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COLUMN: Involuntarily learning about incels

Terrorism is taking on a new face. While there have been instances where a minuscule portion of society praises a terrorist, it has not quite reached the unprecedented level given to the arrested suspect of the Toronto van attack this past week.

Ten victims were killed in this tragic attack, yet it is being overshadowed by statements being made by the attacker, Alek Minassian, who is claiming that the “incel rebellion has begun.” And some of the other incels around the world are rejoicing. Minassian posted on Facebook just moments before beginning his attack, leading to several comments such as, “I will have one celebratory beer for every victim that turns out to be a young woman between 18-35.”

The Facebook post has since been deleted, but the comments will remain burned into my consciousness for a long time.

I never thought in my time as a columnist for the IDS I would have to explain what incels are, but here we go.

The term incel is a shorthand combination of the words involuntary and celibate. People who proclaim themselves as incels are in the mindset that they are not having sexual relations because “Chads” and “Staceys” — the incel community's derogatory term for sexually active men or women — are too busy sleeping with each other and won’t give any attention to these so-called intellectual and true men. The incels believe society is somehow conspiring against them to ensure their sexual failure, when, in reality, many of them have simply self-sabotaged any potential relationship by way of their misogynistic behaviors. 

Incels aren’t always affiliated with the alt-right, but they run in the same circles of misogynistic men on the internet. The New York Times reports that "at their most extreme, incels have advocated rape and other forms of violence against women.” 

The fact that these men are finding a hero for themselves in this terrorist is frankly disgusting. It’s shocking and terrifying to hear that people are praising this terrorist because of his connection to the incel community.

Minassian’s reference to Elliot Rodger in his Facebook post is probably the most concerning part. Rodger, another self-proclaimed incel, killed six people in 2014 before killing himself. He referred to himself as a “supreme gentleman” and encouraged future incels, like Minassian.

The tragedy of this attack is being overshadowed by many media outlets' curiosity toward incels. Of course, I am only contributing to this by expressing my outrage over such a response, but it needs to be said.

The media has not been fantastic when it comes to reporting tragedies. There will always be the fascination of the terrorist or killer or suspect, and such fascination will always outshine the victims.

I didn’t hear anything about the terrorist attack until I saw people questioning the existence of incels on Twitter and, through further research, discovered the source of the buzz.

In the future, when reporting about tragedies such as this, I just hope there is enough time to mourn the victims before the media moves on to be fully focused on the causative agents, such as the incel community.

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