Whether we’re “mouth-breathers”, “pimpled”, “scrawny”, “blubbery”, “sperglord”, “neckbeard”, “virgins”, “living in our parents’ basements”, “man-children” or whatever the insult du jour is, it’s always, always, ALWAYS a self-identified feminist saying it.
Scott Aaronson is quick to remind us: he’s a feminist.
He I live in a world where feminists throwing weaponized shame at nerds is an obvious and inescapable part of daily life.
After all, what better way could we ring in a new year than by looking at some old issues?
But first, some context: Over the last week or so, I had several people forward me links to this comment from MIT Professor Scott Aaronson’s blog about growing up as a nerd terrified of women and trying to be a Nice Guy and how this meant that nerds couldn’t be keeping women out of STEM fields.
This is an incredibly common complaint that I hear from men, especially Nice Guys: they’re scared.
I’ve lost track of how many men have told me that they’re terrified of making a mistake, of being called a creeper or – as in Aaronson’s example, somehow ending up being thrown in jail because that’s how law works.
[…] At one point, I actually begged a psychiatrist to prescribe drugs that would chemically castrate me (I had researched which ones), because a life of mathematical asceticism was the only future that I could imagine for myself.
While I can sympathize with the emotion – I’ve had all the same worst-case scenario nightmares when I’ve approached women I like – the cold truth is that this anxiety is self-inflicted.
I left each of those workshops with enough fresh paranoia and self-hatred to last me through another year..
It becomes about making their hurt feelings the center of the debate instead of hey, maybe people shouldn’t act this way.
The problem is that Aaronson made the same mistake that many other nerds and Nice Guys have made: he misunderstood the point of what he was reading.