The Incel movement: What is it?


Incel, short for “involuntarily celibate,” is an ideological group that quickly grew out of a now-banned forum on Reddit (New York Times). Originally an r/incels subreddit forum where young men discussed their lack of sexual activities, the Incel group evolved into a doctrine, whereby, according to Vox, it’s not just women incels hate, but society at large.

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The movement can culminate into real-world violence, as was the case with the Toronto van attack on April 23. Alek Minassian, 25, referred to the “Incel Rebellion” in a Facebook post before killing 10 people by driving into pedestrians in Canada’s largest city.

WikiTribune wants to explore this dark subculture of the internet and how it overlaps with other subcultures like it. Help us do so.

Facts central to the story

  • The term was coined by a bisexual woman (Elle) called Alana in 1993 to describe her lack of sexual opportunities. Alana created a site to describe her experience but eventually abandoned it.
  • Reddit banned the r/incels subreddit in 2017 for its open advocation of violence towards women and rape, which had around 40,000 members.
  • The so-called “saint” of the Incel movement is Elliot Rodger, the 22-year-old who killed six people and injured 14 near the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2014. Before Minassian embarked on his attack, he wrote on his Facebook post: “All hail the Supreme Gentleman Elliot Rodger!”

Questions we’re interested in exploring

  • What other internet subcultures are similar to Incel?
  • And what other internet subcultures have emerged in retaliation?
  • How has the Incel movement evolved over time?
  • What are some of the more significant developments that are similar to the Toronto attack?
  • Where do incels congregate now that their Reddit forum has been banned?
  • What are some of the terminologies they use to communicate?
  • How did it evolve into an ideology?
  • What draws young men to these communities in the first place?

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