Violent misogyny found in 'incel' is a form of terrorism, says author
Misogyny is so pervasive that women live under threat of violence daily, says Rebecca Solnit
As the online phenomenon of "incels" makes headlines, one writer and historian wants violent misogyny to be treated as a form of terrorism.
Rebecca Solnit said she wasn't surprised when she heard about the link between the alleged driver in the Toronto van attack and the incel community.
"I wish we talked about misogyny as a kind of terrorism, or hate group ... because misogynist violence is so pervasive now," she told The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti.
The threat of violence that women live under every day, she argued, should be treated as a human rights issue. It isn't, she suggested, because women's voices often aren't heard.
"It is a kind of terrorism that in a sense has been normalized, because of who gets to tell the story," she said.
The alleged driver in Monday's attack, Alek Minassian, had a post on his Facebook page referencing "incel," which means "involuntary celibate." The term describes a subculture of mostly heterosexual men, who discuss their feelings of resentment and hatred towards women, and sexually successful men.
Minassian's post also referenced Elliot Rodger, who killed six people and then himself in Isla Vista, Calif., in 2014.
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"[There's] a sense of conventional values gone rancid," Solnit said.
"Elliot Rodger's values were so conventional," she said. "He wanted status, power, prestige, and admiration. He wanted it through the consumer products — cars, women."
He eventually reached for the ones that were available, she said, including a gun.
To incels, sex equals masculinity
Sam Louie, a psychotherapist who has worked with self-identified incels, said that their view of masculinity is often mixed up with their understanding of sex.
"All they see is sex equals masculinity," he said.
These young men just want sex for sex's sake, he said, with no thought of emotional connection of intimacy.
Shame plays a role in their isolation, he added, fuelled by shifts in culture and society.
"If you're not having sex by your 20s," he said, "there's this feeling … [that] they must be defective to the core themselves."
While misogyny and isolation are not new phenomena, Arshy Mann, a journalist at LGBTQ publication Xtra, argued that internet culture is allowing these men to connect.
"They're finding each other in online communities, and they're radicalizing each other," said Mann, who has researched and written about incel ideology.
Over the last 20 years, he explains, online male-oriented subcultures have developed that are obsessed with sex and women.
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"At the most extreme end, you have this kind of politicized, misogynist ince' subculture," he said, "which is essentially nihilistic."
For Mann, the path to incel is no different than the path to extremists like ISIS.
"Not all of them are obviously going to engage in any kind of violence," he said. "Neither are all of the people who are watching ISIS videos on [the online messaging service] Telegram."
"But a subset of them are going to increasingly get more and more self-radicalized, and radicalize each other."
Listen to the full conversation at the top of this page, where you can also share this article across email, Facebook, Twitter and other platforms.
This segment was produced by The Current's Julie Crysler, Ashley Mak and Danielle Carr.