When Alek Minnasian drove his van into groups of pedestrians, the world went looking for answers. A post on his personal Facebook page – one where Minnassian referred to incels, the Incel Rebellion and hailing “Supreme Gentleman Elliot Roger – seemed almost too perfect.
After all, 4chan boards like /pol/ have a long history of spreading hoaxes and misinformation after every recent tragedy and mass shooting. Faking a post – or an entire Facebook profile – for someone accused of the crime is well within the typical modus operandi of such groups.
Facebook confirmed that the post was real. Subsequent investigations found that Minassian was indeed part of the incel (short for “involuntarily celibate”) community – like Elliot Roger and Chris Harper-Mercer before him – and his rage led him to commit atrocities against innocents.
Since then, the media has been falling over themselves to discuss the incel community – who they are, what the existence of the incel community means for men, what drives them to such lengths, and so on. Many people have been asking what we can – or should – do about them.
The problem is: too many people are asking the wrong questions. We let ourselves get distracted, taking the name and their self-description at face value and, as a result, miss the real issue underneath.