In the wake of an attack that killed 10 people and injured 15 at the hands of alleged driver, 25-year-old Alek Minassian, many Canadians have been left asking what led to this brutal and unexpected act of terrorism.
With so few facts yet confirmed, the small amount of information we do have suggests that Minassian may have been motivated by the ideology of a much-maligned online group called Incel.
A post on Minassian’s Facebook page, CBC reports, makes reference to “The Incel Rebellion.” We have taken a dive into the movement’s literature and postings to help you understand who and what Incel actually is.
The public was introduced to Incel after Elliot Rodger’s deadly shooting in California. Rodger’s attack left six people dead and a dozen more injured in 2014. In a series of Youtube videos, one recorded just moments before the attack, Rodger blamed his actions on women who refused to notice him.
Rodger was immediately lionized by an internet subset Incel, short for involuntarily celibate. The group is made-up completely of men who have bonded together through their inability to connect physically or emotionally with the opposite sex.
The group owes its origins to the Reddit group r/Incel. The once 40,000 strong “support-group,” typically engaged in blaming the women who refused to sleep with them. Reddit shut the subchannel down last year after the forum site had received numerous complaints about the group and their postings.
Since leaving Reddit the group has been broken into several smaller standalone sites. The most prominent appears to be incel.me. The group has clear rules against trolling and harassment, but also makes it clear in its rules those who defend women will be banned.
According to the site incel.me, there are various degrees that one can identify with inside the community. A person who is not in a relationship nor has had sex in a significant amount of time, despite numerous attempts, is an Incel, a person who has never had sex, a Truecel.
Women are outright banned from participating in the group in any way, as are homosexual men, and “Fakecels,” men who pretend to be celibate “but has recently had sex or been in a relationship.”
It is an online community, largely anonymous, without a central authority or leaders. Joining their chat forum requires an individual to answer numerous questions by both moderators and any onlookers. Failure to do so quickly or convincingly results in a ban.
The movement is similar to other online communities in how decentralized it is. This also makes pinning down their exact ideology difficult. While there are a variety of different philosophies entrenched within online haunts and chatrooms the group lives in, the members all agree that the system was rigged against them from the start.
In their view being born attractive or unattractive most determines how an individual’s life will progress. Posts on their site all in the past 24-hours include titles like “Daily Reminder: If you were good looking, getting laid would be as natural as breathing,” “Not getting girls isn’t nearly as bad as being a futureless neet,” and “Telling us to respect women is like telling WW1 ShellShock Victims to respect the bombs that are dropping on them.”
Attractive men and women are labeled as “Chads” and “Stacys” respectively. It is a group that has bonded through adversity, whether real or perceived.
The group has now seemingly produced two notable and public terrorist attacks in North America, but it is important to point out many members of numerous incel forums have been quick to denounce Minassian’s attack. In spite of this, the group remains a nexus for the discussion and sharing of ideas that are extremely degrading to women, while promoting both self-loathing and entitlement for its members.
The vast majority of Incel members will likely never commit violence and are just venting their frustrations, however, each Incel site does feature posts and discussions that paint women as simple caricatures, deserving of Incel’s anger and the source of their estrangement from normal society. Other posts outright promote violence and in some cases sexual assault.
Incel’s ideas resonate strongly in the echo chamber of the internet. It could just be the push an individual needs to fall over the edge.