I must be living in a cave because I’ve never heard of Incels before.
According to Wikipedia:
Incels (a portmanteau of “involuntary celibates”) are self-identifying members of an online subculture who define themselves as unable to find a romantic or sexual partner despite desiring one, a state they describe as inceldom. Self-identified incels are mostly white, male and heterosexual,.Discussions in incel forums are often characterized by resentment, misanthropy, self-pity, self-loathing, misogyny, racism, a sense of entitlement to sex, and the endorsement of violence against sexually active people. The Southern Poverty Law Center described the subculture as “part of the online male supremacist ecosystem” that is a member of their list of hate groups,and self-described incels have committed at least four mass murders in North America.
Holy crap. That’s terrifying.
I follow the blog of author Steven Barnes which is how I came to read his article #NOTALLHUMANS (No, I’m not shouting, he has the title in all caps). I think I’ve heard the term “incels” before, but this was the first time I found out what it meant.
So naturally I went to his source material at We Hunted the Mammoth, which describes itself as:
Specifically, this blog focuses on what I call the “New Misogyny,” an angry antifeminist backlash that has emerged like a boil on the ass of the internet over the last decade or so. These aren’t your traditional misogynists – the social conservatives and religious fundamentalists who make up much of the far right.
These are guys, mostly, who range in age from their teens to their fifties, who have embraced misogyny as an ideology, as a sort of symbolic solution to the frustrations in their lives – whether financial, social, or sexual.
So, I read the article Incel.me commenters agree: Women should fear death if they turn down a guy for a date written by David Futrelle.
Click the link to his article and prepare to be freaked out and/or outraged.
So I went to Futrelle’s source, which is Incels.me (The site did some sort of check on my browser for several seconds before loading, maybe to see if I was going through a proxy or otherwise was law enforcement attempting to hide my identity. Given the nature of their content, I can see why).
Actually, he stored a snapshot of the offending forum thread at archive.li (and by the way, clicking that link leads to some of the most offensive, violent, and pornographic content there is, so use it with caution). I guess Futrelle wanted to preserve the material as a reference in case the Incel people decided to take it down (or law enforcement did it for them).
It’s not an extensive thread. Only six people posted. They are every bit as violent, hostile, and downright scary as both Barnes and Futrelle made them out to be. They really do think they are entitled to sex with any woman they choose, and that rejecting their advances is a grievous if not capital offense.
Does this have anything to do with Men Going Their Own Way (MGTOW)? Wikipedia defines this group as:
Men Going Their Own Way is a mostly pseudonymous online community of men supported by websites and social media presences cautioning men against serious romantic relationships with women, especially marriage. The community is part of what is more broadly termed the manosphere. MGTOW have “…vowed to stay away from women, stop dating and not have children”. MGTOW focus on men’s self-ownership rather than changing the status quo through activism and protest, making MGTOW distinct from the men’s rights movement.
I wrote an article about them almost 18 months ago called Walking Alone: A Short Essay About “Men Going Their Own Way” (MGTOW). I had learned about them from an online friend and was curious.
These men seem angry as well, but they aren’t violent, and rather than force themselves on women, they have given up on dating entirely (or for extended periods of time).
Frankly, it’s difficult for me to really relate since I’ve been married to the same woman for 35 years and even if, Heaven forbid, something should happen to my wife, I doubt I would put myself on the dating scene again. As Scotty (James Doohan) said on the 1992 episode of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” Relics, “There’s a time when a man finds out he’s too old to fall in love again.”
So what the heck is going on?
I have no idea.
Wikipedia associates both groups with social and political conservatives (certainly no liberal man would have difficulty getting a date and would never complain about it if they did).
Of course, I have no way (that I know of) of measuring the membership of these groups, so I don’t know how significant a percentage of the male population are involved. If men simply choose to opt out of dating, regardless of the criticism they take for it, that’s certainly their right. There’s no law that says men must always be in a relationship with a woman, and I’m not convinced that all MGTOW men are actually hostile toward women.
Dating is difficult, even more so in the 21st century, or that’s my perception anyway. I remember dating and at least at the initial stages of a relationship (or finding out you don’t have one), it’s pretty nerve wracking. Of course I’m digging back a lot of years, but even in the supposedly enlightened 1970s, most of the responsibility for initiating a date and then following up was on the male (but then I have only my point of view to draw on).
I actually have compassion for men who identify as MGTOW, but I have absolutely none for the Incels. If there are men who feel worn down and burned out on the “dating game,” I can see how that could happen in a world where so many relationships now occur online through smartphones, as opposed to face-to-face without any apps involved. The part of me who is libertarian (it’s complicated) believes that people have a right to opt out of dating or other relationships if they choose. Also, if they choose to form online relationships with other men who have a similar outlook, that’s their right, too.
However the Incels come dangerously close to committing crimes or at least promoting such behavior. How small a step is it from threatening violence to a woman who turns you down for a date to actually hurting her?
According to multiple news sources including this NBC News opinion piece, Toronto murder suspect Alek Minassian killed ten people by running them down in a van because he’s an Incel. Here’s a more evenly balanced news report I found at CBC.com.
This was one case where apparently Incel ideology crossed the barrier between thought and speech into deadly action.
The solution? I have no idea. Stephen Barnes seems to have one, though, as quoted from his online article:
The solution is love. But…FIRST the solution is strength. Be safe. And then, come love, to love yourself enough to hear what people are saying without accepting guilt, blame or shame. That’s their shit. But you’d better understand your opponents, or you are helpless to affect their behavior. Even if you thought they were animals, hunters understand the psychology of their prey if they want to eat. Soldiers must understand the psychology of the enemy if they want to survive.
I don’t think I’d want to “reach out” to the Incels I’ve read about or those who have posted on forum threads. They sound like a truly dangerous breed of cat. I think ultimately that Barnes may be right, but it seems that these men would need to learn to love themselves before they’d be ready to even consider having someone else love them.
The Bible had a couple of things to say about this:
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body.
–Ephesians 5:25-30 (NASB)
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
–John 13:34-35 (NASB)
For Christ, love is self-sacrificing. Men were to love their wives, even unto death, and he gave his disciples and followers the commandment to love one another as the means to support each other.
I said that Barnes is probably right, but I don’t know how to teach guys harboring so much self-loathing and violence that they are worthy of being loved but just don’t know how to go about it.