Trust Issues

The Deadly Incel Movement’s Absurd Pop Culture Roots

From a cheesy VH1 reality show to mass killing

Jude Ellison S. Doyle
Published in
20 min readJun 6, 2018
Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images

FFor years, one of the first Google hits on my name was an article titled “Stalking Sady Doyle.” It was written in 2011 by the “men’s rights” advocate Paul Elam.

The post was a response to an article I’d written about sexist internet harassment. Elam — who had set up a fake “sex offender registry,” called, to destroy the Google results of women who attended feminist protests — was, unsurprisingly, not persuaded by my points. When he began threatening me, his vision turned apocalyptic.

We stood poised at “the beginning of a boil over,” Elam promised, a “tipping point” that would wipe feminists off the map, sometimes violently. Women like me were going to experience “much more organized, high impact consequences…courtesy of the men’s movement.”

Simply put, we are coming for you. For all of you,” he wrote, in bold type. “And by the time we are done, you will wax nostalgic over the days when all you had to deal with was someone expressing the desire to fuck you up your shopworn ass.”

In 2011, the thought of terrorism organized by a group of sexist men online was laughable. So I did the professional thing: I ignored Elam’s post. I laughed it off. I moved on.

On April 23, Alek Minassian drove his car into a Toronto crowd, killing 10 people, eight of them female. “The Incel Rebellion has already begun,” Minassian had posted on Facebook. By that time, the Southern Poverty Law Center was describing Elam as a the leader of a male supremacist “hate group.” The “manosphere” to which he and Minassian belonged — an internet rat-king of blogs and message boards and lifestyle gurus, linked and defined by militant anti-feminism — had become a key sector of America’s fascist movement. Minassian wasn’t the first “incel” killer to make headlines; he explicitly modeled himself on Elliott Rodger, who had killed six people and nonfatally shot or run over 14 more in May 2014. Before both was George Sodini, who in 2009 killed three people and injured nine more.

Like Elam, Rodger saw himself as the harbinger of a coming storm. “One day incels will realise their true…



Jude Ellison S. Doyle
Writer for

Author of “Trainwreck” (Melville House, ‘16) and “Dead Blondes and Bad Mothers” (Melville House, ‘19). Columns published far and wide across the Internet.