Why Incels Terms Like Beta, Chad, And Thot Are More Dangerous Than You Think

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If you haven’t heard of incels, congratulations. They’re one of the most toxic online communities in existence (and if you’ve spent any time online, you know that’s saying a lot).

“Incel” is an abbreviation for “involuntary celibate.” In other words, an incel is someone who doesn't have sex but who would like to. In their view, they’ve been denied sex, a need which they’re entitled to have fulfilled, but which women have wrongfully robbed from them. 

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Most of them are cisgender, straight menMost of them are white. And all of them are misogynistic.

They’ve created their own online bubble called the “manosphere.” But unfortunately, their influence doesn’t end there, which is why I consider them to even be worthy of discussion.

Alarmingly, their misogynistic worldview has infiltrated conventional thought and pop culture — social scientists argue that whereas the manosphere was once a fringe group, it has gradually dominated mainstream discourse since around 2010.

Not surprisingly, their influence is now reflected in our everyday language.

The five terms below are very commonly used among incels. Over time, they’ve trickled into mainstream use and ballooned into popular memes. And even when non-incels use them, they reinforce incel ideology — an insidious cocktail of toxic masculinity, entitlement, and justification for violence.

Chad

In common parlance, this term has morphed from a toxic incel category into a casual compliment that even the most non-misogynistic people throw around.

According to incels, a Chad is a man who is promiscuous and exceptionally attractive to women. He has stereotypically masculine features such as a strong jawline, a muscular and tall physique, a large bulging penis, and that certain je ne sais quoi that women like. In Incel lore, Chad’s full name is “Chad Thundercock.”

Incels seem to have an interesting ambivalence towards Chad — they both worship him and resent him.

The popular meme below, created by a self-identified incel, perfectly encapsulates the simultaneous admiration and animosity incels feel towards Chads.

 

The female equivalent of a Chad is a Stacy — a woman who is stupid, promiscuous, and physically attractive. In incel depictions of her, she is dressed fashionably with a cartoonishly curvy body. But interestingly, a Stacy doesn’t elicit the same admiration or respect as a Chad.

So it’s no coincidence that while Chad has become a compliment, Stacy is never used as one. This Chad-Stacy double standard is yet another instance where men are praised for promiscuity, whereas women are shamed for it.

Beta male (and alpha male)

Incels use these terms to classify men into a hierarchy, with dominant and hypermasculine “alphas” at the top, and submissive and pathetic “betas” closer to the bottom.

The terms were borrowed from scientists who describe wolves leading their pack as “alphas.” But— news flash — we’re humans, not pack animals. Serious scientists agree that these terms are not applicable to humans whatsoever. (And by the way, even the scientists who coined the term “alpha” to describe wolves are now rejecting the alpha-beta dichotomy as inaccurate and useless.)

Here’s a popular definition of “beta male” from Urban Dictionary:

A beta male is submissive, effeminate, clingy, indecisive, weak-minded, and unconfident. He can’t deal with confrontation or challenges. He lets things happen instead of taking action.

Terms like “alpha” and “beta” perpetuate misogyny and toxic masculinity by reinforcing the idea that femininity is inferior to masculinity — and therefore that less traditionally masculine men are worthless and unattractive.

What’s interesting is that incels often use “beta” as an epithet to insult other men while also self-identifying as betas. They use the term “beta uprising” to describe their mission to take back power from alpha males (or Chads) and combat the “evil” influence of feminism.

This “uprising” not only sounds scary — it’s led to real-world violence.

For instance, Alek Minassian, the mass killer responsible for the 2018 Toronto van attack, proudly declared that he was part of the “beta uprising.” He told police in an interview,

I was thinking that it was time that I stood up to the Chads and Stacys….I felt angry that they would go for other men… because I consider myself a supreme gentleman. I was angry that they would give their love and affection to obnoxious brutes.

Sorry dude, but killing people doesn’t sound very “gentlemanly” to me.

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But the bottom line is this —in reality, these hierarchical categories do not exist. It’s a myth that there are “alpha males” to who most or all women are attracted to. Women’s attraction is simply not that predictable or homogenous. We’re not a monolith.

And insinuating that we are is just another way to dehumanize us.

Normie

I have to admit — I use this term all the time. And I probably will continue using it, since I don’t think it’s inherently toxic. But the way incels use it certainly is toxic.

I often hear non-incels use it to describe people who reflexively conform or who don’t think for themselves. I’ve also heard it used to refer to people who internalize toxic aspects of their culture without ever questioning them.

Ironically, incels embody that perfectly — they perpetuate the misogynistic status quo of our culture and fail to think for themselves.

But their definition of “normie” is entirely different.

Here’s their definition according to Incel Wiki:

In the incelosphere, a normie is an average person. Normies can be subdivided into low-tier normies (incel-lite), mid-range normies, and high-tier normies (or brads), roughly corresponding to rank 4 through 6 on the decile scale. A broader definition of a normie refers to someone who has an average social life, is a sex haver, consumer of fake stream media, hence often blue pilled.

So basically, a normie is someone who is too sexually successful to be an incel but not sexually attractive enough to be a Chad.

For incels, using this term is a way for them to disparage men who are too “normal” to be as misogynistic as they are. And that’s obviously toxic.

Thot

As most internet users have unfortunately become aware, “thot” stands for “that hoe over there.” It’s typically used to refer to a woman who engages in casual sex, or a woman who shares “sexually provocative” (a somewhat subjective descriptor) images of herself online, presumably to elicit positive attention from men.

When you spend any time thinking about the term, it quickly becomes clear that it’s rooted in misogyny and slut-shaming.

This highly upvoted Urban Dictionary definition of the term is pretty telling:

A woman who pretends to be the type of valuable female commodity who rightfully earns male commitment — until the man discovers that she’s just a cheap imitation of a “good girl” who is good only for mindless sex, not relationships or respect.

If women are products, then thots are cheap goods. More than that, they’re knockoffs: low-quality merchandise that attempts to masquerade as luxury items.

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The reduction of women to mere objects couldn’t be more obvious in this definition. Women aren’t people in the way that men are — they’re goods.

Incels feel entitled to the “service” that women provide, namely sex. (In their view, that’s women’s sole purpose.) So when they see a woman giving that service to other men, that “inequality” makes them feel indignant. And so, to protect their fragile ego, they dismiss the woman as just another “hoe” rather than accepting that her individual preferences are valid.

Hypergamy

I’m not going to mince words here — this term (as it’s used by incels) is utter bullshit. It’s pure, unadulterated misogyny under the guise of science.

Sure, it’s a real term in some academic fields. For example, sociologists sometimes use it to refer to the act of marrying someone of a higher economic class. But incels (and Jordan Peterson, Joe Rogan, etc.) have co-opted the term for much more sinister and pseudoscientific purposes.

Incels use this term to complain about women who pursue men who are “out of their league” — usually Chads. In other words, they pursue men who are superior to themselves in terms of looks, wealth, intelligence, social status, etc.

Incels believe that most women do this.

This is where their so-called 80–20 rule comes in — the idea that the top 80% of women are solely interested in the top 20% of men, and that the bottom 80% of men are left to compete for the bottom 20% of women. According to incels, since women innately operate this way, they’re naturally “hypergamous.” And that’s a big problem because it means the incels are not getting laid.

Here’s how a popular Urban Dictionary post defines hypergamy:

An evolutionary psychology theory that beta males and feminists refuse to look at or even acknowledge exists. They will usually blame the MGTOW and MRA community for making it up, but that just shows their lack of research, even though these same groups will tell their detractors and opponents to “do your own research” or “educate yourself.”

(MRA means “men’s rights activists” and MGTOW stands for “men going their own way” — these are both incel-aligned communities in the manosphere).

Their theory of hypergamy is not only misogynistic — it’s also just plain wrong. First of all, people’s attractiveness or “value” can’t be objectively ranked. People have widely varying tastes. So there’s no such thing as the “bottom 20%” of women or men. (And if incels stopped being such misogynistic assholes, they’d probably discover that women find them a lot more attractive.)

And second, even in terms of economic status, there’s absolutely no evidence that women biologically prefer men of “higher status” than themselves.

There’s actually some evidence showing the opposite —for instance, on average, women are dating men with lower levels of education than themselves. And income gaps within couples can be explained by the gender pay gap, not by hypergamy.

If you use any of these terms, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re an incel or a misogynist. As I said, I myself use the word “normie” all the time — just not in a misogynistic way.

But if we want to combat the scourge that is incel ideology, we should be mindful of when incel logic might be invading our own language.

For instance, if you want to support women, you might want to avoid calling someone a “thot.” If you want to undo toxic masculinity, you might want to stop pigeonholing men into “alpha” or “beta” categories. And if you hear other people using these terms in problematic ways, consider having a conversation about it.

After all, the first step toward change is greater awareness.

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Stephanie Leguichard is a writer, college student, and feminist activist. She has been featured in Medium, Adios Barbie, The Startup, and more. Follow her on Facebook.

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