In a recent post on Love-shy.com, a forum for the dateless and sexless, the man wrote, “I am seriously thinking about just getting a gun and shooting everything up,” he said.
“I fantasize about it everyday … ” The thing is that this isn’t another newly discovered online posting from Elliot Rodger, the 22-year-old who went on a shooting rampage Friday, killing six people. These are just the words of yet another angry man on the Internet expressing rage at society — especially women — over his own celibacy.
The poster continued, “I think if I do end up going on a mass shooting spree it will be due to the mental damage/stress from being isolated from meaningful human contact for too long. If/when that ever happens, can I really be blamed for murder if I’ve lost my mental faculties to judge right from wrong?”
He goes on to say of the infamous mass murderers of recent years, “Quite a lot of those shooters weren’t crazy.”
To be sure, this poster isn’t representative of male virgins, just as Elliot Rodger isn’t the spokesperson for all men who identify as “involuntarily celibate” (“incels” for short). But sympathy for Rodger, and strikingly similar ideologies, are disturbingly common in the online communities for “love-shy” and incel men. PUA Hate, the site where Rodger shared his resentment about being a self-described incel has been taken down amid the current media frenzy, but plenty of similar sites remain.
On the blog That Incel Blogger, the author says of Rodger’s massacre:
What happened is punishment for evil and violence of feminists and liberals. Any of you supporting atrocities like women’s suffrage, immodest clothing, child support/alimony, no ban on adultery, ban on prostitution and a lack of female premarital chastity, all the things that drove this young man to be unable to find a girlfriend, are disgusting , horrible people and you created a culture where this is possible.
The blame is placed squarely on women. On the site Co-alpha.org, a poster responds to news of Rodger’s killing-spree:
“Society would rather perish than change its ways… Even without fixing modern women, legalized prostitution could easily prevent at least some of these killing sprees. The people of modern culture are stupid beyond help: they refuse to understand that if you kick a nice dog enough times, it will become a mean dog. No dog is entitled to even one bone, they say.”
When Rodger is rejected by these communities, it’s often because he was too attractive to qualify as a true incel — not because he murdered people. As a poster on Love-Shy wrote, “Good looking, rich, he could have had female attention most of us only dream of.”
That Incel Blogger, who once proposed that the government pay women to go on dates with incels, wrote, “He could have flown anywhere in the world with the money he had, there were places where he could have found a good non-feminist wife. I have no idea why he didn’t try that.”
On these boards, men debate fantasy scenarios, like what it would be like to have “a device that will make any woman in the vicinity want to have sex with you – all you would have to do is ask.”
In response to that particular concept, a user posted, “Women are basically mind controlled anyway, so any arguments about free will are pretty ridiculous.” They lament not being born in “a time before socialist government policies eliminated women’s need for men.”
Talk about rape on these boards often sounds nostalgic. In one forum, a guy tries to cheer up his fellow incels by writing, “For 99% of human history, there was no such thing as dating. For 99% of human history, females did not choose their sexual partners. If they were LUCKY, they would be given to worthy men in arranged marriages. If they were UNLUCKY, they would be seized as spoils of war and end up as sex slaves. “
In response, someone writes, “I would actually prefer this much more to having to learn ‘game’” ( i.e., seduction techniques). In another thread, a man writes, “Maybe feminism will destroy itself afterall. Either by its folly or men destroying shit & raping the hell out of women to fight back in denying men’s sexual rights.”
As I said earlier, the truly messed up thing is that Rodger’s attitude toward women was not unique. It’s an ideology that you encounter everywhere from marginal “incel” forums to political debates over reproductive rights, the shared belief being that men are entitled to govern women’s bodies.
As Molly Crabapple tweeted on Saturday, “The Elliot Rodgers massacre is an act of terrorism aimed at punishing women for controlling their own sexual lives.”
Tracy Clark-Flory is a staff writer at Salon.