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Incel is a portmanteau of "Involuntary celibacy". Nowadays, the term "Incel" typically refers to members of an online subculture and/or a collection of online forums for men who define themselves as being unable to find a willing sexual partner for an extended period of time. To varying degrees, incel subculture is typically characterised as self-loathing, misogynistic, racist, selfish, cultish, narcissistic, ultra-conservative, sadistic, mildly evangelistic, sociopathic and resentful, and most (if not all) of its members believe that they should be entitled a sexual partner. Many often endorse violent behavior.[1] Whether it's that they have these traits because nobody will sleep with them or that nobody will sleep with them because they have these traits varies from case to case.

The term incel gained more public attention with the banning of the r/incels subreddit, as well a series of multiple-homicides (often immediately followed by suicides) committed by men who had publicly proclaimed themselves as "celibate not-by-choice" in an online shitpost at some point prior to these killing sprees.[2]

Etymology and early history[edit]

A shortened version of term "involuntary celibacy" called "INVCEL" was coined in 1997 by a female college student named Alana from Toronto, Ontario. She created a website on a university domain as an academic project to discover the causes of involuntary celibacy.[3] Later, a listserv was created for the academic project so that others could discuss their inability to form sexual and/or romantic relationships.[4][5] The website was titled "Alana's Involuntary Celibacy Project".[6] The listserv was used by people of all genders to share posts regarding the topic. After the listserv was created, someone proposed changing the abbreviation to "Incel", a label that still sticks to this day. Around 2003, she began to grow increasingly disaffected by the rise of toxicity on the listserv, to the point that she eventually sold the community to someone else, who moved the community to a more conventional forum called "Incel Support". This fork later died due to a 2013 server crash.[7]

A year after Alana created her academic project and listserv in 1998, the first conventional online forum (using conventional forum software) for incels was created in Germany, named "Parsimonyforum 3708".[8]

Definition "controversy"[edit]

Academic sources, mainstream sources and the Oxford Dictionary describe incels as relating to the toxic online subculture of perpetually-outraged MRAs that is typically associated with hostile views towards women and sexually successful men.[9] In an attempt to legitimize their beliefs, some incel apologists attempt to expand the definition of "incel" to include all people who are involuntary celibates.[note 1]

The phrase "involuntary celibacy" is a self-contradicting one; the state of celibacy is, by definition, voluntary. It has been argued to be a neologism for sexual frustrationWikipedia, however, contrary to misogynistic beliefs, one can wish to have sex, not be able to find it, and not be frustrated about it.

Online communities[edit]

To varying degrees, these communities tend to run rampant with misogyny, chauvinism, and feelings of entitlement to women's bodies, as well as not-so-subtle endorsements of violence. They have also been known to contain descriptions of dating anxiety, bad luck, descriptions of extreme introversion, physical handicaps, and mental illnessess or disabilities.[10] These communities generally embrace the blackpill ideology.

Some online incel communities use a vast vocabulary of other terms to describe incels, such as "truecel", someone who has never had any form of physical intimacy, "mentalcel", someone whose involuntary celibacy is caused by a mental health issue, or "fakecel", someone who pretends to be incel.[11] Female incels sometimes call themselves femcels.[12] Homosexuals and transgender incels sometimes call themselves gaycels and transcels respectively.[13]

Proclaimed beliefs that are common in these communities include being cursed, nihilism,[14] fatalism, and defeatism for unattractive people.[15] Those who post on these anonymous boards tend to claim that modern society is gynocentric,[16] where women have the power to choose or reject sexual partners, and that women using this power are predisposed to selecting men based on their perceived genetic fitness.[17]


The 4chan board r9k is considered the birth of the culture of blackpill boards, along with terms such as "Chad", "Stacy", etc. originated from r9k.[18] It was not created as an incel board but rather as a general place for original content on 4chan with an automated bot that rejects unoriginal content.[19] It turns out that when you ask a bunch of lonely weeaboos to post original content, they mostly post about wanting to have a girlfriend.

r9k users sometimes call themselves "robots". The term is used either as a label of autism or a near-synonym for hikikomoriWikipedia (never mind how autistic people might feel about being compared to 4chan users).


r/incels is a banned subreddit where anonymous posters engaged in typical incel toxicity. Common themes included misogyny, racism, blaming women for their involuntary celibacy, and advocating for rape and violence.[20] Anonymous posters in the subreddit used 4chan lingo, described women as "femoids" or "Stacys," and described men who were able to have sex with these women as "Chads".[21]

On October 25, 2017, Reddit announced a new policy that banned "content that encourages, glorifies, incites, or calls for violence or physical harm against an individual or group of people."[20] On November 7, 2017, the /r/incels subreddit was banned for violating this policy. At the time of the ban, the community had around 40,000 members.[22] It was banned after an r/incels poster impersonated a woman on a different subreddit and asked how police would identify the perpetrator of a rape.[edit] was also created as a refuge for r/incels posters. Formerly, and before that,, it is infamous for inability to retain domains, because the forum mods do not make a strong attempt to remove posts and users that engage in hate speech and/or the promotion of violence.[23] The forum is alt-right and bans all women and LGBTQ people immediately.


Some r/incels users who did not move to external sites moved to r/braincels. It was quarantined from showing up on Reddit's homepage in late 2018 for misogyny and then banned entirely in late 2019 for violating new Reddit rules on harassment and bullying.[24][edit] (previously evolved from a Facebook group and started as a way to recapture the gender-inclusive spirit of the original incel community, according to Gaystarnews, the largest LGBTQ site.[25] The forum is known for "rate me" type posts[26] and, "looksmaxxing" tips. In 2019, the BBC made a documentary called, "Inside the secret world of incels", in which Yourenotalone was portrayed as non-violent and gender-inclusive.[27] This is one of the relatively more tolerant (and less popular) communities (which is not to say a lot - even women are allowed on these boards!).

Love not Anger[edit]

The original incel community (Alana's group and IncelSupport) tried to start up again around 2019 through a mailing list. It was centered around a gender-inclusive site called "LovenotAnger" at, ""[28] The project was shut down in early 2020 due to Alana finding a job unrelated to inceldom that she found more personally fulfilling than previous activities.[29] They were looking to move away from the word incel.

The Incel Wikis[edit] and are both English language wikis devoted to incel topics. Both sites originated from, which started in 2018 to counteract what they perceived as sensationalism, inaccuracy, and non-neutral writing on the Wikipedia incel article after the Minassian Van Attack.

Notable suicides[edit]

Wilkes McDermid[edit]

In 2015, popular London food critic Wilkes McDermid jumped off the City restaurant Coq d’Argent’s roof-terrace to his death. In his final blog post hours before his death, he wrote, “I have concluded that in the realm of dating and relationships the primary characteristics required for men are as follows: “Height: above 5ft 10ins; race - a huge bias towards caucasian and black; and wealth or other manifestation of power. From my observations and research it appears that you need two of the three criteria for success ... What this ... means [is] that it’s ‘game over’ for me.”. A friend of his told the Evening Standard that he had lots of friends but never had a girlfriend by age 39, the time of his death. [30][31][32]

Notable homicides[edit]

Several men have gained media attention through suicides and/or homicides and leaving notes describing involuntary celibacy. Such individuals include: George Sodini, Christopher Harper-Mercer, Elliot Rodger, Wilkes McDermid, and allegedly, Alek Minassian.

George Sodini[edit]

The perpetrator of the 2009 Collier Township shooting and suicide, George Sodini, killed multiple women before shooting himself at a gym outside Pittsburgh. He had an online blog detailing his perpetual rejection by women and inability to figure out why despite attempts to improve himself. In a July, 2009 blog post he wrote, "Last time I slept all night with a girlfriend it was 1982. Proof I am a total malfunction. Girls and women don't even give me a second look anywhere. There is something blantantly wrong with me that no goddam person will tell me what it is." His last post before the shooting discussed his net worth of over $250,000, the estranged mother of his child, that people didn't know the full extent of his frustration, and that women would only ever call him a "nice guy".[33] Before the shooting he had also sought dating help, to no avail.[34]

Elliot Rodger[edit]

The 2014 Isla Vista spree killing and suicide drew considerable attention to involuntary celibacy. The perpetrator, Elliot Rodger, self-identified as an incel and the "supreme gentleman", left behind a 137-page manifesto and YouTube videos discussing how he wanted to torture sexually active men and women who he thought wronged him.[35] He had been an active member of an anti-pick-up-artist community called PUAHate (short for "pickup artist hate") and referenced it several times in his manifesto.[36][37][38]

Alek Minassian[edit]

Another major incident of killings involving a self-described involuntary celibate concerns Alek Minassian, and his April 2018 Toronto van attackWikipedia and attempted suicide. The perpetrator of the April 2018 Toronto van attack posted on Facebook shortly before the attack, "The Incel Rebellion has already begun! ... All hail the Supreme Gentleman Elliot Rodger!" After the attack, he requested a policeman shoot him in the head, which the officer declined to do.[39] On March 3rd 2021, Minassian was convicted for this incident, guilty of 10 counts of first degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder. [40]

Faisal Hussain[edit]

Faisal Hussain was a Canadian born man of Pakistani background. He was the perpetrator of the Danforth shootingWikipedia, which happened on July 22, 2018, in Greektown, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Before killing himself, Hussain also killed two people and wounded 13 others.[41] Due to his death, it took a while to figure out a motive. Eventually, reports came out that Hussain's motives were arguably inspired by Elliot Rodger (a copy of the manifesto was found on electronic devices owned by Hussain) as well as Minassian's van attack. It was also reported that one trigger of the attack was his family telling him to "find a wife".[42][43]

Tobias Rathjen[edit]

On February 19 2020, a gunman killed nine people in two racially motivated shootings at hookah loungesWikipedia in the German town of HanauWikipedia. The suspect then returned home, killed his mother, and then killed himself. [44] The gunman was identified as Tobias Rathjen, aged 43. Before the mass murder, Rathjen uploaded a rambling manifesto (that made one radicalization expert, Peter R. NeumannWikipedia, believe that the shooter suffered from some serious mental issues) that contained multiple rants against minorities, including calls for wiping half the world's population out. [45][46] In the manifesto, the man wrote that he was an incel, stating that he had not had a relationship with a woman in 18 years due to a fear of the state surveilling him. [47] The manifesto also contained a grab-bag of other far-right conspiracy theories, such as some ideals borrowed from QAnon. [45]

Other incidents[edit]

Date Location Country Description
October 1, 2015 Roseburg, Oregon United States 26-year-old Chris Harper-Mercer shot and killed 9 people and injured 8 others at the Umpqua Community College campus before killing himself. He left a manifesto at the scene outlining his interest in other spree killings, anger at not having a girlfriend, and animosity towards the world. Before the attack, when someone on an online message board had speculated he was "saving himself for someone special," Harper-Mercer had replied, "Involuntarily so."[48][49][50]
November 2, 2018 Hot Yoga Tallahassee studio, Tallahassee Florida United States 40 year old Scott Paul Beierle walked into a yoga studio in Tallahassee, Florida just before a class began, and shot six people, killing 21-year-old Florida State University student Maura Binkley, and faculty member Dr. Nancy Van Vessem, 61, before turning the gun on himself. Beierle also applauded Elliot Rodger on social media and shared many misogynist beliefs online, such as the belief that "American whores" should be crucified. He previously had been arrested for grabbing women's buttocks without consent, and had been terminated from various jobs and booted from the Army due to his interactions with the opposite sex. [51][52]
February 24, 2020 Crown Spa, Toronto, Ontario Canada A 17 year old male was arrested and charged with first-degree murder and attempted murder after entering a massage parler and stabbing multiple people. The crime was later upgraded to a terrorism charge on May 2020 due to evidence that the crime was inspired by incel ideology. This is the first time, globally, that incel ideology has been acknowledged that it could drive extremist, ideology fueled violence worthy of the "terrorism" label. University of Toronto law professor Kent Roach welcomed this development, saying that the application of the terrorism label to ideologies such as far-right extremism and the incel movement was "long overdue".[53][54][55] Others, such as Director of U Ottawa Security program and ex CSE analyst Phil Gurski have argued their is not enough proof of political motive to classify existing violence charges as terrorism, including the Crown Spa attack.[56][57] A major foreign policy magazine, 'Foreign Policy', mocked the associated trial as a 'show trial', because of a lack of a clear political goal needed for a rational terrorism charge.[58] Editor and General Manager of 'The Conversation' magazine, argues 'We do not need and should not want an anti-terrorism response to misogyny'. They argue that expanding 'terrorism' to “lone actor”, “homegrown”, and/or "ideological terrorism" would lead to further targeting of environmental activists, Indigenous protestors, or any ideology the government does not like.[59]
May 21, 2020 Westgate Entertainment District, Glendale, Arizona United States Three people were injured when 20 year old Armando Hernandez Jr. opened fire within the Westgate District, a popular shopping and restaurant strip just outside of Phoenix, Arizona. The perpetrator of the crime live-streamed the incident on Snapchat and claimed to be targeting couples. Prosecutors said that Hernandez described himself to authorities as an incel and claimed he wanted to shoot at least 10 people in order to "gain some respect". Fortunately, Hernandez's gun jammed during the incident, preventing him from hurting more people. [60][61]
June 3, 2020 Virginia United States 23 year old Cole Carini arrived at a hospital with a mutilated hand. At first claiming this injury was due to a lawnmower, the FBI later discovered explosives and other evidence that Carini was preparing an improvised explosive device in his home when the device exploded. In his writing, Carini expressed a desire to use the device against "hot cheerleaders," potentially inspired by Elliot Rodger based on notes found on his property. [62][63]
July 21, 2021 Hillsboro, Ohio United States 21-year-old Tres Genco was arrested and charged in federal court with a hate crime for planning a mass shooting at Ohio sororities. Genco was a poster at and wrote a manifesto detailing his desire to "slaughter (women) out of hatred, jealousy and revenge", fantasied about killing over 3000 people, and called death the "great equalizer". Along with admiration of Elliot Rodger, Genco had also mimicked Rodgers actions prior to his killings by spraying “some foids and couples” with a water gun filled with orange juice. Authorities found in his car an automatic rifle equipped with a bump stock, body armor, several loaded magazines and boxes of ammunition. [64][65]
August 13, 2021 Plymouth, Devon England On this date, six people, including a three year old girl and the shooter's own mother, died in a mass shooting incident in the city of Plymouth -- a type of crime that had not happened in Britain since 2010. Police named the shooter as Jake Davison, a 22 year old crane operator. In videos posted on the Internet, Davison had complained about not losing his virginity as a teenager, described himself as an "incel", and frequently referenced incel memes (such as "Chads" and "blackpills"). [66][67] Davison was also unusually obsessed with guns, violent video games, and weightlifting, as well as American right-wing/alt-right political figures and institutions (such as Donald Trump, the NRA, and Fox News), even going as far as pretending to be from Arizona in his online profiles. [68][69] Reportedly Davision had mental health issues, had "beat up his father a couple months ago" according to one source, and was known to frequently clash with his mother (the first victim of the mass shooting) over Davison's sexist and misogynist views. Despite the known mental health issues, Davison was able to obtain a firearms license. [70]

See also[edit]


  1. See this older version of this very article that was written by a drive-by incel POV-pusher.


  4. Schallhorn, Kaitlyn (2018-04-24). "'Incel' sexual frustration 'rebellion' at center of Toronto attack" (in en-US). Fox News. 
  5. Ling, Justin; Mahoney, Jill; McGuire, Patrick; Freeze, Colin (April 24, 2018). "The ‘incel’ community and the dark side of the internet". The Globe and Mail. 
  6. Ling, Justin; Mahoney, Jill; McGuire, Patrick; Freeze, Colin (2018-04-24). "The ‘incel’ community and the dark side of the internet". The Globe and Mail. 
  10. Dewey, Caitlin (2015-10-07). "Incels, 4chan and the Beta Uprising: making sense of one of the Internet’s most-reviled subcultures" (in en-US). Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. 
  11. Stokes, Rebecca Jane (2018-04-25). "What It Means To Be an 'Incel', Why Men Using This Label Were Banned from Reddit & Where They're Lurking Now" (in en). YourTango. 
  14. Caffier, Justin (2017-09-12). "Here Are Reddit’s Whiniest, Most Low-Key Toxic Subreddits" (in en-nz). Vice. 
  15. Williams, Zoe (2018-04-25). "‘Raw hatred’: why the 'incel' movement targets and terrorises women" (in en). 
  16. Ging, Debbie. "Alphas, Betas, and Incels: theorizing the masculinities of the Manosphere." Men and Masculinities (2017)
  17. Stokes, Rebecca Jane (April 25, 2018). "What It Means To Be An 'Incel', Why Men Using This Label Were Banned From Reddit & Where They're Lurking Now" (in en-US). Yahoo! Lifestyle. 
  20. 20.0 20.1 Hauser, Christine (October 26, 2017). "Reddit Bans Nazi Groups and Others in Crackdown on Violent Content" (in en-US). The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. 
  21. Tacopino, Joe (April 24, 2018). "Police investigating Facebook posts allegedly made by suspected Toronto driver" (in en-US). New York Post. 
  22. Hauser, Christine (November 9, 2017). "Reddit Bans ‘Incel’ Group for Inciting Violence Against Women" (in en-US). The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. 
  30. Butter, Samantha (Feb 12, 2015). "‘He couldn’t find the connection he was looking for — not just a girlfriend but in the world’: Wilkes McDermid's friends on the man behind the smiles" (in en-US). Evening Standard. 
  31. Pavon, Amara (Feb 10, 2015). "Wilkes McDermid dead: Prominent food blogger falls to his death from roof terrace of City restaurant Coq d’Argent" (in en-US). 
  32. Smith, Jennifer (Feb 9, 2015). "'That's all folks': Foodie blogger, 39, Tweets link to his final meal - a 400g Ribeye steak with triple cooked chips - before plunging 80ft to his death from another top City restaurant" (in en-US). Daily Mail. 
  33. ABC News (August 05, 2009). "George Sodini's Blog: Full Text by Alleged Gym Shooter" (in en). ABC News. 
  34. Harnden, Toby (August 05, 2009). "George Sodini Sought Dating Help Before Pennsylvania Gym Shooting" (in en). ABC News. 
  35. Hill, Kashmir (May 24, 2014). "The Disturbing Internet Footprint Of Santa Barbara Shooter Elliot Rodger" (in en). Forbes. 
  36. Woolf, Nicky (May 30, 2014). "'PUAhate' and 'ForeverAlone': inside Elliot Rodger's online life" (in en). 
  37. Burleigh, Nina (May 28, 2014). "Hating Women Was His Disease" (in en-US). Observer. 
  38. Burleigh, Nina (May 27, 2014). "Inside the terrifying, twisted online world of involuntary celibates" (in en-US). Salon. 
  39. Crilly, Rob (April 24, 2018). "Toronto van suspect shouted 'shoot me in the head' at police officer who is hailed a hero for not opening fire" (in en). 
  40. "Canadian 'incel' killer found guilty of murder over Toronto van attack" by Leyland Cecco, The Guardian, 2021 Mar 3
  41. "Gunman kills 2, wounds 13 in Toronto before being found dead" by Kyle Swenson and Alex Horton, Washington Post, 2018 July 23
  43. ["Police report into Danforth shooting offers one intriguing detail and a clueless conclusion"] by Rosie DiManno, Star, 2019 June 25
  44. "Germany shooting: far-right gunman kills 10 in Hanau" by Philip Oltermann and Kate Connolly, The Guardian, 2020 February 20
  45. 45.0 45.1 "Paranoia, racism: German killer drew on conspiracy tropes" by Lori Hinnant and Frank Jordans, AP News, 2020 February 20
  46. "Hanau attack gunman railed against ethnic minorities online" by Philip Oltermann, The Guardian, 2020 Feb 20
  47. "The mass shooter who killed 9 in Germany published a racist manifesto where he identified as an incel and accused Trump of stealing his populist slogans" by Bill Bostock, Insider, 2020 Feb 20
  48. Healy, Jack; Lovett, Ian (October 2, 2015). "Oregon Killer Described as Man of Few Words, Except on Topic of Guns" (in en-US). The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. 
  49. Baker, Peter (February 29, 2016). "What Happens to Men Who Can't Have Sex" (in en-US). Elle. 
  50. Nagle, Angela (2017-06-07) (in en). Kill All Normies: Online Culture Wars From 4Chan And Tumblr To Trump And The Alt-Right. John Hunt Publishing. ISBN 9781785355448. 
  51. "He Always Hated Women. Then He Decided to Kill Them" by Steve Hendrix, Washington Post, 2019 June 7
  52. "Florida Yoga Studio Shooter Is Latest in String of Violence By Incels" by Amelia McDonell-Parry, Rolling Stone, 2018 November 5
  53. "17-year-old charged with 1st-degree murder after stabbing at Toronto massage parlour" by Nick Westoll, Global News, 2020 February 25
  54. "Deadly attack at Toronto erotic spa was incel terrorism, police allege" by Stewart Bell, Andrew Russell, and Catherine McDonald, Global News, 2020 May 20
  55. "Terror charges in alleged 'incel'-inspired stabbing could force reckoning of Canada's terrorism laws: experts" by Shanifa Nasser, CBC News, 2020 May 20
  60. "Suspect in Arizona shooting wanted to target couples, prosecutor says" by Eliott C. McLaughlin, Andy Rose, and Konstantin Toropin, CNN, 2020 May 21
  61. "Three People Were Shot By A Gunman Who Called Himself An Incel, Authorities Said" by David Mack, Julia Reinstein, and Jane Lytvynenko, BuzzFeed News, 2020 May 21
  62. "‘Incel’ blew off hand making explosives to target ‘hot cheerleaders’: feds" by Lee Brown, New York Post, 2020 7 June
  63. "Richlands Man Faces Federal Charge of Lying to Federal Agents About Cause of Injuries, Possession of Explosives" by United States Department of Justice, 2020 June 5
  64. "Ohio 'incel' charged with hate crime for plotting sorority mass shooting, officials say" NBC News July, 21 2021
  65. " member arrested for plotting a mass shooting at an Ohio university" David Futrelle, We Hunted the Mammoth, July, 21 2021
  66. "Plymouth shooting: Suspected gunman and five others die", BBC News, 2021 August 13
  67. "In rare British mass shooting, gunman kills five, including 3-year-old girl" by Natalie Thomas, Reuters, 2021 August 13
  68. "Plymouth gunman Jake Davison said 'I am a terminator' in final YouTube video before rampage" By Jack Hardy, Bill Gardner and Izzy Lyons, Telegraphy, 2021 August 13
  69. "Suspected U.K. Mass Shooter Said He Was American, Trump-Supporting Virgin" by Jamie Ross, Daily Beast, 2021 August 13
  70. "Plymouth shooting: Jake Davison killed three-year-old girl and her adoptive father in shotgun rampage" by Bill Gardner, Patrick Sawer, Izzy Lyons, and Haley Dixon, Telegraph, 2021 August 13