Or did it begin way back when we first realized that a group of young men could be manipulated into taking dozens, if not hundreds, if not thousands of lives?
Whichever tragedy that description fits (most recently, the Toronto van attacks), is it any wonder that it always boils down to a young man with hatred in his heart? The thing about young men, often white, or merely a palette which conforms to the majority in their respective societal context, is that they all too often feel misunderstood and ignored.
While the rest of the world talks about anything and everything apart from young men -- be it women, minorities, socio-political and global issues -- young men and their problems of privilege no longer make the cut or, at least, don’t do so as easily.
A lack of platform, which results in a lack of validation (of their opinions, their selves), which breeds resentment, forces them to seek this validation elsewhere. And thus, are created these incels, these pick-up artists, these meninists, the MGTOWs, and so on and so forth -- basically anyone who falls under the “manosphere.”
Sexist or not?
For those unaware, incels refer to a group who identify as being involuntarily celibate, unable to find a romantic partner thanks to a society which sees them as undesirable.
Any narrative strung by mainstream media (which generally tends to lean left, but the “manosphere” receives little sympathy from either side of the political spectrum) will deem the incels, and related sub-cultures, sexist and misogynist.
While this may breed further hatred and resentment from these young men, many of whom see themselves as being smarter than average and see incels as just being objective and rational in a world untethered from reasonable debate and logic, even a perfunctory glance through their forums reveals the rather deep-rooted hatred they have for women, and for a societal culture that sees them, supposedly, as extraneous to its wellbeing.
There are posts which, explicitly and indubitably, condone rape; posts which betray a tone suggesting sex as being owed to them; posts which suggest mandatory sexual intercourse, to the blatant objectification of women, to government mandated partners for incels.
While it may be easy to merely label them as “losers” who are unable to function well in a society, the fact that they have collectively carried out several mass murders in the United States alone makes it evident that they are a collective that cannot be ignored.
Many of the Bangladeshis we found surfacing as IS terrorists in the aftermath of the Holey Artisan attack in 2016, who had made that dangerous journey through Turkey and into Syria, had experienced heartbreak right before they turned
It is all too easy to see them as a fringe group who have little to no relevance in contemporary society, but as the hatred continues to build, and the more they feel ignored, and the higher frequency with which they have played roles in contemporary terrorism, it would benefit us to seek out the reasons why they have continued to flourish as a subculture, online and elsewhere.
Could it be that, at the end of the day, the cause for so much violence in the world could have been so simple, so basic? Is sexual frustration, and the validation it provides us, especially in a culture where your sexual activity is directly linked to your status as an individual, really all that important?
Incels in Bangladesh
One could see this sub-culture belonging to the “manosphere” as being one that is exclusive to the US or, at least, to the Western world. But I wouldn’t downplay the role similar tendencies have had on Eastern manifestations of terrorism, be it Islamic or otherwise.
Many of the Bangladeshis we found surfacing as IS terrorists in the aftermath of the Holey Artisan attack in 2016, who had made that dangerous journey through Turkey and into Syria, had experienced heartbreak right before they turned.
It may not matter to you, in the grand scheme of things, in the grand narrative of global politics and mass immigration and ethnic cleansing, but an individual’s inability to be satisfied, personally, could very well be the single most powerful tool that exists.
These are individuals who find themselves in online misogynistic forums and being recruited by terrorist organizations.
It is their inability to be validated by a partner, and by extension all of society, that has led them there.
And it would be a mistake for us to underestimate the nature and force of the resultant frustration, for it is a frustration that finds itself in almost every young man.
It is indeed a difficult task, to convince a man who feels (mistakenly or otherwise) wronged by the society he was born into, and now seeks vengeance, that the power he feels when he sits behind the wheel of a car and drives it onto the sidewalk, is a power unjust, especially when he feels so justified in wielding it.
How do you convince him, this “ultimate gentleman,” that this is not the way, when, to him, this is the only way he can come remotely close to feeling like he exists?
SN Rasul is an Editorial Assistant at the Dhaka Tribune. Follow him @snrasul.