More crap from The New Republic: ‘Male nerds think they’re victims because they have no clue what female nerds go through’

A few people have forwarded me MIT professor Scott Aaronson’s post about nerd trauma and male privilege .

It’s part of a larger discussion about sexism in STEM subjects, and its essence is simple. Aaronson’s position on feminism is supportive, but he can’t get entirely behind it because of his experiences growing up, which he details with painful honesty.

He describes how mathematics was an escape, for him, from the misery of growing up in a culture of toxic masculinity and extreme isolation—a misery which drove him to depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts. The key quote is this:

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 … 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. I spent my formative years—basically, from the age of 12 until my mid-20s—feeling not ‘entitled’, not ‘privileged’, but terrified.

I know them feels, Scott.

As a child and a teenager, I was shy, and nerdy, and had crippling anxiety. I was very clever and desperate for a boyfriend or, failing that, a fuck. I would have done anything for one of the boys I fancied to see me not as a sad little boffin freak but as a desirable creature, just for a second. I hated myself and had suicidal thoughts. I was extremely lonely, and felt ugly and unloveable. Eventually I developed severe anorexia and nearly died…

From the link about Aaronson, “I don’t know anything about what happened beyond the terse public announcements, but those who do know tell me that the charges were extremely serious, and that ‘this wasn’t a borderline case’.”

Indeed, from the quoted paragraph he sounds like an unhappy man. Then again, the writer of the TNR piece sounds like she had serious “issues” herself. Such people exist everywhere, in every walk of life.  Building an entire article around a sample size of two plus boilerplate leftist whining is not very convincing.

Comments are trending negative, but as with the piece complaining about the supposedly racist ballet “The Nutcracker” these may just be a reflection of older readers from before the sudden change in editorial direction.

As for myself, I always thought the Dilbert cartoons captured my work situation well: the cube farms, the endlessly annoying pointy-haired boss, the boring meetings with business fad talk and of course Catbert, the evil Human Resources Director.  It is exaggerated, but only to an extent. At work, many people had their favourite Dilbert cartoons tacked to the side of their cubes. 

I do not identify with the writer (although like the entire population, I had moments of unhappiness as a teen-ager) and I met no men like Aaronson is my career.  

  • When you put a prize on victim-hood – there are a lot of victims.

    • Frau Katze

      That’s for sure. I’m reading a book about that now.

  • Uncle_Waspy

    Dilbert was a brilliant comic.

    “We can’t give you a raise, Asok….because you’ll spend that extra money on crack cocaine and minibikes. You’ll ride off into the night and we’ll never see you again!”

  • Just a thought

    OK, OK, I’ll get you in to see the Wizard, ….and I’ll buy a subscription to New Republic.

  • Xavier

    Real life is natural selection every minute of every day. Each decision you make and the image you project makes a huge difference in your chances for success of breeding, of employment, of just staying alive.

    Get with the program. No one is going to help you.

    • Drunk_by_Noon

      I want to put your post on needlepoint and frame it on my wall, Xavier.

      • Frau Katze

        I didn’t notice till now, but the author is ridiculous Laurie Penny.

  • Pete_Brewster

    What’s the joke? They’re both whinging because the cute girls and boys of their self-abuse fantasies still don’t think they’re all that and a bag of chips?

    NOBODY is all that and a bag of chips. Least of all oneself. The humility required to realize that God owes you nothing but an express ticket to hell—and certainly not a girl with big bristols or a man with a big “benefit package”—and only by His grace do you stay alive at all is the beginning of maturity, not to say wisdom.

    If you want a wife or husband worth having, go away and come up with some reason why a woman or man need put up with you when you’re too old and weak to get out of bed—because that’s when you’ll need her or him the most. The bristols and the package won’t be much use when you’re ninety.

    • Frau Katze

      She’s got “First World Problems”.

  • DMB
  • Frau Katze

    More about Laurie Penny from her Wiki entry

    Penny’s blog, “Penny Red”, was launched in 2007[12] and was shortlisted for the Orwell Prize in 2010.[13] She began her career as a staff writer at One in Four magazine and then worked as a reporter and sub-editor for the socialist newspaper Morning Star. She has written columns and features for several publications,[14] and is a columnist for the New Statesman[15] and regular contributor to The Guardian.[16] Penny is the author of Meat Market: Female Flesh Under Capitalism (Zero Books, 2011) and Penny Red: Notes from a New Age of Dissent (Pluto Press, 2011).[3] In Meat Market she mounts an attack on liberal feminism, which she characterises as embracing the consumer choice offered by capitalism as the path to female emancipation.[17] Penny Red was shortlisted for the inaugural Bread and Roses Award for Radical Publishing in 2012.

  • kkruger71

    Funny, I was “nerdy” in high school in the classic sense (no sports teams, theatre classes, drama club, etc), but was neither unhappy nor a social pariah. I had friends in most social groups, dated hot girls, etc.
    I find nerd has replaced what punk was when I was young, a title a social tag to give yourself to try and explain away why people don’t like you. Heard it all the time from the punks when I was growing up, “People don’t like me because I’m a punk!”. “No, you chose to be a punk so you don’t have to face why people don’t like you”.

  • Minicapt

    Mz Penny often spends time and effort to develop situations where people will be induced to react offensively to her.