The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Sex and the CU | Am I the jerk for disagreeing with incels?

Natalie Schneider
Sex and the CU

If you have dared venture into the Reddit cinematic universe within the past decade, you’ve probably heard of incels.

The mental image of an incel, also known as an involuntary celibate, is pungent — a wildly insecure man with a moral opposition to basic standards of personal hygiene. Likely an ardent believer in the Pizzagate conspiracy theory.

In recent years, incels have been identified by several world governments as a potentially dangerous group. “Almost 1,000 references to misogyny and violent action” are recorded on online incel forums each day, according to a 2022 article from the Guardian.

A 2022 study from the psychology faculty at Kingston University London sought to determine why incels are prone to lash out through violence. 

According to the paper, incels are a “high-need” group in regard to clinical intervention and treatment, making them potentially dangerous in the long term.

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Their self-esteem is contingent on their relationship status, and are both sensitive to rejection and experience a large degree of it,” the paper stated. “They cope with rejection by engaging in both inward and outward practices, reporting higher levels of self-critical rumination and externalization of blame, while also engaging in fewer healthy coping mechanisms.”

Ideologically, men who identify themselves as incels often subscribe to the notion that all women are after one hyperspecific set of traits in their romantic partners. Cited among these traits are above-average height, impressive socioeconomic status, eurocentric facial proportions and, in recent months, a positive canthal tilt, or the angle of the outer corner of the eye when compared to the rest of an individual’s face.

I am not sure about you, dear reader, but I don’t think I have ever looked at a potential conquest and thought to myself, “This individual has a negative canthal tilt and prey eyes; they are not reproductively fit.”

The standards touted by incels as the markers of overly picky women simply do not track based on statistics. I mean, if 80% of all Americans are married by the age of 40, one could not assert that all married men are at least six feet tall — particularly when only 14.5% of U.S. men fit that description.

As women, we can cackle and gawk at the incel community, and considering their disdain for us, we would be well within our rights to do so. 

Still, whilst I was doing research for this column, I couldn’t help but draw some similarities between the traits idolized by these men and the cycle of body type trends that women face in patriarchal society. 

Some of my first memories of body insecurity took wind as a result of the collective anxiety among young girls to have something called a “thigh gap” in the late ’90s and early ’10s. Before that, it was the off-putting “heroin chic” epidemic of the nineties. Even before that, the desire to have a plump, Rubenesque figure in Victorian England.

The harsh reality is that people have varying preferences in finding partners. Although some traits are seen as particularly desirable in the context of Western society, the overwhelming consensus is that all sorts of people find successful romantic relationships in time. Furthermore, even those who are considered most societally attractive often encounter problems when seeking companionship. 

As college students, we shouldn’t let our ability or inability to fit into a societal box impact our happiness. The primary directive of waking up in the morning should be some combination of bettering yourself, having a good time, spending time with people you love or bettering the world around you — not checking to see if there’s a gap between your legs. 

Take a lesson from the incels — erm, wait. Don’t do that. Look to them for an example of what we should ardently and completely avoid. Bitterness, nihilism and resentment are dangerous. They should not control you.

I leave you with this, my friends — you should be your own best friend and advocate. If you find yourself single and insecure, you should work on the mental part of your problem before you even graze the social one. 

Until next time!


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About the Contributor
Lisa Chasanov, Managing Editor for Reporting
Howdy! My name is Lisa, my game is delivering quality news to your phone screen, coffee table and recycling bin. Since fall 2022, I have had the honor of writing, editing and often-unsuccessfully pitching content for The Daily Illini. During my time at the 152-year-old news source, I have served as a reporter at our news desk, summer editor and assistant news editor. Most recently, after a rewarding year of bringing you hard-hitting stories such as “Uncut: Dissecting Circumcision” and “‘Surf’s Up’ could be the film of the summer,” I have taken over as managing editor for reporting. In my free time, you can find me performing open heart surgery in dark alleys, communicating telepathically with small woodland creatures and engaging in otherwise dubious activities. If you would like to summon me for any reason, you can find me at [email protected]. Good Yard. Stay tuned for more.
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