When images of a 17-year-old budding Instagram influencer's slain body were shared online earlier this week, some corners of the internet reacted with morbid glee. She got what she deserved, they said. She'd reaped what she had sewn.
For them, Bianca Devins wasn't a beloved daughter or sister. She wasn't a student planning to study psychology in college. She wasn't a person who enjoyed gaming or music and sharing those interests with others online. Perhaps she wasn't a person at all. Devins' death, allegedly at the hands of a 21-year-old named Brandon Clark who she'd met online and had been seeing, and the reaction to it in those fringe web groups point to a rot within certain segments of male culture, domestic violence experts say — one based on entitlement and a fundamental misogyny.
Devins' death hit the internet before her body was even found. Police say Clark had uploaded photos of her corpse to multiple social media apps including Snapchat and Instagram. He also allegedly uploaded a shocking image of her corpse to the gaming app Discord with a message to other men: “You’re gonna have to find somebody else to orbit."
“Orbit” in this context is a term used to describe men who lurk around a woman in the hopes that she'll end up having sex with them. Several publications have linked that kind of speech to incel culture. Incels — short for "involuntarily celibate" — are men who feel that modern society has doomed them to be perceived as undatable by women.
"I've been a nice guy whole my life (and still am IRL) yet no woman has ever showed interest in me, I think freedom for women is just one big mistake," writes one commenter on the forum incels.co.
For many incels, those feelings manifest as extreme hatred and resentment toward women.
Cindy Southworth, executive vice president at the U.S. National Network to End Domestic Violence told Oxygen.com that misogyny appears to have played a big role in Devins' killing.
“For me the root of it is violence against women,” she explained. “If anybody believes that they have a God-given right to date a woman, it’s a power-dynamic issue. Nobody has the right to be dating anyone.”
Although the nature of their relationship has been debated online, Utica Police Lt. Bryan Coromato told Oxygen.com that Devins and Clark were in a sexual relationship.
“It doesn’t really matter,” Southworth said. “He felt he had the right to take her life and whether or not they were dating and he wanted to control her or he wanted to date her ... he felt he had the right to take her life and that’s misogyny.”
Additionally, she said the fact that Clark allegedly uploaded photos of Devins after killing her isn't a new phenomenon, despite the use of relatively new platforms.
"Perpetrators have boasted forever because it’s about entitlement,” she said. “When someone feels entitled to do something you are more likely to brag about it, boast about it.”
Southworth said the root case of violence against women is gender inequality.
“When men see women as their absolute equal we will have less or no homicides,” she said.
Emily Rothman, professor of community health sciences at the Boston University School of Public Health, has consulted on violence-related issues with multiple state departments of public health and domestic violence programs. She said that there are a few factors that come into play in dating violence like the kind allegedly seen in this case.
Peer culture is one of them.
“This is when things like peer culture and incel culture online can come in,” she said. “It does matter the people they affiliate with, especially [when] those peers promote violence and promote aggression. Those kind of norms can influence what somebody does.”
Users of some incel-linked sites appear to have been celebrating Devins' death or at the very least minimizing her humanity.
"She wasn't cute at all," one 4chan user wrote. "She was plain, and dumb, and fell for an absolute psychopath. Stop worshiping women, you cucks."
Another responded to gory photographs of her body with "RISE UP THE BETA UPRISING IS UPON US."
"Beta," in this context, is basically synonymous with "orbiter."
A user of Kiwi Farms (an online forum apparently dedicated to the doxxing and stalking of people online) wrote, "I was hoping it was someone popular but it's just some random not even legal girl. And I guess this is the modern age so you can't even kill a mildly attractive chick without also killing an eceleb."
Another wrote, "she was 'dating' him but in reality he was her beta orbiter."
A user on the website incels.co, wrote that the victim "was a horrible person anyway and reaped what she sowed."
Of course, there are more obvious factors that could be at play in the Devins case as well, Rothman said, such as a breakdown in the ability to handle conflict.
Coromato told Oxygen.com that Devins and Clark got into an argument at a concert just hours before the murder, allegedly because Clark saw Devins kiss someone else.
Rothman said how people deal with conflict or rejection plays a big role in dating violence.
"How we cope with problems when we have them, how we emotionally regulate, that can feed into this type of homicide," Rothman told Oxygen.com.
Perceived rejection, from one woman or from women in general, seems to be at the heart of domestic violence and incel culture.
Infamous incel Elliot Rodger, for example, blamed his rampage at the University of California Santa Barbara, in which he killed six people and injured 14, on being rejected by women. Although that's an extreme example of violence triggered by perceived rejection, Southworth said the phenomenon is rooted in the fact that some men feel like it's their right to date or possess certain women.
Clark was charged with second-degree murder earlier this week. Coromato told Oxygen.com that after allegedly killing Devins, he stabbed himself in the throat and uploaded photos of that violence as well. He's expected to be arraigned as soon as he is released from the hospital.
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