I i W i i
- Mar 5, 2020
In dem Incel-Forum wird aus Einsamkeit Selbsthass – und Hass gegen Frauen. Was treibt junge Männer zu diesem Verhalten?
ITS OVER BUDDY BOYOS THE ARYANS WILL MARCH IN
Incels: On Lookism.net, men insult each other for their looks In the Incel forum, loneliness becomes self-hatred - and hatred of women. What drives young men to this behavior?
Alex is 17 years old when he goes through his first cosmetic surgery. A doctor corrects his overbite. Afterwards he felt like a new person, he says: "I came back to school after the holidays and had my first girlfriend after four weeks." He describes the operation in summer 2016 as a "revival experience". "I don't want to say that looking good is everything in life, but it definitely made my life easier."
Overwhelmed by his sudden success, Alex began to look more and more at his looks. He wondered what else he could change. Like Alex, who lives in a German city, not only a few men think. Hundreds of them gather daily on a strange self-loathing forum, to which Alex should return again and again shortly after his jaw surgery: "Lookism.net".
Lookism.net is part of the so-called Manosphere, a collective term for misogynistic Internet subcultures. A significant part of this community identifies as Incel. This is what sexless young men are called who blame women for their involuntary celibacy. In any case, all followers of the Manosphere, which also populates YouTube and Discord servers, have one worldview in common: they stylize themselves as outsiders and believe that they are suffering from a society in which only superficial women and attractive men are in charge
Brutal rejection and mate support: what Lookism users can expect
We wrote to Alex on the Lookism.net forum to find out what he was looking for and finding there. "Lookism is about male aesthetics," he says. A mild wording: In the "Rate Me" sub-forum, users upload selfies and rate themselves with brutal disparagement: "4/10, you have a real cock-sucking face," one user replies to the photo of an 18-year-old who headed the discussion "Is it over for me?" opened.
The irony of the forum is that the users help each other again after they have stepped on the ground. The forum serves as a delusional lifestyle guide: dissatisfied people who believe that the key to a good life is good looks can get tips for self-optimization from the community. They are looking for ways to move up the forum's decimal scale and perhaps eventually become "Chad".
"Some treat themselves and seriously injure themselves"
The "Chad" is a term that comes from the Incel subculture. For users, it is the male ideal of beauty in society, it is their wet dream and at the same time their hate object, which has become a meme outside the box of the manosphere.
A "Chad" looks a bit like a GI Joe doll in the crude drawings from the Incel forums. He is muscular, has a distinctive chin and jaw line and exaggerated proportions. It is precisely these attributes that the men from the Manosphere believe give them an unbeatable advantage for women.
The attempt to transform from introverted Incel to automatically sought-after "Chad" calls the scene "Looksmaxxing" and means all measures of physical self-optimization. This ranges from diets to jaw muscle training to surgical interventions such as hair transplants or even leg extensions.
Alex also does Looksmaxxing. He pays attention to a healthy diet, but also had hyaluronic acid injected under the skin to make his facial features more distinctive. So-called filler treatments are not uncommon. "Some people treat themselves and get seriously injured," he says.
Chin implants for the "anteface" - when incel theory becomes real surgery
Users talk shop on Lookism for pages about the "perfect" dimensions of a chin or the "correct" distance between the nose and upper lip. They document changes in their own body meticulously and also inspire themselves to undergo surgery. For example, a user named "GetLooksOrDieTryin" shows the results of his multiple jaw surgery and beard transplantation with before / after pictures. The users congratulate him for his "advancement" and ask whether he has already become a "slayer", that is to say a gifted woman ripper.
The user claims to have fallen under the knife of a Berlin cosmetic surgeon. His health insurance company had 9,000 euros for the operation with Dr. Let Zarrinbal jump - it can hardly be checked. Ramin Zarrinbal, or "Dr.Z.", as he is called in the forum, is considered to be the luminary of the Looksmaxxing scene. Alex already knows him. "Incels travel to him from the United States or the Arab world to have surgery," he says.
Can this be? When we contact the surgeon to find out more about his clientele, his assistant let us down. But Zarrinbal is not the only cosmetic surgeon in German-speaking countries where Lookism users are looking for a coveted appointment. A whole list of specialists is kept in one thread, which should enable the "advancement".
One of them is the German Dr. Hermann Sailer, who runs a private clinic in Zurich. VICE reports to his wife Erica, who works as a so-called aesthetic consultant in the clinic: "Men come to us and want a dominant chin and prominent cheekbones. We get more and more inquiries from young men from Germany, there is an incredible trend."
On Sailer's website you stumble across the term "Anteface" several times. It describes a theory by Sailer that assumes that the human lower jaw has moved forward in the course of human history and has thus become an ideal of beauty. The "Anteface" also lists an Incel wiki as the sub-item of a "Looks Theory". Surgeons like Sailer not only offer the lookism community a point of contact, but also share and support their worldview. Erica Sailer confirms that they are contacting men who came across their clinic through Lookism.net or similar forums. The question of how many of them actually have their jaws operated on is only vaguely answered: "We don't just inject a little hyaluronic acid or botox, we change faces. Teenagers and young adults often cannot afford that."
Why so many celebrate their self-loathing in Looksmaxxing forums
The number of users who actually take the step to the operation seems to be rather small. But what drives the rest of the men to a forum where people post their selfies to be humiliated? And why are so many Germans active?
Alex reports that many users would just roll around. 22-year-old mechanical engineering student Tom VICE says: "I'm only here for fun. Actually, I don't have anything against women. But there are also many truths behind the jokes," he says. "Lookism is real and those who deny it either look good or try to suppress everything."
"Lookism is real. Those who deny it either look good or try to displace everything."
As a young man with a Southeast Asian look, Tom feels disadvantaged in Germany. Despite good grades, he doesn't get a job because women are preferred in his sector. His self-esteem suffers from this - up to self-devaluation. He says that he wants a girlfriend, but is always rejected because of his shyness. "I come across as boring and even autistic in women. It is also due to my Asian appearance," he believes. Tom doesn't know why he is looking for help and support in the Lookism forum. The posts there are dripping with racism. For example, when a young Arab asks for advice on his appearance, the harsh answer is: "Just be white."
Who is behind Lookism: The admin is not aware of any guilt
The admin and founder of the website confirmed that many German users are in the forum. "In my experience, Germans are more introverted than Americans, for example. It is only logical that they are afraid of communicating with women and are increasingly dealing with the topic of dating online.
"The_Coordinator", as the admin calls himself, lives in Berlin at the time of the research. He claims to be a young adult who works in the IT industry. With the forum he wanted to give men like Tom a perspective. "Since online dating has become popular, it has been difficult for men to find a suitable woman," he says. "My forum offers them a platform to address these problems openly and uncensored."
"Online dating is forcing us all to compete, appearance is an increasingly important component in the age of digitization."
The fact that many of the users throw wild sexist or homophobic slogans at them leaves the author of the page cold: "I don't think that users here are more hostile than other young men. Only what many men think is openly spoken out. The posts in the forum are just a clear reflection of our society. "
Even with the accusation of racism, the admin is not aware of any guilt: "It is nonsense that only white men from the alt-right movement are on the move. We have users from all corners of the world. It is only permitted in the forum to openly discuss ethnic differences that anthropologists and biologists would not dare to address. "
Looksmaxxing is not a phenomenon that has reinvented the scene. "Today everyone goes to the gym or solarium and does sports," says the admin. "Online dating forces us all to compete, appearance is an increasingly important component in the age of digitalization."
Experts say Lookism is "self-improvement based on the neo-liberal performance principle"
Journalist and author Veronika Kracher takes a critical look at what may be just a game for many Lookism users. She has been dealing with toxic masculinity in online subcultures for years. In your book Incels. The story, language and ideology of an online cult she gets to the bottom of this blurred line between trolling and misanthropic ideology.
According to Kracher, it changes the mind of a young man sustainably if he hangs around in destructive forums every day and allows himself to be insulted. "It is no wonder that many develop a brutal hatred of mankind and their bodies. At some point you take on the worldview and self-image that you made fun of in the beginning," she says to VICE.
In addition, the men not only harm others, but also themselves. "Looksmaxxing is self-improvement based on the neoliberal principle of beauty and performance. Men don't do themselves any good with it." Diving into the echo chamber creates a relationship of dependency that Kracher compares to a toxic relationship. For many, the online community is becoming a family, interpersonal contacts are increasingly neglected.
Kracher supports the fact that help is offered to these men and calls for preventive work: parents and educators should do critical work for boys and give adolescent men a healthy self-image that is not based on an imaginary figure like the "Chad". However, she does not excuse the morbid hatred of women among the young men: "These men make things too easy for themselves. Instead of questioning the patriarchal structures from which they suffer, they find a scapegoat in women and queer people and push away all responsibility."
There is a tragic contradiction behind self-degradation
The research shows that there are ideological contradictions, especially among German-speaking users. The relationship with women is probably much more peaceful for some in real life: The admin and two other users at least state to VICE that they have a girlfriend. But whether troll, incel or dogged esthete, the users are mostly men who look for identification in the forums.
Above all, their language delimits the community from the outside and creates a sense of belonging. Terms such as "Chad" or "Femoid" as a derogatory term for women cannot be easily deciphered by "Normies". The vocabulary creates the community that many users look for in vain in real life.
"Looksmaxxing" serves this community as a collegiate hobby, which is practiced less by the other. For many, however, the big dream of cosmetic surgery seems to remain an air castle. Most are just curious about what others think of their looks. The superficial insults in the "Rate Me" forum are considered an initiation ritual: The mutilation and the macabre gags have to be endured if you want to be part of the community and not a "norm". The whole thing is of course not harmless. The tragic contradiction of Lookism is that men who suffer from a patriarchal ideal of beauty and performance simultaneously hostile to other groups who share their fate. In doing so, they emulate exactly the power of the "chad", from which they feel oppressed. Veronika Kracher's demands for critical boy work would have to be implemented before young men get lost in such communities. This would not only save many men and women suffering and hate, but also one or two Looksmaxxers the bill for the next botox treatment.
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