On April 23, 2018, Alek Minassian drove a van through a crowded business district in Toronto, killing 10 people and injuring 16. In a Facebook post shortly before the attack, Minassian wrote, “The Incel Rebellion has already begun!”
The term ‘incel’ refers to ‘involuntary celibate.’ Incels are an online community of men who bond over their inability to attract women. Like a lot of forums on the internet, incels sprung up as a platform for lonely people to connect and pretty soon devolved into violent misogyny.
Incels are part of a larger group of blogs, forums and websites called the manosphere, filled with bereaved men who find themselves the victims of an increasingly unjust world. The manosphere includes volcels (voluntary celibates), MGTOWs (Men Going Their Own Way), and the infamous MRAs (Men’s Rights Activists). All of these communities have creeped into Indian online discourse and have Indian branches on social networks like Facebook and Reddit.
Indian incels turn up the victimhood to 11, like this post on Reddit which claims that “India will be the most incel country in 20 years”.
If you didn’t catch all of that, here’s what the post says:
“Most people here think that western countries have the most incels as percent of their population, but India will overtake the west. For these following reasons.
1) The end to the practice of arranged marriages in urban India. Arranged marriages are viewed as archaic by many middle class urban Indians. This will result in ugly males having to get brides from lower casts.
2) Lack of women. There is a shortage of women in India and this should be self explanatory.
3) Growing feminism has caused many women to see being a wife as a bad thing. Feminism is all over India's urban middle class, although has yet to penetrate poorer areas such as Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
4) Most Indian males have no social skills that involve conversation with women. Indian men have yet to adapt them and they are going to drown in a India without arranged marriage.
I truly feel sorry for middle class Indian men as things are going to get worse for them in the coming years, as feminism grows and chokes them.”
Currycels are diaspora Indian men who believe they are worse off when it comes to attracting the attention of (white) women. This comes with an added dose of hatred toward Indian women.
Of course, men can be delusional in more ways than one, as this self-identified desi ‘Chad’ proves. (Chads are alpha males getting all the sex incels aren’t.)
During the past year, websites like Reddit which used to be a hotbed have clamped down on incel forums. Some of the major subreddits have been banned and removed from the website. As ‘incel’ entered the mainstream vocabulary, major platforms chose to distance themselves from them.
However, the other umbrella terms are borne of the same misogyny, and continue to thrive below the radar. As the media focuses on violent incidents like the one in Toronto, it’s also relevant to look into how these communities are poisoning day to day discourse.
Men Going Their Own Way
Of these sub-groups, MGTOWs are the most popular on the Indian web. MGTOWs are basically men who have decided to boycott women. They believe that if all men decided to withdraw and distance themselves from women, society as we know it would collapse.
The innocent sounding acronym can be found in tons of Indian profiles.
Once someone has identified themselves as an MGTOW, you can bet you’ll find some mind-blowing misogyny on their feed.
As expected, there’s the prevalent sense of victimhood. Imagine actually believing “nobody listens to men”.
You can find tons of Indian MGTOW groups and pages on Facebook with thousands of subscribers. The average post looks like this.
Like incels, there is lot of effort put into jargon here. The men here would like you to believe that their conclusions are scientific, as if they are on an academic endeavour.
Here’s a post titled ‘MOTHER'S INFLUENCE IS THE ULTIMATE CULPRIT FOR HUMAN SUFFERING’.
Warning: It’s a lot to digest.
Here’s another user-submitted ‘nice thought’.
Indian MGTOWs can often take on a religious colour, as with everything in the country.
The ‘Red Pill’ is a vaguely defined concept that appears everywhere in the manosphere and is often a hodgepodge of conspiracy theories about who runs the world. To be red pilled is to be enlightened, to learn the truth about cats and dogs. In this case, that truth is that women are more privileged in society than men. The term comes from a misunderstanding of The Matrix, a film directed by two transgender women.
Then of course, you have your generic anti-feminist pages. The fact that these jump to the point so quickly almost feels like a letdown.
Gurus and Role Models
A popular figure in the manosphere is Dr Jordan B. Peterson, a University of Toronto professor whose claim to fame is refusing to identify trangender students by their preferred pronouns. One of his infamous arguments is that it is not possible for men to debate women because they’re not allowed to get violent. No, seriously. Peterson has amassed a cult-like following around the world because of his ability to lend a calm and academic tone to utter gibberish. His fans call him ‘The Dark Professor’.
On the Indian side of things, there’s Sirhud Kalra, a self-proclaimed ‘life coach’ whose videos tend to be... let’s just say not kind to women.
Shuddh Desi Misogyny
The men who like, share and are associated with these groups come from everywhere. Some of them clearly show right-wing leanings, some of them don’t. Most of them are young, educated, urban fellows. It is possible that a lot of them aren’t “true believers” but simply enjoy a chuckle at the expense of women every now and then. But then that’s how these things start.
What we’ve looked at here is merely the tip of the iceberg. Websites like We Hunted The Mammoth do a great job of keeping track of the western manosphere. Sadly there is no Indian or South Asian equivalent. Nevertheless, it doesn’t take a genius to realise that the Indian manosphere is essentially a manifestation of age-old patriarchy. A rebranding if you will. While your older men in the family are listening to Baba Ramdev, the younger men are watching Jordan Peterson.
According to Facebook, one of the pages similar to ‘MGTOW Bharat’ is ‘Brahmacharya’. Here’s a quote from Sri Siddharameshwar Maharaj that could be at home on your average hate forum.
Indian pop culture has long thrived on pathetic men who can’t get any. Your one-sided-lovers, FOSLA, nagged boyfriends, the endless paens to ‘ek tarfa pyar’ and so on. A fun game to play is wonder which film characters could be easily be red pilled. Most of Ranbir Kapoor’s recent roles would fit.
It’s high time liberal men stopped thinking of these movements as abstract, confront them and take responsibility. We all could have a few MGTOWs in our friend lists.
What scares me about incels isn’t that any of my friends could be one, it’s that I could be one. I grew up with the internet, I was a frustrated teen, I indulged in a lot of casual sexism to explain why “girls are that way”. If on the wrong day I’d watched the wrong video, I could’ve been red-pilled. Heck, I could still be, if I was mad enough about rejection and loneliness. These are not alien feelings for the average man and it’s a slippery slope to a very dark path.