Matthew Reddin

The Toronto attacker: Involuntarily celibate, voluntarily juvenile

Now that motives of the Toronto attacker are known, what it seems we unfortunately have is another internet-driven, moronic sub-set at our hands.



It’s a constant source of surprise and wonder when new terminology finds its way into the lexicon. Perhaps not the mainstream. More so a kind of grubby, marginal lexicon for people who seem to spend most of their time on the Internet (with most of that time spent seeking out places where their grievances are met, bested and nourished to reach fouler, and fouler places).


DISGRUNTLED LONER: All of my problems and inadequacies are someone else’s fault.

REDDIT: Hold my beer.

4CHAN: No, hold my beer.


The Internet has done many amazing things: it’s brought us closer together; information is shared rapidly, and to broader audiences. We can see pictures of what reality TV stars eat for lunch. And, if used properly, the web can bring a world of information to our homes at lightning speed – or, not used properly, we get the NBN.

The downsides of this information superhighway are manifold, in all likelihood vastly outweighing the positives. We have the comments section. We have online bullying; we have in forums like Reddit and 4Chan, avenues for vile hate speech that within a lifetime were once limited by your ability to print out flyers and distribute them on a street corner. And if the case against a free, open Internet is exhibits A and B (anti-vaxxers and flat earthers), then it’s a point that is hard to counter.

This week, a man drove a van into a crowd of Canadian pedestrians, killing ten of them and injuring more than a dozen others. When the dust settled and it was determined that he wasn’t doing this in the name of his deity, we found out that he was someone self-branded as an “incel” (“involuntary celibate”), a sub-class of twit who thinks that their lacking sex lives are due to factors beyond their control – specifically a conspiracy by evil women to reign supreme over men, using their sexuality to control and deflate those over whom they wish to… yeah, look, I was going to go into more detail, but I just realised I don’t have enough breadcrumbs to get home.

As pointed out by Clementine Ford in the Fairfax outlets today, “if you’ve spent any time in the sewers of the online men’s rights movement and its various offshoots then you’ll be well familiar with the term ‘incel’. Short for ‘involuntary celibate’, it references a community of mostly straight, cis men who believe they’re being forced into celibacy against their will because women (or ‘Stacys’) ‘refuse’ to have sex with them. Your average incel community is obsessed with the belief that sex is a form of currency in which women control the purse strings.”

So, Toronto saw this world-class dipstick rationalise that he couldn’t get anyone into bed with him, so rather than become reflective and perhaps change his approach to… well, his entire life… he took up the mantle of “incel” and took it out on some unsuspecting, innocent people behind the wheel of a van. I can only imagine how this toolbag figured he’d be knee-deep in the babes after that point.


If a message can be taken from this current fetid cesspool of toxic masculinity, it’s this: teach your sons better. Don’t have them grow up believing that sex is something they’ve earned, or that they’re owed.


“Involuntary celibacy” is a baffling notion that only a swirling vortex of ignorance and groupthink could conjure up. Again, let me illustrate how all of life’s riddles are answered at the cinema: in the pre-online forum days, such thinking was satirised in the film Magnolia, wherein Tom Cruise’s men’s advocacy guru leads a forum called “Seduce and Destroy”. Pretty unsettling stuff when you watch it, but that film is a catalogue of damaged souls, and (spoiler alert) Cruise’s character is eventually revealed to be a broken, infantile mess with severe daddy issues, who takes them out on women as a defence mechanism.

I’ll be the first to admit that I was, for a long time, celibate, and not by choice. I call this period of time “The 1990s”. But, it wasn’t because there was a mass conspiracy by the Stacys of the world to deny me their affections. Seriously, it wasn’t. I was a gormless twit who didn’t know left from right, and possessed zero knowledge about how to speak to women. Once it became apparent to me that women were, you know, people, it got easier. Funny, that.

It’s a small mercy that there wasn’t at the time as much of an avenue for frustrated, un-dateable males to vent their spleens; the Internet at this stage was run mostly as a dial-up function and literally everything took forever to download. By the time Magnolia and Fight Club came out, I was old enough to appreciate them both as satirical and as parables of how unchecked masculinity is destructive for everyone.

Jesus, to think that if either film came out today, they’d be seen as either sobering documentaries or the feel good movie of the year, depending on which sub-forum you click on to each night. If a message can be taken from such cinematic hindsight, or from this current fetid cesspool of toxic masculinity, it’s this: teach your sons better. Don’t have them grow up believing that sex is something they’ve earned, or that they’re owed. The fact is, being rejected is in all probability good for you; you may find yourself on the road to becoming a better person.

The notion that the Toronto terrorist (and that’s what he is) figured that he was getting revenge, somehow, because nobody wanted to bone him is symptomatic of a society in some measure of decline. We, fellows, are owed nothing. If you’re actually a decent enough person, someone’s going to want to shag you, eventually. Until such time, work on yourselves, make yourself better. And do unto yourself what you’d like to do unto others.


Matthew Reddin

Matt Reddin has been writing nonsense about film, TV, books, music and live theatre for a touch over 20 years. He’s gone from the halcyon days of street press in Perth, to regional dailies, national magazines and major metropolitan newspapers. Now, in between bouts of sporadically yelling at clouds, he vents his creative spleen at

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