Alek Minassian ploughed a rented van into pedestrians along a 2 kilometre stretch of road in North Toronto on April 23. The 25-year-old college student killed 10 people and injured 14 more, in what witnesses said was a purposeful attack.
Described as a “socially awkward” man, Minassian has been charged with 10 counts of first degree murder and 13 counts of attempted murder. He’s now being held on remand in Toronto South Detention Centre, where he’s reportedly said he has no regrets for the victims.
Hours after the attack took place, a screenshot of a Facebook post emerged that Minassian had written just minutes before he drove the van onto the sidewalk. It seems to reveal that the reason he carried out this random act of terror was because he couldn’t get laid.
In the post, which has been confirmed as authentic by the social media company, Minassian wrote, “Private (Recruit) Minassian Infantry 00010, wishing to speak to Sgt 4chan please. C23249161. The Incel Rebellion has already begun! We Will overthrow all the Chads and Stacys!”
The “incel rebellion” refers to an online community known as the incel movement. Incel stands for the involuntarily celibate. Said to be an offshoot of the alt-right, the movement’s comprised of mainly white men united in their hatred of women, who they despise for not providing them with sex.
Support website for the dating-challenged Loveshy.com defines incels as people who have been “unable to obtain a romantic partner within six months.” While online forum Incels.me states that an incel is someone who “can’t have sex despite wanting to.”
Incels congregate on internet forums such as 4chan, Sluthate, and until recently Reddit, which has now banned them from its site. Online these men discuss their inability to find a partner and their aversion to “Chads” and “Stacys:” men and women who have sex.
Faceless women haters
As online activist Andy Fleming explains, over the last few years, an online “manosphere” has developed, which includes a range subcultures, including pick up artists, men’s rights activists, and MGTOWs: straight men who’ve decided not to have relationships with women as a political stance.
“What they have in common is a generalised misogyny,” explained Fleming, who documents the activities of the Australian far-right as blogger slackbastard.
“Incels would seem to be somewhat distinct in the sense that they’ve rarely constituted a public presence in the way these other political formations have,” he told Sydney Criminal Lawyers®. He added that incels really only enter public awareness when one of them perpetrates an act of terror.
And while Australia has its far share of incels, Fleming said they haven’t impacted the Australian alt-right, “or at least, not yet.”
Glorifying a cold-blooded killer
Minassian ended his pre-massacre Facebook post with the statement, “All hail the Supreme Gentleman Elliot Rodger.” This is a reference to the last major terrorist act carried out by an incel, who was enraged by the fact that he was still a virgin at the age of 22.
On May 23 2014, Elliot Rodger drove through the University of California at Santa Barbara and shot and killed two young women outside the Alpha Phi sorority house, as well as a 20-year-old man. The sexually frustrated killer then took his own life.
Prior to the shooting spree, Rodger had also stabbed three men to death in his apartment.
An active member of the incel online community, Rodger wrote in a 141 page manifesto that “there is something mentally wrong with the way” women’s brains are wired, as they’re “incapable of reason or thinking rationally.”
Today, the incel movement has turned Rodger into something of a hero. Not only did Minassian reference him before perpetrating his own barbaric act, but there have been t-shirts featuring Rodgers available online and incels post messages marking the anniversary of his murders.
Waging war on women
Unsurprisingly, the news that the horror in Toronto had been carried out by a man upset that women were denying him sex caused a huge backlash in both mainstream and social media as people questioned why these men feel that sex is an entitlement.
Fairfax columnist Clementine Ford told Late Night Live that the “violence behind their entitlement” is peculiar to incels. She explained that in their minds women have morphed from being people they can’t relate to into those who are withholding the “affection and love” they feel “defines them as men.”
According to Ms Ford, there’s an issue with the access radicalised groups, like men’s rights groups, now have with each other online, as they can feed their toxic ideas, with no counterbalancing point of view available.
A redistribution of sex
And in a rather bizarre response to the Toronto attack, US economist Robin Hanson wrote that it could be argued that those who lack access to sex suffer in a similar way to those who are on a low income. And he posited that these individuals might organise and lobby for a redistribution of sex.
Hanson further suggested that these people might “implicitly threaten violence if their demands are not met.” And those amongst them who are opposed to violence might “still be encouraged privately when the possibility of violence helps move others to support their policies.”
While Hanson provides no explanation as to how this redistribution could be brought about, an anonymous post is floating around the web that suggests a five step method on how to do so, which includes banning women from wearing makeup and forcing single mothers to have sex with incels.
Mr Fleming suggests that the incel movement didn’t develop out of the alt-right, but incels are actually gravitating towards the other extremist movement, because both of them share “a contempt for women.”
In his reckoning, both incels and exponents of the far-right share feminism as a common enemy. The alt-right argue that feminist thought is “partly responsible for the decline of western civilisation,” whereas to incels it prevents them from having sex.
“The alt-right provides a broader political critique of contemporary society” than the incels, the slackbastard blogger concluded. “As incels develop a political consciousness beyond hatred for women, the alt-right provides a safe harbour in which to do so.”
Paul Gregoire is a Sydney-based journalist and writer. He has a focus on human rights issues, encroachments on civil liberties, drug law reform, gender diversity and First Nations rights. Prior to Sydney Criminal Lawyers®, he wrote for VICE and was the news editor at Sydney’s City Hub.