Incels is Waging a ‘War on Women’ and an ‘Emerging Threat to Children’, Study Finds | UK News
Warning: This article contains terms and references that readers may find offensive.
The incel movement is waging a “war on women” and posing a growing threat to children, according to a report that calls on tech companies to step in to stop the radicalization of lonely men and boys online.
The incel – or “involuntary celibacy” – movement is an online subculture involving men who feel unable to have sex or find love and express extreme hostility and resentment towards women.
Research on the main incel forum revealed an “angry, belligerent and shameless community of men” who represent a “clear and present danger” to women and an “emerging threat to children”.
Users posted articles about rape every 29 minutes and forum rules were changed six months ago to take paedophilia into account.
More than a fifth of posts featured misogynistic, racist, anti-Semitic or anti-LGBTQ language, with 16% of posts containing misogynistic slurs, according to the study.
On the forum, Sky News found posts saying ‘women should be sex slaves’ and ‘I feel hate when I see a girl’.
The study of more than one million posts over 18 months found that posts mentioning mass murder increased by 59%.
Mass shooting perpetrators are known to have been active in incel communities or discussing their ideas, including Plymouth shot-stopper Jake Davisonwho killed five people including a three-year-old girl.
The researchers warned that “unchecked, incel communities have the potential to become further radicalized” and called on tech companies to take action.
“Not Lone Wolves”
Imran Ahmed, chief executive of the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), a British non-profit group that conducted the study, said: “Incels are not lone wolves or socially isolated.
“They are actually entangled in very active communities with a cohesive and evolving ideology that has become even more radicalized over the past 18 months.
“They encourage each other to commit mass violence, normalize sexual violence against women, and have even codified their approval of the sexualization of children.”
UK pupil sought advice from Incels after ‘Prevent Dismissal’
In some cases, boys as young as 15 are being dragged down a rabbit hole of hate and extremism, research shows.
A user, who went by the pseudonym Carl in the report, posted on the forum asking for help after claiming to have been reported to Prevent for carrying a knife in his school bag.
Other forum members responded with advice on how to avoid online scrutiny and praised him for his decision to stop taking psychiatric drugs.
Throughout the thread, Carl referred to prescribed psychiatric medicine as “Jewish pills”, itself a reference to an incel conspiracy theory that psychiatric medicine is part of a Jewish plot to pacify white men.
The research was conducted by “scraping” forum posts and analyzing member activity, trends and keywords.
The forum received an average of 2.6 million monthly visits, with 17,118 members. In the 18 months covered, only 4,057 wrote posts.
Nearly half (43.8%) of traffic to the forum came from the US, with 7.5% from the UK.
Speech is powered by 406 “power-users”, who produce 74.6% of all posts, with some spending more than 10 hours a day on the forum.
The forum rules were changed in March from “do not sexualize minors” to “do not sexualize pre-pubescent minors”.
Incel content on YouTube
The study found that forum users most often shared content from YouTube, where incel channels have over 136,000 subscribers and 24.2 million video views.
Davison subscribed to an incel content channel that YouTube refused to take down despite public pressure, CCHR researchers said.
Another channel publishes videos of women filmed clandestinely in London.
Incel killer’s father experiences ‘reverse nightmare’
The Incel movement is a growing concern for British police
The CCHR urged YouTube to remove all incel channels and called on Google to push “incelosphere” websites down from search results.
Mr Ahmed said: “We find in this study a reflexive dynamic between online misogynistic communities and incels.
“They argue, support each other, share ideas, promote each other’s vocabulary and values. In short, they are brothers in arms in a war against women.
“That’s why a small subculture, numbering in the thousands, had such a huge effect.”
Sky News has asked YouTube for comment.
“Not all violent”
Dr Lewys Brace, a senior lecturer at the University of Exeter who specializes in online extremist radicalisation, including incel culture, told Sky News he agreed with the study’s recommendations.
“What concerns me most personally about this incel movement is that people don’t really have to search for this stuff to access it,” he said.
Although he said some people in the community pose a real threat to others, he stressed that most are not violent.
“Obviously not everyone in this community is violent,” he said. “In fact, my research has shown that actual violent conversations are the minority of conversations on these platforms.”
The problem for law enforcement is to tell the difference between someone acting on the internet and someone posing a threat, he said.
He added, “For me, the ones that concern me are those who take these ideas, and they’ve written long articles in which they’ve incorporated these ideas into their own personal experiences offline.”
Given the example of Davison posting lengthy YouTube videos showcasing incel ideas, Dr. Brace said, “That’s exactly it. Those are exactly the kinds of examples we should be concerned about.”
Origins of inceldom
Incel as a form of self-identification is thought to date back to a website founded in the 1990s to support people who were having trouble having sexual experiences.
The risk is that the sexual frustration and blame that incel places on women turns into violence.
The most notorious attack was carried out by 22-year-old Elliot Rodger, who killed six people and himself during a rampage in California in 2014.
He left behind a 137-page ‘manifesto’ and YouTube video revealing he carried out the attack because he couldn’t secure a relationship with a woman, which in turn led to his hatred for those who were in a relationship.
Rodger is frequently idolized and revered in incel forums where he is sometimes referred to as the “Supreme Gentleman”.