The “incels”

A reflection on educate and the social-engagement of organizations

One in three Canadians (33%) think that if a lot of men are staying single, it is because women are too superficial to accept them!

My post this week deals with the manosphere, the subject of an article that appeared in L'Actualité on October 9 and a documentary on Télé-Québec on October 16. The manosphere refers to those web-based communities, forums and groups dedicated to men who, to put it mildly, do not have the most harmonious relationships with women!

The comments on these sites range from accounts of trouble forming romantic relationships with women to expressions of visceral hatred toward them, a phenomenon unfortunately consistent with the 25-year-old Ontarian who, in April 2018, drove his truck into pedestrians on a Toronto sidewalk in a deliberate attempt to murder as many women as possible (killing eight women, along with two men, in the process)!

The author of the L'Actualité article, Marc-André Sabourin, identified four categories of lonely men:

Men Going Their Own Way (MGTOW), heterosexuals who strive to live without women; masculinists whose mission is to defend men's rights (men are victims of discrimination, apparently); pickup artists specializing in one-night stands; and, finally, the "incels," involuntary celibates, misogynists who self-define as being unable to find a sexual partner due to the cold indifference of women!

Although we haven't delved as deeply into the topic as journalist Marc- André Sabourin, we have been interested for some time in the incel phenomenon, which, in our opinion, represents another manifestation of some of the dysfunctions of our society. In fact, we added a question about it in the latest survey of our Panorama program on the values of Canadian consumers and citizens.

Among a series of questions asking people if they agree with certain statements, we inserted this one to measure the incidence of incels in the country:

"If some men stay single for a long time even though they would like to be in a relationship, it's because women are generally too superficial and are only attracted to men with a perfect body."

To our amazement, 33% of Canadians, one in three, agreed with this statement! Out of curiosity, we had put this question to the entire population (with a sample reflecting that): 39% of men agreed, along with 27% of women, some of them probably taking pity on men!

Moreover, when we isolate the subset of single men (without a partner, separated, divorced or widowed), the proportion of these target males, so to speak, rises to 46%. Given these astonishingly high these numbers, we checked and rechecked our data and the way they were processed many times.


Young people and those with low income and educational levels

Sociodemographically and socio-economically, it is surprising to observe that it is young people who are the most in agreement with our statement (42% of those under 35 versus 26% of those age 55 and older). Given all the online dating services, dating algorithms and younger people's familiarity with social media, we might have expected different results.

There have been many studies published in recent years on how much better women are doing scholastically than men. Perhaps they are having trouble connecting to less educated young men, a hypothesis that remains to be examined.

We also find that the proportion of people in agreement with the statement systematically rises as their level of income and education falls below the average for the population. A person's socio-economic level appears to be an important determinant of this kind of mentality.

However, it should be noted that there is some gradation in agreement with our statement: 11% strongly agree (they are truly furious with women), while 22% somewhat agree (even so, being somewhat in agreement with such a blatant statement still expresses a great deal of recrimination). It should also be noted that this double difference between "strongly" and "somewhat" agree (11% versus 22%) is found in about the same proportions in all the subgroups studied.


A high degree of conservatism

Who exactly are these men who say they agree with our statement? By looking at all of their responses to our Panorama survey on personal values, we were able to identify the following three characteristics:

  1. A very traditional and stereotypical view of gender roles in the couple, the family and in society at large.
  2. Eager social climbers seeking admiration from everyone (in reaction to their awareness of their low socio-economic status).
  3. A feeling that they have little control over their lives, that they don't fit into today's world and consequently, a marked retreat to traditional social values as a bulwark against a society that is passing them by.

They also tend to value mainly the members of their own ethnic group. Noteworthy, too, is the over-representation of immigrants, especially those most inclined to identify with traditional values.

We can deduce that for these men, a woman is a possession, an object they hope to possess, a marker of social status and their standing with others (just like a house, a car, designer clothes, fancy electronics, etc.).

When it is impossible to acquire the object in question (women), they feel stigmatized and powerless (no control) and feel that it is legitimate to blame women for their situation. Thus, their sense of exclusion leads them to lash out.

Moreover, because of their traditionalism, they consider women to be socially inferior to men and unjustified in rejecting them. They believe that women should be subject to the desires, needs and dictates of men!

Consequently, these incels are desperately angry with women who refuse to submit, dismissing them as rabid feminists who have forgotten their place or lost their sense of their supposed lot in life (who exactly are the rabid ones here?)-their fury giving rise to all the vociferous outrages found on these web-based incel communities.

This unfortunate phenomenon slots perfectly into the long list of collateral damage that our society inflicts in the course of its development: baldly put, our society produces rejects. As I have stressed time and time again in my blog, for many, our society is changing too fast and not everyone can keep up. Based on our various indicators, we regularly produce numbers showing that approximately one in three Canadians feel this way. Social disaffection, aimlessness, the impression of living in an exclusionist Darwinist society, a cynical attitude toward elites: it manifests in multiple ways.

In such an environment, how can men who feel excluded from society be expected to have enough self-confidence to even know how to speak properly to women? Hence, their feelings of rejection.

A reflection on educate and the social-engagement of organizations

What kind of education would help these angry men? I don't want to appear too defeatist, but I believe that by a certain age, this kind of mindset tends to crystallize in a person's character (although it's hard to pin down exactly at what age this happens) and when it does, there's not much to be done.

But for younger people, and precisely because this phenomenon is more prevalent in this age group, education to counter the development of such ideas about male/female relationships could prove effective. Teaching young men how to respect women and themselves should certainly be considered in light of this phenomenon.

In the sex-education lesson plans in schools (where sex-ed is actually taught), there should be a chapter on this issue. If you can get to children early enough, we may be able to avoid these repercussions altogether.

For all the brands, companies and organizations looking for a social-engagement project, here is a very good cause to get involved in: teaching young men how to respect women and themselves.

If you are at all concerned about the kind of society taking shape before our very eyes, this is definitely worth considering!