A safety brief analyzing security concerns at one military installation offered up an eccentric example of a potential hazard when instructors warned airmen in attendance of the growing threat of incels, or involuntary celibates.
The online-based community of introverted, sexless individuals that may have started decades ago as an innocuous attempt at achieving a sense of belonging has, in recent years, become a label for a more aggressive sect of repugnant men who cast the entirety of the blame for their coitus-free existence onto women.
This scorn has manifested in the form of heinous misogyny shared over online message boards, and in a handful of cases, escalated into deadly violence.
In the wake of learning Army veteran and Dallas courthouse shooter, Brian Isaack Clyde, was an active participant in the incel subculture, at least one base — Maryland’s Joint Base Andrews — is now taking measures to educate service members on the warning signs — including the use of a popular meme Clyde shared on his social media — of potential violence carried out by the incel community.
In the time leading up to the shooting, Clyde shared a version of the incel meme known as “Virgin vs. Chad,” in which the characteristics of an incel man are stacked up against his antithesis. In Clyde’s case, the meme contrasted the ways in which the Virgin and Chad would carry out a mass shooting, according to the Dallas Morning News.
Clyde, who was found with a rifle and more than 150 rounds of ammunition on his body, was shot and killed by security officers shortly after he opened fire at the Earle Cabell Federal Building. There were no other casualties.
The “Becky vs. Stacy” iteration that was used during the brief at Andrews, one that was shared Tuesday to the popular Facebook page, Air Force amn/nco/scno, depicts two types of women flanked by a series of debasing comments incels use to characterize those who refuse to enter romantic relationships with them.
Increased discussion in “extremist connections and attacks” from incels is cited in the brief along with other incel character traits, such as maintaining the belief that they are “owed attention from ‘Beckys.'”
“The content of this briefing was based upon law enforcement as well as public sources and was used to inform both military commanders and law enforcement personnel about a very real threat to military members and civilians," Master Sgt. Jake Richmond, spokesman for Joint Base Andrews, told Military Times.
“The briefing aims to provide those audiences with the necessary tools to identify and prevent threats.”
One such threat came to a violent end in May 2014, when 22-year-old Elliot Rodger shared a video blaming women at UC Santa Barbara for his repeated romantic failures before going on a shooting and stabbing rampage on the school’s campus.
The same day as the Isla Vista killings, Rodger posted a video titled, “Why do girls hate me so much?” in which he ranted against women at the school.
“I don’t know why you girls are so repulsed by me. I do everything I can to appear attractive to you. I dress nice, I am sophisticated, I am magnificent. I have a nice car, a BMW. . . I am polite," he said.
"I am the ultimate gentleman. And yet, you girls never give me a chance. I don’t know why. I feel so invisible as I walk through my college. Your revealing shorts, your cascading blonde hair, your pretty faces. I want one for a girlfriend. I deserve girls much more than all those slobs. . . . I should be the one with the girls. I mean, look at me? I’m gorgeous. But you girls don’t see it.”
Rodger killed six and injured 14 more before shooting himself in his vehicle. The video has since been taken down.
In April 2018, Alek Minassian allegedly hopped his rental van onto a sidewalk in downtown Toronto, ramming pedestrians in an attack that left 10 dead and 16 wounded.
Some incels on online forums, such as the popular “4Chan," went as far as to celebrate the alleged killer in the wake of the attack, using Minassian’s image as avatars and calling for follow-up hostilities using “mass rape,” “poison,” and “mass acid attacks.”
Whether the Joint Base Andrews example is part of a DoD-wide initiative remains unclear, but Richmond made clear that Andrews wants to remain out in front of any potential hazards.
“The safety and security of our installation personnel and families are paramount.”
J.D. Simkins is a writer and editor for Military Times, and a USMC veteran.