Late in the month of May this year, the Canadian Security Intelligence Agency brought forth the issue of violent misogyny, which is now included as a form of ideological extremism. The example most cited herein is that of INCELS (Involuntary Celibates), whose followers have been suspected of attacks in the city of Ontario, in addition to a deadly attack in a Toronto Massage Parlour earlier in February this year. Inclusion of violent misogyny under ideological terrorism makes it easier to prosecute them for acts of terrorism.
INCELS is a group which cannot be ascribed to a single ideology, but the fundamental on which they function, is raging against those men and women who are capable of finding partners, given that the members of the group itself, who were longing for an intimate relationship, couldn’t find one. These are the people who may stand exclusion from the pool of dating due to their appearance or personalities. The discussions for this group mostly occur on online forums, and they are characterized by self-pity, self-loathing, racism, resentment, and most importantly, misogyny and a strong sense of male supremacy. Ever since 2014, at least six mass murders have been committed by men self-identifying themselves as INCELS, or whose private writings or internet postings found the mention of it.
As the group becomes a threat to the national security of Canada, the most recent example being stabbing of two women in their workplaces at Toronto, the Toronto Public Service and Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) announced that the murder and attempted charges will be regarded as a terrorist activity. This is the first time that a terrorism charge has been levied against the INCELS in any country.
INCELS are not considered an actual organization or group with clear structure, but an undefined group of people active largely on message boards and online fora. The fact that they are an undefined group of individuals operating from spaces in the dark web, has been stated by Renske Van Der Deer, in his report published by the International Centre for Counter Terrorism – The Hague.
The move regarding classification of INCELS as a terrorist organization in Canada is something that has found both appreciation and criticism from different fronts. The biggest advantage perhaps is that this move may help in combating against gender-driven violence, which emerges as an important current in violent extremism. But there is also a belief that while terrorism may be an activity which targets the state or its existence, movements such as that of INCELS channel the vulnerability of an individual into violence, which is more than often directed towards the societal structure. They are often seeing blaming the idea of sexual liberation which has created an unfair world for them, and that in order to revert to a more patriarchal society, violence may need to be used. In light of the same, traditional methods of counterterrorism may not be well applicable to the threat posed by this movement.
As Canada seeks to involve violent misogyny as part of ideological extremism, which may enlist the acts done by INCEL as terrorist activity, the same may be inviting various discussions and deliberations not only within the country, but also for the entire world, as in one way or the other, it opens a debate to expanding the definitions of different forms of extremism, which may be instrumental in expanding the definition of terrorism further.