Incels, Members of a Group Based on Misogyny and Hate

In recent years, several pieces of news have emerged of a hate group made up of men who are classified as 'Incels'. Here you can find out who they are and the ideas they defend.
Incels, Members of a Group Based on Misogyny and Hate
Sara González Juárez

Written and verified by the psychologist Sara González Juárez.

Last update: 01 April, 2024

A world that guarantees men access to sex regardless of women’s will: that’s what the incels demand. This group of heterosexual men blames women and certain prototypes of men for their own inability to establish relationships with women and, consequently, to have sexual relations with them.

With feminism gaining ground and there being increasing social awareness surrounding equal opportunities and rights, these kinds of misogynist movements are also beginning to organize themselves. Undoubtedly there will also be other organizations in existence, bearing in mind the number of genders and sexual orientations there are around today.

Who are the incels?

The term incel is a contraction of two words in English: involuntary (in) and celibate (cel), that is, involuntary celibates. It’s a group of heterosexual men who can’t have sex with women and blame them for it. They also identify attractive men, whom they nickname Chads.

Set within a new wave of misogyny, Incels blame feminism for upsetting a natural order. They object to the idea that women and broader social structures are organized around heterosexual and monogamous couplings.

Incels feed their hatred online and express their feelings of rage through their membership of this group. In some cases, they make plans to attack and even kill people just because they consider – according to their words – that it’s unfair for others to have sex while they don’t.

Hooded man at computer


The term incel has only been around for a few years. It was first mentioned in 2014 when a young man murdered several people and then committed suicide. Before launching his macabre plan, he filled out a web page explaining the sexual rejections he’d suffered. According to him, he carried out the killings because other people could have sex and he couldn’t.

Since that first mass murder, others have followed. The most recent occurred in Toronto, in April 2018. In this attack, a young man plowed his vehicle into a crowd of people, killing ten. Eight of them were women. Before the attack, he left a message on social media stating “the incel rebellion has already begun.”

Origins of the Incels

The history of this misogynistic movement is really sad. The idea was born in the 90s. We find its origins in a young female Canadian artist, whose idea was to create a forum where people of all genders could swap stories of their loneliness and difficulties in establishing relationships. However, the creator of the term would herself later regret having planted the seeds of this movement.

The initial intention of the creator was the opposite of the incel movement. In fact, she wanted to create a safe space for lonely people who were unsuccessful in relationships.

Psychological profile of incels

What leads a person to develop such strong and violent hateful thoughts? Some of the common traits that define them are:

  • Socially isolated people. Due to their social failures, they choose to isolate themselves from society. Or, they’re forced to do so as a form of protection against certain kinds of abuse.
  • Feelings of loneliness. They want to be able to relate socially and be successful in the company of others, on their terms. However, their personal characteristics or their physique means others reject them.
  • Feelings of injustice and misunderstanding. Due to their failures, incels are people who feel that it’s tremendously unfair that they have to suffer in this way.
  • Deficient social skills. This characteristic prevents them from relating adequately. It’s usually due to their emotional and sexual failures.
  • Low self-esteem. Their self-image and self-concept are deficient. In fact, they suffer many complexes. Negative experiences and lack of social skills interact here.
  • Lack of empathy. The central axis of their criminal and hateful acts are based on the objectification of women. In addition, the focus of control of the situation is always located externally, since they consider that they’re not the culprits of their failures.
Sad man thinking about the incels

The presence of communities such as incels sometimes seems reminiscent of certain fictional stories like The Handmaids Tale. However, these organizations don’t spring from the imagination, but from the ability to spread hateful ideas without consequences. Society’s tendency to normalize violence doesn’t help. For this reason, creating safe spaces and denouncing those who organize the murder of innocent people is the responsibility of us all.


All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • BBC News Mundo. (2018, 31 agosto). Los remordimientos de la mujer que fundó el movimiento Incel de «célibes involuntarios», vinculado a la muerte de varias personas en Canadá y EE.UU.
  • Menzie, L. (2020). Stacys, Beckys, and Chads: the construction of femininity and hegemonic masculinity within Incel rhetoric. Psychology & Sexuality, 1-17.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.