I’m not an incel.
By all their in-language, I’m the definition of a Chad—one of two types of men who exist in the world. But let me back up and define what an incel is first.
I’ve been following this trend for a few years now, and it’s both fascinating, tragic, and increasingly dangerous. It’s ultimately predicated on victimhood of these man-children, but at the same time I can sympathize with a lot of their thought processes.
Incel is short for “involuntary celibate,” or a man who is a single virgin, but not by his own choice. One of the common statements among incel culture is that 80% of sex being had in the world is enjoyed by 20% of the men. In other words, if 10 women have sex in a week, 8 of them will be with just two men (and the other two women are so unattractive that no one wants to sleep with them). It’s an odd play on the Pareto Distribution to be sure, and they have weaponized this idea into some hierarchy of humanity.
And who are these men having all the sex? They are the Chads—the superficial yet attractive men who hog all the sex for themselves. According to incels, there are exactly two types of men: Chads and Virgins. (I’m a weird combination of both I guess? A Virgin Chad? Is there such thing as a VolCel?)
There are also only two types of women: Stacys and Beckys; one is hot and sleeps with Chads and the other one is so feminist and anti-men that she won’t sleep with anyone.
The movement was born on the internet, in forums and chatrooms and employs a lot of language which dehumanizes women (often referring to them with acronyms or as ‘feminoids’), and claims that culture is actually actively set up against men today. You could say it’s an extreme response to fourth-wave feminism, which often presents itself as fighting the patriarchy, or men in general.
This should paint a pretty good picture of how the incel sees the world. It also explains why there have been numerous terrorist attacks connected to the incel culture, including one here in Colorado in 2012 at a movie theater which was dangerously close to my brother. In a world where everything is rigged against you, why wouldn’t you fight back? Why wouldn’t you take revenge on a society that actively works against you to rob you of sex (or love) which you so desperately want, but never seem to get?
This oversimplification of X-group AGAINST Y-group seems to leak into other areas of philosophy as well, and I have learned to be wary of any system that seeks to explain the world in such broad categories. For instance, I have similar complaints against Critical Theory, both in its original context, and as it relates to race. That is, admittedly, a different can of worms entirely, but the idea remains that once you see the world through a lens of ‘oppressor’ and ‘oppressed,’ you begin to build more fences than bridges.
In the case of the incels, they have VICTIM written all over them, and here is where I can sympathize. After all, it’s easy to blame the world that you don’t have any friends,
and that no girl will go out with you,
and that no one will hire you,
and that your body is out of shape,
and that your car broke down right when your rent was due,
and so on.
How many of us have not been there? Blaming the world is the easy part, and now I understand why my dad always said “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond to it.”
Crap happens to everyone, and no one is immune. This subculture, though, has taken their unfortunate circumstances and run with it, refusing to take ownership and instead, pointing their myriad of fingers at anyone and anything else—particularly women.
And this is such a tender spot in the heart of humans. Whether they acknowledge it or not (and I think they do by the very name of their group), they are dying for affectionate care, especially from the opposite sex. I’ve often been tempted to be angry at all women when i get rejected. It’s easy to sour my heart into hatred when I think too hard about my own singleness and how desperately I’d love to have a beautiful girlfriend.
And it’s at this point; the point of yearning and unmet desire, where we have the choice: wallow in this pity and let the pity curdle into violent anger, or take ownership of your life and make changes. Grow. Adapt.
But as humans, what’s the easier route to take? If every girl you’ve ever talked to showed no interest in you, is it easier to make some deep changes to yourself, or to log onto a message board and tear them apart from the comfort of your own bedroom? I’ve learned that the longer you stay in your room, the easier it is to stay there, and therefore the harder it becomes to leave it. Incels are people who have become so terrified of the outside world that they’ve allowed this terror to turn to resentment, to say the least.
They’ve gone so far as to praise their fallen brothers who carried out terrorist attacks and were killed or arrested in the process as heroes, paving the way for their progress.
It’s all too easy to learn about groups like this and point disparaging fingers, thinking they are weird and gross. And absolutely—the majority, if not all of their ideology is hideous, harmful and flat-out wrong. 80% of the world’s men are not out having all this magical sex, nor are all women superficial fembots, bent on destroying men and sleeping solely with Chads. Obviously.
After the description above, I don’t think I need to tell you all the things wrong with this way of thinking. But what I do need to remind us of is grace and empathy. Like I mentioned, I’ve felt the draw toward those same feelings.
I got rejected? It’s all women’s fault…I’m perfect.
How dare there be more attractive men who women prefer over me?
When we blame the world at large for everything wrong in our lives, violence seems to be the only solution. After all, if it’s a senseless world which led us to this pit in our lives, a senseless act of rage seems like a fitting response.
It’s only a thin thread between these incels and me. And probably you. Like the August Burns Red song asserts,
Incels are not the enemy. Our war is not against flesh and blood, but about our own hearts. Our own loveless tendencies. The notion that we are somehow better than people like this.
How can we love these people away from toxic, harmful ideologies, and back into a healthy community which accepts and embraces them? Love is the only thing that can cure this issue. Not censorship, not shutting down certain forums, and certainly not violence. I don’t know what this looks like (I’m not about to get onto some Incel boards and try to minister digitally…I don’t think I could handle it), but I want us to remember that when we talk about subcultures like incels, we are talking about humans.
If we begin to treat them as problems, then we are doing exactly what we accuse them of: dehumanizing people and lumping them into categories. Instead, why can’t the church be the first to reach out to people like this—to the weirdos, the lonely and rejected? Why can’t we be the ones to reverse this and other violent trends?
I think we can.