The dictionary definition of an Incel is a member of an online community of young men who consider themselves unable to attract women sexually, typically associated with views that are hostile towards women and men who are sexually active. The name is short for Involuntary Celibate, and this has driven these men (for want of a better word) to extreme thoughts, feelings and even actions.
They see themselves as unable to get a partner, either romantically or sexually, and as such foster hatred towards the world, and women in particular. The ideaology has grown in the darker areas of the web, and includes threats of violence and rape towards women, who are blamed for the position the incel feels they are in. Extreme misogyny, hatred, even racism, can be brought out in the groups, and this has at times exploded into the real world. Mass shootings have occurred in the States since at least the early thousands, and this has been seen in the UK (one shooting last year was allegedly by an Incel).
This is horrifying. How can young men become so disillusioned with hate, so angry at the world that they lash out in such extreme circumstances. We know that an active sex life does have benefits. Amongst the cardiovascular work out, and increase in immunity, the act can relieve stress, boost self esteem, and deliver a serotonin kick. It doesnt take much to see the link between the lack of these, and the reactions we see above. Additionally being in a healthy relationship also brings about feelings of happiness and contentment. Frustration at not getting this grows, particularly when the internet and TV can depict sex and women as easy to get.
This is not to excuse what happens on line or in real life. The feelings generated have to be controlled, and being alone in an on line community is a rabbit hole that can be hard to get out of. The peer pressure pushes more extreme actions, and what starts as a joke can quickly head into much darker areas. We see this when groups of men and women are out on a stag or hen do – a small joke with someone can be egged onto ever increasing levels of bullying, often in the name of banter, without realising that the other party is not happy, is not comfortable, and that we have crossed a line.
So why do I write about this? I have realised that in a very real sense, I am an involuntary celibate. With my wifes illness, she is both concerned about sex and potentially passing on her disease, but she is also in too much pain to partake of the act. So through no fault of my own, I am in that situation. And I have more of a reason to be lashing out at the world than these pathetic individuals. I feel stressed and angry and disappointed at what has occurred, I feel the need for some release, but cant get it. I see how young men who see these depictions of sex and women feel rejected by the world, but I cant for the life of me see how they can push into the extreme reactions we see.
We all have a choice to make about our lives, and rather than lashing out and blaming the wider world, we need to take responsibility for our actions, and create our own path out of whatever we are in. And no, that doesnt mean taking what we want, it means working within societies norms, engaging with other people in our communities and becoming the better person so that we can have the relationships and life we want the correct way.