ECU’s director of women’s and gender studies talks about the growing population of incel beliefs


GREENVILLE, NC (WNCT) — A Secret Service report was recently released detailing the growing threat from men who describe themselves as incels and anti-feminists.

“Incel” is a portmanteau of “involuntary celibacy”.

Ashley Harzog, director of the department of women and gender at East Carolina University, said the age groups most at risk of being exposed to incel ideologies online are between 15 and their mid-twenties. She says this age group may be more vulnerable to these views, which can then manifest in harmful things like mass shootings, domestic violence and bullying.

“Where I see most of these problematic behaviors happening before the physical abuse was online. via social media, trolling comments, creating fake profiles for people, bullying, anything that may engage in the act of dehumanizing another person and not being held accountable, said Harzog.

Harzog also said changes in a person’s behavior, more anger than normal, isolation and loneliness are risk factors for exposure to harmful content promoted online.

“These echo chambers can be really harmful because you can get sucked into a specific harmful pocket of the internet. You can start to normalize these problematic behaviors, these problematic ideologies,” Harzog added.

Harzog said universities have developed behavioral intervention teams over the past decade that assess these behaviors in people who may be in crisis or who may pose a risk to others.


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