Most of these stories had common threads: Women who feel cut off from access to sex, romance, and companionship often assume that they’re broken, that the odds are stacked against them, and they’re destined to be unlucky in love for the rest of their lives. “I spent a lot of time wondering what was wrong with me, why wasn’t I good enough, why wasn’t I fun enough,” Ashley said. “It’s isolating. It’s ugly. It’s a total mindfuck. And even as I was doing all these things to change myself and improve, I still hated myself and had this nagging feeling that my effort was pretty much hopeless.” These women feel the same sense of isolation that emanates throughout the incel ecosystem.
Yet despite the universal experience of loneliness and sexual failure, there appears to be one fairly significant difference between men and women: “I’ve never gotten anything from a woman blaming men for [their loneliness],” Shechter says. “But men, yes.” Of course, not all men blame their sexual woes on women’s failure to appreciate their value, nor on a female fixation on bad boy alpha males rather than more deserving “nice guys.” But, Shechter reiterates, “women have never said that.”