Robert A. Levine 8-7-18
A new gender-based terrorist movement directed against women has come to public attention recently consisting of involuntarily celibate men known as ‘incels’ who are aggressively misogynistic and aggrieved at women. It appears these feelings developed because lonely men were rejected by or unable to approach women whom they wanted as sexual partners. These men fantasize of a social order where they can have enforced sexual relations with women of their choice. Incels became better known to the general population when a man in Toronto in April 2018, Alek Minassian, ran down and killed ten people with a truck, eight of them women, to avenge the rejections he had suffered at the hands of women. An online community of incels had evolved previously of lonely men who resent women and feel frustrated by their inability to connect with them. In 2014, Elliot Rodger, who considered himself an incel, shot and killed six people and wounded a dozen more near the University of Santa Barbara in California. The online community acts like an echo chamber for the bizarre notions of the incels, reinforcing their feelings and providing them with some validity. The tendency of violence towards women may also manifest itself in rape and domestic aggression.
Incels feel entitled to have the women they want and are angry not only at women, but at the social changes they see evolving around them in Western society. The threats, hatred and calls to violence are being disseminated over the Internet on social media. White men in the Western world once held positions of privilege, above minorities and women, even if they were not wealthy or successful. In today’s world they believe their status has been taken from them, even though white men still seem to be treated preferentially in every realm. They, however, feel as if they have been left behind, their birthright gone. Incels are convinced they live in a female dominated society, organized by groups like #MeToo, with minorities empowered by groups like Black Lives Matter. The incels brood over their once entitled prime status which should have been automatically passed on to them, and now it’s gone. The rules of society have been unfairly designed to deprive them of sex with desirable women, making them victims though they are actually superior. Some incels suggest that the state mandate sexual redistribution of women for male benefit, showing just how irrational some of them have become. They blame the culture instead of their own failings for their sexual problems.
Incels have also joined alt-right groups and white supremacists, with racist and anti-Semitic undertones and behavior, some blaming Jews for their situations. Men’s rights groups have also proliferated over the Internet, not necessarily advocating violence. However, some of these online communities with incels are dedicated to restoring white male power and control. For them, violence is a way to assert their power and to get even with women for demeaning them and causing them suffering. With women seen by incels as oppressors, violent actions against them are justified. Some incels believe that with repeated violence targeting women, they will instill fear in women instead of disregard and ridicule.
As bad as it may be in the Western world for men, it is worse in China where there is an actual surfeit of young men compared to women due to the government’s past one child policy. Because male infants were favored, many couples aborted females or even killed girl babies, upsetting the natural balance of the sexes. Now it is even more difficult for young men to find mates, the government fearing this could lead to unrest. Some suggested solutions to the problem verge on bizarre, such as having a woman take two husbands, or having men use sex dolls to relieve their frustrations.
Actually, sex with robots with outer layers made of silicone is not as far-fetched as one would think. Companies have been manufacturing both female and male robots for sexual purposes and surveys have shown that two thirds of men would be willing to have sex with a robot. The robots can talk and act seductively and eventually will be able to be personalized to meet customers’ tastes. They will also be able to adapt to the sexual interests of their masters. Aside from a market for the sex robots in China, they may be able to meet some of the needs of the incels.
Many incels celebrate Rodger and Minassian as heroes of the movement because of their violent actions, calling the anniversary of Rodger’s killings The Day of Retribution. One analyst believes that the incel movement was not just born online, but is “the product of Anglo-American literary culture, which treats the topic of male sexual frustration as if it is of prime importance.” Rage and aggression are often associated with male sexuality in innumerable books that are part of the Western literary cannon. However, the male drive for power, wealth, and sexual satisfaction are real and of interest to both male and female readers, and absorbing stories can be structured around these subjects.
A leading theorist championing entitled white male power is Jordan Peterson, a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, previously at Harvard, and an armchair philosopher. In an interview with the New York Times in May 2018 he declared- “The masculine spirit is under assault. It’s obvious.” Many of his concepts are controversial or even bordering on grotesque, and not accepted by mainstream psychologists. But he has a large following and is very influential among men who see life as a zero sum game, rather than a constant rebalancing among the sexes and various other groups. Peterson and his adherents believe that what women have gained in recent years, men have lost. According to Peterson, order is masculine and chaos is feminine. Though he talks of self-help empowerment, he says that a society run as a patriarchy makes sense because men are more competent. Peterson is another hero of the incels.