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As I was setting up this document with cover image, tags, etc., I realized that I may be talking about something that some of my readers know absolutely NOTHING about. I will do my best to explain things as succinctly and thoroughly as possible.
My goal in writing this is to generate understanding. The thing about understanding an issue is that understanding it DOES NOT mean that you agree with it. I can’t tell you how often I get misunderstood, so I am going to really do my best to get people to NOT read between the lines, because I DO NOT write or talk between the lines.
What I say and write is precisely what I say and write. If you don’t understand it, then consider reading it again. You can even leave a comment describing what you do not understand, and I will try to clarify. What you SHOULD NOT do is assume you know something about what I said, based on what was inferred [it wasn’t inferred], and then start going on a self-righteous crusade to have me attacked by the internet.
My heart is in a really good place with what I want to achieve with this entry, which is understanding. Because you cannot address a problem until you properly understand it.
I hope you understand.
WHAT IS AN INCEL?
The word “incel” is a portmanteau, where we combine the words “involuntary” and “celibate.” This is a more gentle way of saying that they’re not having sex with women, and that this is some kind of punishment that is being bestowed upon them involuntarily.
In other words, not getting laid, and not because they aren’t trying.
You can read the Wikipedia definition HERE.
AUTISM AND MENTAL HEALTH
This is dangerous territory, so I must declare that I am NOT a psychiatrist or psychologist. I am an Autistic adult who is working through the issues brought about by this neurodivergence.
There are stories out there claiming that incels are Autistic, and some even use the incel issue as a way of saying that having a neuro-inclusive society would be a bad idea. There is talk about incels that unfairly includes Autistic people. It’s an opinion that is uneducated, reductive, and dangerous.
Based on what I have seen and read, it seems that many incels have Autistic attributes. However, these attributes can come from other sources, such as paranoid schizophrenia, as well as anti-social sentiments.
In other words, some incels might be Autistic. However, someone being Autistic is NOT a sign that they are an incel.
This is another issue, where misogyny is a clear attribute, and yet many want to cite it as the cause. There are many misogynists who do not kill women.
To be really clear, misogyny is NOT something to defend. I cannot defend it, and never will. What I am saying is that it’s not the lone operator. It’s one of many attributes.
News outlets take these stories and run with them. They will blame movies, as they did with Seth Rogen’s “Neighbors.” I haven’t seen the movie, but it’s basically the story of the outcast not fitting in with the cool crowd, and so he gets revenge. From what I can tell, it’s along the lines of “Revenge of the Nerds.”
Blame like this might garner clicks and views, but it misses the mark. Again, too reductive, and pointing blame, instead of taking responsibility and working toward changing society. It’s easier to blame, because then you get to remain the same, and you get to remain the victim, even if you’ve never actually been a victim of any of it.
Now that I’ve given you some information, I must now give you two examples of incels. Understand that there are many, many incels out there. The internet is FULL of incel communities, and I will be writing later about the damage they cause.
There are incels out there who have done horrible things, like driving a car into crowds of people on the sidewalk. Instead of digging through those, I’m going to pick out the two most well-known incidents.
1 OF 2: GEORGE SODINI
George Sodini was an incel many years before the term was coined in 2018 by a woman who was seeking to offer up more compassion to lonely people.
George had a nice car, a decent house, a home gym, a great job, and a decent amount of money. He was also what some would describe as a good looking man. He once gave a tour of his home on video, and then complained about how he had everything that women look for in a man, and yet he still couldn’t get a woman.
George was not only lonely and sexually frustrated, but he also struggled with the social games that must be played in order to meet women in the first place.
On August 4, 2009, in Collier Township, Pennsylvania, George Sodini went into a 24 Hour Fitness with a gym bag full of weapons. He turned off the lights and just started shooting randomly, before taking his own life. He was 48 years old.
3 women died in this attack.
2 OF 2: ELLIOT RODGER
Elliot’s killing spree was in 2014, and by this point the internet became a way for people like him to tell others about their pain and what they were going through. Unfortunately, the internet was NOT helpful , and I will write later about how the internet exacerbated this problem.
Elliot may have been Autistic, or maybe Autistic-presenting symptoms caused by something else, and he had a great deal of social problems, including interacting with girls. He got lots of rejection, and was made fun of by the jocks.
When Elliot had enough of this, he decided to do something. He first stabbed all three of his male roommates, one-by-one, as they came home. So much for misogyny as being the main cause.
Then he went out shooting, and killed three people [2 women, 1 man]. He then took his own life. He was 22 years old.
In his Manifesto, he referred to his attack as the Day of Retribution.
Now I will be looking at a variety of contributing factors. After that, I will talk about how I might have become an incel, had I grown up in a later time, why I did not, and my thoughts on what society can do to address this problem.
HOW THE INTERNET MADE IT WORSE
From here on out, I will be focusing exclusively on Elliot Rodger. There is more information available about him, which is why I know more about him.
Elliot would talk to people about his problem socializing with girls. Unfortunately, he would often be mocked or made fun of.
Eventually, he ended up in an incel forum. There are many incel forums out there. This is where other incels or people who feel that they are will meet up and discuss their issues. However, it is important to note that their discussions are not positive discussions where they can improve their own situations. Instead, they carry on with rants about how they are wronged. These posts get positive reinforcement.
This is anger and loneliness that gets turned into hatred. And since their struggle is mainly about “getting girls,” they begin to hate girls and women. This is where the misogyny comes from. As you can see, their problems existed long before the misogyny took form.
HOW THE MEDIA MAKES IT WORSE
After Elliot’s break-down, the press went wild. Many news stories latched onto the misogyny angle and would have feminists on their programs to talk about how horrible men are in today’s society.
They would declare that misogyny is why Elliot did what he did.
Meanwhile, HE ACTUALLY WROTE A MANIFESTO EXPLAINING TO EVERYONE, IN GREAT DETAIL, WHY HE DID WHAT HE DID. He literally did this, and it got ignored in favor of sensationalism. He made many videos talking about what was going on and what he wanted to do. He wrote about it online. He begged for help. He even was visited by the police a few times. NBOODY paid attention, so nobody helped him.
The Manifesto is very long. Someone on YouTube read it, so here is part one, in case you are interested.
HOW HIS PARENTS MADE IT WORSE
His father was basically too busy to raise him. His mother was too disinterested. And his step-mother seemed to want him out of the way so she could get on with her life with Elliot’s father.
Elliot hated his step-mother the most of all. His parents once sent him to Mexico with his step-mother, and she abandoned him most of the time. He wrote emails to his parents, begging them to bring him back home because he was even more alone and afraid.
A channel on YouTube, which has since been taken down by YouTube, chronicled the emails sent between Elliot and his three parental figures. In reading these emails, it becomes clear that all three of his parental figures failed him miserably.
HOW HIS PEERS MADE IT WORSE
I don’t really have to explain this. It’s the same old bullying that happens in grade school, high school, and even in college. It most definitely happens in the “adult” world, where some people remain childish, vindictive, and ugly.
In the case of his peers, like with his parents and others, Elliot’s cries for help were ignored and drowned out by their mockery of him. They pointed and laughed. But later, when they cry because they are victims or linked to victims, everyone forgets that they once pointed and laughed.
That’s how the cause gets overlooked.
HOW I COULD HAVE BECOME AN INCEL
I had some of the same elements in my life. Mom was absent quite a bit due to work. Dad was very absent because he never wanted kids. There were bullies at school that did horrible things to me. And the girls at my school would not give me the time of day.
Mixing all of these chemicals isn’t quite enough to get it going for most people. In order to get this done, some heat needed to be applied. As it was for me, I had to deal with the voice in my head that told me I was a loser, that I would never fit in, and that I probably deserved to die alone in a forest.
Nothing applies heat more than 24/7 reminders that you are a loser, that the people who did this to you are wrong, and that you need to enact some retribution. This kind of heat is applied by online incel forums, where negativity never ends, and encouragement can be found when it comes to violent solutions.
HOW I AVOIDED BECOMING AN INCEL
This goes beyond the obvious, which is that the internet didn’t exist and therefore my mind did not get poisoned by the voices of thousands of people who believe that I should do something about it.
For one, I ended up getting tired of being a victim of bullies. One day, the voices of all of my bullies came out of the mouth of one bully. Those words boiled down to the statement that I was a coward. The hardest part of that was that after I heard it, I agreed with it.
I’d had enough, so I lashed out and returned the bully’s favor one day. Word got out, and nobody ever fucked with me again in that situation.
Also, when I worked all summer in 1980, I was able to buy a car. This got me out of town. I went to other schools, where girls didn’t have the benefit of observing me all day long and concluding that I was clunky. I had decent luck with the girls at other schools.
Finally, I’m not the kind of person who wants to harm others. I’d much rather quietly sneak off to a private place, where I can harm myself in peace. I never caused myself physical harm, but my self-talk voice was not a positive influence.
Incel status = avoided.
MY SOLUTION TO THE INCEL PROBLEM
As I write this, high school is like a mini-model of standard American culture. There are powerful players, and there are weaker players. The powerful pick on the weak, exploit them, abuse them, and throw them in the trash.
Just as this is acceptable in our society [and it should NOT be], it is also somehow acceptable in our high schools.
Some write it off as human nature. This is akin to declaring that we are animals, and therefore we should behave like animals. No! We must be better. Besids, the attitude of “oh well, that’s just how we are” is very defeatist.
We need to stop confusing bullying for strength, much in the same way that we confuse kindness for weakness. These two ARE NOT the same! Bullying is weakness; more precisely, it’s the attempt at covering up the weakness.
Most importantly, WE MUST STOP IGNORING our children and high school students who speak up when they are being wronged. We must also stop punishing the victims of bullies when they strike out in an act of self-defense.
Listen to the kids. This should be simple.
Get the community involved. Good luck with this, as our communities don’t seem to care one bit about the children. They talk about it, pay it lip service, and even use it as an excuse to pass horrific laws. But they don’t really care at all.
Help those who stumble. This used to happen, long before my time. But now, people actually CHEER when someone falls. They WANT to see who gets voted off the island next. They get happy when the fake CEO yells, “You’re fired!” and the fake employee loses the fake job.
For some odd reasons, Americans relish it when someone else gets hurt.
We need to change our attitude. If our attitude about other people DOES NOT change, then this situation will only get worse.
As I’m writing this, I am recalling a time in early 2008 when I stopped a mass shooting at the MySpace headquarters. Nobody talks about it, mainly because it did not happen, and I never talked about it before.
It was a relatively new co-worker who was having some struggles with his managers. He was also struggling to fit in with his team. I was there when a bully from his team was being relentless in his attacks.
The victim of the bullying told me that he was going to his car to get his gun. I took him for a walk and convinced him that the losers who were bullying him were NOT worth what would happen with his life over this.
I encouraged him to quit his job, right then, right now. He did. And he never came back, so far as I know.
IN THE END
The incel problem is one that hits close to home, because I recognize that I could have easily become one of them, had I been born later, or if I my life hadn’t changed the way it did.
I have to be clear again, and reiterate: Understanding this issue DOES NOT mean that you agree with incel philosophy or behavior. I understand the female reproductive system, and have yet to menstruate.
The incels I wrote about today, as well as the others out there, were at one time deserving of sympathy and empathy. That went straight out the window the minute they decided to cause harm to others.
There were victims who stared too long into the void, and became the monsters they once hated and feared. The turned into their own interpretation of what their bullies were like.
They were returning the favor to society.
I DO NOT agree with them, at all. I also DO NOT believe that causing harm, killing, and the other things that incels have done, are justified or acceptable. I have to be really clear about that, because too many people are prone to misunderstanding.
It is both cheap AND easy to point to misogyny and blame that, and ONLY that, as the cause. In Elliot’s case, he grew to hate women over time, even though he wanted sex, companionship, and a reprieve from his loneliness via a connection with a woman. It’s not that he started out hating women.
The problem is he hated himself. Then he hated the guys who bullied him. Then he hated the women who rejected him.
It’s not that he hated women.
It’s that he hated EVERYONE, including himself.
His parents let him down. His peers let him down. His community let him down. His educators let him down. So he decided to let himself down, and everyone else along with him.
He actually WROTE and made VIDEOS about WHY he did what he did, and most people ignored it, instead inserting their beliefs about what they think he did and about what they think was his reasoning. These reasons typically promote their agendas.
The way they sell it to get clicks and views was more important than the truth. The truth would help society. The news doesn’t have time to help society, when they’re busy making money.
That’s no better than the strong picking on the weak, simply because they can. Why anyone would feel better about themselves because they could beat up someone weaker than them is beyond me.
The blaming of movies, video games, and symptoms like misogyny are destructively taking time, energy, and focus away from the causes and potential solutions, so people we weren’t victims in any of this can take the spotlight and use the situation as an opportunity to advance their own cause.
True, Elliot should NOT have killed anyone. He also should not have been as neglected and abused as he was. He also should not have been ignored.
I want to end this entry with a song about Elliot Rodger, which I found just yesterday. The song DOES NOT make fun of him or the situation, and it DOES NOT glorify or romanticize Elliot’s actions. However, the song DOES point out how society played a role in what he did.
It also offers up some empathy and understanding, which can help us all move forward and maybe even avoid this type of thing in the future.
The video and lyrics are below. Thank you for reading, and for understanding. Again, if you think any of this is bad, or that I’m wrong, then please leave a comment [be respectful!], explain WHY I am wrong, and I will do my best to respond.
by Harrison Katz-James
Living with the burden that you did
Barely more than a kid
But the whole world noticed what you did
You made them pay
On that fateful day in May
Your crimes weren’t just for the hell of it
You told us all the reasons why you sinned
But nobody cared to listen
Their minds were made up before you did it
It’s all online
There’s nothing left to guess this time
But still no one addresses the elephant
Everyone prescribed the normal cures
They’d have locked you behind hospital doors
Or taken the guns so you wouldn’t kill more
You had your pills
Three died to a knife but still
They spun it any way that they could sell it
Though all sides declared a tragedy
They spoke with such transparency
Pushing agendas on TV
They’re at it still
Every time someone gets killed
It’s almost like the politicians relish it