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Why we should be concerned about incels

There are tons of garbage people on the internet. In most cases, they’re like mosquitoes: annoying as all hell, but you can mostly ignore them. However, there are pests that can be deadly to humans. In this case, the mosquitoes have taken the form of incels.

The term incel, short for involuntarily celibate, was originally coined in 1993 by (ironically) a female undergraduate student who created the movement as a way of venting about the frustration of being someone who wants to have sex, but can’t due to their looks, weight, and other factors. Since it’s conception, the term has become associated with nihilism, misogyny, and violence.

Incels were introduced to the public sphere in 2014 after the Isla Vista shootings, wherein Elliot Rodger posted a video to Youtube remarking “I will slaughter every single spoiled, stuck-up blonde sluts…You will finally see I’m the superior one” before killing six people then himself. In the spring of last year, Alex Minassian, who self-identified as an incel, drove a van into a crowd in Toronto, killing ten people.

Incels typically band together online through forums with their own structure and terminology. “Chads” refer to good looking, hyper-masculine men, while “Stacies” are shallow, hyper-sexual women only attracted to Chads. Other more average women are called “Beckies,” while “femoids” is an umbrella term for all women — because the word ‘woman’ is just too humanizing.

While sites like Reddit have banned incel forums, the members of this community have found other places to set up shop. While most posts on these forums are relatively mundane, some call for government-mandated girlfriend programs, or the assault, rape, and murder of women.

Subsets of the forums are dedicated to ‘suicide fuel’, pictures, stories, or memes meant to perpetuate that idea that an incel will never be loved or cared for because of their inherent inferiority, and that death is better than facing this cruel reality.

As well, some forums will feature selfie threads. Those who post pictures of themselves won’t find encouragement, but rather other incels reinforcing the idea that no one will ever love them because of their bone structure, facial features, hairline, and other features, despite them being pretty average looking people.

The result of this discourse is the development of worldview that follows a few key principles: that no woman will ever love you, that you can do nothing to change it because you are genetically inferior, and that Chads/Stacies conspire to keep it this way. This way of thinking is, unsurprisingly, terrible for one’s mental health, and as such many of the users are suicidal/homicidal. Yet, they continue to stay on the platform because when you get to such a low point, wallowing in your own pain can release a twisted kind of euphoria.

Obviously, these people need professional help. As criminologist Mike Arntfield put it, “as soon as you have a suicidal, disoriented male, all bets are off in terms of what they’re capable of doing.”

However, it’s important to understand how this dark corner of the internet harbors this kind of misogynistic worldview, and how it gets members trapped in this cult of self loathing. The first step to dealing with this problem is getting them away from such a toxic community, and focusing on their mental health.

Secondly, while I know incels won’t be reading this (far be it from me to femoid-splain to them), I would recommend watching Queer Eye. Seriously. It would be a healthy step to see that normal-looking men can gain confidence and learn to be both physically and mentally healthier by making a few small changes to their everyday lives.

It can be crushing to be constantly rejected. But it’s why we must address the issue of how to deal with blows to one’s self-esteem before it creates an unhealthy worldview, especially one that functions as a prerequisite to violence.

Bree Meiklejohn

Bree Meiklejohn is a first-year classics and creative writing student. She’s also an aspiring writer who loves dogs, Earl Grey tea, and pretending to know what she’s doing.

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