Joel Hill
Joel Hill
Apr 27, 2018 · 11 min read

Hope, cope and rope. The sad truth behind the incels movement.

The subhuman lifecycle — hope, cope, rope. Credit: u/po-pot

TL;DR — incels are evil bastards but it’s only because they are ugly, lonely and miserable which nobody seems to care about.

The incel (involuntary celibate) community has been thrust into the spotlight after Alek Minassian drove a van into a crowd of people in Toronto, killing ten and injuring fourteen. He posted on facebook that this was a tribute to a famous incel, Elliot Rodgers, who killed six people in 2014. Many of you are already aware of this bit. Probably why you are here.

While the attack was not considered terrorism, the revelation that he possibly identified as an incel has brought the idea that maybe it could in fact be defined as a terrorist attack. And that a previously unknown subculture could be defined as a terrorist group.

The recent media surge has mostly represented incels as violent, irrational and dangerous young men that viciously hate women. That’s true, but it’s not the whole story. Not one article I have read in this recent spike of attention has mentioned their fixation on suicide, their obsession with aesthetics (and lack thereof) and the profound sadness in the community. People don’t want to see this. They just want to get angry at someone. Business as usual.

This article is designed to give a more challenging perspective of the incel community. One with aspects of sympathy. It goes without saying that I do not advocate violence in any form, especially against women, and I believe that there is something seriously wrong here. As I was writing this article I kept asking myself, ‘Am I really standing up for these arseholes?’ but I am in no way excusing their toxic and harmful attitudes. I’m just trying to describe what I have observed and give a sense of where this toxic hate group finds their immense fury and dangerous thoughts.

They are fascinating, in a horrible and terrifying kind of way. Their ideologies and discussions are nothing short of toxic. But this toxicity comes from a place of sadness. A place of self-loathing that they believe can only be cured by suicide. This is not a basic story of men behaving badly. This is a group of people that hate themselves so much that they see no other option but ‘the rope’. And they openly fantasise about taking others with them.

Ugly guys finish last.

It isn’t easy being ugly. It isn’t easy being a bit awkward. Often the two go hand in hand. When it comes to good looking men, it’s pretty simple. You will do better than your ugly mates. A common mistake is that incels are angry because they can’t get sex. This is a huge part of it, but not all of it. Essentially they believe that all aspects of life are better for those that are naturally good looking. And they got the shit covered part of the stick. And it’s not fair.

The term ‘lookism’ is often quoted by incels to describe discrimination based on looks. And I’ve certainly seen it play out in my time. If you are an attractive male you are more likely to excel in your career. You are more likely to be listened to and to influence others. More likely to be considered trustworthy. And you are obviously more likely to find someone that wants to have sex with you.

Incels are ugly. And awkward. And they are not happy about it. In fact, they are pretty fuckin’ angry.

A lot of common knowledge on incels, especially in articles surfacing now, is incorrect. Incels are often mistaken for being alt-right but they are remarkably different and detest the label. Incels prefer to be NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training) and live off the welfare state (‘neetbux’)or their parents in order to LDAR (Lay Down and Rot). This does not fit into the alt-right mindset. While the alt-right is often seen as a group for white men to promote white supremacy, many incels are of ethnic or non-white descent.

Incels have been described to have come from the pick up artist community. That’s ridiculous. They hate pick up artists and believe it only works for attractive or neurotypical people.

Many incels believe that whites cannot be incels, as they are ‘naturally more attractive’ (not my words, calm down!). This runs opposite to the media narrative that is desperate for incels to be white men, in order to maximise public outrage towards a privileged, racist and misogynistic class. Incels are actually a racially diverse group. If someone were to highlight that a lot of the rage from the incel community comes their experiences with racism (girls don’t look at me because I am Indian/Asian/Ethnic etc.) they may inspire some kind of sympathy.

Incels tend to put whites on a pedestal, which appears to be why they are often said to be white supremacists. Racism in the incel community is rife, but this includes a lot of racism directed toward their own identity (often as a form of self hatred). This is as bizarre as it sounds. This was never going to be easy. The incels are a genuinely bizarre community.

Hope, cope and rope.

Everything is cope but the rope.

Hope is for idiots. These people are fools. There is nothing to hope for. Anyone showing signs of hope is often ridiculed.

Cope is what you do to try to ‘fix’ your inceldom. You cannot be fixed, anything you attempt to improve is just a coping mechanism. This can include exercise (gymcels), career (richcels) or trying to look better (looksmaxing). None of these things work if you are a truecel (which is almost always referring to an ugly face or short frame — blamed on bad genetics). Coping mechanisms can also simply be staying alive. That’s a cope to many incels. Just staying alive.

Rope is the inevitable end point. Suicide. This is where incels expect to wind up. Nobody escapes inceldom but for the rope. Suicide techniques are openly discussed online and when one of them decides to go, they announce it. The amount of posts that say ‘don’t do it’ are vastly outnumbered by posts like ‘good luck brother’ and ‘goodbye sweet prince’. They accept it. Why talk him down from the cliff? Why do him such a disservice? Then they post the news article reporting the death in the thread, if they make the press. Incels believe they are much better off dead.

If you lost the genetic lottery, it’s over.

The root of inceldom is genetic. Incels refer to themselves ‘subhumans’ as they believe they are essentially natural mistakes. They are the result of the sperm that should never have made it, or some kind of unfortunate and permanent accident. This should be emphasised when trying to understand incels. They are not failed pick-up artists. They are not MRAs (men’s rights activists).

Incels hate their parents, often saying that their ugly parents should have known not to breed. Ironically, their parents are clearly not incels, despite having these ‘inferior’ genes. I’m reluctant to play the card that ‘incels blame everyone but themselves’, though, as while they do spit venom in every direction their main hatred points toward themselves.

It’s all about looks.

These guys have some of the most incredible medical knowledge of the reasons why people are unattractive. I never knew what a ‘negative canthal tilt’ was until I started reading incel forums. They have lists of negative features that they possess. These can include manlets (being short), baldcel (balding) and a common trait outside the aesthetic are mentalcels (incels with mental health issues). Incels can approach these issues by ‘looksmaxing’, which is either superficial or surgical efforts to ‘ascend’ from inceldom. It appears to have worked for some. Most people are skeptical that it works at all. This includes fixing hair, jawline, nose, teeth and anything they can alter to attempt to look more attractive. There are many lists of strategies about surgical looksmaxing on forums.

While a short frame, a tiny dick or crippling social anxiety are huge aspects of inceldom, it all comes down to one thing — your face. If you have an ugly face, it’s over. Unless you can afford to looksmax your face, you have no chance to ascend from inceldom. Being an incel is a life sentence, or so they like to say.

You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy…

Incels are not hated without reason. What they say, quite openly, is despicable. The explanation of why the incels are the way they are I feel is essential to understanding why someone could spout such awful things with such conviction. And while not all lonely, awkward and ugly men are vile misogynists, the ones that are do it because they hate themselves.

They will post things that support their beliefs with the tag ‘suicide fuel’ — this is a situation, event or statement which will reinforce their desire to kill themselves. Examples of this would be good looking people achieving success, or evidence that ugly people cannot succeed, or that society disregards them. Tinder experiments are huge in this, where they make fake tinder profiles with attractive people and post their success in screenshots.

The other side of this coin are ‘life fuel’ threads, which is a situation, event or statement that describes a horrible thing happening to someone, usually an attractive woman. Often some kind of physical injury. This can often include tinder experiments as well, where incels will catfish (create a false identity to seduce someone online) a woman and then document the process. Life fuel threads are especially harrowing. Watching people rejoice at other’s suffering makes for pretty dark reading. It gets worse, though.

Little bit of a trigger warning here — this describes some pretty evil concepts around violence, especially against women. Seriously if this kind of thing makes you feel uneasy, just call it quits here.

Incels often discuss their burning desire to hurt women that they feel have rejected them. As they attribute their failure to genetics, this is no fault of their own. Using acid attacks (to disfigure the face — as they believe a beautiful face is the biggest advantage in life) is a very common thread and a genuine concern moving forward. One forum post I saw on reddit suggested that an incel should pretend to trip over at his workplace and throw boiling hot coffee in a female employee’s face. He had overheard her talking about her difficulty choosing between two men she was seeing and he was enraged by it. This was met with wide applause from fellow incels. This may have actually happened.

Another well known incel trope is the belief that rape is justified. There is objectively no justification for rape. There have been admissions of rape on incel forums, usually involving heavily intoxicated women. They are met with mixed reactions. Some condemn it. Many applaud it. It’s really quite fucked. Reading this can be pretty difficult. This article is to show that their actions come from a sad place. But don’t get me wrong, these guys can be properly evil little bastards.

This sense of justification seems to come from their uniquely male sense of sexual entitlement. They claim that Maslow’s hierarchy of needs states that sex is a part of basic human needs structure. Sex features alongside food, water, warmth and rest. This is often why incels claim that their ideas are backed by science. Being without sex is unnatural, and the fact that they are left out of this is the fault of society. Incels are big fans of arranged marriages and are jealous of cultures with this norm. Atomised society is to blame for their inability to find love and meaningful connection. They discuss the idea that sex is a ‘human right’ and throw around ideas of government sanctioned sex workers for incels. This may account for some of the reasons they think that rape can be justified. Like stealing bread, they are just feeding themselves because they are hungry. While this type of entitlement complex over women’s bodies is not uniquely incel, it is rife through the community and certainly only demonstrated by male groups.

An obvious question when incels are brought up is ‘Why don’t they just pay for sex?’. Some incels that live in jurisdictions where prostitution is legal will resort to that and call themselves ‘escortcels’. Despite this, some of them have reported that they are so physically ugly that escorts have refused to see them. From what I have seen, the clash of their sense of entitlement and having to pay for sex can result in irrational anger toward the idea of prostitution. Although this is often quoted as an easy fix to inceldom, there is one thing that most incels say about prostitution. It is not about the sex. It’s the validation that comes from someone wanting to have sex with you. It’s about being loved. And nobody will ever love them. What I’ve seen more than anything else is that prostitution is just ‘cope’ and only love will cure inceldom, which they will never have. The only escape from inceldom is suicide.

The canonisation of Elliot Rodgers is a huge part of toxic incel culture, and one that is currently coming back to haunt them. Though Rodgers’ killing spree mostly took the lives of men, his deeply misogynistic and self indulgent incel manifesto has given him a legendary status among their community. They call him the ‘supreme gentleman’ and have made countless memes and references to him in posts, even calling mass murder ‘going ER’. Many forum users have changed their avatars from Rodgers to Minassian in the past days. There has been a theory that Minassian was not an incel at all but not because they are horrified by his actions (perish the thought) but because he apparently isn’t ugly enough.

Incels are people too. I guess. This is hard…

The approach to incels here is an attempt to balance the perspectives that are being thrown around the media at the moment. I can’t sit here and say what makes an incel an incel. I won’t claim to know what makes incels a uniquely male issue. But having this group thrust into the spotlight is a chance to reflect upon what we do with people that don’t fit into our society. For people that are so fundamentally excluded from meaningful contact with others. Many of the new ways we have formed to meet others purposefully exclude these people. Tinder? Not for you mate.

What do we do with them? What can we do for them? Should we do anything? Do they deserve a chance?

When we live in a competitive society where there are winners and losers, what happens when you are a loser? Should you just shut up and accept your lot? Ugly? Maybe you should go get a nice haircut. Bit miserable? Get some therapy. Fix yourself. Get on with it. We don’t have time for your shit. No friends? Go to But for the love of god don’t come to my party on Friday night. Would you be angry? How angry?

While incels are some of the most evil people I’ve ever come across online (that’s a pretty big prize right there), they are also some of the most tragic. Behind every ugly threat lies an ugly person. Feeling terrified and alone. Their lives are meaningless. They have nothing to hope for. They are dead inside. When you see the conversation about incels being a violent subculture with tendencies toward terrorism (which is true), try to remember the underlying sadness that is behind it. There is no justification for this kind of violence. Even talking about it is toxic. But it’s happening.

These guys exist. They have been congregating online for some time, exchanging awful ideas and galvanising their hate for people they consider attractive or even just normal. Now that they have been thrust into the mainstream, everyone will have an opinion on how to fix this problem. And it is a problem. And it needs fixing. I hope that we are drawn to a solution that includes some form of understanding. Continuing to bully, ignore and isolate them will only make the problem worse.

This article barely scratches the surface of the incel movement and their twisted blackpill ideology. If it seems worth doing, I might write more on it. This article was borne from a feeling that incels are being misrepresented in some poorly researched articles in the wake of the Toronto tragedy. This article was a long walk. If you made it this far, well done.

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