The term 'incel' isn't a widely known term... yet.
After a stabbing in North York, Ontario in February 2020, Canada's law enforcement has now officially categorized this as an act of terrorism.
The 17-year-old teen is accused of fatally stabbing a woman at an erotic massage parlour. The incel (short for involuntary celibate), is said by the RCMP to have been motivated by an extremist ideology, according to BBC News.
This marks the first time in Canada that 'incel' has been categorized as a terrorist ideology.
This may strike some as odd, as incel Alek Minassian — the man who killed 10 in a Toronto van attack in 2018 — was not labelled an 'incel terrorist', despite admitting to planning and carrying out the attack.
Is being a lonely, possibly weird/sheltered male who congregates in online forums to discuss his lack of sexual relationships with others an extremist ideology?
In and of itself? No.
But the “community”, if you can call it that, certainly doesn't shy away from presenting itself poorly, making itself ripe for the picking when media outlets are looking to point fingers.
This is easily showcased by their labeling of mass murderer Elliot Rodger as the “supreme gentleman”. Rodger, 22 at the time, killed seven and injured 14 in a 2014 attack in Isla Vista, California.
Rodger posted several videos before carrying out his attack expressing his disdain of women and justifying his actions. To incels, it's a great inside joke to make memes about Rodger, and sarcastically claim he is completely in the right. For obvious reasons, this is both moronic and poor optics, no matter how serious the statements may or may not be.
To some, Minassian and Rodger are an honest representation of all incels. Alt-right, woman-hating misfits, gathering online to plot their next illegal activity.
While no one should defend the horrific people who commit acts of terrorism, critics of the incel crowd no doubt would have trouble painting other ideologies with the same broad brush. I would certainly challenge them to do so, especially considering there is no 'Incel Book', nor an agreed upon doctrine or set of beliefs.
To those who have spent time in predominantly male online communities, or have simply known a wide variety of guys, at least a few faces would come to mind that fit the description of an “incel”. Would that person also fit the label of “person with terrorist ideology”?
Probably not, and that's just being honest.
I went out to ask people if they knew what incels were, how they felt about the recent labeling of extremism, and if it's something we all should be concerned about.
If you have a minute, go to LetUsWork.ca and consider donating or signing the petition. I am lucky enough to be able to do my job during COVID-19, and many other small businesses should be able to also.