This is a radical condensation of Scott Alexander’s “Untitled” post. My immediately-preceding post explains why I’ve done this. I quote the summary at the bottom of that post:
Scott has a lot of amazing things to say, which need to be heard by people other than just those who already agree with him. But I fear that the original article is too long for most people to read, and too triggering of those who are expecting attacks from asshole MRA-types. So I’m going to try my best to just cut to the most core parts of the post. This will flense away much of the emotion that makes it impactful, and many of the links to studies and surveys that make it insightful. All that will be left is a skeleton that cannot even approximate the heart of the original article. But hopefully, by just laying down the basic starting proposition that those who are wary of the message can read without distraction, maybe we can get a few people to read them. And consider them. And maybe, in time, discuss them.
In addition to tons of cuts, I’ve heavily modified the original article in various ways:
* simply cutting huge portions of it without ceremony
* taking lots of things out of context
* reordering lots of parts to match up with the four driving points I took away from it
* dropping lots of words in the middle of sentences, or sentences between paragraphs, to short them
* altering or adding some minor words to make the chopped-up sentences flow better
* doing BOTH of the previous two things in order to remove passion and make the post more neutral-sounding for the intended audience
* Adding two bits that are entirely my own (in blue) and shouldn’t even be there, but I put them in anyway
I have mutilated the original work in an effort to have it considered in a more neutral light by those who I most want to communicate this stuff to. But I can think of no better way of saying the things below than the way they were said. I am a both a plagiarist and a corruptor, any fault with what you read below rests on my shoulders. Scott, please forgive me.
Again, to be be perfectly clear – I am conveying my opinions by remixing an existing piece; the result should not be taken to represent the views of Scott.
- If Scott Aaronson counts, then how are you defining “Entitled”?
Scott Aaronson’s entire problem was that he was so unwilling to hurt women even unintentionally, and so unclear about what the rules were for hurting women, that he erred on the side of super-ultra-caution and tried to force himself never to have any sexual interest in women at all even to the point of trying to get himself castrated. If entitlement means “I don’t care about women’s feelings, I just care about my own need for sex”, Aaronson is the perfect one hundred eighty degree opposite of entitlement. He is just about the most unentitled (untitled?) person imaginable.
Yet Aaronson is the example upon which these columnists have decided their case for “nerd entitlement” must rise and fall.
A better word for this untitlement is, perhaps, scrupulosity, where you believe you are uniquely terrible and deserve nothing. Scrupulosity is often linked to obsessive compulsive disorder, which the recent survey suggests nerds have at higher rates than the general population and which is known to be more common in high-IQ people. Example: people who say “I have money and people starving in Africa don’t have money, therefore I am morally obligated to give half of my money to people starving in Africa or else their starvation is my fault” and then actually go and do that then as often as not it’s scrupulosity at work.
When you tell a highly-untitled, high-scrupulosity person that they are entitled, it goes about as well as telling an anorexic person that they are fat.
Sure, some nerds really are entitled, just like some people in every group are entitled. How come it’s 2015 and we still can’t agree that it’s not okay to take a group who’s already being bullied and harassed, stereotype it based on the characteristics of its worst members, and then write sweeping articles declaring that the entire group is like that?
- Shaming Tactics
Nerds have been told throughout life that they are “fat”, “gross”, “losers”, “creeps”, etc.
(Feminist men have a deep fear of being creeps. We do not want to make women’s lives worse! We’re doing what we can to make them better.)
There is a growing trend in Internet feminism that works exactly by conflating the ideas of nerd, misogynist, virgin, person who disagrees with feminist tactics or politics, and unlovable freak. Ideal feminism doesn’t do that. Ideals are always pretty awesome. Nerds deserve the right to complain when actual feminists are focused way more on nerd-baiting than actual feminism.
(Slut-shaming is an attempt to police women’s sexuality. Terms like “slut”, “whore”, “skank”, etc are used to destroy women and make them feel dirty and worthless unless they conform to what men want. Slut-shaming is awful.) We do not tolerate slut-shaming, nor do we tolerate those who do. But the male version of the problem is nerd-shaming, and I don’t feel like most women take it nearly as seriously as I try to take their problems. If anything, many actively make it worse. See previous paragraph.
Self-loathing is easy to inculcate and encourage
When someone tells you that something you are doing is making their life miserable, you don’t lecture them about how your life is worse, even if it’s true. You STOP DOING IT.
When I complained that I felt miserable and alone, it was like throwing blood in the water. When feminists write about this issue, they nearly always assume that the men involved are bitter about all the women who won’t sleep with them. In my experience and the experience of everyone I’ve ever talked to, we’re bitter about all the women who told us we were disgusting rapists when we opened up about our near-suicidal depression. I bottled my feelings inside and never let them out and spent years feeling like I was a monster for even having them.
A giant cry has arisen from shy awkward men, lesbians, bisexuals, whatever of the world is saying “NO, SERIOUSLY, FEMINIST SHAMING TACTICS ARE MAKING THIS WORSE”
Even among those who admit that nerdy men, lesbians, bisexuals, etc may be in pain, they deny categorically any possible role of feminist shaming culture in causing that pain and want to take any self-reflection on their part off of the table of potential compromise.
- Structural Oppression
“Privilege” is “some people have built-in advantages over other people, and it might be hard for them to realize these advantages even exist”. Under this definition, it’s easy to agree that, let’s say, Aaronson has the privilege of not having to deal with slut-shaming, and Penny has the privilege of not having to deal with nerd-shaming.
It would be perfectly reasonable to say something like “You feel pain? I have felt pain before too. I’m sorry about your pain. It would be incredibly crass to try to quantify exactly how your pain compares to my pain and lord it over you if mine was worse. Instead I will try to help you with your pain, just as I hope that you will help me with mine.”
Aaronson is admitting about a hundred times that he recognizes the importance of the ways women are oppressed. He’s not saying his suffering is worse than women’s in every way, just that it’s really bad and maybe this is not the place where “male privilege” should be invoked.
Thus the reply: “Yes, your pain technically exists, but it’s not structural oppression“
I know there are a couple different definitions of what exactly structural oppression is, but however you define it, I feel like people who are at much higher risk of being bullied throughout school, are portrayed by the media as disgusting and ridiculous, have a much higher risk of mental disorders, and are constantly told by mainstream society that they’re ugly and defective kind of counts.
They’re this weird separate group with their own culture who don’t join in the reindeer games of normal society. They dress weird and talk weird. They’re conventionally unattractive and have too much facial hair.
Whatever structural oppression means, it should be about structure. And the structure society uses to marginalize and belittle nerds is very similar to a multi-purpose structure society has used to belittle weird groups in the past.
There is a well-known, dangerous form of oppression that works just fine when the group involved have the same skin color as the rest of society, the same sex as the rest of society, and in many cases are totally indistinguishable from the rest of society except to themselves. It works by taking a group of unattractive, socially excluded people, mocking them, accusing them of being out to violate women, then denying that there could possibly be any problem with these attacks because they include rich people who dominate a specific industry.
Even among those who admit that our pain technically exists, they are unable to acknowledge it without adding “…but by the way, your pain can’t possibly ever be as bad as our pain” or “your pain doesn’t qualify for this ontologically distinct category of pain which is much more important.”
- Nerds and Feminists shouldn’t be fighting each other.
Nerds usually have poor social skills, people who are pretty sure they are supposed to do something but have no idea what. Err to one side and you get the overly-chivalrous people saying m’lady because it pattern-matches to the most courtly and least sexual way of presenting themselves they can think of. Err to the other, and you get people hollowly imitating the behavior they see in famous seducers and playboys, which is pretty much just “being extremely creepy”.
It starts to look like feminists and I are trying to solve the same problem.
The problem is that nerds are scared and confused and feel lonely and have no idea how to approach women.
But Aaronson’s solution to the problem is to talk about it. And (some) feminism’s solution to the problem is to swarm anyone who talks about it, beat them into submission, and tell them, in the words of Marcotte, that they are “yalping entitlement combined with an aggressive unwillingness to accept that women are human beings just like men”
Denying the problem and yelling at nerds who talk about it doesn’t help either group.
“What I most wanted to say, to all the messed-up teenagers and angry adults out there, is that the fight for your survival is political. The fight to own your emotions, your rage and pain and lust and fear, all those unspeakable secrets that we do not share because we worry that we will be hurt or shunned, is deeply political.” – Laurie Penny
This entire discussion is about the (some) feminists who continue to perpetuate the stereotypes that hurt us then, continue to attack us now whenever we talk about the experience or ask them to stop, and continue to come up with rationalizations for why they don’t have to stop.
Men are not even allowed to ask the people hurting them to stop – then you’re super entitled.
@#!$ that. Dehumanizing and perpetrating stereotypes about a whole group of people who already have it pretty bad is not okay.
You might want to pull this and run it by Scott before posting it.
Or alternatively put up a big, obvious disclaimer to the effect of “I am conveying my opinions by remixing an existing piece; the result should not be taken to represent the views of Scott.”
Good point. It is done.