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What is an ‘incel?’ A look at the anti-women movement behind multiple terror attacks

A terrorist attack a month ago in Toronto, in which 10 people were struck down by a man in a rental van, has brought the term “incel” -- short for “involuntarily celibate” -- to the global stage, but what is an incel and how did the misogynistic, sometimes violent movement begin?

Canadian authorities allege that Alek Minassian, 25, of Richmond Hill, drove a Ryder rental van up onto a Toronto sidewalk April 23 and plowed into a group of pedestrians. According to additional charges filed against Minassian earlier this month, a total of 10 people died and another 16 were injured. 

Most of the dead were women. 

What is an incel?

The term “incel” began with a Toronto woman in 1993. The woman, identified only as Alana, told Elle in March 2016 that as a sexually inexperienced college student at Carleton University in Ottawa, she was trying to create a “movement that was open to anybody and everybody.” 

She created a website, Alana’s Involuntary Celibacy Project, as a way for single people who were lonely to come together. Eventually, she turned the site over to someone she did not know and abandoned the project.

The movement was ultimately co-opted by what The Washington Post described as an “online misogynistic subculture of men who blame women for their sexual frustration.”

Alana learned that in February 2015, when she read about Elliot Rodger, the 22-year-old self-described “incel” who stabbed and shot to death six people and injured 14 others May 23, 2014, near the University of California’s Santa Barbara campus before taking his own life. 

In a video he shot in his BMW shortly before shooting himself, Rodger complained about his social life, saying that he was still a virgin and had “never even kissed a girl.”

A 141-page manifesto Rodger sent to about two dozen friends and acquaintances before he killed himself further detailed his deep hatred of women, whose rejection he blamed for his predicament, the BBC reported. In the document, he called himself an “ideal magnificent gentleman” and said he could not understand why women did not want him. 

Men who subscribe to the incel movement have taken Rodger as a sort of folk hero. Alexandre Bissonnette, who killed six people and wounded 19 more at a Quebec City mosque on Jan. 29, 2017, searched the web for information about Rodger less than 24 hours before opening fire, The Globe and Mail reported

Toronto police officials also confirmed that Minassian posted a message on Facebook in which he praised Rodger just minutes before he is accused of driving his rented van into the crowd of pedestrians in Toronto. 

“As has been reported in the media, the accused is believed to have posted a cryptic public message on Facebook minutes before he began driving the rented van southbound on Yonge Street and onto the crowded sidewalks,” Toronto police Detective Sgt. Graham Gibson said shortly after the tragedy. “He drove, deliberately striking pedestrians on the sidewalk and roadway with his vehicle.”

Minassian, a failed Canadian military recruit who called himself “Private (Recruit) Minassian Infantry 00010” in the Facebook post, wrote that he wished to speak to “Sgt. 4chan.” The website 4chan, which has been linked to a variety of internet subcultures, is believed to be where Minassian became radicalized, New York magazine reported

He also stated in the post that ‘the Incel Rebellion has already begun.”

“We will overthrow all the Chads and Stacys!” the post stated, according to the BBC. “All hail the Supreme Gentleman Elliot Rodger!”

According to the Institute for Family Studies, incels refer to attractive, sexually available women as “Stacys.” The small number of alpha males they believe dominate the dating field, they call “Chads.”

David Futrelle, a writer and blogger who explores misogyny on the internet, described incels as seeing “Chads” as stereotypically attractive man, or Ken dolls, and “Stacys” as the Barbies to those Kens. 

“This all may seem a bit ridiculous, but it's no exaggeration,” Futrelle told Glamour magazine in April. “This is how they think. I'm convinced that they literally visualize Chads as characters in ‘80s teen flicks.”

Futrelle said a lot of the incels he’s run across are young and that he believes their belief system stems from adolescent insecurities and anger over being rejected by girls in their youth. 

“Instead of growing out of this, they turn it into a lifestyle,” Futrelle said. 

Facebook removed Minassian’s account within minutes of the attack, The Globe and Mail reported

Minassian, who was arrested near the scene of the mass homicide seven minutes after the initial 911 call was placed, has been charged with 10 counts of murder and 16 counts of attempted murder. 

The Institute for Family Studies reported that incels tend to believe that women have become more sexually promiscuous, but only date “Chads,” which leaves them, the incels, out. 

The rate of men who are unmarried and have reported not having sex in the past year has increased over the past several years -- but it is not because the self-titled incels are being shunned, the institute reported. Instead, it is driven by the declining marriage rate, which for men between ages 22 and 35 is at its lowest rate since at least 1880, the year for which data first became available. 

Incel movement’s basis in history

The acts of violence allegedly perpetrated by Minassian and Rodger are not the first linked to the misogynistic ideals behind the incel movement. In 1989, 14 female students were shot to death and another 13 injured at École Polytechnique, an engineering school in Montreal. 

The killer, Marc Lépine, blamed feminism for the ills of his life, including his rejection from the school where he found his victims, The Guardian reported. Lépine, who armed himself with a rifle and a knife, previously told a shop owner he was hunting “small game,” the newspaper said. 

Like Rodger, Lépine turned his gun on himself when he was through. 

>> Read more trending news

Melissa J. Gismondi wrote for the Post that the incel movement is fairly new, but is based in the ancient history of patriarchal societies that have long given men free reign over women’s bodies. Gismondi, a historian in North American history, explained that women, for the majority of American history, were bound in more than name to their husbands. 

Crimes against a woman, including rape, were seen as crimes against the husband. If a slave-owner raped a slave and got her pregnant, that child also became his property. 

It was 1979 before marital rape became a crime in the United States, the Post reported. It was not until 1993 that it became a crime in all 50 states.

President Donald Trump’s embattled personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, tried as recently as 2015 to deflect old rape accusations against Trump by saying husbands could not rape their wives. Cohen’s remarks were in response to the then-presidential candidate’s sexual misconduct controversy, during which there was a resurfacing of allegations made by Ivana Trump in the 1990s, in which she said that Trump raped her while they were married.  

Cohen later apologized. 

The belief that men are owed sex from women helped form the basis of today’s incel movement, experts say. 

A Reddit incel subgroup that boasted 40,000 members was shut down in November after several posts promoted rape and other violence against women, USA Today reported. Keegan Kankes, a senior intelligence analyst with hate group watchdog the Southern Poverty Law Center, told the newspaper in April that misogyny is often a precursor to other, more radical extremism.

“There is a willingness in these communities to say horrible things -- women should be raped, women should be killed,” Hankes said. “In these communities, the rhetoric is among the worst that I see online.”

North Carolina man rolled his eyes at wife before buying winning lottery ticket

The winner of Monday’s Lucky for Life lottery in North Carolina may never be able to roll his eyes at his wife ever again.

Darrin Nunnery won Monday’s $390,000 jackpot after his wife asked him to buy her a $2 lottery ticket. 

>> Read more trending news

Nunnery’s wife called to him, “Get me a Lucky For Life ticket,” and he apparently rolled his eyes at her, according to a tweet from the North Carolina Education Lottery.

Lottery for Life winners can choose to take a lump sum or $25,000 a year for life.

Nunnery chose the lump sum of $390,000, according to WRAL. After federal and state withholdings, he took home nearly $275,000.

He told WRAL he plans to spend the money on some home improvement projects, pay bills and donate to his church.

The odds of winning the N.C. Education Lottery are one in 1.8 million, WRAL said. Nunnery is the 16th person to win the prize so far in North Carolina.

Trump can't block people on Twitter, judge rules

A federal judge in New York ruled Wednesday that President Donald Trump can’t block people from his Twitter feed because doing so would violate their First Amendment rights, according to multiple reports.

>> Read more trending news

The ruling was issued by U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald in response to a lawsuit filed in July by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University and others, Reuters reported.

The president has more than 52 million followers on his @realDonaldTrump Twitter account. He has frequently used the platform to interact with the public both before and during his presidency.

Buchwald ruled Wednesday that Trump’s account constitutes a public forum “and blocking people who reply to his tweets with differing opinions constitutes viewpoint discrimination” in violation of the First Amendment, The Hill reported.

Trump argued that blocking people from his account did not violate the Constitution because of his own First Amendment rights, according to The Hill.

Florida high school student says substitute teacher told her to go outside to shoot herself

Clay County school leaders said they won’t recommend a substitute to fill in in the future after an inappropriate conversation with a student.

Ridgeview High School senior Jasmyne Hughes made a post on Facebook saying that a substitute teacher at the Orange Park, Florida, school told a girl in class she could go shoot herself, but to make sure she did it in the hall.

Hughes said it happened in anatomy and physiology class in which students were working on a packet. Hughes said the teacher got frustrated and started going back and forth with a student, who is Hughes’ friend.

>> Read more trending news 

“The teacher keeps harping on her and harping on her and harping on her and her response was, ‘You make me want to shoot myself,’” Hughes said. “And the teacher’s response to that was, ‘Go ahead but make sure you do it outside.'”

WJAX reached out to the school district to get answers about what happened in the classroom.

“Clay County District Schools is aware of an inappropriate conversation that took place between a student and a substitute teacher at Ridgeview High School,” the school district said in a statement. “Ridgeview High School administrators have addressed both the student and substitute teacher, who is hired through a third party service. The District does not tolerate this type of behavior and will not recommend this teacher to substitute in the future.”

Hughes said she stuck up for her friend after the exchange, and told school leaders about it. She said she and two other students were disciplined for their behavior in the classroom.

“I just wish they would’ve done more,” Hughes said. “They should’ve told us that, ‘Hey, she won’t be working at the school anymore or she won’t be working in Clay County anymore,’” she said.

Kelly Services, the agency the substitute teacher was contracted through, was contacted to find out if there have been any past complaints about the teacher. They have not yet responded.

Turkey chicks rescued from Pittsburgh sewer

Two turkey chicks were rescued after being trapped in a sewer in Pittsburgh’s Hill District. 

The chicks were trapped in the sewer on Ajax Street and Hancock Street in Upper Hill, according to WPXI crews on scene. 

PHOTOS: Turkey chicks rescued after being trapped in sewer

According to city officials, public works crews were called to the scene at noon to remove the grate in order to rescue the turkey chicks. 

A neighbor, who was assisted by city officials, rescued the chicks from the sewer around 12:30 p.m. 

The chicks were reunited with their mother after being rescued. 

Man wins millions off 4 scratch cards in 6 months

A very lucky longtime lottery player has won millions of dollars in recent months playing lottery scratch-off games, according to officials in California.

>> Read more trending news

Officials said Sunday that Antulio Mazariegos recently walked into the California Lottery’s Van Nuys District Office with three winning scratch-off cards, including a California Black Premium Scratcher worth $5 million. He also had a $5,000,000 Spectacular Scratcher card worth $1,000 and a $10 Million Dazzler Scratcher worth $600, officials said.

>> Lottery winner vows to stay anonymous after $5 million win

Mazariegos last won big playing scratch-off games in November, when he won $1 million off an Emerald 10’s scratch card.

“Our newest millionaire has no idea why he’s been so lucky,” California Lottery officials said Sunday. “He tells us he just likes to play.”

Mazariegos said he bought his million-dollar California Black Premium Scratcher at a store in Van Nuys. The store had only three of the scratch-off games left when he went to buy it, so he told officials he decided to just buy all three.

“That decision paid off handsomely,” lottery officials said.

A portion of the money made from sales of California Lottery games, 34 percent, goes toward education in the state. Officials said Los Angeles County public schools have gotten $8.4 billion in lottery funds since 1985, when the first lottery ticket was sold.

NFL owners approve new national anthem policy, will fine teams that allow players to kneel

Update 4:52 p.m. ET: U.S. vice president Mike Pence has responded to the NFL decision on Twitter, using the hashtag #winning.

Donald Trump Jr. echoed Pence’s statement on Twitter, “STILL NOT SICK OF WINNING.”

Update 1:21 p.m. ET: The National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) issued a statement on the new NFL policy:

“The NFL chose to not consult the union in the development of this new “policy.” NFL players have shown their patriotism through their social activism, their community service, in support of our military and law enforcement and yes, through their protests to raise awareness about the issues they care about.

“The vote by NFL club CEOs today contradicts the statements made to our player leadership by Commissioner Roger Goodell and the Chairman of the NFL’s Management Council John Mara about the principals, values and patriotism of our League.

Our union will review the new “policy” and challenge any aspect of it that is inconsistent with the collective bargaining agreement.”

Original story: NFL owners approved a new policy Wednesday regarding players who wish to kneel during the national anthem, according to a statement by the National Football League

>> Read more trending news 

According to the NFL, individual teams will have the ability to fine players and other personnel who do not stand and, “show respect for the flag and the Anthem.”

The change will go into effect for the upcoming season, according to the Washington Post.

Players who choose not to stand during the national anthem may stay in the locker room or off-field while it is being played. 

The official statement from the National Football League states:

“The 32 member clubs of the National Football League have reaffirmed their strong commitment to work alongside our players to strengthen our communities and advance social justice. The unique platform that we have created is unprecedented in its scope, and will provide extraordinary resources in support of programs to promote positive social change in our communities. 

The membership also strongly believes that:

  1. All team and league personnel on the field shall stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem.
  2. The Game Operations Manual will be revised to remove the requirement that all players be on the field for the Anthem.
  3. Personnel who choose not to stand for the Anthem may stay in the locker room or in a similar location off the field until after the Anthem has been performed.
  4. A club will be fined by the League if its personnel are on the field and do not stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem.
  5. Each club may develop its own work rules, consistent with the above principles, regarding its personnel who do not stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem.
  6. The Commissioner will impose appropriate discipline on league personnel who do not stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem.”

In an official statement on the NFL website, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wrote:

“The policy adopted today was approved in concert with the NFL’s ongoing commitment to local communities and our country — one that is extraordinary in its scope, resources, and alignment with our players. We are dedicated to continuing our collaboration with players to advance the goals of justice and fairness in all corners of our society. 

The efforts by many of our players sparked awareness and action around issues of social justice that must be addressed. The platform that we have created together is certainly unique in professional sports and quite likely in American business. We are honored to work with our players to drive progress. 

It was unfortunate that on-field protests created a false perception among many that thousands of NFL players were unpatriotic. This is not and was never the case. 

This season, all league and team personnel shall stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem. Personnel who choose not to stand for the Anthem may stay in the locker room until after the Anthem has been performed.

We believe today’s decision will keep our focus on the game and the extraordinary athletes who play it—and on our fans who enjoy it.”

Lottery winner vows to stay anonymous after $5 million win

An unemployed Bronx man won a life-changing jackpot, but he doesn’t want to tell anyone about the good news. 

But New York Gaming Commission says that’s not an option, and that the unidentified man will have to accept his $5 million mega check in front of cameras, the New York Post reported

The 24-year-old man bought a $20 scratch-off in April, the New York Daily News reported.

But the state says winners of $1 million or more have to appear at a press conference announcing their windfall, and accept their giant check. Each ticket has the rules spelled out on the back, the Daily News reported.

The new multimillionaire from the Bronx tried to claim his winnings but was told that he had to be part of the press conference in his honor. But he told the New York Post that he doesn’t want his neighborhood to know how much cash he’s sitting on.

>> Read more trending news 

If the Gaming Commission doesn’t change its mind, then the man said he will sue to keep his identity secret, the Post reported.

Once he collects his winnings he wants to do something for his mother, who raised him as a single mother and who worked two jobs at fast food restaurants to pay the bills. He plans to buy a house for his mother and a second one for him and his brother to share. He also has a 4-year-old daughter for whom he will save some of his winnings. The man also says he’ll invest $1 million, the Post reported

A lawyer who specializes in the lottery says the man’s case against the Game Commission may not be as easily won as it sounds. 

“I think it is a heavy lift,” Jason Kurland told the Daily News. “But sometimes the lottery commission will work with you. If they determine his life is in jeopardy, they have the flexibility to revise their regulations. But it is very difficult.”

But it can happen.

Earlier this year, a judge in New Hampshire ruled that the winner of a $560 million Powerball jackpot could stay anonymous, ABC News reported.

Teen died trying to shield class from Santa Fe High School shooter

A teenager who died Friday when authorities said a 17-year-old student opened fire on classmates at Texas’ Santa Fe High School is being hailed as a hero for his efforts to protect his fellow students from the gunman.

>> Read more trending news

Christian “Riley” Garcia, 15, blocked the door to an art classroom Friday as shots rang out at the school, his family’s pastor, Keenan Smith, told CNN.

“The shooter shot through the door, taking his life,” Smith told the news network. "He was holding the door shut when the shooter was trying to gain access into that art room.”

The teen was able to block the door long enough to allow his classmates to escape through a back exit, CNN reported. Garcia’s aunt, Sarah Saunders, told KHOU that her nephew “died a true hero.”

“He laid down his life so others could have a chance,” Saunders told the news station. “He had the biggest heart and the biggest chunk of ours feels to have left with him.”

>> Santa Fe High School victims: Exchange student, substitute teacher among those killed

Smith, who baptized Garcia, described the teen as “a fun-loving kid who loved playing football and enjoyed being outdoors,” CNN reported.

"That's not what's supposed to happen to a 15-year-old's life, that he has to make those decisions,” Smith told CNN. “But he made them without even thinking about it, because it was his heart. This is who he was as an individual."

>> Texans defensive end J.J. Watt offers to pay for funerals of Santa Fe victims

Family members told KHOU that Garcia wanted to enlist in the military after high school because he “felt it was his calling to serve others.”

Seven other students and two teachers were killed Friday in the shooting at Santa Fe High School. The alleged shooter, 17-year-old Dimitrios Pagourtzis, faces multiple capital murder charges.

Florida school dean, first-grade teacher found together in classroom closet suspended

A first-grade teacher and a dean at Groveland Elementary School in Groveland, Florida, have been suspended without pay after the school’s principal found them together in a classroom closet, WFTV reports.

Groveland Elementary School’s instructional dean, 56-year-old Alan Rosier, and first grade-teacher Katie Lassen, 34, admitted they “took it too far” after developing a close relationship.

>> Read more trending news 

An investigation by the Lake County School District uncovered that the pair met up in a classroom, started kissing and went into a closet, WFTV reports.

Another school worker told WFTV he saw Rosier visit Lassen's classroom at about 4 p.m. every day.

The school district has recommended that both teachers be fired. 

“Don't they know better? That's horrible,” Groveland resident Eunice O’Farrel told WFTV.

Even so, O’Farrel thinks the pair should be able to keep their jobs because no students were involved. 

“You’re really talking about someone’s profession, and it could ruin them for life,” O’Farrel said.

Another Groveland resident disagrees.

“I think they ought to be fired if they got caught doing that in a school,” said Jack Mason. “I do not think they ought to be there.”

Rosier and Lassen have both appealed the decision. A hearing is scheduled for next month.

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