Incels – Misogyny at its Worst

Trauma warning. This blog post discusses issues relating to the recent tragic events in Plymouth. 

“The history of men’s opposition to women’s emancipation is more interesting perhaps than the story of that emancipation itself.”  Virginia Woolf

Jake Davison gunned down five people in Plymouth on Thursday before turning the gun on himself in the worst mass shooting this country has seen in over a decade.

The motive for this shocking act was uncovered when the police investigation turned its attention to Davison’s social media and YouTube posts. Davison identified as an Incel – involuntary celibate. He posted online about his frustrations of being a virgin in hate filled rants about women.

If anyone ever doubts the need for society to be continually vigilant to the risk of misogyny and the oppression of women, the Incel movement will surely make them have a rethink.

Incel stands for ‘involuntary celibate’ – the name used by deeply misogynistic men who believe women are to blame for their lack of sexual intimacy. Incels have formed internet groups where they discuss how women who reject them should be verbally abused, sexually assaulted and physically punished. Incels have constructed a violent political ideology around the injustice of young, attractive women refusing to have sex with them. These men are often by their own judgment unattractive and socially inept, often describing themselves as subhuman.

Women are socialized from childhood to blame themselves if they feel undesirable, to believe that they will be unacceptable to men unless they present themselves as feminine and attractive. Men, unlike women, will often blame women if they feel undesirable. Incels are a subgroup of men who have taken this blame to an extreme and are prepared to violently abuse and even kill women who they believe would reject them. The fact is that misogynistic hate is the real root of their failures with women, appearance possibly less so.

Incel ideology has inspired various other murders.

In California in 2014, Elliot Rodger killed six and injured fourteen in an attempt to instigate a “War on Women” for “depriving me of sex”. Christopher Harper-Mercer, killed nine people, in 2015, and left behind a manifesto that praised Rodger and lamented his own virginity. Alek Minassian killed ten people and injured sixteen, in Toronto, 2018, prior to doing so, he wrote, on Facebook, “The Incel rebellion has already begun!”

There are plenty of people in society who would like to have sex but do not, for various different reasons. The main focus for Incel is not sex, its absolute male dominance over women and women’s bodies. If it was just sex that Incel wanted, they might value sex workers and wish to legalize prostitution. But Incel are actually violent misogynists and tend to direct hatred at things they think they desire; they are obsessed with female beauty but despise makeup as a form of fraud.

Incels tend to borrow language commonly used in the equality and civil rights agenda – ‘society treats single men like trash’, ‘women, can change this, but they refuse to, they have blood on their hands.’

Incels believe their virginity is a discrimination or apartheid issue, and only a state-distributed girlfriend program, outlawing multiple partners, can rectify this injustice. Yet at the same time, they hate victims, liberals, those who campaign for any actual equality. Their arguments are full of contradictions.

The Incels’ main principal is that you get women to have sex with you by making them feel insecure. When this doesn’t work, Incels escalate to violent fantasy, and believe the only thing that will get attractive women to sleep with them is force. Attractive men are collateral damage in this violent fantasy.

The internet is the forum where Incel will discuss their misogynistic hate of women.

Worryingly, there are various different forums where their views on the injustices they suffer and action they need to take against women are openly discussed.

Only men are part of the Incel movement, and it is male power, not female power, that has suggested that women are decorative sexual objects, and that male worth is measured by how good-looking a woman they acquire. Women, and, specifically, feminists, are the architects of the body-positivity movement, the ones who have pushed for a redefinition of what should be considered attractive, a more inclusive definition. We can’t redistribute women’s bodies as if they are a commodity, but we can redistribute the value we apportion to one another, something that the Incel demand from others but refuse to do themselves.

Following the killings in Plymouth, Sir Peter Fahy, former Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police said the threat posed by misogynistic extremists was of real concern. He suggested there was an increase in extreme ideology, particularly coming from America, and particularly the developing theme around hatred towards women. There is current debate as to whether the Incel movement should be classed as terrorism.

The Incel movement should act as a reminder to us all that we must never stop being vigilant to misogyny, and always seek to challenge sexist language and acts in the hope of progression to a more civilised society where women are treated equally and are allowed to feel safe.

“I feel that all revolutionary causes should start by addressing misogyny.” – Ezra Miller

This blog was written by our Domestic Abuse Outreach Worker Sandra.

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