What is an incel? Online term linked to Andrew Tate

 (ES Composite)
(ES Composite)

Official statistics released earlier this year have shown a worrying rise in the number of suspected incels being referred to the Prevent counter-terrorism scheme, with police saying the movement is not “currently considered a terrorist ideology” but has the “ability to inspire terrible acts of violence”.

Andrew Tate has gained notoriety for his misogynistic views, which went viral on social media and led to a ban on Instagram and (temporarily) Twitter.

Tate’s recent media coverage has sparked conversations around incel culture. Although he does not identify himself as an incel, many of his fans are lonely young men who consider themselves “involuntarily celibate”.

The influencer’s misogyny plays into the incel idea that women owe men sex, and that men can treat women however they please.

Tate has previously said that women should “bear responsibility” for being sexually assaulted, that they “belong in the home”, and that they are a “man’s property”.

He has also said that “probably 40 per cent of the reason” he moved to Romania was because it was easier to evade rape charges.

The online movement has real-life, serious consequences. It has resulted in violent attacks and murders.

At a time when parents are concerned about what their children are consuming online, it’s important to understand the communities that they may be exposed to.

A report published on February 20 concerning mass shooter Jake Davison read: “It is possible that Davison may have started planning the shooting during his final days, as he searched online for information about anti-terror policing in the UK, incel serial killers, and instructions on reloading firearms.”

Jake Davison shot five people, including a toddler, in the worst mass killing of its kind in the UK since a taxi driver killed 12 people then shot himself in a rampage in Cumbria, northern England, in June 2010. Davison had previously discussed the misogynistic incel movement in an 11-minute YouTube video before the murders.

On August 12, 2021, Davison murdered his mother before leaving the house and finding his next targets, which included a three-year-old girl, her father, and two other passersby.

Only a few days before the atrocity, Davison had “searched for incel serial killers online”, a watchdog revealed.

An investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said Davison had “posted prolifically” about incel culture on social media.

“Policing has got to learn lessons from [the Plymouth shooting], whether it’s in controlling firearms and licensing, or our understanding of incel behaviour. This is an international conversation,” added Assistant Commissioner Matt Jukes.

Here, we break down what exactly it means to be part of an incel movement and explain the related black pill philosophy.

What is an incel?

An incel is an abbreviation for “involuntary celibate”. This is an online subculture for those who say they are unable to find a romantic or sexual partner despite desiring one.

The term was coined by a woman named Alana in the late 1990s, who started an online forum for others like her who were experiencing loneliness and unable to find romantic or sexual partners. It was intended to be a supportive environment for people to share their experiences.

However, the term incel was co-opted by lonely young men who blamed women for their predicament. It has since lent its name to a misogynistic online movement.

Online incel forums are often underlined by discussions of resentment and hatred, misogyny, misanthropy (contempt for people in general), and racism.

The incel community has its own terms for attractive women and men: Stacys and Chads.

They desire Stacys, but also ridicule them, and hate them for choosing so-called Chads. Incels often believe that Stacys are manipulative.

Chads are successful, attractive men who are able to attract romantic partners, they say. Incels often believe themselves genetically inferior to Chads, unable to compete with them in attracting Stacys.

Timeline of incel attacks

In 2014, Elliot Rodger killed six people in a stabbing and shooting spree in Isla Vista, California, before killing himself.

Before the rampage, the 22-year-old also uploaded a YouTube video outlining his motives for the attack. He said this was his revenge on women for rejecting him after previously describing himself as an incel.

In 2018, Alek Minassian killed 10 people by driving a van into pedestrians and said that he drew inspiration from the incel movement.

He had praised Rodger on Facebook, saying, “The Incel Rebellion has already begun! We will overthrow all the Chads and Stacys! All hail the Supreme Gentleman Elliot Rodger!”

What is the black pill philosophy?

The black pill philosophy refers to a set of commonly held beliefs among the incel community.

People who have “taken the black pill” believe they are hopeless cases, who will never have any success romantically or sexually.

The black pill theory is the idea that incels are the only people who realise that they have been dealt an unfair hand in the genetic lottery.

The term black pill is said to have been coined as an alternative to taking red and blue pills, referred to in the 1999 film The Matrix.