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[flagged] The incel lexicon: Deciphering the emergent cryptolect of a global community (arxiv.org)
26 points by Anon84 38 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 45 comments

Interesting that this is actually a study. I see the major problems here (shaky citation sources, unfounded claims, poor data), but I also see the difficulty in attempting a study like this. I can agree with the claims even if I recognize the problems. Still, having Reddit as your only source of data seems like a recipe for disaster.

Maybe a better title would have been "examining incel lexicon and dissemination into popular discourse" - but then it would have had to be a better study.

One of the things that all good grad students learn is how to do paper triage. Presume that you are faced with a large number of papers and a limited time to read a subset of them. How do you allocate your time to papers?

I, and many others follow the "3 bad attributes" rule. If you're reading the paper and you see 3 shaky things- small sample size, multiple tests without correction, concluding something not supported by the data- you just stop reading the paper.

The other detail is that you should absolutely never start by looking at figures. Figures lie. They are designed to convince you what the author wants you to believe. Instead, you need to read the parts of the paper that describe what they did in detail, and build a model of that (this is why when authors share enough code and data to reproduce their experiment fully, people like me are happy because that saves literally a day or two of work), and convince yourself that you believe their work was done competently. Most papers were not done competently. Most of what you're reading is people who managed to convince themselves they found significance instead of null hypothesis.

At the end you're typically left with a very small number of good papers which pass every test you apply to them: they state what they did (materials and methods), what they got (results). You should care less about citations as long as the authors don't make obvious mistakes that are well-esconced in the literature).

Then, and only then do you pay attention. I rejected this paper within a few sentences because it looks to be an activist paper wrapped in semi-quantative analysis on a low quality dataset.

I'm curious as to what utility this information has in the format of an academic paper. If you wanted to learn the dialect of any subculture there are always a number of documents naintained by the subculture itself that explains them. What is the point of summarizing them in the grating faux-objective tone of the social sciences?

>Previous data-driven studies on incel-related communities have aimed to identify key words, to make inferences about incel demographics, to characterize activity on various platforms, and to automate detection of related communities

Do naive-bayes based spam filters not work any more? Or just no one knows how to implement them?

Papers like these are almost comedic if they weren't depressing. What this paper describes is real but also a meme. Incel hate communities are surprisingly large and tend to badly fly under the radar by expressing opinions through memes, which may make them seem more of a 'joke'. But the actual commentators on that meme then express the actual intent of it, as seen on Reddit, youtube, the various chans, etc.

I don't see this phenomenon getting better. It's very unpopular but in my experience some of the points raised by incel communities aren't wrong. The problem is they take something that may be correct and then act on it in entirely the wrong way. For example, Tinder, POF, and other "dating" apps are overwhelmingly comprised on Men seeking Women [0], with women seeking something like the top 10% of men. In market terms this means there's a severe problem in supply/demand wherein Women have plenty of supply and are more concerned about quality. Anecdotally I've seen this on Fetlife. If you have a PFP of a woman and show up on the listings you'll be bombarded with messages of sexual offerings. If you have a man PFP you will have to put in significant work to build your reputation, talk to people, and have the physical qualities necessary.

What some incels fail to realize, and others actively exploit, is that all those offerings and attention have risk attached to them. If by telling a man "no thank you" you're verbally abused, slandered about, stalked, harassed, and overall treated as if you are required to serve this man - is that really "privledged"? It can be in a small minority, but from what I've seen the average person is not at all prepared to deal with that and you end up being abused simply for being a women.

One of the most concerning parts of Inceldom though is how much younger men comprise it. Why is it young men, and not men in their 30's-40's no longer youthfully attractive? Perhaps I'm wrong and I would like to be, but I have seen an uptick in young women for older men. I know that much of it starts from the internet, where older men are essentially legal predators whom know all the right words to say and have the resources to carry it out. Perhaps this problem isn't new though - I talked to some older women about this and have gotten largely the same response: "Men appreciate with age, women depreciate.".

I don't believe inceldom is entirely artificial, and if we ignore the reasons for it out of hand we're going to see a natural result where it just continues to increase because people don't want to understand why nor address it. If someone is an individual whom struggles with the problems above, they are going to be more inclined to join inceldom if everyone outside of it dismisses the root causes and labels it.

These are just my broken opinions, this subject is far larger and can be an entire book.



Indeed. This is a good TEDx talk from a feminist who went to make a documentary about what she described as "a misogynistic hate-group working against women's equality" and about what she learned after a year interviewing "the enemy".


Good video. Thank you for sharing.

You are the company you keep, and many among the "MGTOW", the "Red Pill" pickup folks, etc. have not bothered to clearly break away and denounce their hateful and violent neighbors. That's what "ecosystem" means.

They probably do, but you either aren't willing to look or are waiting on mainstream media to report it. Muslims have had to deal with that kind of rhetoric for years (probably decades), but if you watch Arabic mainstream news, they clearly and openly denounce violence.

And as I said to another user, people are more crass online. If all you experienced online was for example 4chan, you'd think the world is beyond fucked up... which is probably true, but not everybody's like on 4chan or (even worse) twitter.

You have to learn to contrast between real-world experiences, the online world, what other people tell you about stuff (friends, the media, acquaintances, preachers, etc.).

> What about the fathers and men who advocate for changes to k-12 education to help boys succeed. Are these men's rights advocates also part of this "manosphere"?

Probably not. They’re talking about specific groups.

Just know that largely groups like Incel, MGTOW, and PUA aren't doing men any favors. Any progressive movement will have toxic sects, but that shouldn't negate the entire movement altogether.

There are better groups out there such as the Men's Liberation (https://www.reddit.com/r/MensLib/) which focus more on positive change rather than misogyny or negatives that should be encouraged for those seeking support.

The problem is that even just advocating for things like more resources for male domestic violence victims, is seen as taking away resources from female victims. So it will be viewed as misogynist no matter who does it.

For example: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domestic_violence_against_men#...

So Men's Liberation groups can't actually pursue any concrete advocacy for men without being accused of misogyny, which makes their effectiveness highly limited. Basically you can choose optics (which Men's Liberation groups choose) or efficacy (which the group that won that lawsuit on behalf of male domestic violence victims chose) but it seems very difficult to balance both in one group. So maybe both groups are necessary.

To add on to what others have replied, there is a "men's rights" movement called "men's liberation," which embraces feminism and its critique of patriarchy, focusing on how that system has hurt men, but not vilifying women in the process.

Why is operating outside of the paradigm of liberal feminism automatically equivalent to vilifying women? There seems to be an insatiable need for liberalism to 'other' those outside of it: critical of feminism? Misogynist. Critical of CRT? Racist. No need for discussion, no need to examine the internal contradictions of the worldview.

It's not unfounded, but MRAs are purely reactionary; they're the mirror twin of their enemies. They replace the "patriarchy" with the "gynocracy" and call it a day. I prefer authentic harmony between femininity and masculinity, but neither of these movements serves this purpose at all (some will object that they do, but both view their opposite as inherently poisonous--within feminism men can only be "good" by "betraying masculinity", and vice versa).

> Why is operating outside of the paradigm of liberal feminism automatically equivalent to vilifying women? There seems to be an insatiable need for liberalism to 'other' those outside of it...

Because if your goal is to advance liberal feminism, you can help achieve that by "discouraging" opposition to it, leaving your slide to dominate the conversation. That discouragement often takes the form of various ways of increasing the personal cost for an individual to express an opposing opinion (e.g. through boycotts, vilification, harassment, marginalization, etc). As a tactic, it works, at least in the short to medium term (and it feels good, too).

This article is pretty interesting and related: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/05/opinion/gay-marriage-boyc.... tl;dr: Gay marriage activists succeeded in part by personally targeting wealthy gay marriage opponents, causing them to avoid making donations to opponent organizations, leading to funding disparities that helped the advocates prevail.

“Men’s liberation” embracing feminism is a contradiction in terms.

> “Men’s liberation” embracing feminism is a contradiction in terms.

It may or may not be an accurate description of this group (I haven't heard of “men’s liberation”, or if I did I’ve forgotten, and it would be atypical of what generally falls under the “men’s rights” banner), but the described position (accepting the feminist critique of patriarchy but focussing within that on how patriarchy hurts and limits men and addressing those issues) is a perfectly coherent position; while feminism doesn't view the impact of patriarchy as symmetric on sex/gender, it certainly does identify it as harmful and limiting to men as well as women.

Having spent a few years following feminist discourse a while back, this doesn't work because the idea that patriarchy hurts men too is only permissible as a way of demanding that everyone treat existing, women-centric feminism as already solving men's problems without having to think about them or, indeed, really treat men as people. Actually, more than that: it's used to argue that anyone who really cared about the issues facing men would stop discussing or thinking about them and fall in line behind feminism and women's issues instead because that is the real movement addressing them, and therefore anyone who doesn't is just a misogynist in disguise. Or was a few years ago at any rate.

Also, what makes this interesting is that there is almost no such thing as a problem with existing gender roles that solely affects men. For example, the obstacles blocking men from parenting children within society are inextricably intertwined with the feminist, women-centric idea that parenting should not fall entirely on women, but it is basically impossible to address the former without outright rejecting feminism even though they are a direct obstacle to those feminists' goals. Usually it just ends up in blaming the men for failing to overcome obstacles that the people involved can't even realise exist and are probably quietly perpetuating in their own lives.

I'm sorry, i'm not that good at english and this is quite confusing. Can you re-word it?

Are you saying that there is fact multiple kind of feminism, or multiple ways to defend feminism, and one of them block -or rather challenge - the other? If this is the case, i agree.

I'll go with my experience. My father demanded shared right every year for seven years. He had to go to a tribunal where my mother lived, probably de most conservative county in France (only royalist one at least). For seven year, he was told "no", and was even told to stop taking the judge's time. The eighth year, the law changed and the case was instructed at his place of living, a very liberal county (liberal as the americans understand the term). He got the shared rights.

Now, its only one case, outside the US so probably the culture is different. But i think there is a reason why the mens liberation movement exist, and i do think it is necessary to have different point of view on feminism, inside the feminist movement. Internal iscourse is necessary for a movement to grow with the rest of society.

Interesting case. Would he then get shared rights in the U.S., given a similar background to the case? Keep in mind that shared visitation rights are not only exceedingly rare, but opposed by many U.S. feminist movements. Trying to work on this stuff "inside the feminist movement" is something many people will see as a non-starter.

> ...a way of demanding that everyone treat existing, women-centric feminism as already solving men's problems without having to think about them or, indeed, really treat men as people.

A few years back, I was friends with several very feminist people [1] who expressed exactly that thought in about as many words. In other cases, they were very much of the belief that group-members should be followed as advocates for their own group. The big glaring exception was men, and they didn't grasp the contradiction or their blind spot.

[1] It was a mixed group who's strongest ideological commitment was to feminism and related ideologies. The men definitely put the women's perspectives above their own.

> Having spent a few years following feminist discourse a while back, this doesn't work because the idea that patriarchy hurts men too is only permissible as a way of demanding that everyone treat existing, women-centric feminism as already solving men's problems without having to think about them or, indeed, really treat men as people.

This is complete bullshit.

Not to say that you can’t find this way of thinking; it certainly exists and gets disproportionate play from anti-feminists to whom it is convenient, but it hardly exhausts, or even typifies, feminist thought.

Unfortunately, "the feminist critique of patriarchy" is itself incoherent, so that doesn't really help "men's liberation movement" proponents. Coming up with a scary, thought-terminating cliche ("patriarchy") that itself conflates a huge variety of institutional/social arrangements, a vast amount of which are supported and maintained by women far more than men, is junk social science, and is hardly a satisfactory foundation for any social movement.

Did you know that toxic groups can have banal names? Its true.

In my opinion the bias/flaw OP is indicating can be confirmed in this sentence: "we contextualize the incel community's online expressions of misogyny and real-world acts of violence" which was preceded by defining the "incel community" as "an online community of men who bear antipathy towards themselves, women, and society-at-large for their perceived inability to find and maintain sexual relationships".

This can produce a conflation in the reader's understanding and if accepted at face value makes a fallacious argument to invalidate such "antipathy" where it may often not remotely be combined with either unfairness/invalidity nor violence.

It's irresponsible towards future generations, and will also set a precedent to ruin scientific practice, if that has not occurred already.

No, this really is just a cynical way of lumping thinking of men as people together with misogyny and violence against women in an effort to dicredit it for ideological reasons. In particular, the groups lumped together as "the manosphere" absolutely hate each other over fundamental ideological and moral differences regarding pretty much everything.

> ... absolutely hate each other over fundamental differences ...

Evidence? It looks like these other "manosphere" movements haven't even bothered to denounce the blatantly hateful acts of mass murder and domestic terrorism linked to the notorious "incel" losers, so I kinda have to dispute this statement.

Not something I could easily dig up - it's been a few years now since I last looked in on any of this, and all the convenient summaries like this one insisted that they were part of some universal "manosphere" that could be painted with a broad brush and didn't care about or believe any denunciations of hateful acts or other groups back then too.

But see, that's the point - if these groups really hate one another to that extent, it should be trivial to dig up. So far, the broader "manosphere" description seems more accurate than not.

There are mens rights groups that actively excise and shun misogyny

There’s a decent one on reddit if I remember the name I’ll let you know

Just saw your response after submitting my own. Pretty sure the group you're looking for was /r/MensLib

Yes that’s the one

This thread is going to be a hoot...

FWIW: "incels", "mens rights activists", and (hilariously) "divorce lawyers" are three different groups doing different things. The first two have significant overlap, but not total, and the third is almost completely disjoint. Needless to say self-described "involuntary celibates" don't correlate well at all with parents and aren't involved in many divorce proceedings.

The article isn't talking about MRA issues (not just custody, but claims of reverse discrimination, etc...) at all. It's about "incel" language and tracking it on social media.


And you should probably look into what the Men's Rights Activists are actually advocated for prior to passing judgement on a whole group.

Be aware that news in the US is very polarized and that online communities are often converge to echo chambers. The comments you read online and the people you meet there are probably the most active there. IRL, (at least in Europe) people are much less extreme than they are online. Remember that online, people tend to be more crass.

Don't read The New York Times or BBC at their word, just like you wouldn't take The Wallstreet Journal or The Washington Times at their word.

Sentences like

> Self-identified "mens' rights activists", by and large, advocate for mens' rights in much the same way as the Democratic Peoples' Republic of Korea is very, very democratic.

Can easily be modified to replace "mens' rights" with "feminists" and "feminism" and be just as wrong.

Here's what a feminist has to say about the Men's Rights movement https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3WMuzhQXJoY

> online communities are often converge to echo chambers

Sure, but that's what OP's paper is about - the way that online echo chambers can be misused to further hateful ideology online. The fact that most people tend to act more moderate and sensible IRL is something else altogether.

And so what should they call themselves to distinguish themselves from misogyny?

It's not the name that's the problem. Even just advocating for things like more resources for male domestic violence victims, is seen as taking away resources from female victims. So it will be viewed as misogynist no matter who does it.

For example: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domestic_violence_against_men#...

Something other than "mens' rights activists", because that name is already taken, by a malign group.

It's a bit like how you, if you were ran an electricity network, you wouldn't call a committee set up to improve public safety warnings and protections on your pylons the "Committee of Public Safety", because, while that might seem on the face of it an innocuous and descriptive name, they did do the Reign of Terror.

There are groups who sincerely advocate on mens' issues, but they typically use different names.

It's not the name that is the problem.


Bro, as a minor official in the Democratic Party, let me reassure you that we are nowhere near organized enough to behave like tyrants. We spend more energy squabbling with each other to ever bother with our Liberal Zionist Master Plan, which doesn’t even exist. We can’t even agree on whether to build more housing, as our bleeding hearts can’t choose between the homeless and the spotted owls. The fact that we’re governing is more of a sign of the complete shambles of a Republican Party than anything else.

Don't worry, we'll come back to issues that exclusively men face after all of the other groups issues are resolved.

It's similar to advocating for Corporation rights. It's a grossly over-represented, already thriving group, so advocating for _even more_ disparity between that group and other much less fortunate/under-represented groups is seen as contentious. It's all relative to the actual status quo.

yes men are over-represented at the top, but they are also over-represented at the bottom. Men make up most of the homeless, drug-addicts, prison population, successful suicides, soldiers who die, etc.

Right but you can also chalk those areas you mention up to something wrong with masculinity in our culture / toxic masculinity. For the prison population this conditions men to commit more crimes and conditions courts to be more likely to convict them. Men commit more suicide because toxic masculinity puts pressure on them to be a provider/breadwinner and when they fail they can't take the pressure. More men are societally encouraged to become soldiers, and then feel the need to "be a man" and put themselves in danger, so more die. Homeless and drug addicts -- there is increased mental illness in men, why? (more pressure to succeed and provide and compete for females, pressure creates psychological problems), drug addicts = escapism from failure to meet society's requirements. All of this stuff comes from a toxic masculinity embedded in our culture, and it can be fixed slowly over time by breaking down gender-based stereotypes and expectations.

Point being, toxic masculinity is super harmful to men, in addition to being harmful to women.

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