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

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Post by nearly_takuan on Wed Jan 14, 2015 4:51 pm

It leads me to believe I have a certain set of attributes that somehow sets me apart from the Normal group, and at minimum one element of that set is part of the basis of The Problem and must be changed in order to affect observed results. A control group is not possible. Guessing at random has thus far not produced observable effects. Whatever its true nature, that factor is by form and function equivalent to je ne sais quoi. And yes, these facts add up to either an impossible-to-solve problem or an improbable-to-solve problem, which is frustrating.

If there are indeed multiple things that need fixing, I still have no way of determining which things those are or how specifically to fix them or how to determine whether they are fixed until the rest are also fixed, and meanwhile the other essential working parts may degrade from neglect and wear and tear....

Meanwhile other people have either not had the problem to begin with or have solved it without making an inconceivably large number of guesses. They have not thought about the problem more than I have. They do not know more about the problem or its solution than I do. Many of them have made more known wrong moves than I have. Yet somehow they simply have the solution now, and I simply do not. That is frustrating. There is envy. There is also nothing concrete I can point to and blame everything on, which I point out not to try to argue whether Genetic Skin Condition or Unknown Invisible Factor is "worse" but to attempt to show, again, why from a less compassionate point of view "women" or "society" or "the world" seems as good a target as any for blame and anger that often seems to demand some kind of direction. (It can, of course, also be turned inward—but then one might still become envious of those who do not have to blame themselves for things they do not control.)
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Post by reboot on Wed Jan 14, 2015 5:06 pm

nearly_takuan wrote:It leads me to believe I have a certain set of attributes that somehow sets me apart from the Normal group, and at minimum one element of that set is part of the basis of The Problem and must be changed in order to affect observed results. A control group is not possible. Guessing at random has thus far not produced observable effects. Whatever its true nature, that factor is by form and function equivalent to je ne sais quoi. And yes, these facts add up to either an impossible-to-solve problem or an improbable-to-solve problem, which is frustrating.

If there are indeed multiple things that need fixing, I still have no way of determining which things those are or how specifically to fix them or how to determine whether they are fixed until the rest are also fixed, and meanwhile the other essential working parts may degrade from neglect and wear and tear....

Meanwhile other people have either not had the problem to begin with or have solved it without making an inconceivably large number of guesses. They have not thought about the problem more than I have. They do not know more about the problem or its solution than I do. Many of them have made more known wrong moves than I have. Yet somehow they simply have the solution now, and I simply do not. That is frustrating. There is envy. There is also nothing concrete I can point to and blame everything on, which I point out not to try to argue whether Genetic Skin Condition or Unknown Invisible Factor is "worse" but to attempt to show, again, why from a less compassionate point of view "women" or "society" or "the world" seems as good a target as any for blame and anger that often seems to demand some kind of direction. (It can, of course, also be turned inward—but then one might still become envious of those who do not have to blame themselves for things they do not control.)

NT, being asexual/hetero-romantic does (unfortunately) place you outside the "Normal" group when it comes to dating and relationships. The majority of women are allosexual/hetero-romantic and are seeking men who desire them on both a sexual and emotional level and display both of those desires to a greater or lesser degree depending on the woman. You do not feel sexual desire and you cannot and should not change that, but it does mean you lack something most other men have and that most women want.
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Post by kath on Wed Jan 14, 2015 7:34 pm

nearly_takuan wrote:It leads me to believe I have a certain set of attributes that somehow sets me apart from the Normal group, and at minimum one element of that set is part of the basis of The Problem and must be changed in order to affect observed results. A control group is not possible. Guessing at random has thus far not produced observable effects. Whatever its true nature, that factor is by form and function equivalent to je ne sais quoi. And yes, these facts add up to either an impossible-to-solve problem or an improbable-to-solve problem, which is frustrating.

If there are indeed multiple things that need fixing, I still have no way of determining which things those are or how specifically to fix them or how to determine whether they are fixed until the rest are also fixed, and meanwhile the other essential working parts may degrade from neglect and wear and tear....

My point was more that the root cause may, in fact, be singular in a given case, but different from case to case. So something that you would need to "fix" for one "case" to be successful could be, at the same time, a deal breaker for another case. In its fixed state, that is. That, of course, doesn't make things any easier. But I think if you are trying to look at it in the logical, overarching, comprehensive way you seem to be trying to look at it, your view would be incomplete without considering that one person's necessity is another person's dealbreaker. And maybe the reason I point that out is to suggest that an attempt at that kind of overarching, logical, comprehensive view may not be useful or possible.

nearly_takuan wrote:
Meanwhile other people have either not had the problem to begin with or have solved it without making an inconceivably large number of guesses. They have not thought about the problem more than I have. They do not know more about the problem or its solution than I do. Many of them have made more known wrong moves than I have. Yet somehow they simply have the solution now, and I simply do not. That is frustrating. There is envy. There is also nothing concrete I can point to and blame everything on, which I point out not to try to argue whether Genetic Skin Condition or Unknown Invisible Factor is "worse" but to attempt to show, again, why from a less compassionate point of view "women" or "society" or "the world" seems as good a target as any for blame and anger that often seems to demand some kind of direction. (It can, of course, also be turned inward—but then one might still become envious of those who do not have to blame themselves for things they do not control.)

That's true, and that sucks.

That doesn't make "women", "society" or "the world" actually good targets for any sort of blame and anger. Because there are other possible ways of dealing with that pain and anger than weaponizing it, outwardly or inwardly.

That's not always a choice, of course. But I'm not talking about how easy this is for you. I'm talking about what is actually required by the universe. And weaponizing blame and anger is not required by the laws of physics in this equation. Other ways to deal with these feelings exist. They may not be easy for you to access, but it's possible that trying to access them and deal with those feelings in other ways ay actually contribute somewhat to some of the solutions you're looking for.

And even if they didn't, you'd probably feel better. (which might not be helpful / something you haven't already heard)

ETA: It seems like because your frustration / badfeels are understandable, you think people shouldn't be like "Um, I don't think your attribution is accurate" or "OK, but 'the world' isn't responsible for anything much as something without agency, so spewing anger it is not going to get you much of anywhere" or "please stop hating on stuff that isn't actually responsible for any of this" and I disagree.


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Post by nearly_takuan on Wed Jan 14, 2015 7:40 pm

Agreed. And now to bring it back to the circle's beginning, how do you show people, whether they think like Aaronson or me or somewhere else or in between, how to find those alternate paths? How do you convince them to take them?

I'm not abdicating all responsibility for finding answers, mind. I just haven't got good ones right now. Stuff to ponder.
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Post by kath on Wed Jan 14, 2015 7:49 pm

One of the ways I work on it is thinking about it when I'm getting into those thought patterns (thinking about the thought patterns) and asking myself if they are useful / helping / making me feel better or worse.

What are others' strategies for dealing with those types of frustration and anger, even if it isn't about dating?
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Post by nearly_takuan on Wed Jan 14, 2015 7:55 pm

Sorry, I communicated something poorly, I think. My intent was to show that because the frustration comes from understandable and rational-seeming places, it is difficult to dispel the frustration and associated behaviors with mere rationality, especially when the rational reasoning presented seems abstract.
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Post by reboot on Wed Jan 14, 2015 7:56 pm

Honestly, that is not in my job description. I can outline alternate paths and their benefits but it is on the other person to take them. I am not their therapist and it is not on me to convince them. That is a heavy burden to carry and unless the person is a very close friend or family member, I am not going to invest that much time or feeling into their life choices.
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Post by nearly_takuan on Wed Jan 14, 2015 8:03 pm

That is fine. It is a form of outreach I might have an interest in doing if I knew how, and a decent goal for any budding "actually effective instead of douchey men's issues support group thing" to try to tackle. Otherwise we will only see more posts like Aaronson's, and I'd rather not have things like that get in the way of less stupid positions in gender discussions.
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Post by The Wisp on Wed Jan 14, 2015 8:35 pm

So, to bring up another aspect of Aaronson's post I was thinking about:

I wonder if the motivation for many guys to communicate about their dating troubles or loneliness or fear of women as structural issues comparable to women's issues is that they are crying out for their suffering to be recognized as legitimate, real, intense, and not something they chose. This may or may not be the case with Aaronson's post specifically, but in general I think there's a problem in our culture where we view suffering caused by structural or external issues to be more legitimate, more sympathetic, and more worthy of attention than personal issues. You see this attitude a bit in Chu's piece, where he ends it with saying shy lonely nerdy guys should be focusing on women's issues rather than their own. Might the culture be devaluing suffering that isn't easily caused by an abstract, universalist, societal moral failing (inequality, injustice, structural bias)? Social justice ideas are the zeitgeist, and they prioritize the societal and structural over the personal and the individual. Maybe many of the guys complaining about structural issues causing them to not get dates are doing so because they feel like people won't recognize it if they don't.



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Post by kath on Wed Jan 14, 2015 9:19 pm

Well, I don't see a lot of people denying that it feels bad. My impression is that men being lonely and that sucking gets a pretty decent amount of focus and understanding out there in the world. If you're mostly reading feminist spaces, maybe you see less of it because it doesn't fit the topic of the space ... but there are lots of DNL posts and ask-DNL things where his tone isn't as tough and he's spoken sympathetically (which was, in my opinion, because of the problematic parts of Aaronson's post - not because loneliness doesn't suck) and he's doing that.

I also felt that the reason Chu said we should focus on women's issues as a society is because of the degree of harm inflicted by society that society can do something about. There's not a ton (that I can think of) that society can do to make it hurt less to be alone. Talking about it more sympathetically would help I'm sure - particularly if there are clear voices which are both sympathetic that loneliness hurts, but do not advocate an entitled solution to the loneliness (IE, don't imply that it's society's obligation to make you not lonely, because the only way to structurally fix that problem is ... really not OK). But like other than that ... society can't fix those personal problems because they're personal. So discussing them as a cause isn't going to be effective.

I do think discussing alienation among young men (if that is as strong a social issue as it seems to be, without being a young man myself), and deconstructing toxic masculinity as we've been doing here, by both feminist and non-explicitly-feminist voices, would also be good. Maybe this also bleeds into the social support networks issue, because women of course also struggle with intense personal suffering and when it's not part of a social issue, I don't think I see it being treated as if it were (but I might just not have / be seeing it).
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Post by reboot on Thu Jan 15, 2015 12:55 am

nearly_takuan wrote:That is fine. It is a form of outreach I might have an interest in doing if I knew how, and a decent goal for any budding "actually effective instead of douchey men's issues support group thing" to try to tackle. Otherwise we will only see more posts like Aaronson's, and I'd rather not have things like that get in the way of less stupid positions in gender discussions.

And it is definitely a form of outreach that you would be more effective at than I would be, since I am an interested, but ultimately outside, observer of men's issues.
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Post by Guest on Thu Jan 15, 2015 5:45 am

@Mel: Touché. The second part of my post wasn't aimed at you actually, and it could've been less ambiguous. Apologies.

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Post by LadyIkaros on Thu Jan 15, 2015 1:47 pm

The Wisp wrote:So, to bring up another aspect of Aaronson's post I was thinking about:

I wonder if the motivation for many guys to communicate about their dating troubles or loneliness or fear of women as structural issues comparable to women's issues is that they are crying out for their suffering to be recognized as legitimate, real, intense, and not something they chose.

That's as maybe, but it has the opposite effect. If I compared my personal problems to racism (extra points for "how do you think it makes me feel as a white person, when you harp on about opression?") or the struggles of trans gender people, there's no way I wouldn't come off as whiny, entitled and all about me.





The Wisp wrote:This may or may not be the case with Aaronson's post specifically, but in general I think there's a problem in our culture where we view suffering caused by structural or external issues to be more legitimate, more sympathetic, and more worthy of attention than personal issues.




I'm sure you're right about that. Pretty much inevitable, I think, in a capitalist culture where the achieving individual is a central idea as is the idea/illusion that we live in a meritocracy: If you're structurally disadvantaged, well that's unfair and counter to the ideal that everyone has equal chances. If you're just having personal issues, tough luck and bootstraps, son.
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Post by azazel on Fri Jan 23, 2015 10:06 am

So I was sitting in a tram, and a kiddo and his mom entered the cabin. The mom instructed kiddo to sit down next to me, but he didn't wan't to.

"Oh", I thought, "I'll get up, kiddo can sit comfortably next to his mom, and I'll stand for two stops max."

So I get up, offer my seat to the mom, and observe a hint of anger in her gaze.
I assume it's because they were black and I am not and she thought I didn't want to sit next to a kid of colour. She took the seat though.

Reminds me of the time were I was cleaning up with a group, we had to stack up folding chairs and I made the mistake of holding my hands invitingly to a girl to take over her chair.
She "could do it herself thank you very much" *deathglare*, until I explained that the stack was getting so damn high I with my 190 cm (6ft 3 inches) could put it on top, but her with her 160 cm (5ft 3 inches) would have trouble.

Fun times, fun times.

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Post by kath on Fri Jan 23, 2015 11:59 am

azazel wrote:So I get up, offer my seat to the mom, and observe a hint of anger in her gaze.
I assume it's because they were black and I am not and she thought I didn't want to sit next to a kid of colour. She took the seat though.

You don't actually know that that's what was going through her mind. Maybe she was just cranky in general.

But even if it was (or if she thought you were inappropriately white knighting), I suspect that you, as a white dude, can handle some random, if impolite, mild crankiness from other people if they don't appreciate it when you try to give them help. She very likely has experienced that sort of glare for being out in public. You can shrug it off, know why you did it, and move out of the way and continue pondering whatever you were pondering (or reading whatever you were reading, or whatever). If you want to avoid giving the impression that you don't want to sit next to people of other races, you can decide not to give up your spot next time, or make a conscious effort to sit near people of other races when the public transit conveyance is not packed.


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Post by Caffeinated on Fri Jan 23, 2015 12:20 pm

azazel wrote:So I was sitting in a tram, and a kiddo and his mom entered the cabin. The mom instructed kiddo to sit down next to me, but he didn't wan't to.

"Oh", I thought, "I'll get up, kiddo can sit comfortably next to his mom, and I'll stand for two stops max."

So I get up, offer my seat to the mom, and observe a hint of anger in her gaze.
I assume it's because they were black and I am not and she thought I didn't want to sit next to a kid of colour. She took the seat though.

That was a good thing you did. But I agree with kath that there's a good chance the hint of anger might not have been what you thought it was. As a mom, I can tell you that being out in public with a kid who refuses to do what you tell them to do, and in front of a stranger who clearly noticed that kid being disobedient, can bring to the surface some negative feelings. Negative like angry at the kid for disobeying and embarrassed that it was in front of people. So I'd interpret it more as she was upset about that and less likely that she was upset at you. It can be hard to be a mom in public, and it really can feel like the whole world is judging your parenting skills all the time.
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Post by BasedBuzzed on Fri Jan 23, 2015 12:39 pm

The best logic bomb to this type of anxiety is realizing that the minority who sees everything as a micro-aggression and is ready to blow up and give you public grief for tiny slights is a discriminatory stereotype in and of itself.

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Post by reboot on Fri Jan 23, 2015 1:50 pm

Caffeinated wrote:
azazel wrote:So I was sitting in a tram, and a kiddo and his mom entered the cabin. The mom instructed kiddo to sit down next to me, but he didn't wan't to.

"Oh", I thought, "I'll get up, kiddo can sit comfortably next to his mom, and I'll stand for two stops max."

So I get up, offer my seat to the mom, and observe a hint of anger in her gaze.
I assume it's because they were black and I am not and she thought I didn't want to sit next to a kid of colour. She took the seat though.

That was a good thing you did. But I agree with kath that there's a good chance the hint of anger might not have been what you thought it was. As a mom, I can tell you that being out in public with a kid who refuses to do what you tell them to do, and in front of a stranger who clearly noticed that kid being disobedient, can bring to the surface some negative feelings. Negative like angry at the kid for disobeying and embarrassed that it was in front of people. So I'd interpret it more as she was upset about that and less likely that she was upset at you. It can be hard to be a mom in public, and it really can feel like the whole world is judging your parenting skills all the time.

I have to third this. Being with a misbehaving kid in public often results in a generalized death stare because you are trying not to flip your lid. Or at least that is what happens to my brother, SIL and I when the little monsters are publicly disobedient. $10 says she did not even really register you at all because she was so mad at the kid being disobedient.
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Post by Guest on Fri Jan 23, 2015 3:04 pm

Caffeinated wrote:
azazel wrote:So I was sitting in a tram, and a kiddo and his mom entered the cabin. The mom instructed kiddo to sit down next to me, but he didn't wan't to.

"Oh", I thought, "I'll get up, kiddo can sit comfortably next to his mom, and I'll stand for two stops max."

So I get up, offer my seat to the mom, and observe a hint of anger in her gaze.
I assume it's because they were black and I am not and she thought I didn't want to sit next to a kid of colour. She took the seat though.

That was a good thing you did. But I agree with kath that there's a good chance the hint of anger might not have been what you thought it was. As a mom, I can tell you that being out in public with a kid who refuses to do what you tell them to do, and in front of a stranger who clearly noticed that kid being disobedient, can bring to the surface some negative feelings. Negative like angry at the kid for disobeying and embarrassed that it was in front of people. So I'd interpret it more as she was upset about that and less likely that she was upset at you. It can be hard to be a mom in public, and it really can feel like the whole world is judging your parenting skills all the time.

Yeeeeees. My thinking was even more pointed: I might have been explicitly angry at azazel, in an irrational, "Damn it, my kid WANTED to sit next to me, and now you've validated his tantrum, and next time, he'll do this again because he things he'll get his way!" mood. Because as a parent, when those energies are high, sometimes there's literally nothing anyone can do that won't make things worse for someone.

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Post by LadyLuck on Sat Jan 24, 2015 5:19 am

Yeeeeees. My thinking was even more pointed: I might have been explicitly angry at azazel, in an irrational, "Damn it, my kid WANTED to sit next to me, and now you've validated his tantrum, and next time, he'll do this again because he things he'll get his way!" mood. Because as a parent, when those energies are high, sometimes there's literally nothing anyone can do that won't make things worse for someone.

This was honestly what I thought before az mentioned that they were black + possible race angle. It still rings as the more likely theory, since that's probably how my mother would've viewed the situation.

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Post by azazel on Sat Jan 24, 2015 8:50 pm

kath wrote:She very likely has experienced that sort of glare for being out in public.

Why are you presenting this as if it is news to me?

kath wrote:If you want to avoid giving the impression that you don't want to sit next to people of other races, you can decide not to give up your spot next time, or make a conscious effort to sit near people of other races when the public transit conveyance is not packed.

...

Are you advocating I should never give up my spot ever again, or that I should never give up my spot to PoC anymore? I can't really tell.

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Post by kath on Sun Jan 25, 2015 9:30 pm

azazel wrote:
kath wrote:She very likely has experienced that sort of glare for being out in public.

Why are you presenting this as if it is news to me?

Because you made a whole bunch of assumptions about what was going through her head and then made decisions about feeling put down by her without considering it, so it seemed reasonable to be like "well at least feeling like that puts you in company with her" as it seemed like something you hadn't thought about.

azazel wrote:
kath wrote:If you want to avoid giving the impression that you don't want to sit next to people of other races, you can decide not to give up your spot next time, or make a conscious effort to sit near people of other races when the public transit conveyance is not packed.

...

Are you advocating I should never give up my spot ever again, or that I should never give up my spot to PoC anymore? I can't really tell.

No, I'm suggesting don't give up your spot if you think there's a chance that someone might assume you don't want to sit next to a PoC (which could occur in many situations) because you gave up your spot, because that seems to distress you and cause you to make not particularly well-founded assumptions about what other people are thinking which seem to contribute badly to your interactions with people who are not privileged in the ways you are.

Or you could give up your spot in the same situation and just not worry about why she might have looked cranky, because you know you didn't give up your spot to avoid sitting next to her and her son. I also made that suggestion. It is the more reasonable one. But in case you wouldn't take it, I also made the other suggestion as a way to avoid those feelings. I got the impression you were disturbed or upset, because you made a very negative assumption about her thought processes.

Still, I'd like to point out -- and really I'm probably just confusing things more at this point, but still, this clarifies that if I were just suggesting never to give up your seat or to never give it up to people who aren't white, that wouldn't impact whether people had any reason to assume you were racist or not except in the very specific case of only one open space and two people of colour, who have a clear reason to stay together. Because, if you are not sitting by a non-white person, and there are no spots to sit, and a person of colour comes on who you'd have a reason to give your spot to, you're not any more or less likely to be sitting by a person of colour at the end of the interaction. Because you were (presumably, because if there were, there'd already be evidence that it doesn't bother you) not sitting by a non-white person, and then if the person you're giving up your seat for sits down and you stand up, you are still not sitting beside them (given that they are a person of colour). And if they aren't a person of colour, the only way I can see it making it look like you didn't want to sit next to a person of another race is if you were already sitting by one and got up to move somewhere else, and since you were already sitting by a person of colour, I don't think it would make you look racist. Just like a considerate guy. So however you got that impression ... no, that was not my suggestion.

Basically, the above paragraph shows by example why none of this makes any sense, which was my initial point.

The point is, give up your spot to be polite, and don't worry about it if you are being a nice person and someone looks somewhat cranky. You don't know why, you don't need to try to figure it out if you can tell you were not, in fact, being racist/sexist/mean. Them being perfectly polite at all times is not a requirement (and it's not a requirement of you either). You can just forget about it.
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Post by reboot on Sun Jan 25, 2015 11:00 pm

MOD

This has tangented quite a bit from the original topic. We can split it off into "when to give up your seat" in the off topic thread if continued analysis of this interaction is desired, but I request that the discussion here cease
/MOD
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