Incel Movement

Also Known As:

Executive Summary:

In 1997, Alana, an undergraduate student at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, began a website called “Alana’s Involuntary Celibacy Project” to provide a friendly place for people who struggle with dating to talk with one another. It was on this forum that the term ‘incel’—initially ‘invcel’—was first coined.Jim Taylor, “The Woman Who Founded the ‘Incel’ Movement,” BBC, August 29, 2018, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-45284455. In a 2018 interview, Alana—who did not use her full name—described the website in its early years as “a friendly place,” and “there was probably a bit of anger and some men were a bit clueless about how women are unique, individual humans, but in general it was a supportive place.”Jim Taylor, “The Woman Who Founded the ‘Incel’ Movement,” BBC, August 29, 2018, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-45284455. Because her romantic life improved, Alana stepped away from the site in 2000, leaving others to moderate it.Jim Taylor, “The Woman Who Founded the ‘Incel’ Movement,” BBC, August 29, 2018, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-45284455.

Incels now comprise an often-violent anti-women movement rooted in online communities.Zack Beauchamp, “Incel, the Misogynist Ideology That Inspired the Deadly Toronto Attack, Explained,” Vox, April 25, 2018, https://www.vox.com/world/2018/4/25/17277496/incel-toronto-attack-alek-minassian; Seth G. Jones, Catrina Doxsee, and Nicholas Harrington, “The Escalating Terrorism Problem in the United States,” Center for Strategic and International Studies, June 2020, 6, https://csis-website-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/s3fs-public/publication/200612_Jones_DomesticTerrorism_v6.pdf; Bruce Hoffman, Jacob Ware, and Ezra Shapiro, “Assessing the Threat of Incel Violence,” Studies in Conflict and Terrorism 43, no. 7 (2020): 566–567, https://doi.org/10.1080/1057610X.2020.1751459. The largely male incel community blame their inceldom (state of involuntary celibacy) on society—and women specifically. Incels view themselves as part of a repressed group subjugated by genetic determinism.Zack Beauchamp, “Incel, the Misogynist Ideology That Inspired the Deadly Toronto Attack, Explained,” Vox, April 25, 2018, https://www.vox.com/world/2018/4/25/17277496/incel-toronto-attack-alek-minassian. A March 2020 user survey by a major incel forum, Incels.co, found that most respondents still lived with their parents and had never been sexually intimate or in a romantic relationship. Eighty percent lived in North America and Europe, with “most” identifying as Caucasian. Only half of respondents had attended college, even though most came from middle- and upper-class families. Seventy percent said they suffered from depression and more than a quarter claimed to be autistic.Bruce Hoffman, Jacob Ware, and Ezra Shapiro, “Assessing the Threat of Incel Violence,” Studies in Conflict and Terrorism 43, no. 7 (2020): 568, https://doi.org/10.1080/1057610X.2020.1751459.

A subset of incels has taken the community’s misogyny further, advocating for and justifying rape and other violence against women as a means for shaping their ideal society.Zack Beauchamp, “Incel, the Misogynist Ideology That Inspired the Deadly Toronto Attack, Explained,” Vox, April 25, 2018, https://www.vox.com/world/2018/4/25/17277496/incel-toronto-attack-alek-minassian. Researchers have also noted that the incel community has “seamlessly integrated” with the far right, with several recent right-wing terrorists mixing aspects of both incel ideology and white supremacy in justifying their attacks.Seth G. Jones, Catrina Doxsee, and Nicholas Harrington, “The Escalating Terrorism Problem in the United States,” Center for Strategic and International Studies, June 2020, 6, https://csis-website-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/s3fs-public/publication/200612_Jones_DomesticTerrorism_v6.pdf; Bruce Hoffman, Jacob Ware, and Ezra Shapiro, “Assessing the Threat of Incel Violence,” Studies in Conflict and Terrorism 43, no. 7 (2020): 572–573, https://doi.org/10.1080/1057610X.2020.1751459. The spread of incel ideology has been underpinned by the rise of social media, with users establishing dedicated incel groups on platforms such as 4chan, Reddit, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and Discord, while also using online message board forums such as Incels.co and Incels.net.Seth G. Jones, Catrina Doxsee, and Nicholas Harrington, “The Escalating Terrorism Problem in the United States,” Center for Strategic and International Studies, June 2020, 2, https://csis-website-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/s3fs-public/publication/200612_Jones_DomesticTerrorism_v6.pdf.

A 2020 study explored the role online forums play in promoting extremist incel beliefs. The study concluded:

[Sites such as] 4chan and Reddit encouraged extremist declamations in order to gain more visibility. Though incel forums were at this point spread across cyberspace rather than confined to those main platforms, they nonetheless began to espouse similarly edgy and at times extremist sentiment. This in turn created a feedback loop where outrageous statements were intended to generate an escalatory spiral of reactions and responses that disguised their true aggressiveness—a behavior known as trolling or shitposting.Bruce Hoffman, Jacob Ware, and Ezra Shapiro, “Assessing the Threat of Incel Violence,” Studies in Conflict and Terrorism 43, no. 7 (2020): 566, https://doi.org/10.1080/1057610X.2020.1751459.

Many of these websites and forums embrace and lionize incel violent extremists, with users referring to the attackers as “saints” and heroes.”Bruce Hoffman, Jacob Ware, and Ezra Shapiro, “Assessing the Threat of Incel Violence,” Studies in Conflict and Terrorism 43, no. 7 (2020): 566, https://doi.org/10.1080/1057610X.2020.1751459. A brief visit to either Incel.co or Incel.net shows many users with profile pictures of Elliot Rodger, regarded by researchers and the incel community as the first incel terrorist, who killed nine people in Isla Vista, California, in 2014. The shift toward this more extremist, violent rhetoric began in 2003 with the founding of a new incel website called LoveShy.Zack Beauchamp, “Our Incel Problem,” Vox, April 23, 2019, https://www.vox.com/the-highlight/2019/4/16/18287446/incel-definition-reddit. It was in LoveShy that the incel community became almost exclusively male. At least one of the website’s moderators openly praised mass murderers and reportedly encouraged other members to commit murder.Zack Beauchamp, “Our Incel Problem,” Vox, April 23, 2019, https://www.vox.com/the-highlight/2019/4/16/18287446/incel-definition-reddit.

From LoveShy, incels would gradually move to sites like 4chan and Reddit, where the community adopted even more extremist beliefs, in part due to the system of ‘downvoting,’ allowing users to adjust which posts are shown most prominently and drown out moderate users.Bruce Hoffman, Jacob Ware, and Ezra Shapiro, “Assessing the Threat of Incel Violence,” Studies in Conflict and Terrorism 43, no. 7 (2020), 566, https://doi.org/10.1080/1057610X.2020.1751459. Users on these new sites now claimed that incels must take control of their lives by exacting revenge for their perceived mistreatment.Bruce Hoffman, Jacob Ware, and Ezra Shapiro, “Assessing the Threat of Incel Violence,” Studies in Conflict and Terrorism 43, no. 7 (2020), 566, https://doi.org/10.1080/1057610X.2020.1751459. By the time Reddit banned its incel community, r/incel, for inciting violence, the subreddit had garnered 40,000 members.Christine Hauser, “Reddit Bans ‘Incel’ Group for Inciting Violence against Women,” New York Times, November 9, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/09/technology/incels-reddit-banned.html.

Members of these incel forums celebrate successful attacks and ridicule incels whose attacks fail to inflict casualties or lead to only a few deaths.Bruce Hoffman, Jacob Ware, and Ezra Shapiro, “Assessing the Threat of Incel Violence,” Studies in Conflict and Terrorism 43, no. 7 (2020), 574, https://doi.org/10.1080/1057610X.2020.1751459. For example, one year after self-identified incel Scott Beierle, a military veteran, killed two women in Tallahassee, one Incel.co user said “the guy was in the military and only got 2 kills [ … ] i thought his trainin would make him plan to be as deadly as possible.”Bruce Hoffman, Jacob Ware, and Ezra Shapiro, “Assessing the Threat of Incel Violence,” Studies in Conflict and Terrorism 43, no. 7 (2020), 574, https://doi.org/10.1080/1057610X.2020.1751459. Similar posts played a role in Elliot Rodger’s 2014 attack, where, according to future incel attacker Alek Minassian, “other members of 4chan were giving [Elliot] encouraging support so that he would have the courage to start his rebellion.”Alek Minassian, “Electronically Recorded Interview of Alek Minassian,” interview by Detective Robert Thomas of Toronto Police Sex Crimes Unit Polygraph Unit, Scribd, April 23, 2018, 115, https://www.scribd.com/document/427612854/Alek-Minassian-Interview. Since their attacks, Rodger and Minassian are regularly idolized and hailed as heroes on incel forums.Bruce Hoffman, Jacob Ware, and Ezra Shapiro, “Assessing the Threat of Incel Violence,” Studies in Conflict and Terrorism 43, no. 7 (2020): 575, https://doi.org/10.1080/1057610X.2020.1751459.

Doctrine:

Incel ideology revolves around the belief that society exists as a hierarchy created by genetic determinism, with physical attributes defining everyone’s status.Bruce Hoffman, Jacob Ware, and Ezra Shapiro, “Assessing the Threat of Incel Violence,” Studies in Conflict and Terrorism 43, no. 7 (2020): 577, https://doi.org/10.1080/1057610X.2020.1751459. According to this belief, the most desirable men and women are called “Chads” and “Stacys,” respectively, and sit atop this hierarchy.Stephane J. Baele, Lewys Brace, and Travis G. Coan, “From ‘Incel’ to ‘Saint’: Analyzing the Violent Worldview behind the 2018 Toronto Attack,” Terrorism and Political Violence (August 2019, volume and issue numbers not listed): 8, https://www.academia.edu/40502231/_article_with_L_Brace_and_T_Coan_From_Incel_to_Saint_Analyzing_the_violent_worldview_behind_the_2018_Toronto_attack. Incels exist in the lowest rung, supposedly shunned for their looks despite their “superior personalities,” while “normies” make up the middle of society and are oblivious to the true nature of the world.Rebecca Jennings, “Incels Categorize Women by Personal Style and Attractiveness,” Vox, April 28, 2018, https://www.vox.com/2018/4/28/17290256/incel-chad-stacy-becky; Stephane J. Baele, Lewys Brace, and Travis G. Coan, “From ‘Incel’ to ‘Saint’: Analyzing the Violent Worldview behind the 2018 Toronto Attack,” Terrorism and Political Violence (August 2019, volume and issue numbers not listed): 8, https://www.academia.edu/40502231/_article_with_L_Brace_and_T_Coan_From_Incel_to_Saint_Analyzing_the_violent_worldview_behind_the_2018_Toronto_attack. There are only a small number of Chads in society, who in turn attract most women, leaving the remaining women to date normies and no women for the incels.Bruce Hoffman, Jacob Ware, and Ezra Shapiro, “Assessing the Threat of Incel Violence,” Studies in Conflict and Terrorism 43, no. 7 (2020): 567, https://doi.org/10.1080/1057610X.2020.1751459.

Incels believe this hierarchy is the sole creation of women, who, they argue, are programmed to seek partners based solely on physical attractiveness, height, weight, and race.Bruce Hoffman, Jacob Ware, and Ezra Shapiro, “Assessing the Threat of Incel Violence,” Studies in Conflict and Terrorism 43, no. 7 (2020): 567, https://doi.org/10.1080/1057610X.2020.1751459. Incels insists that women do not care about personality, and thus the term “supreme gentlemen,” first used by Elliot Rodger to describe himself in his manifesto, is used as a self-identifier for many incels who see themselves as physically inferior but with superior personalities.“Elliot Rodger: How Misogynist Killer Became ‘Incel Hero,’” BBC, April 26, 2018, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-43892189; Bruce Hoffman, Jacob Ware, and Ezra Shapiro, “Assessing the Threat of Incel Violence,” Studies in Conflict and Terrorism 43, no. 7 (2020): 567, https://doi.org/10.1080/1057610X.2020.1751459. To incels, their lack of sexual and romantic partners is the exclusive fault of women. Therefore, women are, according to scholars Bruce Hoffman, Jacob Ware, and Ezra Shapiro, “the primary target of incels’ hate and violence.”Bruce Hoffman, Jacob Ware, and Ezra Shapiro, “Assessing the Threat of Incel Violence,” Studies in Conflict and Terrorism 43, no. 7 (2020): 567, https://doi.org/10.1080/1057610X.2020.1751459.

Incels have expressed their misogynistic vitriol in several ways. On incel forums, users exclusively refer to women using derogatory terms such as “femoids” (a mix of ‘female’ and ‘humanoid’) or “FHO” (Female Humanoid Organism).Rebecca Jennings, “Incels Categorize Women by Personal Style and Attractiveness,” Vox, April 28, 2018, https://www.vox.com/2018/4/28/17290256/incel-chad-stacy-becky. Male users detest and harass even women who identify as incels. In one case, when a woman posted about her struggles on Incels.me other users responded by calling her a liar, a troll, a “vapid whore,” “lonely and unloved,” and “pig woman” before she was banned from the site.Rebecca Jennings, “Incels Categorize Women by Personal Style and Attractiveness,” Vox, April 28, 2018, https://www.vox.com/2018/4/28/17290256/incel-chad-stacy-becky. Examples of extremely popular sexist threads on these forums include ones titled “Why women are the embodiment of evil” and “All women are sluts.”Rebecca Jennings, “Incels Categorize Women by Personal Style and Attractiveness,” Vox, April 28, 2018, https://www.vox.com/2018/4/28/17290256/incel-chad-stacy-becky.

Incels refer to understanding and accepting their worldview as “taking the black pill,” a reference to the 1999 science-fiction film The Matrix. Characters in the film choose between “taking the red pill,” and are subsequently exposed to the real world, or “taking the blue pill,” which keeps them in ignorance.Emily Dreyfuss and Emma Grey Ellis, “The Matrix’s Red Pill or Blue Pill—Which Is Better?,” Wired, March 30, 2019, https://www.wired.com/story/matrix-red-pill-vs-blue-pill/. Far-right, anti-feminist groups use “taking the red pill” as a euphemism for when their people “fully recognize the inherently shallow nature of women, but also to understand better how men can manipulate and exploit these supposed female characteristic.”Debbie Ging, “Alphas, Betas, and Incels: Theorizing the Masculinities of the Manosphere,” Men and Masculinities 22, no. 4 (issue published October 1, 2019; article originally published May 10, 2017), 1–3, https://xyonline.net/sites/xyonline.net/files/2018-05/Ging,%20Alphas,%20Betas,%20and%20Incels%202017.pdf (The preceding link is for the standalone article, and the preceding page numbers are from the original article);  Stephane J. Baele, Lewys Brace, and Travis G. Coan, “From ‘Incel’ to ‘Saint’: Analyzing the Violent Worldview behind the 2018 Toronto Attack,” Terrorism and Political Violence (August 2019, volume and issue numbers not listed): 9, https://www.academia.edu/40502231/_article_with_L_Brace_and_T_Coan_From_Incel_to_Saint_Analyzing_the_violent_worldview_behind_the_2018_Toronto_attack; Bruce Hoffman, Jacob Ware, and Ezra Shapiro, “Assessing the Threat of Incel Violence,” Studies in Conflict and Terrorism 43, no. 7 (2020): 568, https://doi.org/10.1080/1057610X.2020.1751459. Incels view themselves as part of the red-pill community, but believe that individuals cannot change their status in society through manipulation, as red-pillers claim. Instead, taking the black pill requires adopting a nihilistic worldview in which the individual accepts “a reality where women and society are intrinsically biased against men who lack specific physical attributes, who therefore have no hope of ever being attractive to women or even accepted by society.”Bruce Hoffman, Jacob Ware, and Ezra Shapiro, “Assessing the Threat of Incel Violence,” Studies in Conflict and Terrorism 43, no. 7 (2020): 568, https://doi.org/10.1080/1057610X.2020.1751459.

Nonetheless, many incels believe action can be taken to change their celibacy. In one passage of his 141-page manifesto, Rodger writes about his ideal society in which women have no choice in their partner and rape is the norm:

They [women] are like animals, completely controlled by their primal, depraved emotions and impulses. That is why they are attracted to barbaric, wild, beast-like men. They are beasts themselves. Beasts should not be able to have any rights in a civilized society. If their wickedness is not contained, the whole of humanity will be held back from advancement to a more civilized state. Women should not have the right to choose who to mate with. That choice should be made for them by civilized men of intelligence.Elliot Rodger, My Twisted World: The Story of Elliot Rodger (self-pub., 2014), 117, https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/1173808-elliot-rodger-manifesto.html.

These beliefs are widespread within the incel community. A 2019 study by Stephane J. Baele, Lewys Brace, and Travis G. Coan found that:

The Incel worldview rests on the evocation of a past golden age … of a patriarchal society where monogamy is the rule, traditional gender roles are accepted and followed, women and men marry early, and adultery is prohibited. All men have thus “access” to women and their “entitlement” to sex is never “denied” by women.” While incels diverge slightly on what led to the end of this supposed golden era, all agree that feminism is the sole culprit, destroying the institution of marriage and ushering in an era of sexual promiscuity. This supposed end of monogamy has allowed women to follow their ‘true’ instincts to only sleep with and date Chads, and, to a lesser extent, Normies.Stephane J. Baele, Lewys Brace, and Travis G. Coan, “From ‘Incel’ to ‘Saint’: Analyzing the Violent Worldview behind the 2018 Toronto Attack,” Terrorism and Political Violence (August 2019, volume and issue numbers not listed): 13-14, https://www.academia.edu/40502231/_article_with_L_Brace_and_T_Coan_From_Incel_to_Saint_Analyzing_the_violent_worldview_behind_the_2018_Toronto_attack.

Motivated by this ideology, incel forums are rife with violent, sexist comments towards women. Some commenters argue women should be second-class citizens, saying “femoids are nothing but sexual objects and thus should be second-class citizens.” or “women are for fucking and raising families, not for having ‘rights.’”Stephane J. Baele, Lewys Brace, and Travis G. Coan, “From ‘Incel’ to ‘Saint’: Analyzing the Violent Worldview behind the 2018 Toronto Attack,” Terrorism and Political Violence (August 2019, volume and issue numbers not listed): 13, https://www.academia.edu/40502231/_article_with_L_Brace_and_T_Coan_From_Incel_to_Saint_Analyzing_the_violent_worldview_behind_the_2018_Toronto_attack. Others attempt to explain how, in the absence of forced monogamy, “a woman’s tendency [is] to marry the best possible man that she can find. This stems from the biological imperative for her to get pregnant with the best genes possible.”Stephane J. Baele, Lewys Brace, and Travis G. Coan, “From ‘Incel’ to ‘Saint’: Analyzing the Violent Worldview behind the 2018 Toronto Attack,” Terrorism and Political Violence (August 2019, volume and issue numbers not listed): 13, https://www.academia.edu/40502231/_article_with_L_Brace_and_T_Coan_From_Incel_to_Saint_Analyzing_the_violent_worldview_behind_the_2018_Toronto_attack. Some incels believe that “hypergamous whores deep down [want] to be dominated and treated like shit to keep them attracted to you,” and that “the ideal male for a woman would be a Chad who will rape her and beat her on a daily basis.”Stephane J. Baele, Lewys Brace, and Travis G. Coan, “From ‘Incel’ to ‘Saint’: Analyzing the Violent Worldview behind the 2018 Toronto Attack,” Terrorism and Political Violence (August 2019, volume and issue numbers not listed): 13, https://www.academia.edu/40502231/_article_with_L_Brace_and_T_Coan_From_Incel_to_Saint_Analyzing_the_violent_worldview_behind_the_2018_Toronto_attack.

 

According to an April 2020 study by Bruce Hoffman, Jacob Ware, and Ezra Shapiro, incel violence has manifested itself through both personal grievances and politically motivated acts of terrorism.Bruce Hoffman, Jacob Ware, and Ezra Shapiro, “Assessing the Threat of Incel Violence,” Studies in Conflict and Terrorism 43, no. 7 (2020): 568, https://doi.org/10.1080/1057610X.2020.1751459. The authors argue that, while incel ideology is not explicitly political, its core beliefs seek to oppress specific groups, most notably women, and the violent acts carried out by its supporters are intended to have wide-ranging societal consequences.Bruce Hoffman, Jacob Ware, and Ezra Shapiro, “Assessing the Threat of Incel Violence,” Studies in Conflict and Terrorism 43, no. 7 (2020): 567, https://doi.org/10.1080/1057610X.2020.1751459.An August 2019 study argued that incel ideology embraces the same ingroup/outgroup dichotomy observed in other terrorist groups’ beliefs, viewing themselves as an oppressed ingroup that must be “restored to the initially better position thanks to a radical overthrow.”Stephane J. Baele, Lewys Brace, and Travis G. Coan, “From ‘Incel’ to ‘Saint’: Analyzing the Violent Worldview Behind the 2018 Toronto Attack,” Terrorism and Political Violence (August 2019), 4, DOI: 10.1080/09546553.2019.1638256.

Hoffman, Ware, and Shapiro identify four types of such violence connected to the incel ideology: “Clear incel-motivated terrorist attacks; attacks with mixed motives that evidence incel ideological influences; acts of targeted violence perpetrated by self-professed involuntary celibates; and ex post-facto inceldom.”Bruce Hoffman, Jacob Ware, and Ezra Shapiro, “Assessing the Threat of Incel Violence,” Studies in Conflict and Terrorism 43, no. 7 (2020): 569, https://doi.org/10.1080/1057610X.2020.1751459. Not including ex post-facto attacks—that is, attacks carried out prior to the advent of online incel communities, but whose attackers have since been adopted by incels as one of their own—at least 11 incel-related violent attacks that have occurred in North America since 2014, killing nearly 50 people.

  • December 1989: Canadian anti-feminist Marc Lepine kills 14 women at his university, the École Polytechnique de Montréal. He is later considered a hero by incels.Bruce Hoffman, Jacob Ware, and Ezra Shapiro, “Assessing the Threat of Incel Violence,” Studies in Conflict and Terrorism 43, no. 7 (2020): 572, https://doi.org/10.1080/1057610X.2020.1751459.
  • August 2009: George Sodini kills three women at an LA Fitness gym in Collier Township, Pennsylvania, after writing extensive blogposts about his hatred for the “30 million women who rejected” him. He is considered a hero on incel forums by the time Elliot Rodger conducts his attack in 2014.Bruce Hoffman, Jacob Ware, and Ezra Shapiro, “Assessing the Threat of Incel Violence,” Studies in Conflict and Terrorism 43, no. 7 (2020): 572, https://doi.org/10.1080/1057610X.2020.1751459; Nicky Woolfe, “‘PUAhate’ and ‘ForeverAlone’: inside Elliot Rodger's online life,” Guardian, May 30, 2014, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/may/30/elliot-rodger-puahate-forever-alone-reddit-forums; Tala Ansari and Ariane Lange, “Nearly 10 Years Apart, Attacks On Women Have Eerie Similarities,” Buzzfeed News, November 5, 2018, https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/talalansari/la-fitness-tallahassee-yoga-shooter-incels-misogyny.
  • May 23, 2014: 22-year-old Elliot Rodger kills six people near the University of California Santa Barbara, California, after planning an attack for more than two years. After stabbing to death his two roommates and their friend, Rodger attempts to enter a sorority house and kill the women inside. Failing to get into the house, he begins driving through the city and shooting 16 more people, killing three, including two women. Rodger leaves behind a 141-page manifesto in which he bemoaned his virginity, called women “vicious, stupid, cruel animals who take delight in my suffering and starvation,” and advocated systemically raping them.Seth G. Jones, Catrina Doxsee, and Nicholas Harrington, “The Escalating Terrorism Problem in the United States,” Center for Strategic and International Studies, June 2020, 6, https://csis-website-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/s3fs-public/publication/200612_Jones_DomesticTerrorism_v6.pdf; Bruce Hoffman, Jacob Ware, and Ezra Shapiro, “Assessing the Threat of Incel Violence,” Studies in Conflict and Terrorism 43, no. 7 (2020): 569, https://doi.org/10.1080/1057610X.2020.1751459. Joseph Serna, “Elliot Rodger Meticulously Planned Isla Vista Rampage, Report Says,” Los Angeles Times, February 19, 2015, https://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-santa-barbara-isla-vista-rampage-investigation-20150219-story.html.
  • October 1, 2015: 26-year-old Christopher Harper-Mercer kills nine people at Oregon’s Umpqua Community College, which he attended. He leaves behind a manifesto in which he said, “[My] whole life has been one lonely enterprise. One loss after another. And here I am 26, with no friends, no job, no girlfriend, a virgin. I long ago realized that society likes to deny people like me these things.” He also described Elliot Rodger as “[standing] with the gods.”Seth G. Jones, Catrina Doxsee, and Nicholas Harrington, “The Escalating Terrorism Problem in the United States,” Center for Strategic and International Studies, June 2020, 6, https://csis-website-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/s3fs-public/publication/200612_Jones_DomesticTerrorism_v6.pdf; Bruce Hoffman, Jacob Ware, and Ezra Shapiro, “Assessing the Threat of Incel Violence,” Studies in Conflict and Terrorism 43, no. 7 (2020): 571, https://doi.org/10.1080/1057610X.2020.1751459.
  • July 31, 2016: Security guard Sheldon Bentley kills a homeless man by stomping on him while at work in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Prosecutors state that Bentley “seems to put himself into the category of an involuntary celibate person” as he spoke often about his anger over being single and celibate and that his frustration is what led him to act violently.Janice Johnston, “Frustration over Involuntary Celibacy Led to Killing, Former Security Guard Claims,” CBC, August 29, 2018, https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/%20%20edmonton-involuntary-celibacy-sheldon-bentley-manslaughter-jail-1.4803943.
  • December 7, 2017: 21-year-old former student William Atchison kills two students, a girl and a boy, at Aztec High School in Aztec, New Mexico. Atchison did not explicitly self-identify as an incel, but his online persona was “Elliot Rodger” and he had repeatedly praised the terrorist.Bruce Hoffman, Jacob Ware, and Ezra Shapiro, “Assessing the Threat of Incel Violence,” Studies in Conflict and Terrorism 43, no. 7 (2020): 571, https://doi.org/10.1080/1057610X.2020.1751459; Mia Rupani, “Authorities identify two victims in shooting at Aztec High School,” Durango Herald, December 7, 2017, https://durangoherald.com/articles/198756-authorities-identify-two-victims-in-shooting-at-aztec-high-school.
  • February 14, 2018: Former student Nikolas Cruz kills 17 people—eight girls, six boys, and three male staff members—at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Like Atchison, Cruz did not explicitly identify as an incel but had expressed praise online for Elliot Rodger and his 2014 attack.Bruce Hoffman, Jacob Ware, and Ezra Shapiro, “Assessing the Threat of Incel Violence,” Studies in Conflict and Terrorism 43, no. 7 (2020): 571, https://doi.org/10.1080/1057610X.2020.1751459; Aaron Albright, “The 17 lives lost at Douglas High,” Miami Herald, February 21, 2018, https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/broward/article201139254.html.
  • April 23, 2018: 25-year-old Alek Minassian kills 10 people—eight of them women—by ramming into them with his car in Toronto. Just prior to the attack, Minassian posted on social media “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!”Zack Beauchamp, “Incel, the Misogynist Ideology That Inspired the Deadly Toronto Attack, Explained,” Vox, April 25, 2018, https://www.vox.com/world/2018/4/25/17277496/incel-toronto-attack-alek-minassian; Seth G. Jones, Catrina Doxsee, and Nicholas Harrington, “The Escalating Terrorism Problem in the United States,” Center for Strategic and International Studies, June 2020, 6, https://csis-website-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/s3fs-public/publication/200612_Jones_DomesticTerrorism_v6.pdf; Bruce Hoffman, Jacob Ware, and Ezra Shapiro, “Assessing the Threat of Incel Violence,” Studies in Conflict and Terrorism 43, no. 7 (2020): 570, https://doi.org/10.1080/1057610X.2020.1751459.
  • November 2, 2018: 40-year-old Army veteran Scott Beierle kills two women at a yoga study in Tallahassee, Florida, before killing himself. Beierle had a long history of posting misogynistic videos on YouTube and self-identified as an incel.David Mack, Amber Jamieson, and Julia Reinstein, “The Tallahassee Yoga Shooter Was a Far-Right Misogynist Who Railed against Women and Minorities Online,” BuzzFeed, November 5, 2018, https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/davidmack/tallahassee-yoga-shooter-incel-far-right-misogyny-video; Seth G. Jones, Catrina Doxsee, and Nicholas Harrington, “The Escalating Terrorism Problem in the United States,” Center for Strategic and International Studies, June 2020, 570, https://csis-website-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/s3fs-public/publication/200612_Jones_DomesticTerrorism_v6.pdf; Bruce Hoffman, Jacob Ware, and Ezra Shapiro, “Assessing the Threat of Incel Violence,” Studies in Conflict and Terrorism 43, no. 7 (2020): 570, https://doi.org/10.1080/1057610X.2020.1751459.
  • April 21, 2019: 24-year-old Emmanuel Aranda throws a 5-year-old boy off a third-floor balcony at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota. Aranda tells police that he had come to the mall intending to kill someone because “for several years [he] had made efforts to talk to women in the Mall, but had been rejected, and the rejection caused him to lash out and be aggressive.” Aranda had previously been thrown out of the mall for throwing water at a woman.Complaint: Order of Detention, State of Minnesota, County of Hennepin, District Court, 4th Judicial District, State of Minnesota vs Emmanuel Deshawn Aranda, April 15, 2019, https://www.hennepinattorney.org/-/media/Attorney/NEWS/2019/Aranda-emmanuel-cplt.pdf?la=en&hash=EE6811706337FD586E4EE26EF16542B53F42CCC7.
  • February 24, 2020: A 17-year-old male kills a woman and wounds another woman and a man in an attack at a massage parlor in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Police identify him as an incel and say the attack is an act of terrorism.Nick Boisvert, “Homicide at Toronto Massage Parlour Was an Act of Incel Terrorism, Police Say,” CBC, May 19, 2020, https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/incel-terrorism-massage-parlour-1.5575689.
  • May 20, 2020: 20-year-old Armando Hernandez livestreams his shooting spree at a mall in Glendale, Arizona, where he specifically targeted couples in what he said was retaliation for being rejected by women. Three people are wounded.Trone Dowd, “Arizona Mass Shooter Who Live-Streamed Attack Was a Self-Described ‘Incel’ Targeting Couples,” Vice, May 23, 2020, https://www.vice.com/en_au/article/bv8xq4/arizona-mass-shooter-who-live-streamed-attack-was-a-self-described-incel-targeting-couples.
  • June 3, 2020: 26-year-old Alex Stavropoulos stabs a mother in the neck while trying to kill her infant child in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada. Stavropoulos self-identifies as an incel and told police, “I like white women, but they won’t fuck me. So, I wanted to see what it felt like (to kill a female child) … I had my mindset. I was going to kill a child and was waiting for the right opportunity.” Stavropoulos had previously been arrested in April 2018 after threatening transit workers with a knife while yelling “white power.”Harold Carmichael, “Sudbury ‘Incel’ Attacker Told Cops: ‘I Was Going to Kill a Child,’”

    Toronto Sun, January 14, 2020, https://torontosun.com/news/provincial/sudbury-incel-attacker-told-cops-i-was-going-to-kill-a-child.

  • February 13, 2021: Malik Sanchez sits down in a New York City restaurant and says loudly, “Allahu Akbar. Allahu Akbar. Bomb detonation in two, in two minutes. I take you with me and I kill all you. I kill all you right now. And I kill all you for Allah. . . .  I’m gonna do it. I’m gonna fucking do it for Allah. I’m gonna do it, for, Allah, Allah, Allahu Akbar, Come on. I do it, bomb now, bomb now.” After two women leave, Sanchez says, “Yo, all of them scattered” and “Holy shit boys. That was fucking five stars. That was five stars.” Sanchez leaves the restaurant before police arrive. He uploads a video of the incident to the Internet. He had previously uploaded a February 7 video of himself yelling at women in the street about his “incel rage” and support for Elliot Rodger. He captioned that video INCEL ARMY RISE UP.” On March 20, Sanchez posts another video of himself harassing women at a New York restaurant, mimicking a gun and again shouting support for the Incel Movement and Rodger. Sanchez sprays pepper spray in the face of an individual who intervenes. Police arrest Sanchez on April 14 in relation to the February 13 incident. He is charged with conveying false and misleading information and hoaxes. Sanchez self-identifies as an Incel.U.S. Attorney’s Office Southern District of New York, “New York City Man Arrested For Carrying Out Hoax Bomb Threat At Manhattan Restaurant,” U.S. Department of Justice, April 14, 2021, https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdny/pr/new-york-city-man-arrested-carrying-out-hoax-bomb-threat-manhattan-restaurant.

Far-Right Groups

A January 2020 study on anti-women ideologies found four general categories of right-wing, anti-feminist beliefs propagated in online communities dubbed the Manosphere: “Pick Up Artists (PUAs), Men’s Rights Activists (MRAs), Men Going Their Own Way (MGTOW), and Involuntary Celibates (incels).”Manoel Horta Ribeiro, Jeremy Blackburn, Barry Bradlyn, Emiliano De Cristofaro, Gianluca Stringhini, Summer Long, Stephanie Greenberg, and Savvas Zannettou, “From Pick-Up Artists to Incels: A Data-Driven Sketch of the Manosphere,” preprint, submitted January 21, 2020 and last revised August 30, 2020, 1, https://arxiv.org/pdf/2001.07600.pdf. The study found that all of these groups had overlapping membership, and that the first two have diminished in popularity in recent years while the latter two categories have grown more militant and sexist in their rhetoric.Manoel Horta Ribeiro, Jeremy Blackburn, Barry Bradlyn, Emiliano De Cristofaro, Gianluca Stringhini, Summer Long, Stephanie Greenberg, and Savvas Zannettou, “From Pick-Up Artists to Incels: A Data-Driven Sketch of the Manosphere,” preprint, submitted January 21, 2020 and last revised August 30, 2020, 10. https://arxiv.org/pdf/2001.07600.pdf. According to a 2019 report by the Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right, all the groups have been integrated into the alt-right movement, with incels becoming “part of a growing trend of radical-right movements that are anguished by the success of neoliberalism,” and particularly regarding feminism and immigration.“Alt Right: A Primer on the New White Supremacy,” Anti-Defamation League, accessed January 24, 2021, https://www.adl.org/resources/backgrounders/alt-right-a-primer-on-the-new-white-supremacy; Justin Gilmore, “Incels: The New Politics of Indifference,” Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right, November 11, 2019, https://www.radicalrightanalysis.com/2019/11/11/incels-the-new-politics-of-indifference/.

Incels and the far-right also find common ground in their racism and anti-Semitism. Rodger engages in many racist tirades in his manifesto, at one point writing, “How could an inferior, ugly black boy be able to get a white girl and not me? I am beautiful, and I am half white myself. I am descended from British aristocracy. He is descended from slaves.”Elliot Rodger, My Twisted World: The Story of Elliot Rodger (self-pub., 2014), 84, https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/1173808-elliot-rodger-manifesto.html. Incel forums are likewise full of anti-Semitic comments, with many users accusing Jews of controlling society and aiding in the social decay that has helped lead to women-empowerment movements.Zack Beauchamp, “Our Incel Problem,” Vox, April 23, 2019, https://www.vox.com/the-highlight/2019/4/16/18287446/incel-definition-reddit.

The incel and far-right communities have increasingly intermingled online, and attackers have regularly referenced both groups. Nikolas Cruz, who killed 17 people at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, carved swastikas into the gun magazines he used in his attack, while William Atchison, who killed two people Aztec High School in Aztec, New Mexico, regularly posted anti-Semitic rants on the gaming platform Steam. Both Cruz and Atchison praised Rodger for his 2014 attack.Bruce Hoffman, Jacob Ware, and Ezra Shapiro, “Assessing the Threat of Incel Violence,” Studies in Conflict and Terrorism 43, no. 7 (2020): 573, https://doi.org/10.1080/1057610X.2020.1751459; “New Mexico School Shooter Also Fixated on Violence against Jews,” Anti-Defamation League, December 18, 2017, https://www.adl.org/blog/new-mexico-school-shooter-also-fixated-on-violence-against-jews. Several far-right terrorists have also echoed incel beliefs in justifying their attacks. The July 2018 Munich shooter was a close friend of incel attacker Alek Minassian. The August 2019 Norway attacker referenced incel memes in his manifesto. While livestreaming his attack, the October 2019 Halle, Germany, gunman claimed he was driven to violence by immigrants who prevented him from getting a girlfriend and accused feminism of destroying the West; and the February 2020 Hanau, Germany, gunman specified in his manifesto that he had never had a relationship.Bruce Hoffman, Jacob Ware, and Ezra Shapiro, “Assessing the Threat of Incel Violence,” Studies in Conflict and Terrorism 43, no. 7 (2020): 573, https://doi.org/10.1080/1057610X.2020.1751459.

User ‘Aizen1418’ post on Incels.net, October 4, 2020

“Does this piss anyone else off? Every time I pass by NYU in nyc I see hot white chicks with black guys or asian guys in public. There is a kink site I frequent and I see them there too, but white women seem to be more down with black guys judging by the sex videos. Meanwhile, I as a clean, average, healthy spanish guy that's a bit nerdy. I've had to settle with sex workers to get rid of my urges, masturbation doesn't cut it anymore. But if I see these wh*res, then I feel like crap. Money I could've spent on something better instead on some low-life wh*re that fucks randos constantly for money. It irritates me so much. Sometimes I fantasize about killing these c*nts. Without getting caught, but it's not easy.”Aizen1418, “Seeing beautiful young white women with ghetto/unattractive guys,” Incels.net, October 4, 2020, 7:58 a.m. Quote reproduced as written.

User ‘KoolHitler’ post on Incels.net, October 3, 2020

“As far as humans are concerned, western Europeans are top tier. Mixing lower raсes with the higher raсes always causes problems. The lower raсes love it, because they want to benefit from societies built by top tier whites. But once the lower raсes become dominant in numbers, the societies will crumble and turn to ѕhit.

“High tier raсes: Anglo, Germanic, Scandinavian, Italian, Celtic, Japanese & Korean.

“Mid-tier: Arabs, Semites, Chinese, South Asian, Siberian, North African, Hispanic.

“Low-tier: Sub-Saharan African (negro), Caribbean, Aborigines.”KoolHitler, “Mass immigration = more incels,” Incels.net, October 3, 2020, 4:52pm.

User ‘Sweedee’ post on Incel.co, November 21, 2019

“going ER [Elliot Rodger] as a lone wolf seems cooler tbh [to be honest]”Sweedee, “I’d Rather Join a Suicult than Go ER,” Incels.co, November 21, 2019, 10:42 a.m.

User ‘Purveyoroftruth’ post on Incel.co, November 21, 2019

“I would rather become a secret thot [derogatory term for women] killer than to admit defeat and off myself.”

User ‘Princel’ post on Incel.co, November 3, 2019

“the guy [Scott Beierle] was in the military and only got 2 kills. i thought his trainin would make him plan to be as deadly as possible. wtf he just zerg rushed the yoga studio and some cuck fought him with a broom. a real soldier would plan better. he lit a fire inside and pull the fire alarm and wait outside at the entrance. the muslims would panick thinkin theres a fire and rush out then he would unleash while theyre fightin to get thru the front door. the enemy would run back inside and try to escpae through the back but the soldier barricaded it. now that the enemys trapped inside the building he can stalk and finish the muslims who threaten americas safety.”Princel, “Happy St. Yogacel day bro’s.” Incels.co, November 3, 2019, 12:44 pm. Quote reproduced as written.

Alex Stavropoulos, statement to police, June 2019

“I was angry at white women. I like white women, but they won’t fuck me. So, I wanted to see what it felt like (to kill a female child) … I had my mindset. I was going to kill a child and was waiting for the right opportunity.”Harold Carmichael, “Sudbury ‘Incel’ Attacker Told Cops: ‘I Was Going to Kill a Child,’” Toronto Sun, January 14, 2020, https://torontosun.com/news/provincial/sudbury-incel-attacker-told-cops-i-was-going-to-kill-a-child.

Alex Stavropoulos, statement to police, June 2019

“I don’t get laid…I wanted to kill for one reason. I don’t know why … I was just waiting for the right opportunity (in the Michael’s parking lot). I saw a couple of kids and didn’t do anything. I just need to do it, do something like this…I just saw her (adult female victim) and made a quick decision. She had a child and a little one … Just something in my head (said), ‘You have to go. Just go. Don’t be a wussy.’…You have to kill the mom because they are going to protect the child.”

User ‘Crustaciouse’ on Incel.me after Minassian’s terrorist attack, April 2018

“[Alek Minassian] killed more people than the supreme gentleman Elliot. I hope this guy wrote a manifesto because he could be our next new saint.”Rachel Janik, “‘I Laugh at the Death of Normies’: How Incels Are Celebrating the Toronto Mass Killing,” Southern Poverty Law Center, April 24, 2018, https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2018/04/24/i-laugh-death-normies-how-incels-are-celebrating-toronto-mass-killing.

User ‘Letting Go’ on Incel.me after Minassian’s terrorist attack, April 2018

“As someone who visited Toronto at the beginning of the month, I can see how a man from that city could be driven to kill a bunch of people like that. The women up there are HORRIBLE—even the ethnic women. It would brighten my day if the majority of the victims were young cunts like the ones that I encountered on my trip.”Rachel Janik, “‘I Laugh at the Death of Normies’: How Incels Are Celebrating the Toronto Mass Killing,” Southern Poverty Law Center, April 24, 2018, https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2018/04/24/i-laugh-death-normies-how-incels-are-celebrating-toronto-mass-killing.

Daily Dose

Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.

Fact:

On July 26, 2018, Boko Haram fighters attacked a Nigerian military base and a police station in Jakana, a village close to Maiduguri, leaving hundreds either dead, captured, or missing. 

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