Incels, Chads and Stacys: Decoding The Toronto Van Attacker’s Misogynistic Slang

The concept that hyper-misogynistic and involuntarily celibate young men held of "The Chad" was depicted in a meme format that was later used to mock its creators. (Image via KnowYourMeme, Fair Use)

The young man who has been charged with the murder of 10 pedestrians and attempted murder of 13 others in a van attack in Toronto reportedly posted a Facebook status chock-full of slang coined by hyper-misogynistic men online and the extremists who attempt to court them.

The CBC and BuzzFeed have confirmed that the suspect had a message posted on his Facebook page that read: “Private (Recruit) Minassian Infantry 00010, wishing to speak to Sgt. 4chan please. C23249161. The Incel Rebellion has already begun! We will overthrow all the Chads and Stacys! All hail the Supreme Gentleman Elliot Rodger!”

If that statement seems confusing, it’s because it is comprised almost entirely of slang used in obscure corners of the internet occupied by right-wing trolls and white supremacists.

“Sgt 4chan” is a reference to an ongoing satirical cosplay carried out by users of the anonymous message board 4chan’s “politically incorrect” group. Fictitious “armies” organized on the board carry out what they call “memetic warfare,” during which they organize social media campaigns aimed at hijacking news cycles and injecting hoaxes into public discourse. At other times, users use these tactics to troll and harass people they have decided they collectively dislike, as seen with 4chan’s sabotage of actor Shia Lebouff’s “He Will Not Divide Us” art project last year.

“Incel” is a term that’s short for “involuntarily celibate.” The term took off as the name of a deeply misogynistic Reddit group comprised of tens of thousands of mostly young men that was rife with messages bashing women and condoning rape. Reddit eventually banned the group. In a twist of irony, Elle magazine reported that the term “incel” was first coined by a woman.

“Chads and Stacys” is 4chan slang for attractive, young and well-off white men and women. Members of the “Incel” community resent “Chads and Stacys” for what they believe to be an unfair ease of having casual sexual encounters with each other. In recent months, an alt-right offshoot known as “Chad Nationalism,” has attempted to court frustrated young men by peddling them white nationalist ideologies while providing them with encouragement and advice on obtaining a muscular “Chad” body. Activists in the “Chad Nationalist” movement often speak about drawing in attractive women who adhere to male-dominant “traditional” gender roles and will give birth to multiple children in order to combat changing ethnic demographics in western countries.

Elliot Rodger was a self-labeled “kissless virgin” who wrote a manifesto on “the cruelness of women” before murdering six people in Santa Barbara in 2014. Rodger had at times identified himself as an “incel,” placing him, as The Washington Post noted at the time, in “that corner of the Internet where boys will be boys, girls will be objects, and critics will be ‘feminists,’ ‘misandrists’ or ‘enemies.’”

It’s still too soon to say whether the attacker was a right-wing extremist, but it seems clear from this social media post that he was deeply invested in the internet cesspools that right-wing extremists have historically used to court young men into their violent and hate-filled worldview.