How does MÄN view the thriving misogyny on certain incel communities?

Lately, people have reached out to MÄN to ask where we stand on issues related to so-called incels. We see that many young men who end up in these communities have needs and questions to which they seek answers. However, we take a strong stand against it when it leads to contempt for women.

What’s our take on the misogyny and violent extremism thriving in some of these incel communities? What do we do to help men who suffer from social isolation and long for love and affection? In this text we give our view on the incel phenomenon (abbreviation for involuntary celibates, ie people living in involuntary celibacy).

Lonely men who hate women

The concept of incel has had a great impact in recent times, but the misogyny spread by men who call themselves incels is far from new. As patriarchal restrictions have diminished and the rights of women have increased, many incels feel that gender equality has gone too far and turned into something they consider threatening. In addition, many also want restrictions on the right to abortion, apply for traditional gender roles and express homophobia.

Identifying as an incel does not necessarily mean advocating sexism, misogyny or inciting various types of violence against women. We can see that many young men who end up in incel communities have certain basic needs and questions that they seek answers to and that are completely legitimate. We understand the loneliness and frustration underlying it, but we also take a strong stand against it when it leads to contempt for women.

Many of whom define themselves as incels express a notion that women are in complete control of all sexual power and that so called soft men's right to sex is deprived of them because of alpha males push themselves ahead – as opposed to a longing for a relationship as an interaction between two equal people. Sex is presented as something you can earn and thus own, which is a basic idea behind sexual violence and exploitation.

The vulnerability of these men is often expressed as an excuse for misogyny. But regardless of whether it is motivated by loneliness, depression or sexual frustration, MÄN distance ourselves from all forms of violence, hatred and threats against women, wherever and whenever these arise. Above all, it does not deprive men of responsibility for their actions.

The radicalization in incelforums is excused by norms of whiteness

Some men are excused more than others. The whiteness norm seeks to portray the white heterosexual man as "thenormal", the rational, energetic and responsible. When this positive notion is broken by the pro-violence extremism thriving in certain incel communities, many seek to understand the background to why and how these men have been radicalized.

At the same time, non-white men face completely different conditions when prejudices speak against them. When society expects non-white men to be extreme, it’s because it's in line with preconceived notions that they come from a violent culture, being irrational and emotionally driven by nature, that they cheat or don’t want to take responsibility.

How else do you explain why we seek to understand terrorists like Anders Behring Breivik's upbringing and relationship with his mother, or wanting to hear about Anton Lundin's schooling? How come so few knows the name of a single person who joined IS apart from Michael Skråmo?

We do not believe that anyone is born a perpetrator. No one is destined to use force. If we want to understand and prevent destructiveness and radicalization, we must always strive to understand the complex interplay between internal and external factors that increase the risk of using violence, regardless of who the perpetrator might be.

Incels would benefit from questioning destructive norms of masculinity

Several of the Swedish incels highlighted in the media testify to difficulties in fitting into an overly narrow and excluding male role. Many express that they feel too feminine, too kind or too sensitive.

This could be a reason for them to approach a feminist critique of norms and to question the traditional view of how a man should be. But most incels don’t seem to be seeking a different view of masculinity, one where other qualities are valued and where they themselves fit in. Instead, they go in the exact opposite direction – towards communities full of incitement to violence and misogyny.

The organization MÄN is based on a feminist view of the world and the idea that we need to change destructive masculinity norms for a fair and equal society with greater freedom for people of all genders. The view of masculinity many of those who identify as incels seem to feel excluded from is precisely the one we challenge through our work.