By David Futrelle
If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you owe it to yourself to give Sady Doyle’s excellent examination of the roots of the hateful, violence-obsessed incel subculture a thorough read. She expertly traces the intricate connections between various factions of the manosphere — from MRAs to pickup artists to incels — that like to insist they have absolutely nothing to do with one another.
She highlights violent and threatening rhetoric from MRAs like Paul Elam, often indistinguishable from the angry outbursts we see now on incel boards. She shows how the misogyny of even “mainstream” pickup artists like Mystery — who at the height of his popularity, you may recall, had a show on VH1 — helped to feed the hatred of that movement’s extreme members like Roosh — and how the pickup boom of the late 00’s ultimately helped to fuel the incel movement as many young men who felt they’d been scammed by the movement gathered together online to share their experiences.
I have a few quibbles with Sady here and there — she ignores the early history of the incel movement, which didn’t start out as the hateful cesspool it is today — but she’s done a fantastic job of pulling a lot of disparate elements of this complicated story into a coherent and convincing narrative.
She also points out the central role the harassment of women has played in virtually every manosphere subculture — and the utter failure of male journalists who dismissed the harassment their female colleagues often faced from angry men as little more than a joke.
“In the weeks after the Minassian attack,” she writes, even as
the media published yet another wave of explainers about “incels,” economists mused about “redistributing sex,” and Times columnist Ross Douthat suggested that dateless men might be availed the use of sex workers or robots. … Like the PUAs, the incels were taken at face value, with their formerly unthinkable ideas — “redistributed sex,” despite the euphemism, is a call for legalized sex slavery — absorbed and broadcast uncritically by the mainstream. …
Once again, women were stuck yelling warnings to a crowd that neither heard nor cared. The cycle that has dominated coverage of the manosphere for 10 years — horror and forgetfulness, mass outrage and instant erasure — continues to this day.
One way to fight this erasure? Share Sady’s essay as widely as you can.