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Involuntary Celibates Open Up About Life As 'Incels', After Study Likens Group To Terrorists

After a study was released linking lonely sexually frustrated men to as many terror attacks as Islamic extremists, some "incels" are sharing their isolation and why they feel they have "been left behind by society."

Gustaf is 22 and has never had a girlfriend, let alone an intimate relationship, and he says he is an incel.

The term "involuntary celibate" (shortened to "incel") are members of an online subculture whose common ground is their inability to find a romantic or sexual partner despite wanting one.

The movement was started by a Canadian woman in the 1990s who couldn't get a date. She started a website called Alana's Involuntary Celibacy Project, and as the community grew, it became dominated by men, who refer to themselves as incels.

We are a group of men that have been left behind by society. I wish people could see the depth of despair we are in, but no. No one reports on that, you see?

Gustaf believes his height is one of the reasons he gets rejected so often.

"I'm pretty short, 5'5''. I've had people tell me straight up, "no" and often. At the moment, I've given up on dating," he said.

The Northern American computer science student told 10 daily while there are violent outliers among the online community of incel men, most are just dejected and in need of support.

"Most are just venting out frustrations. Most are joking and will never do that (violence) in their life."

A common incel bingo sheet found on Reddit.

But he has seen some talk of bomb-making on incel forums that he says comprise of boys as young as 15 and men into their 50s.

"Some are very clearly posting for giggles, and those are the ones I, and most users, see. The ones who are more serious tend to get banned from places where incels congregate. Rules typically prohibit that type of content."

Landmark Study Likens Incels To Islamic Terrorists

Last week, Australian academics released a global study that found incels had killed at least 50 people and injured at least 58 more since 2014 -- statistics comparable to the number of victims of Islamic extremism over the same period.

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"The violent ones exist, sure but that's barely any when you consider how many of us live like this around the world. Feeling rejected and then called a terrorist just because we want a girlfriend and to have sex," Jenson, 21, told 10 daily.

Jenson describes himself as a "regular Aussie tradie" but doesn't share his thoughts on job sites as he does online with other men he says are mostly in their 20s.

"I'm not exactly going to say 'oh yeah no I've never touched a woman' when they are talking about their sex lives," he said.

Jenson says the online incel community normalised his feelings of anger, loneliness, and rejection.

"I didn't go on there to learn how to get revenge, I'm on there because no one else understands how I feel."

Who Is Notorious Incel Attacker Elliot Rodger?

Gustaf says people do make references to notorious incel attacker Elliot Rodger, but usually in jest.

"The vast majority of people never think about carrying out some horrible. Almost everyone who references people like Elliot Rodger or other figures are just making memes and jokes," he said.

In May 2014, Elliot Rodger killed six people in a stabbing and shooting spree in Isla Vista, California.

Elliot Rodgers posted a video from his car prior to his attack.

Before he turned the gun on himself, the 22-year-old posted a "retribution" video he filmed in his car and emailed a long document to almost two dozen people he knew detailing why he did what he did.

In it, he blamed women for his sexual failings and virginity, he talked about his mental health and his deep-rooted loathing of women.

Rodger said he planned the attack to seek retribution to "exact revenge on the society" that had "denied" him sex and love. He also said he was targeting the "hottest" which were also "the kind of girls I've always desired but was never able to have".

"Some people have committed terrorism in the name of Allah. Does that make all Muslims terrorists? No. There are always outliers," Andrew, 16, from Canada said.

Andrew describes himself as an introvert and believes social media has made it harder for people young men like him to find a connection.

Men aren't supposed to live like us. Incels go five, 10, 15 years without a partner, or even friends in a lot of cases ... it's not healthy, it would drive anyone to madness.

He doesn't believe he is too young to feel frustrated or that he is prematurely identifying as an incel.

"Not in this day and age, everyone I know has had sex or a relationship in the past. Tinder only made it worse. Today's dating market is very different from the one even ten years ago," he told 10 daily.

Getting Help Or Moving On From The Incel World

Gustaf, who spends up to seven hours a day online on incel forums, says he has never talked to anyone outside of the incel community about his dating woes.

"Embarrassment I'd say. I don't feel comfortable talking to a counsellor or doctor."

"Therapy is a scam, never worked for me," Andrew said.

Once men find a partner or have sex, they are no longer welcomed in the incel world.

"They are usually kicked out. The term for them is "fakecel". There are some more accepting people/communities, though," Andrew said.

Gustaf believes the incel community has helped him, but he also fears it has hindered him.

"I found people to talk to when I had no one in real life through forums. That is one good thing that has come out. I do think that being on the forums does make it harder to transition to a more normal life.

It keeps me sane, but I don't progress."

Contact the author alattouf@networkten.com.au