Toronto van attack raises questions about masculinity and society gender expectations

Kalie Strain, Reporter

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Content warning: sexual violence


On April 23, 2018, 10 people were killed in Toronto when a man plowed a rental van into a crowd. Why did this senseless act of violence happen?

The man accused of this act of violence is Alek Minassian. Prior to the attack Minassian posted on Facebook saying, “The Incel Rebellion has already begun! We will overthrow all the Chads and Stacys! All hail the Supreme Gentleman Elliot Rodger!”

This raises a lot of questions. What is an “Incel”, Why do they need to overthrow Chads and Stacys? Who is Elliot Rodger?

“I was cast out and rejected, forced to endure an existence of loneliness and insignificance, all because the females of the human species were incapable of seeing the value in me.” This is a quote from Rodger’s manifesto. This is what he wrote before murdering six people and wounding 14 others. This manifesto is the cornerstone writing for Incels.

An “Incel” is a man who is “involuntarily celibate.” These are men desperate to have sex, but just can’t get women to sleep with them. Self-proclaimed Incel’s have found solace with each other on online forums. “Chads” and “Stacys” are people who, unlike Incels, have no problem finding sexual partners.

This violence shouldn’t be shocking. Google “woman killed for rejecting man” and you can scroll through story after story of women getting killed for saying no to men. In 2015 the FBI found in that single year, 928 women were killed by their intimate partners.

What are we going to do about this? Why do men get so angry at being rejected that they rob people of their lives? Why do men resort so quickly to violence? Why do men feel like women owe them sex?

“Women fear rape more than death, because it is a man forcefully taking the only thing from her that makes her have worth, her sexuality.” This was written by an anonymous person on one of the Incel’s online forums. Another man on the forum suggested raping women and then throwing acid on their faces.

“In a way you claimed a priceless treasure for yourself, you are the last person to enjoy and ravage their beauty before it is destroyed,” read the said the poster.

Men are raised to be “tough guys.” Men are told that they don’t get to show emotion. They’re told “real men” sleep with a lot of women and don’t care about them. Is it really a question why men lash out with physical aggression when they don’t know how to process the embarrassment and sadness of being rejected by a woman they’re interested in?

We need to raise our boys differently. Boys need to be taught how to handle emotions. They need to be taught they aren’t owed women’s sexuality and being rejected isn’t a slight on their manhood. We’re doing a disservice to our boys and to humanity when we don’t teach them how to handle emotions.

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