Two years have passed from the deaths of Breonna Taylor, Dominique Fells, Toyin Salau and the cries of “Protect Black women”. But nothing has changed. We must, once again, examine patriarchy’s oppression at the intersection of race and gender. Let it be known that the resurgence of this protecting Black women comes from decades of long battle with misogynoir within the movement towards Black liberation.
Online, heated interactions take place on how badly Black men treat Black women. In fact, it is said that Black men routinely go as far as committing acts that greatly mirror incel behavior.
To fully understand this phenomenon, the term incel must be defined. Incel is short for “involuntarily celibacy”, which is the perceived obstacles and thus inability to have sexual contact with women despite the deep want for it. The origins of incels are heavily aligned with and a subsection of the Alternative Right (Alt-Right) or white nationalism movement. Like the Alt-Right, the incel community believes they are superior to others due to their white, heterosexual, cisgender male identity.
Incel behavior encompases a wide spectrum of actions. For example, at the extreme end there are incels that are infamous in their communities such as Elliot Rodger - a young man that spiraled into a deep depressive, misogynistic lifestyle that fueled his massacre of six people at UC Santa Barbara. On the other end of the spectrum, there are incels that congregate on Reddit, 4chan and Tinychat to express their bigoted views without opposition, and ridicule and humiliate women.
Overall, the commonalities among incels are deep isolation due to lack of friends and social life, lack of healthy romantic and sexual interactions, depressive spouts, intense feelings of entitlement, grandiose online personalities to prove their performative toxic masculinity to other incels, deep rooted insecurity and politically incorrect dark humor. However, most documentaries and research on incel behavior focus on white, middle class males. As black incels are largely uncharted, this article is an attempt to compose exploratory observations of the traits of black incels.
In Black incel culture misogynoir is rampant. Misogynoir, a term created by feminist and critical race theorist Moya Bailey, describes the sexist actions that are purposefully directed at Black women. Keep in mind that while Black men are oppressed, their gender allows them to receive a form of patriarchal privilege that grants the ability to oppress Black women.
Like white incels, Black incel behavior includes acts such as humbling, ridiculing, and humiliating Black women. These acts contribute to the dehumanization of Black women that can lead to gender-based violence. In addition, online anonymity allows toxicity and male entitlement to grow.
In particular, Black women face harsh humiliation when they show their purchases or accomplishments. Examples of black incel behavior occurred when Twitter user @_GlitterAndGlam received vicious backlash for posting a photo of her new Tesla car, then when YouTuber and beauty influencer Aaliyah Jay posted her new Birkin bag. In response to both Black women, Black men (and women with internalized misogynoir) accused them of lying about their possessions and questioning their financial decisions in a disrespectful and accusatory manner. The pushback comes from undertones of Black women being deemed less deserving, needing to be humbled, downplaying of their achievements.
However, Black incel culture extends beyond social media into music. In some subsections of Hip Hop, there’s an emphasis on proving your status by upholding things likened to success such as sex, the disposability of women, and apathy towards women. These things are used to uphold the “hierarchy” of Black men, where those at the top can more easily distance themselves from the negative associations of male blackness with poverty, lack of power, and therefore rejection to sex. Some fans of these artists want to imitate this image of masculinity, so they recreate artists’ actions on a microlevel. Black incels share their unsolicited opinions of women for the same reason white incels do – to uphold their sense of power over women and mask their hidden insecurities.
Therefore, the commonalities among Black incels include public humiliation of Black women, flaunting and/or inflating the amount of sex they have, using perceived status to rob women of their sense of agency, and an emphasis of seeking validation in their masculinity from other men.
In conclusion, White and Black incels meet at the axis of using their male privilege to soothe the wounds and insecurities that patriarchy causes men to feel.
Written by Lauryn Antoine