‘Incels see women as subhuman and undeserving of respect – run at the first sign of ill-treatment’

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Since the tragic terror attack in Plymouth last week the term ‘incel’ has been in the news. The killer, Jake Davison, appears to have been connected to the incel movement and had discussed some of his misogynistic beliefs online in the lead up to the attack. An incel is someone who defines themselves as involuntarily celibate. They want to have sex and relationships with women, but they struggle to meet and interact with them, and they blame women/society/genetics for their misfortunes.

Broadly, they see sex as a biological right, they believe that they are entitled to have sex but are being prevented from doing so because women practice ‘hypergamy’. This means that women ‘marry up’ – they choose partners purely because of looks and money. Incels believe that 80% of women will only sleep with the top 20% of men and that those men dominate the dating world purely by being conventionally attractive and having social status. They feel as though they are destined to fail because they aren’t deemed as attractive or successful by society.

Incels aren’t all evil, or violent, many of them are simply boys and men who have felt lonely and rejected and who find solidarity in online communities of people who feel the same. They often find their way into these forums through online gaming sites, or bodybuilding threads on Reddit. They don’t usually start out hating women, but they enter a world in which they become exposed to extreme misogyny, often in the form of ‘banter’ and memes, and they become groomed and radicalised into the idea that everything wrong with their life has been caused by women, and more specifically, feminism. They also dislike men who they perceive to be successful with women.

Inceldom exists on a spectrum, most men who identify as incels will not go on to harm anyone and find talk of violence to be disturbing. But on that spectrum, there are incels who subscribe to the view that women deserve to be raped, murdered, and tortured and who hail people like Jake Davison, and others who have killed in the name of incel ideology, as hero’s. They often capitalise the ER in hERo in homage to Elliot Rodger who killed 7 people and blamed the murders on how the world had failed him by not enabling him to have sex.

Incels exist in a corner of the internet called ‘The Manosphere’. The manosphere is a catch all term for male led movements that centre around misogyny and opposing feminism. Essentially, at the root of the manosphere is the idea that men, especially cis-gender heterosexual white men, are at the bottom of the pile in modern society. They believe that they are oppressed by women and feminism. There are huge cross overs with the alt-right and white supremacist beliefs, racism is rife in the manosphere, though manosphere members come from a diverse range of cultural backgrounds, they are predominantly young white men. Manosphere men tend to have low self-esteem and are dissatisfied with life.

The manosphere includes:

Men Going Their Own Way (MGTOW) believe that men need to separate themselves entirely from women. They believe that society has been destroyed by feminism and that the only way for men to thrive is male separatism. They believe that women are dangerous to men.

Men’s Right’s Activists (MRAs) focus on social issues faced by men including Father’s rights, male suicide, and domestic abuse against men. This would all be fine and noble if it wasn’t created as a backlash to the feminist movement and if it didn’t deny that women also have social issues that need to be addressed, or believe that women are the cause of all men’s problems. MRA’s often appear to be more focused on dismissing female oppression than actively trying to fight for equality between genders. At the worst end of the spectrum, they believe in male supremacy, and they advocate violence against women.

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Pick Up Artists (PUAs) are defined by Wikipedia as ‘self-identified as dating coaches, the seduction community or the pickup community, is a movement of men whose goal is seduction and sexual success with women’. Pick up artists use psychological techniques to manipulate women into having sex with them, and they share these tips online, which include recommending the use of negging, triangulation (letting you know about other women they are interested in to make you jealous), fake empathy, pretending to be nice guys, blowing hot and cold with mixed messages, and love bombing.

PUAs frequently post sexual videos of their ‘conquests’, or videos of them harassing women in the street, online to prove to other men that they are successfully getting women with their techniques. Their techniques often involve pestering women who have said no, pushing boundaries, and coercion. They don’t care about the women who they manipulate into bed, they drop them and move on to another woman who they can impress their PUA buddies with. Several notorious PUAs have been arrested for sexual assault and harassment.

I think it’s vital for women who date men to be aware of how the manosphere has an impact on dating. We are likely to come across men who are actively involved with, or on the periphery of, Incel PUA and MRA forums at some point; especially if we are using dating apps. Here are some ways in which this can manifest.

Treating women badly – Elliot Rodger once wrote “The meanest and most depraved men come out on top and the girls flock to them, their evil acts are rewarded by women while the decent men are laughed at.” And whilst it’s not true to say that women like people who treat them badly, I think we can all see how your typical sporty, handsome ‘jock’ type who treats women like crap, is traditionally seen as more popular with women than your ‘nerdy’ introverted quiet guy.

The reasons why are nuanced, complex, and entirely too long a discussion to have here, but I would agree that there is truth to their observations, though there is little truth to their explanations of why it happens. Men who hate women treat women badly, sometimes this stems entirely from their misogyny, MRAs and ‘Alpha males’ would fall into this camp. But sometimes it stems from a belief that you must treat women badly to attract and keep them, it is strategic. Negging, mixed messages, and making her jealous are all things that they recommend. PUA’s and incels cite treating women badly as a seduction technique. Many also believe that women are subhuman and don’t deserve any respect. So, we must run at the first sign of ill-treatment, it’s a very big red flag.

Nice guys –I’m not talking about genuinely nice guys, there are lots of them and they are who we need to hold out for. I’m talking about the guys who just pretend to be nice because they watched some PUA YouTube videos that instructed them on how to pick vulnerable targets and love bomb them with niceness and empathy before pulling it cruelly away. The other breed of ‘nice’ guys are those who believe that women owe men sex in return for being nice, they believe that they are entitled to women who they have treated with respect, and they often become angry if they are rejected. The bar must be higher than just nice. Being a decent person is the bare minimum. We owe nothing to people just because they are kind.

Ghosters – I get a lot of DMs from women who feel confused about why a guy who seemed super keen has ghosted after sex, there are a multitude of reasons for ghostingbut one potential explanation is that he used PUA techniques to graft them into bed with the sole purpose of adding them to the notches on his bedpost and with absolutely no intention of seeing them again. They know how to say and do all the right things. Waiting to sleep with them doesn’t help, it just becomes more of a challenge for them. Ghosting is all part of the plan. I would recommend watching some PUA videos on YouTube to familiarise yourself with their tactics.

Catfishes – In the BBC documentary ‘ The Secret World of Incels’ they follow an incel called Catfishman. Catfishman used dating apps to humiliate women by posing as a model online. He would post pictures of a gorgeous man to lure women in and then when they met him for a date, he would film their reaction as he revealed that it was a set-up, shouting at them that they are ugly whores who are deluded if they think they could get a hot model. He would then post those videos on incel forums to boost his status among incels and to further humiliate the women.

On incel forums they use the term ‘Chadfishing’ (Chad is the term they use for a conventionally hot guy, and Stacey is the term for an attractive woman). Many incels try ‘chadfishing’ to prove how different their dating app experience is when they use someone else’s pictures. This fuels the idea that women are shallow and vapid. It is important to have a video call with people before agreeing to meet with dates. Never meet up with anyone who you haven’t verified as being real prior to the date. Look out for pictures that seem too good to be true. And never give out personal information to the people you talk to online, you never really know who you’re talking to until you’ve met them face to face.

Outside of dating, the reason why it is important for us to know about all of this is not only because the manosphere is huge and growing, and because their ideas and radicalised members present an increasing threat to women and society, but also because many of us will come across these men at some point. They are not all greasy weirdos who don’t leave their darkened rooms, they are among us, they are our sons, brothers, neighbours, and colleagues and we have the potential to get them help if we spot the signs early enough. I learnt about all of this properly by reading ‘Men who Hate Women’ by Laura Bates.

I could not recommend any book more highly. I believe that everyone should read it, but especially parents of sons and people who work in youth settings. It is vital for us to understand it all, particularly the specific terminology and memes that they use so that we can spot if those around us are accessing these forums. vulgadrawings on Instagram has done a great infographic on the subject which may help

All young men who have access to social media are vulnerable to the grips of the manosphere. The drip drip effect of jokes and memes coupled with a feeling of being understood and accepted by your peers is insidious. To protect them from it we must understand it. Read up on this subculture as much as you can. Knowledge is power.

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