Search
  • cguastavinoeqc762

Executive Summary: PREVALENCE OF INCEL IDEOLOGY IN EAST ASIA

Marina Amador, Extremism Team

Cassandra Townsend, Clea Guastavino, Senior Editors

Week of Monday, December 13, 2021


Asian woman holding a feminist sign at a rally[1]


East Asian countries are experiencing an increasing rate of misogynistic attacks that incorporate elements of the incel ideology, embraced by men who blame women for their lack of sexual activity and low social status.[2]Men in countries such as South Korea and Japan are using new strategies to target women, such as “semen terrorism” or ejaculating on their personal belongings.[3] Legal systems in these countries have often failed to recognize these attacks as sex crimes, categorizing them as “property damage.”[4] The lack of stricter judicial sentences for perpetrators and the fear of victims becoming marginalized is likely resulting in the underreporting of misogynistic crimes. The anti-feminist backlash that East Asia is experiencing makes it likely that countries in this region are vulnerable to becoming territory for the incel movement, which continues to expand globally.[5] However, implementing stricter judicial sentences for misogynistic crimes, monitoring and tracking incel activity in the region, and researching why misogyny and the incel movement are flourishing in East Asia would likely reduce the risk of incels operating in this region.


East Asian countries are experiencing an increasing number of violent misogynistic attacks in multiple locations including train stations, parks, and universities.[6] The rising trend of abuse towards women in East Asia almost certainly offers the incel movement an opportunity to continue to expand internationally. Incels are likely to exploit the spread of anti-feminist values in the region to recruit new members. Individuals who have already harassed women or who do not condemn misogyny are more likely to become involved with the incel ideology, as they almost certainly share a negative perception of women. The spread of incel ideology through social media platforms and online forums is likely to be a breeding ground in increasing misogynistic movements in East Asia, resulting in the growth of incel ideology and their attacks in these countries.


The traditional gender roles and social values of East Asian countries have changed rapidly in the last decades, placing more employment and social pressure on individuals.[7] Women have more rights and freedoms than before, while expectations of men continue to rise. It is very likely that women's greater sexual freedom, economic independence, and less pressure to raise a family have made it more difficult for men to find a partner, likely leading some of them to perceive their bachelorhood as a personal rejection by women. Higher levels of female education and more equal access to jobs previously held by a male majority have almost certainly resulted in greater competition for men in the labor market. Society's move away from patriarchal behaviors that allowed men to have more power than women combined with stress, dissatisfaction with the system, and feelings of personal failure is likely to lead men to resent women.


The high level of technological development and the COVID-19 pandemic have almost certainly increased the high levels of social isolation that already existed in East Asian countries.[8] Self-isolated individuals are more likely to seek support from online platforms, where users are likely to disseminate hateful content towards women, increasing their likelihood of exposure to the incel community. COVID-19 pandemic restrictions and lockdowns have almost certainly favored the lack of face-to-face social interaction, very likely leading to people spending more time socializing on online platforms. Extremist groups and incels have almost certainly spent more time than before sharing their ideology and propaganda online. Individuals who were already socially isolated before the COVID-19 pandemic are likely to have found new online communities where users share their frustration with the system. The sense of shared dissatisfaction with social norms is likely to have made socially-isolated users more likely to adopt hateful rhetoric spread by extremists towards certain groups, including women. As a result, men have likely been more vulnerable to becoming involved with the incel ideology.

Low levels of victim support have resulted in a large number of women not reporting attacks.[9] Reduced rates of reporting will almost certainly deter other victims from disclosing their attacks. Fear of being judged will also very likely result in victims avoiding seeking help from the judicial system or the health care system after the attacks, almost certainly resulting in them experiencing increased physical and psychological harm. If misogynist crimes continue to go unreported, attackers will likely be motivated by the lack of punishment and continue to target and abuse women. Inaccurate data about the frequency and nature of the attacks will almost certainly make it difficult for authorities to implement effective measures to counter it, as they almost certainly do not know the scale of the threat.


Attempts to combat misogynistic attacks in East Asian countries and the incel threat remain limited. Activists, politicians and victims in South Korea are campaigning to legally recognize “semen terrorism” as a sex crime, and raise prison sentences for stalkers and distributers of illegal sexual media.[10] However, it is very likely that misogynistic attacks against women will continue to take place in East Asian countries until their legal systems implement stricter punishment for said attacks. Individuals involved in the incel community are likely to start encouraging assaults against women in East Asian countries, where perpetrators are more likely to receive a reduced judicial sentence. Organized groups following the incel ideology will likely emerge, likely leading to the perpetration of systematic attacks against women in East Asia.


To counter the threat posed by the prevalence of misogynistic violence and the expansion of the incel movement and in East Asian countries, it would be recommended to make changes in the law to consider attacks against women as hate crimes and ensure that offenders receive a sentence commensurate with the seriousness of the offense. Monitoring incel forums and “manosphere” online communities for potential references to violence and tracking and recording the frequency and locations of attacks would also be helpful to detect possible patterns, identify recidivist perpetrators, and prevent potential attacks. Campaigns to raise public awareness of the physical and psychological harm that misogynist attacks cause to women and victim support training for government and law enforcement personnel would very likely result in higher rates of victims reporting. Conducting research to determine the exact factors for the increase in misogynistic ideology and attacks in East Asian countries would very likely provide a deeper understanding of the phenomenon and allow authorities to work on effective measures to counter it. It would also be recommended to develop social assistance programs for men who are likely to be at risk of becoming involved with the incel ideology as an early intervention would likely result in fewer cases of women abuse.


The Counterterrorism Group’s (CTG) Extremism Team will continue to monitor the developments in the rise of misogynistic attacks and the expansion of incel ideology in East Asian countries. The Extremism Team will collaborate with other CTG Teams such as PACOM and Behavior/Leadership (B/L) to analyze the evolution of extremist groups exploiting anti-feminist movements and violence against women in East Asia. CTG‘s Worldwide Analysis of Threats, Crime, and Hazards (W.A.T.C.H.) Officers will continue to monitor this threat, providing relevant and up-to-date insights about this phenomenon and the potential social and political implications it might have in the region.


The Counterterrorism Group (CTG) is a subdivision of the global consulting firm Paladin 7. CTG has a developed business acumen that proactively identifies and counteracts the threat of terrorism through intelligence and investigative products. Business development resources can now be accessed via the Counter Threat Center (CTC), emerging Fall 2021. The CTG produces W.A.T.C.H resources using daily threat intelligence, also designed to complement CTG specialty reports which utilize analytical and scenario-based planning. Innovation must accommodate political, financial, and cyber threats to maintain a level of business continuity, regardless of unplanned incidents that may take critical systems offline. To find out more about our products and services visit us at counterterrorismgroup.com.

________________________________________________________________________ The Counterterrorism Group (CTG)

[1]Rally for Asian American Women in Chinatown” by Andrew Ratto licensed under Creative Commons

[2] The misogynist incel movement is spreading. Should it be classified as a terror threat?, The Guardian, March 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2021/mar/03/incel-movement-terror-threat-canada

[3] What’s driving Japan’s incel violence and South Korea’s ‘semen terrorism’?, South China Morning Post, September 2021, https://www.scmp.com/week-asia/politics/article/3148447/whats-driving-japans-incel-violence-and-south-koreas-semen

[4] #MeToo: South Korea seek to criminalise ‘semen terrorism’, The Independent, August 2021, https://www.independent.co.uk/asia/east-asia/south-korea-anti-feminism-semen-b1901484.html

[5] “Beta Uprising: Is there an Incel Threat to Asia?”, The International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research (ICPVTR), March 2021, https://www.rsis.edu.sg/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/CTTA-March-2021.pdf

[6] What’s driving Japan’s incel violence and South Korea’s ‘semen terrorism’?, South China Morning Post, September 2021, https://www.scmp.com/week-asia/politics/article/3148447/whats-driving-japans-incel-violence-and-south-koreas-semen

[7] Exhausted and without hope, East Asian youth are 'lying flat', CNN News, August 2021, https://edition.cnn.com/2021/08/28/economy/china-japan-korea-youth-intl-dst-hnk/index.html

[8] They couldn’t go outside for years. Then Covid-19 trapped them again, WIRED, March 2021, https://www.wired.co.uk/article/hikikomori-south-korea-covid

[9] ‘Semen Terrorism’ is a Thing. And It’s Even Worse than it Sounds, Vice News, September 2021, https://www.vice.com/en/article/m7en8p/semen-terrorism-south-korea

[10] South Korean politicians seek to criminalise ‘semen terrorism’, The Guardian, August 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2021/aug/12/south-korean-politicians-seek-to-criminalise-semen-terrorism

110 views