Long Read, Memoir, Top Stories

I Was a Female Incel

Author’s Note: I have chosen to publish this essay under a pseudonym to preserve my anonymity and the anonymity of others mentioned in my story. I respectfully ask anyone who believes they can identify me from what follows to respect my request for privacy.


The terror revealed itself to me in smatterings; bits and pieces of fragmented information communicated in broken English by immigrant factory workers: Van ran over a curb on Yonge Street. Many dead. As I sat amongst the ubiquitous iPhone screens on the TTC, a sea of constantly-refreshing social media feeds and angry red breaking news headlines screaming out from anodyne weekday newscasts, I grasped the reality of the psychological trauma inflicted by terrorist attacks. These were the same images we had seen dozens of times over, in sports stadiums, in concert halls, in city squares: a sea of carnage, a pile of mutilated bodies lying with their clothes torn and their limbs akimbo; a smashed vehicle, an angry sore thumb of burnt rubber and twisted metal; hysterical citizens, legions of police and EMS workers, wandering survivors; a parade of gaudy nihilism splayed out against the obdurate shine of metropolitan architecture.

It was all the same, except it wasn’t—this wasn’t Paris, or London, or New York. It wasn’t some faraway perpetual elsewhere we had come to recognize as the place where such terrible things happen. It was right here, at the corner of Yonge and Sheppard, less than ten minutes away from my childhood home. This is where my dad took me to see the Rugrats movie when I was six; it’s where I went out for dinner for my grade 8 graduation; it’s where, a couple months ago, I attended a college information session. Now someone had turned it into a nightmare.

As the hours wore on and more information emerged about the killer and his motivations, it became apparent that this was the work of a so-called ‘incel,’ or involuntary celibate, who carried out this violent attack as a way of expressing his outrage at female rejection. Early reports suggested that the attacker targeted women. If I had booked a dentist appointment that day, I could have been in his path. If I had been walking down Yonge Street and he’d seen my ponytail, I could have been targeted. It could have been me. I could have been run over. Or I could have been the driver.

I was a female incel. Not simply a woman who struggled with sexual and romantic success, but a proponent of the violent, misogynistic, and hateful ideology with which our society has now been forced to grapple in the wake of the Toronto van attack. I appear to be the only one of my kind, at least according to a number of incel experts I spoke to. Now I am a supporter of the #MeToo movement. My experiences have given me a unique perspective on the gender dimension of the culture wars being waged in the West right now. By telling my story, I am hoping that I can expose both sides to the other’s pain and open up a path for much-needed discussion and reconciliation.

The idea of a female incel probably conjures notions of internalized misogyny. But the truth is more complicated. Unlike race or religion, sex creates a fundamental biological distinction between two groups, each of which are doomed to interact with one another, not just at a societal level but at a deeply personal individual level. This makes mutual understanding a necessity. We have to make sense of our differences and to conduct our interpersonal relationships in a way that is considerate and democratic instead of ignorant and tyrannical. If we turn our backs on our universal human duty of attempting to discern the truth of who we are as men and women, we doom both sides to a nihilistic power game, a Hobbesian nightmare of perpetual inter-gender warfare, replete with righteously indignant groupthink, spiteful denigration of the other side, and a grim fight for dominance characterized by constant victimization one-upmanship. I have experienced the suffering of both sides of this bitter war. Now I’d like to do my part, small though it may be, to bring about some peace through truth.

Some brief caveats before I begin. I am also not trying to justify my past actions or beliefs. The things I believed, said, and did when I was an incel were hateful, ignorant, and wrong. I make no attempt to suggest that my inceldom was okay. It wasn’t. It was a wicked manifestation of pain, self-pity, and lack of self-responsibility, as well as serious, debilitating mental illness. But I will try to make sense of it, in the hope that it might help others to understand what makes an incel and what unmakes an incel.

Nor am I attempting to draw an equivalence between modern feminism and incel subculture. I have no shortage of qualms about modern feminism, which is a sad bastardization of genuine female empowerment and, at its worst, outright misandry. The #MeToo movement is flawed, but it has exposed the crimes of some evil men, the victims of whom have mostly been female, as well as the people who facilitated their reprehensible conduct. In addition, it has forced us to have a critically important and long overdue discussion about sexual boundaries and inter-gender interaction in the workplace and beyond. The incel movement, on the other hand, started out as a way for romantically and sexually frustrated people to commiserate, and some may argue that this is largely what it continues to be. But, looking at incel hangouts like SlutHate and Incel.me, it quickly becomes apparent that misogyny and hatred are features not bugs. Modern feminists and incels are not equally justified in their response to suffering; but I maintain that the pain that lies behind incel subculture and #MeToo are equally deserving of acknowledgement and discussion.

Finally, I harbor no illusions about the potential impact of this article. I do not believe I will spark a revolution in the way men and women perceive and interact with one another; that is already far too well-established to be undone by a single essay. The reaction to this article, if any, will most likely fall along the well-worn lines of partisan ignorance: Sam Bee will laugh at the idea that women can inflict pain on men, men’s rights activists will laugh at the idea that a woman could understand male suffering, and a legion of Facebook readers will drop a laugh react and keep scrolling, unshakeable in their belief that they could not possibly have anything to learn from someone who has seen both sides of the brutal battle of the sexes. But one person might read this and become aware of their own ignorance, contemplate their own responsibility in the perpetuation of this cruel paradigm, and resolve to do their part to unravel it. And that’s not nothing.

*     *     *

I grew up a relatively happy and healthy child, in a loving home with two happily married parents. I was academically successful, enjoyed a decent social life (though I was somewhat shy and awkward) and didn’t get bullied any more than any other kid. By grade 8, I had even managed to become one of the ‘popular kids’ at my relatively small elementary school. Then came high school.

I felt the change in the atmosphere from the moment I entered the building on the first day of grade 9. The social rules were different now; they were more sophisticated, more sexual, and the punishment for those unable to pick them up and play by them would be merciless and brutal. In elementary school, my girlfriends and I used to laugh at girls we called ‘sluts’—girls who wore tight pants, low-cut shirts, and heaps of makeup, and who talked incessantly about boys. We thought it laughable and contemptible that at the tender age of 13 a girl could decide that she had nothing better to do with her life than package herself as a marketable product for male consumption. Now we were 14. As I scanned the room on the beginning of that first day I did a mental count: slut, slut, slut. They were everywhere. While not all of these provocatively dressed girls were vapid and self-loathing, an utterly depressing number of them were. On the second day of school, when I mentioned to one of my classmates that I played hockey, she looked at me as if I had told her I like to bite the heads off rats. “What are you, a boy?” she spat derisively.

This was the sluts’ world now, where being loud, tough, smart, and funny no longer counted—in fact, they were points against you. They got you sneered at, laughed at, left out, kicked in the face, and called pathetic by your teachers. To win in the sluts’ world, you needed to be sexually and socially adept, and above all, normal. I had no clue how.

It should probably be noted that this bullying was perpetuated almost exclusively by women. For all the talk of a shadowy cis-hetero-patriarchal conspiracy whereby men get power by pitting innocent women against each other, men never bullied me or taunted me for being awkward or different. Mostly they either ignored me or appreciated my strength, intellect, and humor. It was girls who bullied me, and bullied me relentlessly, even though I clearly posed no threat whatsoever to their various sexual pursuits. They did it to tell me that they viewed me as inferior, even though the very men they pursued seemed to prefer the company of girls like me to girls like them, who they tended to view as unoriginal and desperate for attention. (I will admit that I harbored some resentment that the boys romantically pursued these other girls instead of me.) Ultimately, this appeared to me not to be an issue of boys pitting girls against each other, but rather of socially powerful girls using their social power—and their sex appeal, in particular—to oppress both women and men they deemed unworthy, knowing damn well that the other girls were too timid, and the boys not socially permitted, to fight back.

Still, in spite of my hatred for these so-called ‘sluts,’ I knew deep down that a significant part of my contempt came from a place of resentment and longing. There was a part of me that desperately wanted to be like them, to fit in, to be liked and lusted after. I tried everything. I dressed like them. I listened to the same music they did. I mimicked their mannerisms. But something was always missing, some undefinable and elusive magic in the swing of their hips, in the flip of their hair, in the effervescence of their laughter, that was always just out of my reach. When I was diagnosed with autism at 17, I would understand this phenomenon to be a product of a developmental disorder that could be treated with counselling and therapy. At 14, however, I was left to reason that I had atrophied in my preteen years and that I was a fundamentally flawed and defective human being, incapable of attaining that mystical, mysterious thing that made girls so attractive to boys.

During this time I also struggled to make friends. In elementary school, I’d had a relatively large friend group but most of them went off to different high schools, leaving me with only my best friend. But she was more socially adept than I was, and I guess she decided that with all her new friends she didn’t need me anymore. Too shy and socially stunted to make new friends of my own, I spent the better part of my grade 9 year following her around like a puppy, tagging along at the back of the gang of whatever new friends she made that day, eagerly soaking up every little morsel of attention she gave me. Why am I degrading myself like this? I would think to myself. But I didn’t have the confidence to confront her or leave, so I just followed her around, growing more bitter and resentful by the day.

I began to stop caring for myself. I went for days without showering. My hair grew matted and greasy. My eyebrows grew bushy and I developed severe cystic acne on my face. I wore the same clothes for several days in a row. This lack of self-care only worsened my social isolation, which in turn made me more depressed, perpetuating a never-ending cycle of self-loathing. Although I was exhibiting many of the classic symptoms of clinical depression, I refused to accept that I could be depressed. My mother had depression, and I viewed her as weak and selfish for the way she handled it. I didn’t want to become like her. So I neglected my symptoms, sinking deeper and deeper into a black hole of my own self-pity and despair.

I had my first homicidal fantasy when I was 14. I fantasized about breaking into my best friend’s house, cornering her, and strangling her to death. This sudden violent fantasy shocked me, but only momentarily. I was too depressed to care if my violent desires were a sign of something dangerous. Murderous thoughts, both suicidal and homicidal, began to fill my mind. When the song “Pumped Up Kicks” came out, I remember saying it was the perfect song to shoot up my school to. As we learned about world wars in history class, I gleefully imagined myself killing people in trench warfare, slaughtering innocents in concentration camps, and annihilating civilizations with atomic bombs. I listened obsessively to violent rap music, especially songs that were violent towards women. One of my favorite lines was from a song called “The Reunion” by Bad Meets Evil: “Put on your slut powder you slut/and shut the fuck up.” Not less than once a week, the question passed through my mind: Why don’t you kill yourself? The answer was always the same: Because I’m afraid of death.

By the time I was 15, I had isolated myself from the outside world almost completely, spending most of my days holed up in my room on my computer. As I interacted less and less with women in real life, the female gender disintegrated in my mind from a diverse group of individual human beings to a malevolent homogeneous mass that existed to taunt and threaten me. Femininity, in all its beauty and cruelty, existed outside of me. Was I transgender? No, that was not the case. I had transgender friends, and I couldn’t relate to their situation at all. I wasn’t a boy, nor was I genderqueer or anything else. I was a woman—an unbearably inadequate one.

During my time on the internet I was introduced to radical feminism. As I scrolled through blog after blog of ignorant, hateful misandrist drivel, I felt a righteous anger stirring inside me. Here were the same pretty, popular girls that used their social power to degrade me talking about how oppressed they were. They spoke proudly about degrading their bodies through cheap, meaningless sex. They bragged about destroying the sexual and social confidence of men and then called it ’empowerment.’ They saw the entire world as a perpetual struggle between the female collective and an oppressive patriarchal system, and their purpose in life was smashing that system. They laughed off the idea that they, too, might be oppressive. I could have sought out the opinions of more moderate, rational feminists who believe in equality and denounced misandry and perpetual victimhood. Instead, I sought out the most extreme, hateful strands of feminism to feed my pathological view of women as oppressors and of feminism as their cruel doctrine of superiority. By religiously quoting Norman Mailer and styling myself as a strident ally of the Men’s Rights Movement, I was able to rationalize my hatred as a tool in a noble struggle against an oppressive regime, rather than what it was—a manifestation of personal anguish over my own inability to cultivate my femininity. My Dylan Klebold-esque nihilistic scattershot angst had transmuted into a full-blown Eric Harris-like messiah complex. My pain no longer tormented me. Now it gave me power.

With every voyeuristic POV porn gif and schizoid hipster tumblr blog, my perception of the feminine dissolved further into a Ballardian nightmare. There were no women, there was only Woman. And Woman was a dismembered, disembodied pastiche of swollen breasts and smooth legs, with red, hot, gaping mouths and ache-inducing curvature, a mysterious and malevolent scheme of tantalizing geometry. And running through it was a current of vicious deception and dark desire, seeping in the marrow of my bones like poison, haunting me with its pristine elusiveness. I raged against it, writing a story where I shot up my school, replete with violent sexual imagery like “slut after slut can’t wait for me to blow [my gun] in her mouth.” I had recurring rape fantasies, celebrating the unceremonious destruction of my own femininity. I wrote violent poetry that tore at the fabric of being itself:

I don’t write poems, I write death threats
In crippled syntax, in anger and blood and brittle words
Hydrogen bombs of emotional shit
Melt the smoking hot girls
She likes poetry, oh yes she does
She likes plastic poetry shoved down her little gaping throat

When I was 16 I fell in love for the first time, with a girl I met online. I wasn’t particularly distressed to discover that I was gay, but the concept of falling in love terrified me. Being vulnerable to someone, especially a pretty girl, made me feel utterly powerless. It happened all at once. I was browsing her profile when I saw a picture of her, eyes closed, smiling contently, middle fingers raised defiantly in the air. She was gorgeous. She was brilliant. She was witty. She was kind. She was virginal. And she had demons, just like me. I was smitten.

Most women will never understand just how terrifying girls—especially pretty girls—are to men (or, in this case, gay women). To see a pretty girl is to see an angel, a paragon of beauty and virtue. You want to bow down before her, praise her, summon the very best of yourself and lay it at her feet in the hopes that she will deem you worthy and let you into heaven. Sweating and shaking with anxiety, I typed out a series of messages telling her how I felt, trying my damnedest to match her in eloquence and elegance (I’m sure I didn’t come close). I explained to her that she made me feel like I could be a good person and that she was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen. I gave her the best of myself that I could possibly summon, then stared, sick with fear, into the vacant algorithm of the Facebook messenger app, awaiting my fate.

She rejected me. Hard. “You need to stop,” she told me. “These feelings you’re having for me are not okay.” She wasn’t being homophobic. It was me that was not okay. There was something fundamentally wrong with my love. I fell in love for the first time, and my love hurt someone. What good is a person whose love is malignant? How can they possibly hope to achieve good? Looking back at it now, I still maintain she could have handled the situation better, but I can appreciate how creepy and desperate I probably sounded. At the time, though, my warped mind saw it as a strident rejection of my peace offering to the human race. Your love hurts people. You are not welcome here. It felt like I had just been kicked out of heaven and had the door slammed in my face. For some, being rejected by a pretty girl can feel like offering yourself to an angel and having the angel say, “Ew.” My angel said, “Ow.”

What happened in the weeks that followed can probably best be described as demonic. In an attempt to dissociate from my pain, I tried to induce a psychotic state by locking myself in my room, depriving myself of sleep, food, and medication, and inflicting physical and psychological trauma on myself. My unrequited love interest stopped talking to me, deleting all her social media accounts and ghosting me without warning. I was shattered. Not long after I had a fantasy about her so violent and evil I refused to believe it came from my own mind. I started hearing voices and having panic attacks. My days and nights blurred together. I became a prisoner of my own mind, tormented by violent thoughts and vengeful urges. Unable to repress these urges and afraid I might act on them, I attempted suicide. My parents had me hospitalized, pulled me out of school, and put me on a waitlist for a treatment program. I came home from the hospital debilitatingly depressed, spending my days lying in bed brooding and plotting revenge on everyone who had wronged me.

When Elliot Rodger shot up a sorority in Isla Vista in 2014, I was enthralled. I told people that he was my soulmate and that it was such a shame he killed himself because I would have married him and we could have “killed so many sluts together.” Reading his manifesto and watching his videos, I found a kindred spirit. Here was someone who, like me, was bullied and socially rejected, especially by girls, and was done with being pushed around. He was, to me, a martyr for the awkward and the autistic, the lonely and the downtrodden. I was disgusted and enraged by the #YesAllWomen campaign carried out by feminists in the wake of the attack. How dare they use their sexual advantage to push an innocent, troubled boy over the edge and then have the nerve to turn around and play the victim? Rodger was the product of a society that teaches men to feel entitled to women’s bodies? Women felt entitled to use their bodies as weapons to tease and torment men without consequence! Rodger’s manifesto brought me to PUAHate (now SlutHate), where I was introduced to incel culture for the first time. I learned that I had been ‘black-pilled’—that is, I had come to believe that I would never find love or get better and that women and feminism were to blame. I finally had a festering ground for the violent, nihilistic ideology I had nurtured. However, before I could become too involved in the incel community, my social workers confiscated my phone and cut off my internet access.

Living without internet forced me to interact with other people and, moreover, myself. Stripped of diversions, I was forced to look in the mirror, and I hated what I saw. I decided to make a change. I began showering and washing my face regularly. I cut my hair, did my eyebrows, and started wearing age-appropriate clothes. I started engaging in therapy, learning basic life and social skills. Slowly, I felt my confidence grow. When I revisited PUAHate after getting my internet back a couple months later, I still related to the angst and sexual frustration, but found the suicidal fatalism pathetic and weak.

When I was 18, I received sexual attention for the first time. I was sitting alone in the stands at a hockey rink watching a practice when I heard a banging noise. I looked over and saw a couple of teenage boys pointing at me, thrusting their hips against the glass and making vulgar gestures. My heart swelled. Sexual attention! Just like a normal girl! I gushed to my social worker and anyone who would listen. I couldn’t understand why my mother told me I shouldn’t be happy about guys crudely propositioning themselves to me. All I knew was after four years of being ignored and put down, people were finally looking at me with sexual interest, and that made me feel human. It made me feel powerful.

My mental and physical heath continued to improve. I started going to the gym, which not only helped me get in shape but gave me a sense of accomplishment, which gave me confidence. My senior prom was coming up, and my social worker wanted me to go. I furiously resisted—nothing could be worse than paying an exorbitant amount of money to get all dressed up and sit next to a bunch of people I hated. But she was insistent. So I figured, if I had to go, I wasn’t going to go alone. There was a girl in one of my classes who I thought might have a crush on me. I decided to try and solicit a prom date from her. After several weeks of awkward, reticent flirting (such is the case when two shy aspies like each other) we admitted that we did in fact like each other and that, yes, she would go to prom with me. That’s the story of how I met the girlfriend I have been with ever since.

Having a girlfriend changed my life. I lost my virginity. I went on dates to the beach and to the movies. I had someone to talk to about my thoughts and feelings instead of sitting around my house alone brooding all the time. I had someone to hold hands with, someone to say “I love you” to, someone to squeeze and have squeeze you back (which still feels like a little miracle to me every time it happens). I got a group of friends for the first time in years and we did things together like go to the mall and stay up until 4am laughing at dumb memes. For the first time in years, I felt like I belonged. I told my therapist I felt like Pinocchio when he becomes a real boy. Finally, I was a real girl, a normal teenager, a fully formed human being.

Being a real girl means many things. It means chivalrous men hold the door open for you and let you cut in front of them in line. It means boys come up to you in the subway and at the mall and tell you that you look cute. It means men look at you like you’re an angel, offering to buy you drinks in exchange for a ticket to heaven. But it also means having elderly drunken homeless men hit on you and being called a frigid bitch for rebuffing them. It means lying on the porcelain tile floor of the bathroom at a house party, trembling and confused, trying to make sense of what just happened to you through a haze of weed and alcohol. It means walking home at night with your key rings around your knuckles. It means listening to your male friends say that if girls don’t want to get raped, they shouldn’t dress a certain way. It means finding out, with a sinking heart, the demeaning things your male role models think and say about women. It means reading the junior hockey bible and realizing that while the incel in you would have found this funny, the real girl is disgusted by the degradation and sexual cruelty. It means realizing that when incels on SlutHate say they hate sluts, they aren’t just talking about pretty mean girls or girls who rejected you, they’re talking about all girls. They’re talking about you.

*     *     *

Women suffer at the hands of men. Men suffer at the hands of women. Both sides are certain that the game is hopelessly rigged in the other side’s favor. Both are certain that if we could just overthrow the patriarchy, or if we could just destroy the radical feminist agenda, everything would be okay. But why should we believe that? There are people who are so hurt and broken that they feel the need to tear down the whole system. It is not only cold comfort but incredibly dangerous to hand over the reins of control to those who are either unwilling or unable to take control of themselves.

We live in an era of great fear and uncertainty. Women have acquired unprecedented sexual, economic, and political freedom in the span of a few short generations. A man who bragged about getting away with sexual assault was elected to the most powerful office in the world, and now women fear that freedom is at risk. Globalization and automation have robbed millions of men of the dignity of work, particularly physical labor, leaving them struggling to find a purpose. Marriages break up at the same rate as they stay together; church attendance has plummeted; headlines are rife with scandal; new cultures, lifestyles, and opinions are introduced into the public square every day.

The world is moving at a pace we are struggling to reckon with. When the great machine of history lurches forward, shifting its mighty, indifferent apparatus, gears are bound to get moved around and crushed. But human beings are not gears in a machine. We are fragile individual souls with weak, frail bodies. And when the machine crushes us, we bleed. We break down and suffer and slip through the cracks of history into the depths below. When factories close and eviction notices go out, when female bodies crawl bleeding and broken out of college dorm rooms and corner offices, when love unravels and lonely broken souls are crushed under the weight of existence, when we lose our purpose and exist in perpetual suffering and the universe forgets about us, looking in the mirror and seeking the truth can seem like a pointless exercise. It can even feel like submission to injustice. Fear, and the desire to alleviate that fear, can seem like the only natural response. But if we want to put an end to gender-based violence and suffering, then we have to face our fear, and overcome it. Because violence is pain ignored, and ignorance feeds off fear.

We want to believe that we are all innocent victims, mowed down by some psychopath in a van, sanctioned by a society that dehumanized us. We want to believe that the cruel world forced us to drive that van into the crowd and exact revenge on our tormentors. But that’s not the case. We’re all guilty, and none of us has the right to dole out punishment. We need to seek to understand and not simply conquer one another. We need to accept the fundamental unfairness of life and realize that the only way to meaningfully tackle mutable injustices in society is to start by examining our own behavior and recognizing the impact of our own choices.

I am haunted by the fact that, in spite of being in a unique position to talk to Alek Minassian and try to convince him to rethink his choices, I never would have had a chance to say anything because I would have been just another target to him. I’ll never get a chance to try and talk him out of it, to do my part to try to prevent those senseless deaths. But to the would-be future van attackers, the angry incels stewing in their rooms contemplating going ER, I say this: I will never know what it’s like to be you. As a woman, I will never know what it’s like to suffer as a man. But I do know what it’s like to be ignored, bullied, and rejected, especially by women. I know how much it hurts to give everything to a girl only to have her reject you for some Chad who doesn’t even treat her right while she complains that all she wants is someone nice. I know that there are women who use their sexual power to hurt men and that society lets us get away with it, and that’s not right. I don’t know if all women do it, but many do. I have done it. It was wrong and I am sorry.

But murder is an unjustifiable response. Not only is it egomaniacal and ignorant to assume moral authority over who lives and dies, but it is also futile because no amount of violence will ever assuage your pain. No matter how many people you target with your wrath, you will continue to be empty and dead inside until you can find enough self-respect to stand up for yourself and confront your pain. No system or movement or ideology can do that for you. Only you can. And you need to, because you matter, irrespective of what anyone tells you. And important responsibilities await you once you overcome your demons. Individual women may hurt you, but women do not exist to hurt you. We are not just sluts or Stacys. We are your mothers, your sisters, your future wives and daughters. And we are counting on men like you to accept responsibility for your life and to help us become better women.

I have also been thinking a lot about my fellow women, who live in fear that one day an unfortunate happenstance of a ponytail and a dentist appointment will reduce them to the target of an angry man’s rampage. To them I say: I will never know what it’s like to be you. But I do know what it’s like to suffer as a woman, to be reduced to a body part, to be told that your rights are subject to what you wear or how much you’ve had to drink. I know how dehumanizing it feels to be demeaned and degraded and told to take it as a compliment. I know what it’s like to be reduced to a number and to have sex weaponized against you. I know there are bitter women who join in on the sexual dehumanization. I was one of those women. I was wrong, and I am sorry. But we are not victims of some vast patriarchal conspiracy. Individual men may hurt us, but men do not exist to oppress us. They are our fathers, our brothers, our future husbands and sons. And they need us—even if they aren’t willing to admit it—to help them become better men.

Destructive defiance is easy. In the agony of our injustices it can even feel righteous. Rage makes momentary gods of us all. But the hard, eternal truth is that the only appropriate way to respond to pain is not to lash out but to turn inward, sort ourselves out, and set out together to overcome suffering and exact constructive change.

In the wake of the 50th anniversary of Robert Kennedy’s murder, I have been reflecting on his response to the assassination of Martin Luther King. Kennedy was on a plane en route to a campaign stop in Indianapolis when he heard the news that King had been fatally shot. Fearing for his safety, Kennedy’s aides urged him to cancel his event and return home. But Kennedy was adamant. He arrived in Indianapolis and, brushing off the protestations of worried police, stood on the back of a flatbed truck and informed the crowd of King’s death. Speaking extemporaneously, he urged them not to give in to their understandable anger. “What we need in the United States is not division,” he said. “What we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness; but is love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.” Quoting Aeschylus, he told the crowd, “Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.” The cities of America burned that night with righteous outrage at the senseless hatred of King’s assassination. Indianapolis did not.

Coming to terms with our pain is the most difficult thing we can do. Ultimately it is the only thing we do. It is nothing less than the final sanction of our existence as human beings. I have felt the pain of the boy in the van and the girl on the street. I have tried to confront that pain, glean from it what wisdom I can, and divulge that wisdom to you. I hope you consider it.


The author is a factory worker who lives in Toronto. ‘Hayley Morrison’ is a pseudonym.

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  1. Joe says

    Wow, that’s just so sad. While there are a good number of hateful violent incels, I don’t know that being hateful or violent to the opposite sex is a necessary component.

  2. RadixLecti says

    This is one of the most honest, raw, and moving things I have ever read. I have no clever point to make, or nit to pick, I just want to thank the woman who wrote this.

    • demigord says

      Did you read the whole thing? She was an incel for so long, she banged her prom date.

      No, if you lose your virginity in high school and don’t stop having sex after, you were never an incel.

      This is the story of a girl who was mentally ill, then seems to have recovered, and was functioning more or less normally before she reached college. This is not the story of a female incel

      • Jack says

        I am not going to play victim Olympics. If you think your suffering was enough to give you even partial insight into the minds of some incels – I’ll take your writing. I will add that most men have it a little harder for the simple reason that it is our burden on initiating the relationship. You asked out the girl and so you know what that’s like. In my situation – I had a similar experience at 18 when I finally grew the balls. I was rejected (not on facebook) but after going on a 7 hour date with the girl when she just shrugged it off saying she didn’t know it was a date and she’s not interested. At 21 the girl I fell in love with cheated on me 3 weeks into the relationship. I’m now a 24 year old college grad, professional student who still can’t seem to decipher why some men get laid and others do not. But that is my responsibility to figure out – and figure it out I will. Some people have it easier then us, others have it harder. The constant is that we are responsible for where we go from here. And it is evident that killing people or pointing fingers is counterproductive.

  3. Thank you for sharing your story… I admire your courage, self-reflection and openness. I think its too easy for us to think that our group is the only one that’s suffering, and to get upset when other groups say that they’re suffering too. We forget that suffering is the default for nearly everyone. This is a poignant reminder.

  4. Willy Gee says

    I am moved to tears, and I am not sure why. I’ve never felt so close to someone by simply reading an essay. Thank you.

  5. Well, I can say that she understands why beautiful women are scary to men. I couldn’t have described it more perfectly than she did. A beautiful and a virtuous woman is like a vision of perfection, and you want to bow down to it, show it your respect and love for it. That’s why even older men love seeing beautiful women, as they are reminded that there is still beauty in the world ( that’s how I remember the words of Stevo Žigon from long, long ago… ). I’m guessing it’s the same for women when they see a good man ( whatever that means for any single one of them ).

    In the end, the main problem between men and women is that we don’t understand each other and don’t see when our prejudices towards the other sex come over us. And they take us over out of our fear that the opposite sex rejects us, and it only gets worse if we deny that we want to be accepted and wanted… and lusted for. Admitting to yourself what you truly want, accepting that you might not be the most desirable example of your sex out there, that you might have to improve yourself as well, being honest towards yourself and towards the Other – that’s the only way to survive in the cruel world of love.

    • AC Harper says

      “In the end, the main problem between men and women is that we don’t understand each other and don’t see when our prejudices towards the other sex come over us.”

      In “What is it like to be a bat?” Thomas Nagel arguedthat there are facts about the conscious experience that are subjective and can only be known from that subjective perspective. But he could just as easily have written “What is it like to be a woman or a man?” because we all struggle to understand other people.

      Generally high status women compete with other women to get to choose high status men (who are in competition with other men). I guess it works well enough to create the next generation, but it doesn’t mean that a lot of people don’t get hurt in the process, sometimes badly.

      • Chris says

        “there are facts about the conscious experience that are subjective and can only be known from that subjective perspective.”

        this is false. If there are facts then there’s no reason we cannot learn them.

        We don’t know anything. All our knowledge is guesswork, conjecture. Even if you tried to explain to me what it’s like to be you, your explanation would just be a guess. If you read something tomorrow, say the latest research on consciousness, then this explanation of what its like to be you could easily change.

        • @Chris – You say “If there are facts then there’s no reason we cannot learn them”. This is so misguided and wrong. Just because a fact exists, it doesn’t have any impact on our probability of knowing it. For example, do we know what happens on a subatomic level? What about a level below the subatomic? Is there another level beyond even that? We don’t know and we might never know. And we don’t know if we will know. And why is that? Because our experiences and knowledge may be insufficient to learn those things. Same principle applies to knowing how the other gender fares in life. I as a man can never fully comprehend what it means to have a certain hardship characteristic of women. I can partially understand the general concept, but never completely on a personal level. Same goes in reverse, women can never understand our hardships unless they experience them themselves – which most don’t. The best they can do, in general, is to be cognizant of the fact that men have their own hardships and that the female perspective might not be always right ( like with the fact that beautiful women are scary to men. Women simply shrug that off as it’s just plain silliness without thinking, and yet get offended or hurt when a man does that to their unique experiences. Same goes for us, men ).

          Simply put, there are barriers to our knowledge and understanding. They are just far greater in social problems than in cold scientific ones. The reason being that personal experiences, emotions, characteristics etc. are very important, and sometimes crucial, in finding a solution to a social problem. Such things are not important for finding the exact measures of something in nature. And most often, understanding this fact and understanding when you can’t know what the other one thinks or what his life’s like, all you can do is admit that you don’t know and act accordingly. That’s a sign of humility and politeness, which the Left has taken to extremes and devoid them of all meaning in the last couple of years.

        • Moon Spirit says

          i remember what it is like going up on my street in my small town. It is now a walmart.

          Without my knowledge you simply cant understand what it is like growing up on my street(which is a fact). You could however know the fact of my trying to explain what it was like to you. Those would of course be seperate things.

  6. pavane for a dead princess says

    Women cant be incels, online incel forums would laugh at you for even saying that.
    Virginity in women is cherished or fetishized. If a man is a virgin he is seen as a genetic defect, emasculated, mocked. This of course results in a very angry, very frustrated man. The only thing preventing a woman from losing her virginity in the modern age is a smartphone with the tinder app and transportation. I imagine the conversation between a woman telling a man she is a virgin is much more accepting than a man telling a woman. I sometimes wonder if women can even comprehend the extreme isolation men who fail at being men live under. Well, you could just look up the suicide stats based on gender.

    • MCA says

      No True Scotsman fallacy – the literal definition of “incel” is “involuntarily celibate”, and the existence of women who meet this definition proves you wrong. Your assumptions about easy access to sex are contray both to this person’s experience and reality – the author directly states that their appearance and hygine was awful, leaving them totally undesirable.

      But you don’t really care, do you? You just want to wallow in your depression and lash out at any idea that your learned helplessness is self-inflicted.

      • Shenme Shihou says

        “No True Scotsman fallacy – the literal definition of “incel” is “involuntarily celibate”, and the existence of women who meet this definition proves you wrong. Your assumptions about easy access to sex are contray both to this person’s experience and reality – the author directly states that their appearance and hygine was awful, leaving them totally undesirable. ”

        She says that she lost her virginity and has a steady partner. So, she isnt an incel. It could be argued that she was an incel, but losing your virginity in your late teens is a whole different world from men who dont even lose theirs in their 30’s.

        Pavane is absolutely correct, incels who can’t get sex at all are not going to have sympathy for an girl who couldnt get sex for a short time because she was young/socially awkward/had bad hygene.

        Thus is the main issue when talking about incels: most people simply cant relate.

      • pavane for a dead princess says

        I dont really consider myself an incel. I find most incels to be narcissistic. I have always been mores of a masochist. I agree. Wouldn’t date me either if i were a girl. This woman isnt going to find any sympathy from the incel community. Just lots a laughs as they sink deeper into nothingness. Im well aware women are humans (i think), that they want to be treated like a human and not just like some inanimate object/fuck doll. But of course when you have been deprived of something it becomes everything to you. I dont think women or normal people in general can realize how psychologically disruptive being deprived of love, and sex, and human contact for decades would probably effect someones mind in a very harsh way. A lot of these guys do try, they do try. But i dont think taking 10 showers and getting a hair cut will change their broken souls. You ever uh, talk to a girl and she looks right through you, as if you didnt exist? Like you were a ghost. Its even worse then being deemed ugly, or stupid. You just dont exist.

        • Beck says

          Women experience involuntary celibacy. Period. I ‘ m a ‘normal’ woman who has been largely involuntarily celibate her entire adult life namely due to mental health issues that started in my teenage years (eating disorder, depression). After over a decade of no sex and feeling suicidal about it, I decided to face up to the fact that I was in a state of victimhood and acknowledged that there were some deep fears (shame and being rejected) and harsh realities about myself that I needed to take responsibility for. I set the goal of getting hurt and rejected as much as possible so it was no longer an issue, just an annoying by-product of the process of finding a suitable partner. It has been painful, however the confidence and empowerment that it has given me has been worth it. Haven’t found a partner, but am getting laid regularly. Still get my feelings hurt but it’s not devastating like it used to be.
          Sure, my suffering may not have been as great as yours, but that’s not the point of sharing my story. My point in sharing is echos that of the author of the article: only you can change your suffering, and it starts with taking responsibility for your situation.
          P.s. I would so shag a guy who had the courage to tell me he’s a virgin. Honesty and the courage to be vulnerable is a turn on. It is for many women 🙂

          • Beck says

            Oh yeah, and incels, try shagging someone who is ‘less attractive’ than you (referencing a previous post). There are plenty of ‘unattractive’ people who are damn fine lovers.

    • Oblio says

      Only pretty virgins are admired. Ugly men and ugly women get the same treatment: mocked, rejected, or ignored.

  7. Jeezy says

    I don’t think you really understand what inceldom is. Inceldom isn’t a temporary state like you make it out to be. It’s a permanent state of isolation and invisibility. Most incels remain incels for their entire adult life. It’s the lucky ones that actually break out of the cycle. Bar a tiny, tiny percentage of women, every woman can get laid, by someone more attractive than them. It’s the way the world works: women are chased and men aren’t. I am so certain that any woman can get laid that I invite anyone that claims otherwise to make a tinder profile asking exclusively for sex. I guarantee that less that 0.01% of women couldn’t get laid this way. So I find it hard to really relate to you claiming you’re an incel when all it took was a little bit of trying after one big failure at a young age to fix it.

    I don’t classify myself as an incel but I frequent their circles. They can be hateful and vile but deep down most of them are damaged, lonely people. Sadly some of them turn to violence, but unfortunately these are the only visible ones to most of society.

    Man’s unique position in modern society is framed purely by what they have to offer. Women can be ugly with horrible personalities and still get laid. Men can be decent looking but struggle with social skills and lack ambition and so remain ever single. The average 5 out of 10 guy has to work SO much harder than the average 5 out of 10 woman to even be noticed, let alone laid. It’s not all about sex for these people, it’s more about the feeling of being desired, of having their masculinity reaffirmed and believing they are worth something. I pity them.

    • MCA says

      You suck at math. 99.99% does not equal 100%. What’s more, 0.01%, multiplied by a large sample, is a very large number.

      Let’s try it in the USA. The US population is 325.7m, so 162.9m women. Assume half are dating age, so that’s 81.4m. If 0.01% can’t get laid, that’s over 8000 people, larger than the entire population of some smaller towns and counties.

      While it’s a small percentage, that percentage is a fairly large absolute number. Is it really so hard to believe that one of those 8000 wrote an essay?

      • demigord says

        MCA, we know for a fact, at least if she’s being honest, that none of those 8000 women wrote this essay, because by her own words, she is not an incel. She has been having sex since high school

    • You’re generalizing, man. There are certainly some women who can’t just get laid no matter what. I do agree that its a lot easier for them than us, but that’s not true for everyone. I’m sure you can picture a woman you’d turn down, or swipe-left on Tinder? I can, and I’m really really lonely.

    • Steph says

      The problem with this post is you seem to think there is something desirable in being treated like a literal whole, a sex toy, somewhere for a man to rest his dick while he has zero respect for the person attached to the hole.

      Sex is not the be all and end all. It’s the relationship and commitment attached. To say women don’t understand loneliness because there are men who want to treat us as sex objects means you have no idea what it feels like to never be seen as worthy of a relationship. You talk about desirability but fail to understand that just because a man is willing have sex with a woman doesn’t mean he desires her. It can be as simple as him feeling horny.

      Besides the Incel.me website counts any man who has not had sex for 6 months as being an Incel.

      Many of these men could find women, but they only want the most beautiful ones. Ones who they can rate sufficiently highly on the disgusting number scheme to impress other men. Besides your maths is off. We don’t live in a polygamous society. So for all the single men out there there are similar numbers of single women.

      • She acknowledges your first and part of your second point in her fourth from last paragraph where she talks about how she now understands the difficulties of women and how she was wrong.

        Regarding your second point, first of all this isn’t just about sex; a lot of her story happens during her school years, and I’m pretty sure middle schoolers don’t date each other just for a quick shag. Secondly, I don’t understand how the situation you’ve presented is worse than that of the woman who wrote this article, you can easily change your personality to become someone more befitting of a relationship, but not so much the looks or social disabilities which lead incels to believe they’re hopeless and doomed from the start.

        Also I’m gonna need a citation for that 6 months thing, with my current understanding they’re huge fans of purity spiralling, and there’s already incels in this comment section trying to dismantle the woman’s “incel” status.

        And for your last point, that sounds like pure conjecture and you seem to be a little hate-filled

    • Barry says

      I think you are essentially correct in what you have written. I was one of the lucky ones that actually broke out of the cycle. I was a virgin ’til my mid 30’s but met and married some one kind of like me. We have a family and our kids are a bit different, but are doing remarkably well.

  8. Zeesh says

    A really moving and harsh article at the same time. Beautifully written…

  9. dirk says

    Is incelity something only about sex? Or about an enjoyable match? I once read about a woman in Thailand advertising on her house “Please, come in, and fuck me, I am lonely, and am still a virgin”. She must have been very desperate, but also courageous, not many women will dare to do this, and neither will it be a real solution to the problem, I fear. Also, I wonder whether she agreed to all the soliciters at her door to let them in.
    But, one never knows. It all depends, of course.

    • dirk says

      Her name was: Aranya Pui Pathumthong, a 40yr old TV star, so, a real Incel, if any. The billboard with her picture, in a sensual pose, and the text ” Fuck me before I die” was removed by the Thai police.

      • Debbie Kearns says

        Television star Aranya “Pui” Pathumthong told reporters on Friday that the sex billboard briefly displayed on Prasertmanukit road was actually part of an advertising project gone wrong.

        “I have to apologize for making many people feel uncomfortable. It was a project about a woman who wanted to have a boyfriend,”

  10. So she was involuntarily celibate for just 4 years? Hahaha okay then by comparison i am the God Emperor of all incels. I am the Ancient One from the depths of time. For thousands of years have I roamed this Earth with no female attention, Look upon me and despair.

    And i disagree with the premise that being an incel implies anger and violence.
    Honestly i’m not angry at all. I’ve never been. I’ve come to accept that i’m just unlikable, uninteresting and/or unattractive and that’s that. I’m not ruling out finding someone eventually but i’m not counting on it.

    That being said, I can completely empathize with the author’s unrequited love/rejection. The first time i really fell in love i was rejected and it devastated me psychologically for a couple of years. The next 2 times it got a bit easier to accept though.
    Fun stuff!

  11. Anthony Tate says

    The paragraph about seeing “an angel, a paragon of beauty and virtue” in a picture of a girl online and also calling this girl “…gorgeous. She was brilliant. She was witty. She was kind. She was virginal. And she had demons, just like me. I was smitten” is the exact same way many young men “otherize” women.

    People in this frame of mind don’t acknowledge (or are unable to) that the object of their desire is another living breathing human being. A flawed, scared, depressed, person who could be mean and full of all other human emotions. But all the smitten can see is what they project on to them. The authors insistence that they were “falling in love” with an avatar is very common among immature people

    The author said she fell in love…with a picture. It’s not stated how many text messages the author sent, but I’m guessing by the reply from the avatar that the author sent more than one text and voiced some very real and strong emotions into those text and the avatar on the other end finally had enough and replied in a way to shut it down quickly. I’ve seen this kind of over fetishization a ton of times. The guy at the dance or at the bar lasers in on their one chance of love. And they push it to far. It’s called lots of things; creepy or sexual assault but whatever you call it it’s not taking into account the other persons feelings. Your object of desire is unfortunately a person too.

    This really is an amazing essay and I applaud the author for writing this with all it’s violence and emotion. The learning that the author did is amazing, I’m glad she is able to grow from this period in her life.

    Unfortunately there are a lot of people out there with these exact feelings, thoughts and experiences and they’re unable to see their way out of this destructive way of thinking.

    When a person such as the author has such low self worth. They believe they’re not attractive and that they have little to offer you get situations like the author experienced with her online love…it feels like it’s their only chance at love. They fixate on this one option because they believe they won’t find another person who will love them. The other thing the author was able to see was that she was personalizing rejection. Instead of saying well this one person wasn’t interested for their own personal reasons. The author (and others in this frame of mind) view it as they are not worthy of love or sex or companionship. But the crux of the problem, that the author discovered for herself, was that people who think like this are 100% externally focused. Despite devoting 100% of their time thinking only about themselves, how they feel, and projecting their feelings onto others these people externalize validation and approval from other people. So the author not finding love with the online avatar angel was a loss of respect and complete invalidation of her as an individual. And she almost died because of it.

    I’m glad the author found someone, I’m glad she was able to see out of her debilitating way of thinking. I hope this essay allows us all to have more compassion for people and what they’re going through.

    • Great text by Hayley Morrison. And great reply by Anthony Tate! Self worth is called that way for a reason.

  12. Daniel Jackson says

    “Destructive defiance is easy. In the agony of our injustices it can even feel righteous. Rage makes momentary gods of us all. But the hard, eternal truth is that the only appropriate way to respond to pain is not to lash out but to turn inward, sort ourselves out, and set out together to overcome suffering and exact constructive change.”

    a.k.a Clean your room.

  13. David Lloyd says

    Thanks so much for sharing this candid perspective. Good luck moving forward with your life.

  14. Carrion says

    I want to buy into this account as a struggle of a female incel. I do. But lack of sexual fulfillment or attention at 15 doesn’t even make you a late bloomer. The blame you still place on the “angel” who dared to not return your feelings and cause! your suffering is reminiscent of the intel mentality. But the high school-sweetheart-and-beach-date happy ending just testifies to a petty, self-absorbed, spiteful envy that lifted once you got what you wanted.
    This material better saved for a teen tv drama series.

  15. Phasendrescher DLC says

    Stopped reading when she said #MeToo is legit.

    • Ch47God says

      I got past that, but was lost at automation robbing people.

    • Steph says

      It is legit.

      Sorry it hurts you that such a large number of women have experienced sexual harassment / assault but that’s reality.

      • Chopper says

        It’s legitimately half the story. Trial by Twitter is stupid tho. I would personally support castration for violent rape, but evidence should be beyond reasonable doubt. Twitter mobs have no standard of evidence, and they punish accordingly: too little for the real offenders and too much for the innocents. The issue with prosecuting sexual misconduct has always been evidence. This can be resolved with technology, not witch hunts.

  16. Charles says

    Thank you for sharing that was a powerful read.

  17. TarsTarkas says

    No, Hayley, you are not a female incel. Two prominent personality features of incels, regardless of their DNA, are narcissism and entitlement; they think very highly of themselves, and feel they deserve the sexual partner(s) of their choice. Unlike you, they never think that there’s anything wrong with them; it’s OTHERS who are at fault for their not being able to build relationships. When they do succeed in hooking up, they are overbearing, controlling, and react badly to any perceived slight. Stay away from them. They don’t want you, they want a female to avenge upon her all of the opprobrium and injustices other females heaped upon them.

    I am glad you seem to have built up some confidence in yourself, that you now perceive that men are people, not demonic organisms bred solely to rape and murder. Seek some one with a strong common interest, no matter what it is; even if you do not fall in love with each other, at the very least (if you try!) you should end up with a good friend.

    • Il. Meyer says

      @TarsTarkas You really should read the article again …

      • demigord says

        Yes, somehow he missed the major point that she’s not an incel because she has sex

        • Il. Meyer says

          And somehow you don’t realise that that wasn’t the point.

    • Shenme Shihou says

      “Two prominent personality features of incels, regardless of their DNA, are narcissism and entitlement; they think very highly of themselves, and feel they deserve the sexual partner(s) of their choice. Unlike you, they never think that there’s anything wrong with them”

      This is complete nonsense. Go to any online incel community and you will see that they know that their is plenty wrong with that. Mainly they are ugly, but also social inept and perhaps suffering from mental illness.

      ” When they do succeed in hooking up..”

      They dont. Thats the point.

      • Shenme Shihou says

        they know that their is plenty wrong with *them

  18. peanut gallery says

    I’m sympathetic, I’ve suffered from depression, but I also believe in tough love.

    I guess incel sounds better than “loser,” but no one is fooled. Grow up. … or lobster up. Wallowing ins self-pity is a sad way to spend an already short life. The universe doesn’t owe you anything.

  19. Prince of Slugs says

    I’ve never understood the incel obsession and elevation of sex/women. Most often coitus is a more base physical pleasure than any fanciful romanticized description found in media. I would say they aren’t missing out on much. Everything in this world is ugly if you look at or experience it for long enough.

    • Base physical pleasure? Yeah, maybe if you have sex all the time it’s like that.

      When I finally started having sex with women after a humiliatingly long time as a virgin, what I liked most wasn’t the feeling of the old in-and-out on my priapus. It was the knowledge that this woman approved of me enough to spread. It was powerful and life-affirming. It meant that I wasn’t a worthless piece of shit, which is how I felt when I was a virgin. And it wasn’t just my feeling, either, it was true. I had hard evidence.

      Being judged as worthy by women cannot be overestimated. People who had sex in high school don’t get it and can’t understand it. It’s something completely out of their milieu. It’s like someone who grew up with liberty who can’t understand why it’s such a big deal to remove freedom of speech.

      • dirk says

        I think that’s a very important point harlandO, and the true aspect of sex. But it’s the one for a special case, the case of equals with the same wants. I just came across an article in my newspaper on sex between old tourist ladies and young Gambians (also very well explained in Paradies Liebe, by an austrian ciniast). Such cases are quite normal these days. And a very good solution (though not 100% fulfilling maybe) for western Incels. Houellebecq wrote a book on it. He looked at it in a positive way, to the great disgust of many ordinary citizens (imagine, you are married with kids and not so happy, but your only comfort is your good ethical behaviour for not going wrong, and then reading this)

      • J.Ryall says

        “And it wasn’t just my feeling , either. I had hard evidence” Pun intended? :p

        Joking aside, you touch on a key point: external validation. Sex is fun and feels good and all (even when you’re having lots of it), but I agree that when a woman decides you’re worthy it’s a major affirmation of your value as a person, not just a man. Which is kind of messed up that we put so much value on it, but we do nonetheless.

  20. Excellent read. Thank you for your eloquence and salient points, no only about the reality of the “incel,” but of your commentary regarding #Metoo and the modern feminist movement, overall, as well as the cathartic rage and hatred propelling it. .

  21. Many people commenting seem to lack the attention span, attention to detail or intelligence to acknowledge the disclaimer in your essay that all the things you did/thought as an incel were bad (and that you do not excuse them). And that you don’t claim to be the perfect (i.e. worst) sufferer of inceldom (especially compared with the male variety). It would be wise to stop commenting that she’s “not a real incel” and take the message of metaphysical freedom she’s sharing freely. Is there a “passing threshold” for true inceldom before incels can allow themselves to learn from someone else’s tragedy (and avoid repeating it)?

    You’re a brilliant writer, a remarkably introspective soul and (seemingly) kind-hearted, sensitive human. I hope you continue to grow on this path and all I want to do now is have a long, deep conversation with you.

    • demigord says

      A disclaimer does not change the fact that her description of her life as an incel didn’t actually happen, as she was never an incel

      • Fluffy Buffalo says

        So for how long do you have to be without sex, and feel like you don’t qualify to have sex, and probably never will, to count as a card-carrying incel? Three years can feel like an eternity when you’re an unhappy teenager. And when someone meets the objective criteria, and identifies with the feelings, and sympathises with the community, who are you to say “no, this person was never an incel”?

    • demigord says

      Again, this is a story about a girl who had serious mental health issues, and while she had them, she was not having sex (like most of her peers). Then she got better, and had sex. While probably too young to vote.

      • demigord says

        So it’s no about incel culture, it’s about how a 15 year old girl can go crazy

        • Il. Meyer says

          @demigord You really, really don’t get it. Her story is NOT about ‘incel culture’. Her story is about OUR culture and how so many fundamentally good people can slip into those dark, dark places where thinking and emotions can get profoundly confused. It is about how our culture has become violently trigger-happy in compartmentalising and judging others, all in a vain attempt to separate ourselves from the downtrodden, the marginalized, the disturbed, and those who dare think different. Her story is a wake-up call: Many people are being left behind and in a parallel universe they could have been you or me.

          • demigord says

            Sorry, Meyer, the entire point of this post was about her being an incel. Which she never was. It wound up being a post about a girl who was crazy in her early teens, but got better.

          • demigord says

            But if you want to make that argument, feel free to do so. Proclaim loudly: She was not ever an incel! This was about teen culture!”

        • J.Ryall says

          @demigord. Meyer basically just gave a 10/10 summary of the article. Are you being willfully obtuse, or did you simply not read it?

    • Simon says

      If you can turn your high school story into a feature length movie teens would lap up you aren’t an incel.

      If you have the social charism to pen an article for Quillette and not have to rely on a more expressive author to even try to put across your life in an interesting way you are not an incel.

      I had no major emotional issues in my teens, I now thought bubble every possible emotion including shooting up a school just for the sake of it just on the off chance I’ll stumble into something that works. I’ve heard countless coming of age stories just like hers but none that relate to my life and the only thing I now get out of stories is the pent up desire to point out I don’t relate to them.


      That pathetic diatribe took 2 hours to write. That’s my life. That is why you’ll never want to have a long deep conversation with me and that’s why I’ll never consider people like her an incel.

      • Il. Meyer says

        @Simon Your post was kind of sad. What I can say is drop the self-identification as an incel, drop all contact with those who self-describe as such, and look for counselling to get you back on track again. Don’t know where you’re from but I imagine there must be some sort of social services department that can help you move forward. And re-read this article: It’s not about ‘incels’, it’s about moving beyond tragic developments, which are different for everyone. Cheers.

      • Just Some Rando says

        I’ve had this thing said to me before when I was in the depths of despair, so I know how it can sound, but I promise you — it’s advice that has kept me afloat many times. Don’t give in to believing a narrative in which your life never gets better. It’s an extremely self-fulfilling prophecy. More than once have I been extremely despairing — but my life did get better. And almost every time, it was because I made it better. No one rides in to save the day in your story but you. On the one hand, that’s daunting, but on the other hand, it means you’re the hero.

        My best advice would be to do whatever you can to better yourself — ideally, for your own sake, and not just to please others — and engage with the world, *without* hoping to get sex or a relationship out of it. Start first by improving other aspects of your life. Learn something new. Do you want to play guitar, or draw, or speak another language, or write short stories? Whatever appeals to you — go try it. Take a class. Take risks. Make sure you’re eating as best you can within your means, get exercise, get sunshine, spend time outside in nature. Are you depressed, anxious, or suffering? Get counseling, if at all possible. (If finances are an issue, research free or low-cost options in your area. Not everywhere has such services, but many places do — state programs, university psychology departments, etc. I speak from experience; I have gotten counseling through more than one of those means when I was broke as shit.) In short, become relentless about improving your life in every way you can, in all the ways that you *do* have control over. You don’t have to give away your own power through defeatism. That’s a choice. Your life can and will get better, but you are the only one who will make that happen.

        And having been in the pits of despair to the point of being suicidal, I assure you I know all the refrains. But it doesn’t matter what you look like. It doesn’t matter what level your social skills are at. It doesn’t matter how much money you do or don’t have. Wherever the fuck you’re at — accept this as your starting point. This is the beginning of your book. You have two options — give in to despair or *make the choice* to do the best you can with what you have. Go from here. Live the best life possible for you. If you really, genuinely want things to get better, do anything and everything you can to improve your life, gain self-confidence, and take care of yourself (for your own sake). Even the tiniest things. Whether it gets you laid or not, it is guaranteed to get you a better life than what you have right now. That said, if you’re going to get laid, this is how you do it. By not setting out to get laid. Because honestly, even if sex fell from the sky for you tomorrow, getting laid isn’t going to fix your life. There are plenty of horribly miserable people having sex regularly, I assure you. It just isn’t a panacea.

        For better or worse, romantic desperation is something most people will turn away from. It won’t get you there. Do the best you can with the life you have, right now, and engage with the world. Be kind and thoughtful, but do not make it clear that your self-worth depends on others. Even if, for a while, even a long while, it still does. One of your goals is to get to a point where you have your own sense of worth and confidence. When you know your own worth, others will eventually start to recognize it too. It doesn’t mean hotties are going to start jumping in your bed, but it does mean others will respect you more the more you respect yourself. Become the kind of person you, yourself, would most want to be with. And no, I don’t mean get a boob job. I mean, think of the kinds of qualities — other than looks or money — that you would value in a partner and develop those as best you can. It simply isn’t true that where you are now is where you have to be forever. SO MUCH is in your power to change. It will absolutely be difficult at times, or even most of the time, but practice is practice. Things improve. Social skills can be learned. Appearance may not be mind-blowing, but it can almost certainly be improved. And you clearly have access to the internet, so you have access to more resources and knowledge than any other generation in human history. You absolutely can do this.

        If you’ve gotten this far, you probably think by now that I’m just a blowhard jerk who doesn’t understand your situation. And I get that feeling. I’ve felt it so deeply myself. But entertain, for just a little while, that I might get it more than you think. What if I’m right? My recommendations are all good things — you have nothing to lose by trying and everything to gain.

        And for whatever it’s worth:
        I’ve spent quite a while writing this. I’m not writing it for my own sake. I have empathy for you, and I care about how you fare, even though I will likely never know how your story turns out. I’m just some stranger on the internet, and yet, I took the time to do this, for another stranger on the internet, who seemed to feel lost and abandoned. People do care. But you have care too. About yourself. I beg you, if you listen to nothing else, DON’T GIVE UP ON YOURSELF. You always have a choice.

        PS: I’m a woman. Good ones do exist (to toot my own horn, heh). Neither I, nor my husband, are particularly charming, socially adept, or traditionally attractive people. Nor do either of us have histories as sexual conquistadors. We don’t come from money, and we’ve both struggled with mental and physical illness. But as two awkward, dorky, unattractive people who probably look like a terribly odd couple, we’ve nevertheless found happiness. I promise it’s possible.

        If you want some great places to start — I would recommend The Art of Manliness (yeah, cheesy name, but good content) and Nerd Fitness. They can be great communities to provide direction for improving your life. I wish you the best of luck. Godspeed.

      • Just Some Rando says

        Oh, and because I forgot to mention it, the Great Wall of Text that I made is for @Simon.

  22. Alice says

    You touched my heart deeply, thanks for sharing. It’s pure gold, you are an incredible woman.

  23. Tracy says

    “A man who bragged about getting away with sexual assault was elected to the most powerful office in the world”: nope, never happened. If “they let you,” which is what he said, it isn’t assault.

    • Blindspot Patrol says

      Not when “they let you do it” means they’re too afraid of the consequences of rebuffing you, like with Harvey Weinstein. Going into the dressing rooms of beauty pageant contestants to ogle is wrong. Abuse of one’s power is wrong. And before you start in, no, I’m not a liberal or a leftist, and yes, I think Bill Clinton abused his power too.

  24. John AD says

    I’d just like to point out an asymmetry that doesn’t seem to be noticed in the comments here (and perhaps elsewhere on the incel topic). There are guys here who are raging about, or just observing, the comparative ease with which a (straight) woman can get sex (and the comparative ease with which straight women can get sex with an x/10 when they are a y and x>y). True. But misses another asymmetry. Firstly, let me point out to the pedantic that these kind of statements are about the statistics of groups (such as “straight women” or “straight men)”, not individuals. Anyway, the evolutionary pressures that molded “typical” male minds and their predilections (e.g. desirous of sex, whether within a relationship or not) also molded the minds of females to somewhat different predictions (e.g. desirous of sex but with a greater preference for sex within an emotionally committed relationship). Perhaps a corrolary to the male incel is a female enfprom … enforced promiscuity. Effectively, the female equivalent of a man straight who is, for whatever reason, not in the game and tortured by his outcast status, might be a straight woman who cannot hold down a relationship and ends up in a stream of deeply emotionally tortuous failed relationships. This, to some extent, is the terrain that we have to navigate as wise and emotionally developed individuals.

    In a similar vein, it might be consoling to incels to know that a large proportion of non-celibates get stuck in loveless and tired relationships. I would venture to suggest that this is a particular problem for men, and a further consequence to the asymmetry of the consequence of sex, over an evolutionary timescale, to men and women. Part of the “job” of women is to get the commitment. And then to retain it. Getting into a relationship is incremental, getting out is a binary switch, but with the knowledge of the latent psycho hiding in the woman, occasionally showing their potential with emotional outbursts, meltdowns, and manipulations (such as anniversary/birthday/Christmas/checking-in expectations). The point at which the tables have turned is when a relationship moves from one where you arrange to be together to one where you arrange to be apart (e.g. needing to agree a night out with “the lads”, or a beer after work). Obviously this is a cynical caricature of relationships. But it contains a truth, and one that would benefit us all if we can be aware of it.

    Jim Jeffries alludes to these asymmetries with an amusing observation about (a caricature) of strip shows for women: the strippers don’t remove all of their fireman/police uniform, keeping perhaps their helmet or holster on, because even when the strippers are naked the women still like to know they’ve got a job.

    But good luck to the author. This is a moving and well written piece.

    • Robin says

      Enforced promiscuity doesn’t seem like the equivalent opposite of involuntary celibacy. Unless you’re talking about gangrape (which I don’t assume you are) promiscuity is not enforced. Even at the level of mere social norms, it doesn’t exist. There is plenty of support for women to act out sexually and even be promiscuous but this is always on the woman’s terms. I don’t see women being subject to serial monogamy. Men who subject women to emotionally tortuous relationships either because of their own inadequacy or promiscuity are widely derided as fuccbois, players, PUAs (regarded as misogynists). If promiscuity were enforced the way involuntary celibacy is well involuntary one would see women shamed for being monogamous (the opposite is true).

      There are some women who cannot keep a steady, healthy relationship but it is not a social issue it’s one of their personal failings.

      • Steph says

        The comparison is sound.

        It is alleged that women are “lucky” because they can get sex easily. But that’s like telling me I am lucky I get to eat everyday when all there is to eat is mouldy bread on the floor that has been walked all over.

        If desire is key then a man willing to have sex with you doesn’t mean you’re desirable. It means he’s horny. You aren’t lucky in being able to obtain something you have little interest in (casual sex).

      • Steph says

        And those men who are “involuntary celibate” it’s not a social issue. It’s because of their own personal failings.

    • Blindspot Patrol says

      >>might be a straight woman who cannot hold down a relationship and ends up in a stream of deeply emotionally tortuous failed relationships.

      I think a better corollary would actually be a straight woman who cannot *get* a relationship. Sure, promiscuity might appeal to some subset of women, but getting used for sex isn’t what most women want. There is no emotional connection there. So, even if an unappealing woman can get laid, it doesn’t do much for her sense of self if nobody actually wants her for anything more. It’s well-known that there are plenty of men willing to stick it wherever, whenever. So, it’s not all that reinforcing or life-affirming for a woman to get laid by some rando, if nobody thinks she’s good enough to stay with.

      What always seems to get forgotten by the people complaining about how it isn’t the same for women because they can get laid with no effort is the flip-side of that coin: If you know you can get laid with no effort, through no other virtue than having a warm hole, it doesn’t confer the sense of approval and desirability that you seem to associate with it. The reason it confers that emotional boost for straight men is precisely *because* it is a scarcer commodity. That’s why there is a sense of having earned something. That’s the asymmetry many people don’t seem to understand.

      • Steph says

        @Blindspot patrol.

        This comment is perfect and also why many men don’t understand why women don’t view it as “lucky” that we can get sex fairly easily. It says nothing about our desirability. It literally just says he felt like a warm hole for an evening.

        Being used for sex isn’t affirming, it’s depressing.

  25. Mark says

    Excellent and moving read. Hit close to home at points. Reminded me of my youth, and the sheer luck that as I went through puberty, the internet was in it’s infancy. Had I been born a few years later, my awkwardness, social exclusion and general weirdness could easily have found me entering the mindset of an incel.

    I am lucky that I found the answer to my issues in myself. Finding good friends and new experiences. Realising my own faults and my actions were causing my isolation. Not everyone is this lucky. It takes only a few bad interactions. Attraction to the wrong person. The right message board, the right meme, and anyone can join in with the hate of an incel.

    Excellent article. Would love to read more of your stuff

  26. Patrick says

    A strange over the top article.
    The language is powerful, but the power, not unsurprisingly, is derived mainly from her violent fantasies. Absent the violent imagery and the article would more closely resemble a woman trapped by her own emotions. In other words she seems to fit comfortably in the age old stereotype of women (or should I say Woman), as not able to escape or overcome their biology.
    She is a good writer though, and her pleasure at emoting through language shines through brightly.
    As for the sex angle.
    Some one once said of sex.
    The pleasure momentary.
    The position ridiculous.
    The cost damnable.
    Sex is better thought of as a powerful drive, and for vast numbers hardly a pleasurable one.

    I wish her luck in her future as novelist.

  27. Robert M says

    I get tired of people pushing the false belief that all an incel needs to do is hit the gym and take a shower. They may work for some but others were born freaks, and while there’s no excuse for poor hygeine, no amount of working out will fix someone who is physically abnormal. Those people have nothing to look forward to but a lifetime of loneliness. Not all inceldom can be cured.

    • Steve says

      “no amount of working out will fix someone who is physically abnormal”

      There are quadriplegics in happy relationships. Amputees, burn victims, and people born with gross deformities all manage to find a partner and a degree of happiness.

      The problem with “incels” has nothing to do with their appearance. It’s entirely about their extraordinarily repellent personalities. Drop the narcissistic self-pity and stop believing you “deserve” the prettiest girls in town when there are plenty of plain women who would be perfectly happy to date you.

      • Shenme Shihou says

        “The problem with “incels” has nothing to do with their appearance.”

        Well, not just their apperence. If you are on the bottom tail end of the attractivness distrobution, are 5’3″ and make <$25,000, then the odds of you getting sex are basically nonexistent. The odds of you getting it quasi-regularly are in the realm of impossible.

        You have to hit a certain attractivenss threshhold for personality to matter. Even with "plain" women.

        • Steph says

          And yet shows such as Maury, Jerry Springer, Jeremy Kyle feature plenty of unattractive, unemployed men with plenty of kids for different mothers.

  28. Someone gave it a name (“incel”), so it must be a thing. There are memes about it, so it must be a thing. But it’s not a thing. It’s just someone’s sad story. There are millions of them, everywhere, all kinds of them. A journal like Quillette is not necessarily the place for them. Perhaps Quillette can publish a teen version of itself, you know, like Vogue does with Teen Vogue. Something with a similar amount of heft, something more suitable to the above. Teen Quillette -– a place where “incels,” geeks, unemployable humanities grad students, and all of life’s unbeautiful losers can get can get helpful hints about things like personal grooming and finance. They’ll love it. Trust me.

    • Il. Meyer says

      @A New Radical Centrism Well, uh, I guess that’s one way of looking at …

    • Robin says

      I also think this article is a bit too much like a blog post than the analysis I’d expect on Quilette. The term incel describes quite a few people it didn’t just come out of people’s imaginations.

  29. Steve says

    Many of the comments here make it clear that most women should get a concealed carry permit.

    • Poison Ivy says

      Where I live, it’s illegal to carry pepper spray and similar things if you intend to use them in self-defense against a human. Even one who’s violently attacking you.

      Hurting or killing the men who assault us usually just gets us in more trouble. Not less. Sad but true.

      • Fluffy Buffalo says

        Ha! The pepper sprays available here state something like “only for use against dogs”. Maybe that’s a good-enough excuse for a routine check? And when you have to use it against a human assailant, I doubt that you’re going to get in trouble for using whatever you happened to have with you to protect you from dogs…
        Likewise, I know people who carry small folding knives as tools for opening packages and peeling oranges and whatnot. I don’t know what the laws are like in your country, but in Germany, if you happened to have a knife with you, and you can argue it was the mildest means of self-defense you had that would reliably stop the attack without putting you in danger… tough luck for the attacker.

    • Shenme Shihou says

      … um, did you miss the part where the author had murder fantasies?

  30. Anthony Tate says

    “A man who bragged about getting away with sexual assault was elected to the most powerful office in the world“

    Old enough to remember Bill Clinton as President?


  31. pox says

    Hey guys, I have a good idea, I’m going to calm people who are murderously angry that WOMEN GET LAID WITHOUT DOING ANY EFFORT by writing an article where I describe HOW I, A WOMAN, GOT LAID WITH NO EFFORT.

  32. Jason says

    I appreciated the nature and prospective taken to find some middle ground. There was an attempt there. It was honest from the writer, who certainly has the chops to achieve more than most of the respondents to her trek. I hope she focuses on doing something useful, and not dwell too much on this episode in life.

    Given the age of the writer, roughly 20-23 years old at publication, her story is not so unusual. It’s a matter of belonging in the world. Fitting in, where, one did not. Seeing the world is much bigger, much more confusing, and often, scary and devoid of sanity, even on something as supposedly simple as the mating game.

    She is not Incel at present, and her desires for sexual contact in her teens (16) with a girl, and getting rejected, well – that’s being a teenager, not the prolonged absence of sexual contact from anyone.

    She had comorbid issues – autism, homosexuality (DSM III), depression – which only acerbates her feelings tied to not belonging. That’s not belittling to her story, it’s truly the most interesting parts of how those issues were addressed.

    She noticed her inabilities to socialize, and yet, found someone that was similar to her in temperament. She acknowledged and succeeded in finding a same-sex partner. She finally decided to take charge of her feelings – clean up, be a person, and do something other than sulk. She wrote this article, to help others, and likely, give herself closure on a chapter of life.

    I’m 45. Male. A virgin. I’ve desired many women in life, and made my mistakes early and often. I don’t know how to woo a woman. I know how to practice engineering as my education and jobs reflect, but also, belies my ineptitude with women. For most of my life, I valued the proposition of find ‘the one’. I bought the Hollywood scenario, my single mom’s guidance, the few female acquaintances that parroted the trite lines of confidence, humor, gentlemanliness. Yet, I failed.

    There is incident in my past that introduced me to the type of gals this teenager saw thoroughly immersed in her high school. Well, mine was in a social organization, as I was trying to break out of my shell, post-Naval service, which had ended in suicide attempt and alcoholic diagnosis in 1999. I went sober for 18 months, found an engineering job in Indianapolis (irony from above), and joined to solve my social issues and confidence problems. I did the gym, ran 5K three times a week.

    Point is: I was brutally rejected by what was a Radical Feminist (and/or covert Narcissist). I even told her I was a virgin. So, my story ended in incarceration in 2001-2003 for stalking. I sent emails after a protective order. And well, no one here will accept any explanation I make about that situation. But, I don’t have to anymore. I paid my debt to society.

    Moral is: I gave up the relationship pursuit. Haven’t asked anyone for a date in 17 years. I also found ways to fill my time. I went into writing on the history of baseball. I delivered newspapers for 6 years nightly. And later, assisted best I could for my mom in her last moments here on Earth. Those are the basics facts of finding ways to fill time.

    While this teenager was dealing with her coming of age story (2011-2018), I too moved through my mid-life renovation, which ALL of you will. Either you’ll find emptiness, and use consumer items and romantic flings to fill a bottomless pit of lacking purpose; or, you’ll get motivated towards doing and being something you forgot about back in your earlier days. Resurrecting the part of you that you hid, or where ashamed of, because of a barrier you erected to keep people in your life/or out of your life.

    I won’t go further on that, but to say, LABELS are what are destroying us. Left, Right, Feminist, MGTOW, Incel, you can go on and on…put whatever one on me you want. I’ve had many. Most unkind too. I ballooned to 70 lbs overweight until age 42. Got candy wrappers thrown at me by pesky teenagers, so, “victimizers” can become “victims” of banal cruelty. I made the appropriate changes.

    People are complex. Some are genuinely bad. Others just misunderstood. Others, pretend goodness, and reap their rewards. Some are naturally good, and get shafted nearly all the time. It’s unfair. It’s life. We as humans barely have scratched the surface of our epoch…yet it’s tenuous and fleeting, if we continue on the course we are trekking on.

    There have been a fair amount of legacies built by people unknown in their lifetimes. That’s really all you should do – make whatever efforts, individually, count. If worthy, someone will notice, sometime…and their curiosity is the moment of love of what you really were while on Earth.

    • Tracy says

      You’re an impressive human being, Jason. Good on you for taking control of your life and not wallowing in resentment. (FWIW, I’d accept your explanation about what happened in 2000-2003).

      Best of “luck” to you.

      • Jason says

        I’ll take human, Tracy.

        Best futures to you as well.

  33. D.B. Cooper says

    Ms. Morrison (author)

    If I may, don’t get caught up with the pedantic dickheads on here who are – for reasons no one really cares to hear – overly concerned with the chronological validity of your sexual austerity.

    Is that chivalry at play? Maybe. Possibly. It’s so hard to know. I kind of think, probably. But in either case, it was sincere. I find it bewildering that some would so shamelessly vandalize the conversation with refutations that have a heat-to-light ratio exceeding the most based of polemics. I’m not sure how you could read that article and come away, not with an appreciation for the humanity it expressed, but rather with questions concerning the author’s status (however brief it may have been) as an Incel. I recognize the possibility that her use/understanding of the term may be more problematic, given its placement in the title, but titles are supposed to be provocative and, further, anyone who thinks her use of it rises to the level of click-bait, simply could not have read the article.

    I’m not arguing the author’s case as an Incel – her involuntary asceticism is not of great interest to me – nor am I suggesting she’s the next great prose stylist; but I do believe her article, her story is deeply emotive. Distinctly so, especially, when compared to the normally sterile concepts that frequent the articles, here, at Quillette. For me, it was a nice change of pace. I was glad to have had the opportunity to read her story and gain whatever insight I could on the subject.

    With regards to the subject matter itself, well, it’s a fool who looks for logic in the chambers of the heart. The dynamics of romantic relationships (including those of the conjugal variety), have over time – relative to my own maturation process – increasingly taken on qualities that are not dissimilar to basic economic principles of laissez-faire markets. Yeah, bear with me.

    The short version goes something like this: Women are sellers (supply). Men are buyers (demand). Women create value for themselves through the following ways: virginity, fidelity, fitness, etc. Right now, you might be thinking there’s something untoward with viewing women as a “market good,” but for the purposes of my analogy, I think it’s within bounds. The price of a good (or service) would be subject to (loosely) supply and demand, competition, variations of goods, etc.

    In the sense that women’s value is governed by certain constraints (virginity, fidelity, fitness), so too is men’s purchasing power governed by certain constraints. As fantastical as it would be to have absolute purchasing power within this market, sadly, men do not have unlimited funds. For men, you’re only as good as your options, and your options are constrained (but not exclusively) by the usual suspects: supply & demand, competition, etc.

    Of course, the analogy doesn’t hold, perfectly (and for reasons I’m not qualified to give), but I do believe there are a number of shared principles that may not be obvious to your casual love birds.

    And if you really want to lose all faith in the fallacious idea of true love just ask yourself the following question:

    If, prior to entering your current relationship (marriage or bf/gf), you had the ability to choose someone who was 1 unit better than the person you are currently with, do you think, right now, you would still be in your current relationship or in a relationship with the person who was 1 unit better?

    The answer is obvious. All else being equal, the rational choice would be, or would have been, to choose the person who was 1 unit better. The moral of this story is the answer for why you didn’t choose that “1 unit better” person: You didn’t have the option. Of course, the same applies to your significant other. True love is realizing you both settled.

  34. Mark says

    There are a lot of very disappointing comments. I’m annoyed at myself for even reading them.

    • Dara says

      Same. Even here, the internet feels tragic and broken.

  35. losing your virginity in high school =/= incel

    This tedious article is like all those impossibly gorgeous celebs and models who fake whine things like “I had to learn to love my flaws.” gtfoh

  36. Is this a parody or an inflammatory troll? Or is it real and people actually think like this? I honestly can’t tell. I’m leaning towards it is, as the lady who wrote this piece isn’t an incel.

  37. dirk says

    A factory worker quoting Aeschylus? Or is that factory also part of the pseudonym?? Also, I find the piece rather moralistic, listen guys and girls, we better should behave this way, the chivalrous way, vulgarity at times no problem. I see a smiling and nodding Jordan Peterson. In Sweden, this never could have been written. Due to the Lagom mores there (I learned from Swedish Johan).

    • Blindspot Patrol says

      Seriously, you think a factory worker can’t be an auto-didact or better themselves in their spare time? Maybe step back from stereotyping people so much.

      • dirk says

        Theoretically you are right, but I never met somebody like that, and never read or heard about it. Even academics (and, stranger even, literature students) seem to have lost all interest in such old stuff.

        • neoteny says

          never read or heard about it

          Look up Eric Hoffer.

  38. Another one says

    So the author of this piece is some antisocial teen that went out the hole in her mid-late teens. Congrats, wellcome to the club.

    Being a female incel has nothing to do with this tear producing biographic striptease. I hope the author encounters women at their late 30’s wanting to form a family, to have children or just a partner that brings a diferent meaning to her life and her self.

    There are in fact incel women. The author is not one of them.

    • Bill says

      Yep. There are female incels but this was just “i’m an incel because the person I wanted to have sex with ignored me.” By that definition, just about ever non-jock HS boy is an incel and like 95% of the men in college who lust after that one girl in the class.

      Male incels don’t fit the stereotypical “desirable” mold which, in the formative years, left them with few tools for developing social interaction with the opposite sex. The ones I have and do know are often labeled “shy” but awkward is more appropriate. They are the group of men who after repeatedly being rejected stop trying. The lack of any positive outcome means that they have nothing to fall back on trying. Yes, they could go find women low on the “scale” who would not reject them, but that isn’t what they view themselves as deserving or wanting.

      Women fit the same mold and have the exact same options. The posts above about “any woman can get laid” — well any man can as well. In both cases, they simply have to shoot for a low bar and the two find each other. The separation of the incel is that they are unwilling to do so. The woman who sees herself as an 8 that won’t stoop to a 3 and vice versa for the man. So then, is being incel masochistic? The unlimited availability of pornography coupled with self-gratification building on the fantasy as men/women that fall into the incel category have an unrealistic view of what fish are in the pool?

      • Blindspot Patrol says

        >>Women fit the same mold and have the exact same options. The posts above about “any woman can get laid” — well any man can as well. In both cases, they simply have to shoot for a low bar and the two find each other. The separation of the incel is that they are unwilling to do so. The woman who sees herself as an 8 that won’t stoop to a 3 and vice versa for the man.

        So much. This.

  39. Dara says

    Maybe some monitoring of comments is needed here?

    • J.Ryall says

      @Poison Ivy: your comment does a spectacular job of illustrating the author’s point. Well done.

  40. Tyler says

    I haven’t commented on anything online in years, but this was such a moving story that I feel compelled to at least thank you for sharing it. All labels and politics aside, your individual experience truly touched me. Thank you!

  41. Tyler says

    This statement right here seems to sum things up pretty well.

    “But of course when you have been deprived of something it becomes everything to you.”

    The implication is that you are owed something. You are not.

    • Shenme Shihou says

      I dont think that is the implication at all. Incels are well aware that they are not owed anything, at least as far as I have seen. Incels are well aware why many men are having lots of sex and they are having none. There is a reason why incels consider themselves black pilled.

  42. First Comment says

    This is my first comment after reading many great articles on Quillette. I felt the need to applaud the author for her honesty in sharing her story, and commend her for being strong enough to be so venerable in sharing her inadequacies. I do not agree 100% with her conclusions but if we as a society are to overcome the gender wars, we will need more honesty like this.

    “Women suffer at the hands of men. Men suffer at the hands of women. Both sides are certain that the game is hopelessly rigged in the other side’s favor. Both are certain that if we could just overthrow the patriarchy, or if we could just destroy the radical feminist agenda, everything would be okay.”

    “But murder is an unjustifiable response. Not only is it egomaniacal and ignorant to assume moral authority over who lives and dies, but it is also futile because no amount of violence will ever assuage your pain.”

  43. Sydney says

    My estimation of Quillette as something that was developing into a fairly serious, thinking person’s online journal was just decimated with this unedited, nonsensical, anonymous, teen-emo rant that belongs on a FB page or personal blog.

    Hey, Quillette, what gives?

    • dirk says

      I fully agree Sydney, and, scrolling back, I count this one now already as the 6th complainant’s short biography in 2 months time. But then, be aware, we live in the post-Oprah time, she started all this, complaints and discomforts are not something to be ashamed of, but proud (all the ladies present loudly to applaud ). So, young people are raised with such sentiments and feelings, maybe, for older people difficult to understand, at least, it is for me)

      • Can’t agree more! I mean I don’t even understand how a teen in a stable home can “despair”.

        • dirk says

          I know why Ava, you are not a real decadent Western, so don’t understand. There is a program in my country of foster children adopted by European parents.At their late teens, they don’t feel very western any more and want to know their “roots”. Then they end up (due to a TV program with money and viewers friendly TV talent) in the miserable dwelling of their biological parents in Indonesia, Colombia or Haïti. These children then have a discusion with their half brothers and sisters, and ask them how they live and feel, and what they think of missing their roots. They don’t understand, why whining? Complaining? You have everything you could wish! Your parents paid for your education, your upbringing, your wealthy childhood, be grateful to them, be happy, thank God! But it’s all to no avail. They still feel angry and dissatisfied, despairing and suppressed. And the viewers agree!

  44. Woody Bombay says

    Key takeaway: The government is owed a huge round of kudos for helping turn this young woman’s life around. It seems the only allies this young woman really had were the SOCIAL WORKERS who twice provided assistance (get off the Internet, go to the prom) that produced positive results.

  45. Mazzakim says

    The author’s use of the term “Incel” was clearly to have a fashionable clickbait title. I am the middle-aged father of three kids, and while I did go through a “dry” spell during an earlier phase of my life I never was an Incel. I think the author actually does herself a disservice by using the term because that’s not really what her essay is about. And what she does talk about is relevant to not just people her age, but also to parents trying to understand what their children might be going through. My daughter, a pre-teen, struggles with a great deal of insecurity, social anxiety, and rage. She was hospitalized last year for her threats to hurt herself and others. Fortunately, her emotions seem to be under much better control (with medication, therapy and perhaps simply getting a year older) but she also hasn’t yet had to really navigate romantic feelings and relationships; I have no illusions that isn’t going to be a major roller coaster ride.

    My only other observation is the amount of rage and (self-)loathing that comes through some of the comments in response to her essay, and especially her use of the term “Incel”: wow.

  46. Jezza says

    Men like women who like men. Women like men who like women. Simple. And if you think the opposite sex hates you, love your enemy, do good to those who hate you and despitefully use you. Ancient words. very hard to do, but it works. Slowly. One step at a time. A good therapy is to find someone worse off than yourself and help them. I’m an oldfella now and when I was down a few lines from Adam Lindsey Gordon would rattle around my head: Life is mostly froth and bubble – Two things stand like stone: Kindness in another’s trouble; courage in your own. I really wish I had more than words to offer.

  47. Ira Slomowitz says

    I don’t even know how to reply to this incredibly honest and raw essay. As a grandfather in my late 50’s I have to say I was not even aware of much of what was discussed here. The cruelty! I am sure there was alot of cruelty when i was growing up – within and between genders – but I can’t get my head around the violent language and images that the younger generation has to endure for the simple and the complex. Is it an escape from reason? A rebellion against the control of parents and the internet?
    My heart goes out to you Hayley Morrison.
    When I see young men and women – young boys and girls! – walking down the street I now wonder what is in their minds. When i see them with smiles on their faces I can’t not smile with them. I say thank God they are happy. But are they the exception?
    What has happened to childhood?

  48. Russia did this says

    Im sure its written with good intent and has many good points. But the whole premise is so so dishonest and even harmful – perpetuating this nonsense ‘incel terrorist’ narrative.

    The real issues that needs to be highlighted that drive people to violence and suicides are bullying and neglected mental health problems – just like the case of the author.

  49. This is powerful. I hope that people can see the heart and core of your message. Turning inward and understanding our own corruption really is the best way to truly make headway towards solutions to pain and suffering. The dynamics of power between the genders may sway throughout the years; one year women have more, the next men. “Destructive defiance” can only destroy the image of power currently instantiated in the image of the people you exact that destructive defiance against; it cannot truly alter the root causes of the pain, both societally and your own inward mindset. Understanding and coming to terms with the other, that which seems to be so utterly opposed to what you consider yourself and with the fundamental unfairness of life is the only way to truly see a possibility of lasting change. Even if you never see the fruit of that change you help create permeate society down to the level of the individuals you interact with, the understanding that you gain from altering your perspective in this way allows a meaning and understanding to be paired to the suffering, not alleviating it, but transcending it!

  50. Katherine says

    The unstated assumption that a lot of the incel bitterness seems to reflect is that sex is a basic human form of entertainment and nearly everybody else is doing it all the time. Hollywood is not reality and that is not true. Suppose a person instead wanted sex to be one feature in a shared life with another person, the two of you intentionally establishing a new household and being committed to looking after each other and any new people that you might produce? Maybe even making a public declaration of that intent in front of a whole bunch of people? Just a thought. People often think of girls being emotionally damaged by casual sex and I don’t think that’s limited to girls: sexuality involves the involvement of a whole person and personality. If you are a guy and you work with the framework I’m describing you’ll never have to front up at some campus tribunal on a false rape charge because a girl regrets what she did when she was drunk. You’ll never hear a girl say: I aborted your baby.
    The reason virtually every culture at every time (except ours! hooray, how advanced we are) has placed fences and guidelines are sexual relationships is that they are potentially inflammable and destructive. Yes, they can be positive and life-giving, but only under certain conditions. Our culture treats sex as if it means no more than karaoke.

    • dirk says

      How come I only now read such sensible words from you here, Katherine? Not very long ago, this wouldn’t even have been expressed at such occasions, because everybody knew it was like that and ever will be. Nevertheless, these times seem to have been gone long since. The 1968 revolution in Paris started with boys that wanted to enter the girl’s dormroom and were prohibited by the gerant. O tempora o mores, the old filosopher of once exclaimed. Yes, sex as something like karaoke, that’s all what it seems to be now. Good that young people at least describe what’s tormenting them, otherwise you wouldn’t be able even to guess what.

    • Mazzaim says


      Remember kids, what happens on campus and even in your 20s isn’t the whole story: there are still a whole lot of people getting married. Overall, 80%+ of all people are married at least once by the age of 45. And even for the lowest percentage group, blacks, the rate is 70% +/-.

      And for all the hand-wringing about the dissolution of society due to immorality, things are actually trending pretty well. As two examples: violence/crime are at historic lows, and teen pregnancy and abortions are also at all-time lows. There are continuing serious challenges to be sure, but take a look at Han Rosling’s fantastic GapMinder website about the trend-lines of the state of the world across a wide range-of-quality of life metrics. Or watch Steven Pinker’s presentations on violence. All in all, and especially measured against historical levels, we’re actually doing pretty well.

      Sex can be many things, but it is neither inherently good or bad in and of itself. My .02 cents of unsolicited and probably unwanted advice is try to be safe, fuck if you want to fuck, don’t if you don’t; marry if you want to, don’t if it’s not your thing; work towards being honest with your self about what works for you. You’re not going to be responsible for the fall of civilization.

      For the Incels out there, perhaps instead of reinforcing one another about your (perceived) rejection by women, maybe work to stop being your own worst enemy? Step out of that toxic echo chamber you all have created. Perhaps this author wasn’t actually an Incel, but she did document her journey out of the really dark and more importantly lonely place she had found herself. It’s not going to be easy, maybe you won’t succeed, and sometimes life has some really nasty surprises, but it’s on you and you alone to put in the work necessary to make yourself acceptable to another human being as a sexual partner.

      Peace out.

  51. Congrats on moving from one destructive movement (incel) to another destructive movement (me too). It seems you havent learned much really.

  52. Lydia says

    “A man who bragged about getting away with sexual assault was elected to the most powerful office in the world, and now women fear that freedom is at risk”

    Bill Clinton, right? And his “feminist” enabling wife who intimidated his victims and ran for president twice. But I guess that’s ancient history to your age group. What it accomplished was to desensitize us to anything but policy. And that the word, feminist, is a relative term depending on your politics.

    • Redliana says

      This piece wasn’t meant to be political, however since you insisted on making it so – Bill Clinton was probably guilty of using power to coerce women, but Trump is equally guilty if not more so.

  53. Redliana says

    Thank you for attempting to reach out with bits of wisdom gained through personal suffering. It is clear from this piece that you have spent a great deal of time in introspection; would that all of us follow suit.

  54. Zada Sorrell says

    Whoa. That was horrifying and eloquent. And out of all these “brave” voices coming out to talk about their beloved oppression, I think your voice might be the real deal. Really brave.

  55. Dude says

    This has to be one of the best essays I’ve ever read. It’s intensely poignant and brought me to tears. Thank you for having the courage to write this.

  56. Reid says

    I suffer from Asperger’s syndrome, one of the greatest comforts to me was my church group. I’m sure I didn’t respond appropriately to social situations but they were my friends and were a great help.
    Give church a try…

    • dirk says

      That will help only if you are religious or a believer yourself Reid, and I wonder whether Heyly belongs to that kind of people.

  57. Take responsibility — become volcel and work to make yourself a more kind and giving person. What did you get from your family growing up rhat was toxic? What did you not get that now holds you back? Give up the victim-think because it goes nowhere. Seek out help and guidance – it obviously helped the author. Seek out a caring peer group (church, A.A., therapy, meditation and many more). Give love to others for free instead of expecting free love. Develop your strengths and talents and share rhem freely. If you become a loving person perhaps you will attract a lover.


    • dirk says

      @Don: How can you say such things? Is it possible you have absolutely no idea that not everybody is responsible and affirmative because of such and such? To say the truth, and seen from overseas, I think it is. And I think, maybe that’s why the US just walks into Iraq with a whole army to organise things there to their own liking. Unbelievable! At least, for nations and persons with a colonial history! Also, the -t- is just only one step away from the -r-, you missed them twice.

  58. Morecoffeeplease says

    I just wanted to say…. damn, Hayley, can you ever write! *applauseapplauseapplause* Please keep on doing it. Thanks in advance.

  59. Trilby says

    Of course everyone suddenly decides tk sympathise with the whining “incel” when it’s a female. Absolutely typical.

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  61. Someone else here complimented your writing, and they are so correct. You have an excellent style and beautiful, illustrative word choices.

    I also love your use of the term “rational feminist.” I have been using this term on Medium.com (my first article about it here: https://medium.com/@jennyasencio/my-feminist-manifesto-a28d9c222f57) to spread a message that is very similar to yours. For example, I use the term Patriarchal Society (a feminist misandry term, IMO) to point out how unfair said “society” is to men, then has the nerve to wonder why men lash out in their pain. With the messages we send one another about how people “should” act, a lot of us have allowed our true selves to be socialized out of existence, and gender roles/sexual identity is one of the biggest causes of this.

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  63. Random Scientist says

    The world is moving at a pace we are struggling to reckon with. When the great machine of history lurches forward, shifting its mighty, indifferent apparatus, gears are bound to get moved around and crushed. But human beings are not gears in a machine. We are fragile individual souls with weak, frail bodies. And when the machine crushes us, we bleed. We break down and suffer and slip through the cracks of history into the depths below. When factories close and eviction notices go out, when female bodies crawl bleeding and broken out of college dorm rooms and corner offices, when love unravels and lonely broken souls are crushed under the weight of existence, when we lose our purpose and exist in perpetual suffering and the universe forgets about us, looking in the mirror and seeking the truth can seem like a pointless exercise. It can even feel like submission to injustice. Fear, and the desire to alleviate that fear, can seem like the only natural response. But if we want to put an end to gender-based violence and suffering, then we have to face our fear, and overcome it. Because violence is pain ignored, and ignorance feeds off fear.

    This paragraph is hauntingly beautiful in its eloquence. It is wise and gives inside into our human nature. Thank you for writing this.

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