Dr Charlotte Proudman, an award-winning family law lawyer, said incel groups are a growing problem yet the authorities wrongly see incidents as being “isolated one-offs” rather than joining up the dots.
An incel, which stands for a combination of the words “involuntary” and “celibate”, is a heterosexual man who desperately wants to have sex with women but fails to do so, consequently heaping blame on women for their own inability to form sexual relationships.
Speaking at an event about violence against women hosted by The Independent on Thursday, Dr Proudman said a belief in incel culture was a critical factor in the massacre carried out by gunman Jake Davison in Plymouth in August.
Davison, a self-proclaimed Incel, shot dead six people in the port city on the south coast of Devon - with his mother and a three-year-old girl among his victims - before aiming the gun at his own head.
After the tragedy, it emerged Davison had previously uploaded videos referring to himself as an “incel” and lamenting the fact he had not lost his virginity as a teenager. Davison’s murder spree was the deadliest mass shooting to take place in the UK in over a decade.
“Incel culture played a huge role in his murderous decisions,” Dr Proudman said in the panel discussion hosted by The Independent’s women’s correspondent Maya Oppenheim. “It is not just him. There are many people.”
The barrister noted incel groups are particularly prevalent in the US - adding that it is an ideology that sees men assert their “right to sex” and vent their frustrations about the fact women are “supposedly withholding it” from them. “How dare we,” Ms Proudman quipped.
To see The Independent virtual event on violence against women in full watch the video below
“Involuntary celibacy has been going on for 30 years,” Dr Proudman, who specialises in violence against women and girls, added. “It has been going on for decades. In my view, it is a form of terrorism.”
Dr Proudman, who was joined by Cristel Amiss, a life-long activist from Women Against Rape and Black Women's Rape Action Project and Rebecca Hitchin from the End Violence Against Women Coalition, said incel culture needs to be incorporated into conceptions of radicalisation and fundamentalism.
The lawyer, who campaigns for domestic abuse victims to be gain protection in the family courts, added: “If someone were to use this type of language and they were from an ethnic minority background or had so-called religious views, then they would be seen as terrorists.
“Then why is it not the same for misogynists? Then why is it not the same for men who are holding these radical views of hatred of women, which have become a glamorous subculture? It is glorifying that violence.
“These types of murders are seen as one-offs, isolated incidents, they are not joined up. They are not seen as part of a larger movement which is taking place online.”
Dr Proudman warned incel culture is an “enormous problem”, concluding: “It needs to be defined as terrorism in short.”
Incel men, who are affiliated with far-right, neo-Nazi movements, victimise themselves and attribute their dearth of sexual and romantic relationships to problems with society.
Incel communities, which have grown in recent years, have sprung up on Reddit, Facebook, 4chan and on websites established by incels themselves. Members of the dark community spout misogynistic abuse about all women on online forums, as well as making vitriolic comments about the women who reject them - even plotting against them.
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