Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday April 26, 2018
‘Raw hatred’: why the ‘incel’ movement targets and terrorises women
When a van was driven on to a Toronto pavement on Tuesday, killing 10 people and injuring 15, police chief Mark Saunders said that, while the incident appeared to be a deliberate act, there was no evidence of terrorism. The public safety minister Ralph Goodale backed this up, deeming the event “not part of an organised terror plot”. Canada has rules about these things: to count as terrorism, the attacker must have a political, religious or social motivation, something beyond “wanting to terrorise”.
Why have the authorities been so fast to reject the idea of terrorism (taking as read that this may change; the tragedy is very fresh)? Shortly before the attack, a post appeared on the suspect’s Facebook profile, hailing the commencement of the “Incel Rebellion”, including the line “Private (Recruit) … Infantry 00010, wishing to speak to Sgt 4chan please. C23249161.” (“4chan is the main organising platform for the ‘alt-right’,” explains Mike Wendling, the author of Alt-Right: from 4Chan to the White House.)
There is a reluctance to ascribe to the “incel” movement anything so lofty as an “ideology” or credit it with any developed, connected thinking, partly because it is so bizarre in conception.
Standing for “involuntarily celibate”, the term was originally invented 20 years ago by a woman known only as Alana, who coined the term as a name for an online support forum for singles, basically a lonely hearts club. “It feels like being the scientist who figured out nuclear fission and then discovers it’s being used as a weapon for war,” she says, describing the feeling of watching it mutate into a Reddit muster point for violent misogyny.
Who are the ‘incels’ and how do they relate to Toronto van attack?
It is part of the “manosphere”, but is distinguished from men’s rights activism by what Wendling – who is also the editor of BBC Trending, the broadcaster’s social media investigation unit – calls its “raw hatred. It is vile. It is just incredibly unhinged and separate from reality and completely raw.” It has some crossover with white supremacism, in the sense that its adherents hang out in the same online spaces and share some of the same terminology, but it is quite distinctive in its hate figures: Stacys (attractive women); Chads (attractive men); and Normies (people who aren’t incels, ie can find partners but aren’t necessarily attractive). Basically, incels cannot get laid and they violently loathe anyone who can. (Continued: Guardian)