Incel Rebellion : Examining Rejection And Self Reflection

By Jesselyn Cook

It’s late on a Friday, and hundreds of men are browsing the forum A new member logs on and posts two photos showing the lower half of his face.

“What surgeries/implants are needed to fix this?” he asks. “As you can see I have a recessed jaw/chin.”

The replies come swiftly: “It’s not just your chin. Your upper lip is retruded as well. Orthognathic surgery if you can afford it. Chin implant or [genioplasty] if you can’t. You should also look at jaw angle implants,” someone responds. “Start saving.”

It’s a typical exchange on the message board, where new posts continue to pop up throughout the night with men asking other men for physical evaluation and advice.

“Rate my face.” “I already know I’m ugly.” “Dropped 7K on a nose job.” “Candid photo of my profile reveals my subhumanity.” “I don’t even leave the house anymore, I don’t want to be seen.”

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

“No Tinder matches in first 24 hours — is it over?” At one point, someone compares the skull sizes of Justin Bieber and Zayn Malik, carefully assessing which pop star has a more masculine-shaped head.

Unhappy with how they look, thousands of young men are joining anonymous message boards such as to dissect their looks and exchange detailed tips on looksmaxing — their term for enhancing their appearance. Penis stretching, eyebrow botox, wrist enlargement, “neck training,” nostril shrinking and 3D-printed skull implants are among the desired procedures and “coping strategies” discussed at length on these sites. bills itself as a forum for incels, or men who identify as “involuntarily celibate,” suggesting that users are aware of their faults and “were born into a prison where you cannot escape.” Many members are young men who say they are unable to sexually attract women because of their looks. But it’s not just about sex: Looksmax forums are echo chambers for shame, hatred and entitlement. Users fixate on their perceived flaws and rage against the women who, they say, deny them sex — something they feel they are owed.

When Incels Kill

Lookism, or discrimination based on appearance, is real. Research shows that people who are considered unattractive get paid less and have fewer job opportunities. One study found that juries are less likely to convict someone they consider good-looking.

But men and women respond very differently when discriminated against in a romantic or sexual context, experts say. While women often internalize or blame themselves when faced with rejection, men tend to lash out.

“Males tend to take rejection as a challenge to their masculinity or an insult to their perceived place in the social hierarchy. Women are likely to feel emotionally hurt by the rejection and to assume that there is something lacking in them that warranted the rejection,” according to Suzanne Degges-White, the chair of Northern Illinois University’s department of counseling. “Women are encouraged to ‘get over it,’ but men often feel the need to ‘get even.’”

The urge to “get even” is widely discussed in incel groups, with radical members openly discussing a violent movement to strike back at women and their chosen sexual partners.

These men often describe themselves as the “losers of the genetic lottery.” Not all members appear to hate women, but as more fanatical misogynists have flooded incel and looksmax networks with vitriol in recent years, they have pushed out less extreme men.

For radical incels, dating and sex are rife with emasculating injustice. They believe that any woman — regardless of looks — can find someone to have sex with, while an ugly man can get sex only by force or by paying. They also believe that women are interested exclusively in good-looking men.


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