After The Toronto Van Attack, The Internet Is Once Again Talking About The Super Misogynistic 'Incel' Sub-Culture 

After a recent van attack in Toronto, Canada, the dangerous and misogynistic “incel” sub-culture is once again under the scrutiny of the Twitterverse. On Monday, ABC News reports that Alek Minassian, the suspect in the van attack, allegedly used his van to attack pedestrians in a popular Toronto shopping area. While Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says that there this attack isn’t a terrorist threat, the suspected assailant, who killed 10 people during his attack, allegedly might be linked to a misogynistic Internet sub-culture.

Though “incel” might not be a common term that you use in your vernacular, it refers to a specific sub-culture born out of a belief that men are somehow entitled to sex from women. Twitter user and journalist, Arshy Mann, notes that “‘Incel’ refers to ‘involuntary celibate,’ essentially meaning that a person can’t get laid because of their looks/personality. The so-called "incels" make up one segment of the broader 'manosphere,' a collection of online masculinist communities that interplay with one another.”

Many members of these toxic masculine communities self-identity as "incels," and use the cloak of the Internet to promote hate speech against women. Some members of these  communities even go as far as to say that women want to be raped. Often, incels are self-professed women-haters, according to Vox.

Although the sub-culture flourished under the former /r/incels Reddit community, The Guardian notes that Reddit banned the /r/incels community and all its related threads last year. Several petitions and continuous reports urged Reddit to ban the community, which congregated approximately 40,000 members. Nevertheless, banning this community didn’t necessarily solve the problem.

According to Inverse, Minassian, who is currently being charged with murdering 10 people and injuring another 15 during his tirade on Monday, might have been influenced by so-called "incel" beliefs. Before his attack, Minassian posted a cryptic message on Facebook. “Private (Recruit) Minassian Infantry 00010, wishing to speak to Sgt 4chan please. C23249161. The Incel Rebellion has already begun! We will overthrow all the Chads and Stacys! All hail the Supreme Gentleman Elliot Rodger,” Minassian wrote.

Adding to the increasingly long list of meme vocab and Reddit jargon, the "Chads" and "Staceys" that Minassian references in his post aren’t legitimate people. “Chad” is a pejorative term that is used within the community to describe an attractive, douchey man, who can easily gain the attraction of women (Chad’s full name is Chad Thundercock.) Chads are typically portrayed as the quintessential alpha man. Whereas, “Stacy” is basically the woman equivalent to a “Chad.”

In his message, Minassian also mentioned Elliot Rodger. Rodger killed six people and injured 14 others (before killing himself) during an attack on University of California. Rodger’s attack was also provoked by his hatred of women and his own "involuntary celibacy." Nevertheless, Gizmodo notes that Minassian isn’t the only recent aggressor who idolized Rodger’s crimes inspired by his so-called "incel" status. BuzzFeed notes that Nicholas Cruz, the man responsible for the Parkland shooting, also has a social media trail of Rodger worship post.

Recently satirical incel-inspired Reddit communities, like /r/IncelTears, have used popular incel messages and social media posts to fight this problematic incel mindset, exposing incels and their dangerous messages might not be enough. Certain YouTubers use fan-submitted texts (that they receive from the unabashed incels in their lives) to denounce this problematic culture. In order to combat the pro-rape culture and women hating rhetoric behind these still prominent communities, we need to incorporate comprehensive and educational lessons about sex and relationships—to help combat the underlying issues within the incel communities.