Here’s What You Should Know About ‘Incels’

Here's What You Should Know About 'Incels'

Welcome to True Crime Tuesday where we review, recommend and generally obsess over everything crime-related.

Just over three weeks ago, 25-year-old Alek Minassian drove a rental van up on the sidewalk on Yonge street in North Toronto killing ten people and injuring 16 more. The attack seemed to come out of nowhere, but it was clear that he planned it and intended to kill as many innocent people as he could. It wasn’t long before the media was reporting that Minassian was a so-called ‘incel’ which is short for ‘involuntary celibate’.

Incels are an online subculture that congregate mostly on forums like 4chan and reddit. They define themselves as unable to find a romantic or sexual partner even though they want one. Most self-proclaimed incels are straight men, and tend to blame women, and society in general, for their inability to, for lack of a better term, get laid.

Rather than look at themselves and what they might be able to do to change their luck with the ladies, incels turn to misogyny and promoting violent against women to get out their anger at the fact that woman never “give them a chance”. Some incels believe they are entitled to sex and it is a fundamental right that woman should be forced to provide them with. They even go so far as to suggest there should be laws that require women to have sex with them.

People who witnessed the van attack said Minassian looked directly at his victims, acting as it he was “playing a video game, trying to kill as many people as possible.” Out of the 10 people he killed, eight of them were women. Before the van attack, Minassian posted the following message to Facebook:

“Private (Recruit) Minassian Infantry 00010, wishing to speak to Sgt 4chan please. C23249161. The Incel Rebellion has already begun! We will overthrow all the Chads and Stacys! All hail the Supreme Gentleman Elliot Rodger!”

Elliot Rodger was another self-proclaimed incel who, at only 22 years old, killed six people and injured fourteen others in Isla Vista, California. In the middle of the killing spree, Rodger uploaded a video to YouTube called “Elliot Rodger’s Retribution” that described the details of his planned attack and why he was doing it. He explicitly stated that he wanted to punish women for rejecting him and men for being sexually active when he wasn’t.

He also emailed a document that become known as his “manifesto”. Titled “My Twisted World: The Story of Elliot Rodger”, the autobiography described everything from his childhood and family conflicts to his frustration over not being able to find a girlfriend, his hatred of women and couples, and his plans for what he called his “retribution”. In the incel world, a Chad is a man who is able to attract women and be sexually active, and a Stacy is a woman who is also sexually active, but rejects certain guys, therefore forcing them into celibacy.

Minassian and Rodger aren’t the first self-proclaimed incels to take their hatred of themselves and direct it towards innocent people, women in particular. On December 6, 1989, 25-year-old Marc Lépine walked in to a classroom at École Polytechnique in Montreal, and separated the men from the women before shooting all the women. He continued through the school, targeting women in every classroom he went though before committing suicide. Throughout the attack, Lépine claimed he was “fighting feminism” and his suicide note said that he blamed feminists for ruining his life.

In 2009, a 48-year-old man named George Sodini walked into an LA Fitness near Pittsburgh and opened fire killing three women and wounding nine others. He also committed suicide after the attack. Police later found multiple notes written by Sodini that detailed how he had never spent a weekend with a woman, taken a vacation with a woman, or lived with a woman. He also complained in his online blog about his limited sexual experiences and that woman always seemed to reject him.

On October 1, 2015, 26-year-old Chris Harper-Mercer entered a classroom at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon and shot 17 people, killing nine of them. He left behind a manifesto of sorts that revealed he had studied numerous mass shootings including the 2014 Isla Vista massacre. He also wrote about his frustration at being a virgin and his rage towards woman and black men in particular.

All these men took their bitterness towards women to extreme lengths, and the scariest thing is that there there are plenty more incels where those ones came from. They are able to anonymously congregate on online message boards and fuel each others rage. Men like Alek Minassian view themselves as a martyr for their cause, and other young men see these attacks and want to do it too.

In reality, there is no such thing as “involuntary celibate”. The term implies that people are entitled to sex on demand, and that everyone is involved in some conspiracy to keep certain people celibate. The problem is, that is exactly what incels believe, and as feminism gains strength, it’s only becoming harder and harder for men who think that way to exist in a world where women no longer care to humour their outdated, misogynistic ideas.

Feminism and gender equality may seem like a no-brainer to a lot of us, but there are factions of people who don’t agree. They consider feminism an attack against them and mass killings like the van attack on Yonge street is how they’re fighting back. So how do we protect ourselves against the toxic masculinity that influences these men?

The only way is to keep talking about it. If we didn’t, we’d be giving them what they wanted—for feminism to die off like some kind of fad. But if we keep working towards equality and a new norm, young men will stop growing up with a sense of entitlement. They’ll respect women and see them as equals from the beginning. It will take time, but eventually that will transcend cultural and generational differences. At least that’s the goal.

Courtney Hardwick

Courtney Hardwick

Courtney Hardwick is a freelance writer based in Toronto. Her work has appeared on AmongMen.com, 29secrets.com, therichest.com, and ELLECanada.com.  When she isn’t writing about relationships, and the best TV shows and books you should really already know about, she is working on her novel. She hopes to have it published by 2025. You can follow her on Twitter @Courtooo.

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