Tuesday, March 15, 2016

I Just Learned About "Incel"...And it's Terrifying

What would you say if I told you that there is an entire online following of men who consider Elliot Rodger, the anti-feminist 22-year-old who murdered 6 people in Santa Barbara in 2014, a "hero" and a "courageous" crusader for men’s rights? What if I told you that some members of this following decline to call Rodger a hero, only because he killed too many men and not enough women? And what would you do if I said that some of these men blame society for not equipping Rodger with the skills he needed to attract women, his sexual frustration ultimately leading to his killing spree?

It was only recently that I learned the term “incel,” which is shorthand for a particularly disturbing faction of the men’s rights movement who are self described as INvoluntarily CELibate. At first glance, this community and its many online forums appear to be quite simple and mostly sympathetic. Many forums explain incel in terms of “datelessness” or “love-shyness”, a truly relatable problem for many adults. These online groups and blogs purport to provide information, resources and support to the incel community. Many incel bloggers feature a number of posts with dating advice, and tips to secure an intimate relationship.

However, as you dive beneath the surface of this virtual reality, you quickly discover that the world of incel is far from innocent. Rather, discussion boards and blogs are littered with woman-hating, anti-feminist, misogynistic, and often violent, rhetoric. For instance, just take a look at a few definitions generously provided by the blog, Rants of an Incel:
MGTOW – men going their own way. Men who do their own thing and try and avoid women at all costs, except for banging hookers, and just using women for sex (if they can). We do not believe in paying taxes, since most of that money goes to feminist causes, and we earn only what we need to survive, pay for hookers, and fund our hobbies, as the more we make, the more gets stolen by the guberment, which goes to support women. 
The Cunt – the female collective.. There is little difference between one woman and the next. They all behave the same way and they are all attracted to same dumbass, useless men (the badboy), making useless spawn which my tax dollars are stolen from me to fund. This is why they love liberalism/socialism/communism, it is hypocrisy at its finest. It can do everything a man can do, yet it needs my tax dollars. How much of my tax money goes to men’s services? Compared to women, virtually none. 
Nagina – male feminist/white knight/pussy whipped male. These guys should be hated even more than feminists, as they should know better. These guys consider themselves “real men”, and are the ones who shame incels since we cannot get women into our lives. This is derived from “mangina”, but this type of male and “man” should not exist in the same word together, as manginas are not real men.
One of the most upsetting articles I came across while delving into the incel blogosphere was featured on the website A Voice for Men in 2010, and titled “Challenging the Etiology of Rape.” The article now cautiously provides a disclaimer indicating that it was meant to be provocative, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the entire men’s rights movement. Even so, the author takes the notion of “victim blaming” to a whole new level:
In the most severe and emphatic terms possible the answer is NO, THEY ARE NOT ASKING TO GET RAPED. 
They are freaking begging for it.
Damn near demanding it. 
And all the outraged PC demands to get huffy and point out how nothing justifies or excuses rape won’t change the fact that there are a lot of women who get pummeled and pumped because they are stupid (and often arrogant) enough to walk though life with the equivalent of a I’M A STUPID, CONNIVING BITCH – PLEASE RAPE ME neon sign glowing above their empty little narcissistic heads.
In a way, it is at least conceivable how any number of socially challenged, sexually frustrated men could be drawn to this community, which conveniently places the blame for their celibacy and inability to develop romantic relationships squarely on women. As one Jezebel article puts it, “It's the oldest story in the book: Person Who Hates Women Can't Figure Out Why He Can't Get a Date With a Woman.” But I certainly don’t need to tell you how UTTERLY AND COMPLETELY wrong that is. In fact, I would go so far as to say that is it terrifyingly f***ed up.

No matter how offended and disturbed I am by the teachings of the incel community, I am not one to advocate for the stifling of free speech. Surely my feminist rants offend someone, somewhere, some way, and I would hope for the respect to voice those concerns in whatever way I please. However, the notion that I most grapple with, and the thing that I actually find dangerous, is the overt assumption that men are entitled to sex, and thus women have some kind of innate duty to provide sex. This concept not only dehumanizes and objectifies women, it fuels the violently misogynistic fire that continues to burn its way through the World Wide Web and beyond. I fear for our exceedingly interconnected generation, where it is all too easy to spread hateful, and potentially lethal, discourse that demonizes all women.


Meredith Hankins said...

Ugh, thanks for sharing this India. The deep corners of the Internet are truly a terrifying place. But what's more terrifying is when, as you point out, the interconnectedness of the Internet bring things like this into the mainstream. I especially see this on Twitter - the extreme misogyny and absolute entitlement of anonymous men can be staggering. Part of me wonders if the anonymity of the Internet enables these types of things. If everything we wrote on the Internet could be traced back to us, would it be a nicer place? Maybe.

The fine line between supporting free speech and tolerating hate speech is a really tough place to be. I don't know what the answer is, or even if there is one. It reminds me of the recent Good Wife episode where one of the (feminist) attorneys defends an anti-abortion group because she strongly believes in free speech protection. A really thought-provoking episode: http://mashable.com/2015/11/22/the-good-wife-restraint-recap/

RC said...

India, I am grateful that you are sharing this but I also feel terrible that you had to suffer through reading all of that angry, hateful content! Why men feel so entitled to women's bodies, I may never understand. Many men ask why women are so scared to turn down a guy their genuinely not interested in, and the entitlement and violence you describe is precisely why.

I mentioned this before in class, but part of this problem does stem from men in gamer and "geek" communities who feel that women pass them over for being too "awkward" and "nerdy." However, the men in these communities who proclaim themselves to be "nice" are often just as misogynistic.

Liz said...

India, I recall reading about the Santa Barbara guy who felt the need to go on a violent rampage as punishment for all the women who didn't give him sex. My thoughts when I heard about this man and in reading your post is disgust and maybe a little surprise, but not completely. The thing is I have realized that some men expect to get sex. And they get super angry when you turn them down. I agree that it's important to respect different viewpoints as they are protected by the 1st Amendment. However, I don't agree with speech that justifies raping women, that women are practically "begging for it." That's hateful speech and I will never respect such speech.

Surely there are women out there who want to but have not had the opportunity to engage in sex with a man. I have yet to hear about such hateful speech by such women towards men. I see the INCEL men as a patriarchal hate mongering group. It almost feels like women have to constantly explain to men why they are not entitled to sex. We have the world wide web, so that people like the INCEL men can take a clue and become educated on women's issues.

Amanda said...

Wow. I had no idea this group existed. It's hard to believe a community could grow out of such vitriol. But given the current Trump movement, I guess it shouldn't come as too big of a surprise.

It's interesting to see the different responses men have when alienated by modern feminism. For example, many of my male peers feel it's unfair that they're part of a legacy of misogyny they feel they had no control over. Compare this to the outwardly hateful INCEL followers. Although these points of view are far apart on the crazy scale, each seem to deny both feminist concerns and their individual role in the current patriarchy.

Jenna said...

It will always baffle me that there are men that so actively hate women that they join/ are a part of groups like INCEL and yet they somehow cannot grasp why they cannot "get" a woman. I guess it does tend to be easier for people to blame others for their problems but these men are taking it to truly terrifying levels.

What really scares me is that I am not sure how you would even start going about attempting to educate these men not just about women's rights but on basic human decency (also on how government and taxes work since they do not seem to understand that either). While I normally believe that the cure to hate speech is more speech, with these men I am not sure that any speech that is not directly in line with their hateful views will be listened to.

Sonja said...

Although this type of online (and real world) behavior is upsetting, it's not surprising. We live in a misogynistic world where the media enforces the idea that women are objects and men (particularly white men) are entitled to whatever they want. Young, white men are raised being told (implicitly) that they're the best, and that the world is their oyster, and then they grow up and have to face the reality that good things will not just be handed out to them on a platter. While I don't think an oppressed group has the responsibility to educate their oppressors, I do think that it is our duty as feminists to educate our peers and offspring about consent, desire, and sexuality. Hopefully, increased dialogue about consent will impact these groups' existence.