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The implications of Incel terms becoming mainstream

Misogyny, distorted ideas and the dangers of an increasingly popular movement

The implications of Incel terms becoming mainstream Misogyny, distorted ideas and the dangers of an increasingly popular movement

Have you ever heard of the terms looksmaxxing, tradwife, or nice guy syndrome? You might have seen these topics blow up on TikTok recently with tips and tricks for how you can look better, be more appealing to men, and even be a better wife. Seems harmless, right? But did you know that these terms actually originate from online incel groups? 

Who are incels?

Incel groups are online forums filled with and run by men. According to Oxford Languages, an Incel is "a member of an online community of young men who consider themselves unable to attract women sexually. Typically, they hold views that are hostile towards men and women who are sexually active". However, while the incel might be someone who is involuntarily celibate, their views specifically on the subjugation of women have gained widespread attention by other men who might not be traditionally defined as an incel. In essence, most men who subscribe to the incel mentality believe that women should be submissive to men, that men should be the dominant force of the world. Funny, because last time we checked, and in the infamous words of James Brown, this is a man’s world

@daretobegrey original sound - Dare to be Grey

Misoginy is the base of the incel movement

It’s important to understand that these men believe that women participate in Hypergamy, which is the idea that women are more selective of sexual partners, only going for men who are conventionally attractive. This is important because incel groups are specifically obsessed with and motivated by the idea of having sex with women, looking at women as objects rather than real people. This is cause for major concern, which we will dig into later.

Looksmaxxing and mewing

First, let’s dig into the terms themselves. Looksmaxxing is "Any attempt made to improve one’s looks to reach their greatest aesthetic potential. This includes a number of methods of self-improvement, such as going to the gym, getting a haircut, improving one’s style or taking steroids." Looksmaxxing has become popular on TikTok with content that gives men tips on how they can make themselves more traditionally desirable to women, such as through small acts of looks enhancement such as mewing, or the position of your tongue in your mouth to accentuate your jawline. This might seem niche, but the idea of mewing and looksmaxxing has become so popular that young women and men without any obvious connection to the incel world are creating content around these subjects


watching the stars (Sped Up) - Øneheart

Tradwife e nice guys

Tradwife is a term to describe women who believe that women should follow the path of the 1950’s "traditional wife". I.e. being subservient to their husbands, supporting their every wish and whim without question, and fulfilling traditional gender norms in the household. Content by tradwives is, obviously, made by women for women. This content romanticizes the stay-at-home-wife life, enticing women into the world of submission, glorifying subservience and a lack of independence. A guy who suffers from nice guy syndrome, is a guy who has all of the characteristics of a good boyfriend/partner and self identifies as a nice guy, but blames women for his sexual inexperience because he might not be conventionally attractive. The nice guy, might be one of the most deceptive incels in that they are friends with women, and yet still believe that women owe him sex. That by virtue of being a man, he should receive sex from women. 

@esteecwilliams How to be a Traditional Wife part 1 #fyp #traditionalwife #tradwife #tradwifetok #traditionalgenderroles #nuclearfamily #traditionalmarriage #housewife #homemaker #femininenotfeminist #tradwifecontroversy #traditional original sound - Estee

With the popularity of these terms online, and a few of them even becoming mainstream terms, we’re faced with an ugly reality — that the Donald Trumps, Andrew Tates, and incels of the world are much more popular than we’d like to believe and their misogynistic views of the world are spreading fast. This is why it’s important to understand where these terms come from, why they’re becoming popular, and what we can do to combat rising misogyny. These groups of men don’t believe women should be equal to men, asserting that feminism (as well as other socially progressive topics such as immigration, race, religion, and LGBTQ+ rights) has led to the destruction of society. More so than just being problematic, these groups of men look up to other men who have demonstrated violent behavior, including the murder of women — such as with the case of Elliot Rodger, the murderer of 7 women in Santa Barbara, California in 2014.

@truecrimecam the incel community is growing threat to women everywhere. authorities need to monitor these people heavily. #truecrime #truecrimetiktok #arrested #fbi #misogyny #greenscreenvideo Mysterious - Andreas Scherren

So, what can we do?

The first thing is to be aware. While some of the content we see on social media might feel lighthearted and fun, and most of it genuinely is, there’s quite a bit that isn’t. Know what content you’re consuming — take care of your digital space. Do your research. This article is only a basic intro into what’s happening across incel communities and how it’s leaking out into mainstream content. Be aware of the people you follow, and read up on them. Look through their content with a quizzical eye and make sure you’re not being pulled down a rabbit hole that you don’t want to be in. Take caution with the types of content you create. If you’re not aware of where trends come from, maybe don’t participate. Dig into the origins of the content before becoming a participant in it.Report bad behavior. Rather than calling people out online, which can lead to difficult consequences, report accounts or content that doesn’t seem right or that is advocating for harming a group of people. Reporting is anonymous, which ensures you’re safe while you take action. When you’re scrolling on TikTok and see content glorifying a traditional life, or giving tips to help you be more attractive to the opposite sex, think twice before you repost it. It might not be as harmless as you think at first glance, and could be pushing an agenda.