Simone de Beauvoir on incel extremism

Understanding their quest for feminine validation

The concept of the incel – a community of men embittered by their perception of rejection at the hands of women – has haunted the popular imagination since Elliot Rodger’s mass shooting ten years ago. The conventional view is that incels resent feminism for disempowering men – here, Filipa Melo Lopes argues that incels are instead motivated by a thwarted craving for feminine approval better understood by Simone de Beauvoir than contemporary feminist discourse.


Nearly a decade ago, 22-year-old Elliot Rodger killed 7 people, including himself, in Isla Vista, California. In his lengthy manifesto, “My Twisted World”, Rodger laid out an epic tale of rejection, isolation, resentment, and vitriolic misogyny which started a public conversation about ‘incel’ extremism — violence connected to online communities of self-proclaimed ‘involuntary celibate’ men.

Feminists have typically insisted that incel attacks should be understood as backlas

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