Incel is just an extreme version of many men’s attitudes to women

The depressing scene outside the house where the killing spree started last week in Plymouth

Last night I raised the question in a Council Select Committee about whether Incel was recognised in Liverpool and whether it was considered to be terrorism. For those who have not caught up with the news lately Incel stands for involuntary celibacy. This is a group of men who not only, “can’t get sex”, but feel that is because, “women won’t give it to them!”

My questions took part in a wider discussion about Violence Against Women. We are only too aware that domestic violence and rape and general misbehaviour is a growing problem in the UK. Its growth has been exacerbated by the pandemic which has damaged the finances of so many families and forced people to be much more connected with each other. That’s been great for many of us but dreadful for others.

My question, was of course, prompted by the man, I won’t even name him, who went on the rampage in Plymouth last week. He killed his mother and then 4 others including a 3 year old girl and her Dad who just happened to be passing.

Before embarking on his killing spree the man posted a number of videos on Facebook and other social media. While police have not made any official link between the shootings and Davison’s videos, the gunman’s misogynist comments echo those often heard by men and boys in the Incel — “involuntary celibate” — movement.

Incels are almost always men or boys who espouse misogynist views and often say they want to have sex but feel that women or girls are denying them of it.

After police said they were not treating the incident as a case of terrorism, the shooting gave way to discussions online and in the media about whether incel violence should be included in anti-terrorism legislation.

Men described as “incels” have been behind a number of mass shootings in the United States, Canada, and two in Germany by the same gunman.

In April 2018, Alek Minassian drove a van into pedestrians in Toronto, killing 10 and injuring 16 others. Before the attack, a post appeared on Minassian’s Facebook account that said “the Incel Rebellion has already begun.”

Attacks such as these are often quickly deemed “lone wolf” attacks by authorities, and the public is told that there’s no threat to public safety. But evidence is mounting that, through the use of social media by at least 60,000 men, they are encouraging each other and awarding high praise to violent comments, thoughts and actions.

An apparently serious Twitter comment made the suggestion that violence against women would cease immediately if the Canadian Government allocated ‘girlfriends’ to men! This is so amazingly grotesque that it is unbelievable that anyone could seriously believe that anyone could be forced to have a friend by a Government!

The UK’s official Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, said it was unlikely there would be change to legislation after the shooting, but that if the country saw more similar attacks, there may be discussions to do so.

“The question is really whether or not the authorities want to treat the Incel phenomenon as a terrorist risk. That would involve diverting resources or putting resources into it,” he told BBC Radio 4.

“If we see more of these sorts of attacks, then I have got no doubt that it will be treated more seriously as terrorism. It fits rather uneasily into the way the authorities understand ideologies. It seems part of right-wing terrorism but it is not really. In fact, it is quite separate from it. It is a different sort of ideology,” he said.

“The question is really one of choice. Do we want to start treating incels as potential terrorists?”

I personally think that the joint Incel actions are terrorist actions, but let’s not get side-tracked into a debate about technical and definitions about what terrorism is. These are disgusting crimes caused by disgusting attitudes and committed by disgusting people.

As Mayor Anderson agreed with me last night, bad attitudes by men arise from when they are brought up badly. Attitudes like misogyny are hot wired into boys at a very early age when they see the men around them treating women like punchbags, sexual slaves or housekeepers.

So, to deal with this we need to work on two levels. In the short-term we must:

  • Ensure that every woman knows how to contact people who will help her escape from the traumas caused by subjugation. That will involve housing and safety issues with immediate refuges and long-term safe provision for the woman and often her children. It will also involve financial issues helping women to become financially independent from the man who ‘provides’ for her.
  • Provide effective measures to observe and if necessary, catch and punish those men who not only hold these views but take actions to inflict those views on women.

In the long-term we must:

  • Change attitudes of so many men to women. We must start with the education of young boys. We must look at the objectification of women in the mainstream and social media. We must ensure that the right attitudes are presented on all occasions so that those growing up understand the issues of equality and decent behaviour.
  • Ensure that women can rise to the top in anything that they wish to in circumstances where there is an assumption of male (often white) superiority.

This is not a minority matter. When most women I talk to, often confident and successful women, feel that they must continually modify their behaviour to avoid either a minor or serious reaction from a significant number of men it shows that hard and meaningful action is long overdue.

About richardkemp

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Liverpool. Deputy Chair and Lib Dem Spokesperson on the LGA Community Wellbeing Board. Married to the lovely Cllr Erica Kemp CBE with three children and four grandchildren.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s