What is an 'incel'? The dark subculture linked to Plymouth gunman Jake Davison

·4-min read
Jake Davison posted videos online about incel subculture.
Jake Davison posted videos online about incel subculture. (Youtube)

A man who killed five people in a shooting in Plymouth spoke about "incels" in videos he posted online in the weeks before going on his deadly rampage.

Jake Davison's victims included three-year-old Sophie Martyn and his mother 51-year-old Maxine Davison.

His shooting spree lasted six minutes before he turned the gun on himself and took his own life.

The other victims of Davison’s Plymouth shooting spree were Sophie's father Lee Martyn, 43; Stephen Washington, 59 and Kate Shepherd, 66, police confirmed on Friday.

The shooting has thrown the spotlight on incel culture, which was mentioned by Davison in videos he posted online.

Watch: Plymouth gunman identified as Jake Davison

He said in a YouTube video - under the name "Professor Waffle" - that he felt "beaten down" and "defeated by life."

His channel was subscribed to gun-related accounts and another named "Incel TV", although in one of his videos Davison said he "wouldn’t clarify myself as an incel".

In another clip, he discusses missing out on a teenage romance and refers to "Chads", an incel community term for good-looking men who attract women.

He also made disparaging claims about women's intellect and claimed they were only interested in money.

A police investigator carries an evidence bag in Royal Navy Avenue in the Keyham area of Plymouth where six people, including the offender, died of gunshot wounds in a firearms incident Thursday evening. Picture date: Friday August 13, 2021.
A police investigator carries an evidence bag in the Keyham area of Plymouth where a gunman shot five people dead. (PA)

He also "liked" a series of videos about guns, and shared posts on Facebook quoting former American president Donald Trump as well as pictures of a statue holding a rifle with the US flag in the background.

What is an incel?

An incel - or "involuntary celibate" - is a member of an online subculture involving men who express hostility and extreme resentment towards those who are sexually active, particularly women.

Incels define themselves as unable to find a romantic or sexual partner despite wanting one.

Discussions on incel forums online often contain hatred, misogyny, racism and the endorsement of violence against women.

What are the term’s origins?

The term incel was coined by a woman. A Canadian student known only as Alana created a website in 1993 to talk about her lack of sexual activity with others.

In 1997, she began a mailing list using the abbreviation INVCEL, which was later shortened to "incel". In an interview with the BBC in 2018, she described the website as a "friendly place".

She left her online project in 2000.

Who are incels?

Incels now tend to predominately white heterosexual males who resent their inability to find a partner and often blame women for this.

Writer Eleanor Penny, who has studied incel culture and online hate groups, told the BBC on Friday that incel culture "preys off a sense of alienation and despair and gives them this incredibly cruel and violent way of supposedly taking the power back for themselves".

Incels are predominantly young white heterosexual males. (Getty)
Incels are predominantly young white heterosexual males. (Getty)

She said: "It is a funny historical coincidence that a movement that is so animated at its core by misogyny and a deep mistrust of women, was in fact started by women.

"But now we see that the vast majority of people who identify as incels, who participate in this broad network of online subcultures unified under that umbrella are largely men, largely young white men."

What killings have been linked to incels?

Incel culture has been associated with killings and acts of violence, particularly in the US.

In America last month, Tres Genco, a 21-year-old from Ohio who described himself as an "incel", was charged with plotting a mass shooting targeting women in university sororities.

The US justice department said: "The incel movement is an online community of predominantly men who harbour anger towards women.

"Incels advocate violence in support of their belief that women unjustly deny them sexual or romantic attention to which they believe they are entitled."

Forensic officers in Biddick Drive in the Keyham area of Plymouth where six people, including the offender, died of gunshot wounds in a firearms incident Thursday evening. Picture date: Friday August 13, 2021.
Forensic officers in Biddick Drive in the Keyham area of Plymouth where five people were shot dead on Thursday evening. (PA)

Read more: Plymouth attack - What have been the worst mass shootings in the UK?

In 2014, Elliot Rodger, 22, killed six people in a stabbing and shooting spree in Isla Vista, California.

Before the killings, Rodger reportedly uploaded a YouTube video outlining his motives for the attack as revenge on women for rejecting him and as a result is described as becoming the spiritual figurehead of the incel movement.

He also made references to the so-called "black pill" philosophy – described as a fatalistic view that a person’s success with the opposite sex is determined at birth.

In an online comment, Davison had posted that he had been "consuming the black pill overdose."

Watch: Police confirm Plymouth shooter was gun licence holder

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