Throughout history, men have responded to feminist progress with political backlash. Pre-internet men's groups used biological constructions of gender as a method of reinforcing patriarchal power by restricting the rights of women. Today, the same methods are used in a loose collection of men's rights groups online called 'the manosphere'. Within the manosphere, men who identify as involuntarily celibate (incels) blame women for their perceived loss of masculine power. Some incels have taken their anti-feminist backlash offline through acts of mass violence, suggesting an emergent need for social science research into the incel identity. This paper outlines the theoretical orientation of hegemonic masculinity then applies it to past men's movements and their extensions found online today. Data for this study was found on the public online forum, Incels.co, the forum's wiki page, and in news articles related to incels. A qualitative thematic analysis was conducted on 50 forum posts. Themes that emerged from forum data were compared to wiki entries and news articles to provide a comprehensive understanding of incels' identity development. Findings include narratives that describe incels' experiences of devalued masculinity on the heterosexual marketplace through lookism, or perceived discrimination by physical appearance. A subcategory of lookism emerged in observed performances of masculine entitlement over women and their bodies. This study's findings suggest that incels frame their perceived devalued masculinity as a justification for their political position of anti-feminism. A sub-category of anti-feminism emerged in incels' sense of lost hope for life, with narratives that describe experiences of depression, suicidal ideation, and fantasies about mass violence. Findings also suggest that incels reify their own power using narratives about marginalized masculinities that subordinate men and women.
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Master of Arts (M.A.)
College of Sciences
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Jones, Annie, "Incels and the Manosphere: Tracking Men's Movements Online" (2020). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2020-. 65.