Your friendships, your relationships, your relatives, even WordPress; incels crop up even in the unlikeliest of places. Chances are, if you, as a male or female, have to stroke the ego of every supposedly “nice” man who feels they are entitled to companionship or sexual intercourse because of their self-proclaimed “niceness,” then you are highly probably dealing with an involuntary celibate better known as an ‘incel.’
In early 2018, on the 23rd of April in Toronto, Canada, 25-year-old Alek Minassian intentionally drove a rental van into pedestrians on a busy pavement killing 10 people and attempted to kill 15 others. The victims were mostly female. He is now facing charges for premeditated murder and attempted murder. Minassian had shown his support for the incel movement on a Reddit page dedicated to the movement and it is largely believed that the movement and the 2014 Isla Vista shooting in California were what inspired this horrific and tragic shooting. Needless to say, our attention has been brought to how dangerous this movement is and how this toxic misogyny remains a part of our everyday lives and sometimes without us even realising.
Most recently, I shockingly found that even incels exist on WordPress. The WordPress community can be found to be moderate in their views, a supportive environment for bloggers and usually a place where insults are very, very few. In other words, WordPress is the internet epitome of Pleasantville. Which is all the more reason why coming across a highly incel-inclined post both surprising and disturbing.
So, what exactly was the blog post about?
I am refraining from naming and shaming as the blogger does not know me and other than that post, I don’t know the blogger beyond that. I will name him ‘Bob’ to make this easier to discuss and the victim ‘Susie.’ The content of the post concerned a female friend of Bob called Susie. Susie allegedly had a promiscuous streak, a streak, to Bob’s dismay, that was not shared with Bob and this had clearly infuriated him. The gist of the post was this: “If Susie can sleep with other guys who are nowhere near as nice as me, then why can she not sleep with me? Why can’t that whore sleep with me, her friend, a nice guy, who has always been there for her? You won’t? Then, I bid you adieu, Susie. I withdraw my friendship. Look at me now, Susie, I’m so much better off without you.” But what mortified me just as much was the comments section where I found plenty of other female bloggers offering their sympathy. This led me to question if they are voluntarily participating in the ego-stroking of an incel or if they genuinely do not realise that they are supporting an incel.
Let’s further delve into Bob’s psyche before we dissect the comments from the female bloggers. With regards to Bob’s grievances against Susie, Susie did not owe Bob sexual intercourse as a compensation for being a good friend to her. Susie can engage in sexual intercourse with Bob if she decides to. This is not a supermarket war; just because Susie shops at Sainsbury’s, Asda, Tesco, Lidl and M&S, it does not mean she needs to shop at Iceland. Perhaps, she does not enjoy the items at Iceland and if so, why should she spend her money there? It is not a reasonable request to part with her money. It is her money and therefore, her choice. It is her body and therefore, her choice. If we have to consider niceness as a business where sexual intercourse is exchanged for it, then can you really consider yourself ‘nice?’ Or a friend that you say you were? Would a true friend slut-shame you? A women’s vagina is not an item for sale or a rollercoaster ride purchased by kindness tokens. Could it possibly enter into the recesses of your mind that women are human beings who, would you believe it, are simply entitled to ‘niceness’ and respect because it is your duty, as a responsible citizen, to be nice? Your very demand for sexual intercourse invalidates your self-proclaimed ‘kindness.’ You are not ‘nice and good,’ it is merely a delusional concoction.
As I have stated, what is also incredibly disturbing is the amount of support Bob received from female bloggers. I, myself, left a comment awaiting moderation to address the issues I had regarding Bob’s terrifying narrative. However, it is clear that the comment has not been accepted and therefore, has not received any replies from Bob. Thus, it became clear to me that, perhaps, other female bloggers had distressed their concern like me and their comments were not accepted by Bob. Two things are of concern here. One, this presumption doesn’t change the fact that other female bloggers sympathised with Bob and cheered him on. This is not the actions of a self-respecting woman who is concerned about the safety and latent danger this poses to womenkind. It is an affront and threat to these female bloggers themselves, they degrade their value as a woman and they are harming their own selves in the process. Secondly, Bob is unwilling to listen to criticism and consequently, unwilling to change which signifies the continuance of the cycle of toxic misogyny, to the men he befriends and to the children he bears if his involuntary celibacy comes to an end without relinquishing his staunch and damaging views.
Recently, I have been partially consumed by Love Island which is a summer British reality dating show where contestants must find love and couple up in the hopes of being crowned winners. Viewers decide and vote which couples or contestants must be dumped from the show and eventually choose who is crowned the winning couple of the series. The show airs on ITV2. This season, Dr Alex has been a consummate favourite with viewers after Dr Alex faced a string of rejections. Viewers have been indignant with fury that the ‘nice’ Doctor has failed to couple up romantically with any of the contestants and are confused as to why he would be rejected based on these credentials. Fellow islanders have made it their mission to find a woman for Alex and even schemed in order to allow Alex to find some alone time with Megan, a contestant, to state his intention to pursue her. Megan decided to couple up with Eyal instead who is considered a travesty next to Dr Alex. Yet nobody has yet understood that just because Alex is ‘nice’ and a doctor does not necessarily mean that sparks will fly between Alex and another female contestant. Viewers forgot that it is Megan’s time and affections and it is her choice to decide who is worthy of that… and it is not Alex in this case. Dr Alex informed Megan that he hasn’t been forceful, has been sincere to Megan, that he would be a ‘safe choice’ compared to Eyal and being with him would yield long-term results thus indicating his belief that he has generally behaved like a gentleman. However, to reinforce, if a contestant doesn’t feel the chemistry, she is not obliged to choose Dr Alex. So, why is the British public still outraged whenever a new contestant who enters the villa must couple up with him? Why must everyone stroke his ego to ensure a boost to his self-confidence? Similarly, another female contest, Samira Mighty has yet to romantically couple up with another contest and she remains in a ‘friendship’ couple with Alex which has been the case from the start. There are hardly any schemes and machinations from her fellow islanders to provide an opportunity for Samira to find love. The underlying reason behind this is because Samira understands that she is not entitled to love from a male contestant the way Dr Alex is perceived to be and perceives himself to be. ‘Niceness’ and being a doctor does not translate into an entitlement to love. Love Island is a reminder that even the public can actively contribute to a toxic culture of patriarchal and male entitlement.
Whether we like it or not or even recognise it, a few of our male friends may even occupy an incel mindset. They may complain endlessly about ‘nice guys finishing last’ and discuss with you about how they’ve been deliberating as to whether they should stop being kind in order to get a girlfriend. They may say that they wish to start ignoring women, treat them like rubbish and that perhaps that will get women to notice them and find them attractive. As a woman, I can tell you that this method would not work and as women, in the dating game, with our strong intuition and gut instincts, we can tell when a man is employing ‘nice guy’ tactics to win you over. It does not work, and you cannot pull the wool over our eyes. It is our duty to call out our male friends when they exhibit this behaviour and mindset. If they are amenable, a personalised approach may work but if they are not, do not hesitate to call them out, unapologetically, for their juvenile and injurious behaviour. They will be inhabiting this world and if you are a friend, it is better to ensure that we live in a better world that insures safety or, at the very least, increased safety. There are too many to count but we can start with one incel at a time.
Like friendships, incels exist in the dating game too. Sometimes their toxic entitlement isn’t easily distinguished under the guises they masquerade in, but time has a wonderful way of revealing their true colours. Many of us women, nay, almost all women have had the misfortune to come across them. Oftentimes, I have found that it is the socially awkward nerd who is lacking in the very basics of emotional intelligence who showcase this mindset. In one of my experiences, I discovered a guy who had described himself as a ‘sweet, humble and down-to-earth individual.’ He was nothing like how he proclaimed himself to be. He relayed his previous experience with another woman which ended disastrously and how she was very ‘motherly’ towards him which he really appreciated. His confidence was fragile, and it was as if he considered himself as a delicate butterfly that must be protected at all costs. He continually hinted and celebrated his ‘goodness’ and ‘humility’ whilst showing off his expensive Ferrari or Lamborghini or whatever flashy model it was. He covertly pleaded me to take care of his ‘social awkwardness’ for him and of him because of his social deficiency, to basically never leave him and become both a therapist and a mother. This all happened in merely a few days. As I have previously stated, I want a boyfriend not a son. I had no intentions in catering to his entitlement because of his social awkwardness. A nice guy will genuinely be a nice guy and will most certainly not feel entitled. I quickly put him in his place, he did not change, and I ditched him. I will not waste my time. Ladies, cut the cord from entitled guys like him. They may not seem harmless, but it is not your job to baby them when they are grown adults and in the long-term, you will avoid eternal migraines caused by having to hear them from endlessly talking about themselves. You deserve love, not a headache.
Most women, in comparison, do not feel entitled. Is this because we are used to a system that has constantly devalued us, so that we’ve had to persevere and work hard and tirelessly to earn respect and recognition? I believe so. Even in the case of arranged marriage, Muslim women have to brave many hurdles when it comes to attracting and securing a potential suitor. There are many demands placed on us be it height requirement of usually over 5″3/4, academic and professional status and achievements, lighter skin, cooking and cleaning abilities, parents who are not divorced or separated, family class and the right parental native country address and an absence of previous marriages. Nevertheless, Muslim women do not throw their toys out of the pram when we are rejected whereas the men do seem to take offence if they are rejected. We have to quietly bear the rejection because we understand that such is life. We understand that life will throw us many rejections and you can only get on with it.
Overall, it is clear that not only do incels exist around the world, they may often exist in our immediate surroundings, friendship groups, who we date and even on a celebrated TV show. They may even be someone we wouldn’t expect to be. While some may not be harmful, the degrees do not nullify their status, and coddling the sensitivities of entitled men will only permeate the culture of misogyny. Kindness should not be given in order to receive female companionship, loyalty or sexual intercourse because kindness itself does not come with a caveat. Kindness is for the sake of kindness, and it is for the sake of the peace and harmony that is commanded by faith. As men and women, we must actively create a healthier and safer narrative for this generation and the generation that follows. This can be achieved by analysing your friendships, the men you date, the bloggers you come across, strangers you meet and your favourite TV shows and when you do discover an incel, you must inform them how their perspective and behaviour is harming both women and society as a whole, influence and establish a respectful mindset and alert the proper authorities when you perceive a threat to the people.
(Featured image credit: Reddit/dataisbeatiful)
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