Why do people join the incel movement
With "Borowski and the fear of white men", the "Tatort" takes up a highly topical topic: hatred of women. Author Veronika Kracher has dealt with involuntarily celibate men (Incels).
You have researched the incel subculture for many years and at the end of 2020 published the book "Incels" on the new anti-feminism. Does the "crime scene" paint a realistic picture of this movement?
Veronika Kracher: What the "Tatort" shows very well is the connection between Manosphere, the online network of anti-feminist men's groups, and right-wing radicalism. The film makes it clear that the misogyny of the "Involuntary Celibates" - "men who involuntarily live in celibacy" - opens the door to right-wing radical thinking. A new generation of terrorists has grown up on right-wing internet forums and image boards such as "8kun" or "Kohlchan", all of whom embody the same type of perpetrator: the narcissistically offended, usually white man who sees a terrorist attack as compensation for his alleged insult by women . I think it's great that the "crime scene" takes up such an important topic and shows attitude.
Does the film character of Mario Lohse meet this type?
Cracker: Mario is a typical incel. On the one hand, it repeatedly evokes pity. You think, oh, that's just a shy young man who you really only need to hold in your arms, then he'll understand. On the other hand, you can feel that Mario is a misogynist, a potential violent criminal, and he's not an isolated incident. The film shows very well that Mario has a virtual environment that confirms his misogyny and leads to radicalization. I also find it aptly described how cynical the members of this community are with one another. Mario is insulted in the online chat as a loser who shouldn't "mess around", but must first prove himself as a man through brutal acts before the group can accept him. Incidentally, I asked myself: Was it actually the intention that Mario, after shaving his bald head, looked like Stefan B., the assassin from Halle? The similarities are striking.
In your opinion, what does not correspond to reality at all?
Cracker: In one point the film is more of a dream than reality. I would like to see real police officers who behave like Commissioner Klaus Borowski, who has a feminist awareness. In his investigation, he is directly aware of the misogyny, and Borowski shows no understanding of sexism and misogyny. I have already experienced so many threats and harassment on the Internet, but when I go to the police, I usually hear: Sorry, there is nothing we can do about that.
Where does the Incels' misogyny come from?
Cracker: Incels see themselves as the greatest victims of our time. Women are to blame for their status, because they deny them their natural right to sex, which is why they are condemned to a miserable life in virginity and loneliness. Your absolute enemy is feminism, which has given women the opportunity to freely choose a partner. The Incels believe they have lost out in the "genetic lottery". They are far too unsightly to satisfy the superficial female notions of attractiveness. Women would only desire so-called "Chads", that is, tall and muscular "alpha men". Therefore there were no more women left for Incels. As a solution, they propose a state allocation of women, which is of course completely ridiculous. But behind this is a dangerous ideology, according to which women are nothing more than sex objects that must be made subject to the man.
As the "Tatort" shows, this worldview is spread by men's rights activists and pick-up artists who give Incels like Mario tips in videos and seminars on how to pick up women. And how to push them back to where they belong: in the kitchen and in the marriage bed. They cling to the misconception that we live in a "femocracy" in which men are socially oppressed, left behind and almost robbed of their masculinity. They prescribe the so-called "redpill" ideology to their followers, according to which "femocracy" can be defeated by rediscovering their soldierly masculinity, suppressing women and becoming anti-feminist.
Is the problem not being taken seriously enough by the German authorities?
Cracker: Yes, there are two reasons for this. First, the authorities are not as internet savvy as they need to be. Therefore, they do not have an eye on the potential dangers of radicalized men online. The trial of the Halle assassin has shown the failures. Second, there is little awareness of the problem of violence against women. Every third day in Germany a woman is killed by her partner or her ex. Nevertheless, femicides, the killing of women and girls because of their gender, are not yet a criminal offense in their own right. And sexual harassment has only been in the penal code since the end of 2016.
How great is the threat of terrorism that Incels poses?
Cracker: Not every incel is a potential terrorist. In order to assess the risk, however, I find the term stochastic terrorism helpful. Because of the permanent dehumanization of women and the glorification of male assassins in the incel forums, the general probability that someone will commit an attack is growing. If you stay in this echo chamber permanently and incite each other, the chance increases that it will happen at some point.
Are the Incels being instrumentalized by right-wing extremist groups?
Cracker: Right-wing groups of men like the "Proud Boys", who propagate a fascist-soldier image of men, reject the Incels and ridicule their self-pity. But there are a number of ideological overlaps between Incels and right-wing groups, especially with regard to anti-feminism and anti-Semitism. And while there are many non-white Incels, they often cling to the racist ideology of "white supremacy". In addition, members of the "Identitarian Movement" are now using a similar language and similar memes as the Incels to reach a young audience radicalized on Imageboards.
How do you stop these misogynists?
Cracker: I consider deplatforming, i.e. closing right-wing forums and deleting corresponding accounts, to be an imperative and a first strategy. If only because these forums are psychologically harmful to the users themselves. The Incels claim to be depressed and have anxiety disorders. They belittle each other: you are ugly, you are worthless! It only takes a few clicks and you are faced with suicide threats. If an incel kills itself, it is said that women have murdered him: if they had slept with him, he would still be alive. Every minute young men don't spend in these places is a minute without psychological violence. Nevertheless, deplatforming starts too late. The basic damage is already done in their male socialization. In order to prevent boys from becoming women haters from the outset, we need gender-specific pedagogy, then critical men’s work and feminist legislation.
How will the "crime scene" be received by the Incels?
Cracker: I can guarantee you that the community will claim: "This 'crime scene' misrepresents us". The Incels will deny any connection to right-wing extremism. Any article or film in which they do not come across as a pitiful victim will be viewed by them as a personal attack. They have dug a deep hole that many cannot get out of without help. Actually, there is a need to get out of the masculinist scene, as is already available for right-wing extremists or sect members.
The interview was conducted by Helmut Monkenbusch, a freelance author.
This topic in the program:
Culture journal | 03/01/2021 | 10:45 p.m.
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