who are caricatured as good looking, blonde, white, successful individuals who engage in love or sexual activity together. Chads are believed to be genetically gifted to be able to obtain a Stacy, who is both desired and hated by Incels. Incels are active on multiple platforms including Reddit (however, Reddit banned them for spreading hate speech in November 2017), but their website is exclusively for discussing their experiences, insecurities, thoughts and seeking validation. It works like any social discussion forum, a member can at any point start a thread, and others can comment on it and engage in conversation publicly, with the option of private messaging. A popular thread discusses how men shorter than 5’5” are doomed to failure when finding women. The discussion is lively, some cite personal struggles, while others argue that face is more important. An interesting tangent that emerges in these threads is one unpacking ideal physical attributes – often leading to a racial hierarchy of women. Essentially, white women are considered the goal and women of colour are often considered consolatory. White women seen with men of colour is also a detested sight.
The conversation threads are diverse ranging from catharsis about ignorant bliss [prior to identifying themselves an Incels], wearing masks indoors, rejection from femoids (a dehumanising term for women), and mom looking for a used car for them to potentially alarming, such as opinions on attempting use of binaural beats for height gain, or, if being a virgin is better than sexually engaging with unattractive girls. It goes further into discussions on normies (people believing in popular opinions) and posting content about Incels. At the time Polemics and Pedantics went to press, a trending thread was discussing a code word that a fellow incel could use at another ER event (Elliot Rodgers event – retribution, mass killing as vengeance) in order to avoid becoming a victim. There is also consideration to changing code words every two weeks in order to ensure normies do not keep up. An interesting aspect that came up was that the code word would incentivize normies to check the Incels’ website regularly, and in the process Incels in denial might end up joining the community. While there are calls for an ‘Incel Jihad’, there are also those who argue for community leadership and not using the forum for violence.
Mainstream media and several independent YouTube content makers have painted Incels in a dark light - a threat to our modern society, motivated by a terrorist-like passion, with some labeling them as “psychotic losers”. This has also resulted in suggestions of regulating their platform and infringing on their cyber presence. However, amidst threads of violence, hatred and misogyny, there are also several threads exposing vulnerability and struggles with depression, anxiety and self-esteem. Incels confide in each other on these platforms and discuss their daily struggles which can be therapeutic, given their social environment and experiences since childhood. They even regard this platform to have helped live through their hard times by providing access to a peer group – something they never really had. One ex-Incel, Jack Peterson however, recognizes that this talking community can transform into an echo-chamber that saps one’s ability and will to “ascend” in life. While this is due to the vicious cycle of topics discussed on the platform, external reaction to Incels of hate may be arguably becoming an emotionally-charged catalyst to this cycle.
Past incidents of horrific killings, regardless of whether they resulted from an Incel rebellion and the myriad threads of conversation reek of hate, violence, misogyny and male entitlement. Organized and violent presence of Incels is a potential threat to the security of our society, but it is worth considering if their behaviour is symptomatic of a larger, unheeded social problem. The Incel presence is not a black and white issue, it lies at the intersection of misogyny, resentment, societal standards of beauty, and the inability of our society to address psychological vulnerabilities, particularly with regard to social constructs of modern love and sex. In no way should a group’s collective hatred for women be promoted, mass killings be condoned, or potential threat of upcoming attacks be neglected. However, is it justified to paint an entire community with hate – or are we employing a social defence mechanism to cover up for the insecurity of failing numerous people who have internalised their social rejection, by a society otherwise striving for inclusivity?
Comments are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About The Author
Reeya Rao has been India's representative at the 2016 G20 Youth Summit held in China. She is currently pursuing her Master's in Social Policy and Development from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and holds a graduate degree in Sociology from the Lady Shri Ram College, Delhi University. A former President of her college's National Service Scheme, Reeya's research interests include Education, Gender, Migration and Youth Affairs. A binge watcher of television sitcoms, Reeya also has a penchant for Modern Calligraphy.