Omar Bustamante/FUSION

There’s one opinion that resonates across the board on Wizardchan: avoid women.

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Wizardchan is an online community for aspiring lifelong male virgins. Most of the members haven’t had much contact with women in their adult lives, yet they resent and fear them. Women are succubi, ancient medieval demonic spirits in the female form who appear in dreams to lure a man into sleeping with them, often at the risk of his health. Their slogan is: “Disregard women. Acquire Magic.”

From the forum

There are virgins of all ages on the site, but those who remain so past the age of 30 are considered wizards. The "magic" they acquire is just the recognition that they’ve surpassed the age of youth and temptation with their celibacy in tact. One user explains that being a wizard stands for "the rejection of humanity, the acquisition of magic and wisdom. And these things are not found in the pursuit of earthly pleasures." Members are encouraged to abstain from any social activity that doesn't occur through the internet.

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Wizardchan members believe firmly that women are the most powerful people in society because no matter how awkward or unattractive they are, they will always get sex, and that Alpha males, who they call Chads, are fixated on being impressive to women. There are currently over 400,000 posts on Wizardchan and 6,300 members, with about 200 people posting each day. The hardest challenge for me in reporting on Wizardchan was trying to get the wizards to speak to me because, of course, I’m a woman! So I mainly lurked on the board and talked to former members.

Most of the men on Wizardchan are in their mid 20s to mid 30s and the majority are white. These are the disaffected males who feel let down and left out by the progressive movements of modern society. The wizards, although unique, are part of a subculture of people–unofficial organizations born out of Reddit threads, such as MGTOW (Men Going Their Own Way, a male right’s activist group) and The Red Pill (pick-up artists)–who feel left behind by a world fueled by post-gender rights movements, Black Lives Matter, and the sexual revolution, to name a few. So these groups have formed self-preservation and defense mechanisms against the rapid social changes that are taking place in our current political climate.

You might assume that the members of Wizardchan are all voting for Donald Trump. While they don't firmly align themselves with him, they are not voting for Hillary, with one member calling her "a robot, as far as I’m concerned.” This is a group Trump is courting though. Last month, Trump did an official AMA on Reddit to answer questions about his candidacy and promote himself through the /r/the_Donald subreddit, which was formed by Red Pill, a home to the alt-right.

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On Wizardchan, you'll find lively discussions about how wizards will fare in the apocalypse—pretty well as they're all already isolated in basements—and the future of female sex robots. Some want robots to exist so real women will be obsolete, while another says an affectionate robot would be great because she "could take the place of having a loving mother that would do everything for you.” Wizards also talk at length about their relationships with inanimate objects, such as anime dolls or waifus (two dimensional female character from anime, manga, visual novel, or videogame subculture), which are vessels for their love. "Do people just fap [masturbate] to their waifus then claim it was sex with them?” asks one user.

Wizardchan emerged from 4chan–the popular community board created by Chris Poole in 2003 that has produced such memes as Rickrolling. Initially, most of the people on 4chan were depressed and socially anxious, according to Josh Moon, the founder of Kiwifarms and an expert on early interactive web development. But as 4chan grew, the users who had been awkward or isolated teens grew up, went to college and broke out of their shells.

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“People who didn’t really progress were suddenly having to share this space with people who had girlfriends and jobs," said Moon. "[Their] sharing stories about their relationship drama was upsetting to the people who eventually formed Wizardchan.”

8chan's Frederick Brennan founded wizardchan.org (now wizchan.org) in 2012 (but had to later leave after he lost his virginity). The term ‘wizard’ appears to date back to 2001, but it was popularized in 2011, when an anime series portrayed a protagonist who chose a wizard character in a video game and ended up becoming a 30-year-old virgin presumably because he got so entrenched in the game that he forgot about sex.

The site's list of rules includes bans on “outsider memes” or talking about any 3D, non-animated pornography. Above all else, no mentions of real life romantic relationships are tolerated on the site.

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Sam, who wanted to go by just his first name, spent the majority of 2014 on the site because he’s able to relate more strongly to this community than he can to most regular people. He tried to promote positive changes in the wizards’ lives, but he was eventually banished from the community—being deemed a normie and a Chad—for having a Twitter account and IRL friends to communicate with. Sam describes the wizards as “young men who are predisposed to being antisocial and not conventionally masculine” or “otherwise disabled in ways that prohibit them, such as through mental illness or being significantly below IQ.”

The wizards harbor hate towards capitalists, communists, people of color, LGBT groups, family members, and politicians. They feel victimized by everyone and everything; they are threatened by the Jews, who are in a conspiracy to control all “Goyims” (non-Jews) and discussions occur as to whether the Holocaust really happened. They resent trans people for the attention they get, especially M to Fs, because they think becoming a woman is an easy way to gain power and sympathy in the world. Wizards are fiercely anti “wage slave” (those who trade labor for capital) but they can’t accept progress because it would mean accepting the sexual revolution and the rise of feminism.

“I think a lot of them really want a retreat back to pre-1950s social values where white men are in control of everything,” says Sam. “They just want to be in control of their lives in a way that they aren’t, so they think that turning to the past through this delusional conservatism will benefit them somehow.”

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The group has been cast as dangerous in the past thanks to Elliot Rodgers, an "involuntary celibate" (incel) who went on a shooting spree in Isla Vista, CA in 2014. Rodgers had written about his struggles with celibacy on several online forums and opened his manifesto–a 141-page document left behind after his murders and suicide – with the sentence, “All of my suffering on this world has been at the hands of humanity, particularly women.”

Though it would seem the wizards are similar to Rodgers, the wizards take great pains to distinguish themselves from incels. Incels, in their eyes, are the most detestable and the most pitiable they still look for a place in a society that has rejected them instead of just rejecting the society in return.

“There’s two types of incels, incels who just want to have sex and incels who want love," one wizard proclaims. "I’d say I detest the first, and I feel sorry for the second.”

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The wizards are conflicted. Though they may try to distance themselves from people like Rodgers, they still can’t help but make a case for alpha males and masculinity being the most dangerous threat of all.

“If succubi were more open to dating men outside the top 5% Alpha category,” said one member, then violence would decrease significantly. Another user disagrees and claims that violence is just “what Chads do,” and there will always be Chads, even with the “mass feminization” taking place in the West.

The feeling of not being traditionally "masculine" resonates beyond the wizards. In a study published in May by YouGov called “The Decline of the Manly Man,” 1,000 American men were asked to rate themselves on a scale of masculinity between 1 and 6, one being completely masculine and 6 being completely feminine. Only 30 percent of the millennial group (ages 18-29) identified as completely masculine, while 65% of men over 65 did.

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In the older generation, keeping up a household was a typically feminine role. Now, women have careers and provide for themselves. These men seem to struggle with this, stuck without the purpose of being a financial provider, but also lacking the ability to healthily express vulnerability when facing the new challenges that our society has presented.

“Being a man means being able to take care of people,” Moon said, on the wizard mentality of inadequacy. “If you’re not even able to take care of yourself, you have no chance of being in a position where you can take care of others.”

With millennial women increasingly more educated than their male peers, the wizards lack “marketable assets,” contributing to their feelings of inferiority, said Moon.

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Angry, fragile men who emerge on the internet are unnerving because their anger isn’t organized. There’s no place for them amongst the oppressed groups of America or amongst the powerful ones. They are also not fit to blend in with the status quo. Therefore, they seem unpredictable and impossible to engage with. We don’t know how to anticipate them, understand them, or respond to them.

In response, these men reject social norms and reinstate an individuality that is self-contained, fearful, and resentful of people that don't look like them, partially because these other groups represent change, while the wizards are stagnant. This sentiment is similar in radical conservative groups like the Tea Party, who have anxiety about outsiders coming in and taking all the jobs that working class white men think of as their constitutional right. These angry white men fear irrelevancy because they are coming up against a cultural shift that no longer values traditional masculinity as much as it respects minorities who defend themselves against racism, sexism and oppression in America.

To the wizards, real life is a fiction. Trump is a character that provides entertainment by saying off-color things and upsetting people. Black Lives Matter will provoke a war between the races. Hillary is a robot who wants to “fuck the world." They will comment on all this but are not interested in engaging. The vast majority of wizards adhere to the philosophy: “Explore your mind. Wait patiently for your turn to vanish. Avoid others.”

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The wizards express their beliefs about politics, culture, philosophy, and their struggles to a group of people online who cannot be verified, have no image, and no defined role in the world of capital. The same method they use to distance themselves from people (virtual reality, anonymity) is also the only way they have to connect with others like them.

This internal contradiction is clear when they make attempts to get closer to their fellow wizards, such as the thread titled: “What do you look like?” followed by nearly 200 responses. Some were fairly predictable: “Average overweight bearded balding guy,” and “Ugly." But there were voices depicted from other cultures and races too: “im indian. im short, im stubby, i have a lot of acne and a very small penis! fml!” or “looking like gypsy in country where people hate gypsies.” One user says he’s black and that people say he is pretty.

To these very specific and contained individual differences, the wizards responded with surprising acceptance and even curiosity. One guy observed, “I always assumed everyone here was white for some reason. I guess because you tend to think of everyone else in an anonymous setting as your race as the default.”

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When I first heard about the wizards, they were a novelty – angry white male virgins who just want to watch the world burn. Now, I feel like I know them. They aren’t just relegated to one corner of the internet, either–elements of their ideology creep in all around us. If we want a healthier society, we should try to convince the wizards that the magic they're looking for won't be found by looking further inside themselves, but instead out in the modern world, beyond their basements.

Julia Edwards is a writer living in Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in Brooklyn Magazine, The Frisky, and SPIN. She also writes a poem a day.