By David Futrelle
On Reddit’s IncelTears — a subreddit devoted to mocking and critiquing the toxic incel subculture — someone claiming to be a former incel has posted an account of their escape from inceldom. It’s a throwaway account, but the story he tells seems pretty convincingly true to me.
“In the wake of the horrific events in Toronto,” he begins,
I wanted to share some of my experiences as a former incel, and how I eventually changed my behaviors to become a better person.
Being an incel is awful, it’s an awful predicament, with an unhelpful community to back it up. Often when people describe an incel, the general description is “Involunaty Celebate”, someone who can’t get girls, etc. This is the most glaring issue and the one bought up by the community but it isn’t the only issue in most cases.
When a guy can’t get a girl to save his life there’s usually some undelying social issue at play and that issue has an affect on that individuals entire social life, not just the intimate aspect. You don’t feel important, you don’t feel valued. This starts to play on your self esteem and is partially to explain for the very self-hate low IQ trodding nature of the community.
Unfortunately, the incel “community” only makes this self-hate worse.
The community’s biggest problem is that it does nothing to fix the problem and only goes to reinforce ones already held beliefs. So you’re someone who can’t get a girl, shunned from society (to various degrees) and you go online to find people like you, and when you get there you find false explanations for your problems and an echo chamber of your ideas.
You confide in this group and as a result, you start to inherit some of that group think and ideas. These ideas don’t help you in the real world but rather make things worse, it’s a downward spiral.
So what was it that led him to start questioning incel dogma — and eventually extract himself from this morass? As he explained in a followup comment, he literally got off of incel forums and into the real world, where he quickly found that most of what the incels say about men and women and dating and pretty much everything is just plain wrong.
One of the things I did was get out there, almost in a literal sense.
When I was an incel I never went out. I had never been in a bar, never been to a club, I didn’t know that life in the slightest. So when I went online it was very easy to believe the things you read about bars/clubs/women/chads/stacies/etc because I had no comparison in the real world to call bullshit on one way of the other. The first time I went out to a bar, 20 minutes in and getting a drink I saw a guy, probably 3 inches shorter and twice as round sitting in the VIP section with a bunch of hot girls nearby. Seeing that shattered by worldview because according to the incel community, that guy was doing something that was fucking impossible in their eyes.
I’m not sure that the VIP section of a nightclub is what I’d call a representative sample of reality, but it’s certainly the case that the easiest way to challenge many of the central myths of incel is to simply open your eyes to the evidence all around you in the real world, where you’ll find men of all sizes, shapes, heights, and ages happily paired off with women of all sizes, shapes, heights and ages. You have to be willfully blind to believe that women won’t date short men, or men with improperly angled eyebrows, or men with inappropriately sized wrists (and yes, these are real incel beliefs).
The former incel continues:
After that I kept going out and every time I went out there was always something different, not a single night was the same. Always different characters, different situations, different interactions. I started to see that there wasn’t just one pre-disposed type of person to get a particular girl and I learned that anything could happen, literally anything.
I’ve been thrown out of a bar on to the street only to be invited to an afterparty 5 minutes later, I’ve gotten harshly rejected by a girl in front of her boyfriend only for her to run back to me before the bar closes and give me her number. I was in the corner of a bar talking to a girl telling her about where I was from before some drunk guy decided to roundhouse kick me because he thought I was lying about my nationality (that a was fun night). Countless upon countless situations where I’ve walked out of it going “what the fuck just happened”
I guess this is one possible escape from incel. But you don’t have to get into bar fights or get invited to any afterparties — or even set foot in a nightclub at all — to see that incels live inside a collective delusion that only vaguely resembles life on this planet.
Overall, it was just replacing the knowledge I had acquired from places like incel subreddits and forums with real-world experience. You can read PUA and incel forums all day long and get two totally different ideas of nightlife, or you can go out and get another idea entirely.
Yep. All it requires is that you just GET OUT of the incel subculture for a short time — whether you literally start going to nightclubs or simply free yourself from incel thinking long enough to see that what the incels are telling you is wrong, wrong, wrong.
Our former incel admits that this can be more difficult than it sounds.
When I finally came to my senses it involved me throwing out all of my previously held beliefs and ideologies. In theory, it sounds easy but if you’re a Democrat or Republican, imagine making the intellectual leap from one side to the other, it’s like doing that. Here you’ve been told to despise women, despite attractive guys that get those women, despise pop-culture and the things around it, now you have take all that and conclude that it was all wrong and you need to listen to the other side. And all the while you are trying to do this the community that you had around you is pointing to reasons why you shouldn’t make that ideological leap.
Nonetheless, it is possible. This guy did it. Others have done it.
The former incel ends his post with some words for those still caught up in the incel cult:
From this I want to leave a bit of advice for Incels that might read this. It can be hard to embrace advice from a side of society that has ostrizied you. But at the of the day what side do you want ot be on. Give whatever excuse you want but at the end of the day you know where you want to be. My journey from that community took years of standing the corner at parties, getting rejected by girls, getting into fights, it was painful. But from my experience, the pain is worth it.
I’d be curious to hear more stories from former incels who got out. If you’re someone who was once (but no more) under the sway of incel ideas — whether you were a regular on some incel forum or just someone who found themselves being drawn in by their rhetoric, please drop me a note (dfutrelle at gmail) or post your story in the comments below. Tell us what drew you to incel in the first place, how you got pulled in, and how and why you ultimately rejected that way of life.
I see, sorry to have tried to be of some help. Rest assured that I won’t try that again.
That’s NOT AT ALL what happened.
Idli, they have a name. A name they gave themselves. Incels.
Don’t think for one moment they gave bestowed “Chad”, “Stacy”, and “Becky” to signify dignity.
I watched that “The Ship of Theseus” video and I’m now on my third video by the same person.
Sorry but I fail to see how “Just transition, duh” is supposed to be helpful when I wrote about how I’m lonely and the idea of trying to pursue a relationship feels pointless due to being closeted and dysphoric.
Do you think I’m so stupid that the most straightforward solution to my issues is somehow unknown to me?
I have researched everything from the legal framework and treatment guidelines over local therapists and support groups to blackmarket online pharmacies for DIY. If I thought there was a realistic way, I wouldn’t be living like this. I basically have a PhD in knowing about all the things I can’t do without ruining my life.
Something like “Do your best to be cute and get yourself fucked by some gay guy, it might be better than nothing and you can always try to come out to him later” would be relevant advice. “Just transition” is nothing but rubbing salt in the wound.
That’s not cool.
We’re on an internet forum; people don’t know who you are, what you’ve researched, or where you are in the process. There are some people out there who might just have started out, or not have done that research, in which case the advice given and support would be helpful.
Even if the advice is no good to you, you can be respectful about saying that.
Not a former incel (also I’m a woman), but eh. Why the fuck not. I dont know what’s TMI or not because I lack social skills so uh, warning, I talk abt my sex life??? Whatever.
So in middle school and high school I was getting rejected left right and center, I definitely had friends, but nobody wanted to date me because I was the weird kid. At most, I was funny, not really attractive. And while I certainly didnt think this would be forever (time’s a weird concept for me anyways), I certainly did start feeling resentful that I wasn’t being seen as dateable.
So at 16 i somehow end up really casually dating this girl and that’s my first kiss, and while that relationship only went as far as lunch break in the hallway (nobody ate in the cafeteria), and… I dont know literally nothing changed about me, not hygiene nor appearance nor personality, but somehow, everything changed when I became an adult. (And no, it wasnt puberty)
Maybe I just got more active online and got a larger circle of friends. Maybe its my current all-black wardrobe and wholehearted embracing of butch identity. Maybe all those years of mildly embarrassing ERP caused me to start exuding vibes of absolute sexiness. Maybe I make attractive characters and the attractiveness leaks onto me. Idk.
All I know is that I lost my virginity at an anime convention in a one-night-stand with a friend of an internet friend who had a boyfriend, which is the most chad thing I can think of if you ignore the part about the anime convention, I got into a FWB relationship with a music major lesbian and her gf, and now I have a gf who’s extremely devoted to me (feeling’s mutual <3) and nearly every lesbian I know is crushing on me and people are constantly complimenting my appearance whenever I post a selfie in the group chat. People are comparing my face to celebrities. Apparently, I’m both Sigourney Weaver and Carrie Fisher. Everyone agrees that I give off the aura of an attractive older woman, and I’m 21.
I am a nerdlord who showers once every three weeks, never leaves her room, forgets basic hygiene, still has an acne problem, wears the same clothes ad nauseum, avoids makeup like the plague, and regularly just doesnt bother to style my hair in a way that doesnt look ugly as all hell. My hobbies include videogames, dnd, politics, and academia, I have like 20 stuffed animals that I refuse to give away, I am awkward and loud and compensate for my lack of social skills by- oh who am I kidding? I dont compensate for it at all, I just play up my awkwardness in the hopes that people will laugh. I talk to myself. PASSIONATELY. Why am I so attractive? Why am I a lesbian chad? The world may never know. Idk where I was going with this, people are weird???? Teenagers as a whole arent as romantically successful as the media leads them to believe, so every virgin teenager gets a warped perception of how attractive they are which gets blown out the water as soon as they graduate high school? In the kingdom of unwashed virgin nerds, the artist with an all-black wardrobe is chad?
Am I gonna post this comment and have like 5 people saying I sound like prime dating material?
God, we are nowhere close to decoding the nuances of human attraction. Incels are fucking fooling themselves with all this nonsense about chins and wrists and eye slope. Its mind-boggling how confident they can be about their assertions.
(Also uh. Hi guys, longtime lurker and fan here, this is my first time commenting on WHTM! Wassup)
Eh, frustration’s a thing. No harm meant, I figure.
Mind – I didn’t say “just transition.” I said “You’re wise not to date until you sort yourself out.” Different thing.
I shouldn’t recommend that at all, personally. It’s setting yourself up for more heartbreak later on. A bi guy, that’s the ticket. (Or gal, if your tastes run that direction). It worked for me.
^That was my advice. I didn’t say ‘just transition, duh’, I recommended therapy and tried to give a bit of encouragement.
Stupid no, rude as all hell, definitely.
I am reminded of my older daughter, before I stopped giving her advice.
She’s ask me for advice, and then argue against why she couldn’t take my advice, belittling me and telling me how stupid I was, and why I was such a horrible mother. And how I don’t support her and I never help her, see.
My daughter didn’t want advice. She wanted a magic wand.
Well, Sol did identify as incel in their first comment. So it should come as no surprise that any effort to reach out and be kind would be met with hostility.
Somehow I managed to miss that, damn I feel stupid.
Years back, I wrote for a relationship advice column online (I know, odd fit, but enjoyed it).
Questioners always split into three categories – those wanting real advice, those wanting a magic wand (as you nicely put it), and those wanting permission.
Split seemed even amongst the three types. Favorite were the third type so I could tell them off for asking me for permission to do something stupid. 😛
Easy to miss given that incels are overwhelmingly cishet men.
They should be straight (heh) with the gay guy from the get-go otherwise the gay guy might really fall for them (hey, it could happen) and get his heartbroken when he finds out the guy is straight and just using him for sex. Never a good idea to be deceptive, no matter what PUAs say. Honesty is the best policy. “I’m a straight man looking for male to male sex”. And let the chips (or chads) fall where they may.
I’m looking for it now but can’t seem to find it. While binge watching incel youtube I came across this youtube show of a man who does a sort of “right wing watch” type of thing and the topic was Robin Hanson’s “thought experiments” that we were discussing the other day. He had someone on who he was defending Hanson. As he was reading Hanson’s comments he quoted him “thought experimenting” something Hanson called “gentle rape”. Hanson wrote about drugging someone, the incel raping her “gently” and the woman wakes up without any memory. I don’t know if he proposed women volunteer for this and get paid for it or what. I can’t find that video now nor can I find any writings about it but it’s something he wrote recently.
I don’t recall reading that in the pieces I quoted of Hanson here (thought what we cited from him was bad enough) but can you believe this???? How did we miss that???
Again, why should women who don’t want to have sex with these dudes be thought experimented about? Why isn’t Hanson thought experimenting about men (who also don’t want to have sex with them) signing up to be “gently raped” by incels?
The guest on the show who was defending Hanson’s comments as not his own but merely “academic exploration” and “food for thought” kept accusing the host of “shutting Hanson down” and the host said, I’m not shutting him down I’m openly repeating what he said and inviting dialogue. So any conversation, difference of opinion, or push back is considered “shutting down free speech” of this Hanson guy who most people haven’t heard of anyway. The conversation around it is giving him free publicity and might make him the next Jordan Peterson “hero”, who nobody also heard of until recently and now he’s on the cover of TIME or Newsweek or something.
Also, why not shut down such “thought experiments”? I know we technically can’t, but why not? Not all ideas are equal, we can all agree on that. So should they all be equally heard? I don’t know, but I’m leaning toward “no”.
After so many times of being told how terrible my advice is, (and I’m not even talking about relationship advice) I no longer give it.
Online or offline, I no longer give advice. I’ve learned.
I think Dumas put it best: most people ask for advice for the pleasure of ignoring it. 🙂
What I try to do (and encourage other people to do) is to ask people who are venting if they want advice or if they just want someone to listen.
I mean, Sol was hella out of line when the advice given was actually pretty supportive and helpful, but sometimes it just helps to know if I’m only going to be trying to fix a problem that the person doesn’t want solved.
So, Sol, do you just want to vent, or do you actually want advice? Because it seems to me you don’t actually want advice, you just want to be upset.
Which is totally fine! It’s okay to be upset! But lashing out at people who were only trying to help and strawmanning them to be even more angry is NOT OKAY.
Jes was only trying to help out. There’s no need to be a brat about it.
I’m sorry if *you* missed it when I posted a link to it earlier, but *we* didn’t miss a damn thing. The “thoughtpiece” in question from Hanson was not about incels at all, by the way. It was about how much worse men have it than women because men can be cuckholded and women presumably can’t.
CW: rape, misogyny, Robin fucking Hanson’s “thoughts”
Yeah, I spotted their use of “incel” but assumed it was out of newbie ignorance, not involvement in those circles. But then I think I missed the first page of this thread.
I met my ex-wife when she was at a similar place in her life to what you describe. She felt transition was impossible due to her career and custody situation. We met online and she disclosed her desire to transition in our first conversation. It wasn’t an issue for me and we proceeded to date and get married and spent over 6 years together. She also did end up going through hrt and was able to live authentically, but it took some time. Obviously, things didn’t work out between us, but for reasons unrelated to gender confirmation.
There are people out there, like myself, who are willing to take you at face value and accept you as your real gender even if you are still presenting as your assigned gender. I know that my ex had that disclosure conversation with numerous people and only a small percentage stuck around, but as much as rejection hurts, she wasn’t actually compatible with those people. She made sure to disclose while still anonymous so that someone who reacted really badly didn’t know who she was. And she was taking some safety risks that you may or may not feel comfortable taking, but if you are specifically looking for advice on how to date while unable to live as yourself, I would suggest some variant on my ex-wife’s approach.
I’ve read some stuff by AD where she makes a lot of sense but in this particular piece, she appears to be living under a couple of delusions, notably the arduousness of assembly line work and what consititutes a poor wage for the average Scottish factory worker (even more so considering the age of the article!)
To say that stripping or lapdancing is worse than the most arduous factory work – I’m sorry but has Andrea done these type of jobs?
For example; picking bits of bone and cartilege out of chicken breast fillets for the absolute bare minimum wage they can legally get away with paying, so at the time the article was written, about £6/hour before tax – all day, for at least ten hours a day with only a couple of short breaks, five or six days a week, fifty-two weeks a year. Does Andrea honestly think wriggling about in lingerie for a few hours a night is worse than this?
She then goes on to scathingly imply that £25,000 is peanuts. I’m sorry but if you work on an assembly line in a factory in Scotland, this is probably around £10,000 more than the highest annual salary you have EVER been paid in your life, and about £10k more than you will EVER earn if you stay in that job. In fact £25k is still higher than the UK national average wage in 2018.
Are strippers and lapdancers at risk from clients? They certainly should not be. Any legit strip/LD club has a very very firm ‘no touching’ rule. The dancer is in control of the situation at all times. A big, burly security guard is within earshot at all times.
The type of men who use lapdancing clubs or strip joints are basically being exploited harder than anyone else in the whole scenario. They are handing over (usually) hard-earned money for nothing more than 10-15 minutes of fake interest and to have a woman brush herself over their fully-clothed laps a few times. They are basically throwing their money away for nothing.
Furthermore she goes on to say “Women working in the same jobs as men still get paid less than their male counterparts. But no-one would expect to see an epidemic of male lap-dancing. Some forms of degradation are female-only.”
Well, clearly Andrea has never heard of the Chippendales, or been to a club with male strippers. Personally I have never been into the whole idea of lap-dancing or stripping. I have been to a club with lap dancers a total of one time, for a friend’s stag party. This particular strip club had female strippers upstairs for the entertainment of men, and male strippers for the entertainment of the women downstairs. Then at midnight the upstairs and the downstairs areas were de-segregated, the strippers/lapdancers all went home (I assume) and the club became just like any normal nightclub, albeit with a slightly more charged atmosphere since after staring at sexy bodies they weren’t allowed to touch for the last couple of hours, men and women alike were keen to make new friends to perhaps get physical with later on.
It was a fairly enjoyable evening but not an experience I’m keen to repeat any time soon, paying someone £1 per minute to wave her bits at me within touching distance, whilst a burly bouncer stood a few metres away just in case I was tempted to touch her, just doesn’t seem like a good use of what little money I have.
As someone who identifies as InCel despite never having joined a forum or reddit or other communication service, I came at it EXACTLY how the former InCel above came OUT of it. In my late teens and early twenties, I would go to bars with room mates, and it revealed the very true state of Hell – that the purported ‘shit’ that InCels go on about in nightclubs in bars is very very true. Women do not wish to be approached unless you’re ‘desirable’, but become pretty ‘open’ if you are. I think I approached 7 or 8 times (numbers I don’t ‘count’ in my rejection tally), and every time I was shut down.
Do I think it is possible for short guys or guys from other ethnic backgrounds or guys with mis-shapen eyebrows to score in a nightclub? Absolutely. Do I think it is possible for ME to score in a nightclub? Perhaps, but experience has shown me that it’s statistically unlikely. Meeting in a bar usually doesn’t result in meaningful long-term relationships, but as someone who has only had (unsatisfying) long-term relationships, being wanted then and there, just for sex… THAT would feel pretty good.