The ‘incel’ terminology and movement started from a very different place than where it is now. It originates from a website that was set up by a woman in the 1990s as a supportive place for people who found it difficult to gain sexual experience. Since then, incel communities have become a place filled with hatred and misogyny, which often champion violence towards women, including in the forms of rape and murder.
There have been at least 8 mass violence attacks attributed to incels or individuals expressing ‘incel’-like views. This includes the shooting in August 2021 when 22-year-old Jake Davison killed five people in Plymouth. Before the shooting, he expressed misogynistic views online against his mother and upset at not having a girlfriend.
Young boys who feel isolated, rejected, and ostracised are particularly vulnerable. They may feel they aren’t a part of ‘normal’ society and the incel community online offers a place to be accepted into a group, with older members of the community often preying on this vulnerability.
Incel groups online frequently use memes, slang, and jokes that will appeal to younger audiences, as well as creating a kind of secret language between themselves, emphasising the ‘us’ against ‘them’ sense of community.
Today’s world is a challenging place for young people. For teenage boys, they may be feeling all kinds of emotions, including anger and low confidence, due to hormonal changes or outside factors such as the impact of the pandemic and lockdowns, difficulties making friends, or struggling in school.
For some, their induction into the world of ‘inceldom’ may begin innocently enough. They could stumble into it through searching for relationship advice or information about what to do when you’re lonely.
It is worth noting that incel groups are often associated with racist views, with Black men being a particular target due to a belief that they are more successful with women. There are many more offshoot groups of incels, with a variety of slightly different belief sets, including groups that are made up of men from Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups who highlight their race as a reason why they are incels.