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Are “Incels” Internet Creeps or Modern Terrorists?

The internet is a modern wonder in the sense that it has provided us with our ability to communicate with more ease, share memories, and to have access to information that was unheard of in the past. We can have more friends, post more pictures, have more entertainment than we can consume in one lifetime, but the world wide web is a two-sided coin. The rise of the internet also brought to light the darker side of humanity, one that was kept hidden because no one could easily share their horrid interest. Things like violent snuff films, the black market, and the infamous dark web that is said to contain the worst crimes imaginable. One thing that began to rise in popularity during the early years of the internet were chat rooms where people could talk to each other, and most of these chat rooms would be for a specific topic, like dog moms and struggling artists. One forum began about guys who considered themselves unconventionally attractive and believed it was the female population’s fault that they could not get laid. These are the incels.

Now, what is an incel? The term “incel” is actually a shortened version of “involuntary celibates” and Google defines it as “a member of an online community of young men who consider themselves unable to attract women sexually, typically associated with views that are hostile toward women and men who are sexually active”. These are the type of guys who are often joked about as having neckbeards, fedoras, and the stink of fragile masculinity. They are the people who blame the world on their problems, the main one in focus is their inability to get laid. Pretty much every woman has had an experience with a guy like this, whether it be an off color DM on social media or a pick-me guy friend who tries a little too hard to get into your pants. While this is extremely uncomfortable, the majority believe this to be a common nuisance that everyone has to deal with at some point. However this article wishes to dive into the dangers of incel beliefs and how bitterness towards women can be deadly.

As stated before, incels typically hold resentment towards women. They generally hate “beautiful women” because they’ll never go out with them and “ugly women” because they won’t even give them a chance. All of these descriptions fall onto what the incels believe is “beautiful” and “ugly” because they view women as trophies, something to flaunt. Most incels tend to view women as nothing more than property and objects they have the right to own just because they are men. While these ideals may have been dormant, the internet gave men like this a safe place to communicate and share their experiences. These forums have a tendency to add fuel to the fire and do more harm than good. In April 2018, a man ran his van into a crowd of people in Toronto, Canada, killing 10 and injuring 26. The attacker claimed to believe that his actions were caused by sexual rejections of women, and his internet posts showed that he was a member of the incel community. While he was convicted of 26 charges, none of those were of terrorism, yet his actions sparked a sort of inspiration in the incel community. In February 2020, cops were called to a spa to find several people injured and one woman dead. A seventeen year old was charged with first degree murder and attempted, however these were then changed to terrorist activity after police found that these crimes were because of extreme incel beliefs. This was Canada’s first case where someone was charged with terrorism relating to incel behavior. 

The rise of incel terrorism is a new concept that law enforcement are behind on because it’s something the law hasn’t been able to catch up on. I mean, the first amendment gives us free speech, but how far does that speech go? How can we distinguish when people are making satirical statements and when they are planning on harming others? The internet, and all the dark parts of it, is growing at a speed at which we can’t catch up with. However cracking down on incel terrorism can be the first step at getting ahead of this new phenomenon. The Code of Federal Regulations defines terrorism as “the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives”. I think as a society we have gotten to the point were when we think about terrorism, we think about formed groups that are based in extreme religious or political beliefs. Terrorism is more general than that, it’s anyone who uses their extreme beliefs to literally terrorize a specific group, whether it be for submission or eradication. Terrorists want power, and it can be a big, known group, or a guy who got fueled from online forums. Either way incel terrorism needs to be addressed because these incidents related to them have only grown over the years, with the most recent attack being in August of 2021 in England. It’s time to be aware that the internet has become more than a way to share vacation pictures, because deep in the web there are groups that have found connections through hate, and it needs to be brought to the light. 

Erin Cody

C of C '23

Hey y’all! My name is Erin Cody and I’m a criminal psychology major from College of Charleston! A few things about me is that I’m a huge true crime fan, I love a good ghost story or conspiracy theory, and I’m doing my best to make Elle Woods proud!
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