The Rise of Incels in Nigeria: Who are Incels?

In recent times persons who identify as “Incels” have been increasingly vocal about their ideology perpetrating hate and violence toward women. Many incels are known for their toxic views about women and their fellow men who they perceive as more advantageous to them because they are physically attractive. Incel forums, which are often associated with misogyny and violent language, have become a growing phenomenon and persons associated with this movement are susceptible to radicalization by others easily. In this article we will address incels in Nigeria specifically.

Incels in Nigeria

What are Incels?

Incels, which stands for “involuntary celibates”, are individuals who, despite being typically unattractive, socially inept, and frequently misogynistic, have failed to find a sexual partner despite their attempts. This phenomenon started as a support group for socially awkward individuals to enable them to navigate dating life better.

The term Incel has been used to refer to both men and women, though it is more commonly associated with men. The incel definition refers to a subset of individuals who feel they are “owed” sex and feel entitled to it. What was once a support group has rapidly degenerated into a hate-filled community, it has become increasingly common to see expressions of hate towards women as well as calls for violence.

Incels in Nigeria

Incels are a growing phenomenon in Nigeria. In the past, online chat rooms, forums, and online dating sites have served as meeting grounds for many people to meet and forge relationships. With the proliferation of smartphones and internet access, many Nigerians have found new ways to meet prospective partners. However, a disturbing trend is the rise of people who have come together in these chatrooms to express their hate.

The growth of the Incel movement in Nigeria has recently gained traction amongst men, where certain personalities who loosely term themselves “Alpha Males” teach men how to be a “high-value man”. By teaching them how to abuse women emotionally and financially while deliberately leaving out physical violence in order to stay out of the wrath of the law. The men in turn brag about applying these teachings in real life and where men oppose this behavior or condemn it, they are called “simps” which means they are not men enough and are desperate for attention from women.

The Rise of Violence and Hate Towards Women

The rise of Incels points to a dangerous trend of increased physical and emotional violence and hate against women. Events of physical violence that have been perpetrated by incels have been reported widely by the western media. One such case is Elliot Rodger, a 22-year-old who went on a murder spree on 23 May 2014 in Isla Vista, California United States. After releasing a YouTube video manifesto stating his intentions as punishment to women for rejecting him and sexually active men because he was jealous of them.

However, in Nigeria, there hasn’t been such extreme violence i.e. mass killings, etc. but rather a base-level
violence against women like physical, emotional, and financial abuse. The lackluster response to this issue has also been coupled with a rise in societal acceptance of such views.

The Psychological Impact of Incels in Nigeria on Women

The incel phenomenon has had a very negative impact on the psyches of women. Many women have been hounded on the internet and intimidated by incels, who have threatened them and have even gone as far as to publish their personal information and addresses.

There have been cases where incels have gone to the addresses of women they have been stalking on the internet. The psychological impact on women has been devastating, events like this may give rise to anxiety and other related mental health problems. It is important to note that while men’s psyches have also been impacted by incels, the brunt of this is being borne by women. This is because women are the primary targets of the incels and this has been met with little effort to curb this budding threat.

The Dangers of Incels in Nigeria for Society

The dangers of incels cannot be overemphasized. Incels have been known to orchestrate massive harassment efforts toward women which grew into a full act of terrorism in society. Not only targeting women but also innocent men and children. While there are laws against stalking, intimidation, and cyberstalking, many women have been unable to access the resources and support they need to combat this problem. Many women have even been afraid to go to the authorities out of fear of being met with hostility and dismissed.

There are many online platforms like Reddit, 4chan, and Twitter amongst others that have allowed incels to continue their harassment efforts without intervention. There have been cases where women have gone to the police and been dismissed as seeking attention, liars, or delusional. Women have been told that they should just go offline if they feel threatened. This normalization and dismissal of incels as harmless has contributed to their growing brazenness and terrorization of society at large.

Potential Solutions to Address the Incels Phenomenon

Efforts can be made to address the incels phenomenon, while it is going to be a hard one because Nigeria is a deeply patriarchal society, it is doable if done right and swiftly. The first and most important solution is recognizing the problem for what it is which is a form of male supremacism and addressing it from its foundations and teaching boys gender equality, respect, and boundaries, stressing the agency of women.

Further online safety could go a long way in mitigating the dangers of the incel community because the recruitment medium for incel communities is the internet. Internet platforms like YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, 4chan amongst others can take a more stringent approach to address hateful forums on their platforms.

Conclusions on Incels in Nigeria

The Incel phenomenon is a dangerous trend that has grown in recent years and showing potential for extremism that hopefully will strike up a discussion and extensive study of the radicalization of men, its core beliefs, and the repercussions on society at large.

Rabia Buba

A legal Practitioner, who enjoys writing and hopes to impact social change, education and awareness through articles that hopes to spark important conversations.