When doing my deep dive into the world of pickup artists last week, I came to realize that the infamous incel community’s rise to power was, at least in part, a reaction to the pickup artist movement. You see, incels were pissed that “loser” men like themselves were making an effort to get laid and as a result, vehemently rejected any association to them.
Despite their shared origin story and sexist attitudes, incels declared pickup artists to be just as abhorrent as sexually desirable men and women. Equal parts fascinated and disturbed by this whole phenomenon, I decided to dedicate this week’s blog post to breaking down and analyzing incel culture.
To fully understand why there are so many socially inept men in the modern world, we have to take a step back in time. The 2nd wave feminist movement of the 1960s gave women more financial autonomy than ever before, empowering them to become less reliant on men to take care of them.
As a result, progressive women in western societies no longer feel the pressure to settle down with men who abuse them or who believe in the superiority of men over women. Their standards have gone up and while a lot of men have risen to the challenge of embracing this new paradigm and correcting their unconscious gender biases, a large faction of them remain stuck in the dark ages.
While pickup artists tend to be men with no game who strive to learn how to understand and manipulate the fairer sex, incels are men with no game who reject the pursuit of women altogether. Short for “involuntary celibate,” Cambridge Dictionary defines an incel as “a member of a group of people on the internet who are unable to find sexual partners despite wanting them, and who express hate toward people whom they blame for this.”
Overwhelmingly white and heterosexual, incels are known for obsessing over their own unattractiveness and projecting their self-loathing on to people who they perceive as being dealt a better hand, oftentimes resorting to hateful language and in extreme cases, violence.
As a conventionally attractive woman who grew up in a matriarchal household, it’s always been my purgative to disregard the incel community in its entirety. “These sick losers are not worth giving any energy towards,” I used to tell myself. But lately, I’ve realized the hypocrisy of my life ethos.
My hippie ass runs around touting lines like, “All living things are connected and therefore we need to show compassion to everyone,” while insulating myself in an elitist liberal bubble and mocking those who don’t support my “woke” ideologies.
While I refuse to support any movement rooted in hate and violence, I could and should at the very least try and understand the reasoning behind why millions of disenfranchised young men have found themselves drawn to such a loathsome path. While it’s certainly not a pleasant task, I believe it to be essential for ushering in an era of reconciliation.
In the increasingly divided world we find ourselves living in, where mass shootings are committed by incels on a near-weekly basis in my home country of America, I consider myself to be part of a growing force of lightworkers whose purpose here on earth is to heal old wounds and restore balance.
As such, I am desperate to find answers to the “how” and “why” of dark, fear-driven forces — sexism, racism, homophobia, imperialism (to name a few) — so that I can work to help transform them from low vibrational hate to high vibrational love. It is only when we understand someone’s hurt that we can offer meaningful solutions.
I have never walked in the shoes of a sexually undesirable man and therefore I don’t know his struggles. For the first time in my life, I am going to try and do just that. Here goes nothing.
The Inception of the Incel
Interestingly enough, the first internet incel was a twenty-something woman. Her name was Alana and in the mid-90s, after coming out as bisexual, she coined the term “involuntary celibate” on her website, “Alana’s Involuntary Celibacy Project.”
Upon reflecting back on years of rejection, she had come to the conclusion that rigid gender norms were to blame for her dating failures and launched a forum for people with similar grievances to connect and support one another.
As it turned out though, the majority of users were heteronormative men who held aggressive views that did not align with Alana’s. By 2000, Alana had taken down her site and severed ties with the community altogether.
She fell out of the public eye for the better part of two decades but the incel community lived on, thanks to platforms like Reddit, and later — when Reddit closed its main 41,000-member incel community in 2017 due to the dangerous rhetoric being circulated — 4Chan and SlutHate.
In 2014, a 22-year-old self-proclaimed incel, Elliot Roger, went on a shooting and stabbing rampage that killed six people in Isla Vista, California, after posting a 141-page manifesto dedicated to his deep-rooted loathing of women and frustration over his virginity.
The online incel community railed behind him, and in 2018, another incel-fueled mass shooting took place in Alana’s home town of Toronto.
The perpetrator was a 25-year-old by the name of Alex Minassian, and before driving into a group of pedestrians (killing 10 and injuring 15), he posted the following to his Facebook: “The incel rebellion has already begun. We will overthrow all the Chads and Stacys. All hail the supreme gentleman Elliot Rodger!”
This prompted Alana to finally come out of the woodwork to address her complicated feelings surrounding the rise of incel culture: “I’ve asked myself, ‘Should I feel guilty?’ Friends have reassured me that no, I did my best back in 1997 to create a healthy and positive movement,” she said.
Since then she has launched a new site called Love Not Anger, which is described as “a project to research how lonely people might find respectful love, instead of being stuck in anger.” In Alana’s words, “Dating is hard and happens a bit later in life for some people. Some people need help learning social skills and that doesn’t mean they should be stigmatised for that difference.”
As of 2022, “online references to inflicting violence and extremely degrading language on dedicated incel forums are running eight times higher than in 2016, when researchers first began tracking misogynist content on the internet.”
This translates to 1,000 references to “dehumanizing misogyny or violent action” being recorded each day in the “incelosphere.” Talk about a lot of hate.
A Breakdown of Basic Incel Lingo
In case you didn’t catch the reference made by Minassian about overthrowing the “Chads” and “Stacys,” buckle up for a little incel 101, courtesy of some impressively knowledgeable guy on the internet by the name of Tim Squirrel:
As an empath, I can’t help but feel really bad for incels. Especially after reading the origin story of incel culture and learning that it started as something to make people feel less alone and more loved. I guess these days I would be deemed a “Stacy,” but that wasn’t always the case. To a certain degree, I actually understand what it feels like to be a pasty little nerd with zero social skills who no-one of the opposite sex gives the time of day.
I was painfully shy all through my teenage years and had the body of a 12-year-old until I was at least 16. Seeing the more outgoing, fully developed girls being pursued by the teenage “Chads” was soul-crushing and on some level, probably still affects my sense of self even to this day.
But if I could transform into the belle of the ball — desired by men not just for the way I look but for my mind and heart — there’s really no excuse for these self-pitying men out here to be resorting to such hostile behavior.
I know loads of guys who felt the same self-loathing when they were younger but who opted neither for the incel nor pickup artist route. One friend was a virgin into his early twenties and started hiring escorts so he could experience intimacy and learn the ways of the feminine divine. Now in his 40s, he is a polyamorous god who worships women and juggles a healthy roster of female lovers and friends.
Another guy I know dedicated himself towards his studies and went on to become very financially successful. This material success gave him the confidence to put himself out there with women and since then, he has gotten married, had four kids, and curated a harem of sugar babies on the side. Once terrified of women altogether, these men overcame their fears, thanks in large part to sex work.
While I certainly wouldn’t want to direct any potentially violent incels towards my sex-work-sisters-in-arms, I would most certainly encourage any man who is uncomfortable navigating the social norms of regular dating to opt for going on a date with an escort or booking a sensual massage.
It is innately human to crave love and physical touch.
No one deserves to be doomed to a life of celibacy, unless it is by choice. By engaging with a paid professional to get some much needed female validation, men can learn to respect — perhaps even love — the divine feminine energy that emanates through all women, and in the process, learn to love themselves.