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A Critical Discourse Analysis of Incel Violent Extremists and the Stories They Tell

Concerns about physical acts of violence and the misogynistic ideologies of “involuntary celibate” (“incel”) communities have become more prominent in media and policymaking. This study is a critical discourse analysis of the misogynistic narratives shared by three incel violent extremists.

Dominique Vink, Tahir Abbas, Yannick Veilleux-Lepage, Richard McNeil-Willson
29 March 2023
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Several recent acts of extreme violence implied the necessity for researching, understanding, and developing a response which accounts for the threat individuals from such communities may pose to societal security and local communities. In response to this need, this paper focuses research on acts of violence by self-ascribed “incels”, using critical discourse analysis to investigate the nature of the misogynistic narratives of three individuals who have engaged in extreme violence: Elliot Rodger, Alek Minassian, and Scott Beierle.

The paper addresses gendered discourse—from which incel terrorism has arisen—by the attackers, analysing data using Kate Manne’s “give and take” model. This model draws on feminist theories to consider how such individuals create a framework of society where women are considered less human than men, where women are expected to supply feminine-coded goods and services, and where men can take advantage of masculine-coded benefits and privileges.

This study finds that incel men expect women to provide feminine-coded services while men are entitled to assume masculine-coded privileges. Feminine-coded services that “she” is expected to provide to “him” are emotional, social, and reproductive. As incels assume masculine-coded privileges related to authority, power, and status, “she will give” and “he will take”; otherwise, “she will be punished.”

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