I’ve infiltrated incel forums – and I’ve never been so scared

Hooded characters hacking laptops

The number of incels in the UK is increasing (Image: Getty Images/Science Photo Libra)

It was late April 2018 and a white van had just mowed down a lot of PEdestrians in Toronto.

As a journalist I’ve been following the coverage of the attack – which left 11 dead and 15 injured – and stumbled across the word Inclformerly referred to the driver of the van, Alek Minassian, 28.

I had never heard the word before so I googled it.

It led me to a forum full of jubilant men celebrating Minassian’s murderous crimes. One of the first comments I received was, “I will have a celebratory beer for any victim who turns out to be a woman between the ages of 18 and 35.”

As families buried loved ones, the perpetrator had become a hero within the incel movement – it felt surreal.

Three years after Toronto, Britain would carry out its first deadly incel attack.

In 2021, Jake Davison, 22, shot dead five people in Plymouth – including his mother and a three-year-old girl. He then turned the gun on himself.

Davison held Incel-related views and his massacre was celebrated on the Incel forums he attended, where he was martyred. Traffic to Incel-related forums has increased six-fold in nine months.

I started Dive into these forums, and of all the research I’ve done as a writer and journalist, this has been the worst — and darkest.

I have never experienced such anger, frustration and violence as the men who, in the light of their computer screens, share their hatred of women with the world.

Incel means involuntary celibacy. Self-identifying men often come together on internet forums to share their hatred of women they feel are purposely withholding sex from them.

The language used is often extremely violent. Females are usually referred to as “femoids”. They are not seen as human. At best, they are viewed as objects, or at worst, sex slaves and targets.


Incel terminology

  • Chads: Attractive men
  • Staceys: Attractive women
  • Becky: A normally attractive woman
  • Normies: Normal people
  • ER: To do an Elliot Rodger. mass shooting
  • Black Pill: The moments when an incel realizes they are an incel
  • Bonesmashing: Injuring oneself in the face, along the jaws to make them grow
  • Femoid: Derogatory word for women.
  • Wristcels: A person who thinks they are an incel because of their thin wrists.

Terrorist groups rarely refer to their targets as human beings. For example, ISIS is said to label Westerners as adulterers, imperialists and pigs – all to make it easier for its followers to physically harm and kill.

Some incels advocate state rape camps, believing men have the right to sex.

Others speak of joining ISIS to get sex slaves. Some admit to rape or attempted rape.

Others in leadership positions share stories of trying to break women in their workplace. They praise mass shootings and often share their violent fantasies: dreams of raping, beating and torturing women.

Incels killed up to 50 people in various attacks in the US and Canada between 2014 and 2021 alone. And there are many incels in our world – and the trend is rising.

I think the number of incels is growing as western society has moved away from traditional gender stereotypes and women are experiencing economic and sexual freedom.

These women no longer have to rely on husbands to get their needs met, and having a partner isn’t as important to a woman as it used to be.

Pascal at a desk

The growing number of men identifying as incels in Sweden prompted me to write my novel (Photo: Alexander Donka)

My home country Sweden isn’t just made up of ABBA, Kurt Wallander and IKEA. We are also the country with the most incels per population, according to a comprehensive analysis of user bases on global incel forums.

About 5% of these users are from Sweden, a country of 10.4 million people. I can only speculate as to why this is so. But I would assume it’s a reaction to our early feminist advances.

A survey – of 900,000 Swedish women – shows that higher economic income for a woman in a relationship also increases her risk of becoming a victim of domestic violence.

This phenomenon is called the backlash effect. One of the scientists’ answers is that the traditional balance of power within the relationship is being jettisoned.

The growing number of men identifying as incels in Sweden prompted me to write my novel Femicide, set in Stockholm.

In my novel, three women are found murdered, and at first glance it looks like an easy investigation. It appears they are victims of domestic violence until circumstances point to the incel movement.

But as the data shows, this alarming community is growing everywhere, so it might as well be based in London or any other city in the UK – or the world.

As a crime fiction writer, I naturally want to entertain people with a compelling story. But I hope Femicide can serve another purpose as well, by helping to raise awareness of this growing threat to women everywhere.

Now is not the time to remain silent, this danger is very real and affects us all.

Femicide by Pascal Engman will be released in the UK on September 22nd by Legend Press.

Do you have a story you would like to share? Contact us by email at jess.austin@metro.co.uk.

Share your views in the comments below.

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Justin Scacco

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