Opinion: 10 Red Flags The Guy You’re Dating is an MRA or an Incel

Men’s Rights Activists (MRAs) and their near-cousins Incels (involuntary celibates) are what largely make up the anti-feminist part of the internet. These dudes generally spend their time in forums reinforcing misogynistic nonsense and insisting the world would be a better place if women were more submissive to men. However, sometimes they can masquerade as regular, non-toxic potential dating partners. Here’s a list of red flags to look out for before putting yourself in a vulnerable position with them.

10. Refers to Women as Females

This one has gone pretty mainstream. While not technically inaccurate, “females” is the preferred nomenclature in most MRA/Incel circles for its dehumanizing aspects. Women are people. Females are breeding stock.

9. Believes Male “Essence” Can Be Lost

While most common in the “no fap (no masturbation)” communities, there is a prevalent idea that men and their semen are measured by a finite amount of “essence” which can be lost. Some MRAs/Incels literally believe that women absorb other men’s essences during intercourse, and that having sex with such a woman will somehow overwrite their own genetic code. Pretty much any man who goes on about the importance of his semen is far too wrapped up in manosphere mysticism to trust.

8. Reacts Overdramatically to Changing Date Locations

For very good reasons, many women like to meet first time dates in places that are public and which feel safe. If you suggest a different spot than the guy you’re talking to does, and he completely flies off the handle, you’re probably dealing with an MRA/Incel. In addition to the obvious control issues, MRAs/Incels often believe that a woman altering plans is some sort of attempt at emasculation. Delete that person’s number immediately.

7. Quotes Jordan Peterson

Dr. Prof. Jordan B. Peterson is a Canadian psychologist and basically the surrogate father figure for the MRA/Incel crowd. His books and lectures typically paint women as chaotic powers that disrupt the order of men. He’s also gone on record saying the cure for Incel violence is “enforced monogamy,” so he’s not exactly putting great ideas about men-women relations into his followers’ heads. Similarly…

6. Says Masculinity is “Under Attack”

This is most recently the line put forth by former kickboxer and current person kicked off many internet platforms Andrew Tate, a man who so perfectly encompasses fragile and toxic masculinity that I honestly thought he was a Sacha Baron Cohen parody character mocking the manosphere. The right-wing in many countries at the moment is scrambling to protect a definition of masculinity that is only hard and violent, something that has its roots in fascism, by the way. It’s all just a smokescreen for the insecure who don’t know what being a man is without archaic patriarchal trappings to shore up their image. Likewise when it comes to dudes who emulate Tate and his teachings, a man who needs a cigar and glass of whiskey constantly on their person to remind you they are a big man is only being held up by props.

5. Uses the Phrase “Body Count”

This is in reference to how many sexual partners a woman has had. It’s meaningless data related to purity culture nonsense which MRAs/Incels use to denigrate women as impure compared to themselves.

4. Won’t Shut Up About the Accomplishments of “Western Civilization”

There’s nothing wrong with an interest in history, but MRAs/Incels usually lionize any civilization descended from the Ancient Greeks to an absurd degree. Leaving aside that large chunks of European history were full of witch hunts and shitting in their own water supply while Eastern civilizations were inventing algebra and building great cities, it’s mostly just trying to to credit the institutional sexism of centuries past with great discoveries and accomplishments. While I don’t recommend engaging these gits, it is fun to say “imagine what they could have done if they didn’t keep half their population from fully participating!”

3. Has Negative Opinions About Piercings, Tattoos, and Colored Hair

The punk rock looking feminist is the constant bogeywomen to the MRA/Incel crowd. They don’t like it when women do things to their bodies that are not approved by men, usually themselves. If a guy asks why you would do something like this to yourself, run.

2. Brings Up His IQ Without Prompting

A core conceit of the MRA/Incel bros is that they are convinced they make decisions based purely on reason while women do so with emotion. An IQ score is a typical way to shore up this idea. Reminder: IQ is mostly meaningless. I took a free online IQ test just a minute ago where I randomly guessed the answers and still got scored in the High Intelligence range because most of these easily available tests exist mostly to boost egos.

1. Claims Previous Women Wouldn’t Date Him Because He Was “Too Nice”

This. Doesn’t. Happen. Lots of dudes have confused “polite language” with being nice, which is why a large proportion of MRAs/Incels talk like they walked out of a Civil War soldier’s letter home. Creep questions and misogynistic bullshit remain those things even when you say them with drawing room language. Any woman who told a dude he was “too nice” to date was almost certainly trying to keep him from becoming a threat to her… which he probably was. Rejecting men is sadly a common way for women to get killed.
KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Jef Rouner (not cis, he/him) is a contributing writer who covers politics, pop culture, social justice, video games, and online behavior. He is often a professional annoyance to the ignorant and hurtful.
Contact: Jef Rouner