The internet can be a wonderful place, until it’s not. Until men with links to inceldom murder two women, one three-year-old girl and two men, before turning the gun on themselves, in an event described by police as the worst mass shooting in Britain since 2010.
The media can be a powerful tool, until it’s not. Until atrocities occur that don’t fit the narrative of what we collectively accept as ‘terrorism’ and leading feminists are asked to talk about violence against women, but to ‘keep it general’ because apparently motivations aren’t clear at this stage.
When atrocities like this occur, language becomes extremely important. It defines how seriously we take something, how we begin to understand something and how we learn.
We know from past events that the colour of someone’s skin, and, inevitably, their religion is important in allowing the police and media to define a particular crime, and for us to understand and respond to it too, right?
We also know from past events that when white men kill – especially when they kill women – they are defined by their social status and their mental health. They’re loners: crazy men who commit atrocities in the name of… well, nothing: violence against women is deemed a domestic incident.
In the case of this week’s horrific murders in Plymouth, we know that this is not only a wildly inaccurate description, it’s a dangerous one.
Jake Davison was a 22-year-old incel who was radicalised online by extremists who hate women.
Jake Davison was a terrorist.
Inceldom is extremism and it breeds terrorists
The term ‘incel’ may seem like an exclusively online term; a new one at that. But, the involuntary celibate community has existed for 30 years. It began as an online community that consisted of both men and women; those who were too shy to talk to their preferred sex partners, and so they talked to one another.
They were helpful; they gave each other advice, they shared tips on how to take steps to actually speak to people they were attracted to. They were a friendly community, and those involved back in the 90s often remember it fondly.
A lot has changed in 30 years.
This online subculture has grown exponentially and it boasts hundreds of thousands of members. Inceldom is now a vast, global network that consists exclusively of men. Inceldom is now an international misogynist movement fuelled by rage, open contempt and violent hostility towards women.
Today, inceldom is a cruel parody of what it once was. Rather than a helpful, isolated subculture, whose members are largely disconnected from society, they’re misogynists, organised and aligned by an ideology that combines traditional misogyny with technology and the information – or, rather misinformation – that comes with it.
Inceldom is now an institution, upheld by a profoundly sexist ideology known as the “blackpill”, which fundamentally rejects women’s sexual autonomy and cultural/domestic emancipation. Instead, women are labelled with horrific terms that define us as nothing more than shallow or cruel. We’re puppeteers in a game designed to keep incels trapped in the confines of virginity because we only choose attractive men – Chads. But we’re also not worthy of incels because we’re whores and our lack of virtue, femininity and virginity is a cause of extreme vitriol.
Inceldom is often pitied. Big mistake. Huge.
If the stereotypes we see perpetuated throughout the TV shows and movies we watch are to be believed, anyone who spends all of their time on the internet is to be pitied, yes? They’re sad, lonely men who live in their mother’s basement in a Freudian wet dream, or Oedipal nightmare, whatever floats your boat.
This is a mistake we have collectively overlooked, and it has had dire consequences for women across the globe.
Looking back at past – and most recent – atrocities, it’s clear to see that inceldom shouldn’t be pitied. The sheer fact they have an ideology that unites them in their hatred for women should be an indicator that they are serious, and their ability to operate almost hidden in plain sight on the internet is terrifying.
We need to start acting accordingly and treating this extremism for what it is.
Inceldom has real-life and often fatal consequences for women
As a woman who has been writing about feminism and women’s rights on the internet for what feels like thousands of years, I’ve had my fair share of harassment, rape threats, death threats, attempted hackings, fake profiles to harass me and my loved ones.
It’s another day at the office for your friendly, neighbourhood feminist who understands misogyny, toxic masculinity and how it breeds the likes of incels and extremists, mass murderers and shooters.
For other women, those who have never heard the term ‘inceldom’ or women who wouldn’t define themselves as feminists, even, they’ve lost their lives.
Just because they’re women.
Content warning: this next part is pretty rough. You’ve been warned.
It’s hard to narrow down the ‘first’ act of terrorism against women by someone who had been radicalised online, but there are a few murderers who have been openly revered by the incel community with varying forms of infamy, so I’ll start there.
George Sodini: the collier township shooting
In 2009, 48-year-old George Sodini walked into an LA Fitness centre in Pittsburgh with a duffle bag in hand, making his way to an exercise class. He turned off the lights and fired on the women in the room using two 9mm weapons.
He killed three and injured nine others before killing himself.
Eight months before the shooting, Sodini published a blog post:
I actually look good. I dress good, am clean-shaven, bathe, touch of cologne – yet 30 million women rejected me – over an 18 or 25-year period. That’s how I see it. Thirty million is my rough guesstimate of how many desirable single women there are… Women just don’t like me.
Ten years later, Scott Beirele, 40, shot and killed two women at a yoga studio in Tallahassee, Florida, before killing himself.
Both men in their forties. Both men harbored deep and deadly resentment towards women for being sexually rejected. Beirele was a self-proclaimed misogynist and wrote online:
There are whores in – not only every city, not only every town, but every village.
Elliot Roger: the Isla Vista massacre
In 2014, Elliot Rodger killed six people in a stabbing and shooting spree in Isla Vista. Before turning the gun on himself, the 22-year-old posted a “retribution” video to YouTube and emailed his 141 page manifesto to people he knew.
In this document, he explores his upbringing – son of a Hollywood filmmaker (so, lots of privilege and affluence), his mental health and his deep-rooted loathing of women, fuelled by an intense frustration over his virginity.
He admits to never having kissed a girl and describes himself as the “ideal magnificent gentlemen” and couldn’t comprehend why women didn’t want to have sex with him.
The human species had rejected me all my life, despite the fact that I am the ideal, magnificent gentleman. Life itself is twisted and disgusting, I mused. Humans are brutal animals. If I cannot thrive among them, then I will destroy them all. I didn’t want things to turn out this way. I wanted a happy, healthy life of love and sex. But if I’m unable to have such a life, then I will have no choice but to exact revenge on the society that denied it to me.
In this manifesto, Rodger specified he planned to target the Alpha Phi sorority because he deemed those to be the ‘hottest’ at his college, “the kind of girls I’ve always desired but was never able to have”.
On his so-called day of retribution he killed seven people – three by stabbing, four by gunfire (this includes himself) and injured 14 (seven by gunfire, seven by car).
In the final section of his manifesto, Rodger declared:
I am the true victim in all of this. I am the good guy.
Alek Minassian: Toronto van attack
In April 2018, Minassian drove a rental van into crowds of pedestrians in Toronto killing eight women and two men ranging in age from 22 to 94, and injuring 16, some critically.
His motivation was infamy, sexual loneliness, rage and misogyny. At the time he admitted to police he belonged to an incel community, and he now faces an automatic life sentence with no parole for at least 25 years.
Toronto’s Mayor, John Tory said in a statement recently:
Nearly three years ago, our entire city was rocked by this heinous act of violence. Make no mistake, this was an attack fuelled by misogyny and hatred of women and should be treated as such.
Cathy Riddell, a survivor of Minassian’s attack said:
He can spend the rest of his life in jail because he deserves it. He took lives and he didn’t care and you just have to be accountable for what you do.
Inceldom canonises and reveres murderers as part of their radicalisation of vulnerable young boys and men
What’s the old saying? Misery loves company? The indoctrination of vulnerable men into a life of toxic masculinity and extremist inceldom accounts for misery, and the canonisation and reverence of murderers whose terrorist attacks against women prove it.
Mark Lepine is another misogynist and, seemingly, honorary incel. In 1989, he opened fire at a university in Montreal, killing 14 women and then himself. In his suicide note he blamed women, namely, feminists who “have always ruined [his] life” and allegedly drove him to commit murder.
For seven years life has brought me no joy and being totally blasé, I have decided to put an end to those viragos.
These attacks are not isolated incidents, and they’re not random or otherwise the work of mentally ill loners. These attacks are terrifyingly similar and their perpetrators are all angry at the same thing: women.
Inceldom is a violent extremist group with hundreds of thousands of members in its community, operating online without censure. These attacks, while they seem random, are all fuelled by a guiding ideology of misogyny – and they’re radicalising young boys in the same way that would be considered incredibly and dangerously unacceptable was it being conducted in the name of any other movement, world view or religion.
These attacks all have the same thing in common: violence against women and their perpetrators are all loners with mental health issues. When we talk about them, we talk about how they were bullied or how they were lonely, even though they have rather explicitly stated their motives for killing women, which is all aligned with the same ideology: inceldom and its blackpill.
As they say, the proof is unfortunately, in the pudding and what happened to the victims of Jake Davison, alongside the victims of other incel-specific attacks is as a result of radicalisation and extremism.
It’s terrorism and we need to start describing it and talking about it accurately, because women are paying the price of this radicalisation with their lives.