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Image / Editorial

We can’t ignore the disturbing ‘incel’ ideology in the latest Canada attacks

20th May 2020

A Toronto teenager who fatally stabbed a woman and injured another has been charged with terrorism, after evidence found by investigators suggests his act was motivated by violent misogynist ideology, known as the ‘incel’ movement. It’s a world-first charge, which spotlights the danger of this ‘community’, and shouldn’t be ignored

The Canadian case marks the first time that terrorism charges have been used to prosecute an incel attack. The term is short for being “involuntarily celibate,” and has come to refer to a deeply misogynistic internet community for men who feel sexually rejected.

This particular case is so important as this marks the first time the ‘community’ is linked to a terrorist attack.

What is the incel movement?

It began in the late 1990s, a sub-forum on the internet before a fully-fledged ‘community’ was built in the dark corners of the internet. Today, incels still exist as almost entirely men and boys who pollute their online forums with posts blaming women for the fact that their lives are sexless.

Many other attacks have previously been attributed to the incel movement, including the 2018 Toronto van attack that killed 10 people, a 2015 Oregon college shooting that killed nine, and a 2014 California shooting spree that killed six.

Some are motivated to harm females and kill females, based on the beliefs of the group, according to the police, but men who identify as incels can express hatred towards women in various other ways, via abuse or harassment.

The term ‘incel’ is used a lot in regards to the attacks that occur, but still, it almost manages to go under the radar. And it shouldn’t. Since 2014, almost 50 incel-related deaths have been reported in the US and Canada alone.


In the incel ‘community,’ men are derogatorily known as “Chads”. Chads are broadly defined as men who are successful at obtaining sexual relationships with women. Women who are attracted to Chads are known as “Stacys”. Incels often post negatively about Chads and Stacys, while stating that women should be attracted to them instead. Women are frequently described as “femoids,” implying that they are subhuman, driven only by primal urges for sex and power.

While communities still exist online, a piece on Vox revealed that Reddit had shut an incel forum down, but others are more or less unmoderated – it isn’t hard to find them.

As the latest tragic attacks show, it’s far from a harmless movement.

“Terrorism comes in many forms and it’s important to note that it is not restricted to any particular group, religion or ideology,” said a statement by Toronto police. The statement refers to incel as an “ideologically motivated violent extremist movement”.

So perhaps now, the rest of the world will sit up and take notice of this fact.

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