Swallowing the Black Pill: Involuntary Celibates’ (Incels) Anti Feminism within Digital Society


Involuntary celibates (incels) are part of the online ‘manosphere’ and have been widely discussed in contemporary media in recent years due to their involvement in several offline mass murders. This article presents empirical data that specifically map aspects of the incel worldview: the ‘black pill’. Analysis of online discussion forums demonstrates how incels believe society is ordered through a hetero-patriarchal racial hierarchy and justify their sexlessness through beliefs rooted in biological determinism and victimisation by women and feminism. It is argued that the black pill is a disciplinary device that aids in building a digital counter-public that engenders a collective incel identity. Further, the article argues that the black pill produces a form of ‘stochastic terrorism’ in which users interpret its spectrum of beliefs to enact harms from online gender-based hate speech through terrorist violence in the offline world. As a point of departure, the article argues that incel counter-publics transcend the false distinctions between online and offline; both ‘worlds’ contribute to the (re)production of incel anti-feminism and misogyny.

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Published: 2022-03-01
Pages:210 to 224
Section:Part 2: Rethinking the Technology-Harm Nexus
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How to Cite
Lindsay, A. (2022) “Swallowing the Black Pill: Involuntary Celibates’ (Incels) Anti Feminism within Digital Society”, International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy, 11(1), pp. 210-224. doi: 10.5204/ijcjsd.2138.

Author Biography

Te Herenga Waka - Victoria University of Wellington
 New Zealand

Angus Lindsay is a prospective PhD candidate in the Institute of Criminology at Te Herenga Waka - Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. His PhD research explores the effects of digital capitalism on the far-right. His research aims to build on the dearth of scholarship on the far-right and their online interactions in the Aotearoa New Zealand context. He also actively conducts work on intelligence-led policing