Following the Toronto attack, where Alek Minassian drove a van into a crowd of people, killing 10, many people have been questioning exactly this. Because before Minassian turned a van into a weapon, he called for an Incel Rebellion.
People are questioning this because they aren’t quite sure what to do with Minassian. What he did seems like a terrorist attack, but mainstream media is struggling to come up with how it is. What was his goal? I see narratives shifting towards Minassian as mentally disturbed. I’m sure he was. But he was also a terrorist. His goal was to terrorise women and “normies” under the banner of male supremacy and entitlement. Because Minassian felt he was entitled to female bodies, and he felt he was being denied, he decided to enact violence.
Incel means involuntary celibate – and the people in the community take this title on themselves. It means they feel they are forced to be celibate, because society is unfair.
When people make a scrape at the first layers of the incel community, they come away with the idea that incels are just men who can’t get dates. It’s when you enter further that you see the sickness in this community. Incels don’t just bemoan their lack of sexual encounters – they blame women for what they see as an injustice.
People experience dry spells, a lack of dates, all the time when it comes to relationships. Women and men. But incels don’t seem to have an analysis on this. Most people, upon finding themselves in a dry spell and actively looking for a relationship, would try picking up a hobby or going to the gym. Incels seem to believe there is nothing that can be done to improve chances of getting a date as the deck is stacked against them, that there is a vast conspiracy and that women (or gold digging femoids as I’ve seen us called) are only interested in a minority of men. They too, seem to only be interested in a minority of very ‘traditionally attractive’ women.
Reddit shut down its ‘incels’ board back in November 2017 because it was seething with posts promoting rape and violence against women. I’m not going to link to any of the incel posts because they can be distressing to read, but many revolve around their anger that women have agency to have sex with whoever they want. I’ve read bizarre rants about how feminists are controlling the government, how the sexual revolution created an imbalance in sexual equality (I suppose because women can choose who they want to have sex with), and that makeup should be banned because it allows women to become “7s or 8s”.
It’s hard to take it seriously at first. But this is at least the second radicalised incel to wage an attack, resulting in multiple deaths. The first would be Elliot Rodger. Not all incels are murderous, far from it. But the community they've created and the misogyny they contribute is literally dangerous. Lonely, depressed men getting fed a toxic worldview that offers a reason for their circumstances and 'taking the black pill' as they call it, is not uncommon.
The idea that internet misogyny can radicalise lonely men with low self-esteem would not surprise most feminists.
|Screen capture from "Women as Reward - Tropes vs Women in Video Games." Originally found at Feminist Current.|
But entitled men don’t just exist in incel subreddits. Incels are just one possible conclusion to this issue we have in a society where men feel like women owe them something. I’m not saying a man calling you a sexist slur because you won’t talk to him on the train is the same as incel posting about or enacting violence against women, but to me it’s all part of the same beast. It’s all misogyny.
We need to confront this idea in society that men are owed something from women. Because women don’t owe men our time, our emotional or physical labour, our bodies. Nothing.
I observe how deeply embedded this idea is, that women owe men something, when I see people opining that Minassian should have just visited a sex worker. Even this allows for the insidious idea that male access to female bodies is inevitable. It isn’t.
I need to point out as an aside that we, as a society, shouldn’t expect sex workers to have to deal with violent and disturbed men so that the rest of us don’t have to. I know it will shock some when I say this, but no one is entitled to sex workers either. Sex workers have the right to turn away dangerous men and so they should, and it’s obvious that Minassian is dangerous.
There’s no human right to sex, not for men – or women. Not being able to have sex is not oppression. Women don’t have to be attracted to anyone, and no woman has to spend time with dangerous men just to make them feel better. Women don’t owe men anything. Our push towards equality has always been met with the furious anger of the entitled. They are angrier each time we make progress, each time we close off more access.
It’s not all darkness, not even in the shadow cast by this hate-filled attack. Because while the internet allows space for this misogyny to fester, you have to remember: it allows women to connect and thrive too.
By: Tee Linden