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What Are Incels and How Does Porn Fuel Their Beliefs and Behavior?

Incel communities claim to be a place for young men who have not had sex to receive mutual support. However, analysis of topics and threads on incel forums shows that most discussions lean toward expressions of violence, rage, and despair.

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A Lenoir City, Tennessee man, 25-year-old Jacob Yerkes, was arrested last November on harassment and aggravated stalking charges after making unsolicited contact with a former coworker and posting bizarre videos containing threats of violence on social media.

In a viral video that now has well over 9 million views on Twitter alone, Yerkes is seen talking to two police officers—claiming a woman’s father had threatened him after trying to impress her at work and after following her for several blocks when she tried to get away.

He told the officers he was trying to have her listen to a song he’d written for her and made disturbing comments, including saying, “Women are crazy, like, I feel like she, like, wanted me chasing her” and that women like being chased, questions the officers who disagree by saying “What about, like, BDSM porn where women like to have rape fantasies?” and later abruptly says he “thinks she should go do porn.”

Later in the video, he talks directly to the camera, saying he tried convincing the woman that she was “straight” and said he would “give her a choice” to like him by stalking her.

Related: Is There a Connection Between Porn Culture and Rape Culture?

In a joint investigation by the Loudon County Sherriff’s Office, the Lenoir City Police Department, and later the Federal Bureau of Investigation Joint Terrorism Task Force, police discovered the victim had been dealing with Yerkes’ advances for months and that he would contact her through social media, texts, and even showing up at her work and following her in his car.

Law enforcement has taken down his social media videos and accounts. He remains in custody with no bond. Lenoir City police believe Yerkes may have more victims and says to contact them with any information.

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Who Are Incels, And What Do They Believe About Rape And Sexual Violence?

Yerkes isn’t alone in his feelings of entitlement to women. He’s likely part of a radical group called incels who share views of hatred, violence, despair, and aggression—particularly toward women.

​​The word “incel” is shorthand for “involuntary celibate,”—meaning someone who is unable to develop a romantic or sexual relationship despite desiring one.

Incel communities claim to be a place for young men who have not had sex to receive mutual support. However, analysis of topics and threads on incel forums shows that most discussions lean toward expressions of violence, rage, and despair.

Related: How Porn Can Promote Sexual Violence

Incel communities are predominantly male members who blame their problems on women, promoting hateful and violent ideology linked to the murder or injury of 100 people in the last ten years—mostly women.

A recent report entitled “The Incelosphere. Exposing Pathways into Incel Communities and the Harms They Pose to Women and Children” shares some research about incels and the threats they pose to women and children in particular.

In the 2022 report from the Center for Countering Digital Hate, researchers analyzed online forums for incels that traffic millions of monthly visitors. Here are some key findings:

  • An increase of 59% in violent rhetoric over the past year.
  • A growing proliferation of content that encourages and excuses child sexual exploitation, including the sexualization of pubescent minors.
  • While the Incel forum traffic is global, Americans account for nearly half of some of the most popular forum traffic.
  • Over a fifth of Incel forum posts feature misogynistic, racist, and homophobic language.
  • Incel forum members post about “rape” every 29 minutes.
  • Sexual violence against women is a common theme in the dataset. Many threads discussed violence against women and had titles such as “women are designed to be raped” or “rape is f***ing awesome”.
  • Discussions of rape show that 89% of posters are supportive.
  • Pedophilia is tolerated and even promoted in incel communities. Over 25% of incel forum users have posted pedophilia keywords.

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The Link Between Porn And Incel Attitudes And Behaviors

Studies show the most popular porn sites heavily feature sexual violence and rape. And you don’t have to search the dark corners of the internet to find it—it’s featured on the homepage.

Porn increasingly normalizes sexual violence, rape, racism, and other “fantasies” that are disturbing in reality but popular online—like incest and sex with minors.

There’s an alarming reality that society has to acknowledge—someone’s online behavior doesn’t always lead to them acting those things out in real life, but it can and does happen in some cases. Yerkes is just one example of how a person can take it too far.

Related: 15 Ways Porn is Connected to Real Sexual Violence

It isn’t difficult to see how Incel beliefs and behaviors are fueled by porn culture, seeing that so much of what incels fantasize about or believe can be consumed in mainstream porn.

Some people in porn are consenting performers acting out a narrative, but for others, their exploitation is real. It’s undeniable that this content can not only harm those involved in its production but mold and shape the attitudes and behaviors of its consumers.

Bottom line, if something is unacceptable in reality, why should it be consumed as fantasy in porn without question?

Need help?

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