In April a man deliberately struck pedestrians with a rented van in Toronto, killing eight women and two men and injuring another 16 people. So far the 25-year-old murderer, Alek Minassian, has been charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder and 13 counts of attempted murder. He was not previously known to the Toronto police.
Before stealing these people’s lives Minassian mentioned in a post on his Facebook page that the “incel rebellion has already begun.” 'Incel' refers to men who are involuntarily celibate, apparently because women spurn their advances. It appears that Minassian was motivated by misogyny. There has been increasing talk in news media about ‘incels’ and insufficient focus on misogyny, the root of the problem. If Minassian has held women in higher esteem, if he had viewed women as men’s equals and if he had not felt entitled—as so many men do—to women’s time and attention this despicable act would not have occurred.
Minassian is far from alone in holding women so cheaply. In his Facebook post he praised another misogynist, Elliott Rodger, who killed six people in California in 2014. He shot three women on the street, killing two, after attempting to gain entry to a sorority house. Fortunately, the young women did not open the door to him. He also injured several other people while on his shooting rampage in the Los Angeles area. News outlets labelled 22-year-old Rodger a madman and spoke very little of his misogyny and not enough of his sense of entitlement about women.
Men like Minassian and Rodger belong to an online culture of men who blame women for rejecting them and their inability to have sex with women. They believe it is their right to receive sex from women. ‘Incels’ are a hate group, and they perpetrate hate crimes against women. This is why it is important to keep the words misogyny and misogynist at the forefront of discussions about these horrendous acts, in the same way we use the words racism and racist when blacks and Jews are targeted by hate crimes. ‘Incels’ are simply one of the latest groups of misogynists to target women in North America. Focusing on the incel label and shying away from the term misogyny is a way of skirting around the main issue. Our sexist societies play an important role in making and allowing men to believe they are entitled to women’s time and attention. Media in particular play a significant role in conveying the message that women exist to entertain men and please them. We do not. Until our society deals with the misogyny that pervades it it is more than likely that men like Minassian and Rodger will be emulated by other men.
© 2018 Alline Cormier