When I try to discuss any
aspect of male privilege with my dad, we have to go through 2.5 minutes of how sad it was that the cheerleaders wouldn't fuck him in high school. For a while I was just happy he was acknowledging the concept at all, but now it's gotten old. I suspect many other women have experienced something similar, and that Aaronson's comment reminded them of this.
I also have very distinct memories of a an ex who felt continually guilty for being male, which translated less into "him being super feminist and considerate" and more into "I could never criticize him because it would send him into a guilt spiral" and yet somehow simultaneously "no criticism was ever translated into action because feeling bad about all the things meant he never had to feel bad about a particular thing." I suspect many women have also had this experience and were reminded of it by Aaronson.
And those would be very justifiable objections, if Aaronson had posted his comment on a feminist blog post talking about the wage gap, or maybe even creepers. But he didn't. He posted it on his own blog, assuming readers would place it in the context of his posting history. When it went viral he added the context in manually, and it looks very reasonable to me, in the context of someone discussing their own pain in their own space.
If you remove that part, you still have a human being whose sexuality has been turned into a source of pain and shame. I expect feminists to be more sympathetic to this.
I really, really wish Amanda Marcotte was not the poster for modern feminism. She is a major reason I didn't identify as feminist for a long time. I never liked her, but I officially Didn't Read Her after she used asexual as an insult. I have no problem believing she was maliciously shamey. This is especially galling in light of her support for noted student fucking/attempted girlfriend murdering professor Hugo Schwyzer. It is really hard to argue that social status isn't entering into a decision to defense Schwyzer and condemn Aaronson.
A lot of the commentary has focused on "women can't know what it's like to be truly unwanted." I'm sure there's at least one woman who feels that way, but I will grant you the distribution is different. But women/feminists aren't trying to argue that they too know what loneliness is, they'are arguing that rolling back the things that made Aaronson feel bad will result in more rapes, which will make them feel bad. Given the conflation of desirability and rape in our culture, "but so many men want to fuck you" does not come across as a benefit. If women's choices are "a small subset of men feel super bad" or "even more rape", they're not wrong for "making" Aaronson feel bad. The blame goes to whoever set up the system with those as the only choices.
That said, the current shame around creepiness seems most effective on the most caring people, and least effective on deliberate rapists. That's suboptimal.
I highly suspect 'fear of raping someone' accounts for less of Aaronson's depression than he thinks it does. Some people are chemically destined to be depressed and the topic is incidental. But I have no way to know this without a control universe, and either way these outliers may help us pinpoint weaknesses in the current system.
Scott Alexander (not the original post writer) compared
the feminist shaming of neckbeards and fedoras to old school caricatures of Jews. My first reaction is that it's completely coincidental, it's not our fault douchebags wear fedoras, but my second reaction is "wow, those pictures do look similar." Similar enough that if a side I disagreed with did it, I'd consider it damning. There are also some narrative similarities. Jews got into Hollywood and aggressive corporate law (or, longer ago, banking) when it was low status, because the high status things wouldn't let them in. The world changed, those things became high status, and the fact that they were over represented was suddenly proof they ran the world. Nerds got into math and programming when it was low status.* Suddenly it's much more important, and they're being yelled at for having a stranglehold on something no one wanted until recently.**
This doesn't mean individual nerds, or even structurally significant subsets of nerds, haven't done terrible things with their power
, but so did some Jews
. It didn't make it okay to burn synagogues and it doesn't make it okay to conflate "unattractive", "virgin", and "anti-feminist." And if we could stop using autistic as a slur, that would be great.
Some nerds definitely have Penny Arcade Syndrome
I find it amusing that Scott Alexander pretty casually offers Penny a number of dates. It's an excellent example of someone having a lot of extraordinarily specific
I find it pretty telling that in attempting to find a friend to discuss this with, I had one female friend tap out because it triggered too much anger (which I think was justified) and a male friend tap out because it triggered too much pain (also justified).
*Eh, almost. Back when computer science was the bastard stepchild of math, it was mostly women. It was only as computers gained importance that men entered the field. But it was definitely less powerful than it is now.
**Except, again, women were in CS before men were.