For about as long as there have been animals, there have been animals that were unable to reproduce, and were thus rendered incel. However, this incel timeline represents the most notable events for each decade of the incelosphere.
The term 'involuntarily celibate' has been used in literature prior to the internet, and sometimes, but rarely even in a semi-academic way. It wouldn't be until the internet era that the term entered academia. Prior to the internet, the term, "involuntary celibate", was used in literature, including but not limited to, The Mythology and Fables of the Ancients, Explain'd from History, Volume 3 in 1739, Russia: or, A compleat historical account of all nations which compose that empire by Johann Gottlieb Gorgi in 1780 (makes explicit reference to polygyny among Uzbeks leading to widespread inceldom among men), Aparato a la historia eclesiastica de Aragon in 1791 by the enlightenment era Spanish historian Joaquin Traggia (referencing incel slaves), The Doctrine and Law of Marriage, Adultery and Divorce, 1826, by Hector Davies Morgan, M.A, Volume Six of the British satirical magazine Punch in 1844 (in the form of a satirical proposal to alleviate inceldom purportedly authored by a representative of the "Grand National Union Wife Agency and Assurance Company"), Family Herald Magazine in 1876, The Population Question According to T. R. Malthus and J. S. Mill by Charles Robert Drysdale in 1892, Virginia by Ellen Glasgow in 1913, The Great Unmarried by British Journalist Walter M. Gallichan in 1916, 'The Building by Peter Martin in 1960, in detail in Blueprint for a Higher Civilization by Henry Flynt in 1975, Law and Liberation by Robert E. Rhodes in 1986, Criminal Tendencies by William O'Rourke in 1987, Human Sexuality: the search for understanding by David Knox in 1984, and Understanding Sexuality by Adelaide Haas and Kurt Haas in 1990.
While never directly using the verbatim terms, "involuntarily celibate" or "incel," famous French author Michel Houellebecq has written about the topic vicariously through his many fictional works about involuntarily celibate and layless men. Famous English novelist and non-fiction writer George Orwell also briefly touched upon involuntarily celibate (without explicitly using the term) tramps in his book about the lives of the underclass, Down and Out in Paris and London, in 1933.
Additionally, the similar term "forced celibacy" has been used in ways nearly equivalent to the modern usage of the term "involuntary celibacy", most notably in Maximilien Misson's 1714 travelogue A New Voyage to Italy. With Curious Observations on Several Other Countries, where he talked of the relative freedoms English women had compared to Italian women at the time, who were described as being esconded away in their homes, to evade the depredations of "three quarters of the men living under the insupportable restraint of a forced celibacy, (who) would make a dreadful havoc of their neighbours property [...]"
Some notable pre-internet people who were arguably incelibates include Ludwig van Beethoven who suffered serial rejection at the hands of women, Emily Dickinson who suffered from agoraphobia, Joseph Merrick aka the Elephant Man who suffered from severe face and body deformities, artist Van Gogh who was perpetually rejected and eventually pursued a relationship with a hooker, Van Gogh's famous painter manlet friend Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec was severely mocked for being a manlet and eventually just chose to live in the brothel he frequented, Friedrich Nietzsche who was famously rebuffed by every woman he approached and was alleged to have died from syphilis contracted from a hooker,G. H. Hardy a famous mathematician who couldn't bear looking at himself in the mirror and never held steady relationships with women, bisexual actor Anthony Perkins who for most of his life had a pathological fear of women remaining a virgin (at least to women) at age 39, Ed Gein who Perkins had played in the movie Psycho was terrified of human contact and probably died a virgin, and English recording artist Nick Drake who suffered from extreme shyness of women and in all likelihood died a virgin (according to most analyses). Famous folk-pop singer and pianist Daniel Johnston was also a well-known incelibate. He was diagnosed with severe schizophrenia, and his songs detail his life in and out of mental hospitals, and debilitating unrequited love for various women. He may be the only famous modern pop musician to be an incelibate.
Professor of psychology Brian Gilmartin published a book called Shyness & Love: Causes, Consequences, and Treatment in 1987, arguing for inceldom to be treated as a medical condition and for society to take it more seriously. At that time, Gilmartin's term for inceldom was, love-shyness but before his death he used the terms, "incel" and "love-shy" interchangeably as can be seen in a recovered clip from the abandoned The Incel Project documentary.
The founder of the particular strain of seduction techniques that we know today as modern pick-up-artistry was Ross Jeffries. He published "How to Get the Women You Desire Into Bed" in 1992, which argued against nice guy behavior. The alt.seduction.fast Usenet newsgroup was founded by Lewis De Payne, a student of Ross Jeffries in 1994. In the same year, Michel Houellebecq published his first novel, "Whatever", which frankly discussed sexual stratification and pauperization. Also in 1994, the Alt.support.shyness newsgroup was created.
In 1992 the Netherland government decided to fully reimburse disabled citizens for legal visits to hookers, effectively making sex a human right in the Netherlands.
Although the term "incel" did exist in the late-90s, the most common term in the incelosphere used to refer to involuntarily celibate people in the 90s was, "socially anxious men," on the alt.support.shyness Usenet Group and "AFC" meaning "average frustrated chump" on the alt.seduction.fast (ASF) Usenet newsgroup. Alana's Involuntary Celibacy Project abbreviated the word incel in 1997 which was initially coined by Antoine Banier which eventually cultivated into academic research on incels. This research was published and is colloquially known as the Donnelly Study referring to its main sociologist Denise Donnelly. The terms "incel" and "involuntary celibate" subsequently became valid sociological terms. A mailing list (forum) was created on the Project's site in 1997, the first official incel forum. In 1998, members of alt.support.shyness were invited, helping to populate the mailing list. Alana's mailing list was a feminist forum, and Alana had created the first incel forum as a lesbian with dating experience. Alana stopped maintaining the forum around 2003.
A year after Alana's first incel forum, in 1998, the first online German incel community, Parsimonyforum 3708 of the Absolute Beginners, was established. In 1999, Laurence Fishburne whilst starring as Morpheus in the film The Matrix, narrates the line "You take the blue pill, the story ends here, you wake up and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill ... and I'll show you just how deep the rabbit hole goes." This quote subsequently becomes eulogized with "blue pill" and "red pill" eventually becoming eponyms for entire philosophies in the incelosphere as well as adjacent communities.
In 2000, Beate Küpper, wrote a psychology dissertation called, "Are singles different from the others?: a comparison of singles and couples", exploring the causes of, "involuntary singles", as opposed to, "voluntary singles". In 2002, she later publishes the book called, "Are singles different? A Comparison of Singles and Couples Series: Focal Points of Personality.
In 2000, a charity for disabledcels is launched called TLC Trust along with a website. The Yahoo support group /groups/loveshy-drgilmartin was created in 2002. In 2003, love-shy.com started as an anonymous board before it switched to non-anonymous a couple years later. In 2004, the first-ever female-centric community of the incelosphere was created on Yahoo with /groups/loveshy-women. The Japanese inspired image-board 4chan also started this year as an anonymous community. In 2004, Alana's former community moved to a new forum called Incelsite, and it was then rebranded to IncelSupport in 2006 and hopped across at least three different domain names. In 2004, Tectum Verlag, a German scientific book publisher publishes Olaf Wickenhöfer's study of, "involuntary single[s]", called, "Unfreiwillig Single: Eine Studie zur Sozialisationsgeschichte und kulturellen Alltagspraxis", citing Denise Donnelly, Brian Gilmartin, and Beate Küpper, as well as his own study. In 2006, Arne Hoffmann publishes a book called, "Untouched", or, "Unberührt", chronicling the stories of 11 incels, as well as reviewing the available literature on the subject and publishing new essays on the subject of inceldom. In 2006, the Japanese Marxist incelospherian group Kakuhido emerged, doing public protests of Christmas, Valentine's Day, and White Day all that same year. In 2007, the first website of the French incelosphere is founded, Virginite-tardive.fr, which is entirely in the French language.
In 2008, 4chan's r9k board appeared, a hikikomori board that never self-identified as incel, but male hikikomoris are generally involuntarily celibate. Since 2008, r9k defined most of what media as of 2018 refers to as "incel subculture." Also, in 2008, the first clip of the unreleased US incel documentary The Incel Project was uploaded to blip.tv. The developing documentary seemed to have stalled sometime between 2012-2014. In the same year, the vlogging community of the True Forced Loneliness 'movement' started, a space adjacent to incel boards that initially consisted of three vloggers and a website complaining about dating from a societal perspective. In 2009, love-shy.com came under the adminship of an extremely anti-feminist admin for a couple years. This is the same year that the PSL boards started, a sequential group of raucous forums that happened to contain a lot of involuntary celibates. r/ugly is a semi-incelospherian subreddit that was created in March 2009. The website loveshyproject.com was also created in 2009. The same year, the website Involuntarycelibacy.com was created.
In 2011, the subreddit r/foreveralone was founded, which would go on to become one of the largest and most feminist spaces of the incelosphere. In 2013, IncelSupport crashed, and all forum posts were lost in the process. In 2014, Robin Sprenger published academic literature on inceldom called, "Male Absolute Beginner: A Communication Science Approach to Explaining Partnerlessness", which is self-explanatory. It was published by Springer VS.
In 2014 a reiteration of IncelSupport was attempted as yourenotalone.info, but was quickly abandoned due to lack of interest. Wizchan began in 2014. Also in 2014, the PSL boards now all contained 'rate me' subforums, thus further ingraining blackpilled concepts such as lookism in the incelosphere. During 2014-2015, the incel presence on Reddit began, mostly through Caamib from love-shy.com, starting with the extremely anti-feminist subreddits: r/truecels and r/incels. While r/incels technically started before r/truecels, r/incels was dormant until it was used as a ban evasion of r/truecels. The emergence of anti-incel forums like inceltears and leftbook tag groups began the start of the Battle of Incelistan. In 2017 the Facebook group Incelistan began but not as a response to the similarly titled Battle of Incelistan, but more as a response to anti-incel leftbook tag groups. Almost all the members of Incelistan came from the Facebook group Ancapistan and not any subreddit or established incel forum. In November 2017 r/incels and r/truecels were banned, with some in those subreddits moving to the new sites incel.life and incels.co.
In 2017, the Netherland government got rid of it's 25-year policy that made sex a human right in the Netherlands, no longer providing reimbursements to disabled people seeking legal hookers.
Incel.life was shut down in 2018, due to efforts by Babe Magazine. In early 2018, Alana decided to rebrand her abandoned research project to "Love not Anger," while claiming that the term "incel" has acquired negative connotations. Although the trueforcedloneliness.com website is no longer operational, there nevertheless are many sporadic blogs and vlogs wherein content creators self-identify as TFLers.
In mid-2018, Incel Wiki starts as incels.info. In 2018, Braincels was quarantined from Reddit on the basis of misogyny.
In 2019, the largest anti-incel group: Found the Incel, was banned from the internet by Facebook for violent speech after an outing of sample posts on Youtube by William and courageous flagging by Master and others.
That year, the Washington Post and other outlets released articles detailing how rates of celibacy among men between ages 18-30 was approaching 30% per year (an all time high), validating the intuition of many incel forums, and ending some of the gaslighting directed at incels. This became one of the largest topics of discussion across the entire incelosphere.
In mid-2019 love-shy.com took down their FAQ page on incels in a distancing attempt while also allowing their most extreme incels to stay on the site. Also, the same year a podcast devoted to incel topics by a non-incel was started called The Incel Project (Podcast), which has absolutely no association with the previous The Incel Project (Documentary).
In September 2019, Incelmatics was launched. It is notable for being the first Youtube channel run by an incel community instead of an individual. Their community being a few dozen people on Discord. The leader, jet112 a graphic designer, started putting a lot of effort into creating or commissioning documentaries, art pieces, and the first large, incel-run podcast.
On September 31st 2019, Reddit's "Braincels", one of the most popular and well-known incel forums was banned due to new rules being made by Reddit on the spot. Braincels was given no notice. Users moved to incels.co, incelistan.net, incelswithouthate, reddit.com/r/celouts, saidit.net/s/incels, or simply stopped using incel forums. Smaller forums went into high gear to attract Braincels users, however no mass exodus happened, leaving some wondering how many real users were on Braincels in the first place.
In April 2020, inceltears shut down with the message, "That's all folks, we're done", after a mod removed the rest of the mods then deleted their account.
Also in April 2020, Incels.wiki splits into 4 different wikis, some larger, some smaller, over an admin tussle and disputes about a blackpiller editor. Not long afterward, Reddit bans all blackpill subreddits, including r/shortcells, blackpillfeminism, and many more, leaving incelswithouthate as the only sanctioned incel board left on Reddit.
- 1986: David Bowie releases the song Absolute Beginner which later becomes the eponym for a German incelospherian community of the same name.
- 1987: Brian Gilmartin coins the term “love-shy”.
- 1988: n/a
- 1989: n/a
- 1990: Denise Donnelly, graduates with a PhD in sociology from the University of Florida.
- 1992: Ross Jeffries publishes “How to Get the Women You Desire Into Bed”, which he later utilizes for AFC’s in Usenet groups.
- 1993: The website Alana’s Involuntary Celibacy Project is launched.
- 1994: The alt.seduction.fast Usenet newsgroup is founded by Lewis De Payne, a student of Ross Jeffries.
alt.support.shyness Usenet newsgroup is founded.
- 1995: Carol Queen publishes Exhibitionism for the Shy: Show Off, Dress Up, and Talk Hot, a book aimed at mentalcels.
- 1996: The term AFC gets popularized on various Usenet newsgroups.
- 1997: The term “incel” is abbreviated by Alana from “involuntary celibate”, a term whose usage dates back at least to the 18th century.
- 1998: The first Absolute Beginner forum is established.
- 1999: Laurence Fishburne narrates the “pill scene” in the film The Matrix that later inspires the pill jargon in the incelosphere.
- 2000: TLC Trust is launched for disabledcels along with the website tlc-trust.org.uk.
- 2001: A peer-reviewed academic journal published by Routledge on behalf of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality releases a study on incelospherians.
- 2002: /groups/loveshy-drgilmartin, a Yahoo support group is founded.
- 2003: The website love-shy.com is created.
- 2004: The website incelsite.com is created. The first female-centric incel community, /groups/loveshy-women, is formed.
- 2005: Neil Strauss’ book The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists is published and subsequently embraced in parts of PSL.
- 2006: The website IncelSupport is created. Kakuhido launches Valentine’s Day, Christmas, and White Day protests.
- 2007: The first website of the French incelosphere is founded called Virginite-tardive.fr which is only in the french language.
- 2008: R9k is developed by Randall Munroe. The TFL movement is started by William Greathouse. The website incel.myonlineplace.org is created.
- 2009: The website Loveshyproject.com is created. Involuntarycelibacy.com is created.
- 2010: Kakuhido launches it’s first blog posts.
- 2011: The subreddit ForeverAlone is created.
- 2011: The term blackpill is coined in the in the comments section of the Dalrock blog by a commenter named Paragon. It is later popularized by the blogger OmegaVirginRevolt.
- 2012: The documentary Love Alien is released, 1 year after Shy Boys IRL.
- 2013: Incelsupport.com crashed this year. yourenotalone.info is created this year.
- 2014: Lookism.net is created. Sluthate.com is created with several members being former frequenters of puahate.com. yourenotalone.info shuts down.
- 2015: /r/incels is created; it is banned two years later after getting more than 40,000 members.
- 2016: The inceldom pride flag is created.
- 2017: The incelphobic subreddit /r/IncelTears is created by caspertruth666. r/incels gets banned from Reddit and moves to Incels.co.
- 2018: Ton den Boon becomes the first lexicographer to define the term “incel”, defining it as a gender-neutral noun, meaning someone who lives an involuntarily celibate life. It’s also shortlisted by Oxford as a “word of the year”. incels.info aka IncelWiki starts.
- 2019: Incelistan.net is created. r/braincels gets shut down by Reddit. Incels.info moves to incels.wiki.
- 2020: incelistan.net changes name to yourenotalone.co. Incels.wiki splits into 4 different wikis. /r/IncelTears shuts down and all blackpill boards get banned by Reddit. Incels.co and looksmax.me are suspended from their domain extensions.
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