88.2 F
Washington D.C.
Monday, June 17, 2024

PERSPECTIVE: The Rising Incel Terrorism Threat and the Broader Problem of Misogynistic Violence

The Texas mall shooter who killed eight people and wounded seven others a month ago at an outlet mall left behind a trail of online posts supporting neo-Nazi and incel ideologies. His digital footprint of racist and misogynistic extremism reinforces a point that has been made about the connections between male supremacy and white supremacy[1] that have been also seen in other incel killers, such as in the “twisted world” manifesto of 22-year-old Elliot Rodger after he murdered six women and injured 14 others near the UC Santa Barbara campus before shooting himself in 2014.

White supremacy has been called the deadliest terrorist threat among domestic violent extremism (DVEs) by President Biden and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. [2] However, as the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) said, “Every day, as virulent white supremacists make their hatred known, we immediately and rightly call them extremists. We have not been nearly as unequivocal in our condemnation when it comes to men who express violent anger toward and loathing for women.”[3]

Incel is short for “involuntary celibate.” This term was originally coined in 1993 by a Canadian woman in what was an innocent effort to form a supportive online community – but it later morphed into a misogynistic and extremely violent sector of the manosphere, composed mostly of heterosexual men who blame women and society for their romantic and sexual frustrations. While the term incel has been used to retroactively label a few past massacres of women by men in attacks driven by antifeminism, Rodger is widely considered to be the first incel killer after he targeted a sorority house in 2014 because they were “the kind of girls I’ve always desired but was never able to have.”

The U.S. Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center (NTAC) has also reported on the rising threat of misogynistic extremism. While there is no one specific profile of incel attackers, what most do have in common is a history of “observable concerning behaviors displayed prior to engaging in violence.”[4] In their case study of the Hot Yoga Tallahassee shooting in 2018 by a 40-year-old shooter who killed two women and injured four others, the NTAC provided a deep dive into the incel attacker’s history of misogynistic behavior toward women over the course of decades that included stalking and assaults.[5]

While the incel movement is a newer phenomenon, as pointed out by the NTAC, misogynistic violence is not restricted to mass murders and it is often seen in other forms. Whereas a total of at least 53 deaths were linked to incel attacks as of 2020 (over a time span of the preceding seven years), worldwide approximately 50,000 women die each year from femicides committed by family members or intimate partners.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) classified gender-related murders of females into those committed by intimate partners and family members along with many other categories of femicide that include honor killings, dowry deaths, women and girls targeted in armed conflicts, attacks on female sex workers, human trafficking with gender-related motives, and more.

Femicide is often perceived in America as a problem of other countries, such as the state femicide of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in Iran in 2022 that sparked widespread protests, or the death of 27-year-old Pınar Gültekin in Turkey in 2020 that likewise ignited outrage and protests, exposing the high femicide rate in a country where honor killings are still committed.

But it is an incorrect perception to think that this is just a problem of other countries. While Asia and Africa do have the highest rates of female intimate partner and family-related homicides, femicide kills more women in the U.S. than in Turkey and twice as many women than in France (this is with adjustments for population sizes). And among high-income countries, 70 percent of femicides occur in the U.S., where three women are slain every day by current or former partners.

Femicide is often called the silent epidemic in the U.S., in contrast to incel attacks that generate a lot of attention in the news. Both of these lethal crimes are driven by misogyny, but while most femicides are committed by someone the victim knows, most incels do not know the victims they attack.

Why do you think one gets so much more attention than the other?

 

The views expressed here are the writer’s and are not necessarily endorsed by Homeland Security Today, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints in support of securing our homeland. To submit a piece for consideration, email editor @ hstoday.us.

[1] See Bruce Hoffman and Jacob Ware, https://www.lawfareblog.com/incels-americas-newest-domestic-terrorism-threat

[2] See Center of Public Safety for Women, https://finance.yahoo.com/news/breaking-culture-silence-combat-misogyny-124400820.html

[3] See Anti-Defamation League https://www.adl.org/resources/report/when-women-are-enemy-intersection-misogyny-and-white-supremacy

[4] See National Threat Assessment Center https://www.secretservice.gov/sites/default/files/reports/2022-03/NTAC%20Case%20Study%20-%20Hot%20Yoga%20Tallahassee.pdf

author avatar
Amy Williams
Amy Williams is a Founding Director of Akamai Global and in this role she oversees research and development to improve safety measures across U.S. College Campuses by implementing best practices, policy and technology. In addition, Williams is an NCAE-C PhD Scholar, “1 in 5 nationwide.” The National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity (NCAE-C) PhD Scholarship program, managed by the NSA and funded by the DoD, selected Williams for her dissertation research on ways to contribute to the cyber forensics domain by applying counterterrorism techniques to mitigate challenges of protecting critical infrastructure in smart cities. Williams’ SMEs are comprised of leading experts from the public and private sector, including DHS, NSA and local government; and her academic background includes Digital Forensics and Cyber Investigations, Cybersecurity Policy, and Curriculum and Instruction. Williams has also been featured in numerous publications including USA Today, Yahoo! News, the Official Harvard Site of Multiple Intelligences, and Philanthropy Journal for her 501c3 nonprofit organization, which has earned endorsements and testimonials from leading experts in both the nonprofit and education sectors. Currently, she has been focused and instrumental with efforts to help survivors of the recent Maui Wildfires with recovery efforts that have devastated Hawai’i.
Amy Williams
Amy Williams
Amy Williams is a Founding Director of Akamai Global and in this role she oversees research and development to improve safety measures across U.S. College Campuses by implementing best practices, policy and technology. In addition, Williams is an NCAE-C PhD Scholar, “1 in 5 nationwide.” The National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity (NCAE-C) PhD Scholarship program, managed by the NSA and funded by the DoD, selected Williams for her dissertation research on ways to contribute to the cyber forensics domain by applying counterterrorism techniques to mitigate challenges of protecting critical infrastructure in smart cities. Williams’ SMEs are comprised of leading experts from the public and private sector, including DHS, NSA and local government; and her academic background includes Digital Forensics and Cyber Investigations, Cybersecurity Policy, and Curriculum and Instruction. Williams has also been featured in numerous publications including USA Today, Yahoo! News, the Official Harvard Site of Multiple Intelligences, and Philanthropy Journal for her 501c3 nonprofit organization, which has earned endorsements and testimonials from leading experts in both the nonprofit and education sectors. Currently, she has been focused and instrumental with efforts to help survivors of the recent Maui Wildfires with recovery efforts that have devastated Hawai’i.

Related Articles

- Advertisement -

Latest Articles