ActivismCultureMusicSex & Gender
OPED: The “Incelification” of Young Boys
Imagine. It’s early in the morning before school. You brush your teeth, you’re getting ready, and maybe even get some breakfast after you grab the workout bag you use for gymnastics and cheerleading. You’re 15 & just started Year 11, which is exciting! It’s the year you take your GCSEs and the last year of secondary education, which means you can continue making steps to fulfill your dream of becoming a lawyer. You’ve got your whole life ahead of you and you can’t wait to see where it takes you. You finish doing your hair, which you love to do, then meet your friends to take the bus for a regular, normal day at school.
Now imagine, it’s early that same morning. You’re 17, potentially an even more exciting time because you’re almost a young adult. You’re managing further education, your future, your relationships. Before you head out to school for the day, you hope to see someone you feel like you love because you miss her. You write a note to give her, saying “I love you so much and I never met someone with a better smile and better eyes than what you have, special girl”, to show how much you care. You grab the bouquet of flowers you bought, hopefully, to show her just how special you think she is. But before you step out with the note, your bag, and the flowers, you grab one more thing: a foot-long knife. Maybe for protection. Maybe for fear of safety. Or maybe, just in case, she says the one thing that you’re taught girls aren’t allowed to say: no.
Those were the words on the love note found at the scene in Croydon, London, where Elianne Andam was brutally stabbed multiple times, allegedly protecting her friend from a 17-year-old teen boy who no longer shared the same affection for him. According to her family, Elianne loved all those things, doing her hair, gymnastics, cheerleading, and had a dream of becoming a lawyer. But that dream was snatched away in seconds when Elianne was caught in between the crossfire of a teenage boy’s simultaneous affection and hatred for girls and women. It takes a special cognitive dissonance to in one moment try to confess your love via flowers and a handwritten note, for just seconds later murder the best friend of the girl you have affection for. They say there’s a fine line between love and hate, and when it comes to how our young boys are taught to view women, that rings so true that you’d think sometimes it feels like there’s no love at all. It begs the question, how did we get here?
Simple. Society hates women. Society hates women and girls so much we’re teaching this to our young boys, stripping them of their innocence and giving them the tools to be active oppressors. This misogynistic radicalization and “incelification” is nothing new–misogyny and patriarchy have existed for centuries–however, with online spaces being accessible platforms that are harder to regulate, it’s propelling incel men like Andrew Tate and Kevin Samuels–who’s yes, now pushing daisies–to reach more people and corrupt young minds. Recently misogynistic influencer Nico Kenn De Balinthazy, better known as “Sneako,” was seen getting recognized by some young fans of his, when they blurted out “fuck the women!” with glee. When Sneako attempted to push back by saying “no wait, we love women,” the young boy responds “We love women, but not like, transgenders.” Sneako has around 84 million followers across YouTube and Instagram alone. That’s millions of minds, potentially as young as those fans, soaking in problematic rhetoric that leads to real, tangible dangers women and girls have to face.
And that’s the issue. This radicalization of young boys creates a more dangerous society for women and girls and by default, removes our ability to see the innocence and adolescence of young boys because they’re becoming a danger to society. Which is harmful to them because young boys deserve to have their innocence, they deserve an adolescence free from being corrupted by bigoted adults who are supposed to lead them. We want to be able to see them as young teens that have the ability to grow, the ability to change. But we are failing them. We are failing them so much that our girls are receiving the brunt of it. Toxic masculinity and misogyny absolutely hurts boys and men, but it kills girls and women. And in a society where racism, misogyny, and all the -isms and -phobias love to create intersectional marginalizations, what do you think this means for Black girls and women?
This radicalization is intrinsically aligned with the violence that Black women and girls already face. In 2015, a study showed that Black women in the U.S. were two and a half times more likely to be killed by a man than their white counterparts. Furthermore, we also experience domestic violence and sexual assault at higher rates. As the BLM movement showcased the ever-present problem of police brutality towards Black people, we also learned that four to five Black women & girls were killed daily in the U.S. in 2020. Currently, in the UK, a woman is killed every three days on average, with that most likely being more frequent for Black women, as Black femicide rates are higher. Additionally in South Africa, nine women are killed daily on average, making it one of the highest femicide rates in the world and an especially dangerous place for Black women.
Though people often like to downplay the violence Black women receive in online spaces, what we view and face there is often mirrored in our experience offline. A week or so ago, a viral clip was circulating showing a large group of seemingly young Black teens and men harassing a Black trans woman, throwing items at her and calling her slurs. Earlier in the month of September, Rho Bashe went to social media to share the aftermath of her getting hit in the face with a brick after refusing to give a man her number, in front of a group of Black men where no one stepped in. The rest of the month was spent with Rho being harassed, lied to, and gaslit by the masses, finding any excuse to blame her and say she was straight-up lying. To the extent where she felt compelled to post personal medical and police reports, to prove what happened. In 2018, a study was conducted that showed Black women are 84% more likely to face abuse & harassment on X, formerly known as Twitter. If these online spaces are breeding grounds for young boys and men to be radicalized into misogyny and misogynoir, then it only makes sense that these same online spaces become violent, turbulent grounds for Black women & girls to navigate. Whether it’s being the direct victim of harassment, watching Black women get dogpiled and abused, or having to constantly read viral posts that share their disdain for women, the online world has become one that eerily mirrors the world outside that we have to survive. It’s a multiverse of violence that we cannot escape.
But unfortunately, no matter how many stats, facts, and figures are shared, some of y’all still will believe that this is an agenda or contributing to a “gender war.” The thing is, it can’t be a war when only one side has the weapons. It can’t be a war when one side is dying. It’s not a war; it’s a massacre. It’s a genocide. This is the reality. The reality is we’ve been screaming at y’all to change, but all of our pleads have gone into an abyss that your echo chambers never reach. So as far as we’re concerned, it’s going to have to be “all men” until we can differentiate it’s not a specific man, and that’s going to translate–if it hasn’t already–to our young teens and boys. Because we won’t know which man might leave the house with a knife and decide to take a woman’s life, whether he’s as grown as 40, or as young as 17.
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