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Weekend Read: For incels, it's not about sex. It's about women.

Most of the victims in Alek Minassian's van rampage in Toronto were women. There’s reason to believe that was his goal.

Before he killed 10 people and injured 14 more on a crowded sidewalk in April, Minassian posted on Facebook that he was a “private (recruit)” in what he called the “Incel Rebellion.”

“All hail the Supreme Gentleman Elliot Rodger!” wrote Minassian, referring to the mass  murderer who killed six people in 2014 to “punish all females for the crime of depriving me of sex.”

Minassian is part of a growing subculture of men calling themselves “incels” – or involuntary celibates. To them, the murderer Rodger is a patron saint. Now, since the Toronto mass killing, they have a new one. Users of the website “” have begun changing their avatars to Minassian’s picture, paying twisted homage to the killer they say “could be our next new saint.”

That either man should be canonized for his deadly misogyny is both horrifying and utterly predictable.

Male supremacy — an extremist ideology we added as a category of hate groups this year — has spawned a network of online communities that advocate violence against women. On these sites, women are called “foids,” or “femoids,” a term combining “female” and “humanoid” to suggest that women are not fully human.

Collectively known as the “manosphere,” the websites include so-called “men’s rights” forums and how-to communities hosted by “pickup artists” who advocate rape.

Underpinning it all: the idea that women owe men sex; that women exist purely for their reproductive and sexual capabilities; that men should dominate women.

The extreme hatred among incels has too often been dismissed as mere sexism. Just 10 days after Minassian’s van rampage, New York Times columnist Ross Douthat recapped arguments that sex is a resource like “property and money,” one that the sexual revolution intended to be “more justly distributed than it is today.” He writes:

“The sexual revolution created new winners and losers, new hierarchies to replace the old ones, privileging the beautiful and rich and socially adept in new ways and relegating others to new forms of loneliness and frustration.”

Douthat — like many — takes incels at their word that their animus is driven by their inability to find a sexual partner. That’s a mistake.

As our Intelligence Project director, Heidi Beirich, told ThinkProgress, incels “have taken this moniker as almost a badge of honor for men who feel like women are not being the docile sex toys for them that they think they should be.”

In other words, for incels, it’s not just about sex. It’s about the women supposedly withholding it.

We define hate groups as organizations that attack or malign an entire class of people for their immutable characteristics. Incels like Rodger and Minassian target women in violent attacks because of what they see as the most immutable female characteristic of all: women’s sexuality.

“I hate women. Truly, they are the scum of the earth. Yet I am still biologically predisposed to want them,” wrote a user named Madrame this week on 

“I hold too much contempt to feel attraction to them. I want to riddle them each with 250 with [sic] tec-9 rounds,” replied user _incelinside.

The hatred these men feel stems — crucially — not from their belief that they’re entitled to sex, but from their belief that women are required to give it to them. When women don’t, incels weaponize their hate.

It cannot be women’s job to pacify men who hate them because of their gender — just like it cannot be the job of people of color to disarm white supremacists.

We began tracking male supremacy in 2012. In the wake of the 2016 election, we saw how essential male supremacist ideas were to the rise of the so-called “alt-right” and formally added male supremacist groups to our hate map the following year.

Now more than ever, it’s clear that we ignore male supremacy at our peril.

The Editors

P.S. Here are a few other pieces we think are valuable this week:

SPLC’s Weekend Read is a weekly summary of the most important news reporting and commentary from around the country on civil rights, economic and racial inequality, and hate and extremism. Sign up to receive the Weekend Read every Saturday morning.