EVERY now and then, I’ll come across a news story that makes me physically shudder. It should happen far more often than it does,

but I am less moved by things now due to constant exposure to horror online. Like many, I know that I, too, have become a victim of our never-ending news cycle, inured to the pain of individual suffering by media powered by outrage and shock tactics.

But yesterday I came across the story of Bianca Devins – a story so gruesome and tragic that I had to take some time out to process what I was reading. Devins, like so many other women and girls, was murdered by someone she knew and trusted. Brandon Clark had met her family and was not some internet stranger as was first reported.

What’s worse is that after he killed her, in one final indignity, he shared pictures of the murder for likes online. Devins was 17 and graduated from high school in New York a month ago. The ambitions, hopes and dreams of this young woman entering the next phase of her life were extinguished in such a callous act of extreme violence and degradation. Thanks to Clark’s actions, she will be “that eGirl who was nearly beheaded in a car”.

After almost decapitating Devins, Clark posted pictures of her dead body on his Instagram story. He then posted the pictures to a Discord server (an online group chat) she posted in, under the caption “sorry fuckers, you’re going to have to find someone else to orbit”.

If this wasn’t bad enough, the pictures of Devin’s slain body were rapidly circulated online. Some even used them as a means of trying to grow a rapid following, offering to share the pictures and a non-existent video when they reached 5K followers. Someone else Photoshopped the Joker’s smiling face-paint on to the picture of her body. Others began immediately looking for her “nudes”. Some even appeared to celebrate. “Rest in piss, stupid whore. Another crazy bitch off this planet”, is just one example of the sort of gleeful hand-rubbing in response to Devins’s very public murder.

This has all the hallmarks of an incel murder. Incels – involuntary celibates – are members of an online anti-woman community. These men share their experiences of being or feeling rejected by women with each other in forums like incel.co, 4chan and Reddit. They engage in rampant misogyny as they feel they are denied their right to sex by stuck-up women.

“Orbiters”, as referenced by Clark, is incel speak for the type of man who hovers around women who are “out of their league”, in the hope of sex they believed they are owed. Men who identify with this group have been responsible for killing multiple people in acts of “lone-wolf” misogynist extremism in recent years.

There is a pattern here if we are brave enough to confront what we see when the dots are connected. In 2014, Elliot Rodger, a self-professed incel went on a rampage in Isla Vista, California after posting a 137-page manifesto and retribution video online. Rodger has since become a folk hero to some within the incel community, where “going ER” has become a common phrase to describe interactions with women.

Alek Minassian who drove a rented van into pedestrians in Toronto in 2018 also referred to himself as an incel and praised Rodger before the attack. There have been several other mass murders in the US with connections to this online community.

Whenever we talk about the radicalisation of young men and the proliferation of extremist views, religion and white supremacy are often what first springs to mind. Our thinking is constrained to a particular type of radicalisation, whether that’s young men running off to fight for Daesh or others opening fire on a church or synagogue in a racist attack. There has been worryingly little attention given to radicalised misogyny and how these seemingly isolated incidents are anything but.

According to incel ideology, men are owed sex purely for being men. Their theory consists of a potent blend of biological determinism, male supremacy and sexual Darwinism that frames men as victims of rejection by shallow, cruel and manipulative women.

It claims women are only interested in partnering with the most attractive men available and, as a result, sentence many to a life of enforced loneliness and celibacy. In these communities, misogyny is deepened alongside the glorification of violence.

When men feel vulnerable because they believe sexual access to women defines their worth, they are more susceptible to extremist ideologies like this that give meaning and context to their experience.

It is little wonder that we see the fruits of this gendered extremism online manifest in brutal acts of offline violence.

It’s time to face reality: parts of the internet are acting as a nursery for burgeoning misogynist extremism. I’m not sure what the solution is, but we must pay attention to this kind of radicalisation too. If we don’t, I fear we will see more “honour killings” committed by men taken in by a conspiracy against half the population.