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Incels, in-groups, and ideologies: the representation of gendered social actors in a sexuality-based online community

Research output: Contribution to conference - Without ISBN/ISSN Conference paperpeer-review

Publication date2/05/2019
<mark>Original language</mark>English
Eventlavender languages 26 - University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden
Duration: 2/05/20194/05/2019


Conferencelavender languages 26
Abbreviated titleLavlang26
OtherThe Lavender Languages and Linguistics conference, dedicated to language and sexuality research, has run annually since 1993.
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We present a study of the online forum Reddit, specifically a sub-forum for (typically heterosexual) men who identify as involuntary celibates or ‘incels’. Incels are an online imagined community who wish to, but do not, have sexual relations with women, seeing women as the cause of their problems. Incels are explicitly marked for their sexuality, their lack of sexual interactions, and their ideologies on gender and sexuality.In this paper, we take a small but representative corpus of 65,000 words generated from 50 threads created and commented on by incels. We analyse word frequencies, collocations and concordance lines to explore the representation of gendered social actors. Preliminary findings show that, contrary to expectation, the most frequent terms for ‘women’ are not pejorative and male social actors are referred to in the corpus with only slightly lower frequencies.We also observe a pervasive generalisation of these gendered social actors, which is indicative of how the members of this online community create, maintain and reinforce their views of gender and sexuality. In qualitative terms, we note that first personsingular reference occurs only in narratives, a finding that complements the quantitative results on generalisations. We also explore how women and certain men are constructed as an ‘outgroup’ who are partly responsible for incels failing to engage in sexual interaction. We finally discuss how incels position themselves with regard to social status and social capital and how they argue that the type of masculinity they perform is marginalised.