What is it like to go without a partner when you long for one – and when even a fleeting sexual connection feels impossible?
When a woman named Alana coined the term “incel” in the late 90s, she couldn’t have predicted the outcome. What started as a harmless website to connect lonely, “involuntary celibate” men and women has morphed into an underground online movement associated with male violence and extreme misogyny.
In 2014, Elliot Rodger stabbed and shot dead six people in California, blaming the “girls” who had spurned him and condemned him to “an existence of loneliness, rejection and unfulfilled desires”. There have since been numerous attacks by people who identify with incel culture, including Jack Davison, who killed five people in Plymouth this summer, before turning the gun on himself. In the darkest corners of the internet, incel groups have become a breeding ground for toxic male entitlement, putting them on hate crime watchlists across the UK.