April 25, 2018 1:51 pm
Updated: April 25, 2018 8:59 pm

What is incel? Examining the ‘rebellion’ praised by Toronto van attack suspect

WATCH ABOVE: 'Incel' post made by Toronto van attack suspect Alek Minassian raises concern.

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In a Facebook post that has been taken down, Toronto van attack suspect Alek Minassian made reference to and praised the “incel rebellion.”

The post read: “The incel rebellion has already begun! We will overthrow all the Chads and Stacys! All hail the Supreme Gentleman Elliot Rodger!”

What is incel?


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Incel is a combination of the words “involuntary” and “celibate,” a bitter nod to the fact that men who join this movement feel they are socially, but especially sexually, rejected by women. They are misogynists who are often associated with the Men’s Rights Movement, and believe that all women are vapid and choose mates purely based on their looks. Therefore, incels see them as inferior and believe that they should make themselves available to sexually gratify them.

Others have linked incels with the pickup artist movement, a community that teaches men seduction techniques to have sexual success with women.

LISTEN: What is an “Incel” and what are their motivations?

What does their terminology mean?

Chads are attractive men, while Stacys are women who want to be with them and not with incels.

“Almost all [incels] agree that the world (women) owes them sex and that they are oppressed for being sexless men,” wrote U.S. academic Ross Haenfler. “Ideally, incels would be able to have access to women’s bodies whenever without any backlash — or input from women.”

READ MORE: Toronto van attack suspect allegedly posted about mass killer Elliot Rodger

Elliot Rodger, who was responsible for killing six people and injuring 14 others before killing himself in a mass shooting in Isla Vista, Calif., in 2014, is largely (albeit some argue ironically) hailed as an incel hero. In written notes he left behind, Rodger said he wanted to “punish all females for the crime of depriving me of sex” and referred to himself as a “supreme gentleman.”

Other popular terms used by incels include “normies” or normal people; and “femoid,” a term that blends female with humanoid and implies they don’t view women as entirely human, but rather androids who only want to have sex with Chads.

They also often talk about “the blackpill,” a reference to a plot line in The Matrix in which the protagonist is asked to choose between taking a blue pill (i.e. his normal life) or a red pill (the true reality). The incels’ “blackpill” is akin to the movie’s red pill, although it paints a more bleak reality in which incels are doomed to a world where they’ll never win.

Who started incel?

The story behind the incel movement is an unlikely one. In a months-long investigation, ELLE Magazine found that the founder of incel was actually a Canadian woman, but the movement’s present incarnation couldn’t be farther from what she set out to establish.

A former student at Carleton University and current Toronto resident, Alana (last name withheld), said she was “trying to create a movement that was open to anybody and everybody.”

READ MORE: What we learned from Alek Minassian’s Incel-linked Facebook page — and what we’d like to know

When she was an undergrad at Carleton, Alana was distressed by the fact that she was still a virgin. She took to the internet to research sexuality, believing that she was somehow uninformed on the rules of the dating game. Through her research, she discovered a plethora of different relationship models — gay, bisexual, polyamorous — and decided she was bisexual.

After a six-month relationship with a woman, she looked back on her past experience and decided to create an online, inclusive space where people of all walks could share their experiences of loneliness. She somewhat presciently titled it “Alana’s Involuntary Celibacy Project.”

After moving to Toronto and opening herself up socially and romantically to both men and women, Alana passed the site to a stranger and never looked back — until she read about Rodger and how he identified as an incel.

She later told friends: “Like a scientist who invented something that ended up being a weapon of war, I can’t uninvent this word, nor restrict it to the nicer people who need it.”

Is Alek Minassian an incel?

Police are reluctant to pin Minassian’s motives on misogyny, but they have admitted that the victims are “predominantly” women.

Since the attack, he has been praised on incel forums and many incels have called him a hero.

Meanwhile, some are drawing parallels between this tragedy and the 1989 massacre at the Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal, where Marc Lepine entered a classroom, told the men to leave the room, and then killed 14 women before killing himself.

READ MORE: So-called ‘incels’ celebrate Toronto van attack, praise alleged driver Alek Minassian

In a suicide note he left behind, Lepine wrote: “I have decided to send the feminists who have always ruined my life to their Maker.”

How do incels communicate with each other?

They were once found on online forums like Reddit, which often provide an uncensored platform for these groups. But Reddit banned incels in November, saying they violated a policy against hate speech; some are still active on the site.

Once officially booted out of Reddit, the approximately 40,000 incels (although, as the New York Times notes, it’s unclear how many subscribe to the movement and how many followed it out of sheer curiosity) moved over to 4Chan, a message board that’s notorious for hosting hateful rhetoric. They also congregate at incels.me.

While many incels hide behind the anonymity of the internet — in fact, some say that they feel safe from the incel rebellion since they never leave their homes and therefore won’t find themselves in the crossfire of an attack — others have made themselves somewhat more visible (or at least audible) with podcasts about the movement.

READ MORE: ‘Proud’ father praises police officer son who arrested Toronto van suspect

The Incelcast, a podcast hosted by an incel by the name Jack Peterson, recorded an episode last night discussing the Toronto van attack. Peterson, who by all accounts portrays himself as a moderate incel and adamantly does not condone violence against women, was joined by a co-host by the name Mahlo in addition to other guests, all of whom shared varying viewpoints on the movement. (Global News has reached out to Peterson for comment.)

When asked to suggest solutions to events like the Toronto van attack, the guests cited legalized prostitution and legalized assisted suicide as ways to curb these events.

Although they came across as pacifists, in a recent post on the incel.me forum, Mahlo wrote about the Toronto attack, citing the death of “9 normalfags,” and referred to “putrid” and “evil” “femoids.”

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