The Incel Movement has come into spotlight once again in the UK’s Plymouth, where a 22 year old man named Jake Davidson shot dead five people.
The ‘incel’ movement is a dangerous online subculture comprising of men who identify as ‘involuntary celibates’ and regularly express deeply misogynistic views about women. Experts have warned that they are slowly becoming a threat to law and order.
It promotes the ‘red pill ‘and ‘black pill’ mentality, referring to a Matrix-inspired metaphor.
The ‘black pill’ theory promotes the defeatist idea that your fate is sealed at birth and no matter what changes you try to make, your sexual capital cannot be altered.
‘Red’ Pillers on the other hand, see feminism as female supremacy and believe that there is a systemic bias in favor of women.
Bharath Ganesh writes that the explosion of digital hate culture represents the dark side of the democraticizing power of social media.
Patton argues that the internet provides the perfect forum for ‘Group polarization’. Group polarization theory states that the like-minded individuals in group settings may collectively become more extreme than their individual views. Patton writes that the anonymity of internet frees the individuals from normative and social constraints of behavior.
E.Colleoni writes that social media can function as an ‘echo chamber’ because the user chooses which opinions and contents are to be viewed, isolating them from dissenting opinions and allowing radical views to be amplified.
Johnson finds that hate spread online has been recurrently tied to extremism and violence in real life, including mass shootings. Angela Nagle believes that the Incel and their particular brand of computer-enabled detachment easily seep into a mindset of entitled violence.
Dharmapala and McAdams found that the growth of online hate networks and tendency of members to positively reinforce violent behavior lead to ‘opportunity for fame’ within the group as a motivating factor for members to express their hatred in the real world.
Ruth Lewis writes that the part of logic of victimization of women on social media is to exclude certain voices from cyberspace. Thus, although some incel members may undertake actions simply out of hatred for women, others do so for more strategic reasons. Thus, online abuse polices women’s voices, thereby limiting the use of online forum for feminist activism.
Feminist scholar Michael Salter argues that these online harassment movements reflect “the masculine impulse to defend particular technologies, such as internet and videogames, from perceived encroachment by women and more diverse users and uses the term ‘Geek hegemony’ to refer to this dependence on technological hegemony. The concept of Geek masculinity underscores the incels and their ‘beta-revolution’ (an identity they take in contradiction a traditionally defined alpha-male identity).