"Entitlement, Nerds and Neanderthals"- today's Prime post etc.

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Post by The Wisp on Mon Jan 05, 2015 3:22 am

I hate it when men complain about some of the situations that women are advantaged and a feminist responds "actually, the reason men are disadvantaged here is because of all these bad things patriarchy does to women, so shut up and fight for women to be more equal and this problem men have will magically go away". Ummm, no. That might explain the origin of the problem, but women could well become more equal to men but maintain their own advantages out of tradition, cluelessness, or self interest. If people don't talk about this stuff as problems in themselves it won't change.
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Post by BasedBuzzed on Mon Jan 05, 2015 3:47 am

The Wisp wrote:I hate it when men complain about some of the situations that women are advantaged and a feminist responds "actually, the reason men are disadvantaged here is because of all these bad things patriarchy does to women, so shut up and fight for women to be more equal and this problem men have will magically go away". Ummm, no. That might explain the origin of the problem, but women could well become more equal to men but maintain their own advantages out of tradition, cluelessness, or self interest. If people don't talk about this stuff as problems in themselves it won't change.

You're probably going to love the article that's going to appear on DNL Prime today if the Twitter hints are any indication as to the content. In case you have some spare time, have a big helping of SSC in advance if you haven't read it already, and also read the comments from some interesting counterpoints to the position taken in the article: http://slatestarcodex.com/2015/01/01/untitled/

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Post by The Wisp on Mon Jan 05, 2015 3:55 am

BasedBuzzed wrote:
The Wisp wrote:I hate it when men complain about some of the situations that women are advantaged and a feminist responds "actually, the reason men are disadvantaged here is because of all these bad things patriarchy does to women, so shut up and fight for women to be more equal and this problem men have will magically go away". Ummm, no. That might explain the origin of the problem, but women could well become more equal to men but maintain their own advantages out of tradition, cluelessness, or self interest. If people don't talk about this stuff as problems in themselves it won't change.

You're probably going to love the article that's going to appear on DNL Prime today if the Twitter hints are any indication as to the content. In case you have some spare time, have a big helping of SSC in advance if you haven't read it already, and also read the comments from some interesting counterpoints to the position taken in the article: http://slatestarcodex.com/2015/01/01/untitled/

Well, we'll see about tomorrow then...

I discovered SSC about a month ago. I like his writings on politics and feminism a lot, though I'm skeptical of the whole Yudkowsky " rationalist movemtn" thing he embraces. Luckily he mostly eshews the bad parts of that stuff on his blog.

But yeah, the post you linked is good (though probably too long!).
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Post by BasedBuzzed on Mon Jan 05, 2015 4:13 am

The Wisp wrote:
BasedBuzzed wrote:
The Wisp wrote:I hate it when men complain about some of the situations that women are advantaged and a feminist responds "actually, the reason men are disadvantaged here is because of all these bad things patriarchy does to women, so shut up and fight for women to be more equal and this problem men have will magically go away". Ummm, no. That might explain the origin of the problem, but women could well become more equal to men but maintain their own advantages out of tradition, cluelessness, or self interest. If people don't talk about this stuff as problems in themselves it won't change.

You're probably going to love the article that's going to appear on DNL Prime today if the Twitter hints are any indication as to the content. In case you have some spare time, have a big helping of SSC in advance if you haven't read it already, and also read the comments from some interesting counterpoints to the position taken in the article: http://slatestarcodex.com/2015/01/01/untitled/

Well, we'll see about tomorrow then...

I discovered SSC about a month ago. I like his writings on politics and feminism a lot, though I'm skeptical of the whole Yudkowsky " rationalist movemtn" thing he embraces. Luckily he mostly eshews the bad parts of that stuff on his blog.

But yeah, the post you linked is good (though probably too long!).

LessWrong has good sections on cognitive bias and fallacies, which is mostly what Scott uses, and the transhumanist AI speculation seems mostly tongue-in-cheek.


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Post by Guest on Mon Jan 05, 2015 6:23 pm

BasedBuzzed wrote:You're probably going to love the article that's going to appear on DNL Prime today if the Twitter hints are any indication as to the content.

Boy, this was an omen if I ever heard one. Laughing

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Post by Werel on Mon Jan 05, 2015 7:30 pm

Wow, I went into that SSC article with a very great deal of skepticism but came out agreeing with a lot of his points. Then read the DNL article expecting to mostly agree with him, and found myself disagreeing with a whole lot of it. It's Bizarro Day (or Subverted Expectations Day, which is always a great thing for learning experiences).

If folks want to discuss today's article more in-depth on the forums (I'd certainly be interested), let the mods know and we'll split this to minimize Rants derailment!
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Post by nearly_takuan on Mon Jan 05, 2015 7:52 pm

Please do.

I initially didn't fully buy SSC's description of the "one-dimensional mode of privilege" and dismissed it as an overly broad generalization and strawman. Then I saw the original title of DNL's article.

Also, was previously unaware Alexander identified as asexual+heteroromantic. So that's interesting.
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Post by Guest on Mon Jan 05, 2015 7:56 pm

I fear any thread about it would just go in circles and very, very quickly become a game of 'who has it worse? I do!' but I'm game. Can't hurt (note: can hurt, but lets roll with it).

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Post by BasedBuzzed on Mon Jan 05, 2015 8:03 pm

+1 for spin-off thread, might take my hand at a fisking. Dat header pic(ridiculously crying dude with unkempt facial hair) is a hilariously terrible choice to kick off if you want to address the target audience in a sympathetic manner.

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Post by eselle28 on Mon Jan 05, 2015 8:53 pm

The Wisp wrote:I hate it when men complain about some of the situations that women are advantaged and a feminist responds "actually, the reason men are disadvantaged here is because of all these bad things patriarchy does to women, so shut up and fight for women to be more equal and this problem men have will magically go away". Ummm, no. That might explain the origin of the problem, but women could well become more equal to men but maintain their own advantages out of tradition, cluelessness, or self interest. If people don't talk about this stuff as problems in themselves it won't change.

Yeah, that's fair. Some behaviors have multiple justifications for continuing. There's less justification for men being the ones to propose than there used to be, for instance, but it's continued in large part due to tradition.

BasedBuzzed wrote:
You're probably going to love the article that's going to appear on DNL Prime today if the Twitter hints are any indication as to the content. In case you have some spare time, have a big helping of SSC in advance if you haven't read it already, and also read the comments from some interesting counterpoints to the position taken in the article: http://slatestarcodex.com/2015/01/01/untitled/

As I did on the prime site, I'm going to provide the background of Aaronson's post, which is being defended here. Aaronson isn't just a nerdy man complaining about his awful experiences being a nerdy man. He's a nerdy man who's complaining about his awful experiences being a nerdy man in the middle of a discussion about a 78-year-old professor at his university sexually harassing college students. I think Marcotte was overly harsh in response to his suffering, but I think it should be noted that Aaronson is himself expressing his suffering in a place and manner that's likely to cause harm to others.


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Post by Werel on Mon Jan 05, 2015 8:55 pm

<mod>Just cause it needs to be said: this is a topic that's likely to generate a lot of heated feelings, so here's your standard reminder to keep things respectful, productive, and within the forum guidelines. Specifically, please keep this bit in mind:

The Rules wrote:5. This is intended to be a feminist-friendly site. While this forum welcomes people with a range of experiences, opinions and beliefs, please do not expect that all viewpoints will be given equal space, or that every argument will be entertained. If you are not willing to approach discussions from the assumption that sexism and privilege are things that exist, or if you wish to see the existing Men’s Rights Movement being treated as equivalent to feminism, this is probably not the site for you.

Individual members do not, of course, have to share these beliefs or claim to do so, but everyone does have to accept that they do not need to be justified on this site; they are basic premises. Good-faith, specific, relevant questions or challenges are okay, but this site is not the battleground for whether sexism exists or whether feminism as a whole is a good or bad thing.

That said, have at it!</mod>
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Post by Caffeinated on Mon Jan 05, 2015 9:09 pm

When I read the Scott Alexander piece, one of the things that really stood out to me was this sentence:
Nerds are told that if they want to date girls, that makes them disgusting toxic blubberous monsters who are a walking offense to womankind.

That's a horrible message to receive. It's damaging and untrue and unkind. It's villainous. But what I kept looking for was who in the hell is saying that? Who is the villain? How can I have spent so much time thinking about, reading about, and discussing this stuff (in particular dating and relationship advice and feminism) and I don't remember ever coming across this statement before? I don't mean that I've never run across people who feel that way about themselves (people on this very forum seem to share the sentiment) but that I've never run across the people who are telling others to feel that way.

Another thing I noticed (um, I think it was somewhere in one of the comment sections) was someone talking about the vast minefield around romantic interest in women. As I do not have any romantic interest in women, I have never experienced that firsthand, and find it hard to comprehend.

Do those of you who do have a romantic interest women see the minefield? Have you been told (by someone outside your own jerkbrain) that said romantic interest makes you an offense to womankind?
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Post by nearly_takuan on Mon Jan 05, 2015 9:26 pm

This is going to move somewhat away from the primary discussion, but perhaps we'll find a way to tie it back in:

Caffeinated wrote:When I read the Scott Alexander piece, one of the things that really stood out to me was this sentence:
Nerds are told that if they want to date girls, that makes them disgusting toxic blubberous monsters who are a walking offense to womankind.

That's a horrible message to receive. It's damaging and untrue and unkind. It's villainous. But what I kept looking for was who in the hell is saying that? Who is the villain? How can I have spent so much time thinking about, reading about, and discussing this stuff (in particular dating and relationship advice and feminism) and I don't remember ever coming across this statement before? I don't mean that I've never run across people who feel that way about themselves (people on this very forum seem to share the sentiment) but that I've never run across the people who are telling others to feel that way.

At risk of repeating myself, I think it's worth noting that this always seems to come up in a passive voice. We are told or are taught things, even if we don't know who, or how, or when, or why. But the message came from somewhere, and it can't just be coincidence that it's always interpreted the same way. My first several guesses as to possible sources don't feel right to me, so I'm going to ponder this a bit more and see if I can't point out anything more helpful/informative.

Caffeinated wrote:Another thing I noticed (um, I think it was somewhere in one of the comment sections) was someone talking about the vast minefield around romantic interest in women. As I do not have any romantic interest in women, I have never experienced that firsthand, and find it hard to comprehend.

Do those of you who do have a romantic interest women see the minefield? Have you been told (by someone outside your own jerkbrain) that said romantic interest makes you an offense to womankind?

I don't know about womankind (though there does seem to be a pattern of conflating "one of group X" with "all of group X" even among those who belong to group X), but I've heard through various grapevines that at least some women were apparently offended by the idea that I was interested in them romantically or sexually, even when I really wasn't (though naturally, saying so after the fact only looks like posturing). And while the overwhelming majority of rejections I've experienced have been approximately graceful, naturally the ones that linger in memory are the ones that were downright insulting—and of course by now there are plenty of those.
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Post by eselle28 on Mon Jan 05, 2015 9:56 pm

nearly_takuan wrote:
At risk of repeating myself, I think it's worth noting that this always seems to come up in a passive voice. We are told or are taught things, even if we don't know who, or how, or when, or why. But the message came from somewhere, and it can't just be coincidence that it's always interpreted the same way. My first several guesses as to possible sources don't feel right to me, so I'm going to ponder this a bit more and see if I can't point out anything more helpful/informative.

I'm with you on that. It seems like enough men have gotten that message that it's worth figuring out where it comes from. It seems to mostly come up in discussions about topics that I would otherwise say have a lot of social value, like sexual harassment, but perhaps the original message comes from a source that could be eliminated or that needs to be presented to young people in a different way? If so, I'm certainly in favor of speaking out against whatever that source is.

I don't know about womankind (though there does seem to be a pattern of conflating "one of group X" with "all of group X" even among those who belong to group X), but I've heard through various grapevines that at least some women were apparently offended by the idea that I was interested in them romantically or sexually, even when I really wasn't (though naturally, saying so after the fact only looks like posturing). And while the overwhelming majority of rejections I've experienced have been approximately graceful, naturally the ones that linger in memory are the ones that were downright insulting—and of course by now there are plenty of those.

This applies to womankind as well, or at least to the segments of womankind who face the same kinds of social challenges nerdy men do. I still have to do a good bit of talking myself down from the, "Uh oh, is he going to be completely repulsed if the ugly fat chick smiles at him? I didn't smile at him, did I?" type thing before flirting with or approaching someone. I'm not sure if the extent to which men and women get the message differs.
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Post by BasedBuzzed on Mon Jan 05, 2015 10:06 pm

Sources for the most extreme sentiments are generally high school girls(though not exclusively them, the vocabulary usage that's being lamented here is pretty gendered in source in my own experience), assorted SA/SRS/Tumblr/Twitter shenanigans that go into suicide encouragement, Jezebel columnists of the Erin Gloria Ryan stripe, sometimes otherwise legit manosphere mockery that overshoots the mark and verges into classism/ableism/mockery of sexuality and some campus activist groups that turn into self-reinforcing toxboxes. Negative selection bias does the rest, pretty often aided by various disorders.

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Post by eselle28 on Mon Jan 05, 2015 10:11 pm

BasedBuzzed wrote:Sources for the most extreme sentiments are generally high school girls(though not exclusively them, the vocabulary usage that's being lamented here is pretty gendered in source in my own experience), assorted SA/SRS/Tumblr/Twitter shenanigans that go into suicide encouragement, Jezebel columnists of the Erin Gloria Ryan stripe, sometimes otherwise legit manosphere mockery that overshoots the mark and verges into classism/ableism/mockery of sexuality and some campus activist groups that turn into self-reinforcing toxboxes. Negative selection bias does the rest, pretty often aided by various disorders.

It seems like most of the men who are talking about these issues would have picked them up prior to Tumblr, Twitter, or Erin Gloria Ryan (man, I wish she'd move on to somewhere where I didn't have to read her stuff), though. So, there's high school girls. I'd certainly advocate for us teaching high school kids of all genders to be kinder toward each other. Is there anything else, the ur-desire-shaming?
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Post by Enail on Mon Jan 05, 2015 10:19 pm

eselle28 wrote:
I don't know about womankind (though there does seem to be a pattern of conflating "one of group X" with "all of group X" even among those who belong to group X), but I've heard through various grapevines that at least some women were apparently offended by the idea that I was interested in them romantically or sexually, even when I really wasn't (though naturally, saying so after the fact only looks like posturing). And while the overwhelming majority of rejections I've experienced have been approximately graceful, naturally the ones that linger in memory are the ones that were downright insulting—and of course by now there are plenty of those.

This applies to womankind as well, or at least to the segments of womankind who face the same kinds of social challenges nerdy men do. I still have to do a good bit of talking myself down from the, "Uh oh, is he going to be completely repulsed if the ugly fat chick smiles at him? I didn't smile at him, did I?" type thing before flirting with or approaching someone. I'm not sure if the extent to which men and women get the message differs.

I think it's pretty safe to say that a fair percentage of people of all genders get messages from their peers in pre-teen and teenage years that having or expressing romantic/sexual feelings for people, especially people of a different social rank or perceived to be more or less desirable than you, can be humiliating, insulting or risky.

But it sounds like at least some boys experience a different message as well, that it can be harmful to the object of one's interest or to women in general. I'd guess one place that message comes from is people (either the people giving the message or those receiving it) not distinguishing between appropriate/respectful expressions of interest and inappropriately timed, aggressive or rude ones, and that another part comes from people (ditto) not distinguishing between a man who has sexual/romantic interest AND respect/platonic interest in a friend or acquaintance and a man who has only sexual/romantic interest but no friendship/respect for someone (who it might be expected they do/should have friendship/respect for). 

Does this seem accurate? I'm sure I'm missing a lot; where else does the message come from?
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Post by nearly_takuan on Mon Jan 05, 2015 10:32 pm

Right, this might still be a bit incoherent, but:

1. It's all over the media. When a nerdy or nerdy-looking guy attempts to be romantically successful in a story, he's usually presented as either a joke or an underdog; either way, the assumption necessary to make the story make any sense at all is that his chances are automatically lower than those of his peers. Because he's a nerd. (This might be slowly becoming more of a discredited trope now that "nerd" is becoming a mainstream thing, but even my generation has already seen at least two decades of this being played totally straight, so there's a lot that's already been internalized.)

2. IRL, I would guess posturing actually does play a part; possibly embarrassed by what others might think, people amplify their negative reactions to things they think they're supposed to have negative reactions about. "I'm not terribly interested" becomes "what a horrifying idea".

3. Kids in general develop different social skills at different paces, and at any given moment in any given area are not necessarily level with their peers. So some kids have a weaker sense of consequences to others, what it's like to be on the receiving end of gossip, etc., and others have a weaker sense of self-worth, external judgment, and what motivates a person to commit unintentional cruelties.

4. Despite being shockingly inept at most other forms of logic, people tend to have a decent grasp of modus ponens, e.g.
I. Flirting with someone who doesn't want to be flirted with is creepy.
II. Women don't want nerds to flirt with them.
∴ Nerds who try to flirt with women are creepy.

The underlying assumptions are of course drawn from fallacies, biased observations, impressions from Big Media/Society, etc., but the structural argument itself is sound if you believe those assumptions.

I think what articles like SSC's are often trying to say is: many of us understand the first point, maybe even exaggerate it to ourselves a little too well. The stumbling block is the second statement, which we've also internalized beyond all reason, is definitely as much of a structural issue as any other form of prejudice (in the sense of root causes, not necessarily net effects), and often can't just be solved by Boostraps!ing through it.

Of course, efforts to weaken the first message are Not Good, and there's no great immediate solution for the second, and so 'round we go.

5. Enail's guess feels true: the "message" goes far beyond negative consequences to me (which us masculines like to convince ourselves we can always stoically shrug off), as the concern is not just that I will be mocked for my efforts but that they will somehow harm others.
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Post by Guest on Mon Jan 05, 2015 10:54 pm

I'll be blunt. I'm angry about this. If I'm being a dick, feel free to call me out. This is as much a vent in itself as a reply.

Also, PSA: I in no way am trying to imply my problems trump women's in general. This is just my story, after all. It'll be ranty and ravey.

But I'm also too slow to respond and everyone has moved ahead...

Enail wrote:Does this seem accurate? I'm sure I'm missing a lot; where else does the message come from?

It's pretty accurate. In my experience, my mother was no help. Men are by default stupid and their desires base according to her. That's not a very enthusiastic message to here when you start to realise you find women attractive.

Reactions to my looks (I'm too skinny, I'm too pale, I look sick) imply that I make people uncomfortable just by being there. I think most people on here, gender non-specific, would at least understand how that can form the idea that your very presence is a negative on those around you. It sounds delusion even repeating what I just typed in my head, but it's how I've reacted in turn to people's reactions to my looks.

You combine the above about looks with things from media - nerd guy being coded as creepy by default that puts women off even in the most neutral of situations, nerd guy being a sneaky, stalker bastard when it comes to crushes, nerd guy being inappropriate for the sake of humour because it means he's a fuckbag and we can laugh at him. This isn't unique to male nerds, however.

But you combine all this with the overarching concept that is discussed here, DNL, Tumblr, Twitter, every feminist site ever that masculinity is 'toxic' then, my God, how the hell am I expected to feel like my feelings are anything but abhorrent? I'm enough of a coward as it is, having the 'you are inherently flawed because you are male' then 'you are inherently creepy because you are a nerd' piled on top doesn't help. Being told 'build a bridge and get the fuck over it' doesn't help. Having simple shit like a male body positivity (a fucking rarity) post eviscerated and laughed at on Tumblr because it's about men doesn't help. Having an article on Jezebel about how the female editors and authors on the site used to beat the shit out of their male partners and have a cadre of commenters chiming in that 'oh I do it too and I feel sooooooo guilty!' doesn't fucking help. The problem with the negative shit coming from these places is that they are popular. It doesn't matter if the SOOPER SRS sites are being fair, critiquing fairly and being introspective because I'd love to see their traffic data. I'm sure people on here will know good ones to get traffic for. But these popular sites are where most people are going to get their fill on how awful men are.

It all reinforces the notion, in my head, that I should feel this way. I should be petrified. That if I somehow attain the lofty heights of being in a relationship with a woman, I deserve to be treated like shit because that's all I am.

Creepy. Nerdy. Shit.

The problem I see with responses to the SCC article and rebuttals to those that agree with are the automatic default to 'but feminism is trying to help!' Well, it's not doing particularly good job. It already treads dangerous water with the body shaming, but I don't think, as a movement, it's in any way malicious to 'male nerds'. I think it has, collectively, no idea how to handle them. It results in these defensive explosions due to comments like Aaronson (which I will point out, was dodgy to make in the circumstances he did but doesn't invalidate what he actually said - he's just like everyone in these issues and doesn't know when to pick their fucking battles).

Essentially, to try and put a little humour into this... feels bad man.


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Post by eselle28 on Mon Jan 05, 2015 11:07 pm

MapWater wrote:
The problem I see with responses to the SCC article and rebuttals to those that agree with are the automatic default to 'but feminism is trying to help!' Well, it's not doing particularly good job. It already treads dangerous water with the body shaming, but I don't think, as a movement, it's in any way malicious to 'male nerds'. I think it has, collectively, no idea how to handle them. It results in these defensive explosions due to comments like Aaronson (which I will point out, was dodgy to make in the circumstances he did but doesn't invalidate what he actually said - he's just like everyone in these issues and doesn't know when to pick their fucking battles).

Essentially, to try and put a little humour into this... feels bad man.


I think it's fair for men to want a movement of their own to deal with their issues. I also think it's perhaps counterproductive for women to say feminism solves those problems. Feminists, of various stripes, may end up being allies when it comes to some of them, but I think it's probably done both men and women a disservice to claim that women who are feminists can take up the banner for everything equally. Particularly when it comes to the nerdy men issue, I don't think that's ever going to come up in feminist spaces without nerdy women coming up, because a lot of the hurtful messages nerdy women have received have come from nerdy men, particularly the more frustrated dating rants about how women ought to make their dating choices. Perhaps the issues need to percolate on their own, among likeminded people, and then be held up as [fill in the name of the movement] ideals are when people who aren't quite identified as movementists view them.

I would say that I do think men with these frustrations have some responsibility to try to cultivate a nascent movement, or perhaps make a space for themselves within the existing men's movement, or to at least be held responsible when they don't pick their fucking battles. We are holding feminists to that standard in this discussion.
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Post by The Wisp on Mon Jan 05, 2015 11:14 pm

Great post, Mapwater. You're very articulate and I sympathize a great deal.

I think this is on topic, but does anybody else feel like DNL has, at least tonally, lost touch with the guys he's supposed to be talking to? I was reading a few of his older posts from 2012, and the tone is very different, even if the meat of the advice is similar. Even his more advice-y articles feel different, like they're targeted at a generic person rather than people like his younger self.

I felt like the conclusion to his most recent post really hit it home. "Build a fucking bridge and cross it" was... harsh, to say the least. It felt more targeted at the women reading the site as a rant than at me or the other guys. I mean, he started the piece saying he didn't want to pile on, but by the end it felt like he was joining an NFL Blitz 2000 dogpile.

His columns where he answers letters are still strong, though. I still like him on balance, or I wouldn't read him, obviously!
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Post by OneTrueGuest on Mon Jan 05, 2015 11:29 pm

I think, The Wisp, it is indeed possible his tone is changing. It is possible that after several years of saying essentially the same thing, and still seeing so many men utterly ignore his advice, talk about the exact same issues over and over as if they are particularly unique, claim that DNL just doesn't understand their particular unique situation - when a) he's writing a general advice blog and b) he likely has somewhere in the archives addressed that very situation - and lastly still make women out to be the enemy . . . well I think it's possible he is getting a little tired. He's watching his community, the community he has been a part of for so long, become angrier and angrier towards women. He's seeing a lot of hate. Maybe this means he should stop posting for a while, maybe he's doing more harm than good now. Maybe it's possible that readers are expecting too much out of him.

Ultimately though, you have to decide what you want to do. Instead of speculating his motives, you have to choose if you want to stick around. If you want to keep reading his blogs. You need to take charge. No one else can do it for you. And that goes for pretty much all areas of life.


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Post by celette482 on Mon Jan 05, 2015 11:30 pm

are you sure about his audience? Because he gets a lot of letters from women or gay men.
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Post by nearly_takuan on Mon Jan 05, 2015 11:36 pm

Yeah, we're not his audience any more than posh English folk were Swift's. His site's attracted a lot of decent people to it, so I still generally find it worth lurking in the comments and (obviously) posting in the forums, but I no longer see a point in trying to put his "advice" to practice.
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Post by Enail on Mon Jan 05, 2015 11:41 pm

I actually always found his tone pretty harsh, I think of the joking hyperbole and tough talking as a major part of his style.
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