*I first published this on Medium in July, 2018. I wish this became less relavent with time, but it hasn't. In many ways, it's only getting worse.
The article has been updated since, to reflect the changes in time and attitude that have happened since.
The Incel movement has gained traction on the media stage, largely thanks to a murder in Toronto in 2018, and some truly stupid remarks from a New York Times columnist at the time, who suggested that maybe the killer's motivation was valid and should be placated.
Needless to say, there was swift backlash from the people who are not quite such fans of the Handmaid's Tale that they want to relive it, thanks.
There have already been numerous articles, news stories and blog posts about the attack, and at first it seemed redundant to speak up myself. However, after an argument on a Q&A website that seems to attract a worrying amount of either idiots or trolls, I decided to do so anyway.
So, what it the Incel movement all about, and why is it a big problem?
"Incel" stands for "Involuntarily Celibate", a term originally coined by a woman, Alana, in 1993, as a reflection on and a self-deprecating joke about her lack of a sex life and exploration of her own sexuality. It was promptly hijacked by angry young men, frustrated at the lack of women willing to sleep with them just because they demand it.
BREAKING NEWS: Random women don't owe you anything.
I'm serious about that. Women owe nothing to anyone. Not a date, not a conversation, and certainly not sex. In other breaking news: water is wet and deserts are dry.
First, some terminology.
Incels refer to good-looking men/men who don't share their difficulty in attracting women as "Chads". Romantically successful men of colour are "Tyrones". Attractive women are "Stacys". Women deemed unattractive don't seem to have a dub-name that I could find, and in the Incel ideology, exist mostly to be complained about.
Incels also complain a lot about the "Friendzone", a misogynistic social construct used to devalue friendship and platonic relationships and, again, to complain about women who don't act like they do in porn videos, shedding their clothes on the slightest pretext.
Let me start with a disclaimer. I'm Asexual, meaning that I don't experience sexual attraction, and in my case, that I am perfectly happy to never have sex and die a virgin. As such, I struggle more than most in understanding what the self-proclaimed Incels are so angry about.
I've had two long-term relationships. Both worked just fine without sex; the first through polyamory and the fact that I had no problem with my partner visiting kink clubs, the second because we both have zero interest in anything more physically intimate than cuddling. Certainly I have had plenty of experience in meeting men who abruptly lost interest when they found out that sex would not be happening any time soon, if ever. I routinely make friends splutter drinks when I make a dirty joke, mostly because they don't expect it from me.
For someone who is a sexual person, or has a high sex drive, perhaps not being seen as desirable would be frustrating, especially in a world where everything is sexualised and people are socialised to believe that if they aren't having sex, then there is something wrong with them. In those cases, it's easy to pass the blame for whatever is 'wrong' with you on as someone else's fault. Certainly a lot easier than indulging in self reflection and working toward self-improvement and the realisation that the world owes you nothing other than the basic human rights and necessities ratified by the Geneva Convention.
I'll save you the effort of googling those: Sex on demand is neither a right, or a necessity.
The biggest problem of the Incel Community is less that they aren't having sex, and more what they are willing to do to rectify that lack.
4-chan and reddit Incel forums abound with conversation threads advocating everything from date-rape drugs and sexual assault of Staceys, to manipulation and abuse tactics, to the disfiguration or murder of Chads and Tyrones. As with any situation involving angry and entitled young men in large numbers, a quietly-expressed idea that might never come to fruition was seized upon and encouraged until it grew into a plan and the determination to carry it out.
In this case, the result was someone committing a mass-murder.
In 2014, Elliot Rodger went on a killing spree in Isla Vista. In his Manifesto, he cited a hatred of women, and anger that beautiful women didn't want to date or have sex with him, while throwing themselves at other men. Later, Incels would raise this seriously-disturbed youth as 'the Ultimate Gentleman', someone they should aspire to be like. In late April of 2018, a Toronto man drove a hired van into a crowd, killing then people and injuring several more. Eight of the dead were women. On social media, the killer, who had previously expressed admiration of Rodger, posted "The Incel Revolution has already begun!"
For many people, this was their first introduction to the term, although it is rare to find a woman who doesn't have at least one story of a man who thought himself entitled to her time and/or body, and became angry or aggressive when refused. Since then, knowledge of the Incels has grown, and while most reactions have been condemnation and derision, a disturbing number of online comments have sympathised or even supported the Incels.
I conclude with some advice to any Incels who might come across my contribution.
Women avoid you because they can tell that you hate and fear them. They turn you down because they don't want to be merely a sexual object for you to use and discard. Women ignore you in favour of other men (or women) because those other whom you envy are confident, interesting and respectful; a far more appealing combination than your insecurities, whining and lust.
If you want women to be attracted to you, try these simple steps:
1) Let go of your belief that you 'deserve' the attention of women; nothing turns us off faster.
2) Practice social skills. Learn how to carry on a conversation, recognise cues, and how to listen to other people. Make spending time with you an enjoyable experience, rather than a trial.
3) Find a hobby or develop a skill. Join a social group that shares one of your interests (gaming, music, sports, whatever). Learn to play a sport or instrument, or a skill that you can talk about as a common interest when talking to women. Most of my dates and relationships in the past began with a long and enthusiastic discussion about books or history, two of my favourite subjects.
(on a side note: My partner claims that the writing prompts they sent me work better than any flowers. They aren't wrong.)
4) Learn to treat others like actual people, rather than potential conquests and potential rivals. It will make you infinitely more pleasant to be around.