Clementine Ford: Women Don't Murder Men Who Turn Them Down

In early 2018, a man named Alek Minassian allegedly drove a van into a group of pedestrians in Toronto.

Ten of them died and a further 16 were injured, some of them critically. Prior to the alleged attack, Minassian had allegedly posted a message to Facebook declaring his support for the "Supreme Gentleman" Elliot Rodger.

Rodger killed six people in a knife and gun attack in Santa Barbara in 2014, after publishing a 140-page manifesto titled 'My Twisted World’ and uploading a video ('Elliot Rodger’s Retribution') to YouTube in which he complained that women had never paid him any attention. The ‘retribution’ he spoke of in this final video was his planned revenge for all the women who had not only ignored him, but -- crucially -- chosen other men instead of him.

Rodger never officially declared himself an 'incel', but he has become one of the figureheads of that sinister subculture. A contraction of the term 'involuntary celibate', incels are mainly comprised of young men who are both heterosexual and cisgender, and who feel sexually and socially disenfranchised by their lack of 'success' with women.

A memorial for the 10 people killed and 15 injured in Toronto. (Image: Getty)

Incels refer to ‘Chads’ and ‘Staceys’, the former being representative of a kind of Ken doll version of masculinity that the latter desires. It’s important to note that not all women are considered Staceys, but only the women who fit into this category are used as a measure of men’s success.

READ MORE: Misery And Misogyny: The Danger Of Incels

Now, another young man is facing charges of second degree murder for allegedly targeting Bianca Devins, a 17-year-old girl in upstate New York, partially decapitating her and posting images of her body after the alleged murder to his Instagram account. As outlined by Elfy Scott at The Feed, the man was involved in a ‘darkcel’ community, a sub-set of incel culture that many initially thought was satire because of its extreme and seemingly absurd posts.

The images of Bianca’s dead body have been widely shared across the internet, with a sickening number of people appearing to rejoice in her alleged murder. Devins was a popular online figure with a large social media following -- a beautiful, unattainable outsider.

A vigil for Bianca Devins in Utica, NY on July 15. (Image: AAP)

The facts regarding Devins’ alleged murder are yet to be properly uncovered, and the man facing charges for her death will have his time in court.

But it’s important that we talk about the links between men’s violence and entitlement to women, and how patriarchy feeds both of these things. One of the fundamental truths of incel ideology is its warped, toxic understanding of masculinity. Patriarchy wields control over men in part, not by placing them in competition with women, but by placing them in competition with each other.

There is a hierarchy of power on which all men living under patriarchy occupy space, and the ability to ‘score’ with women is an intrinsic part of the success model that men are taught to subscribe to. Within this mindset, women are not autonomous human beings with desires of their own.

A vigil for the six people murdered in Santa Barbara, CA in 2014. (Image: Getty)

Instead, they are appendages and status symbols. To be rejected by a woman in this system isn’t just a rejection of the self, it’s also perceived as a humiliating emasculation and a denial of entry into the upper ranks of male power.

During the course of writing my second book, I spent a not insignificant amount of time in incel forums and communities, quietly observing their interactions with each other.

I encountered distressing levels of violent misogyny and fury towards women, and made myself sick reading the descriptive fantasies of murder and revenge these men felt emboldened to share with each other.

Elliot Rodger became the face of the Incel movement when he uploaded a YouTube video explaining the motivation behind his deadly rampage. (Image: AAP)

But what surprised me was how sad these men made me too. Most of them began as unformed children, desiring the basic human needs of love, care and physical touch.

Yet they have also grown up in a world whose patriarchal, homophobic values demonise platonic intimacy between men to the point where touch isolation becomes paramount.

The men who are able to form intimate, romantic relationships with women (or other men) are somewhat shielded from this state of touch isolation (although a whole subset of problems exists for men whose only source of intimacy comes from one person).

And of course there are numerous women for whom touch isolation is also real, and romantic relationships (if desired) seemingly out of reach. But the difference between how we have all been socialised under patriarchy is that women have not been taught to despise men for rejecting them -- we’ve been taught to despise ourselves.

Bianca Devins said she had been harassed by incels for years. (Image: Instagram)
This is why it’s rare to hear of women committing mass murder and pointing to endless romantic rejection as a justification for their crimes.

It’s also why we don’t hear of young girls taking weapons to school and murdering boys who turn down their invitations to prom, or following men into the carparks of bars and shooting them at close range because their invitations for a drink were denied.

Incel ideology is the dark and twisted endpoint of a much larger problem that positions women’s attention and love as something men are entitled to. We need to be talking to boys and young men in particular about healthy expressions of intimacy, healthy expectations of their relationships with women and healthy esteem in themselves.

It hurts to be rejected and it hurts to feel unloved -- but we need to seriously intervene with young men and their understanding of intimacy if we want to stop some of them turning that hurt on other people.

Featured Image: Instagram