If only we were all robots…


Scott Aaronson is clearly afflicted with the plight of the male nerd. He’s written a heartfelt comment about his misery as a young man.

Alas, as much as I try to understand other people’s perspectives, the first reference to my “male privilege”—my privilege!—is approximately where I get off the train, because it’s so alien to my actual lived experience.

But I suspect the thought that being a nerdy male might not make me “privileged”—that it might even have put me into one of society’s least privileged classes—is completely alien to your way of seeing things. To have any hope of bridging the gargantuan chasm between us, I’m going to have to reveal something about my life, and it’s going to be embarrassing.

(sigh) Here’s the thing: I spent my formative years—basically, from the age of 12 until my mid-20s—feeling not “entitled,” not “privileged,” but terrified. I was terrified that one of my female classmates would somehow find out that I sexually desired her, and that the instant she did, I would be scorned, laughed at, called a creep and a weirdo, maybe even expelled from school or sent to prison. You can call that my personal psychological problem if you want, but it was strongly reinforced by everything I picked up from my environment: to take one example, the sexual-assault prevention workshops we had to attend regularly as undergrads, with their endless lists of all the forms of human interaction that “might be” sexual harassment or assault, and their refusal, ever, to specify anything that definitely wouldn’t be sexual harassment or assault. I left each of those workshops with enough fresh paranoia and self-hatred to last me through another year.

Not to take away from his pain at all — it’s real, and I feel for him — but man, we all suffered like that. I had a miserable, lonely adolescence, and I suspect that most people have…it’s simply that period in our lives when the social and the sexual have increasing importance, and we all wrestle with the problem of finding happiness with other human beings.

I was also the quiet nerdy guy, homely and poor, with nothing particularly exciting to distinguish myself from the crowd. I liked science, which turns out to be poor fodder for party conversation, and my refuge was the library, which didn’t exercise my weak social skills much at all. I was miserable and terrified of rejection, too, and couldn’t work up the courage to ask anyone out on a date until I was 17 (she said yes; I might well have found myself even deeper in the slough of despond if she hadn’t).

But really, it was the same for almost everyone. Imagine being the overweight girl in class; there are people who would regard her as barely human. Imagine being a girl who wanted romance and affection as much as any guy, but who knew that so much as a kiss to the wrong boy would lead to the label of “tramp” and “slut” and endless abuse. Imagine being a girl who didn’t have a date on a Saturday night, and rather than being able to kick herself for her timidity, instead wondered over and over again what was wrong with her — was she ugly, were her breasts too small, was that small pimple on her forehead so disgusting that it was all anybody could see when they looked at her?

Having miserable teen years does not mean you couldn’t be privileged — it really is a hellish time of life for most of us, so you have to compare situations.

But don’t ask me, ask a woman. Laurie Penny gives her perspective, and explains that young women have all the angst and pain that the young men feel, but also face the reality that it will never get better — that nerd boys will eventually find themselves in a more comfortable seat in the social power structure where their talents are appreciated, while the nerd girls will have to spend the whole of their lives confronting sexual discrimination.

These are curious times. Gender and privilege and power and technology are changing and changing each other. We’ve also had a major and specific reversal of social fortunes in the past 30 years. Two generations of boys who grew up at the lower end of the violent hierarchy of toxic masculinity – the losers, the nerds, the ones who were afraid of being creeps – have reached adulthood and found the polarity reversed. Suddenly they’re the ones with the power and the social status. Science is a way that shy, nerdy men pull themselves out of the horror of their teenage years. That is true. That is so. But shy, nerdy women have to try to pull themselves out of that same horror into a world that hates, fears and resents them because they are women, and to a certain otherwise very intelligent sub-set of nerdy men, the category "woman" is defined primarily as "person who might or might not deny me sex, love and affection".

(And you ask me, where were those girls when you were growing up? And I answer: we were terrified, just like you, and ashamed, just like you, and waiting for someone to take pity on our lonely abject pubescence, hungry to be touched. But you did not see us there. We were told repeatedly, we ugly, shy nerdy girls, that we were not even worthy of the category "woman". It wasn’t just that we were too shy to approach anyone, although we were; it was that we knew if we did we’d be called crazy. And if we actually got the sex we craved? (because some boys who were too proud to be seen with us in public were happy to fuck us in private and brag about it later) . . . then we would be sluts, even more pitiable and abject. Aaronson was taught to fear being a creep and an objectifier if he asked; I was taught to fear being a whore or a loser if I answered, never mind asked myself. Sex isn’t an achievement for a young girl. It’s something we’re supposed to embody so other people can consume us, and if we fail at that, what are we even for?)

The human condition is a sad, sorry mess. We stumble through it, and if we’re lucky, we find someone with whom we can share the burden, looking for affirmation of self with another. And the solution isn’t easy.

We bring our broken hearts and blue balls to the table when we talk gender politics, especially if we are straight folks. Consent and the boundaries of consent – desire and what we’re allowed to speak of desire – we’re going to have to get better, braver and more honest, we’re going to have to undo decades of toxic socialisation and learn to speak to each other as human beings in double quick time.

Bravery and honesty are precisely the two hardest things for terrified young people to bring to a relationship, especially when the culture is constantly telling you how men and women are supposed to be, and it’s so rarely how we really are.

Comments

  1. Seven of Mine: Shrieking Feminist Harpy says

    You can call that my personal psychological problem if you want, but it was strongly reinforced by everything I picked up from my environment: to take one example, the sexual-assault prevention workshops we had to attend regularly as undergrads, with their endless lists of all the forms of human interaction that “might be” sexual harassment or assault, and their refusal, ever, to specify anything that definitely wouldn’t be sexual harassment or assault.

    This shit infuriates me. Fucking consent, people. The things that aren’t harassment or assault are the things the other person consents to. Arglbarglrawr.

  2. qwints says

    @Seven of Mine, what’s wrong with complaining that the workshops didn’t show what people consenting looks like?

  3. Anri says

    Presumably, he was also justifiably frightened about being actually sexually assaulted by his female peers.

    Oh, no, wait, that would be the young women being justifiably frightened about being sexually assaulted by their male peers.
    Hunh, that almost – if you tilt your head juuust right – sounds like privilege.

    I was also terrified of being laughed at as a teenager.
    I actually became a feminist when I finally grew up and realized there are things one hell of a lot worse than being laughed at, and I am, due to being male, largely insulated from many of them.

  4. Gen, Uppity Ingrate and Ilk says

    Yep. Men are afraid women will laugh at them. Women are afraid men will kill them. Wasn’t that Margaret Atwood?

  5. yazikus says

    He also seems to think that an early arranged marriage would have solved all of his problems. So there is that.

  6. gussnarp says

    I don’t think these people are being honest at all about not recognizing their privilege. I too, it will come as no surprise, am a white male nerd. Somehow I survived adolescence and now have a job that being a white male nerd afforded me, in which I sit behind a keyboard and no one even much cares if I waste a bit of time perusing blogs. But I’ve never had to worry about being raped. I’ve never faced the kind of threats women face online for having the temerity to suggest they be treated as equals. I don’t have to fear the cops. Yeah, in many, many ways, I’m privileged. These guys know they’re privileged, too, they just want cover for being sexist asshats.

  7. August Berkshire says

    Well, we are all robots, in a way, since there is no free will. It’s just that our programming isn’t specific (if this, then that). There are simply too many possible ifs in the world, including brand new ones, so that, in a species like ours, specific programming through evolution (if you see someone you are attracted to, then do exactly this) would have lost out to general programming through evolution (survival, procreation, cooperation, competition). We have needs and urges, but usually must work through a society to figure out how to obtain them. That’s the problem: we are robots with only a general instruction manual. Our overall success rate is “good enough”.

  8. Akira MacKenzie says

    I spent my formative years—basically, from the age of 12 until my mid-20s—feeling not “entitled,” not “privileged,” but terrified. I was terrified that one of my female classmates would somehow find out that I sexually desired her, and that the instant she did, I would be scorned, laughed at, called a creep and a weirdo…

    I’m 40 and I still have that fear. It’s a primary reason the last (and only) woman I dated was in college, 17 years ago–and that relationship started after she asked me out. (Which was a thrill. “Finally, someone who is interested in me!”) However, at no point do I recall blaming “feminism” for my lack of a sex life. Rather, I always figured the fault always lay with my fat, ugly, body and my buggy, broken brain. If anything, I credited the women who spurned me with “good taste” and having the sense not to get involved with an irreparable train-wreck like myself.

    I don’t blame women for not wanting to be with me. Hell, I wouldn’t fuck myself with the lights off and a paper bag over my own head.

  9. Seven of Mine: Shrieking Feminist Harpy says

    qwints @ 3

    Seven of Mine, what’s wrong with complaining that the workshops didn’t show what people consenting looks like?

    Other than the fact that this douchebag apparently needs a fucking workshop to tell him what consent is?

  10. Matrim says

    The more I read posts where people get all ragey about their privilege, the more obvious it is that these people simply don’t understand what privilege in this context means. Unfortunately it seems most of them are happy being aggressively ignorant.

  11. Seven of Mine: Shrieking Feminist Harpy says

    Further to my # 10

    My point being that people fucking know what consent is. They know when they’re doing shit without knowing or caring what the other person thinks of it. This complaint that harassment and assault are so poorly defined that nobody could ever possibly know they’re doing anything wrong until it’s too late is bullshit. It flies in the face of things actual rapists actually say about how they operate. It flies in the face of what victims say about their assaults. It’s contradicted every time some fraternity makes the news for passing out fliers with rape advice or for singing rape promoting songs at college football games. Just the other day I banned someone in a Twitch TV chat for making a joke about having learned a new pickup line which involved asking a woman if an object smelled like chloroform.

  12. Akira MacKenzie says

    Gen, Uppity Ingrate and Ilk @ 5

    Yep. Men are afraid women will laugh at them. Women are afraid men will kill them. Wasn’t that Margaret Atwood?

    Heh, good point. We humans have this nasty tendency to think that only our own problems are bad, but we also won’t consider that others might have it worse.

  13. iknklast says

    I was a nerdy female in school. And from the wrong side of the tracks in a wealthy school. My mother bought me old woman clothes at the thrift store. The nerdy guys wouldn’t look twice at me, let alone the other guys. This guy would not have tried to ask me out…

    Then when I grew up, I went into the working world and had to suffer guys hitting on me (I turned out nicely…they changed their minds once I turned out to be attractive). It’s hard to focus on work when the nerdy guys are always hitting on you, whistling at you, and assuming you should be interested in them because they make sooooo muuuuuch money, and drive such hot cars. The cool guys weren’t any better. I went to work to do a job, not to get picked up.

    I could feel his pain, if he wasn’t so oblivious.

  14. Akira MacKenzie says

    SallyStrange, do you have a link to Marcotte’s response. My Google-Fu is weak, flaccid, and kind of gassy.

  15. Eric O says

    I feel like the guy’s not even trying. He claims he’s read feminist blogs, and even a book by Andrea Dworkin, so I’m willing to grant that he might have more familiarity with feminism than the average Thunderf00t sycophant, but from the quoted passage, it sounds like he’s still struggling with 101 level stuff.

    I’ve been a shy, nerdy white guy all my life (I’m 30 and still feel like a social misfit from time to time), and yeah, it’s depressingly tough. But understanding privilege really isn’t that difficult – I’m reasonably confident that I’ll never get sexually assaulted or be denied opportunities because of my gender, race, sexual orientation, or sexual identity. I understand it, I think it’s unjust that people have to put up with this crap, and I’d like to see a change.

    I sympathize with Aaronson. It’s just frustrating to see that he can’t extend his sympathy to others.

  16. qwints says

    @SevenOfMine, I agree that there’s very good evidence that rapists and sexual harassers know exactly what they’re doing. That’s a different point than whether a workshop consisting only of examples of harmful behavior is the right solution.

  17. Seven of Mine: Shrieking Feminist Harpy says

    qwints @ 19

    The point is that the reason there is no handy bullet pointed list of approved vs. prohibited behaviors is that it depends on the situation and what the other person fucking consents to. And I don’t believe for a single fucking second that Aaronson or anyone else doesn’t actually understand that. Their actual complaint is not that they don’t know what’s harassment and what’s not. The actual complaint is about being expected to give a shit whether the target of their attention wants their attention.

  18. drken says

    @David #1:
    Of course he is. A socially awkward young man goes to harassment seminars and learns that if he expresses desire for somebody who isn’t interested, no matter how politely he does it, he’s a harasser and will be punished accordingly (regardless of whether or not that was the intent of the seminar). Rather than leave the seminar with a better understanding of boundaries and consent he’s more afraid than ever. No, it’s not rational to think that simply walking up to a girl and saying “Hi, I’m Scott” will land you in front of a disciplinary board with your academic future on the line if she’s not interested. But, fearful people do not think rationally. He expresses his problem to feminists and rather than learn his fears are unfounded, he basically gets “Dear Muslima’d” and told that other people have worse problems, therefore he has no right to complain. Along comes Dr. Hoff Summers who agrees with him that feminists consider any rejected flirtation as harassment. She offers comfort by reassuring him that no, nothing he does in the pursuit of female companionship short of blackmail can be considered harassment and offers a world where any male-female social interaction is a safe zone in where the protection of his ego is paramount, thereby rendering all criticism of him unacceptable. Why do you think Gamergate loves this woman so much?

    My point? Here is a guy who may have been reachable at one point, but nobody made a real effort to reach. They decided rather than accept that harassment seminars aren’t having the desired effect, it would be better to shame him, as if he didn’t already feel enough shame as it is. So he goes to the dark side, which tells him everything he does is right and it’s those tell him not to harass who have the problem.

  19. Anne Fenwick says

    That was a really impressive sensitive answer by Laurie Penny.

    I have an odd story from my school years as a social dropout. For years, I admired these three ‘golden’ girls who were always together. They weren’t the brassy, arrogant types, they were pleasant, friendly, studious, feminine and always together. They took no notice of boys, so nobody had a bad word to say about them (see that’s what it’s like, guys!). I wanted to have friends like that, at least I thought I did. I even led them on a school hiking trip once, because I could do that stuff and they couldn’t, but it didn’t result in me getting close to them.

    As a young woman, I met one of these three on a train and she began telling me how miserable her school years were, how the group which looked so close was really quite mean and spiteful, that she’d been incredibly lonely with no sense of human contact, that she’d only stayed around the other two because she was scared to be alone and all this stuff. I think I spent the entire journey with my lower jaw hanging around my knees, but it just goes to show – that kind of apparent privilege of being popular, beautiful, etc, isn’t always quite what it seems.

  20. says

    The funny thing about Aaronson’s grumble about workshops and so on, for me:

    My experience was quite the opposite. Getting out of the smalltown, into the university setting, and meeting openly feminist women, especially, was absolutely great.

    Precisely because I’d always been anxious about what was ‘appropriate’, like a lot of young people I figure had a lot of anxieties about sex, how you asked, what you asked, when you asked, so on. Had this kinda ‘we don’t really talk about that’ background, so it was always this confused mystery…

    So you’ve got a few dudebro-ish friends, wannabe ‘players’ who are probably just as nerdy as you, really, who seem to have these obviously dehumanizing notions about how you ‘pick up women’, and that all seems… yeccccchhh! Like I could do that, like I even wanna, like I really believe it’s ever gonna be like that. And you don’t even know how to ask advice of the slightly less green and slightly less confused people you figure aren’t probably learning it all from bad cable porn… Throw a layer of religious ‘all sex is kinda iffy’ colouring over all that, and yeah, what a lovely minefield to have to negotiate…

    Feminists, in contrast, simply told you. This will do. This won’t. And it’s all so much more obviously human. It’s get to know people. Treat them, like you know, people. Once you know each other well enough, there will be signals, there are safe zones in which to broach the subject. You got a little warning about why that might not go well, things to avoid… Hey, maybe if you’re lucky, they’ll broach it…

    Which was perfect! it was like: thanks! How can I thank you enough?! This I can handle.

    Seriously I mean this.. Again. Feminists all: thank you! Not gonna say this removed all anxiety, no, but it did go from ‘How do you even do this stuff?’ to ‘Oh… Okay… Kinda makes sense… I can work with that, then…’

  21. Goblinman says

    Trying to come up with a comment, I just keep coming back to this: Scott doesn’t know what ‘privilege’ actually means (an unfortunately common problem). That invalidates the key point of his complaint. There’s no point even discussing his point of view unless he can understand the real definition.

    (And if he’s going to argue that straight men are targeted unfairly in seminars on sexual harassment, he needs to at least acknowledge that the vast majority of harassers and rapists are straight men, and ideally suggest improvements. Yes, this is a straight guy problem, and ignoring it won’t make it go away.)

  22. screechymonkey says

    Even if you accept that Aaronson is being 100% honest and sincere in his recollection, he’s being completely irrational. Most of the things he claims to have feared are complete fantasies. Oh, the pain and humiliation of rejection is real, but this shit about being “maybe even expelled from school or sent to prison”… for asking a girl out? Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit. Can he cite one example of that happening to one of his fellow “nerds”? Ditto for the fears about his behavior being called out by some mythical panel of Dworkinite feminists: even a casual look around any high school or college campus would reveal that this isn’t the case. In fact, he implicitly admits that it’s bullshit, because he recalls seeing other men (who he brands “Neanderthals,” because name-calling is ok when self-proclaimed nerds do it) approach women without these dire consequences.

    Well, ok, you say, so he has irrational fears: don’t we all? Yep. But honest people don’t knowingly try to use their irrational fears as intellectual arguments. “My warped understanding of feminism made me scared to ask girls out” is exactly as shitty an argument against feminism as “my warped understanding of evolution made me sad that life has no meaning” is as an argument against evolution.

    When women present quite rational, evidence-based reasons for not engaging in behavior that would otherwise be in their best interests (“I’d like to go into STEM, but [harassment/disrespect/discrimination]”), they’re told to “lean in” or “suck it up” or whatever. Yet when a dudebro offers irrational, emotion-based arguments for not engaging in behavior that would otherwise be in his best interests, the response is not “lean in” or “suck it up,” or even “that’s too bad, hopefully you can work on that with a therapist,” but “gosh, you’re right, this is a problem SOCIETY needs to fix for you”?

  23. Akira MacKenzie says

    drekn @ 23

    Oh fuck, not another “HE’S SOCIALLY AWKWARD! HE DOES NOT KNOW WHAT HE DOES” apologist:

    1) It’s not up to feminists to deal with Aaronson’s social problems. That’s what psychologists are for, not sexual harassment seminars.

    2) In the grand scheme of things, problems of rape and sexual harrassment ARE far, far, far worse than Aaronson’s inability to attract a partner. No, honest! They really are.

    So boo-fucking-hoo that Aaronson had his fee-fees hurt by those mean femininsts who won’t deal with his specific problem. Boo-fucking-hoo that he can’t entangle the question of consent from his own psychological baggage. That’s not feminist’s job. They have bigger fish to fry.

  24. blf says

    […] this shit about being “maybe even expelled from school […]”… for asking a girl out? Bullshit

    Just to be slightly pedantic, some religious, or religion-influenced/-controlled, “schools” do expel(? suspend?) for such things. (And I don’t mean illegal actions such as rape, I mean dating and so on.) I assume such places are not bastions of equality or rationale thought, and (more on-topic) probably reek of privilege.

  25. says

    A socially awkward young man goes to harassment seminars and learns that if he expresses desire for somebody who isn’t interested, no matter how politely he does it, he’s a harasser and will be punished accordingly (regardless of whether or not that was the intent of the seminar).

    That kinda sounds like this “socially awkward young man” either didn’t really understand what was being said at the seminars, or thought he had heard something that no one had actually said (either is plausible, given the emotional fog this guy is clearly in). That may not be entirely his fault, but it damn sure isn’t the feminists’ fault.

    (Also, while I’ve never participated in anything labeled a “sexual harassment seminar,” I’ve never heard anyone, male or female, actually say that politely introducing yourself or asking a woman to go on a date would ever be considered “harassment” in any but a narrow range of situations. I get the feeling he’s remembering what certain men say ABOUT such seminars (“feminazi Khmer-Rouge reeducation camps!!!”), and not what was actually said AT the seminars.)

  26. says

    It seems like people often misunderstand the simple point that privilege is relative. It’s entirely possible to be privileged in relation to one group, while being ostracized from another. And since an inherent part of privilege is the ability to be unaware of said privilege, you usually only notice the parts of your life where you’re marginalized.

    The end result is that everybody feels the way he does. The Mayor feels insignificant next to the Congressmen. Congressmen feel insignificant next top the Senators. The Senators feel insignificant next to the President. Since they’re never in contact with the people living off food stamps, that’s simply not part of their reference frame, so they only notice the people doing better than them.

    To understand privilege, the first step is to understand that your personal experience is a really bad way to judge other people’s lives.

  27. drken says

    @Akira #29:

    1. No it’s not. He’s not saying his social awkwardness was labeled harassment, nor that his harassment should be excused as social awkwardness, he said that he refrained from interaction because he was afraid that the slightest mistake (up to and including simply talking to somebody who wasn’t interested) would land him in huge trouble. This was despite (as he later discovered) that he had a very good idea what harassment and consent were. My issue was that nobody bothered to explain to him that his fears were unfounded, so later when he discovered that they were, he concluded that feminists were wrong all along, not him.

    2. Yes they are. But how does that help him? He now gets to speak about how terrible sexual harassment seminars are and that feminists think that “sexual harassment is when an ugly guy wants some”. All that does is give cover to the actual harassers and rapists, who have convinced him that attempts to hold them responsible for their actions are directed at him.

    Well, you know who’s job it is to listen to him? Christina Hoff Sommers and Paul Elam. They’re more than willing to listen to him about how terrible sexual harassment seminars are and how the feminist interpretation of consent is so difficult to understand, with any mistake on his part having huge consequences. Never mind whether or not those things are true. So, if you’re happy ceding the conversation to them, feel free to dismiss his “fee-fees” as unworthy of your attention.

  28. says

    He expresses his problem to feminists and rather than learn his fears are unfounded, he basically gets “Dear Muslima’d” and told that other people have worse problems…

    Um…he’s the one who went to a seminar on sexual harassment, and got upset because they didn’t consider his problems as important or pressing as the ones they were there to discuss.

    “We’re here to deal with this problem, not that one” =/= “Dear Muslima.”

    He should have discussed his problems with people who were both willing and competent to deal with that kind of problem: friends, counselors, that sort of thing. They would have given his concerns the attention they deserved — and more importantly, they would have been more likely to give him an actual solution.

  29. says

    No, it’s not rational to think that simply walking up to a girl and saying “Hi, I’m Scott” will land you in front of a disciplinary board with your academic future on the line if she’s not interested. But, fearful people do not think rationally.

    I just deleted a lot of nonsense, because it was obscuring one simple fact: I don’t really believe anyone thinks like that, no matter how fearful they are.

    I believe they might not introduce themselves, for fear of ridicule or rejection, but not because of a charge or sexual harassment. I think that’s the kind of bullshit that predators are spreading around to muddy the waters and obstruct sensible social interactions.

    Anyone who really gets fearful about the thought of saying “hello”, might as well get fearful of literally anything. As a result, we can’t reasonably accommodate them in any system. The answer then is not to alter society to fit them (since anything that fits one would not fit another), but to give them plenty of free therapy, so they can at some point enter normal society.

    In other, shorter, words: You’re full of shit. Snap out of it.

  30. Saad says

    Why is he bringing the concept of privilege into this? I feel a little bad for him that he has these fears and confusion, but that doesn’t have anything to do with male privilege. He should have asked for clarification regarding his fears at these workshops. Or he should try to see a counselor who can help. He still has male privilege.

  31. Gen, Uppity Ingrate and Ilk says

    What would you have “us” do, drken? What would have been sufficient to convince this man that women aren’t sex dispensers there to prevent boner sadness in young male nerds and geeks? What would have convinced him that terrible though his suffering was, there were girls in his very class suffering the exact same thing, girls he wouldn’t even deign to look at?

  32. says

    Imagine being the overweight girl in class; there are people who would regard her as barely human.

    Hello! You were talking about me?
    Well, I was lucky. I always had friends, male and female, I was even fairly popular. No jock and cheerleader culture in Germany.
    But hell no, nobody ever considered me a sexual being. For the boys I was “one of them”, safe because, duh, the fat girl, no danger of complicated romance stuff. For the girls I was safe because, duh, the fat girl, no danger of her getting on eof the boys they were fancying.
    While some people (mostly adult men) considered me a sexual pleasure dispenser*, and many people considered me a perso (as I said, i was lucky), nobody considered me a sexual person until I was 20.
    And I know women who are well into their 30s who’d want nothing more than what all these guys claim they want too: a partner, love, intimacy, a family. But they’re single because those very same guys are still not looking at them. Because what they actually want are all these things in a conventionally pretty woman. They still think of women in categories of “fuckable” and “unfuckable” in terms of white conventional attractiveness and they think that they should be the ones who “win the big prize”.
    Cry me a fucking river.

    *Being not conventionally attractive comes with an inbuilt bonus: You get harassment and assault and then people tell you you’re making it up cause who’d touch the fat girl???.

  33. zibble says

    Seven of Mine: Shrieking Feminist Harpy @22

    While I think that’s probably an accurate assessment of the writer, I think it’s probably fair to say he DOESN’T know what consent looks like. Where would he learn what consent looks like? From society? From TV? From porn? How would he have any idea what it looks like when a person is interested in him without prior experiences to call back to?

    Like you said, he needs to learn that relationships are about paying attention to the needs and wants of other people and not just following a list of rules to get rewarded with sex. It’d just be nice if we all had some better role models to show what that looks like.

  34. Grewgills says

    The prevailing attitude of the privilege deniers seems to be “I don’t have all the privileges therefor I am not privileged.” Being socially awkward, being picked on and being or feeling you are a social outcast can blind people to the privileges that they do have. Descending into depression and self loathing further blind them and cut them off from the empathy that could help them out of that trap. That reaching out ignorantly, clumsily, and without enough empathy is the best some of them can muster is sad. The quarters that rejection and acceptance come from after that are sadder. That is in no way to say that it is somehow the responsibility of the women that they seem to mostly put it on, but that we need to do better. By we I mean the socially awkward or formerly socially awkward nerds who have learned better and society as a whole.
    More than a list of do’s and don’ts in seminars people need to be taught empathy. If you have empathy then the importance of consent is obvious, your position(s) of privilege are obvious, and the need to treat all people as people is obvious.

  35. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    It’s fascinating how some people expect dating advice from anti-harassment workshops. Besides missing the point rather spectacularly, that’s really quite self-centered.

  36. Seven of Mine: Shrieking Feminist Harpy says

    zibble @ 40

    While I think that’s probably an accurate assessment of the writer, I think it’s probably fair to say he DOESN’T know what consent looks like

    Bullshit. Pure, unmitigated, weapons-grade bullshit. People can tell the difference between a genuine smile and a forced one. Leaving aside actual neurological disorders and brain injuries, people can read facial expressions and mannerisms. I would bet very large sums of real money that I don’t have that, when dealing with men, this guy has zero difficulty perceiving that others, for example, don’t think his jokes are funny or are uncomfortable around him.

    Where would he learn what consent looks like?

    By existing in a society with other people. I’ve personally led a very isolated life. I’m an only child of extremely distant parents and there were no relatives nearby to pick up their slack. I’m not well socialized. Reading others’ facial expressions and mannerisms is something I have to consciously work at. But I work at it because I fucking give a shit about how I affect other people. This is not an issue of there being no way this poor guy could possibly know what consent looks like. It’s an issue of giving a shit.

  37. opposablethumbs says

    Where would he learn what consent looks like? From society? From TV? From porn? How would he have any idea what it looks like when a person is interested in him without prior experiences to call back to?

    Bullshit. Absolute fucking bullshit. I bet he knows perfectly well “what consent looks like” – he knows when an acquaintance is consenting to let him join a conversation, he knows when a friend is consenting to lend him a book, he knows when a barman is consenting to take his order next, he knows when a teammate is consenting to let him make a play (including non-jock games, please), he knows when a relative is consenting to share the last piece of cake at dinner, he knows when a teacher is consenting to give him an extension on a piece of homework because when he considers the other person as a person – you know, as an actual human being, and not some kind of alien sex-dispenser – then he is perfectly capable of seeing and correctly interpreting body language and, you know, WORDS, and if he’s not sure then he’s capable of fucking asking and of listening to the answer.

    Consent isn’t just about sex, it’s a basic element of human interaction.

  38. Hairhead, whose head is entirely filled with Too Much Stuff says

    This brings to mind one of the most amusing (and enlightening) episodes of Oprah Winfrey (yea, I know) I ever saw.

    She introduced the segment, saying, “We are going to bring out on stage here a man who slept with TWO HUNDRED WOMEN IN THE LAST YEAR! Come on out!”

    The audience applauds, quite loudly, and this guy walks onstage from the sidelines — and the applauds literally stammers, quietens, and comes to a stop. Super Stud is short, in his fifties, graying, balding, and has a little paunch. I had been channel-surfing, but at this point, the crowd reaction (Where’s my tall, dark, handsome, well-dressed ladykiller?) had me hooked — I had stick around to see what he would say and how the audience would react.

    So he sits down and Oprah and after a little chat back and forth, Oprah asks him The Question: How Do You Do It? To which he replied, “I’m a really good listener, and I’m funny — there’s nothing like sharing laughter to relax two people.” And that was it. He didn’t prey on drunken women, didn’t go to therapy groups and troll vulnerable people, or go to church and sing hymns while ogling cleavages. He treated them like equals and listened.

    And you know what was disappointing to me? The mostly female audience didn’t particularly care for the answers he was giving. A large number of the commenters remarked rudely on the “kind of women” who would sleep with him. That was the very first time I remember thinking that women can be brainwashed by the patriarchy, too!

    Anyway, I have a fifteen-year-old high-functioning autistic-spectrum son. And whenever he turns to me for boy-girl advice the FIRST thing is say is, “Remember, son, before we talk, that the girls are JUST LIKE YOU. They are just as afraid, just as excited, and just as inexperienced as you.” He’s now beginning to sigh and roll his eyes when I say that, but I know all of the sexist drivel he’s surrounded by, and I’ll keep drilling it into his head, and maybe, maybe, it’ll stick (cross fingers).

  39. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    My point? Here is a guy who may have been reachable at one point, but nobody made a real effort to reach. They decided rather than accept that harassment seminars aren’t having the desired effect, it would be better to shame him, as if he didn’t already feel enough shame as it is. So he goes to the dark side, which tells him everything he does is right and it’s those tell him not to harass who have the problem.

    This.

    I mean, the response is fucked up, but I swear to fucking god at least half the discussion of privilege has the undertone that people with privilege are not just people who are privileged, they are socially and emotionally INVINCIBLE. That, plus the fact that a fair amount of the language people typically use to discuss privilege reminds me, superficially but pointedly, of the language used by other kids, school personnel, and parental figures to dismiss, and gaslight me about, the bullying I experienced is most of what made it so fucking hard to really grok the “privilege” concept for years even though I’ve been pro-equality in a naive sort of way since I was a small child.

  40. says

    I would bet very large sums of real money that I don’t have that, when dealing with men, this guy has zero difficulty perceiving that others, for example, don’t think his jokes are funny or are uncomfortable around him.

    THIS
    The whole thing smells of “women are fundamentally different from men and unless you give me detailed instructions I can really not know how to deal with them!”

  41. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    (Well, that and the fact that the social sciences appropriated as a term-of-art a word which was already in common use with connotations of “spoiled brat” to express the concept doesn’t help, but I guess that ship’s sailed.)

  42. drken says

    @ Raging Bee #35:
    It’s ceding the conversation to the anti-feminists and MRAs because nobody on our side (and it is our side) is telling him his fears were unfounded and that feminism is not about shaming men for being attracted to women. They’re accusing him of treating women as “sex dispensers” for even questioning sexual harassment training. CHS isn’t shaming him. She telling him his unfounded fears are real, which is far more convincing than insulting him.

    @ LykeX #36:
    I said his fears were irrational. Just because you don’t think one way, doesn’t mean others don’t. Besides, one of the reasons he thinks that “Hi, my name is Scott” is harassment is that there are people telling him that’s what feminists believe (along with sex = rape and physics = rape, etc). Let him think that she’ll laugh at him Margret Atwood style. Let him think the cool kids will beat him up or do some other bizarre ’80s comedy type bullying. There are all sorts of irrational things that the socially awkward think to convince themselves not to talk to people. I know, I’ve thought of most of them. But, if you’re trying to teach people about harassment, it is your job to make sure they don’t think that hitting on somebody who isn’t interested is inherently harassment.

    @Gen #38:
    Personally, I don’t care if he thinks women are sex dispensers (He shouldn’t, but that’s a whole other ball of wax). Just so long as he doesn’t think that if he tries to talk to one of them who isn’t interested, or says the wrong thing he’ll be punished with more than rejection (which is bad enough). Let him know what harassment is, how he can avoid doing it, and that it is overwhelmingly stuff he wasn’t going to do anyway.

    My point is this: Michael Shermer doesn’t fight harassment policy by telling other men that it’ll stop them from introducing themselves to women by trying to grab their breasts (he’s not Richard Dawkins, who’s more easily dismissible). He knows he can’t win than fight. He does it by telling socially awkward men that attempts to stop him from assaulting women are in fact attempts to so tightly regulate social interaction at conferences that it will be impossible to talk to women. He wants them afraid and paranoid, so they think his fight is their’s. Those are the men you need to convince that they have nothing to fear from sexual harassment policies. Michael Shermer isn’t writing them off, neither should you.

  43. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    Feminists, in contrast, simply told you. This will do. This won’t. And it’s all so much more obviously human. It’s get to know people. Treat them, like you know, people. Once you know each other well enough, there will be signals, there are safe zones in which to broach the subject. You got a little warning about why that might not go well, things to avoid… Hey, maybe if you’re lucky, they’ll broach it…

    Which was perfect! it was like: thanks! How can I thank you enough?! This I can handle.

    Seriously I mean this.. Again. Feminists all: thank you! Not gonna say this removed all anxiety, no, but it did go from ‘How do you even do this stuff?’ to ‘Oh… Okay… Kinda makes sense… I can work with that, then…’

    …but, yeah, this too. :/

  44. Saad says

    zibble, #40

    Where would he learn what consent looks like?

    Where did you learn it from?

  45. says

    They decided rather than accept that harassment seminars aren’t having the desired effect, it would be better to shame him, as if he didn’t already feel enough shame as it is.

    Who are those mysterious “they” and what evidence is there that he was “shamed” by “them”?
    Because from the article/comment it seems like something that mostly happened in his imagination, just like the guys who get dragged to the feminazi gulags for looking at a woman the wrong way…

  46. Grewgills says

    @seven of mine

    Bullshit. Pure, unmitigated, weapons-grade bullshit. People can tell the difference between a genuine smile and a forced one.

    and

    I’m not well socialized. Reading others’ facial expressions and mannerisms is something I have to consciously work at.

    Those two sentiments don’t seem to fit together well.
    Not picking up on the social cues that other people send and receive easily is a big part of the problem for socially awkward but well meaning people. Being depressed and isolated compound the problem. Being at a glance indistinguishable from a population of misogynist asshats that pretend social awkwardness is an excuse for harassment makes it worse still. Being dismissed as a whiny ass by the good guys while being embraced by misogynist asshats pretty much guarantees a larger population of those misogynist asshats and compounds the problem.

  47. says

    drken

    It’s ceding the conversation to the anti-feminists and MRAs because nobody on our side (and it is our side) is telling him his fears were unfounded and that feminism is not about shaming men for being attracted to women. They’re accusing him of treating women as “sex dispensers” for even questioning sexual harassment training. CHS isn’t shaming him. She telling him his unfounded fears are real, which is far more convincing than insulting him.

    In other words, if feminists just cared more about the feelings of men. If we were just nicer. Probably should smile more. And never ever actually criticise them without hedging and cotton-wrapping it thoroughly.
    There are two replies written by pretty well-known feminist women. A very gentle and gracious one by Laurie Penny and a very snarky one by Amanda Marcotte. Do you honestly think that guys like him will read Laurie Penny’s and go “oh damn, she’s right, I never thought about it like this”?

  48. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    In other words, if feminists just cared more about the feelings of men. If we were just nicer. Probably should smile more. And never ever actually criticise them without hedging and cotton-wrapping it thoroughly.

    Because the only possible options are “complete doormat” and “ARGLE BARGLE WHINY-ASS TITTY BABIES!!!!!!!!!!!”11111111”

    There are two replies written by pretty well-known feminist women. A very gentle and gracious one by Laurie Penny and a very snarky one by Amanda Marcotte. Do you honestly think that guys like him will read Laurie Penny’s and go “oh damn, she’s right, I never thought about it like this”?

    Well, that’s pretty much what happened to me when I finally found people (mainly Greta and Jen McCreight) saying the same things others were saying, assertively but without the overt spite.

  49. says

    I was going to write a post castigating Aaronson for being a whiny prat. I was going to talk about how I was a nerdy, socially awkward teen who was terrified of approaching girls I was attracted to for fear of being mocked etc. (which fears were reduced after I did ask some girls out, and was gently turned down, but were replaced with further fears about no-one wanting to be with me, etc.) and all that sort of thing, but then I read Amanda Marcotte’s piece where she quoted more extensively, and my brain was filled with such rage at this shitweasel that I couldn’t compose it.

    My recurring fantasy, through this period, was to have been born a woman, or a gay man, or best of all, completely asexual, so that I could simply devote my life to math, like my hero Paul Erdös did.

    Fuck you, Scott Aaronson. You think you had it bad, being worried about approaching people you were attracted to? Several women have already spoken up in this thread about what the straight, cis, female side is like, so I’ll just add that it’s no fucking picnic being a queer teen either. See, the above comments about approaching girls go a thousand times more for approaching the guys I was attracted to ( and I will note here that I was at a ‘liberal, tolerant’ school too; there were other schools in town where I’d have been a lot worse off on that score, and there are many, many schools/places in the U.S. worse than that). And a lot of people in situations like that don’t make it out of them like you did out of yours, Aaronson, or I was lucky enough to make it out of mine. And I’m going to stop here, because if I kept going, I’d be picking at some old wounds that I don’t feel like reopening on behalf of some whiny asshole on the net.

  50. IX-103 says

    @Beatrice: #42

    It’s fascinating how some people expect dating advice from anti-harassment workshops. Besides missing the point rather spectacularly, that’s really quite self-centered.

    I’m not sure I agree about that. If your actual goal is to prevent a specific behavior X, just saying “don’t do X” or “X is bad” is not the most effective way to prevent that behavior. I’ll admit to being a bit of an armchair psychologist/therapist, but I would think that an approach that additionally provides a safe outlet for the emotional source of the bad behavior would be more effective. So perhaps a two-pronged approach would be more effective. One of the prongs would of course consist of the type of training currently found in these workshops, which emphasize identifying what behaviors are wrong. The other prong would focus on redirecting the source of the bad behavior. In the case the behavior is libidinous, this may consist of what you would consider “dating advice”. I would expect this portion would focus on how this redirection could be taken care of outside of work (possibly by desensitizing participants to the shame of using online dating sites). But workplace romances are a real thing, and I think such workshops are as remiss as abstinence-only sex-ed if they don’t at least outline a safe path for those in that situation.

    @Seven of Mine: Shrieking Feminist Harpy: 43

    Where would he learn what consent looks like?

    By existing in a society with other people.

    I’m not sure that having everyone simply learn from society is the best way to improve society. It seems like a garbage-in garbage-out sort of problem. On top of that, dealing with romantic issues tends to be embarrassing so many of the more sensitive situations tend to occur in private, where few people are likely to learn from them (elevatorgate being an exception). Most of the time when outsiders see relationships it is after the boundaries are drawn. I’ve never accompanied someone when they asked for/went on a first date, went all the way (for the first time), or had a one-night stand. Even if other people’s experience significantly differs from mine, I would be astonished if the number of such incidences was sufficient for them to learn from (even assuming the quality of the examples was high — again, GIGO). The only other sources for people to learn from example are in the media. While sitcoms and such do okay, they lack the emotional impact of “other” media (porn) whose examples often ignore boundaries completely.

    Maybe we need to add “dating ed” to sex ed classes (I’ll bet the fundies would love that). Maybe we need to formalize boundaries and invent a set of signals that correspond to the appropriate “rules of engagement” we should conform to (sort of like we have formalized a ring on a certain finger as signalling “married”).

  51. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    But workplace romances are a real thing, and I think such workshops are as remiss as abstinence-only sex-ed if they don’t at least outline a safe path for those in that situation.

    They do. Don’t do it on company time, and even then to nobody who is a direct boss/underling.

    The other prong would focus on redirecting the source of the bad behavior. In the case the behavior is libidinous, this may consist of what you would consider “dating advice”.

    That is not the purpose, nor should it be, of sexual harassment training. It is all about workplace, and only the workplace, behavior.
    You want dating advice, we do need to put up the concept of “treat the other person like a real person”.

  52. says

    My favourite takeaway from the article and something which MRAs, dudebros, Sommersists, racists and anyone else who wails about this word need to write down a hundred times:

    Privilege doesn’t mean you don’t suffer.

    Privilege isn’t a binary, on-or-off +1000 Shielding Shield of Shielding™ which protects you from all conceivable deprivation and insult, it’s a set of spectra and the position we occupy on one spectrum will almost certainly not map to an equivalent position on another. You might be white and male, which puts you in an elevated position on two spectra, but you also might be shy and bookish, which drops you downwards on a different scale, this world and its love of extroverts being what it is. Where you are relative to other people regarding educational or professional accomplishment/opportunity, relative attractiveness, weight, health status, sexual proclivities, your hobbies and even your postal code could impact how people see you and treat you before they even know a single non-trivial thing about you.

    Privilege is a mess, but the point is that everyone benefits from it on some level, relative to someone else. A poor, uneducated, straight white male, upon whom life has royally shat, is still going to carry more inherent privilege than someone in the same position whose only difference is their skin colour or gender. Even that poor bugger languishing in a refugee camp for years on end is better off than his neighbour who didn’t escape the death squads.

    But even those who recognise privilege can oversimplify and take it too far, e.g. comparing an annoyance reported by a free, first-world woman to forced female genital mutilation elsewhere, as if the first-world woman’s problems don’t matter because someone somewhere else has it far worse. Part of properly recognising privilege means recognising that each person’s suffering matters despite their relative level of privilege. It doesn’t mean you should whip out your slide-rules and protractors and take a privilege inventory and decide mathematically who’s individually worse off based on facile comparisons.

    Social Justice Warriors actively seek to aid those groups who are marginalised, with not only less overall privilege but less means to address it – POC, women, LGBTQ people, even atheists. The rise of atheism in the last decade, esp. in the Christastic US, has been the living embodiment of a social justice cause. Sadly, many atheists seem only to hunger for justice for themselves or people like them; non-male, non-white atheists who assert their right to equality within atheism are often accused of wanting to harm or dilute atheism by bringing with them their own goals, and seek to actively exclude them. It’s almost as if those atheists, now noticeably less marginalised than they previously were, are acting to preserve their new level privilege by acting as gatekeepers.

  53. Gregory Greenwood says

    As yet another shy, nerdy, portly and generally non-conventionlly attractive guy type, I certainly understand how lonely and isolating adolesence and young adulthood can feel, and how toxic that can be. I spent years trying to figure out what was ‘wrong’ with me. I wondered if it was a simple matter of a lack of physical attractiveness, but I ultimately realised that individual aestheics are not universal, and that it was rather sexist to assume that women were somehow as a social group all so concerned with physical appearance, so I moved on to wondering if I was somehow conveying creepiness, or broadcasting some tell that I was ‘damaged goods’. I went through endless varients on the theme of worrying that I was doomed to be forever alone.

    It was only shamefully late in the day that I started turning my already proto-feminist mindset inward to look at myself, and I realised that it wasn’t all about me. Other people including (in a revelation sadly shocking to my naive then-self) many women go through all the same insecurities and fears that I did. There was simply nothing special or unusual in what I was going through – this wasn’t some unique personal torment afflicting just poor little old me and a few other fellow unfortunates scattered thinly across the world; this was the human condition as experienced by vast numbers of people.

    I slowly came to the realisation that, far from being trampled by uncaring society, I was one of the relatively privilged, lucky ones. I was a young, middle class, cis/het White man – I was unlikely to face any kind of discrimination for anything other than my general nerdiness, and this in a period when that nerdiness was already beginning to be celebrated rather than reviled among men (though, of course, nerdy women are still being treated abominably). I was embarrasingly fortunate, and only my own tendency to wallow in self-pity stopped me from seeing it.

    The simple truth was that there was no particular fault that I had to fix beyond an acceptence that I wasn’t entitled. I wasn’t entitled to romance, or to sex. I wasn’t entitled to the bodies, affections, attention or time of women in general or any woman in particular. If I was alone, it wasn’t the fault of women, or of anyone other than myself. If an intimate relationship came to pass with full, free, informed and unambiguous crystal clear consent, then that would be great, but there was no magic formula that I ought to be following that would somehow guarantee that outcome. Instead, I should simply go on treating women as human beings with feelings, thoughts, rights and aspirations, not in any hope of some dehumanising sexual ‘reward’, but simply because it is the only right, decent, humanist thing to do, and as someone who tries to live a principled life that is reason enough to do it.

    And yet through all that, I never once felt confused about what would or wouldn’t constitute harrassment, or feared that simply talking to a woman would land me in any kind of trouble in and of itself, still less a prison cell. It is this kind of hyperbole that makes me suspicious of Aaronson. His position seems more akin to MRA rhetoric – feminazis want to lock you up for even talking to a woman! The femistasi thought police will get you even if you are simply attracted to a woman but never say a word! – than to the experiences of a lonely and insecure young man, and I object to the cynical exploitation of the pain of adolescence as a means to take cheap, misogynistic shots at feminism, which is what I think we are seeing here.

  54. zezzer says

    I love how in these conversations certain people seem to completely forget about the existence of socially awkward, nerdy, not conventionally attractive girls. Do you people only think that social awkwardness afflicts men? Are women just magically supposed to be more social, more emotionally attuned, more understanding of all the unspoken rules that go into interacting with other human beings?

    Believe me, I’m sure I used to think that way and it just made my awkwardness and isolation worse. At least these guys have an entire subculture catering to them, a subculture that mainstream society at least acknowledges exists. Whereas the messages I received from every mainstream outlet–the media, parents, teachers, friends–continually emphasized and hammered home that as a girl I was supposed to just naturally KNOW these things. The boys like me at least had a place. There was no place for anyone like me.

  55. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    IX-103,

    You are presuming men harass women because they are sexually frustrated and don’t know how to approach them in another way. When we talk about workplace harassment, it’s not needy young ones who are the biggest problem, it’s that married guy with two kids and a dog who also thinks a female coworker’s ass is fair game (for comments if he’s too “nice” for groping).

    —-
    It’s really fucking annoying how every single conversation about men harassing women needs to have at least one derail into “but but but socially awkward men” territory. Socially awkward women exist too. We’re lonely too. We’re frustrated too. We could really do with someone holding our hands and instructing us in how to imagine anything but a lonely future and how to do something about it. Now imagine if in addition to that, you also had to know how to deal with men who harass you, with everyday sexism and all those microaggresions that may not be harassment by themselves but amount to it by quantity and repetition. But hey, sorry for getting snarky while asking men not to harass us.

  56. IX-103 says

    @Beatrice #64
    You’re probably right about the workplace harassment issue. As a former “terrified single person”, it bothers me to see a bad situation made worse (even if it really is the lesser of two evils), without any amelioration.

    I also don’t mean to in any way minimize the harassment women have to deal with in addition to the “social awkwardness”. I was trying to deal with just one issue at a time. Either way, I guess I have to agree with the sentiment of this blog entry: society is broken. Though I’m not too sure if we can all agree on how it can be fixed.

  57. zibble says

    Seven of Mine: Shrieking Feminist Harpy @ 43

    People can tell the difference between a genuine smile and a forced one.

    Um, no, they really can’t if they’ve only ever seen a forced one. Same problem telling the difference between “I’m smiling because I’m in a good mood” and “I’m smiling because I’m into you”. It’s exacerbated because even when you recognize a forced smile, it doesn’t tell you what you’re doing wrong, and at the back of your mind is a lifetime of sexist and heteronormative conditioning anxious that what you’re doing wrong is not coming off strong enough.

    It’s an issue of giving a shit.

    I’m not arguing against that. It’s where pretty much all the whiney “friend-zoned”ers fall short. You have to learn that sex and relationships aren’t all about you, which can come as a genuine surprise to the severely introspective. But there are genuinely people who get that first step, but don’t know where to go from there.

  58. F.O. says

    “Every soldier has to deal with the horrors of war, so why do some people keep whining about PTSD”?

    PZ, for some it’s survivable, for some it destroy their life.
    I grew up genuinely feeling that no girl liked what I liked.

    The (false) hope that the PUA community gave me was the only reason I’m still alive, it brought me out of suicide, it convinced me that I was not “born wrong” as I thought.

    Since then I have learned many things, left the PUAs in disgust and started to address my sexism and my misogyny, but I still think men have little resources to take responsibility of their romantic failures, and usually is women who pay the worst price for it.

    Hopefully we’ll grow up. Confused as I am, I’ll try to do my part.

  59. zibble says

    Saad @52

    I don’t think I’ve ever learned what consent looks like – I’ve relied primarily on being submissive and letting other people be direct about *their* wants. Parsing people’s facial expressions is not my strong suit, but I also don’t think it’s anywhere near as obvious as is being implied. It’s not a matter of just a smile or a frown.

    For example, there’s this adorable gay couple I know that I was interested in fooling around with. I dropped a hint, and they started acting awkward, so I assumed my advances were unwanted and I stopped. A year later, they finally tell me they really wanted to mess around, but were nervous about asking. Then, when I dropped all hints for fear I was making them uncomfortable, they thought I was giving off “I’m not interested” vibes and got more intimidated.

    So, there’s a heck of a lot of nuance to it, let’s be real. I think people like Aaronson need to realize that they’re better off finding someone they really connect with, whose cues they can learn inside and out, instead of trying to crack the code that’ll let them bed any random human they spot in a bar.

  60. mildlymagnificent says

    “While I think that’s probably an accurate assessment of the writer, I think it’s probably fair to say he DOESN’T know what consent looks like”
    Bullshit. Pure, unmitigated, weapons-grade bullshit. People can tell the difference between a genuine smile and a forced one.

    There are a few people who really can’t tell the difference between someone honestly telling them that they can’t stop for a coffee just now because they’re already late for an appointment and another someone saying the same thing as a white lie just to avoid having that coffee. But most people most of the time do know the difference. You might need a more finely calibrated social radar to tell whether that white lie was a cover for ‘can’t be bothered just now’ or ‘never want to spend any time with you under any circumstances for the rest of my life’ or any of the myriad attitudes between those two. But that’s a separate issue, usually resolved by the follow-up, or not, of an “I’ll call you to arrange another time”.

    And much the same thing goes for sexual social interaction. Except it’s easier, you don’t have to think about the follow up. If someone tells you they’re not available for a dance, a date, a drink with you because they’re busy or already partnered up or booked out for weeks ahead, it makes no difference that you can tell that it’s a white lie to let you down easy. Whether it’s true or not, it’s no. It’s NO. And that’s all that matters if your only interest in them is as a possible sexual partner. Just be grateful that the person was kind or polite enough to make it easier in the normal social way rather than being insulting or “direct” or “honest” about not being interested in you.

  61. Grewgills says

    @mildlymagnificent

    There are a few people who really can’t tell the difference between someone honestly telling them that they can’t stop for a coffee just now because they’re already late for an appointment and another someone saying the same thing as a white lie just to avoid having that coffee.

    There are a lot more than a few. That you think this indicates a profound lack of understanding of what many people go through. I’m not particularly socially awkward. I don’t have much trouble meeting people or making casual conversation, but there are still a lot of people that are hard to figure.

  62. Rowan vet-tech says

    I remember, as a young kid, watching the other kids play as if I was watching a documentary on another species. I was, at school, pretty much a social outcast because of a- reading at a ‘college level’ in 4th grade (got through LoTR at age 9), b- *severe* adhd, c- being blunt to the point of rude, but not understanding that, and d- not feeling like the same species as everyone else.

    Other humans and their behaviour were mystifying. But after I got attacked by some dogs at age 6, I spent a lot of time learning their cues and body language and being able to mimic it, or adjust my own according to what they displayed. And when I was 10, I realised that I could learn how to ‘human’ the same way I had learned how to ‘dog’. So I watched how people interacted, and replayed those interactions in my head, substituting myself for either party.

    I was still bullied, but I began curbing the bluntness and responding to things in a more socially acceptable way. In Jr. High I became part of the ‘outcasts’ group, and hung out with the nerdy boys playing M:TG and pogs. Some of them would complain that the girls would never look at them. And there I was, a nerdy awkward girl of moderate physical attractiveness listening to this.

    Once again, we have a case of it being that the moment you become “one of the guys” you’re pretty much overlooked. I got though, once, the added benefit of a ‘silent crush’ that once I did get into a relationship admitted his affection for me and became a stalker.

  63. A. Noyd says

    zibble (#68)

    I think people like Aaronson need to realize that they’re better off finding someone they really connect with, whose cues they can learn inside and out

    Considering the dude seems to believe an arranged marriage at a young age might have cured him of the woes of chronic postpubescent dry-dick, I’d say he’s about as far away from that realization as it’s possible to get. And his delusion should tell you a lot about what entitlement and willful ignorance, rather than anything else, are doing to his grasp of consent. How would marriage—especially an arranged marriage—have fixed anything? It doesn’t take any ability in reading “subtle” cues to understand that putting a ring on it doesn’t mean you get to put your dick in it whenever you want.

  64. says

    …nobody on our side (and it is our side) is telling him his fears were unfounded and that feminism is not about shaming men for being attracted to women.

    Well, that’s probably because none of us were on hand at the time to tell him what he needed to hear when he needed to hear it. (And would he have listened to any of us if we had been there and tried to talk to him?)

    So again, blaming us for his defection to the MRA side is pretty silly.

  65. says

    Considering the dude seems to believe an arranged marriage at a young age might have cured him of the woes of chronic postpubescent dry-dick, I’d say he’s about as far away from that realization as it’s possible to get. And his delusion should tell you a lot about what entitlement and willful ignorance, rather than anything else, are doing to his grasp of consent.

    I suspect bad sex-ed had a lot to do with his problems.

  66. mildlymagnificent says

    There are a lot more than a few. That you think this indicates a profound lack of understanding of what many people go through.

    I used to work in an office with about 200+ accountants. I understand all right. People who find ordinary group or social interactions and perceptions difficult or, for some of them, mysterious or incomprehensible are definitely a minority even though you might find yourself surrounded by them in a given industry or workplace.

  67. Hairhead, whose head is entirely filled with Too Much Stuff says

    As to amelioration of the problem, I, too, was/am a privilege, white, male, cisgendered person in high school, as well as a socially-isolated, feral nerd, and the single BEST hour of my entire last three years of high school happened in the following way:

    The guidance counsellor of the girls’ guidance class suddenly got taken sick, there was no time to get a substitute, so the guys’ guidance teacher invited all of the girls into his class, with the guys. And all of a sudden there were 40+ high school guys and girls all together — and the teacher encouraged us to (ahem) TALK to each other.

    Lo and below, a very courageous girl stood up and said, “I went out with a guy on a date. I really liked the guy, we had a good time. He took me back to my house, then he said goodbye, turned around and walked away without even trying to kiss me. What is wrong with me?”

    And of course my mind was blown. The idea that a girl should fear rejection, should experience rejection, and be hurt by rejection was a completely new idea to me — and judging from the silence of the class, new to a lot of the other guys, too. In the rest of the hour I learned more about social interactions and expectations, just from these two fearful, inexperienced, awkward groups honestly interacting and exchanging experience than I learned from anything else up to that point. Whaddayaknow — girls are people too!

    I really believe that a class like this for the last two years of high school would significantly help relations between the sexes.

  68. Grewgills says

    I really believe that a class like this for the last two years of high school would significantly help relations between the sexes.

    Start it earlier. Men in our society are actively trained away from empathy because girls are supposed to be the feely ones and men the strong ones. That is less now than it was, but it is still far too common. Look at the adjectives people choose even with babies. My daughter is one. Most of the time I take her out she is wearing a simple onsie or something she inherited from a boy we used to look after. I am constantly told what a handsome boy I have and how he looks like his dad, strong, etc. When she happens to be wearing one of her few dresses or pink things or they hear her name the adjectives change, she is then beautiful and sweet. (She is of course all of those things and brilliant too.) It all starts early and needs to be combated early.

  69. Seven of Mine: Shrieking Feminist Harpy says

    To all the asshats doing the whole “but reading facial expressions and body language is haaaaaarrrrdddd” dance: nobody said it’s easy or obvious to everyone. But people KNOW when its not easy or obvious for them and THEY FUCKING TRY. They learn. They work at it. Not being good at it doesn’t mean you don’t fucking know it’s going on and that it’s expected of you. I said above I don’t do it intuitively; I have to consciously think about it, right? But, by virtue of existing in a society with other people, I’m intellectually aware of these things and can watch for them.

    @ zibble

    Um, no, they really can’t if they’ve only ever seen a forced one.

    This is still bullshit. I don’t believe that, barring really extreme, unique circumstances, anyone has only ever seen a forced smile. Unless of course that person is viewing “women I want to fuck” as an entirely different category of creature from the other hundreds or thousands of people they’ve interacted with over the course of their life.

    Apart from which a genuine vs. forced smile was just one example of the kind of body language I’m talking about. If someone is looking everywhere but at you? They’re probably not into you. If someone is checking their watch every other second? Probably not into you. If they’re tapping their foot or drumming their fingers on the table? Probably not into you. There’s tons of little cues people give off constantly that all of these allegedly socially awkward people manage to read if they try whenever the person they’re trying to read doesn’t fall under the heading of “woman I want to fuck”.

    Same problem telling the difference between “I’m smiling because I’m in a good mood” and “I’m smiling because I’m into you”.

    Nobody is asking anyone to psychically divine the difference between those two. But if you tell a joke or bring up a particular topic and you get a smile that seems genuine……..that’s the point at where you keep fucking having that conversation. And if you keep getting those smiles maybe you get a little flirtatious. And if, at that point, the smiles stop seeming quite so genuine, you dial it back. And if, after a while, you still aren’t sure where you stand you can…wait for it…FUCKING ASK.

    Again, people navigate social situations all day, every day. Even very socially awkward people manage it well enough to get by on a daily basis. It’s only when the person in question is a woman they’re attracted to that suddenly consent becomes this murky, inscrutable thing.

  70. says

    Azkyroth

    Well, that’s pretty much what happened to me when I finally found people (mainly Greta and Jen McCreight) saying the same things others were saying, assertively but without the overt spite.

    Yep, that’s probably why I spent an evening this week in a Twitter conversation where somebody chastized Greta extensively for being too aggressive, too polarizing and “strident”, telling her that her approach was wrong and that marginalized people were ultimately hurting themsleves by not sucking up to their oppressors.
    You know we’ve been on this ride for a few times already. Maybe those two found the right approach for you, but that’s far from universal.

    +++
    And again about how nobody “on our side” listened to him and how nobody told him what harassment was and that his fears were unfounded. Sorry, but if there ever was an unreliable narrator it is Aaronson. Not necessarily dishonest, but his perspective is and was so completely skewed by his conspiracy level distorted ideas about what harassment is (“saying hello to a girl”) and what would happen if he was accused of harassment (kicked out of school and sent to prison) that I don’t believe a fucking word of what he says about those workshops.

    +++
    Also, what Rowan said: People learn to read the body language of their cat and their dog, probably because those have claws and teeth. And dogs learn that their humans are happy when they show their teeth, something that goes against the nature of dogs. Yes, it’s easy for some, and harder for others, but I guess that many people who claim that “body language is soooo hard” belong to the male category and don’t learn body language* for the same reason many people don’t learn guinea pig body language: They run exactly zero danger by ignoring it.
    *Again with the caveat that they seem to get by without problems with their male colleagues and superiors and are apparently able to tell when they’re pleasing their male boss and when they’re annoying their male boss.

  71. EveryZig says

    But I suspect the thought that being a nerdy male might not make me “privileged”—that it might even have put me into one of society’s least privileged classes

    To use his train metaphor, this is the point where I wanted to jump out the window. It is like some kind of converse Dear Muslima; rather than saying that a worse problem elsewhere means your problem is nonexistent, he seems to think that if your problem exists it must therefore be the worst problem ever. I don’t get why it is so hard for people to wrap their heads around the concept that there can be more than One True Problem.

    My recurring fantasy, through this period, was to have been born a woman, or a gay man, or best of all, completely asexual, so that I could simply devote my life to math, like my hero Paul Erdös did.

    ashfiewhiwgfow I cannot even I just cannot even. He never for a moment considers that women or non-heteronormative people MIGHT have some social obstacles between them in a career in science. In an odd coincidence, I just a few hours ago watched a movie about Alan Turning, a very well known example of someone who tried to devote himself to an intellectual life and got persecuted and chemically castrated for being gay. (Oh, but surely that is all in the past and homophobia is over, as can be seen by how they can legally marry everywhere and major political parties don’t call their existence sinful.)

    At one point, I actually begged a psychiatrist to prescribe drugs that would chemically castrate me (I had researched which ones)

    …And then I ran into this sentence. I might now have heavy metal poisoning from the amount of irony.

  72. lizzie says

    Is it just me or is PZ being uncharacteristically gentle and understanding to this Scott Aaronson person? Because Aaronson’s screed makes clear that he is a gigantic asshole marinating in male privilege. From his mindblowingly ahistorical and stupid wish that he could’ve been born female or gay so as to devote himself to math without any obstacles getting in the way, to his conclusion that he deserves a medal (his words) for surviving adolescence still believing that women should have basic human rights—-I just couldn’t take it.

    As the mother of two daughters who will soon be entering the world of higher education, I found it horrifying to contemplate that this man is a teacher. It’s also horrifying to contemplate how his high-status position in life will lend credibility to what he says in the eyes of male students already inclined toward misogyny. You can see it in the comments that follow his. I found reading his comment to be far more disturbing than much of the worst stuff I’ve seen at, say, we hunted the mammoth.

  73. speed0spank says

    Women should be super nice when guys are creepy and ignore all social cues. Coddle them and very nicely explain to them what they are doing wrong instead of just getting on with your own life and problems. This poor fragile man needs help and that is what is important. If you don’t help him he might become an MRA, and you don’t want that weighing on your conscience. And if you try to help him but you aren’t the exact right level of niceness and butterflies then its also your fault that he turned into an MRA because of your tone.
    Also, people of color, don’t think you’re off the hook. When racists come barging into the Ferguson threads trying to call kids thugs and shit all over the place? If you tell them to “fuck off” they might just go see what StormFront has to say and become full on racists or join the KKK or something. You wouldn’t want that, would you, only person standing in the way of that happening?
    After all, there is absolutely nowhere else these clueless people could turn to. Its not like there are resources all over the internet for them. They just went to StormFront or some MRA site because that’s the only ones there are!!. Oh, wait…

  74. Gen, Uppity Ingrate and Ilk says

    Yeah, I’m tired of being told to take the blame for men not wanting to deal with the truth because some feminist somewhere happened to be mean to him. drken says it doesn’t matter if some guy sees women as sex dispensers, as long as you just teach him about what harassment is and isn’t. This is fundamentally flawed, but ultimately where the tone arguments lead: who cares how women is viewed, as long as male needs (for gentle education, in this case) is catered for?

  75. says

    I think the telling part is where he longs for the good old times of “arranged marriage” Laurie Penny gently explains to him what that meant for women.
    What he longs for is a time when his father would have bought him a nice fucktoy who had no say in the matter and who could not deny him sex. That’s the level of empathy he has for women. That’s how much he has thought about the actual situation of women before he goes on for wishing to be one…

  76. azhael says

    I’ve known enough of this poor nerdy guys that are terrified of aproaching a woman and come out as a creep to feel any sympathy for them…Most of the time, their “fears” are justified because it turns out that what they think is “talking to women” is actually treating them like shit. It’s not a genuine inability to tread the complicated labyrinth of social interactions….it turns out the problem is that they are actually horrible people. I’ve seen nerds be absolutely disgusting towards women (and gays, and anyone really)…not in an awkward faux-pas kind of way, but in a vicious, mysoginistic, “you are just a hole, whore” kind of way. I know this is a generalization that doesn’t hold true for every case, but it’s definitely common…
    In the case of this guy, it reeks of that…
    I’m nerdy and growing up i was the very definition of “awkward, nerd guy” so i sympathise with most of it, but i know enough to not assume that every nerdy guy is necessarily a poor, delicate flower that has been unjustly trampled by a cruel society….sometimes nerds are arseholes, and vicious ones too.

    The assumption that if only feminists had been superdupernice and held his hand through his entire youth, he would now be a wonderfully decent human being is just fucking ridiculous and terribly insulting. I don’t believe for a second that someone who understands that women are people and that they deserve to be treated as such could turn into an MRA because someone was not nice to him. The problem is already there, the “they weren’t nice to me” is just the handy excuse to pretend you are a victim and not just the piece of shit that you really are.

  77. karmacat says

    For people who complain about not being able to read other people’s social cues, the thing is, even if you are good at reading other people, you still really don’t know what others are thinking. The secret to social interactions and communication is to ask the other person what he or she is thinking/feeling. This is not minimize that it is hard sometimes to ask these questions, especially if you are self-conscious. It would be great if there were a class in high school teaching people how to communicate. We all make assumptions about other people and sometimes don’t realize we have more common with the other person even if they are a different gender

  78. azhael says

    I really don’t think the issue here is someone not being able to read social cues and navigate social interactions…
    That’s difficult, and it’s difficult for everybody…that’s what adolescence is for, to learn how to do that complicated stuff. It’s hard for everyone and of course for every nerd…and yet, not every nerd turns out like Scott, wishing for a sex slave…
    The problem with him is not that he is nerdy, or socially awkward, or not conventionally attractive…the problem is he is a legit fucking arsehole… He is not having trouble reading people and therefore suffering anxiety because he doesn’t know how to act….he is perplexed because people don’t react to his shit the way he expects them to. The problem there is his shit…
    Like i said before, not every nerd is an arsehole, of course, but it is entirely possible to be both at the same time.

  79. IX-103 says

    @A.Noyd: #73, @zibble: #68

    I think people like Aaronson need to realize that they’re better off finding someone they really connect with, whose cues they can learn inside and out

    Considering the dude seems to believe an arranged marriage at a young age might have cured him of the woes of chronic postpubescent dry-dick, I’d say he’s about as far away from that realization as it’s possible to get.

    Why do you think his expression of a desire for an arranged marriage is all about the sex? Couldn’t he mean that he wants somone, anyone, to try to connect with him and that he feels so unconfident he needs to include the relatively high barrier of divorce to protect himself from rejection. It’s not that he doesn’t know that he needs to find someone and try to connect with them, it’s that he is frustrated by repeated failure to find someone. He has no access to appropriate opportunities to meet with eligible people and/or is socially inept enough that when he does meet them he fails completely and doesn’t know why. All he probably needs is a little coaching and more good opportunities to meet eligible people.

  80. says

    IX-103 #89:

    He has no access to appropriate opportunities to meet with eligible people and/or is socially inept enough that when he does meet them he fails completely and doesn’t know why.

    I can tell him why, but he won’t like the answer.

    ‘Getting laid’ should not be the target. When one’s aim is purely to get laid, the object of desire becomes just that: an object, not a person. A possible dispenser of sexual favours, not a possible friend who may or may not turn out to be also a sexual partner.

    He should try thinking of and treating women as people.

  81. says

    Part of what makes adolescence so painful for everyone, I think, is that it sometimes feels like a cruel joke played on us. You’ve gotten past that part of childhood where your response to every need is, “WAAH! MINE!!1!”, and starting to function as part of a social group instead of a bundle of id, and just as you’re feeling good about things, your developing body dumps a bunch of hormones into your bloodstream and you’re back to bawling and throwing tantrums and generally acting out all over again.

    I’m not sure whether certain people ever get over it. In fact, I wonder whether the extreme discomfort many people with nerd/ geek personalities feel in initiating intimacy is that they have not fully integrated the sexual aspects of themselves. They never come to regard their sex drive as something anything than “other”, something distracting from their “normal” life, something external to their being, something that even needs to be suppressed chemically. Or if it cannot be suppressed, then to be satisfied as quickly as possible. When your entire approach to intimacy is, basically, “hi, I’ve got this annoying hormonal itch that needs scratching, could you possibly oblige me?”, it’s no wonder it fails.

    (I’m suffer from this myself. I would probably tick most of the checkboxes for a stereotypical white, male geek)

  82. opposablethumbs says

    IX-103, even if you remove sex from the equation – which is bullshit, btw, as this thing called “marriage” is pretty much universally recognised as a socially-endorsed relationship that is overwhelmingly likely to include sexual relations – what he’s asking for is for a human being to be locked in with him and forced to engage in social interaction with him all their life whether they want to or not. Regardless of their own thoughts, feelings and desires in the matter. He wants to have someone who’s not allowed to walk away, no matter how he treats them. In a nutshell, what he wants is for the consent or otherwise of this putative other person not to matter a gnat’s fart.
    Does that sound like any kind of respect or regard for the wellbeing or even the humanity of a fellow human being to you?

  83. says

    IX-103

    Couldn’t he mean that he wants somone, anyone, to try to connect to be forced to put up with him and have sex with him and that he feels so unconfident he needs to include the relatively high barrier of divorce the complete removal of personal and property rights on the side of the woman to protect himself from rejection.

    FIFY
    Because no matter what he or you think those arranged marriages were, in reality they were the selling of property from one owner, i.e. the father to another owner, i.e. the husband.
    Think about when, wherever you live, marital rape became a concept and illegal.

  84. Andrew McIntyre says

    This saddens me, because I have been reading Aaronson for years, and he really seemed like a genuinely good guy in other ways. But his refusal to understand here is appalling. Now I know how all the fans of the other thinkers who’ve turned out to be asshats recently have felt.

    Akira @9: I sincerely hope you can get things more figured out. In a world where it seems like hardly anyone can just own their shit, I feel like a person who refuses to blame others for his (?) problems is already ahead of the game.

  85. says

    I was a shy, lonely, nerdy guy in high school; I’ve also had more than 20 years living as a woman, and I can say unequivocally that the latter has been an order of magnitude harder than the former. Aaronson’s self-pity here is nauseating.

  86. IX-103 says

    @opposablethumbs #94, @giliell #95
    Whoa, wait a minute, when did I say anything about consent not mattering? Just to be clear: 1) rape within marriage is still rape, and 2) marriage is (or should be) a thing which can be ended by either party for any reason. Apparently there is a whole lot more cultural baggage attached to “marriage” or “arranged marriages” than I had accounted for (I’m more familiar with Japanese customs in this regard).

    I’ll agree that his expressed desires are selfish, but I do not find any evidence to suggest that he is looking for a relationship anything like you two are describing. I may be blinded by my own preconceptions, but I get the impression that he is simply fantasizing about having ‘awkward/embarrassing/scary/seemingly impossible problem X ‘ magically being solved through some deus ex machina without more than some vague notion of what comes next (except that it doesn’t require solving problem X *phew*). You may think I’m being too charitable, but I prefer not to make dramatic judgements about people without sufficient information.

  87. says

    IX 103

    Apparently there is a whole lot more cultural baggage attached to “marriage” or “arranged marriages” than I had accounted for

    Yes that’s because you and he completly forgot to look at the woman’s side of the equation. That tells me a fucking lot about the both of you.

  88. IX-103 says

    @Gileill #99
    @Daz #100
    Why don’t you two just read the link I provided about what I was thinking of before you toss out insults. There is a lot about the way Japanese culture treats women that is horribly objectionable, and there are all kinds of horrible things that occur in practice with these Japanese “arranged marriages”, but from the kind of superficial view a foreigner would get from watching anime/reading manga they sound okay — go out for up to 3 dates then decide whether or not to get married (with all potential rejections in either direction handled indirectly through intermediaries). Surely you can see that something portrayed like that would appeal to the socially awkward.

    We can only base our judgements based on what the person making the statement intended to mean. This means we need to consider the probable background of the person making them. When you think of arranged marriages, you are probably more likely to think of things like “the sex trafficking under the guise of marriage current occurring in certain Muslim cultures” than you are “the marriage of State between Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette”. Because of your interests, certain subtopics are more fresh in your mind than others.
    Likewise, if you consider a prototypical male nerd whose interests do not include social justice, he is much more likely to be thinking of “the type of arranged marriage I saw last week in such-and-such cool anime/manga” than he is the sort of forcible marriage you are implying. Further, I doubt he could even recall having heard about the “sex trafficking under the guise of marriage” problem — it’s just about as far distanced from his background and interests as “the marriage of State between Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette”.

  89. azhael says

    We can only base our judgements based on what the person making the statement intended to mean.

    Nope.

  90. says

    IX-103 #101:

    Why don’t you two just read the link I provided about what I was thinking of before you toss out insults.

    A: I insulted you? I can if you like, but I’ve not done so yet. B: Why do you assume I didn’t read it?

    There is a lot about the way Japanese culture treats women that is horribly objectionable, and there are all kinds of horrible things that occur in practice with these Japanese “arranged marriages”, but from the kind of superficial view a foreigner would get from watching anime/reading manga they sound okay — go out for up to 3 dates then decide whether or not to get married (with all potential rejections in either direction handled indirectly through intermediaries). Surely you can see that something portrayed like that would appeal to the socially awkward.

    Ah, right. I’m supposed to assume that we’re not talking about the real world, but rather I’m to assume that everyone I disagree with is informed by nothing but a cartoon? Shall we now argue the details of Newtonian physics, under the assumption that your education on gravity comes entirely from watching Roadrunner cartoons?

    We can only base our judgements based on what the person making the statement intended to mean. This means we need to consider the probable background of the person making them.

    I tend to assume that people have at least a vague knowledge of the real world. To assume that their knowledge is derived from nowhere but cartoons would be, I would suggest, bloody insulting.

    When you think of arranged marriages, you are probably more likely to think of things like “the sex trafficking under the guise of marriage current occurring in certain Muslim cultures” than you are “the marriage of State between Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette”. Because of your interests, certain subtopics are more fresh in your mind than others.

    What? The history of most royal families is chock-full of loveless couples forced into marriages of political convenience. I have no idea what point you think you’re making with this, apart from appearing to assume that I’m ignorant of even a basic knowledge of history. Which cartoons did you think I got my history-education from?

    Likewise, if you consider a prototypical male nerd whose interests do not include social justice, he is much more likely to be thinking of “the type of arranged marriage I saw last week in such-and-such cool anime/manga” than he is the sort of forcible marriage you are implying. Further, I doubt he could even recall having heard about the “sex trafficking under the guise of marriage” problem — it’s just about as far distanced from his background and interests as “the marriage of State between Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette”.

    Why do you assume such an abysmal lack of education? Your point appears to be that a class of people known for being bookish are, in fact, not bookish.

  91. Gen, Uppity Ingrate and Ilk says

    When you think of arranged marriages, you are probably more likely to think of things like “the sex trafficking under the guise of marriage current occurring in certain Muslim cultures” than you are “the marriage of State between Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette”. Because of your interests, certain subtopics are more fresh in your mind than others.

    What? Both of your examples areterrible things to do to someone

  92. David Marjanović says

    Not to take away from his pain at all — it’s real, and I feel for him — but man, we all suffered like that.

    …I didn’t. I suffered from loneliness, sure, but none of the things listed in the whole OP; some barely make sense to me even today, 15 years later. But I come from such a different headspace, and even (as far as “dating” goes) culture, that I’ll refrain from flooding this thread with the details unless someone is interested; there’s enough topic drift later in this comment. For instance:

    he knows when a teammate is consenting to let him make a play (including non-jock games, please)

    Maybe not. The first maybe 10 times my teammates expected me to kick the ball, I didn’t even consider the idea; it was plainly unthinkable. The next 10 times (or whatever) I considered it only to immediately dismiss it, because surely they can’t mean me? They know full well I’m the wrong one for that job…?

    The whole thing smells of “women are fundamentally different from men and unless you give me detailed instructions I can really not know how to deal with them!”

    Bingo! He was looking for an answer to the question of what women want, never considering the idea that the question itself is wrong because women aren’t some kind of monolith.

    I think people like Aaronson need to realize that they’re better off finding someone they really connect with, whose cues they can learn inside and out, instead of trying to crack the code that’ll let them bed any random human they spot in a bar.

    Exactly.

    And it goes without saying that an arranged marriage *shudder* would have an extremely low probability of helping him to find someone he connects with. *barf*

    There are a few people who really can’t tell the difference between someone honestly telling them that they can’t stop for a coffee just now because they’re already late for an appointment and another someone saying the same thing as a white lie just to avoid having that coffee. But most people most of the time do know the difference.

    The ones who can’t are massively overrepresented among nerds, you know.

    I, for one, can hardly grasp the concept of just casually lying to people! I’m not creative enough for that to begin with, so I don’t project that creativity into other people.

    Just be grateful that the person was kind or polite enough to make it easier in the normal social way rather than being insulting or “direct” or “honest” about not being interested in you.

    That makes no sense.

    When you think of arranged marriages, you are probably more likely to think of things like “the sex trafficking under the guise of marriage current occurring in certain Muslim cultures” than you are “the marriage of State between Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette”.

    …No, I think of the latter, because that – people shackled to each other for the rest of their lives, with neither of them being asked* and one of them horribly exploited – is what arranged marriages in my own culture (for a very wide definition of that…) used to look like. But I have no idea if Aaronson spends day and night immersed in manga…

    * Guess why every single French king and emperor, starting with the very first, had at least one mistress, the one exception being the holy one (Louis IX).

  93. Seven of Mine: Shrieking Feminist Harpy says

    IX-103 @ 101

    We can only base our judgements based on what the person making the statement intended to mean.

    Erm, that’s exactly what we can’t do because people aren’t psychic. Words mean what they mean regardless of whether one is aware of that meaning in advance.

  94. says

    I’ll just park this here:

    CCC (Crystal Clear Consent)

    * First of all: Understand that if you go forward with initiating sexual activity not knowing if consent exists, you may or may not be raping someone, but you have proved beyond a shadow of doubt that you are willing to rape someone. Black areas make you a rapist, grey areas make you willing to rape.

    * Making absolutely sure that consent is obtained and mutually agreed on. This does not include trying for consent when a person is not in condition to grant consent.

    * No doubts as to whether consent was obtained.

    * No guesses as to whether consent was obtained.

    * No assumptions as to whether consent was obtained.

    * No doubt as to whether any partner was capable of giving consent at the time.

    Crystal Clear Consent includes Fully Informed Consent. Consent granted under deception is not CCC, it is manufactured consent.

    * If you use deception to gain sex–impersonating another person, lying about contraceptive use, failing to disclose STDs–you are denying your partner the right to fully informed consent.

    * If you are not sure whether or not you have an STD, disclose this uncertainty. If consent is granted, take responsibility and use protection. Just because you didn’t know for sure is not a defense.

    * If you whine and wheedle about using protection a/o contraception, you are not in CCC territory. You are willing to rape.

    * Lying about or withholding information that, if known, would’ve resulted in dissent is rape.

    * If you consent to X activity under Y conditions and the other party changes those conditions to Z, then you have not consented to what is happening.

    Crystal Clear Consent Practices:

    * Understanding that consent may be withdrawn, by any involved party, at any time. Initial consent does not mean you get to carry on if consent has been withdrawn. In other words, people are allowed to change their mind at any point.

    * If you have not had sex with a given person before, mutually understood language with confirmation is the best way to attain Crystal Clear Consent. Relying on body language or assuming consent without clarification is nearly always insufficient with a new partner. As you get to know your partner(s) better, you will get better at reading nonverbal / nonlingual cues, but clear communication is still absolutely necessary. It is important to remember that rape can still be committed within the confines of a relationship, at any stage. Consent that is not communicated is not CCC.

    * If your partner is communicating something, do not assume that it has nothing to do with consent.

    * If you initiate or offer and are declined in the context of a specifically romantic, sexual, or flirtations setting, do not initiate or offer again until one of the following four occur:

    1. the other party has taken a turn initiating/offering and been declined by you.

    2. the other party has taken a turn initiating/offering, was accepted by you, but after the activity lapsed you wish to restart.

    3. it is an entirely new romantic, sexual, or flirtatious setting.

    4. An amount of time has passed that is inverse to the number of times they have accepted your offer before. While it may be acceptable when dating to offer again in a week or in a closer relationship to initiate again after, say, one day [or whatever is the negotiated norm in said relationship] it’s not acceptable to ask someone again if you’ve just met them.

    * If you initiate or offer and are declined in a context that is not specifically romantic, sexual, or flirtatious, do not initiate or offer again. Seriously.

    * If you’re beginning a new relationship or going for a casual hookup, enthusiasm is key! Your new partner should be enthusiastically and happily involved with you. If no enthusiasm is present, it’s best to go for more communication and put off sex for a while.

    * A person who wants consensual sex doesn’t want to commit or experience rape, and a person who rapes does. Whether a given rapist wants their victim(s) drugged, unconscious, frightened, intimidated, trapped, manipulated or tricked, or just pestered until they give in, the rapist wants the end result to be that a rape happens. That includes being forced to penetrate someone else.

    * Contrary to what is often thought, consent is not difficult. If you still aren’t clear at this point, read this: http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/2011/09/20/consent-is-hard/ and this: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/02/06/if-consent-was-really-that-hard-whiny-dudes-would-fail-at-every-aspect-of-life/

    * Don’t want to listen to us? How about MIT:

    Effective Consent is:

    – informed;

    – freely and actively given;

    – mutually understandable words or actions;

    – which indicate a willingness to participate in
    – mutually agreed upon sexual activity.

  95. IX-103 says

    @azhael #102

    We can only base our judgements based on what the person making the statement intended to mean.

    Nope.

    Um…
    What‽

    Okay, fine. You can judge people based on whatever ■■■■ing criteria you want, but if you want me to take you seriously and not dismiss you as a bigot or polemicist you need to use some reasonably fair criteria, which can’t be solely based on your subjective interpretation of the words they used. I’m not saying that if someone says something and then later says “but what I actually intended to mean was blah” we must take them at their word. I’m just saying that we should be offended by ideas, not by words, and that language is squishy enough that the two are not the same*.

    Of course if listening and reading critically are too difficult for you, you are correct: you can base your judgements on whatever you want.

    *Note: There is, of course, the obvious divergent discussing of what language should be used to convey a given idea. While this is important and useful in shaping society, has little use in interpreting what people have already said or written (at least until I get my time machine working).

    @chigau #103
    By Grabthar’s hammer..

  96. says

    IX-103 101

    When you think of arranged marriages, you are probably more likely to think of things like “the sex trafficking under the guise of marriage current occurring in certain Muslim cultures” than you are “the marriage of State between Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette”.

    And from Marie Antoinette’s perspective, the only difference is that the food’s better.

  97. A. Noyd says

    IX-103 (#89)

    Why do you think his expression of a desire for an arranged marriage is all about the sex? Couldn’t he mean that he wants somone, anyone, to try to connect with him and that he feels so unconfident he needs to include the relatively high barrier of divorce to protect himself from rejection.

    Because it goes with the rest of what he said. He wouldn’t have considered asking for chemical castration drugs or have been wishing he was asexual if a mere emotional “connection” would have satisfied him. Did you fail to read what he wrote? Or are you one of those irritating wankers who project yourself into the words of some other asshole and then feel personally attacked when people take the other asshole apart?

    Also, why would he need a barrier of any kind unless the woman was trying to get away from him? It’s still the epitome of entitlement to want to marry someone so they are forced to be the companion you “couldn’t” get any other way. That’s just abuse.

    (#98)

    I may be blinded by my own preconceptions, but I get the impression that he is simply fantasizing about having ‘awkward/embarrassing/scary/seemingly impossible problem X ‘ magically being solved through some deus ex machina without more than some vague notion of what comes next

    And yet, he’s not wishing for a magic ring that would have made all his awkwardness and anxiety evaporate. He’s specifically going for a fantasy that would lead to him raping and abusing a woman to get what he wanted.

  98. culuriel says

    Does Scott Aaronson understand that if your worst fear is of a girl finding out you like her, if that’s literally the worst thing that could have happened to you during your teen years, that THAT’s a privilege? Does Aaronson understand that poor kids, especially poor non-white kids, had about a hundred worse things to worry about than The Girl Who Might Laugh At Them?

  99. zezzer says

    Why is it that socially awkward, ostracized girls don’t as a general rule fantasize about tying a boy to them for all eternity? Why is it that they generally grow up resenting themselves instead of the entire male gender?

  100. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    We’re still at it?
    This “sad geek boy” trope is getting old. Suddenly everyone (every man) is a misunderstood gentle geeky guy who just can’t get a break. I’m not buying it. Not any more. Times have changed, the geek is the new popular jock. A woman is still just a woman. The root of (nearly) all evil, embarrassment and geek boy tears.

  101. azhael says

    @110 IX-103

    we should be offended by ideas, not by words

    ■■■■ing

    Bwaaaaahhhahahahaahahahaaa…..

    Aside from the problem of reading minds, the reason why we most certainly can and should base our judgements on more than what a person making a statement meant by it, is that 1) people can lie, 2) their statements can actually have (i know this will blow your mind, braze yourself) direct implications, and whether they claim to have intended those implications or not is not necessarily relevant.

  102. David Marjanović says

    Good catch, azhael!

    You can judge people based on whatever ■■■■ing criteria you want

    I don’t actually think it makes much sense to judge a person as a whole, as if they were some kind of monolith. Lots of personality traits coexist in the same person.

    How do I type ■ from a virtual keyboard?

    Probably you don’t; you probably have to resort to the character map, where it seems to be number U+220E.

  103. Brony, Social Justice Cenobite says

    I find it difficult to muster much sympathy for the Scott Aaronsons of the world.

    Tourette Syndrome and boundary issues is very much a thing, on multiple levels. Yeah I wish I was able to navigate that confusing mess better than I did coming from a military/fundamentalist christian background. But that sort of brain and life experience get VERY familiar with figuring out social issues by any means necessary. Despite the fact that my “character sheet” says “problems inhibiting self-reference” and has emotions in both good and bad categories (including sexual ones) that are loud and intense I’m quite able to figure things out.

    I’m am in fact in a sexless marriage because of the psychological issues that my wife needs to work out involving her childhood and other complications. That’s one of those things where I need to remove myself from the equation as much as my wife requires. Yeah, it sucks. But I could not possibly make any other choice than the one that I did. It’s very hard to find sympathy for Scott Aaronson.

  104. IX-103 says

    @Daz #104
    You are correct that you did not insult me personally and I apologize for including you with Giliell. The answer is not that you should assume that everyone only gets their knowledge from cartoons, but that you can’t assume that everyone has the same background as you. Even if nerds are considered “bookish”, they tend to specialize in some areas to the detriment of others (to me, the category seems more defined by certain common areas of limited ability among all nerds than being particularly studious).
    You assume that everyone has “vague knowledge of the real world”, but even vague knowledge of the real world is far too complicated for people to apply its entirety to each thought they think. People categorize and approximate, so only a small fraction of their total knowledge is applied to any one thought. I find it unlikely that the marriage of a 18th century monarch entered into consideration when said nerd was wondering about fixing his relationship woes and I doubt he considered the “arranged marriage idea” seriously enough to look further.
    In hindsight with an outside perspective they may seem “obviously” related but unless you have a better idea of his thought processes than I do, I tend to take a more charitable approach.
    #114 — if I had meant to type fucking I would have typed fucking. I meant ■■■■ing.

    @A.Noyd #113
    I didn’t read the part about being asexual/castrated, but I’m not surprised. That seems to me to be the same sort of escapist thinking as the arranged marriage issue. There’s a lot of cultural baggage conflating or substituting the drive for companionship with the drive for sex (particularly among men).
    As for why he feels he needs a barrier, I originally said “a relatively high barrier…to protect himself from rejection”. I didn’t say an insurmountable barrier, just a barrier higher relative to whatever he gets socially. My take on this was that the barrier was simply to prevent casual unthinking dismissal (i.e. give him what he would have to admit was a “fair chance”). I admit I did not consider any of the other reasons you suggested, so perhaps my life has been much more shelteredprivileged than I had previously assumed. (Though doesn’t the trope ‘marry someone so they are forced to be the companion you “couldn’t” get any other way’ usually revolve around a specific individual or class of individual instead of a generic someone?)

    @azhael #118
    You’re right I did not directly address the problem of lying, sarcasm, double negatives, or any of the myriad of other ways people use words in ways divergent from the ideas behind them. As for direct implications: a person yelling fire in a crowded theater with the intent of causing a panic is a criminal, a person yelling fire in a crowded theater as part of an answer to a friends question on weather phenomenon is showing a moment of really poor judgement. I don’t think we can reasonably judge them as being equal.
    As I mentioned in a note in the previous post, deciding what words someone should use to express an idea without causing unintended side effects is not something I am attempting to address.

    @David Marjanović #107,120
    I don’t disagree with anything you’ve said.

    @Everyone else
    The focus of my argument is not consent. If you want to talk about consent, see Iyeska’s post.

    I’m not arguing in favor of arranged marriages — the vast majority involved violation of people’s consent and are therefore BAD (again, I’m not arguing about consent as a necessity). I’m arguing in favor of reserving judgement until enough facts are in*. I really don’t like it when people make judgements about others by reading too deeply into their words or actions. It is possible that Moby Dick is an allegory for the plight of the Republic of Ireland or something, but this comment isn’t.

    *Sidenote: My wife tends to call people “jerks” who cut her off in traffic. I tend to say that maybe they’re just distracted by sickness in the family or some other crisis and weren’t paying enough attention. This has caused disputes on countless occasions.

  105. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I really don’t like it when people make judgements about others by reading too deeply into their words or actions.

    Oh, you don’t like it when innocuous words like dog whistles are used to hide a deeper meaning, usually bigotry, and people get called on it? And MRA fuckwittery is rife with dog whistles. You don’t like it? You will need more than your view to change my opinion on the subject.

  106. says

    IX-103 #124:

    The answer is not that you should assume that everyone only gets their knowledge from cartoons, but that you can’t assume that everyone has the same background as you.

    I fail to see how the construction ‘arranged marriage’ does not convey ‘a marriage which is arranged.’ The very words used to describe it, in other words, strongly imply a lack of consent on the part of one or both of the people it is being arranged for.

    You assume that everyone has “vague knowledge of the real world”, but even vague knowledge of the real world is far too complicated for people to apply its entirety to each thought they think. People categorize and approximate, so only a small fraction of their total knowledge is applied to any one thought. I find it unlikely that the marriage of a 18th century monarch entered into consideration when said nerd was wondering about fixing his relationship woes and I doubt he considered the “arranged marriage idea” seriously enough to look further.

    Oh fuck off you disingenuous prat. My basic assumption is that if someone wishes for an arranged marriage, then that person has a basic idea of what such a marriage entails. I completely agree that they quite possibly didn’t consider one particular arranged marriage of one particular royal couple. You brought that red-herring up, not me. My contention is merely that—contrary to your assumption that their knowledge of the subject is based only on a fucking cartoon—they quite probably do have at least a vague idea of what a pretty-damn self-explanatory and commonly used phrase means.

    In hindsight with an outside perspective they may seem “obviously” related but unless you have a better idea of his thought processes than I do, I tend to take a more charitable approach.

    I’ll stick with judging people by what they actually say. He wished for an arranged marriage. He wished for someone to be forced to marry him. How unambiguous can we make this, before you understand the objection we are making?

    if I had meant to type fucking I would have typed fucking. I meant ■■■■ing.

    Really? How do you pronounce that?

  107. A. Noyd says

    IX-103 (#124)

    My take on this was that the barrier was simply to prevent casual unthinking dismissal (i.e. give him what he would have to admit was a “fair chance”).

    Restricting the other person’s chances of getting away from you is not giving yourself a fair chance. It’s the complete opposite, you fucking clown. People are allowed to dismiss you casually and without thought. (Though, why are you—or why is he—so accepting of the idea that women reject men without giving it any thought? How do you not see it as a giant red flag that he could believe that about all, or even most, women?)

    If you have to involve any barriers at all to discourage someone from making choices about being with you that you don’t approve of, you are doing it wrong. Should I get to kidnap you and barricade you into a room while I present my arguments regarding this to you? Would it be okay so long as I didn’t nail the window down too tightly and didn’t try to stop you when you attempted to prize it open? If not, then why are the rules different for women?

    I’m arguing in favor of reserving judgement until enough facts are in*. I really don’t like it when people make judgements about others by reading too deeply into their words or actions.

    Or, ya know, you could read his words in the first place like we did so you at least stand a chance of knowing where we’re coming from and might stop asking us to give the benefit of the doubt to a whiny, entitled brat who, despite claiming to be adequately informed on the topic of feminism, doesn’t understand what consent or male privilege are and thinks Christina Hoff Sommers has facts on her side.

    You might also consider that we don’t all have the luxury of treating douchewaffles like this as if they’re most likely well-meaning and harmless. Our freedom, wellbeing, and lives are on the line.

  108. Seven of Mine: Shrieking Feminist Harpy says

    if I had meant to type fucking I would have typed fucking. I meant ■■■■ing.

    And this is the point where you forfeit any expectation of being taken seriously. Fucking clown.

  109. azhael says

    if I had meant to type fucking I would have typed fucking. I meant ■■■■ing.

    Do you go as Mr.Tulip?

  110. IX-103 says

    Calling out people on dog-whistles is perfectly fine. That’s all about being offended by the (duplicitous) ideas and not the words. Getting upset just because someone used the word niggardly not so much. Just take care not to ascribe duplicity to people without reason.

    @daz
    It seems we disagree over definitions. By your definition omiai is not an arranged marriage even though I have always seen it translated that way. We can argue over whose definition is right all day, but I don’t have time for that. Forcing anyone into a marriage without consent is wrong. If that’s what he meant then you are right. I still am unconvinced as to his intent.

    @A.Noyd
    I’m not saying he was justified or that the situation was fair, merely that if the deck was stacked so heavily in his favor no reasonable person could agree that the circumstances were against him. If he failed in that case it could only mean there was something wrong with him. Of course if you go beyond the abstract idea, this does ignore the variable of other party in the equation. So either his vague personal fantasy revolved around himself (imagine that!) and he didn’t get around to thinking out that part or he’s an inconsiderate pompous asshole.

    Summary:
    Never ascribe to malice what can be explained by laziness or incompetence.

  111. azhael says

    @131-132

    I would like to thank IX-103 for making this dream possible. And the lord baby jesus, obviously.

  112. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Never ascribe to malice what can be explained by laziness or incompetence.

    And always ascribe your posts as tone trolling. Tone trolls are lower than creobots, down there with pond scum. We ignore tone trolls.

  113. Grewgills says

    @ Gilleil #80

    Again with the caveat that they seem to get by without problems with their male colleagues and superiors and are apparently able to tell when they’re pleasing their male boss and when they’re annoying their male boss.

    IF that is the case then the problem isn’t being socially awkward, it’s being a douche that sees women as something to be won rather than as people. The actually socially awkward have just as much (or nearly so) trouble identifying those social cues in their male colleagues, particularly the ones that hold some perceived power over them.
    To be clear, my responding to some people’s characterizations of socially awkward people is not meant as a defense of Aaronson. He clearly has very little empathy with women and likely very little empathy for anyone not very like himself. That more than any social awkwardness is his failing and is what makes him unsympathetic.

  114. A. Noyd says

    IX-103 (#133)

    I’m not saying he was justified or that the situation was fair, merely that if the deck was stacked so heavily in his favor no reasonable person could agree that the circumstances were against him.

    You’re saying it’s understandable he’d think that way without acknowleging that there are zillions of non-misogynistic fantasies he could have latched onto. Instead, he went with an abusive fantasy that blames women for his troubles while discounting our humanity. That’s misogyny. There is not context in which that isn’t misogyny.

    So either his vague personal fantasy revolved around himself (imagine that!) and he didn’t get around to thinking out that part or he’s an inconsiderate pompous asshole.

    Whaaa? Do you not understand what the word “or” means?

    Never ascribe to malice what can be explained by laziness or incompetence.

    Never tell anyone they should have to give a fuck about the motivations of people who participate in their oppression. If we don’t seem to care, it’s because we know better than you how much the difference actually matters.

  115. irene says

    if I had meant to type fucking I would have typed fucking. I meant ■■■■ing.

    “Did you hear him? — Did you hear him?
    Oh, the monster overbearing!
    Don’t go near him — don’t go near him —
    He is squaring — he is squaring!”

  116. IX-103 says

    For the record. I am a ■■■■ing idiot. I should really have read the entirety of both of the links instead of just the highlights in the blog post before getting involved in the discussion (just where do I think I am, reddit?).

    @A. Noyd #138

    Never tell anyone they should have to give a fuck about the motivations of people who participate in their oppression. If we don’t seem to care, it’s because we know better than you how much the difference actually matters.

    Never forget that people who participate in oppression are still people. Don’t you dare simply “other” them. If you concede that you don’t care why they feel what they feel, then why the ■■■■ should you expect them to listen or care when you explain your situation. Check your privilege.

  117. Saad says

    IX-103, #141

    Never forget that people who participate in oppression are still people. Don’t you dare simply “other” them. If you concede that you don’t care why they feel what they feel, then why the ■■■■ should you expect them to listen or care when you explain your situation. Check your privilege.

    What the fuck are you talking about? We should care why oppressors are motivated to oppress their victims? And not doing so shows some sort of privilege on our part? Just piss off already. You’re making a total fool of yourself.

  118. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Check your privilege.

    Check your ego/arrogance tone troll.

  119. IX-103 says

    @Saad #143
    By not caring or even trying to care you *are* othering them. Whether I am a fool or not, that much is true. Do I also need to explain why othering them is bad?

  120. A. Noyd says

    CaitieCat (#139)

    I love your last para @138 like a free therapeutic massage.

    Aw, thanks. Though, I don’t think I’m saying anything you and the other regulars haven’t said a million times before.

  121. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    By not caring or even trying to care you *are* othering them. Whether I am a fool or not, that much is true. Do I also need to explain why othering them is bad?

    We know all about othering tone troll. You, on the other hand, don’t know enough not to mouth off before you learn the lay of the land by lurking for a while. 3 months in my case.
    Until you are able to say “this is what I believe, and this [link to evidence] backs it up”, especially when talking about our tone, what you say will be dismissed without evidence.

  122. Rowan vet-tech says

    I am not ‘othering’ someone by calling them an asshole if they say that, because I am a woman, I am less than they because they are a man. And no, I don’t care *why* some guy thinks I’m not as fully human as he is, because every single fucking godsbedamned time it is for such a stupid, asshole-ish, or blatantly made up on the spot reason that all it does in enrage me further.

    NOT knowing why a man thinks I’m less than he is is better for both of us, because those reasons make me want to punch things, and that’s not good.

  123. A. Noyd says

    IX-103 (#141)

    For the record. I am a ■■■■ing idiot. I should really have read the entirety of both of the links instead of just the highlights in the blog post before getting involved in the discussion […].

    Oh, gee, you think?

    *points back up at that bit in #113 that goes “Because it goes with the rest of what he said. […] Did you fail to read what he wrote?”*

    Never forget that people who participate in oppression are still people.

    We don’t have the luxury of forgetting that. It’s impossible for the oppressed to “other” their oppressors because the oppressors have set themselves up as the standard, default, basic people, and society itself has been shaped to back them up on that. The entire fucking problem is they’re the ones keeping all the personhood to themselves.

    If you concede that you don’t care why they feel what they feel

    On a practical level, it’s wholly irrelevant.

    then why the ■■■■ should you expect them to listen or care when you explain your situation.

    I don’t expect them to listen or care. Because that’s how privilege plays out.

    But, really? You think the oppressed can’t rightfully demand to be listened to until we coddle the oppressors to their satisfaction? You can’t see the flaw in that?

    Check your privilege.

    Haaaaahahahahahahahaha.

    How about you go eat a massive bag of raw, salted assholes, you vapid turd-gargler.

  124. DrVanNostrand says

    @IX-103

    I am a ■■■■ing idiot

    This is the only thing you’ve said that makes any sense in this entire thread (except for the box things, which are still a nonsensical affectation).

  125. Brony, Social Justice Cenobite says

    @IX-103 141

    Never forget that people who participate in oppression are still people. Don’t you dare simply “other” them. If you concede that you don’t care why they feel what they feel, then why the ■■■■ should you expect them to listen or care when you explain your situation. Check your privilege.

    “Other” them? Oh they are as human as any of us and I don’t see anyone here denying that. What this is about is perception and behavior and people tend to find that an acceptable way to create divisions. No one one hurt by an oppressor has an obligation to care one bit about why they do what they do.

    Some people do care though. I do. But in the same sense that a social psychologist wants to know why racists other other shitty people do what they do. I care about them enough to put them into a vivisection tray in my mind. Beyond understanding them enough to take their motivations and behavior into account strategically, and force a mirror in front of them if possible I really don’t give a shit. Being a shitty human being because someone else was a shitty human being is probably one of the oldest human excuses we have and it smells it’s age.

  126. Seven of Mine: Shrieking Feminist Harpy says

    Never forget that people who participate in oppression are still people. Don’t you dare simply “other” them. If you concede that you don’t care why they feel what they feel, then why the ■■■■ should you expect them to listen or care when you explain your situation. Check your privilege.

    Oh fuck off, already.

  127. kage says

    The year has barely begun, but I think we’ve already seen the most hilariously inappropriate use of ‘check your privilege’ for 2015.

  128. says

    IX-103
    Goodness, this such an amount of unmitigated bullhit, let’s get started…

    Why don’t you two just read the link I provided about what I was thinking of before you toss out insults.

    You know the really nice thing about discussions on a blog where you can’t edit after posting?
    If you claim I “tossed out insults” I can ask you for evidence. And until you show the insults I allegedly tossed, I get to treat you as somebody who’s lying and not arguing in good faith.

    There is a lot about the way Japanese culture treats women that is horribly objectionable, and there are all kinds of horrible things that occur in practice with these Japanese “arranged marriages”, but from the kind of superficial view a foreigner would get from watching anime/reading manga they sound okay — go out for up to 3 dates then decide whether or not to get married (with all potential rejections in either direction handled indirectly through intermediaries). Surely you can see that something portrayed like that would appeal to the socially awkward.

    You know, no matter how fascinating you might think that to be, it is fucking irrelevant because we’re not talking about people with a Japanese background. More bullshit from you.

    We can only base our judgements based on what the person making the statement intended to mean.

    Intent is fucking meaningless. Words are what matters. Because we can NEVER know the intent of anybody except ourselves. Unless you can read minds.

    This means we need to consider the probable background of the person making them.

    So you admit you were bullshitting when talking about Japanese arranged marriage.

    When you think of arranged marriages, you are probably more likely to think of things like “the sex trafficking under the guise of marriage current occurring in certain Muslim cultures”

    You can take your islamophobic bullshit and stuff it where the sun doesn’t shine.

    than you are “the marriage of State between Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette”.

    A) So, how much autonomy do you think Marie Antoinette had in that and how much power did she have in deciding when or if to have sex and children?
    B) Remember when you talked about the background against which the discussion happens? It’s not 18th century French Aristocracy.

    I’m just saying that we should be offended by ideas, not by words

    That planet you live on, how are ideas communicated there?
    And this is coming from somebody who claims I threw insults at them…

    Of course if listening and reading critically are too difficult for you

    So, we’re still supposed to get the meaning from, you know, words? Oh, and so much for not insulting people…

    There is, of course, the obvious divergent discussing of what language should be used to convey a given idea. While this is important and useful in shaping society, has little use in interpreting what people have already said or written

    Goodness, you’re right! I didn’t know that when that article was written in 2014 words had a fundamentally different menaing from today, which is 2015 after all!

    Never forget that people who participate in oppression are still people. Don’t you dare simply “other” them.

    YouR’e really an uneducated idiot. How about this: Don’t use verbs like “othering” unless you understand what they mean.
    chigau

    and what does “■■■■ing” mean?

    Well, if you cannot parse what the author intends it to mean then critical reading is probably too difficult for you. And yes, they really enjoy having their cake and eating it, too!

  129. chigau (違う) says

    Giliell
    I went away and learned how to think.
    I still don’t grok “■■■■ing”.
    What am I doing wrong?

  130. Saad says

    IX-103, #145

    By not caring or even trying to care you *are* othering them. Whether I am a fool or not, that much is true. Do I also need to explain why othering them is bad?

    So black people should have cared about why white people feel like owning them and beating them before calling them names and revolting? Otherwise they would be othering them? Oh, the horror!!! Imagine a poor innocent white slaveowner being othered!! Ugh! What discomfort!

    You clearly don’t even know what othering is. Not giving a shit about the motivations of an oppressor is not othering.

  131. IX-103 says

    Well, I’ve already admitted that I am an idiot and possibly a fool as well. As I’be been following this blog for years, beginning well before it left science blogs, and haven’t grasped the obvious truths that Nerd of the Redhead divined in 3 months, I must certainly be suffering from some disability. I certainly do lack a formal education on this topic, and because of that I may have misused some specialized terminology. Perhaps you can assist me in revising my operating definitions:

    Other – verb – to classify an individual as “not one of us”, allowing you to avoid having to consider them with the same consideration for the hidden complexities you would any true human being.
    By this definition A.Noyd #138 was at the very least expressing an intent to other his/her oppressors and at worst defending othering of his/her oppressors. What did I get wrong this time?

    It seems a lot of people got upset over my use/misuse of the word privilege. I would not be surprised if I used it incorrectly as I have a fuzzier understanding of what it entails (@kage that post was made last year and the timestamp says 2014, so at best it could be the most inappropriate use of 2014).

    Privilege – noun – the set of advantages (or lack of disadvantages) in a certain area enjoyed by a person or group gained from their particular background of which they are usually not aware.

    If the axis we choose to look at is success in the workplace, white males are obviously privileged over minority females. But if we want to grade people based on their understanding of social justice and inequality, then those that are considered privileged in any of the areas covered by social justice are at a disadvantage *because their privilege is invisible to them*. I can see how you can point to this sort of “privilege” and laugh, as the questionable benefits you gain in this area are negligible on balance compared to what is denied to you in others. But that does not change the fact that the privileged have to work harder to even see what may be so plainly obvious to you.

    As for insults, I felt the intent behind this certainly qualifies:

    Yes that’s because you and he completly forgot to look at the woman’s side of the equation. That tells me a fucking lot about the both of you.

  132. says

    As for insults, I felt the intent behind this certainly qualifies:

    Yes that’s because you and he completly forgot to look at the woman’s side of the equation. That tells me a fucking lot about the both of you.

    So you can read minds, right? Cause that would be the one and only way to know what my fucking intent was.
    It is, of course, still not an insult though you might find it insulting. I don#t know, is English your first language? If not, you may consider the idea that your grasp on it is not as firm as you thought it is. If it is, go back to grade school.

  133. Rowan vet-tech says

    @ the ■■■■ing idiot, #158-

    I’m starting at the bottom of your post. That statement you quoted? It’s not an insult. It’s a deduction. YOU. DID. NOT. CONSIDER. THE. WOMEN. They were PROPERTY. That you ONLY looked at it from the man’s side DOES tell us a lot about your attitudes. You should have almost instantly had an epiphany regarding that one, and you didn’t. That you can sympathize with this other guy who wants to own a woman, because then he’d never suffer from sad, dry boner and never have to make an effort to remedy his saddryboner situation again tells us quite a bit about your attitudes and focus. And it’s not pretty. That doesn’t make it an insult though.

    From the top:

    Othering is used as a form of oppression, which the oppressed group cannot do, and it is an act to deny the HUMANITY of the ‘other’ person. I am not claiming someone is less than human because I don’t give a fuck about WHY they are an asshole. Nothing about not giving a fuck makes them less than human in my eyes. It means I don’t want to wade through their godawful fallacious reasoning as to why, a woman, should be enslaved to my uterus. Because those reasons aren’t relevant, and I don’t give a fuck.

    …. As to the paragraph that someone can be ‘privileged’ re: social justice issues… Holy fucking shit on a stick. There aren’t even words, but I’ll try.

    Your paragraph appears to boil down to… “I exist in a giant pile of privilege and because of that you have to treat me oh so gently because I just don’t get it and if you aren’t super duper nice to me, then YOU are the privileged one and are oppressing me. Help help! See them oppressing me! Come see the violence inherent in the privilege system by those that are less privileged than me!”

    So, it boils down to one of the most absurdly stupid things I’ve ever read. Having to work hard to recognise privilege does NOT make one less privileged. It makes one fucking privileged as fuck! Also, working hard, recognising when you’ve stepped on toes (which I have done, and will doubtless continue to do because of privileged ignorance), making a real effort to never do that toe step again, and not having a fucking mopefest when someone yells at you for stepping on their toes, is part of being a DECENT HUMAN BEING.

  134. Rowan vet-tech says

    All hail Tpyos, who ate the word ‘as’ in one of my paragraphs above.

  135. azhael says

    Having to work hard to recognise privilege does NOT make one less privileged. It makes one fucking privileged as fuck!

    Just quoting for emphasis.

  136. IX-103, the ■■■■ing idiot says

    @Giliell #159

    Yes that’s because you and he completly forgot to look at the woman’s side of the equation. That tells me a fucking lot about the both of you.

    Just tell me what exactly that says about me. Say it clearly. I really can’t read minds and this village idiot is tired of trying to find a way to complete that particular thought without it turning into an insult. Here, I’ll even give you a start:
    You are a…

    @Rowan #161
    Othering *can* be used as a tool of oppression by the oppressor, but that is not its sole use. It is often used in wartime propaganda, for instance. Anyway, in a situation where everyone is negatively affected (though some significantly more than others) by a system that is enforced by those same people, choosing to label a particular subset as oppressors and another subset as ‘oppressees’ seems questionable.
    I’m not asking you to go through the quagmire of fallacious reasoning that allows people to *justify* why they believe reprehensible things are right. It doesn’t really matter what bullshit they tell themselves that helps them sleep at night — if you take away that bullshit you know they’ll just find some more lying around. What I do care about is finding causal links that explain how they were infected with such ideas, so that we can break/change/manage these links to prevent further spread through society.

    If you view privilege from only a single dimension, then what you’re saying makes sense. But with only a single dimension privilege can only be more or less and not different. If statistics were to show that the ratios of job success between white men and white women and the ratio between white men and black men, would you conclude that it was the *same* privilege allowing white men to out-succeed both groups? Or would you conclude that there are more than one type of privilege and the result was due to the projection of relative privilege vector on the “job success” axis having the same magnitude for both groups.

  137. Grewgills says

    #IX-103 various
    To put this more gently, understanding why groups of people feel certain, often awful ways, is valuable when trying to change societal attitudes. Not wanting all nerds or all socially awkward people tied to this asshole’s screed is understandable. That said, this guy that thinks arranged marriages are the cure for social awkwardness is so lacking in empathy that he is not reachable. He has professed to have read the literature and still can’t see even vaguely how women might feel. He can’t see that there are socially awkward, nerdy women who have all of his problems and more. Likely he doesn’t even see those women because he’s focused on the cheerleader, or whatever his fantasy woman is. He see’s them as superficial for ignoring him when he only wants them for superficial reasons. His lack of empathy and self reflection has earned all the shit coming his way. Trying to parse his words to justify his POV doesn’t help him or anyone else. He needs to be confronted on his bullshit and he needs to be confronted forcefully. Your attempted understanding would be much better served directed elsewhere.

  138. Grewgills says

    @IX-103 #163
    Privilege does exist on multiple axes, but certain axes matter more. In our society there is privilege for being white, male, wealthy, religious, catholic or protestant (bonus for having the ‘right’ religion), cis, tall, attractive, etc. The more of these groups you belong to the greater your privilege. That doesn’t make it a perfect flattened linear scale for the privilege olympics, but it should be reasonably comprehensible for people who care to think about it.
    The privilege of understanding privilege is, if you stretch the term, perhaps a mild form of privilege. The thing is, even if it is a mild privilege it is entirely inconsequential and easily correctable by the person lacking that ‘privilege’. Using the term for something so trivial diminishes its useful meaning. If half an hour of reading, or even a period of intensive study, can remove your lack of privilege then you can safely say it doesn’t really count.

  139. Brony, Social Justice Cenobite says

    @IX-103

    As for insults, I felt the intent behind this certainly qualifies:

    Yes that’s because you and he completly forgot to look at the woman’s side of the equation. That tells me a fucking lot about the both of you.

    Insult is a thing that has to be mutually agreed upon, insulting is wholly personal and are not insults if there is no mutual agreement.

    IX-103 you have a problem. You are responding to things you consider insulting as if they are insults. I went back up there and looked at the exchange that seems to have started this. I can see what they mean.

    You 89,

    @A.Noyd: #73, @zibble: #68

    I think people like Aaronson need to realize that they’re better off finding someone they really connect with, whose cues they can learn inside and out

    Considering the dude seems to believe an arranged marriage at a young age might have cured him of the woes of chronic postpubescent dry-dick, I’d say he’s about as far away from that realization as it’s possible to get.

    Why do you think his expression of a desire for an arranged marriage is all about the sex? Couldn’t he mean that he wants somone, anyone, to try to connect with him and that he feels so unconfident he needs to include the relatively high barrier of divorce to protect himself from rejection. It’s not that he doesn’t know that he needs to find someone and try to connect with them, it’s that he is frustrated by repeated failure to find someone. He has no access to appropriate opportunities to meet with eligible people and/or is socially inept enough that when he does meet them he fails completely and doesn’t know why. All he probably needs is a little coaching and more good opportunities to meet eligible people.

    You literally did not look at the woman’s side of this at all. Words have implications, you are right. But you can’t really demand that other people spell out things for you when you want to leave what you said about Giliell win 99 as an implication. Spell it out why is it an insult. When I look at the comment she was referring to you are quite literally not looking at the woman’s side at all. It’s all about the man.

    This is actually obvious when you read what you wrote.

  140. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    What I do care about is finding causal links that explain how they were infected with such ideas, so that we can break/change/manage these links to prevent further spread through society.

    What you care about it not important to us. You can wank all you want about such topics, but it is not up to us to discuss it simply because you want to, or to help you educate yourself. We can respond any way to your threadjacking we desire, including telling you to shut the fuck up and go away. Lose your ego/arrogance.

  141. A. Noyd says

    IX-103 (#163)

    What I do care about is finding causal links that explain how they were infected with such ideas, so that we can break/change/manage these links to prevent further spread through society.

    Says the fucking moron who didn’t bother to read all of what Aaronson wrote before accusing those of us who had of “reading too deeply into [his] words or actions” and failing to “reserv[e] judgement until enough facts are in.” I mean, it’s bad enough that you think bending over backwards to give an oppressor the benefit of the doubt and lecturing the oppressed about how we should do the same could ever hope to expose causal links behind bigotry, but you’re demonstrably not even interested in informing yourself about what the words, actions, or facts are to begin with!

    So take your worthless, empty, self-aggrandizing, patronizing “care” and shove it.

    Also, what would it take to get you to understand that you have no fucking clue what privilege is or how it works? You—like Aaronson—seem to assume you have a firm grasp of the concept and therefore can go ahead with more advanced conversations on the topic. Only, you don’t get it, so the result is this spew of word salad slathered with smugness dressing. What do we have to tell you to get you to realize you’re not ready to move beyond 101 level stuff yet?

  142. chigau (違う) says

    IX-103
    What I do care about is finding causal links that explain how they were infected with such ideas, so that we can break/change/manage these links to prevent further spread through society.
    I don’t think you have grasped the concept of ‘othering’.

  143. IX-103, the ■■■■ing idiot says

    @Brony #166
    You’re right. The dictionary says that it isn’t an insult if the person saying it believes it to be true, in which case it is probably criticism instead. Looking back, I can sort of see how someone could see how my focus on his situation as I saw it and not mentioning how this would affect whatever poor woman would end up being drafted were he to try to fulfill a realization of his wistful fantasy would leave me open for to criticism. It seems like a bit of a stretch to me, but if such an omission was seen as an implicit endorsement of the fate of said woman, the criticism is justified.
    @Giliell
    I apologize for accusing you of insulting me.

    @Grewgills 164-165
    Thanks, that was a helpful explanation. I still have not found where Aaronson proposes using arranged marriages to solve social awkwardness or states that no women have the problems he had. His dismissal of privilege, just shows that he doesn’t understand it. I clearly don’t know the background on the people involved as well as you guys do, and there may be comments I haven’t read where he does the things he is being criticized for so I’ll just shut up.

  144. says

    IX-103

    If I were to say he’s a monster, a subhuman, an [insert animal of choice], I would be othering him. I would be saying that he is a being who is incapable of acting like a responsible, adult human being, because he is not a responsible adult human being—and that, consequently, I should not not be expected to treat him as a responsible adult human being.

    If I say that as a responsible adult human being, he should be expected to know the moral difference between wishing he wasn’t socially inept so that he could meet woman, and wishing that a woman could be forced to endure his social ineptness so that he doesn’t have to make any effort to change, I am not othering him. I am saying that I want him to act like the responsible adult human being he no doubt claims to be.

  145. Brony, Social Justice Cenobite says

    @IX-103
    If you get to the point where the dictionary is just there to supplement your sense of how other people use words, that is ideal. Language is always evolving and the dictionary is merely descriptive of current usage.

  146. says

    zibble @68:

    I don’t think I’ve ever learned what consent looks like

    I find this bizarre. It’s like you were raised outside of society or something. Have you never been given permission from someone else to:
    enter their home…borrow their laptop…assist them with their groceries…use their cellphone…go on a date with them…buy you a drink because you’re short on money…join you for a dance…have sex with them? In each of those situations, your desire for a positive outcome depends on the consent of the other individual.

    Are you sure you’ve never learned what consent looks like? Because it’s a pretty important concept in a wide variety of situations where two or more human beings are involved.

  147. Grewgills says

    @IX-103
    His desire for an arranged marriage to solve his social awkwardness is where he proposed it as a method of using it to deal with social awkwardness. It doesn’t matter if it is a fantasy version of arranged marriage he saw in a cartoon* or any of the various real world forms, it is still a get around for consent.
    I was very socially awkward as a child and through most of my 20s. I replayed every meaningful conversation in my head over and over looking for what I did wrong. I was constantly worried about missteps and how dreadful the consequences would be. I never once in all of that time wished for someone to be in any way forced to be with me. I often wished that certain people would like and understand me. I often wished that I understood people better and was like the people that it seemed easy for. I wanted people to want to be with me, never for them to be required to be with me or for there to be any barriers for them to be away from me. It took a lot of work for me to learn how to pick up on those cues and to surprise of many who know me now I am still regularly uncertain. The turning point for me was a long vacation away from people I knew and was likely to know. When I knew the people I was around weren’t going to be around me in three months I stopped worrying how I would be judged in perpetuity for just being me. When I finally let go of that people became a lot less mysterious. I guess that is all a rather long winded way of saying that many of the barriers faced by many the socially awkward are of their own construction and it is their responsibility to learn to deal with them. If they chose to deal with their problem by making problems for others that is when my sympathy for them dries up. Any sympathy I may have had for a young Aaronson growing up awkward and nerdy dried up when he used his problem into an attack on people trying to solve a much larger problem.

    * BTW I think you should talk to some Asian people or do some more reading about arranged marriages in Japan and elsewhere. The few chaperoned get to know you dates are accompanied not only by the chaperones but by tremendous social pressure and are not consensual in a very meaningful way.

  148. David Marjanović says

    What the vertical gene transfer are the four squares supposed to mean?

    There’s a lot of cultural baggage conflating or substituting the drive for companionship with the drive for sex (particularly among men).

    That’s true and should get more attention. Men are expected to never, at any point in their lives, have a BFF, and we’re expected to lack any desire or ability for asexual snuggling.

    *Sidenote: My wife tends to call people “jerks” who cut her off in traffic. I tend to say that maybe they’re just distracted by sickness in the family or some other crisis and weren’t paying enough attention. This has caused disputes on countless occasions.

    Isn’t it the case that a lot more people cut her off in traffic than can reasonably be expected to have had any such crisis recently?

  149. IX-103, the ■■■■ing idiot says

    @Grewgills #174:

    His desire for an arranged marriage to solve his social awkwardness is where he proposed it as a method of using it to deal with social awkwardness.

    I’m sorry, I’m still having a little trouble finding something like that. The closest I can find is this sentence:

    In a different social context—for example, that of my great-grandparents in the shtetl—I would have gotten married at an early age and been completely fine.

    If you find more let me know. I searched the entire set of comments for “marriage” and “arrange” and couldn’t find anything that seemed related.

    If this is all there is, then I’m frankly having a hard time following the progression of though leading from this sentence to what you’re saying that he said. Perhaps someone can check my train of thought.
    I think we can readily pull two things from his post:
    1. He desires to be “completely fine”
    2. In a different context (such as that of his great-grandparents — which presumably had fiddlers and roofs and arranged marriages ) he would have been “completely fine”.
    I can’t say that these two statements show that he desires to live in that context, only that he believes that living in that context is a solution to that problem. If we could show the first, then a desire to live in that context *does* imply an acceptance of everything that would involve, and you would be justified in saying that he desired “an arranged marriage to solve his social awkwardness”, so I would be halfway there. Unfortunately showing the second does not imply that he finds that solution acceptable, so I’m stuck here.

    However even if I could get past that first step, I’m still having trouble following how “a desire for an arranged marriage to solve his social awkwardness” translates to “proposing the use of arranged marriages to solve social awkwardness”.
    People desire a lot of things (many of which are even mutually exclusive). Only a small amount of these desires make it through the “filters” to become actions. I have to take the fact that he didn’t fly off to a country that allows arranged marriages to get one or obtain a mail-order bride as evidence that such a desire (presuming it existed) was filtered out.

    I’m sorry, I just can’t get things to add up the way you say it does.

    *BTW – I agree with you about Japanese arranged marriages. I just said they sound nice from a superficial perspective. Most of the ones among the rich and influential are effectively “marriages of state” by another name. Things get a bit better as you move on to the less wealthy, but not much (but you’ve already turned down two wonderful men/women!).

  150. chigau (違う) says

    You could also watch Japanese TV dramas to get an insight into arranged marriages.
    I’m sure they are accurate depictions.

  151. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    However even if I could get past that first step, I’m still having trouble following how “a desire for an arranged marriage to solve his social awkwardness” translates to “proposing the use of arranged marriages to solve social awkwardness”.

    Then you aren’t understanding your own sentence. But that isn’t surprising. Typical of over opinionated asses who Vulcanize what is a simple concept.
    An arranged marriage is a fucktoy he doesn’t have to engage in a relationship in, relieving his social ackwardness, but can get his nuts off regularly.
    How stupid are you?

  152. Grewgills says

    To put it as plainly as possible, an arranged marriage fantasy is a rape fantasy by another name. Rationalize as much as you like, but that is what it is whether he thinks of it that way or not. It doesn’t matter if the victim is held to be his emotional crutch or for any other reason it is sick. There is no justifying it, period.

  153. kage says

    (@kage that post was made last year and the timestamp says 2014, so at best it could be the most inappropriate use of 2014).

    IQ-103, you make a point, I did not notice the time stamp. I am in Australia so this was posted in 2015 from my POV as we have the ‘privilege’ of seeing a new year before you. But don’t worry, I’m checking it.

  154. DrVanNostrand says

    At this point, I feel like IX-103 is failing the Turing test because no actual person could possibly be this dense. OK, no that’s not actually true. I just desperately wish that no real person could actually be this dense.

  155. says

    IX-103
    Well, thanks for the apology
    But…

    In a different context (such as that of his great-grandparents — which presumably had fiddlers and roofs and arranged marriages ) he would have been “completely fine”.
    I can’t say that these two statements show that he desires to live in that context, only that he believes that living in that context is a solution to that problem.

    You’re still not getting it. Because you’re still only looking at his perspective of the guy who’d been given a fucktoy.
    He desires to be “completely fine” without ever considering who’s paying the price.
    It is very possible that he’s not even fucking aware that in such a situation women were not asked for their consent because it didn’t matter. And your insistence of dancing around that point shows me that you’re not used to thinking about the victims of such a system as well. Here’s news to you: As a woman I’m not allowed to forget. As a woman everything I learn about history tells me where my place used to be.

  156. IX-103, the ■■■■ing idiot says

    Look, I get that arranged marriages are bad. I agree that they are bad and fantasies of arranged marriages certainly can be rape fantasies. My point is that I can’t find anywhere that he says arranged marriages are good. The closest I can come is “an arranged marriage would have made this one aspect of my life easier” (with the other effects that would have omitted). If you want judge people by what they haven’t said, feel free.
    Hell, I’ve already been judged as Islamaphobic because I chose to mention the practice of short term marriages to allow misogynistic creeps to get around adultery laws and *didn’t* mention the problem of widespread rape in India or something.

    Look, Scott Aaronson is obviously privileged as fuck, and despite all his reading he still doesn’t see it. Laura Penny rightfully takes him down by pointing out, in detail, the disadvantages women in comparable situations have that he doesn’t seem to realize or acknowledge.

    I see ignorance in his words, not misogyny. And I guess its alright if you think that makes me a bad person.

  157. says

    Well, I’ve already admitted that I am an idiot and possibly a fool as well.

    After admitting ignorance, you should have just shut up.

  158. says

    My point is that I can’t find anywhere that he says arranged marriages are good. The closest I can come is “an arranged marriage would have made this one aspect of my life easier”

    Well, yeah, that’s him saying an arranged marriage would have been good for him. That’s where he says arranged marriages are good. Why is that so hard for you to understand?

  159. Brony, Social Justice Cenobite says

    @ IX-103

    My point is that I can’t find anywhere that he says arranged marriages are good. The closest I can come is “an arranged marriage would have made this one aspect of my life easier” (with the other effects that would have omitted). If you want judge people by what they haven’t said, feel free.

    If something makes your life easier, one thinks of it as a good. I can’t see how it can be any other way.

    It’s also worth looking at his stated feelings about what he felt bad about to see why this is a general problem of perspective and privilege (which implicitly involves the structure of society).

    I was terrified that one of my female classmates would somehow find out that I sexually desired her, and that the instant she did, I would be scorned, laughed at, called a creep and a weirdo, maybe even expelled from school or sent to prison.

    Note that the primary motivating feeling was sexual desire. He mentioned it and it’s not controversial to think that he would mention the things most important to him in that context when he communicates. His primary motivator was getting off. You can’t be that way and expect a relationship to work. All relationships among equals are a social exchange which implicitly involves thinking about what the other person wants. A person’s language and behavior are indicators on how well they hold up their end of the exchange. If sex is above friendship and knowing someone as an individual in one’s motivations the chances of screwing things up are very high regardless of intentions.

    You can call that my personal psychological problem if you want, but it was strongly reinforced by everything I picked up from my environment: to take one example, the sexual-assault prevention workshops we had to attend regularly as undergrads, with their endless lists of all the forms of human interaction that “might be” sexual harassment or assault, and their refusal, ever, to specify anything that definitely wouldn’t be sexual harassment or assault. I left each of those workshops with enough fresh paranoia and self-hatred to last me through another year.

    ***Selfish emphasis just for fun. The “we” pretends everyone is like him, the “their” makes other people a burden. Not a single sign that he can see any harassment as bad, or that he can comprehend a single example of how harassment hurts people. One can not ask others to think about them if they continually refuse to include others in their thoughts and motivations. It’s a social exchange and as a man I want nothing to do with this selfish asshole.***

    His example is temporally reversed. This is impossible as stated. The early environment reinforced the later one. His attitude about the sexual assault prevention workshop was formed by something left unstated (so the “it’s not my fault” attitude is unsupported as it stands), but the way he uses his words tells us things.

    He “had to attend” the workshops, they were a burden to his pursuit of sexual pleasure (that was what he referred to).

    The “endless lists” of the forms harassment takes that are meant to enable one to form a filter to see harassment are painful to him.

    It was just so tiring to him that they would not give him a “this is never harassment” card so he does not have to think carefully about his behavior (because as the childhood games like “I’m not touching you” show nearly anything can be made into harassment in the right context, the action is a tool used by the society, the use of the tool is the point).

    The interpretations are very clear despite his complaints in those comments.

  160. A. Noyd says

    IX-103 (#183)

    I see ignorance in his words, not misogyny.

    Ignorance of what? Be reeeeeally fucking specific.

  161. IX-103, the ■■■■ing idiot says

    @Brony #189

    If something makes your life easier, one thinks of it as a good. I can’t see how it can be any other way.

    Then you are demonstrating an alarming lack any concern for other people. I for one *don’t* want to make my life easier if comes at the expense of others.
    Anyway, I said “made this one aspect of my life easier” which is not equivalent to “makes my life easier”.

    I have been following this blog a while because I usually enjoy following the discussion, but there comes the occasional post (particularly on feminism) where I completely can not follow where some of the comments are coming from. This is one of those posts. I was hoping to learn whatever it is I was missing. So far what I’ve seen is a demonstration of “If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men…”, with my questions about what I see as gaps answered by “it’s obvious/how can you be so dense” or responses that dismiss arguments other than the ones I’m making. I appreciate you providing all those examples and highlighting the words you think are important, but the only way I can even see how the examples I’ve been given might apply is if I were to *first* presume that that your conclusions about him (i.e. he does not act like the “responsible adult human being he no doubt claims to be”) are true.

  162. says

    IX-103, the ■■■■ing idiot #191:

    If something makes your life easier, one thinks of it as a good. I can’t see how it can be any other way.

    Then you are demonstrating an alarming lack any concern for other people. I for one *don’t* want to make my life easier if comes at the expense of others.

    Of course you don’t. Because you are aware that making one’s life easier at the expense of others is bad.

    Now consider the fact that he thinks an arranged marriage would make his life easier, but that this would happen at the expense of a woman being forced to marry him.

    If missing the extremely obvious point was a sport, I’m thinking you’d be an olympian athlete, old bean.

  163. smhll says

    I see ignorance in his words, not misogyny.

    Ignorance of what? Be reeeeeally fucking specific.

    Jumping in from the sidelines, I’d suggest that Aaronson is showing ignorance of the feelings of people who are not like him. I can sympathize, somewhat, with the anxiety he suffered, but I don’t want to give a pass for the like of sympathy he shows for others.

  164. Brony, Social Justice Cenobite says

    @ IX-103

    Then you are demonstrating an alarming lack any concern for other people. I for one *don’t* want to make my life easier if comes at the expense of others.
    Anyway…

    No anyways about it. If you make a point you need to be able to defend it. You added the “at the expense of other people” and connected it to me. You need to defend it’s inclusion. Especially with the effort that I am willing to make when demonstrating my conclusions about the words of others. This is a social exchange. I am determining if you are willing to trade equal value and effort.

    I said “made this one aspect of my life easier” which is not equivalent to “makes my life easier”.

    How is the difference relevant? An improvement of an aspect is still an improvement.

    …I completely can not follow where some of the comments are coming from.

    You have been told. The problem seems to be that you refuse to accept they way other people feel regardless of any disagreement. Cite a few observations and maybe I can help.

    So far what I’ve seen is a demonstration of “If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men…”, with my questions about what I see as gaps answered by “it’s obvious/how can you be so dense” or responses that dismiss arguments other than the ones I’m making.

    Cite an example of the bolded part.

    As for the it being obvious, when I read your comment with respect to insults it was obvious that the description being made of the text in question was accurate. When I read Aaronson’s comments I can also see what others are talking about. Now you being dense is an insult, but one that has accuracy given the fact that your words and your perception of your words did not seem to match up. This is not a blog where mere insults are considered problems.

    You will have to provide an example of arguments being dismissed or misrepresented.

    I appreciate you providing all those examples and highlighting the words you think are important, but the only way I can even see how the examples I’ve been given might apply is if I were to *first* presume that that your conclusions about him (i.e. he does not act like the “responsible adult human being he no doubt claims to be”) are true.

    Which specific conclusions, and why is the argument supporting the conclusion a problem? You need to do more than simply assert that I have problematic presumptions when a conclusion based on an argument is not a presumption at all. I respond to the evidence that people give me about themselves, including the evidence that you are giving me about yourself here. I have no reason to think that I am presuming anything until you point out the faulty observations that lead to the conclusions in question.

  165. A. Noyd says

    IX-103 (#191)

    I was hoping to learn whatever it is I was missing.

    You are not acting like someone who wants to learn. If you want to be educated, then stop trying to make arguments. Stop being combative in your ignorance and maybe you’ll be cured of it. Persisting in doing otherwise is a good sign you don’t actually want to figure this out—that you’d rather pretend you tried in order to make yourself feel more comfortable about denying concrete examples of misogyny.

    Also, answer my question. You say Aaronson is being ignorant not misogynistic. Well, spell out explicitly what he’s ignorant of.

  166. A. Noyd says

    I’m reminded of the time I tried to convince a guy that freezers cause cancer because freon is a carcinogen that gets into the food. Of course, I knew nothing at all about refrigeration or freon (or cancer). Turned out he was a former refrigerator repairman. He made it abundantly clear I had no fucking idea what I was talking about. That humiliation sure helped teach me not to build arguments on ignorance.

  167. says

    IX-103 @183:

    My point is that I can’t find anywhere that he says arranged marriages are good. The closest I can come is “an arranged marriage would have made this one aspect of my life easier” (with the other effects that would have omitted).

    I think you’re trying to split hairs here. No, he didn’t *literally* say arranged marriages are good, but it’s clear he thinks that if he’d had an arranged marriage, his life would have been a little better.
    As others have pointed out, such a hypothetical marriage wouldn’t have been good for the girl, but then he’s not concerned with the her in that scenario, which points to some misogyny on his part.
    You really seem desperate to not “get it”.

  168. smhll says

    As others have pointed out, such a hypothetical marriage wouldn’t have been good for the girl, but then he’s not concerned with the her in that scenario, which points to some misogyny on his part.

    Yes, if we look at Laurie Penny’s thoughtful article she has a very moving paragraph about what life would have been like for her if she was in the kind of arranged marriage in the shtetl that his grandparents had. (Which was the referent he gave for an arranged marriage on his blog.)

  169. says

    You say Aaronson is being ignorant not misogynistic.

    Which is, of course, not mutually exclusive.
    Being raised with lots of privilege makes you ignorant about the actual lives marginalized people suffer and highly susceptible for the bazillion stories that justify oppression. After all, you don’t want to think of yourself as part of the meanies (aka just world fallacy)

  170. Saad says

    Slavery would make the housework aspect of my life easier.

    Before you all jump on me, you can’t find anywhere that I have said slavery is good! The closest I have come is “slavery would make the housework aspect of my life easier” (with the other effects that would have omitted). If you want judge people by what they haven’t said, feel free.

  171. rq says

    Saad
    You know how I read that comment? My interpretation: “If I was an actual slave, doing the housework would make my life easier because I wouldn’t be allowed to do anything else.” And is more of a comment on my slovenly habits, really, but it also doesn’t necessarily say that slavery is good, right. So I have judged your comment by what you haven’t said, and found it wanting, or at least, found it still not saying a bunch of stuff. Do I pass?

  172. Saad says

    rq,

    Yes, you pass.

    As long as you don’t consider me intelligent enough to be fully aware of what else slavery entails other than my housework getting done…

    And don’t anyone just assume by slavery I mean the mean black people slavery and not the nice, exotic Japanese one.

  173. Grewgills says

    @IX-103

    I see ignorance in his words, not misogyny.

    The most charitable interpretation of his tirade I can think of is profound ignorance coupled with a startling lack of empathy. In my experience that is pretty much the cause of almost all bigotry. His ignorance and lack of empathy are why he’s a misogynist, not the reason he isn’t.

  174. rq says

    Saad
    Well, obviously maybe you meant the Medieval European fuedalistic kind. Or something. You know, there’s just so much meaning in your words, I can’t tell what you’re saying at all.

  175. A. Noyd says

    Giliell (#200)

    Which is, of course, not mutually exclusive.

    Shhhh. How am I supposed to lure the troll into my rhetorical trap if you all keep pointing directly at it?

  176. says

    IX-103
    How fucking dare you assume people are some bunch of Islamophobes who think of arranged marriage in one modern context. How fucking dare you assume nobody here knows or cares about what happened to people in the past. Screw you.

    You can weasel around as much as you want, but Aaronson’s wish for an arranged marriage – and he’s talking about the sort his own family used to have – makes it totally obvious he wanted a woman to be required to fuck him on demand. You’ve a shit-ton of privilege of your own if you can’t see that.

    David Marjanović @107

    * Guess why every single French king and emperor, starting with the very first, had at least one mistress, the one exception being the holy one (Louis IX).

    Nope. Louis XIII and Louis XVI didn’t. They’re not included on that list.

  177. IX-103, the ■■■■ing idiot says

    @Brony #195

    You added the “at the expense of other people” and connected it to me. You need to defend it’s inclusion.

    You’re right, perhaps I should explain. I interpreted your comment as the following:

    If something makes your life easier, one thinks of it as a good. I can’t see how it can be any other way. [emphasis mine]

    The making your life easier == good is only true for all cases if you ignore the effects that something has on other people, or in other words if you lack sympathy for others.

    It seems the crux of our disagreement is that I’m am not out of hand willing to presume a priori that Scott Aaronson lacks sympathy. If I assume that he lacks sympathy, then I can see through all of your examples how we can interpret his words the way you are and I can support your conclusion that he lacks the sympathy of a responsible human being.

  178. says

    It seems the crux of our disagreement is that I’m am not out of hand willing to presume a priori that Scott Aaronson lacks sympathy.

    Well, he obviously lacks enough empathy to think about what it would mean for the other person…
    You know, your intent doesn’t fucking matter to the person you’Re hurting. Reminding women of the “good old times” when they were rightless property and getting sympathy for no longer living in those times hurts women.

  179. says

    It seems the crux of our disagreement is that I’m am not out of hand willing to presume a priori that Scott Aaronson lacks sympathy.

    I’m not willing to assume that someone who fantasises about their life being made easier at the obvious expense of another, gives a damn about the person he’s fantasising about violating.

  180. Saad says

    IX-103, #210

    If I assume that he lacks sympathy, then I can see through all of your examples how we can interpret his words the way you are and I can support your conclusion that he lacks the sympathy of a responsible human being.

    Why would you have to assume that?

    Saying an arranged marriage would make things easy for him tells us that he’s disregarding what it means for the woman. In other words, lack of empathy.

  181. says

    IX-103 @210:

    The making your life easier == good is only true for all cases if you ignore the effects that something has on other people, or in other words if you lack sympathy for others.
    It seems the crux of our disagreement is that I’m am not out of hand willing to presume a priori that Scott Aaronson lacks sympathy. If I assume that he lacks sympathy, then I can see through all of your examples how we can interpret his words the way you are and I can support your conclusion that he lacks the sympathy of a responsible human being.

    No one is assuming anything. In his hypothetical musing of a better world for himself, he doesn’t bother to consider than an arranged marriage would not be a good thing for the woman in the scenario. He literally ignores the fact that a woman’s rights would be violated in his “this would make my life a little bit easier” scenario. He shows her no sympathy. No concern for how her rights would be infringed. It’s all about him and how HIS life would be better. And you continue to ignore this fact in your rush to defend Aaronson. I don’t know why you’re so invested in defending him, nor why you cannot see his words for what they are, but your continued denial doesn’t paint you in a good light.

  182. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    It seems the crux of our disagreement is that I’m am not out of hand willing to presume a priori that Scott Aaronson lacks sympathy.

    Yet you have shown no evidence that Scott has empathy for women. Your evidenceless presupposition has been firmly and consistently dismissed, so you need to back up your claim, or shut the fuck up.

  183. Grewgills says

    IX,
    Look at his tirade as a whole. If this were one small musing in that essay without anything else there to point to him lacking empathy then I could perhaps think it was just a bit of thoughtlessness, rather than another sign post. His whole tirade reeks of an ignorant boy lacking empathy. Several other examples showing this have been pointed out above and don’t need rehashing here. You are parsing one bit of several and focusing on it to defend him. You have already admitted that the essay as a whole paints him in a rather bad light. Read this bit in that context rather than separating it and trying to parse it to his benefit. I don’t know why you are going to such lengths. Are you personally invested in some way? Are you sea lioning? or do you just like to argue lost causes?

  184. A. Noyd says

    @IX-103 (#196)
    You say Aaronson is being ignorant, not misogynistic. Well, spell out explicitly what he’s ignorant of.

  185. says

    Arranged marriage making his life easier – coming from a man whining about how he couldn’t get TEH SECKS – means he expects to be getting sex on demand from his wife.

    Which in decent people’s terms means marital rape, because at no point does he seem to think she has any right of refusal.

    So yeah, fuck him and fuck his supporters.

  186. dissonant says

    With respect to Aaronson’s comment about having it easier in his great-grandparents’ social context: Where does the accusation that he’s referring to an arranged marriage come from? I thought that he’s referring to a social context in which family and community were routinely directly involved in bringing young people together, where everyone is expected to marry and family and community made it their business to help the process, which would make his early insecurity less of a handicap, and, by the way, where being a nerd (I mean, scholar) was celebrated.

    If it his comment really was assuming arranged marriage, in addition to failing to consider what this meant for the woman, he also did not show that he was aware the man wouldn’t usually have a choice either. (as the boy who became Louis XVI didn’t when he married Marie Antoinette at the age of 15)

    Aronson wrote one sentence referring to the shtetl; that he didn’t say what Penny later did doesn’t make him a misogynistic asshole. He was relating a thought from an earlier version of himself. Was it necessary that he demonstrate that either then, or now, he’s aware of all the implications of that context, especially for women?