What Is the Incel Movement? 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Elliot Rodger Incel Movement

Screengrab via YouTube The 2014 Isla Vista shooter Elliot Rodger.

An apparent social media posting has linked the man accused of killing ten people with a van in Toronto with a controversial celibacy movement. On April 23, ten people were killed and 16 others injured when a man driving a white van drove into a crowd in North York, Toronto. Alek Minassian, 25, was arrested at the scene.

Shortly after Minassian’s name was made public, a Facebook post spread online that was apparently written by the suspect. The posting read, “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! All hail the Supreme Gentleman Elliot Rodger!” The posting has not been confirmed as legitimate. It was posted on the same day as the van incident.

But Buzzfeed News reporter Jane Lytvynenko tweeted Tuesday, “A Facebook employee confirmed to me on background that the Alek Minassian Facebook post referencing 4chan and ‘The Incel Rebellion’ is real.” The CBC also confirmed the post, tweeting, “Facebook confirms to CBC’s Matthew Braga … that the post from Alek Minassian referencing ‘The Incel Rebellion’ and Elliot Rodger is real, and was posted publicly on his profile before Facebook shut it down.”

The writing makes reference to Elliot Rodger. In May 2014, Rodger, 22, shot and killed six people while injuring 14 others before committing suicide close to the campus of the University of California, Santa Barbara. Prior to his rampage, Rodger posted a video on YouTube titled, “Elliot Rodger’s Retribution.” Rodger made the claims that he was killing women because he was a virgin and was targeting sexually active men. As a result, Rodger was considered a member of the Incel Movement, a movement for people who feel they are victims of enforced celibacy.

Here’s what you need to know:

1. A Subreddit for the Incel Movement Was Removed in 2017 Due to Gross Misogyny

Alek Minassian Facebook page

Facebook/Alek Minassian

The Guardian reported in November 2017 that Reddit had banned a subreddit named, Incels. At the time it was removed, there were over 40,000 members of the page. A common theme on those Reddit pages were “Chads,” men who have casual sex with women.

A Change.org petition that spread in the summer of 2017 accused the group of advocating rape with titles of pages on subreddit including, “All women are sluts” and “Reasons why women are the embodiment of evil.”

The Guardian report adds that users on the subreddit who were viewed as too friendly to women were warned and subsequently banned if their behavior didn’t degenerate. Women were commonly referred to as “Femoids” on the page.

Facebook told the CBC that after it found Alek Minassian’s profile following the van attack, it took the page down, including the post referencing the “Incel Rebellion.”

“This is a terrible tragedy, and our hearts go out to the people who have been affected. There is absolutely no place on our platform for people who commit such horrendous acts,” Facebook said in a statement to the CBC. It added that it “immediately deleted” Minassian’s account after identifying it as belonging to him. The social media company said it “uses a combination of technology and reports from its members to remove content that violates its community standards,” according to the CBC.

On an Incel Movement website, incels.me, members have been celebrating the connection between their group and Minassian, and have elevated him to hero status, like they did with Rodger. They have also celebrated that the first victim to be identified was a woman.

2. Many Incel Movement Reddit Users Were Also Active on Alt-Right Pages

According to a study from Grinnell College on the Incel Movement, another common name for women on the site is “Stacy.” The study reads, “The female counterpart of a Chad is called a “Stacy,” and she is viewed as unattainable. Incels talk about Chads in a reverent way, while talking about Stacies in a hateful way. They strive to be Chads, but demean the Stacies Chad is allegedly having sex with.”

The Grinnell study adds that many in the Incel Movement subreddit were also active in alt-right pages such as “The Red Pill,” “Mens Rights” and “Men Going Their Own Way.” A Quartz piece included words such as “femoids” and “Chad” as being part of a new alt-right dictionary. That same article mentions that some on the subreddit referred to Elliot Rodger as “Saint Elliot” because he “martyred” himself for the Incel cause.

3. Despite the Misogyny, the Incel Movement Was Started by a Woman

Despite the misogyny associated with the group, it was a woman who says she started the movement. A Canadian woman named Alana told Elle Magazine in March 2016 that she started the Incel Movement in 1993. Alana said that after thinking she was heterosexual but then dating and breaking up with a woman, she wanted to try “to create a movement that was open to anybody and everybody.”

Alana then built an early website named, “Alana’s Involuntary Celibacy Project.” Alana said that the page was populated with stories from women but mainly men. The article says that the men “were prone to antagonistic, repetitive complaining, she truly wanted her project to be a home for all incels; rigid gender norms, she thought, burdened every- one.”

When Alana learned of Elliot Rodger’s connection to the movement, she told Elle about her thoughts, “Like a scientist who invented something that ended up being a weapon of war, I can’t uninvent this word, nor restrict it to the nicer people who need it.”

4. One Incel Activist Believes that the Members of the Movement Should Be Viewed as a Gender

A former site admin for IncelSupport, Rebecca Freeman, wrote on Quora that the group is “not a movement; we have never protested or made any request for rights — or anything like that. We do not much resemble the stereotypes and tropes many feminist groups like to use against us.”

Freeman added that “likely some biological cause. Therefore, I think we should be viewed as a type of gender.” In her conclusion, Freeman wrote, “It’s worth remembering that Adolf Hitler had a partner. So did many well known serial killers and rapists. They were not dangerous because of sexual frustration or an inability to fit in. They were simply evil people.”

5. ‘There Is Not That Much Difference’ Between Incels & Those Who Are Just Love-Shy

Alek Minassian social media


A website named Love-Shy.com, offers “support for the dating-challenged.” In an FAQ section to help users determine if they are incels or love shy, a passage reads, “The suffering of incels is often the same as those of love-shys.” The difference, according to that section, is that incel people view themselves as being further away from the social mainstream.

Another passage reads, ” It is possible for a person to be both incel and love-shy, and most are both, and most are both to some degree or another. For instance, a person could originally be incel, then suffer large numbers of turn downs, and eventually become love-shy and unable to approach.”