If You Think The Suspect Behind The Toronto Attack Isn’t Like You, Think Again

Last week, a man drove a rental van into pedestrians in Toronto, killing 10 and leaving 14 wounded. Suspect Alek Minassian, who has since been charged with 10 counts of murder and 13 counts of attempted murder, was arrested several streets away shortly after. According to police, the majority of the dead and wounded were women aged between 20 and 80.

Since his arrest, Facebook posts from the suspects personal page have revealed he considered himself an “incel”.

What is an incel? The term actually originated from a woman known only as “Alana“, and meant “involuntarily celibate” within an online support network for lonely people. It was then taken by a Reddit group that Alek was a part of, as well as other online groups and it’s meaning changed to a negative term.

In the group, men lamented their inability to find women who would have sex with them, and placed the blame squarely on women. The group has now been banned. Elliot Roger – the man mentioned in Alek’s post – killed 6 people in 2014 after making a YouTube video about “retribution” against attractive women who wouldn’t have sex with him. He also used the “incel” term.

For incels, “Stacys” are women who are attractive, and “Chads” are men who are attractive and have a very active sex life, allegedly due to their attractiveness. Then, there are the group members – incels. They consider themselves neither attractive nor able to find partners, in their minds because of their physical appearance.

At it’s core, the incel ideology is that women who refuse to have sex with you are the problem, and they should be punished for it. Also known as misogyny.

Think you could never be on the same level as an incel? You might be wrong.

Let’s start by clarifying that I’m not saying all men are misogynists at heart. As much as “#NotAllMen” is insufferable because it derails what’s usually an important conversation, it should be said that there are men in the world who do not hate women or consider the rejection of their advances to be grounds for treating a woman disrespectfully.

But there are many, many men I have encountered who consider themselves a “good guy” who respects women because they would, let’s say, never rape a woman or kill one. They would never, ever consider themselves to be a misogynist. But you can absolutely be a “good guy” – loves his mum, would help an old lady across the street, never dreams of forcing himself sexually on a woman – and still display actions stemming from systemic misogyny.

I’ve seen the incel misogyny in the man who called my sister and I “dykes” because we politely rejected an attempt at conversation on a night out.

I’ve seen it in the man I ended a short-term dating relationship with via a respectful text message, who then accused me of leading him on because I dated him and then realised there was no connection.

We’ve all seen it in dating app messages and DM’s, either sent to us or to friends, where a man will switch from flirty banter to a barrage of abuse because they were left on read or were denied a date/hook up.

Source: Imgur

Absolutely, there is a difference in someone reacting to rejection by murdering innocent people in a mass attack, and someone who reacts by calling a woman “boring and fat”. I’m not diminishing the Toronto attack and I’m also not elevating the acts we see in everyday life to that level. Both of these have their place on the spectrum of negative behaviour.

But plenty of people would have an understanding of misogyny as being strictly about violent behaviour or extreme verbal abuse aimed at women. And because of this, many men simply don’t think very deeply about their reactions to women who offend or upset them. And just because the misogyny you may harbour doesn’t incite violence in you, while you refuse to accept that it’s something that needs to change, you’re still very much a part of the problem.

Look, no one enjoys putting a magnifying glass up to their ugly traits or behaviour. But is it important that men look harder at the way they react to women? YES. We can’t sit here and be horrified at the Toronto murders and then also call a woman who rejects our drunken advances a bitch for doing so, and not see how those dots connect.

It’s also important to note that misogynists aren’t always the scum of the Earth. Humans, we’re multi-faceted beings. We have good traits and bad ones, and looking at people with a black-and-white mindset just encourages misogynists to use the “but I’m a good person” card to turn a blind eye to their misogynistic behaviour.

Misogyny is rampant and it’s a huge social problem many of us ignore – often without realising it. Maybe you think it’s fine that some men “act out” when they’re rejected. But accepting the more insidious forms that occur in everyday life means we’re also accepting the attitude of a women “owing” men attention simply because the man wants it.

Source: Imgur

It’s partly an entitlement issue and partly a coping mechanism, to me. The pervasive belief, which honestly from my experience seems to be ingrained as opposed to something men act upon knowingly, is that making an advance on a woman deserves a response (and a positive one at that). There’s the entitlement. When this isn’t received, the coping mechanism kicks in. The man will call a woman a dyke or a whore, or tell her she’s fat and ugly because he was rejected and wants to restore some of his perceived lost power.

You can absolutely see how this coping mechanism develops – rejection sucks, even when the let-down is easy and done in an empathetic way. People say and do awful things out of hurt all the time to try and ease the humiliation they feel. But what men need to begin to recognise is that this behaviour IS ingrained misogyny. It perpetuates the issue and reinforces the entitlement, and the more men allow it to go unchecked, the more ingrained it becomes.

Yelling slurs at women who tell you not to touch their ass in the bar queue? Stop that. Losing your shit when a woman stops chatting to you on a dating app or online? Not on. Using the silent treatment on your girlfriend because she doesn’t feel like sex? Nope.

No man is owed a conversation, date, or sex from a woman simply because you’ve expressed interest. And the idea that they are needs to be put in the bin, immediately – even by the “good guys”.