The Incel Rebellion: The Rise of the Manosphere and the Virtual War Against Women

ISBN: 978-1-83982-257-5, eISBN: 978-1-83982-254-4

Publication date: 14 October 2021


Sugiura, L. (2021), "Conclusion", The Incel Rebellion: The Rise of the Manosphere and the Virtual War Against Women (Emerald Studies In Digital Crime, Technology and Social Harms), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 117-127.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021 Lisa Sugiura


This work is published under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) licence. Anyone may reproduce, distribute, translate and create derivative works of this work (for both commercial and non-commercial purposes), subject to full attribution to the original publication and authors. The full terms of this licence may be seen at

The central argument presented in this book is that the misogynistic ideologies espoused within the incel community and the manosphere are linked with the wider sociopolitical climate; these are not confined to online spaces but are exacerbated and enabled by digital technologies. Moving beyond debates about whether incels are extremists or terrorists, I have focussed on the wider harms arising from the incel community, which includes but is not limited to the incitement of violence and hatred. Ideologies within incel, which are validated and regurgitated in the mainstream, also threaten progressiveness, democracy and equality. In this concluding chapter, broader rhetorical questions surrounding the reality of the incel threat, the wider problem of misogyny, gender expectations and entitlement, legal redress and responsibility of social media platforms, and drawing on the insights of those who claim to have achieved it – potential escape routes from inceldom, are addressed. Subsequently, the very real risks of a generation of young men vulnerable to being indoctrinated online needs to be taken seriously and mitigated against.

Conducting this research and indeed writing this book has been a challenging experience, intellectually, emotionally and not least as a woman studying self-confessed misogynists. Amongst the plethora of hatred, shocking and provoking behaviour within the incel community, however, there is humanity, vulnerability and pain, and as a result, I found myself wrestling with both pity and even sympathy for individuals in some instances, whilst simultaneously navigating a dearth of misogynistic materials, which were increasingly affecting my well-being. As a criminologist foremost, I am used to focussing on the human in even the most horrific of circumstances, but unbeknownst to me when I commenced my journey into the manosphere, I was naively unprepared for how much misogyny is prevalent within its spaces (even if it is dressed up as satire), what would emerge in the interview narratives and how this would affect me personally. I realise that divulging these reflections could invoke criticisms over my objectivity in the research and invite the ‘snowflake’ commentary so favoured by those on the far right; however, recognising what I as a researcher have brought to my study, as well as what participants and the topic researched elicits within me, is well versed in qualitative social research (Band-Winterstein, Doron, & Naim, 2014). I am unable to divorce my identity as a woman from that as a researcher, and to attempt to do so would create an artificial research environment. Via this reflective lens, what I have been able to reconcile is that there is a need to recognise and address the problem of incel, both at a societal level and an individual level. The risk of harm is not just affecting women and wider society, but also internally within the incel community, where depression, anxiety and suicide ideation are rampant. Nevertheless, the fact that many within the incel community are vulnerable does not counteract or justify the profuse misogyny that is enacted by incels, nor does it warrant sympathy towards those indulging in narcissistic violent fantasies.

Incel is characterised by contradiction, absurdity and inconsistency. Without digital technologies and internet culture, incel as an identity would not exist, nevertheless influences from the Men’s Liberation Movement (MLM) and the Men’s Rights Movement (MRM) that followed are evident within the community. MLM focussed on the pressures of male gender roles without considering the impact of power or privilege and viewed these as more restrictive than female gender roles. This establishes the perspective that men rather than women are the actual victims of gender-based oppression, a mindset that continues with incels and the manosphere. The MLM explored masculinity in a manner that substituted the personal for the political, with concepts such as gender symmetry and equal oppression. This depoliticising of gender inequality has persisted through the later generations of men’s movements and underpinned contemporary redpill and blackpill ideologies, contributing to the creation of incel. Incel is both the product of digital technologies and the rhetoric of twentieth-century men’s movements.

The origins and context of incel are firmly rooted in Western ideology; however, despite the perception that incels are predominantly white young males, the indication is that the community includes people from all around the world, which may be due in part to the global reach of the internet. Although, the suggestion is that incel is associated with younger rather than older males, which again could be explained by the greater use of technology by this demographic but also because the ideologies are more appealing and relative to younger males. The narrative of incels as angry, entitled and hateful is but one aspect of the community, which, in reality, is populated by a diverse group of men, with a range of backgrounds and attributes, some of whom are misogynistic and some who aren’t. Whiteness, however, is positioned as dominant of the racial hierarchy that exists within incels. Sexuality and gender are only understood within the context of heteronormativity by incels, homosexuality and transgender are disregarded and denounced as they do not feature within the incel world view.

The Real Incel Threat

Positioning incels as merely men who hate women because they won’t have sex with them is an oversimplification. The incel community is comprised of complex issues and individuals navigating conceptualisations, expectations and performances of masculine and gender relations. Incels define the success of their masculine performances in terms of hegemonic masculinity. In failing to meet hegemonic standards, the consequences are feeling devalued and inferior or the incel description of being subhuman. Aspects of hegemonic masculinity, however, are challenged by incels, in particular the notion that manhood is earned or achieved is a contention for the community, because without being born with a high enough standard of physical attractiveness, they are unable to fully become men and have society to recognise them as such. Male privilege is disregarded, and misogyny offset with misandry via the co-opting of the victim identity supported through the performance of geek and hybrid masculinities. This enables incels to challenge any suggestion of male power or advantage, instead framing women and feminism as the cause of their victimisation. Further, incels, in blaming feminism for women having autonomy over their bodies, have political implications extending to gender equality and human rights. Hence, women are dehumanised so that they are not worthy of said rights, and frustration and resentment ensue, because as men, there is the belief that women are subordinate to them and therefore they should be entitled to women, meaning incels are unable to handle being rejected by women.

The violent rhetoric within the incel community emanates from these feelings of frustration and resentment, galvanised by aggrieved entitlement and heightened by the incel echo chamber. The false sense of security in being reassured that all your problems are not your fault, that they are beyond your control, is seductive and hinders normal sexual development. Incels, fuelled by these perceived injustices, engage in vengeful fantasies against women, real and imagined, that have hurt them. The potential for incel-inspired offline violence as well as the actual deplorable acts that have been committed in the incel name is real and significant and cannot be disregarded; however, I suggest that it is the everyday violence within the incelsphere – the misogyny, racism, homophobia and ableism – that requires further consideration. These rhetorics have been normalised and within homosocial subcultures can develop into extreme manifestations of hatred. Although these do not necessarily directly lead to real-world violence, the ideas can fester and become a catalyst for offline violence. For example, men’s violence against women is glorified in the heralding of killers such as Saint Elliot Rodger (ER), and their acts viewed as righteous retribution. Non-white incels are often told to commit suicide more than their white counterparts, because they have no hope of ever-attracting women.

Furthermore, the link with the alt-right does need to be taken seriously; there is a clear convergence in beliefs and the incitement to act upon them – this is evidenced across the high-profile instances of incel/alt-right killings. It is not necessarily the case that there are targeted radicalisations to draw others in, but what is available is especially appealing to those (young men) who are lonely and vulnerable. Incel communities offer alternative forms of intimacies, where self-focussed, continued use and presence of violent language may radicalise some individuals further. Similar arguments are made with the alt-right, language eluding to prejudice and violence is used ironically, yet it leads to increasing extremism in the environment over time. There is more to fear from other manosphere spaces overlapping with the alt-right, that act under the guise of legitimate misogyny, which are able to comfortably permeate the mainstream discourse.

The incelsphere contains general atomisation at a societal level, mental health and social issues, it is not simply down to levels of attractiveness or romantic rejection. However, media effects and emphasis on sexual success, narcissism, superficiality, insta versions of people – curated idealised representations that do not reflect reality – encourages competition. It is unfair to suggest the whole incel community is centred towards violence and hatred when it is mostly concentrated on self-loathing. Research is necessary to identify the red flags of those who have committed incel-related attacks amongst the online content and profiles, and before the posting of the details of the attacks online, however, it is recognised that it is difficult to filter what is genuine amongst the shitposting. Additionally, attention needs to stop being paid to the perpetrators of these abhorrent attacks, as it only encourages potential copycats and other disillusioned young men to seek attention in this egregious manner.

The Wider Problem of Misogyny

Incels are often described in terms that present them as a one-dimensional embodiment of misogyny. The ideology espoused by groups such as incels in the manosphere is linked with the wider sociopolitical climate, and this type of extremist behaviour is not confined to online spaces but is exacerbated and enabled by digital technologies. Whilst the internet, as a ‘site of social and cultural reproduction that reflects real-world patterns’ (Lewis et al., 2017, p. 1464), enables the exponential replication of misogyny by inventing, spreading and reproducing techniques to attack women (online and offline), online misogyny is not a product of the technology but a result of the society that shaped it.

Incels are the latest iteration against feminism and women’s liberation, whenever there have been major gains, there has inevitably been a backlash (Faludi, 1991). Alongside the empowering movements like #MeToo and other forms of feminist digital activism, enabled by the digital technological age, men who feel that their privileges are being stripped away from them have also been mobilising. There has traditionally been a reluctance to tackle wider systemic misogyny by governments and name the agent of the problem in policy and legislation – it is men’s violence against women not violence passively happening to women and girls – as the term VAWG implies, ensuring that the societal roots of misogyny remain intact. In 2021, the UK government, however, has instructed all police forces to start recording crime motivated by sex or gender – effectively introducing misogyny as a hate crime. This follows the precedent first set by Nottinghamshire Police in 2016. This does not make anything illegal that isn’t already, no new law has been implemented, the only difference is how such crimes are recorded. Nevertheless, this sends a message that sexism and misogyny will not be tolerated anymore. Recognising the problem of misogyny is only the beginning though. The tragic murder of Sarah Everard in the United Kingdom was the catalyst that impacted upon recent public conscious raising about the problem of misogyny; however, other cases of black women who were murdered, including Nicole Smallwood, Bibaa Henry and Blessing Olusegun, did not receive the same public attention, the attention they too deserved. This signifies that society has a long way to go in understanding the intersection of sexism and racism.

Incel is not the only contemporary manifestation of misogyny, yet it is the convenient term for all acts of terroristic hatred against women, rather than one piece of a more expansive and insidious gender relations puzzle going back to the origins of the MRM. Critiques of men’s behaviour and violence against women and girls are still taken as personal attacks and countered with defensiveness and failures to hold men accountable. The #NotAllMen reaction, whenever men’s violence is highlighted, demonstrates how men continue to distance themselves from institutionalised power and privilege. The refusal to recognise gender inequalities enables the conditions for violence. When women are not equal to men, when societal attitudes and behaviours assert male dominance over women, it allows some men to abuse women.

Gender Expectations and Entitlement

There is a deep-seated resentment of women within the incel community. Women are viewed to have it easy as a result of a society that unfairly favours them. Incels’ attitudes towards women are, however, more nuanced than simply hating them, with the contradictory Madonna/whore dichotomy playing an instrumental role in how women are both desired and vilified simultaneously. As the Madonna, women have revolutionary and redemptive power, which can not only transform incels into men but elevate them to a position of divinity beyond humanity. Concurrently, due to being driven by primal biological urges, women, as whores, lack rational thought and compassion. These binary descriptions dehumanise women and reduce them to their bodies and their ability to either bestow or withdraw pleasure to men. Incels deal with the tension of wanting women yet at the same time hating themselves for doing so despite knowing the truth about them. This is never more evident in the juxtaposition of comments that are misogynistic yet also express a desire for genuine connection and loving, romantic relationships with women. Moreover, the notion that women are not held accountable when they do anything wrong and are deserving of preferential treatment is condescending. Women are not Madonnas, we are fallible and not perfect, but having flaws does not make us whores either, it just means we are human.

Blackpill theories, including hypergamy, are used to support the incel contention that men have and continue to be victimised by women. Female hypergamy is believed to occur naturally, women are biologically predetermined to only seek attractive/rich male sexual partners, and so this is something that cannot be altered. The patriarchal authority, therefore, is necessary in order to maintain control over women, although incels do not necessarily recognise the patriarchy as such, currently existing, as to them, women have the upper hand in society, though the term matriarchy is not something they use either. The fundamental cause of female hypergamy is blamed on the societal, political and cultural changes implemented as a result of second-wave feminism and the sexual revolution in the 1960s, which, according to incels and Men’s Rights Activists (MRAs), disrupted the natural order of society. This argument is used to reinforce the narrative that men are victims of women and feminism. By claiming that feminism has corrupted society, incels are able to cultivate their victim complex, deny women as victims and justify their animosity towards women.

The perceived failure of incels to successfully perform their expected gender role and how they react to this emphasises yet another contradiction. In not adhering to the masculine standards, incels risk being feminised, which is the greatest failure in a society that devalues femininity; hence, homosexual men in being stereotypically and ignorantly associated within feminine traits are viewed as an abnormality in the incelsphere. This, however, undermines the incel position that women are more highly regarded than men, rather there is acknowledgement of women’s external positioning as inferior. Carol Hanish warned of an ‘anti-woman, anti-women’s liberation’ propensity in the men’s liberation groups, and decades later, that sentiment continues to be prevalent in contemporary MRMs and with incels. The legacy of misogyny, aggrieved entitlement and victim complex continues amongst incels, whose own narrow perceptions of gender and sexuality confine them in the role of perpetual victim, with women and feminism always to blame.

Legal Redress and Responsibility of Social Media Platform Providers

The UK government is implementing legislation to tackle online harms, including hate speech, abuse, terrorist and extremist content. The Online Harms White paper was put out to consultation in 2019 with the Online Safety Bill due for implementation in 2022. The regulation places a duty of care on platforms, which facilitate user interactions and user-generated content, to be reasonable and proportionate in keeping their users safe. It is clear that the incel communities are perpetuating online harms through their skewed alienating and discriminatory ideological world views, but where the content does not meet the threshold for hate speech, extremism or terrorism, it is often left unchecked. This then leaves vulnerable and disillusioned young men susceptible to the incel subculture as well as being potentially distressing to others who stumble across the materials. There is also the risk that particular terms or words used in unharmful and appropriate contexts could also be deemed offensive and unproblematic users banned as a result. Others may just dismiss incel philosophies as satire or too ridiculous to have any merit, overlooking how this contributes to the normalisation of misogyny and men’s violence against women. Such ‘jokes’, not unique to incel spaces, are often presented as the right to exercise freedom of expression and part of the community culture where anything goes. Even where language subordinates, marginalises and harms, there are those that critique the use of legal regulation to tackle it. Judith Butler noted in 1997, in regard to the effects of speech, there is a gap between the intention of the speaker and its effect on the recipient – not having the intention to harm often being the essence of minimising the effects of abusive language online (Butler, 1997). For Butler, there should be no restrictions on hate speech as this could inadvertently work to silence those who would otherwise be stimulated to challenge it by what Butler refers to as ‘resignifying’ and ‘restaging’ it. In allowing such content to thrive, discriminations become more accepted and validated, and even though opportunities to change the meaning of language would be lost if it was automatically banned, or not being provided with a platform in the first instance, ultimately this does protect people from being subjected to the harms caused from such speech. In addition, it removes the emotional labour of individuals, often persons from marginalised communities, having to call it out and educate others about their oppressions. Furthermore, the manipulation of speech is something that the incel communities are experts in, having created their own peculiar vernacular, hence a broadened understanding of the legal but harmful content involving subjective harms, which is currently undefined within the forthcoming legislation, is needed. A more tailored response is required taking into consideration to context, the impacts and the freedom of speech tensions. There is a current loophole within the proposed law, that protections for free speech could result in perverse outcomes, where a user could complain that legal racist, sexist, homophobic or transphobic content has been removed and therefore should be re-uploaded on a platform.

In addition, removal could force content on to more obscure places online and does not tackle the core of harmful ideologies. Although the larger companies such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are self-regulating and will be held to account by this law, smaller platforms whose ethos is about inspiring hatred and offline harm, such as 4chan, 8chan, Bitchute, and Gab, will evade these safeguards. It is these platforms that could absorb incels should they be unable to post their content on the mainstream sites, and which could impact on them becoming more isolated and extreme in their world views and actions. Therefore, these are societal issues that technological fixes alone will not be able to solve.

A Way Forward? Beyond the Manosphere

The aim of many incels is to ascend from inceldom; this means leaving the community and the blackpill behind, often by successfully entering into a romantic and sexual relationship with a woman. They grow out of the nihilistic perspective and are able to interact in a healthy way with women. Although for some who would consider themselves to have ascended, to be an ex-incel, the legacy of the blackpill ideology remains, and simply being in a romantic relationship with a woman is insufficient in enabling them to completely rethink their world view. Labelling and demonising incels could inadvertently exacerbate the risks and overlooks the individuals behind the term, many of whom are vulnerable and in need of support away from the toxicity of the manosphere. In the worst-case scenario, a self-fulfilling prophecy of being a threat and dangerous could come to fruition. My interviewees who claimed to be ex-incels talked about how the sense of belonging that they thought they were obtaining from being part of the incel community was actually a fallacy; however, society’s treatment of them, and the resulting reaction to them being incel, also intensified the problem:

Since I’ve left the blackpill, I’d say that sense of belonging/support is only an illusion, and that the blackpill (and TRP) is a cult. There are no benefits to joining an online hate group (I didn’t realise it until I left it). Think of it this way: what are the benefits to joining a cult? Your already poor social skills become worse, you become more hateful and bitter, and it’ll actually guarantee that you’ll die alone and never find a relationship … but society gets the criminal it deserves. Society should realise that although online cults like the blackpill are extremely harmful, incels themselves have a lot of mental, emotional and personal issues that shouldn’t be ignored in young men (which unfortunately are). Yes incels do talk crazy shit like killing and raping women, killing Chads and other ridiculous bullshit, but what created that in the first place? Social isolation, bullying and self-esteem issues, too much ideal standards for men, a society that demonises them, women and girls not being held accountable for their actions, emasculation of men in society and therefore a lack of a health role model, men’s mental health issues not being addressed, combine this with the social effects of the internet, all this leads to the rise of incels. (Tom)

It is interesting that the justification narratives remain in Tom’s accounts, providing excuses for the abusive language and behaviours and placing the blame elsewhere rather than holding the community accountable. Men are undeniably experiencing societal harms, both psychologically and physically, but talking about violence as a natural reaction negates any individual agency and validates the violence. It is possible to address the real men’s issues leading young men to seek out support, and show sympathies for them, without condoning or excusing violent behaviours.

For Tom, proper socialisation and a healthy perspective of masculinity is key to protecting young men from inceldom:

Young boys are feeling increasingly lost, unaddressed and facing social isolation, leading to inceldom. Granted not all of them do identify as incels, but most are going through issues and are in a situation that could easily make them incels (which is further harming them to a near-irreversible damage). They’re growing whether you like it or not. I don’t really know how society should be treating incels, the best thing would be to make sure young boys don’t fall into this downward spiral of hatred and radicalisation by better socialisation, more acceptable of healthy masculinity in an increasingly anti-male hostile feminist society. (Tom)

Despite stating that he is an ex-incel, though, Tom sadly still holds views that allude to the incel philosophy of society being in favour of women and feminism being averse to men.

John claims to have ascended – I knew how to fix my issues and managed to get few good women in my life fixing myself. Positive interactions with (good) women assisted with John stopping self-identifying as an incel. John’s self-awareness about how to resolve his problems are, however, not unique. It is well established in incel communities that forming relationships with women (who are not family members) is a way out of inceldom, with romantic relationships the most prized – and vilified depending on the thread – simultaneously, there is the rejection of women because the blackpill has made incels feel that they are incapable of attracting love and intimacy from women. This vicious cycle of wanting and hating what is considered to be unattainable sustains the incel community and maintains the self-identification of individual incels. Uncomfortably, women are presented as both the problem and the solution to incel. Furthermore, John’s interpretation of what a good woman is unclear; this does allude, however, to the fantasy of women as perfect rather than being fallible human beings.

For those who still identify as incel, the barriers to intimacy remain a core factor of why they remain within the community:

I believe something has gone wrong in our society when we see a large number of people who desire companionship who can’t get it. The hate for the other from other incels are becoming a concern but I believe most analyses point out the misogyny and not seem to show concern for the incel and look at violence and hatred with a black and white perspective rather than proposing solutions that can help incels. They need friends that can help them out of their emotional rut but they are stuck because they struggle to make friends that could help them possibly find a partner. (Carl)

It is somewhat reassuring to know that Carl wants to move on from being an incel, and the reason behind this is because he would like to have a healthier attitude towards women:

I am looking to move away from the incel community and not identify as an incel as I don’t want to see myself resentful towards women even if I struggle to have a relationship with them. (Carl)

Ben also critiqued mainstream media; he felt that the trope of girls being attracted to the ‘bad boy’ is encouraged, and that virginity is viewed as a negative:

Productivity and education should be more valued by young boys rather than being popular and having success with girls. Films should stop portraying the popular guy as one who avoids education, does drugs, but still has success with girls. They should put on the pedestal the guy who works, studies hard and have success with girls. The attitude of people towards incel should be that of stop doing virgin-shaming. (Ben)

A theme I have considered throughout this book is the link between incels and mental health. The vague assertion generalising that all incels are mentally ill, however, fails to consider the complex relationship incels have with mental health and self-worth. Incels believe that they have failed at being men, or that society perceives them as failures, which has resulted in detrimental impacts upon incel’s self-esteem. The expectations of hegemonic masculinity stifling men’s emotional lives and men’s mental health often remains an under reported issue. In not meeting the hegemonic masculine standard, incels devalue themselves as inferior and subhuman, which is internalised and at the core of the incel identity. Society does place importance on looks, with specific idealised masculine and feminine physiques, and white and able-bodied hierarchies. We are expected to always look our best, and filters can hide our flaws online but not offline. Despite the challenges to this culture by the body positivity and inclusivity movements, the pressure to be attractive has become an obsession with incels, who feel outside of such initiatives.

Not every self-identifying incel is suffering with mental health issues; however, the indication is that there are many who do or have previously done so. The link between neurodiversity and incels is also compelling, though greater research is needed to establish this further, and certainly, there are other vulnerabilities present in incels aside from autism spectrum disorder (ASD). There are a concerning high volume of threads and posts asking members if they are or have been suicidal, along with suicidal ideation expressed throughout the community. Depression and loneliness are common themes discussed and are noted as expected outcomes of adopting the blackpill, in which accepting the life of an incel means embracing misery and hopelessness. Seeking the help of mental health professionals like psychologists and psychiatrists is discouraged as they are distrusted, particularly as these roles are associated with women. Those who have interacted with mental health professionals report that their encounters have been unhelpful and unproductive, with only a few stating anything positive had been derived from engaging such assistance. There are legitimate mental health problems, vulnerabilities and suffering described by incels; however, there are men who visit incel forums seeking advice and support from others who can empathise due to also struggling with relationships and the construct of masculinity, only to assimilate into an echo chamber of bitterness, resentment and aggression.

Incels, rather than being a contemporary aberration of misogynistic extremism, are founded upon the rhetoric of twentieth-century men’s movements. Incel communities are spaces of paradox, turmoil and contradictions, rather than a homogeneous entity. The misogyny and dehumanisation of women presented by incels are indicative of wider patriarchal Western society, amplified through the echo chamber effect. The war against women is not virtual, it has been in effect both blatantly and surreptitiously offline for generations, controlling women’s lives, but is now simultaneously occurring online as well. This war increases in prevalence whenever women make equality gains and/or prolifically challenge men’s violence against them. Incels do provide a valid critique of the narrow perspective of the ideal men are expected to meet in order to be a ‘man’ and its accompanying detrimental effects; however, the framing of it as a problem caused by women and feminism overlooks the real enemy, the systems of oppression that enforce rigid gender expectations, that feminism is actually seeking to dismantle.

Suggested Responses

Those who identify as incel: Active listening, not instantly shutting down their perspectives, dismantling of their world view over time – offer different, informed perspectives – these might not be positively responded to immediately, but many incels are well educated and will have trouble refuting legitimate scientific evidence if they are repeatedly presented with it. Question how the community makes them feel? The chances are it does not make them happy so explore what does/will.

Young men and boys: Need to speak with and engage young men and boys about men’s violence against women in a way that doesn’t demonise them, but which also doesn’t diminish the reality of women’s lived experiences. It is a matter of getting the balance right, which is a major challenge, with worrying consequences if unsuccessful, such as being influenced by incel rhetoric. Attacking, judging or blaming men for their privilege and for being oppressors, using terms like toxic masculinity – even though it refers to a harmful type of masculinity rather than being male in itself, rather than healthy and unhealthy models of manhood – can be alienating. Downplaying, the extent of abuses that women suffer at the hands of men, however, could lead to a failure to take the issue seriously, and fuel the manosphere’s narrative, that women exaggerate or even fabricate their victimisation. Perceived criticisms of the male sense of identity could lead young men and boys to become defensive and infuriated at a society that blames them for actions they may not have engaged in, such that they become increasingly reclusive and anti-feminist ideologies are appealing. Indeed, anti-gender sentiment has been suggested as a potential entry into more extremist views.

Men and women should not be pitched against each other in a false dichotomy of men versus women; therefore, making men part of the solution is paramount. Both second-wave feminism and the men’s liberation movement initially recognised that rigid-gendered roles harmed both women and men; however, there was always a dissonance between them due to seemingly opposing interests. Without detracting from the incredible progress achieved and the foundations established by second-wave feminists, the development of more inclusive and intersectional third- and fourth-wave feminisms provides enhanced opportunities to be more accessible to all genders. As the title of bell hooks’ influential text states: ‘Feminism is for Everybody’. It is about engaging men in a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation and oppression (hooks, 2000, p. 1) and inviting them to hold themselves to higher standards. Therefore, men should be part of the conversation about sexual harassment and assault, and they do not need to lead the debate, but they can listen and support the experiences of women and girls. Most men aren’t violent, but enough are, and certainly, all men have a role in tackling the problem.

Policymakers, the media and law enforcement all need to tread carefully with well-planned and informed interventions that take into account the disillusionment of contemporary young men, the humanity and vulnerability of individuals within incel communities, as well as the threats posed from the harmful ideologies to women, society and to incels themselves, as well as to Western democracy. I hope that this book contributes to these discussions.