Incels: The ideology that's turning sex-starved misogynists into brutal mass murderers

At least seven mass killings have been attributed to incels or self-described misogynists


                            Incels: The ideology that's turning sex-starved misogynists into brutal mass murderers
(Getty Images)

A California man who was a proponent of 'incel ideology' and deified Santa Barbara mass shooter Elliot Rodger was charged this past week with making violent threats to multiple teenage girls.

Carl Bennington, 33, of San Gabriel Valley, was arrested by special agents of the FBI on allegations that he conducted an internet harassment campaign against two teenage girls who rejected his sexual advances.

According to a criminal complaint, from February 2016 to March 2020, Bennington repeatedly used various social media accounts to harass young girls and women and sent hundreds of messages threatening to commit acts of physical and sexual violence against them if they did not submit to his advances.

When one of Bennington's victims demanded that he stop harassing her, he reportedly replied that he was going to kill her and her family.

As deviant as the behavior sounds, it is not uncommon, considering the culture Bennington believes in. Bennington was a fervent promoter of the incel subculture in numerous online groups, where practically everyone would approve of and applaud his actions.

Incels, which stands for involuntary celibates, are a group of people who are unable to find a willing sex partner and espouse a view that women oppress men and have too much freedom to choose their sexual partners.

Photos of a victim stand in a makeshift memorial in front of the IV Deli May 25, 2014, in Isla Vista, California (David McNew/Getty Images)

They don't just hate women either. They hate themselves and openly congratulate each other for "taking the black pill," which is an allusion to the Matrix movie but with the twist that the pill they're taking wakes them to to the reality that they are ugly.

In their view, ugly people like them, especially ugly men, are destined to lead unhappy lives and die alone, and that there's nothing they can do about it.

To them, the paragon of male beauty was a muscled white man with a chiseled jawline and six-pack abs, which might explain why they harbor a belief that, in a primarily-monogamous society today, just a small percentage of these genetically superior alpha guys, or 'Chads', have most of the sex. 

Women, on the other hand, who can either be 'Stacys' if they're hyperfeminine and attractive or 'Beckys' if they're "average," don't have to rely on their looks as guys do and can have sex whenever they want as long as they are not severely deformed. 

Some of the other creative terms they use to refer to women include "femoids" and FHOs, which stands for Female Humanoid Organism.

It's quite depressing considering the community was initially started in the late 1990s by a shy and introvert teenager who didn't know who to turn to for advice regarding dating, relationships, and sex.

In those halcyon days, the group was a welcoming place where men could ask other female members for advice about their problems and vice-versa. Now, even the thought of a "femoid" in the community invokes a furious reaction.

Take, for example, a post made in Incel.me by someone who said they were a "female incel" where they wrote, "Before you judge: no, I am not alone because I have high standards, it is not voluntary, no one has ever in my entire life shown any interest in me."

In response, she was branded a troll, a liar, a "vapid whore," "lonely and unloved," and a "pig woman." Then, she was banned.

A cursory glance into any of the hundreds of incel forums like Incel.me that are now thriving online seem to indicate just the thing: that all these men viewed women as conquest and sex as a game to be won.

"Incels are not a community of sad men that reflect a societal problem with loneliness," feminist writer Jessica Valenti said. "They’re a community of violent misogynists that reflect a societal problem with sexism and sexual entitlement."

But not all these incels are the same. The ideology runs from a scale of sad and self-loathing to advocating the "absolute hatred" of women and homicidal violence. When men find themselves on the latter end, they turn out like Rodger.

People gather at a memorial for victims of the mass killing on Yonge Street at Finch Avenue on April 24, 2018, in Toronto, Canada. A suspect identified by police as Alek Minassian, 25, is in custody after a driver in a white rental van yesterday sped onto a crowded sidewalk, killing 10 and injuring at least 16 (Cole Burston/Getty Images)

Rodger, who is a bonafide hero in the community, killed six people in a stabbing and shooting spree in Isla Vista, California, in May 2014. Of those six, two were members of the Alpha Phi sorority, which he said had the "hottest" girls in his college and the kind "'ve always desired but was never able to have." 

Before he turned the gun on himself, he also posted a "retribution" video to YouTube and distributed a 141-page autobiography of sorts that shone a light on his deep-rooted loathing for women that was fueled by a frustration that he was still a virgin at 22.

In the document, he described himself as an "ideal magnificent gentleman" who could not comprehend why women did not want to have sex with him. He insisted that he had been left with no choice but to exact revenge on the society that had "denied" him the girlfriend he deserved.

"I am the true victim in all of this. I am the good guy," he declared in the final section.

The mass killing and the manifesto went on to inspire Alek Minassian, a 25-year-old who killed ten people and wounded a further 14 in Toronto in April 2018 after he intentionally drove a rental van into pedestrians on a busy pavement.

Before carrying out the attack, he had taken to Facebook to praise Rodger. "The Incel Rebellion has already begun!" he wrote. "We will overthrow all the Chads and Stacys! All hail the Supreme Gentleman Elliot Rodger!"

In the past decade, at least seven mass killings have been attributed to incels or self-described misogynists. Bennington appeared to be heading that way as well before his timely arrest this week.

The 33-year-old is now facing a federal cyberstalking charge, a felony offense that carries a statutory maximum sentence of five years in federal prison, and is seeing his case prosecuted by a district attorney Ryan of the Terrorism and Export Crimes Section.

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