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The “Incel Rebellion” Is Misogynist Terrorism. So Why Do So Many People Still Put the Blame on Women?

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By now you may have heard that the man who drove a rental truck into pedestrian traffic in Toronto last week, killing 10 people and injuring 15 more, has been identified as the author of a Facebook post about the “incel rebellion.” Alek Minassian’s post read, “The Incel Rebellion has already begun! We will overthrow all the Chads and Stacys! All hail the Supreme Gentleman Elliot Rodger!”

To break that down for those fortunate people who have made it this far in life without having knowledge of misogynistic Reddit lingo, “incel” is short for “involuntary celibate.” The subreddit r/incels was banned last year (along with others, although plenty more incel-based subreddits still exist). What could, in a better, kinder world, have been a “support group” to discuss a lack of success in dating, incel groups are rooted in violent misogyny. They blame women and society in general for their unhappiness. Feminists are evil hags who exist to oppress and humiliate men. “Stacys” are conventionally sexually attractive, sexually active women whom these men simultaneously desire and despise. “Chads” are the men to whom Stacys are attracted.

And since these “incels” feel entitled to sex with any and all women they feel attracted to, they view those “Stacys” as cruel, depriving them of the sex, attention, and admiration they think they innately deserve. Some talk about these women as if they’re involved in a conspiracy. As if all women got together to decide to punish this poor incel. As if they have meetings to laugh about denying him sex. Because surely, there could be no other reason why a man like that has trouble gaining the attention and respect of women.

Elliot Rodger has been labeled “the first alt-right killer,” after killing six people in a shooting spree in Isla Vista, California in 2014. He left behind a 100,000-word “manifesto” as well as a video listing his reasons for the killings. Most of it is the typical incel red pill mentality: that women were committing “an injustice, a crime” against him by not offering up sex. The screed, like much incel rhetoric, is also steeped in racism. The idea that a woman would choose to have sex with a POC before one of these white “nice guys” is unfathomable to them. The punishment, as Rodger saw it, and apparently as Minassian saw it, was death.

What should be absolutely clear to everyone not brainwashed by red pill misogyny is that this is pure bullshit. That 1. Women don’t owe anyone sex, and these men are simply furious that a woman claims autonomy over her body, her sexuality, and her ability to make her own decisions regarding the two. And 2. The entire premise of their entitlement—that these men who so very clearly despise women—genuinely seem to believe they are “nice guys.” Rodger called himself the “perfect guy” and, yes, “the supreme gentleman.” I don’t think he or Minassian had a hint of irony in them.

Unfortunately, those things aren’t obvious to a lot of people. There are a surprising number of people attempting to justify the idea that if women were more open to having sex with these kinds of men, these sorts of tragedies wouldn’t happen. That sort of mentality seems to assume that these men actually were the nice gentlemen they declared themselves to be—or at least harmless—and the lack of attention from women is what turned them into murderers. That is as ludicrous as it is dangerous. Asking women to sympathize with these men’s sexual frustrations is asking them to use their bodies as a means of placating potentially violent men. Not only is that totally insulting, it also doesn’t work. There is a reason why pretty much every mass killer in the history of ever has a history of domestic abuse.

I’m also seeing a lot of people arguing that if these guys just needed to get laid, they should have paid sex workers. First, this isn’t about sex. It’s about control. These men want power over women (and those “Chads”), not healthy romantic and sexual relationships. To propose sex workers are a viable outlet for these men’s sexual frustration not only ignores that fact, but it suggests that they should be used as a barrier between violent men and other women.

All of these arguments hinge on the idea that women’s behaviors are the root of toxic, violent masculinity, and that they are the solution for it as well. So let’s be clear about the very simple ideas that most of us probably thought were already basic common sense: women are never, ever obligated to give out sex or attention just because someone else wants it. How that person reacts to a woman’s disinterest is entirely their own issue. Suggesting women have the power or the responsibility to satiate potentially violent men is flat-out wrong, as well as insulting and dehumanizing. And women can tell the difference between an actual nice guy and the type of person who will respond to rejection with vitriol or violence.

(image: Soumil Kumar from Pexels)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) has a lot of opinions about a lot of things. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri with her husband Brock Wilbur and too many cats.