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Incel is a term that comes from the words involuntary celibate. It can be used of a member of an online subculture of men defining themselves as unable to find a romantic or sexual partner despite desiring one, but it can also be used to mean anyone in such circumstances even if they don't participate in incel discussions online. Some members of this subculture have committed mass murders, which some people are trying to use as justification for treating all men who cannot find relationships or sex as subhuman.


The Wikipedia article about incels does not mention that this difference exists, instead Wiktionary does. The Incel Wiki presents the viewpoint that Wikipedia ignores, it only accepts the "life circumstance" definition for the word "incel" (however, it uses a lot of the "incel jargon", including the -cel suffix). The difference is mentioned on the discussion page on Wikipedia under the by-default hidden "Frequently asked questions (FAQ)" section, where Wikipedia writes as follows:

Q1: What is the subject of this article?

A1: This article is about a particular misogynistic online subculture of people who self-identify as "involuntary celibates" or "incels" based on their inability to find a romantic or sexual partner. It is not about all people who are unable to find a romantic or sexual partner or all people to whom the phrase "involuntary celibate" could be applied, but only to that subculture.

Q2: Why is this article only about the subculture/community of self-identified "incels", and not about the idea of involuntary celibacy more broadly?

A2: It is the subculture which has achieved notability independent of concepts Wikipedia already covers, such as sexual frustration, celibacy, and sexual abstinence. Although a separate article about the broader concept of involuntary celibacy could be created, such articles have been deleted in the past in favor of coverage in existing articles.

Q3: Why is this article so negative?

A3: Articles on Wikipedia reflect the way subjects are covered in reliable, published sources with a reputation for fact-checking and accuracy. The articles cover aspects of those subjects in accordance with the extent to which those aspects are covered in reliable sources. There are negative elements of the subject in this article because that is the way many of the reliable sources cover it. If coverage of the subject changes, the article should be updated to reflect that.


In Canada, people are talking about whether incels should be classified as terrorists. The unwillingness of people to see the two very different uses of the word might at some point be used to classify all involuntarily celibate men as terrorists. This would only require the reinterpretation of the word from "subculture member" to "anyone involuntarily celibate".

What this labelling seems to imply

Since some people call MGTOWs "incels in denial" (see e.g. here) it is not far fetched to say that in the future all (long term) single men will be called "terrorists" as there is nothing really preventing officials from refusing to believe a voluntarily single man when he says he's single voluntarily. This would essentially eliminate men's ability to choose how they want to arrange their way of living: all men would be forced to live in relationships or else they will be called terrorists. The discussion on how this affects aromantic asexual men is yet to be had. So far, asexuality and aromanticism are seen as something you can self-identify as (see here and here; this article explicitly states in its title that "Asexuality is Not a Diagnosis"), but the labelling of incels, and subsequently MGTOWs as terrorists might lead to the requirement for asexuals and aromantics to seek diagnosis to avoid being branded as terrorists. At least one asexual man has already had the fear of being labelled an incel, and in the future this may become an even larger threat.

"You almost certainly have incels as employees"

At the beginning of May in 2018 the former CEO of Reddit Ellen K. Pao tweeted "CEOs of big tech companies: You almost certainly have incels as employees. What are you going to do about it?" which, because of the confusion between the subculture and the life circumstances, can be interpreted either now or in the future as a call for removing sexually undesirable men from their workplaces.

See Also

External Links