FOX13 INVESTIGATES: What are incels and why is there cause for concern?

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — In the darkest corners of the internet, a growing number of sexually frustrated men openly discuss violence against women, because the women won’t have sex with them.

These men are part of the “incel” movement, which is short for involuntarily celibate.

These men’s sexual frustrations have resulted in hate speech against women and mass killings. Law enforcement and civil rights groups said incels are worth monitoring.

“I can’t think of anything much more worthy of law enforcement’s time than the safety and lives of women,” said Jessica Reaves of the Anti-Defamation League. “And the reason this is so concerning is because we’re seeing this manifest as real-world violence.”

Reaves said local law enforcement agencies often don’t take threats against women seriously enough.

FOX13 reached out to the Memphis Police Department (MPD) for this story.

We wanted to ask if the department, which now has a female police chief, had any intelligence on or strategies to deal with the growing incel community.

MORE: Domestic Violence Resources to support victims and families

We never heard back from MPD.

In 2014, a 22-year-old virgin named Elliot Rodger posted videos and wrote a manifesto about his sexual frustrations before going on a killing spree near the University of California, Santa Barbara.

He killed six people and injured fourteen more, before killing himself.

In one of his videos, he said he wanted to punish women for rejecting him.

Since that attack,, Rodger has become sort of a cult hero in the incel world, sometimes referred to as the “Supreme Gentleman,” something he called himself in one of his videos.

A core belief among incels is there is little, if any, hope they will ever form romantic relationships with women.

Moreover, they feel women owe them sex and it is the fault of women and society at large that they are being denied the romance.

Mental health professionals said this belief is the source of their misogyny. They feel so hopeless they essentially give up on life, the so-called black pill philosophy.

“So, for incels, the black pill describes a particularly bleak truth to swallow, and in this case, it refers to their idea that there was nothing that they could ever do to improve their romantic prospects, that it was over from the beginning so there was no point in even trying”, said William Costello, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Texas, Austin, who studied incels for his Master’s dissertation.

Despite their extremist views about women, Costello said his study indicates many are so deeply depressed about their prospects for romance that they are just as likely to hurt themselves as someone else.

“It’s almost invariably been suicide by cop,” he said. “It’s been, you know, going on a spree killing while being very aware that they are going to be killed in the process.”

Since the early 2000s, incels have killed roughly 50 people, but the threat is serious enough, that in March, the U.S. Secret Service released a report from the National Threat Assessment Center (NTAC).

In the report, NTAC identified a unifying factor among most attackers as a set of concerning behaviors before they attack, and talked about ways to reduce the threat going forward.

It’s unclear if the appropriate systems are in place with local police to reduce threats from incels since we never heard back from MPD.