I Posed Online As A Male Incel — And Yes, It Was Disturbing

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In 2014, Elliot Rodger, 22, parked his black BMW coupe, pressed record on his video camera, and spoke the words that would make him the anti-hero to thousands in the manosphere.

“The girls are not sexually attracted to me. And I have a major problem with that…That’s a problem I intend to rectify.”

And he meant it.

Rodger calmly bought himself a triple vanilla latte from Starbucks and then drove to the Alpha Phi sorority house in Isla Vista, California. He knocked on the sorority house door but no one answered. He then opened fire on the first two students outside the sorority who were unlucky enough to be in his warpath.

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Over the following minutes, he killed six people and injured fourteen before turning the gun on himself.

Since that horrific killing spree, Rodger has become the hate champion for the group known as incels — “involuntary celibates.” Incels are an online community of cisgender men who share one trait — a failure to attract women. The stereotypical incel is white, male, young, identifies with the alt-right, hates everyone (women, minorities, the LBGTQ community, etc.), and is lonely.

That last one is the common denominator. Incels have turned to Reddit, 4chan, and other online communities to get what they can’t get in real-life — companionship. Or, more precisely, tribalism through shared hatred.

And that hatred runs deep and wide. Reddit and other online forums have tried to ban incel forums, but as soon as one forum closes, another opens. And they have thousands of followers.

Ironically, the incel community was started by a twenty-something woman named Alana in the 1990s. Alana had trouble finding love, so she started a mailing list to commiserate with other singles. The project then spread into an online community for men and women to share their hopes and fears.

Yet, somehow fear reigned supreme. By the 2000s, the small support group had morphed into a Boschian landscape of misguided hate-mongering. And since Rodger’s horrendous murders, his initials have become a verb in the incel community — to “ER” means to go on a killing spree.

Their underlying philosophy is that men must take the “red pill” and accept that women are granted hypergamous privileges that belong to only men. As once incel writes, “…jobs that were originally designed for men (finances, IT, manual labor, etc.) are being occupied by foids who are like 50% less competent than their male counterparts.”

The red pill terminology is derived from that crucial choice in The Matrix when Keanu Reeves’ character must choose between knowing the truth (red pill) and staying oblivious (blue pill).

I decided to swallow my own red pill and understand where this hatred stems from.

Becoming an incel

My first step in penetrating this dark underbelly of humanity was to learn the lingo. (I am what the incels would call a “facecel” — someone who claims to be an incel but isn’t.)

A “Chad” is a man who is considered high status. He’s attractive, charismatic, rich, and the envy of every incel for one reason — he gets attention from women.

Sexually active women are referred to as “holes” unless you are a “Stacey” — a hot, popular woman.

“Normies” are women who are average-looking but still evil.

Other vocab burns with more unmitigated misogyny. A “roastie” is a woman who has had so much sex that her labia has become stretched and resembles roast beef. (Clearly, many incels missed third-grade biology.)

A “foid” is a female humanoid — or subpar species. Most women are foids.

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The last one is probably the most apropos. Ostensibly, all this lingo is designed to objectify and dehumanize women. In Incel-land, women should be conquered and dominated. One pithy thread gave the following advice on being an alpha male;

“Giving orders is the most important part of dominance. The more emotionally invested she is, the more she will want to take orders from you.

It sounds like the same tactics one would use to train a pit bull.

Other discussion threads are more disturbing because they encourage incels to commit heinous acts of violence against women. One forum cited bogus scientific papers on how women prefer rape to consensual sex. Ick.

Aside from junk science, the underlying justification for violence against women is that women are shallow, venal creatures manipulating men for their resources. And some go so far as to preach that incels are entitled to women’s bodies.

There’s that ugly word — entitlement. As one incel writes, “All I ever wanted was to be accepted, have some sex with multiple females a day, and chill and had a peaceful life.”

Obviously, the improper verb usage is jarring and might indicate why he can’t get a date. But the sense of entitlement oozes out of that statement like a festering wound — “multiple females a day.”

Let that sink in. These men think they are entitled to a harem of women. And they will fly into a narcissistic rage when they are rejected. Or worse.

As one incel writes, “I’m past the point of caring to the point that I could start grapping [sic] teen butts in public.” I am not familiar with the slang — “grapping,” but it sure sounds like rape.

Incels demonstrate all the classic victim signaling with an interesting twist. They don’t blame wealth, intelligence, race, or class for their failures with women. They blame their attractiveness.

That’s right. Incels believe the sole reason they are discriminated against by women is that they are ugly. They are so obsessed with appearances that they assign every man a decile scale — a 1–10 attractiveness scale. (A Chad must be at least an 8.)

There is even an entire vocabulary around how they are aesthetically disadvantaged. Heightcels can’t get laid because they are short. Gingercels are discriminated against because of their red hair. Baldcels are obviously too bald to be loved. Skullcels don’t have the right bone structure. And there are even Wristcels — men with an unacceptable wrist circumference.

What you won’t find is jerkcels — men who get rejected by women because they are jerks. Incels refuse to blame their failures with women on their behavior. That would be a factor they could actually control.

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It seems almost laughable until you remember that this victim signaling is what psychopaths do before going on a rampage.

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And you might also notice the blatant hypocrisy. For a celibate group, they sure do talk about sex…a lot. Paradoxically, they condemn any sexually active woman as a slut, but most of their discussions pivot around how to have sex with these same despicable women.

But you would be missing a trick to think incels are driven by sex. Sex is not their problem. Their problem is ostracization.

And many are on the fringe of society. There are moments where I feel sorry for them. Sort of. But then I remember how much they would hate me if they knew they were chatting with someone who has a vagina. (I posed as a heightcel…which at 5.'5" is not a complete lie.)

How hate breeds more hate

You might be tempted to dismiss incels as harmless neckbeards who need a hug and a dose of maturity. When I first heard of incels, my kneejerk reaction was the same — these men are just a bunch of frustrated wankers who need a place to voice those frustrations. And besides, people are not their real selves online.

But the incel’s hate discourse is not harmless locker room talk or men blowing off a little steam. These men act on their hatred with devastating consequences.

Take, for example, George Sodini — a forty-eight-year-old systems analyst who shot three women and injured nine in an LA Fitness center. Authorities later discovered that Sodini was a member of the Pickup Artist Group (PUA) — a subset of the incel manosphere. Sodini also ran a blog to spread his misogynistic views on why women rejected him.

Then there was British teenager Ben Moynihan who attempted to murder three women. His diary later revealed that he was a frustrated virgin with a deep-seated hatred for the women who had rejected him.

Or how about twenty-six-year-old Chris Harper-Mercer, who shot eight people and himself at Umpqua Community College. He left behind a manifesto claiming to be a victim of sexual frustration caused by not having a girlfriend.

And lastly, on March 16, 2021, twenty-one-year-old Robert Aaron Long shot and killed eight women. He also claimed his despicable crime was not through his own agency but because he had a sex addiction. And it isn’t a coincidence that he targeted Asian women — the same women incel men target.

On the surface, incels may appear to be only disenfranchised gamers who lack the emotional intelligence to get a date. But peel back the layers, and you will find something far more sinister — terrorism.

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It’s for this reason that homeland security has started to take them seriously. Recently, a Toronto incel teenager became the first incel to be charged with terrorism. Authorities are beginning to understand that these men are not just a bunch of losers sharing lame pickup lines. They are a hate group invested in spreading dangerous ideologies — the kind of ideologies that incite violence.

My grandma Ella used to say — “drunks and babies don’t lie.” Well, these online forums are full of babies drunk on hatred. And they are not lying.

It’s time we started believing them before they hurt more women.

If you or someone you know has experienced a hate crime, contact the United States Department of Justice.

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Carlyn Beccia is an author, illustrator, and speaker. Her books have won numerous awards, including the Golden Kite Honor, the International Reading Association's Children's and Young Adult Book Award, and the Cybil Award. You can follow her on Twitter or Medium @CarlynBeccia.

This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.