On April 23, 25-year-old Alek Minassian rammed a rented car into a crowd in Toronto, killing 10 people and injuring 14 more. Soon after reports of the fatal attack broke, Facebook confirmed that a post linked to Minassian鈥檚account, in which he bragged about being part of something called an 鈥淚ncel Rebellion,鈥 was authentic. In other words, Minassian was involved with an online community that hates women and appears to have set out to hurt them.

In the aftermath of the attack, broader attention is at last being paid to the violence of misogynists who tend to congregate online. And while the term 鈥渋ncel鈥 is new to many people, it has been around in misogynistic corners of the internet for some time. Here鈥檚 what you need to know about 鈥渋ncels,鈥 and why they are dangerous.

what does 鈥榠ncel鈥 mean?

鈥淚ncel鈥 is a word derived from the term 鈥渋nvoluntary celibate.鈥 Many recent press reports about so-called incels have said that 鈥渋ncel鈥 is a movement or an ideology, but neither of these descriptions is accurate. In reality, the word 鈥渋ncel鈥 is merely the self-given nickname of a particular cohort of misogynists who congregate on message boards like Reddit and 4chan and on dedicated websites like incels.me. And as Minassian鈥檚 deadly attack demonstrates, misogynists that spend a lot of time online in no way contain their hatred to the internet. Further, their hate can turn violent.

So-called incels claim that women do not want to have sex with them, and that the lack of sex they鈥檙e offered is the reason for their hatred of women. In reality, they are just misogynists who feel entitled to sex with women. The Southern Poverty Law Center, a non-profit that tracks hate groups, describes 鈥渋ncels鈥 as 鈥減art of the online male supremacist ecosystem.鈥 The SPLC added two 鈥渕ale supremacist鈥 groups to its list of hate groups it is monitoring earlier this year.

Male supremacists鈥 see women as inferior to men, and frequently call for violence against women, according to the SPLC.

What does their slang mean?

Like other bigots who spend a lot of times on Reddit and 4chan message boards, 鈥渋ncels鈥 have their own slang that they use to express their bigotry among themselves. Anyone with the stomach to look around 鈥渋ncel鈥 message boards will see the words 鈥淐hads鈥 and 鈥淪tacys鈥 regularly. A 鈥淐had鈥 refers to an attractive man that 鈥渋ncels鈥 assume are having a lot of sex. 鈥淪tacy鈥 is their term for attractive women who 鈥渋ncels鈥 assume will only have sex with the 鈥淐hads.鈥 The name 鈥淏ecky鈥 is used to refer to women who are not a 鈥淪tacy,鈥 i.e. a woman the 鈥渋ncels鈥 don鈥檛 deem overly attractive or feminine. (Yes, it鈥檚 really that gross.)

鈥淚ncels鈥 post incessantly about how 鈥淐hads鈥 are the only type of man women will sleep with, and disparage women for not being sexually interested in 鈥渋ncels,鈥 who are necessarily not 鈥淐hads.鈥 Men who identify as incels claim that women can have sex whenever they want and as much as they want, and choose only to have sex with 鈥淐hads.鈥

Minassian used these words in a Facebook post he made the day of his attack. The post read: 鈥淭he Incel Rebellion has already begun! We will overthrow all the Chads and Stacys! All hail the Supreme Gentleman Elliot Rodger!鈥 Elliot Rodger is the misogynist who killed six people and injured another 14 in Isla Vista, California in May 2014. Rodger declared a 鈥渨ar on women鈥 the day of his own attack, and claimed that women had 鈥渄eprived鈥 him of sex.

Of course, all this business about 鈥淐hads鈥 and 鈥淪tacys鈥 and assumptions about how much sex women are having (or want to have) is not rooted in the reality of women鈥檚 sex lives. It鈥檚 all simply the narrative so-called incels cling to in order to rationalize and justify their hatred of women. These men can鈥檛 accept the fact that nobody owes them sex, and use the lack of sex they鈥檙e having as a cover to advocate for and carry out violence.

Where did the term 鈥榠ncel鈥 come from?

Misogyny has long plagued our society, but the SPLC has an explanation as to where 鈥渋ncels,鈥 in particular, came from. In the world of message-board misogynists, 鈥減ick up artistry,鈥 (PUA) the term for manipulating and coercing women into having sex, has been very popular for years. 鈥淧UA鈥 is championed by infamous misogynists including the blogger-turned far-right troll Roosh V, who has openly advocated for rape.

Some men who bought into the violent and degrading ideology pushed by 鈥減ick-up artists,鈥 but found themselves not getting the sex they feel entitled to, embraced the term 鈥渋ncel鈥 to describe themselves. But not everyone who identifies as 鈥渋ncel鈥 has necessarily once identified as a 鈥淧UA.鈥

Misogynists in the deep dark corners of the internet go by many names. Some call themselves 鈥渕en鈥檚 rights activists,鈥 others follow Roosh and call themselves 鈥減ick-up artists,鈥 and Minassian and many others go by 鈥渋ncel.鈥 Regardless of the name and the point of focus different men may take up, they all still think of women as less human than men, and some of them are a physical threat.

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(Images via Cole Burston/Getty)