Peering into the incel community is peering into one of the darkest abysses of the internet. Even moderate groups like the subreddit “Incels Without Hate” are rife with pathological self-victimisation, sexism and horrendous anti-feminism. Within the last ten years, the incel community has developed from a self-help group for people who have problems finding a partner into a misogynistic online cult. Several terrorist attacks have already been committed by self-described incels.
Incels follow a “blackpill” ideology. They assume the world is built according to the principle of “lookism”, a term to describe systematic discrimination against unattractive people. For incels, this discrimination comes in its purest form through their inability to have sex. “Incel” is short for “involuntarily celibate”. According to the “redpill” ideology, women desire only attractive, dominant alpha males, called “chads” in incel jargon. Before the sexual revolution, according to “blackpill” thought, every man was guaranteed a woman matching his level of attractiveness, his so-called “looksmatch”. Feminism and the sexual revolution, however, revealed to women the possibility of freely choosing their partners, supposedly a door-opener for the natural female hypergamy and superficiality incels believe in. Because of the sexual revolution, now all women in the world, without exception, exclusively seek out the most attractive 20 percent of the male population and only pay attention to less attractive men if she, the woman, has “ridden the cock carousel” for too long and used up her “sexual market value”. Incels, however, believe they are too unattractive to receive any attention at all, even from older and “used-up” women. Incels believe they lost the “genetic lottery” and therefore must eternally eke out a sexless existence.
For incels, sex is the key to a happy and fulfilling life. However, women, according to the incel ideology, actively deny them this fulfilment and happiness because they won’t sleep with incels. Incels assume that any woman would automatically realise they are an incel and show hate and contempt towards them as a result. The idea that women deprive incels of sex, which incels see as a fundamental right, legitimises their hatred of women. At the same time, however, incels insist they would never sleep with a woman who did not meet their rigid requirements. The incel’s ideal partner is a virgin, as he feels threatened by and vehemently rejects self-determined female sexuality: sexually active women are called “roasties” because their labias – in the incel imagination – resemble roast beef sandwiches. Incels have created the source of their own misery: they hinge their personal happiness completely upon female affection, but vehemently deny that any women would ever hold such affection for them and in return express a hatred towards them that veers into murderous. They see violence against women as a legitimate response to the blatant injustice of not having sex: the 2014 Isla Vista mass shooter, an incel, referred to his attacks as a “day of redemption”.
This hatred is primarily expressed in incel online forums. The two largest forums, lookism.net and incels.co, each have about 15,000 and 13,000 users respectively (it can be assumed that there are numerous dual memberships), while the subreddit r/incelswithouthate has over 31,000 members. Additionally, there are several smaller forums such as looksmax.me or incels.net.
Despite their constant claims of just being a “self-help group” and of practising solidarity among themselves, incels regularly insult and pull one another deeper into darkness in their echo chambers. It was only a matter of time until a major conflict caused a split in the community. With this split came a further radicalisation towards the far right. Three factors influenced the split and the consequent creation of two new forums: internal power struggles and dissatisfaction with the moderators of the forums, a racism debate, and the fear that a high-ranking moderator of incels.co had become an informant for the FBI. In short: there’s been a lot of drama within the incel scene.
Incel beliefs overlap with authoritarian personalities – their hatred of modernity, their desire to oppress women, their self-victimisation and their obsession with the sexuality of others speak a clear language. Unsurprisingly, once an incel finds himself in a position of power, arbitrary rule follows. The moderator of the forum incels.net, a user called “VCelGuy”, began banning numerous forum members at the end of 2020, much to the displeasure of the user base. Likely starting around September 2020, these users found a new home in the “Blackpill Club” forum, established by incels.net outcasts. After initial problems – the forum was briefly deleted by the server host after sexualised pictures of minors were posted – “Blackpill Club” quickly developed into a refuge for dissatisfied incels.net users and now has over 280 members (as of February 2, 2021). Their main criticism of incels.net and incels.co is the arbitrary moderation, which is articulated in gatekeeping as to what constitutes a “true” incel, the censorship of posts with gore content, and the general decay of the forum culture. In several threads, club members mock the other forums and are happy about the other forums’ falling user numbers or further defections to “Blackpill Club”.
However, the tenor in “Blackpill Club” is no different than that of other forums: misogyny, hostility towards the LGBTQ community, racism, antisemitism and the glorification of violence and terrorism are par for the course – even though the forum rules prohibit violence and racism in “excessive” form and against individual members. Users get around this with a cynical joke: when posting a statement expressing the desire to murder women or trans people, “in [the video game] GTA 4, of course” is slipped in as a postscript. The celebration of violence and mass shooters is commonplace in the incel community; on “Blackpill Club”, too, several users chose screen names honouring mass shooters; one thread commemorates the spree killer Jiverly Wong, who shot up a migration office in Binghamton, New York, killing 13 people and eventually himself.
One user gives free rein to his misogyny in a daily “Femoid Hate Threads”, in another thread users brag about having stalked and harassed women, one wishes for a “gender war” in which women are murdered. However, while on incels.co users still posted about wanting a partner – if she meets the incel standards (is a virgin), of course – on “Blackpill Club” some users completely renounced women out of misogyny (and identify as “volcel”, “voluntary celibate”, rather than “incel”, “involuntary celibate”).
In addition to women, queer people, and especially trans people, receive tremendous hatred, including a post in which a user lists several methods he would like to use to lynch a trans man. Non-white people, and mainly Black people, are said to have diminished intelligence, however, even in the “Blackpill Club” users acknowledge that the real main enemy is women. Antisemitism also runs rampant, manifesting in common conspiracy narratives: the Jews are the driving forces behind capitalism as well as communism, run pornographic websites and generally promote the degeneration of the West.
However, the interaction between users is more optimistic and almost more supportive than on incels.co and incels.net, perhaps due to the comparatively small size of the forum. On incels.co, people wallow excessively in fatalism and write about their own depression, suicidal tendencies, self-hatred and suffering under the feminine fist. The atmosphere on “Blackpill Club” is livelier, as users egg on one another’s hate fantasies and self-righteous feelings of superiority over other incels.
Even though antisemitism and anti-Black racism are virulent within the community, the incel scene is by no means exclusively white: according to self-reporting, 44 percent of the forum incels.co are self-described “ethniccels”, i.e. non-white incels. This led to heated discussions on the forum incels.co between explicitly far-right incels, “Stormfrontcels”, and non-white incels. To avoid having to deal with ethniccels, the neo-Nazis in the community now have another safe space: the forum “Non-Cucks United” (NCU).
NCU is less a pure incel forum than an “intersectional blackpill forum” open to other parts of the antifeminist manosphere beyond incels, such as the looksmaxxing community or the “men going their own way”. Accordingly, users who have already had sex are not immediately banned, as is the case on incels.co. “The forum aims to create unity and solidarity among all communities for ‘blackpilled’ low-status men and advocates for political and social reform and a better quality of life for low-status men. Its user base claims to counter the defeatism common on other sites and to advance optimism through solidarity among low-status men”, the Incel Wikipedia (of course there is an Incel Wikipedia) says about the site. One post on NCU catches the eye: “Please log onto the blackpill.club website if anything happens to ncu”. The majority of incel forums have been able to operate unchallenged for the last few years despite the omnipresent glorification of violence within them, so why NCU’s precautions? To answer this question, we need to peer closer into the deepest abysses of the incel scene: the forums of Nathan Larson.
Nathan Larson, a former member of the Libertarian Party in the USA, a men’s rights activist and a white supremacist, is currently facing a life sentence for the kidnapping of a twelve-year-old girl. Larson proudly and openly refers to himself as a “rapecel” and “pedocel” and advocates the legalisation of rape, paedosexuality and incest. He is the author of the “Rapepill Manifesto”, in which he declares that rape is a natural male need and right. He also ran several forums for other rapecels and pedocels with names like “Raping Girls is Fun” or “Forced Banana”, where people fantasised very openly about raping children and wrote about consuming child pornography. Currently the forums are offline, likely due to Larson’s imprisonment.
Although “Non-Cucks United” is far less explicit in discussing sexual violence against children than Larson’s forums, after some research the connections emerge. Users openly express solidarity with Larson, who is referred to as a “hero” and a “national treasure”. In addition, some usernames on the forum, such as “Mengelecel” (sic!) (Josef Mengele was an SS officer and Auschwitz doctor responsible for deadly medical experiments and gassing prisoners), match those of regular users on Larson’s forums. It can be assumed that there is overlap. “Mengelecel” is not the only user whose name or profile picture is of a particularly unsavoury nature: numerous members refer to Nazis, serial killers and other violent criminals by name or through profile pictures. At least two of the 179 (as of February 2, 2021) members are from Germany. The forum is filled, like “Blackpill Club”, with racism (the claim that Black people are less intelligent than white people), antisemitism (the Holocaust never happened, Jews rule the world), misogyny (defence of forced prostitution, explicit threats of rape…), very detailed fantasies of violence (“Experiments and mutilations should be carried out on attractive people as punishment, think of Mengele’s experiments”) and, of course, the glorification of acts of terror.
On “average” incel forums, the ideal sexual partner is described as at least 15 or 16 years old, but at least sexual violence against children, as well as Nathan Larson, were rejected. While the sexualisation of 16-year-olds by adults is disgusting enough (but unfortunately widely accepted by society), on NCU the object of desire is even younger still.
There is a sub-forum for legal tips, where one can find several threads ranting about the nonsense of consent laws, which, like sexual consent, are branded a Jewish invention.
The users make no secret of their desire to rape minors. A sample of the threads in which the users justify their desire:
“Scientific evidence that it is normal for average healthy men to find pubescent and even prepubescent girls potentially sexually arousing.”
“I can understand why stepfathers molest their daughters.”
“Having sex with children isn’t traumatising, it’s only traumatising because the victims are told they’re victims.”
“The golden rule for if a girl is too young for you: if she turns you on, she’s old enough.”
“What kind of MAP [‘minor-attracted person’, a self-designation for paedosexuals] are you?”
One user wrote that he needs therapy because of his sexual interest in teenagers. In the thread he explained exactly what he imagined: “Only a faraway place can help me, not guaranteed, but at least there I have more hope to find a waifu who is not only younger and prettier than the ones here, but also matches my cultural desires, fetishes and values.”
Another thread links to a forum called “Loli Hunter”. “Loli” is the Japanese term for underage girls. Fortunately, the forum is offline. One comment also referenced the, now also offline, forum “Rapey”, which was run by Larson.
In a video thread, a collection of photos of young models between the ages of ten and 15 is posted. It is not child pornography: this is explicitly forbidden in the forum rules because it could lead to the closure of the site. But the intended use of the video is clear based on the many surrounding threads justifying sexual relations with youths.
However, the users of “Non-Cucks United” are probably not paedophiles in the paraphilic sense, who bear no guilt for their desire towards children and ideally seek help in order not to become perpetrators. Self-proclaimed “pedocels” do not so much desire children and adolescents, but rather enjoy the power discrepancy inherent in such violent relationships.
Even if one assumes that only a fraction of the users of “traditional” incel forums turn their terrorist fantasies into reality, incels nonetheless fall under “stochastic terrorism”. Stochastic terrorism describes the process in which a group is radicalised with the aim that at least one person acts and commits an attack. However, the proportion of potentially violent users on a site like “Non-Cucks United” is likely much higher than on less radical sites. But the borders between the two are not fixed: many users who are registered on NCU also post under the same name on incels.co and incels.net. They actively recruit on other forums and spread their propaganda of child abuse and white supremacy. The ideological overlap between incels and the far right makes it imperative to monitor them closely. On January 22, 2021, police in Savona, Italy arrested Andrea C., 22 years old. C. was part of the neo-Nazi group “New Social Order”, which organised on Telegram and had planned an attack on a synagogue. He also described himself as an incel. He mentioned to a friend “We will be the first Italian incels to take action”, terrorism researcher Francesco Marone reported.
Incels are radicalising. And it is a necessity to monitor this radicalisation closely and take action against it.
Translated by W.F. Thomas. This article was originally published in German.