A manosphere of fear and hate
In 2009, George Sodini walked into a women’s aerobic class in suburban Pittsburgh and started shooting. He killed three women and wounded nine others before taking his own life. Investigators concluded that Sodini didn’t know any of the victims, choosing the site simply because it was a women’s exercise class. He had no previous history of criminal behavior.
In his online journal, the 48-year-old Sodini wrote: “I actually look good. I dress good, am clean-shaven, bathe, touch of cologne — yet 30 million women rejected me over an 18- or 25-year period. … Women just don’t like me … and I cannot find one. Not one of them finds me attractive. … Girls and women don’t give me a second look ANYWHERE.”
In 2014, 22-year-old Elliot Rodger killed six people (three men and three women) near the University of California at Santa Barbara campus. In a rambling manifesto written shortly before the killings, Rodger stated: “I’ve never kissed a girl. I’ve been through college for two-and-a-half years … and am still a virgin. … I’ve been forced to endure an existence of loneliness and unfulfilled desires because girls have never been attracted to me.”
Writing about the forthcoming attack, Rodger said, “I will slaughter every single spoiled, stuck-up, blond slut I see … All those girls I’ve desired so much. They have all rejected me and looked down on me as an inferior man.” This perceived rejection was all the more intolerable for Roger, who thought himself the “supreme gentleman,” a “perfect guy,” a young man any woman should have been thrilled to date.
Prior to driving to the sorority house where he killed three women, Rodger uploaded a video to YouTube stating that he not only wanted to punish women for rejecting him, but also the young men who were having sex with women he desired.
This past April, 25-year-old Alek Minassian drove his van onto the sidewalk of a busy Toronto street, killing 10 individuals and injuring 15 more. Most of the victims were women. Shortly before his murdering spree, Minassian posted a message on Facebook: “We will overthrow the Chads and Stacys! … All hail the Supreme Gentleman Elliot Rodger! … The Incel Rebellion has begun.”
“Incel” refers to “involuntary celibate” — men convinced their celibacy is the fault of women who reject them. Chads is incel-speak for good-looking, athletic and/or popular men who have no trouble attracting Stacys, the incel term for attractive women who snub incels.
While Sodini, Rodger and Minassian were likely mentally unbalanced, which largely explains their criminal behavior, the number of self-described incels and their emotional makeup is unknown. The Southern Poverty Law Center — an organization that monitors hate groups — reports that internet “manosphere” is replete with hundreds of websites, blogs and forums that savage women in general, and especially women from Western nations and America (as opposed to those from Eastern countries such as Japan and China). Women are referred to as “foids” or “femoids,” a term combining “female” and “humanoid,” insinuating that women are not fully human. The following are posts from manosphere websites gathered by the SPLC:
¯ “Western women … act, dress and look like hairy fat pigs, but get angry when they can’t find a man … act like bitches, but expect men to respect them … don’t know what the hell they want, but seek power over men and over everything.”
¯ “I think we should export all america [sic] bitches to other countries and take in women from other places … Have you noticed how fat these sluts get AT AN EARLY AGE … If you were allowed to beat your wife we wouldn’t be dealing with this crap.”
¯ “Boys, don’t get involved in American women, they’re sluts, skanks, and disease ridden whores.”
¯ One writer urged people to “post your favorite YouTube videos where a woman gets beaten by a man.” Another stated that “respecting” women was the equivalent of World War I shell-shock victims respecting bombs.
¯ “The female-supremacist hate movement called ‘feminism’ must be opened to the disinfecting sunlight of the world’s gaze and held to stern accounting for its grievous transgressions.” A like-minded post was titled: “More Proof That Feminism is a Social Cancer.”
¯ “I hate women. Truly they are the scum of the earth. Yet I am still biologically predisposed to want them.”
Many have dismissed incels as nothing more than lonely-hearts-club losers whose pent-up sexual desires (fantasizing about stereotypical, subservient Asian women who will obey their every command, for example) can be met via legalizing prostitution. Some have advocated expediting research to create sex robots. (That should be a big seller on Amazon Prime.)
While sexuality may be a component of incels’ frustration, focusing only on their carnal desires is missing the bigger, and more disturbing, issue. Los Angeles Times reporter Robin Abcarin argues the incel community in not motivated by sexual frustration. “That’s a smokescreen for the real agenda. … It’s motivated by old-fashioned misogyny, rank sexism and male entitlement.”
A significant number of posts reveal a deep-seated rage and hatred of women borne out of what sociologist Alex DiBranco calls “aggrieved entitlement.” Just as white supremacists tell “white men that they have been unfairly deprived of their rightful place in society,” the manosphere is telling men their rightful, dominant position in the gender hierarchy is being challenged and undermined by women, and as real men they must fight back. For some, rape is a legitimate weapon in the gender war.
Elliot Rodger, who killed six Chads and Stacys, is often referred to as “Saint Elliot” in the manosphere. Terms such as “Going Sodini” (after the Pennsylvania incel killer) and “Going E.R.” (for Elliot Rodger) appear frequently on manosphere sites, according to sociologist DiBranco. Herein lies the immediate danger: A mentally unbalanced individual on the verge of committing violence against women may discover the final piece of hate-filled rhetoric on manosphere sites that will trigger a deadly attack.
The SPLC began tracking male supremacy groups in 2012 and reports their negative views of women are on the upswing. This misogynist mindset not only threatens the physical well-being of women but may impede the drive toward full gender equality in this country.
George J. Bryjak lives in Bloomingdale, retired after 24 years of teaching sociology at the University of San Diego.
Abcarin, R. (May 8, 2018) “The idea of an ‘incel rebellion’ would be laughable if it hadn’t resulted in so many murders,” Los Angeles Times, www.latimes.com
Branson-Potts, H. and R. Winton (April 26, 2018) “How Elliot Roger went from misfit murderer to ‘saint’ for group of misogynists — and suspected Toronto killer,” Los Anegles Times, www.latimes.com
Brekke, K. and K. Marmon (April 29, 2018) “Watch: Inside the ‘incel’ movement inspiring mass violence against women,” Think Progress, www.thinkprogress.org
“Blog Details Shooter’s Frustration” (Aug. 5, 2009) New York Times, www.nytimes.com
Clark-Flory, T. (May 27, 2014) “Inside the terrifying, twisted online world of involuntary celibates,” Salon, www.salon.com
“George Sodini’s Blog: Full Text by alleged gym shooter” (Aug. 5, 2009) ABC News, www.abcnews.go.com
Mezzofiore, G. (April 25, 2018) “‘Incel rebellion’ Here’s what that means,” CNN, www.cnn.com
“Misogyny: The Sites” (March 1, 2012) The Southern Poverty Law Center, www.splcenter.org
Page, C. (May 4, 2018) “The incel mind: As if hating women will get you a girlfriend,” The Chicago Tribune, www.chicagotribune.com
Roberts, M. (May 4, 2018) “What Ross Douthat got wrong about incels,” Washington Post, www.washingtonpost.com
“Transcript of video linked to Santa Barbara mass shooting” (May 28, 2014), Archived from the original on CNN, www.cnn.com
“Weekend Reads: For incels, it’s not about sex. It’s about women” (May 4, 2018) Southern Poverty Law Center, www.splcenter.org
“What does ‘incel’ mean?” (accessed 2018) CNN, www.cnn.com