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Post by Lemminkainen on Tue Jan 06, 2015 3:45 pm

eselle28 wrote:
Lemminkainen wrote:
eselle28 wrote: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.

The problem with this argument is that Aaronson's point probably couldn't be made outside this context-- he's arguing that certain feminist interventions to stop sexual harassment are both a) ineffective, and b) actively harmful to people who have psychologies like his, to the point that the structural harm outweighs the positive value of the intervention.  (It seems pretty clear that both he and the other Scott A view nerdiness as something more like a disability or cluster of disabilities than like a subcultural affiliation).  I think that, as a general rule, people should be allowed to say "Yes, I know that [Bad Thing X] has happened, but the interventions you're proposing are probably not helpful and might be actively harmful on balance"-- because otherwise, we would have no way to contest the utility of policy proposals.  Making a more just society is a nontrivial problem, so dissenting voices are important for helping us to find the truth, particularly since measures advanced to protect the interests of one marginalized group can often wind up really hurting a different marginalized group.

Of course, we should, in turn, argue vigorously with these sorts of arguments if we disagree with them-- I think that there are some significant problems with parts of both Scotts' arguments, and problematic things in the rhetoric that they used.*  But Aaronson's experiences as a nerdy man are immediately relevant to his arguments about sexual harassment-related interventions-- they're not irrelevant, bad-faith or derailing, unless you consider any disagreement derailing.

*Issues that most immediately come to mind: I found Aaronson's nostalgia for Shetls and arranged marriages totally cringeworthy and clueless, and I found Alexander's comparison of anti-nerdism with anti-Semitism kind of a stretch and his description of Amanda Marcotte as a Vogon gratuitous.

Well, then I'll vigorously disagree. To the extent that affirming the sexuality of nerdy men means that college students will need to endure sexual harassment by elderly professors and everyone else will shrug it off, I'm okay with not affirming the sexuality of nerdy men. Being able to obtain an education and pursue a career are more important considerations than [edited to replace "people" with "men" - because it is men who benefit from this, while women who are shut out of education and career advancement because of harassment have less opportunity to choose the sexual and romantic partners they actually want] being able to pursue any potential romantic or sexual partner in any situation regardless of consequences.

So, I'm done with Aaronson then, and by extension, I'm also done with Alexander. If people want to approach the problem from some other angle, I'll consider those proposals.

I think that you (and celette, and reboot) are misunderstanding Aaronson' post because some aspects of it are similar to things which have made you angry in the past-- I'm pretty sure that he's not saying that sexual harrassment is good or that we should defend it, but that certain ways of trying to stop sexual harassment maybe aren't helpful and might have severe negative consequences-- and he wasn't advocating that women in the present day be allotted to men, just that people talk about sexual harassment in a way that's more compassionate to neurodiverse people-- basically, if you're advancing feminism, try to make sure that you're not doing it by ruining the lives of people with mental illnesses or different psychologies. I find it really frustrating and disappointing that all of you are ignoring the disability side of this issue, since it seems fairly obvious to me that the way that both Aaronson and Alexander understand "nerd-guy" has a disability component.

I also am not entirely sure that the way that you're weighting the costs is as clear-cut as you think. I've experienced not just harassment, but an actual sexual assault (which if I hadn't been very quick-thinking and lucky, could have easily turned into rape) from a professor who was a very close mentor of mine in a STEM field. I also suffered from years of romantic and sexual loneliness (which felt different and kind and more severe than. My years of loneliness weren't as long as Aaronson's, or as psychologically awful (I never considered chemical castration or suicide), but they made me quite a bit more miserable than the assault did. Of course, other people's experiences of this are going to be different-- I'm not a universally representative lonely person or assault survivor. I'm just putting my own experiences out there to suggest that in fact, the tradeoff isn't obvious.

@Marty: When you ask "Wait... what exactly is going on here that chemical castration is the choice instead of just, acceptance at the idea of being single??", there are a couple of answers that seem pretty obvious to me:

1: Mental illness, which everybody hating on Aaronson here seems to be studiously ignoring.

2: Some people have high sex or romance drives which can't be fulfilled with masturbation and which make them miserable if they're unfulfilled-- sometimes, the misery of being single is actually just about sex or romantic love specifically (during my lonely periods, I had close friends, but it didn't help with this issue). If you combine that with a belief that say, hiring prostitutes is morally wrong (which, given the other beliefs he held, I suspect that the young Scott Aaronson had), feeling terrified to approach for ethical reasons is a really unpleasant time. I know that if I thought I would never be able to have sex again, I probably would kill myself. If you don't have a drive like that, it can be hard to understand, but those sorts of feelings are a very real part of my experience and probably other people's as well. People emphasize rejection in dating/sex because it constitutes a unique and distinctive sphere of misery for them, which they continued to experience even though they had friends. If you don't have that kind of psychology and say "Well, I was lonely for a while and I just sucked it up/sought homosocial relationships. Why can't you just do that?", you need to check your not-having-a-pathological-need-for-sex privilege. (I'm not trying to assert that this is gendered here-- I imagine that there are women who experience the same sort of misery-for-not-having-sex, but they express it less often because it's less socially acceptable for them to do so, and they're more likely to be pathologized for it-- which really sucks).


Which leads me to another question: say you're a member of a group who suffer romantically for what appear to be somewhat structural reasons, and your suffering wouldn't be alleviated by anything other than sex or romance. Are there ways in which you could dissatisfaction with that and propose solutions which wouldn't trigger the "You believe that [members of group that you're attracted to] owe you sex!" response? (Which I find particularly puzzling here because neither of the authors that people in this thread are attacking said anything which implies that). Would proposed social solutions like these be acceptable and not suggest entitlement-to-sex?:

Making social and romantic skill training a firmer part of schooling, or at least a remedial option for students (of all genders) who need it. (I think it would be especially awesome if this combined "How to make friends/find romantic partners" with "How to be a kind and compassionate friend/romantic partner.")

Accompanying discussions of inappropriate places for sexual or romantic approaches with discussions of clearly appropriate places to sexually and romantically approach others? (ie: "Approaching in ways A, B, and C will likely freak other people out and make them feel unhappy, so don't do it, but approaching in ways X, Y, and Z will be neutral at worst and welcome at best in almost all cases). (This also doesn't need to be gendered!)

De-stigmatizing sex workers and their clients, making sex work legal, and doing more things to make sex work safer (both physically and socially) for everybody involved.

Asking social scientists to study romantic behavior and romancelessness in various social groups and compile the results of their research to offer scientifically-grounded but ethical advice for getting laid. (Pick-up artists claim to be engaged in this sort of empirical research program, but they don't care about lonely women and their methodologies, sampling, and ethics are all pretty dubious).


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Post by Gentleman Johnny on Tue Jan 06, 2015 3:54 pm

BasedBuzzed wrote:
Compare 2011-12 Doc with 2015 Doc: more controversies in the news used as illustrations of a toxic mentality,

Part of that, no small part is that those illustrations have become much more public in the geekophere in the last few years. Look at cons with sexual harassment policies and Cosplay!=Consent. Mind you, its also that once you've covered 101 and 201, it makes more sense to provide examples and link back than to rewrite the same article.

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Post by eselle28 on Tue Jan 06, 2015 3:59 pm

Lemminkainen wrote:
I think that you (and celette, and reboot) are misunderstanding Aaronson' post because some aspects of it are similar to things which have made you angry in the past-- I'm pretty sure that he's not saying that sexual harrassment is good or that we should defend it, but that certain ways of trying to stop sexual harassment maybe aren't helpful and might have severe negative consequences-- and he wasn't advocating that women in the present day be allotted to men, just that people talk about sexual harassment in a way that's more compassionate to neurodiverse people-- basically, if you're advancing feminism, try to make sure that you're not doing it by ruining the lives of people with mental illnesses or different psychologies.  I find it really frustrating and disappointing that all of you are ignoring the disability side of this issue, since it seems fairly obvious to me that the way that both Aaronson and Alexander understand "nerd-guy" has a disability component.

I also am not entirely sure that the way that you're weighting the costs is as clear-cut as you think.  I've experienced not just harassment, but an actual sexual assault (which if I hadn't been very quick-thinking and lucky, could have easily turned into rape) from a professor who was a very close mentor of mine in a STEM field.  I also suffered from years of romantic and sexual loneliness (which felt different and kind and more severe than.  My years of loneliness weren't as long as Aaronson's, or as psychologically awful (I never considered chemical castration or suicide), but they made me quite a bit more miserable than the assault did.  Of course, other people's experiences of this are going to be different-- I'm not a universally representative lonely person or assault survivor.  I'm just putting my own experiences out there to suggest that in fact, the tradeoff isn't obvious.

I find your response to be very condescending, and it makes me blindingly angry. I've allowed you to have your opinion. I would ask that you respect that I may have understood Aaronson's post, taken it for what it is rather than conflating it with past experiences, and weighed the costs in a way that I think is appropriate - and still have come to a conclusion that differs from yours. I will need a little time to address the other components of it in a calm manner that's within moderation guidelines.

I will note that I have been both sexually harassed and raped, and I have experienced long term romantic and sexual loneliness. I can't even say which was worse, because the fact that I was sexually harassed and sexually assaulted isn't a separate thing from my loneliness or my struggles to find a partner. It's one of the causes of the problem rather than competition against it. I would note that I'm also a member of a gender that's been systemically prevented from pursuing certain occupations or reaching certain points of professional success, and that sexual harassment has historically been one of the reasons women have been prevented or discouraged from pursuing those avenues.
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Post by celette482 on Tue Jan 06, 2015 4:19 pm

I'm straight up insulted and thinking things that would not fit the moderation guidelines.

Being assaulted *caused* mental illness in me. It's called PTSD. So yeah, I'm well aware of the intersectionality there and basically dismiss it as being irrelevant.
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Post by eselle28 on Tue Jan 06, 2015 4:21 pm

After having taken a few deep breaths and having completely reread Aaronson's post, as well as his previous and subsequent ones, I would like to feature a few quotes from him:

I shared my story for a few reasons: to remind people that “privilege” is not a one-way street; to point out that, if universities are going to make administrative decisions on the basis of not causing psychological trauma, then they ought to consider everyone’s trauma, not just certain kinds with activists and task forces calling attention to them; and finally, to explain why punishing sexual harassment without revealing the details (to show people how bad it was) could have unintended negative effects on male nerds. If people agree about those points, then I’ve accomplished what I wanted.

Gil #243:

The rule in US universities is very simple and very clear: A professor should not approach romantically or sexually a student.
Actually, that rule seems anything but simple. The professor’s own current student, of course not. But what about a student in another group or department, over whom the professor has no power? A student at a different university? An ex-student of the professor’s? A postdoc (i.e., a “student++”)? A postdoc at a different university? If the rule applied to all those cases, then one ought to dissolve the marriages of a good fraction of all the academic couples I know about, including mine and Dana’s.

Regarding verbal communication: yes, you’re right, maybe the world will be better if we can all move to a social norm of explicit verbal consent for everything (“May I kiss you?” “May I now touch your breast?”) I guess there are just two issues to consider:

First, verbal communication can still be terrifying for shy, nerdy males (“May I kiss you?” “No, you creep!”). In general, the only actions that won’t, in some males, create paralyzing fears of breaking the rules of a feminist society, are those that are ineffective at conveying sexual interest. The problem runs deep; it’s not just a matter of protocol.

Second, I worry that an affirmative-consent regime like California’s will create perverse incentives, in which women reward bold men specifically for defying the regime, damn the consequences. If that happens, then we’re back to where we were before.

Sniffnoy #277: Thanks for that comment, which I think contains a great deal of insight. In all of my comments, I regarded it as too obvious even to state that “shy, nerdy males,” as I was using the term, are not people who can ever form the intention to rape, sexually assault, or harass anyone—i.e., if someone is a sexual predator, then we definitionally expel him from the brotherhood of shy male nerds. The problem of the shy male nerd is: “how do I clearly communicate sexual or romantic interest to a woman, yet still remain an enlightened, decent, civilized feminist, as perceived both by myself and by others?”

Regarding the pay gap: unfortunately, one of the pillars propping up the whole rotten edifice of “privilege,” “patriarchy,” “rape-culture,” etc.—i.e., the stuff that makes many enlightened, liberal feminists no longer want to identify as “feminists”—is the use of bogus studies and statistics, or the willful mischaracterization of legitimate studies. For a brief overview, see Christina Hoff Sommers’ 5 Feminist Myths That Will Not Die.

Amy #334: I fear this is my “male bias” speaking, but surely you can see the problem. Activists have been telling the world that there’s a rape epidemic, that we live in a rape culture, that rape is a mundane yet horrible reality for millions of women.

So then any decent male asks: what can we do to solve the problem?

Harsher prison sentences? No, this isn’t about prison and punishments; that’s a male obsession.

More aggressive prosecution? Err … that’s complicated, because of how traumatic it is for victims to press charges.

OK then, how about addressing the role of alcohol? Teaching women about dangerous situations to avoid? ABSOLUTELY NOT! That’s victim-blaming!

But then at some point the question becomes: what’s our goal here? Is it just making all males feel guilty about their complicity in “rape culture” (with the guilt, of course, falling disproportionately on the shy, nerdy males who pose the least threat, but upon whom such guilt will gnaw like soul-destroying acid)—or is it taking real steps to end rape?

FWIW, I’ve always thought future generations would look back with incomprehension and disgust at the way we set up the incentives for career women to delay having babies until they’re at the absolute upper end of their fertility, and not only require expensive fertility treatments, but have dramatically-increased risk of Down’s-syndrome babies and a million other pregnancy complications. A sane social norm would encourage each woman to have whatever number of babies she wants to while she’s at her peak fertility, and put her career advancement on hold (if need be) until she’s ready to pick up just where she left off.

Shmi #523: As I said, I think organizations are completely within their rights to ban romantic relationships that represent conflicts of interest (or better: reassign one or both partners whenever such a relationship arises). Beyond that, though, I’m skeptical of the entire concept of “power-differential dating.” For the concept seems to admit the reality only of certain kinds of power, while ignoring other kinds. (E.g., imagine an older man lavishing money and presents on a younger woman, begging her not to leave him. Is it obvious how to apportion the ‘power’ between the two?)



To me, this is not a man who fully supports ending sexual harassment but who has some objections to the specific ways in which people attempt to teach others about it. This is a man who's not very on board with the concept of enthusiastic consent, who apologizes for relationships between students and academic authority figures (and apparently was involved in one), who's at least implying that the way to prevent rape is by advising women to drink less, and who isn't even willing to admit that a member of his group of "shy, nerdy men" might ever harass or rape anyone. To the extent that nerdy men feel discriminated against based on a disability, I do not think this particular man's voice is a very helpful addition to the conversation.


Last edited by eselle28 on Tue Jan 06, 2015 4:32 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Post by celette482 on Tue Jan 06, 2015 4:25 pm

Caffeinated wrote:
I think a lot of people have the idea that sexual harassment isn't real, or doesn't happen much any more, or isn't that serious. So when he says that those who know what happened say that the charges were extremely serious and not a borderline case, I think it could have provided an opportunity for people who brush off the idea of sexual harassment to see what it really is instead of continuing with their made-up versions that always seem to end in aggrieved questions like "So I can never say hi to anyone anymore? Is that what you're saying?"

I think if the discussion had been about the reality and seriousness of sexual harassment, it would have been an appropriate circumstance to have that discussion. But of course, that wasn't the main point of Aaronson's blog post.

Definitely a thing worth unpacking. I'm going to posit two ideas:

1. Nerds of all stripes like reasons, but reasons do us no good in this realm. As if, with enough evidence, the other side will finally *understand.* But some times, subjective things, can't be proven. I can't give my boyfriend all the reasons I want to break up, because really it's just a feeling. That doesn't mean my breaking up shouldn't be acknowledged and respected. People are blindingly capable of ignoring any individual evidence that doesn't fit into their theory and no amount of "This happened to me and to my friend and to my sister and to her friend" etc etc etc can convince a person who has already decided such a thing is either non-existent or exaggerated. Either you are willing to accept someone else's subjective reality as a fact (the fact being that they have this reality) or you are not.

2. Being sexually harassed or assaulted carries shame for the victim and any increase in publicity (even if they leave out names, to give specific examples would be more of a threat to the victims' anonymity than generalized "it was bad") will lead to more silence from victims. Silence does not mean that the harassment has stopped and even increases the likelihood that the harassment will continue.

In light of these suppositions, I further theorize that giving out details of the harassment would do precisely no good and an not insubstantial amount of harm.
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Post by Caffeinated on Tue Jan 06, 2015 4:45 pm

celette482 wrote:
Caffeinated wrote:
I think a lot of people have the idea that sexual harassment isn't real, or doesn't happen much any more, or isn't that serious. So when he says that those who know what happened say that the charges were extremely serious and not a borderline case, I think it could have provided an opportunity for people who brush off the idea of sexual harassment to see what it really is instead of continuing with their made-up versions that always seem to end in aggrieved questions like "So I can never say hi to anyone anymore? Is that what you're saying?"

I think if the discussion had been about the reality and seriousness of sexual harassment, it would have been an appropriate circumstance to have that discussion. But of course, that wasn't the main point of Aaronson's blog post.

Definitely a thing worth unpacking. I'm going to posit two ideas:

1. Nerds of all stripes like reasons, but reasons do us no good in this realm. As if, with enough evidence, the other side will finally *understand.* But some times, subjective things, can't be proven. I can't give my boyfriend all the reasons I want to break up, because really it's just a feeling. That doesn't mean my breaking up shouldn't be acknowledged and respected. People are blindingly capable of ignoring any individual evidence that doesn't fit into their theory and no amount of "This happened to me and to my friend and to my sister and to her friend" etc etc etc can convince a person who has already decided such a thing is either non-existent or exaggerated. Either you are willing to accept someone else's subjective reality as a fact (the fact being that they have this reality) or you are not.

2. Being sexually harassed or assaulted carries shame for the victim and any increase in publicity (even if they leave out names, to give specific examples would be more of a threat to the victims' anonymity than generalized "it was bad") will lead to more silence from victims. Silence does not mean that the harassment has stopped and even increases the likelihood that the harassment will continue.

In light of these suppositions, I further theorize that giving out details of the harassment would do precisely no good and an not insubstantial amount of harm.

Re: 1. That is depressingly true. I know I often find myself thinking that just one more example, explained in just the right way, will finally make something clear. But, as you say, people can and will ignore evidence.

Re: 2. Good point. I was unquestioningly going with the idea that the details could be reported without revealing the victims' identities. But even then, just knowing the story was out there could increase shame. Interestingly, I remember a post somewhere (maybe it was on Slatestarcodex? maybe somewhere else?) saying how awful ElevatorGate was for the guy who made the pass, even though Rebecca Watson didn't use his name. Just having the story out there on the internet being talked about was supposed to be a terrible thing to live with, unnamed or not.
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Post by Caffeinated on Tue Jan 06, 2015 4:50 pm

eselle28 wrote:After having taken a few deep breaths and having completely reread Aaronson's post, as well as his previous and subsequent ones, I would like to feature a few quotes from him:

I shared my story for a few reasons: to remind people that “privilege” is not a one-way street; to point out that, if universities are going to make administrative decisions on the basis of not causing psychological trauma, then they ought to consider everyone’s trauma, not just certain kinds with activists and task forces calling attention to them; and finally, to explain why punishing sexual harassment without revealing the details (to show people how bad it was) could have unintended negative effects on male nerds. If people agree about those points, then I’ve accomplished what I wanted.

Gil #243:

The rule in US universities is very simple and very clear: A professor should not approach romantically or sexually a student.
Actually, that rule seems anything but simple. The professor’s own current student, of course not. But what about a student in another group or department, over whom the professor has no power? A student at a different university? An ex-student of the professor’s? A postdoc (i.e., a “student++”)? A postdoc at a different university? If the rule applied to all those cases, then one ought to dissolve the marriages of a good fraction of all the academic couples I know about, including mine and Dana’s.

Regarding verbal communication: yes, you’re right, maybe the world will be better if we can all move to a social norm of explicit verbal consent for everything (“May I kiss you?” “May I now touch your breast?”) I guess there are just two issues to consider:

First, verbal communication can still be terrifying for shy, nerdy males (“May I kiss you?” “No, you creep!”). In general, the only actions that won’t, in some males, create paralyzing fears of breaking the rules of a feminist society, are those that are ineffective at conveying sexual interest. The problem runs deep; it’s not just a matter of protocol.

Second, I worry that an affirmative-consent regime like California’s will create perverse incentives, in which women reward bold men specifically for defying the regime, damn the consequences. If that happens, then we’re back to where we were before.

Sniffnoy #277: Thanks for that comment, which I think contains a great deal of insight. In all of my comments, I regarded it as too obvious even to state that “shy, nerdy males,” as I was using the term, are not people who can ever form the intention to rape, sexually assault, or harass anyone—i.e., if someone is a sexual predator, then we definitionally expel him from the brotherhood of shy male nerds. The problem of the shy male nerd is: “how do I clearly communicate sexual or romantic interest to a woman, yet still remain an enlightened, decent, civilized feminist, as perceived both by myself and by others?”

Regarding the pay gap: unfortunately, one of the pillars propping up the whole rotten edifice of “privilege,” “patriarchy,” “rape-culture,” etc.—i.e., the stuff that makes many enlightened, liberal feminists no longer want to identify as “feminists”—is the use of bogus studies and statistics, or the willful mischaracterization of legitimate studies. For a brief overview, see Christina Hoff Sommers’ 5 Feminist Myths That Will Not Die.

Amy #334: I fear this is my “male bias” speaking, but surely you can see the problem. Activists have been telling the world that there’s a rape epidemic, that we live in a rape culture, that rape is a mundane yet horrible reality for millions of women.

So then any decent male asks: what can we do to solve the problem?

Harsher prison sentences? No, this isn’t about prison and punishments; that’s a male obsession.

More aggressive prosecution? Err … that’s complicated, because of how traumatic it is for victims to press charges.

OK then, how about addressing the role of alcohol? Teaching women about dangerous situations to avoid? ABSOLUTELY NOT! That’s victim-blaming!

But then at some point the question becomes: what’s our goal here? Is it just making all males feel guilty about their complicity in “rape culture” (with the guilt, of course, falling disproportionately on the shy, nerdy males who pose the least threat, but upon whom such guilt will gnaw like soul-destroying acid)—or is it taking real steps to end rape?

FWIW, I’ve always thought future generations would look back with incomprehension and disgust at the way we set up the incentives for career women to delay having babies until they’re at the absolute upper end of their fertility, and not only require expensive fertility treatments, but have dramatically-increased risk of Down’s-syndrome babies and a million other pregnancy complications. A sane social norm would encourage each woman to have whatever number of babies she wants to while she’s at her peak fertility, and put her career advancement on hold (if need be) until she’s ready to pick up just where she left off.

Shmi #523: As I said, I think organizations are completely within their rights to ban romantic relationships that represent conflicts of interest (or better: reassign one or both partners whenever such a relationship arises). Beyond that, though, I’m skeptical of the entire concept of “power-differential dating.” For the concept seems to admit the reality only of certain kinds of power, while ignoring other kinds. (E.g., imagine an older man lavishing money and presents on a younger woman, begging her not to leave him. Is it obvious how to apportion the ‘power’ between the two?)



To me, this is not a man who fully supports ending sexual harassment but who has some objections to the specific ways in which people attempt to teach others about it. This is a man who's not very on board with the concept of enthusiastic consent, who apologizes for relationships between students and academic authority figures (and apparently was involved in one), who's at least implying that the way to prevent rape is by advising women to drink less, and who isn't even willing to admit that a member of his group of "shy, nerdy men" might ever harass or rape anyone. To the extent that nerdy men feel discriminated against based on a disability, I do not think this particular man's voice is a very helpful addition to the conversation.

Wow. His remarks sound much worse in light of the context of some of his other remarks. The one that stuck out to me in particular was the one about consent, with women rewarding men for a particular behavior. That sets off my yuck alarm.
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Post by Werel on Tue Jan 06, 2015 4:52 pm

reboot wrote:Werel: I really had trouble seeing past Aaronson writing about his experience as a defense for his colleague who was being charged with sexual harassment of students. I can feel compassion for his experience, but side eye him because he chose to try and garner sympathy for the harasser. Had he spun it as, " Hey, I experienced [story], but believe that these bad experiences do not mean that nerds get a pass on harassing their students and we need to do X, Y and Z to avoid this happening again" this piece would not have made my blood boil. The idea that the biggest problem with sexual harassment is that now it makes guys like him have to go through training which makes them insecure makes me want to bite someone. Apparently his solution to the situation is to stop training on sexual harassment, feminists should stop talking about bad treatment of women in nerd heavy settings, and that women should shut up about their experiences because it makes men and boys like him afraid to date and afraid of women. Fuck that noise. Dr Aaronson, you are a smart man. Why not try to come up with a solution that does not involve sweeping the harm done to others under the rug?

Yeah, you're entirely right. If ceasing harassment training is actually the proposed solution, fuck that forever. I hadn't been conceiving of it as a binary--"preventing harassment" vs. "alleviating damaging beliefs about one's own sexuality"--but there's not even a question of which one takes priority. I guess the rosy goggles had me thinking it was an and/then (harassment training + support for men feeling disproportionate shame/self-loathing), not an either/or.

Having experienced both serious sexual insecurity and harassment by a much older professor, the latter hurts a lot more. No excuses for any system which facilitates it. Internally perceiving your own sexuality as as creepy and gross is awful. Being routinely forced to perceive yourself in a creepy, gross way through someone else's sexual lens, especially someone with power over you, is much more awful. In my experience, anyway; not trying to say nobody's ever felt differently.

reboundstudent wrote:
But by making it all about dating/sex, it kind of gives off this impression that I, or at least my gender, is to blame for male problems; why else would these problems exist only in dating/sex? If the men who are suffering are by and large heterosexual males, and all of their problems are about dating, it isn't that much of a leap to think "Women are responsible for men's suffering."

And when I do hear a suffering guy put forward suggestions about how to help the guys who are suffering, it never seems to be to fix a problem that we're all responsible for.... like homophobia, or lack of social support networks, or to fix areas that largely men are responsible for (intergender communication, enforcement of toxic masculinity.) The fixes always seem to be things that only women can do; changes only women can make. I mean, why isn't any part of his article addressing the "Neanderthals" who bullied him, and (rightly) demanding that regardless of his social interests, he be treated with respect? Where's the male-on-male accountability? Why is the focus of his pain entirely on the Neanderthals "stealing" sex and how he can't get women? Why is the issue not social respect, but sex??  

That's a good point, the "how to help me" does seem to skew disproportionately towards things for women to do. I wonder what we'd hear if the question was "how can other men help you?"

eselle: God, yeah, okay, a lot of Aaronson's other comments are pretty shit. Feeling much more like he's making the deadly wrong case at the wrong time, with those for context.
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Post by celette482 on Tue Jan 06, 2015 4:52 pm

Caffeinated wrote:

Re: 1. That is depressingly true. I know I often find myself thinking that just one more example, explained in just the right way, will finally make something clear. But, as you say, people can and will ignore evidence.

Re: 2. Good point. I was unquestioningly going with the idea that the details could be reported without revealing the victims' identities. But even then, just knowing the story was out there could increase shame. Interestingly, I remember a post somewhere (maybe it was on Slatestarcodex? maybe somewhere else?) saying how awful ElevatorGate was for the guy who made the pass, even though Rebecca Watson didn't use his name. Just having the story out there on the internet being talked about was supposed to be a terrible thing to live with, unnamed or not.

I think you're right that going public makes it harder to hide things. But, Rebecca Watson got her own story out there. Aaronson is arguing that it should be pro forma. If you complain about harassment, the entity to whom you complained should publicize details.

I'm not shy about telling my story (minus the guy's name), but I wouldn't want someone else to tell my story for me, and if I knew that reporting meant everyone hears everything, I might not report.

Actually, I didn't report and I was a minor and I should have but I was scared. So, maybe I'm just guessing.
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Post by eselle28 on Tue Jan 06, 2015 4:59 pm

Caffeinated wrote:
Wow. His remarks sound much worse in light of the context of some of his other remarks. The one that stuck out to me in particular was the one about consent, with women rewarding men for a particular behavior. That sets off my yuck alarm.

I found both that one and the one where he refused to recognize that a man in his self-identified group might be capable of harassment or rape to be of great concern. I don't think someone who can't conceive of someone fairly similar to him actually causing harm to others is a very trustworthy voice in a discussion about harassment (nor would I be a very helpful voice if I couldn't admit that women, or feminists, or women who are feminists who have personalities and interests a lot like mine are capable of rape or sexual harassment).
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Post by celette482 on Tue Jan 06, 2015 5:03 pm

I'm grossed out by the "women's careers be putting off fertility" with a heapin' side helpin' of ablism.
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Post by Lemminkainen on Tue Jan 06, 2015 5:04 pm

eselle28 wrote:

I find your response to be very condescending, and it makes me blindingly angry. I've allowed you to have your opinion. I would ask that you respect that I may have understood Aaronson's post, taken it for what it is rather than conflating it with past experiences, and weighed the costs in a way that I think is appropriate - and still have come to a conclusion that differs from yours. I will need a little time to address the other components of it in a calm manner that's within moderation guidelines.

I will note that I have been both sexually harassed and raped, and I have experienced long term romantic and sexual loneliness. I can't even say which was worse, because the fact that I was sexually harassed and sexually assaulted isn't a separate thing from my loneliness or my struggles to find a partner. It's one of the causes of the problem rather than competition against it. I would note that I'm also a member of a gender that's been systemically prevented from pursuing certain occupations or reaching certain points of professional success, and that sexual harassment has historically been one of the reasons women have been prevented or discouraged from pursuing those avenues.

First off, thanks a lot for implicitly trivilaizing both my mental illness and my sexual assault. The fact that they interacted differently with both each other and with societal structures than yours did doesn't make them invalid as tokens of my own experience. I refrained from universalizing my own experiences with these issues (in fact, I explicitly said I was doing that!). I respected your experience-- please also respect mine.

Serious question: if I think that you're seriously misreading something, how can I say that without coming off as condescending? Even your considered response shows what I think are some significant reading comprehension errors (mostly equating opposition to policies designed to address an issue with opposition to fixing that issue at all-- opposing a particular legal implementation of affirmative consent != opposing enthusiastic consent generally).* What would you find a respectful way of making that point? I feel like you're one of the forum members who most frequently imputes malicious intent to me, but I actually respect you a lot, and I think that we probably agree about most major issues. I sincerely would like to be able to communicate with you more effectively and less frictionally.


*I also found some of your points-- particularly his implicit support for teacher/student relationships-- pretty compelling, and they've led me to revise my opinion somewhat. Thank you.

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Post by eselle28 on Tue Jan 06, 2015 5:16 pm

Lemminkainen wrote:
First off, thanks a lot for implicitly trivilaizing both my mental illness and my sexual assault.  The fact that they interacted differently with both each other and with societal structures than yours did doesn't make them invalid as tokens of my own experience.  I refrained from universalizing my own experiences with these issues (in fact, I explicitly said I was doing that!).  I respected your experience-- please also respect mine.

I didn't mean to do so and apologize. I was adding my experiences to the list. I did not mean to dismiss yours in the process.

Serious question: if I think that you're seriously misreading something, how can I say that without coming off as condescending?  Even your considered response shows what I think are some significant reading comprehension errors (mostly equating opposition to policies designed to address an issue with opposition to fixing that issue at all-- opposing a particular legal implementation of affirmative consent != opposing enthusiastic consent generally).*  What would you find a respectful way of making that point?  I feel like you're one of the forum members who most frequently imputes malicious intent to me, but I actually respect you a lot, and I think that we probably agree about most major issues.  I sincerely would like to be able to communicate with you more effectively and less frictionally.


*I also found some of your points-- particularly his implicit support for teacher/student relationships-- pretty compelling, and they've led me to revise my opinion somewhat.  Thank you.

I'd first ask that you consider that I may not be seriously misreading something and that it's possible that two people may read the same text in different ways. I'd have no objection to your stating how your reading of something differs from mine or asking me questions about why I interpreted something in a particular way, but I'd appreciate it if you at least approach the situation being open to the possibility that we might genuinely disagree rather than that I'm misinformed and will agree with you once my misinformation is corrected. If you think I'm wrong after discussing something, that's fine. If you think I'm so wrong that you can't approach the conversation that way, I'd almost rather you just tell me that you think I'm wrong rather than restate what you think I'll think once I've understood properly.

As a specific example, you believe that I misread Aaronson yet again by interpreting his objection to legal implementation of affirmative consent as opposing enthusiastic consent. I would first note that you misquoted me. I described him as being "not completely on board with the concept of enthusiastic consent," which isn't the same thing as opposing it. I formed that conclusion from his policy recommendation combined with his comment in the same post worrying that nerdy men will be too terrified to ask for consent, the fact that he framed the concept of enthusiastic consent as a policy matter in terms of whether the "wrong" men would be rewarded, and his continual quibbling about and attempt to dismiss power differentials throughout his comments. I think it's a valid interpretation of his many, many comments touching on consent issues (for whatever it's worth, I don't think enthusiastic consent should be the legal standard, either). It's not the only one and yours may be different. I think that's a fairly natural result of various people reading a text without the author there to clarify things, and sometimes even in cases where the author is present.
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Post by Enail on Tue Jan 06, 2015 6:16 pm

<mod>I'd just like to add a modly note to what Eselle is saying; this thread is trying to discuss a fairly complex, multi-faceted situation about which many people feel strongly in all directions. If this is going to continue to be a discussion worth having, everyone is going to need to keep in mind that it is possible for intelligent, reasonable people to read and understand something and still come to different conclusions about it. Otherwise, we're just going to land up talking past each other. Thanks, y'all. </mod>

On a non-modly note, I've been finding this a really interesting, nuanced discussion for the most part - but I have to say I find it fairly difficult to address it in a terribly nuanced way when the starting point is an essay by someone who feels that shy nerds versus Neanderthals who are good with women is an accurate or useful breakdown on which to base conclusions about who is likely to engage in sexual harassment. That's not a perspective that has typically lead to good things on this site or anywhere else I've seen it, and I tip my hat to all of you, on all sides of this debate, for helping us understand different perspectives and making this a more interesting and nuanced discussion than I would have ever expected.
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Post by azazel on Tue Jan 06, 2015 6:19 pm

Caffeinated wrote:
Re: 2. Good point. I was unquestioningly going with the idea that the details could be reported without revealing the victims' identities. But even then, just knowing the story was out there could increase shame. Interestingly, I remember a post somewhere (maybe it was on Slatestarcodex? maybe somewhere else?) saying how awful ElevatorGate was for the guy who made the pass, even though Rebecca Watson didn't use his name. Just having the story out there on the internet being talked about was supposed to be a terrible thing to live with, unnamed or not.

Incidentally, ElevatorGate marked the moment I was seriously considering just to chop my balls off. Would certainly make things easier.

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Post by Guest on Tue Jan 06, 2015 6:36 pm

Enail wrote:<mod>I'd just like to add a modly note to what Eselle is saying; this thread is trying to discuss a fairly complex, multi-faceted situation about which many people feel strongly in all directions. If this is going to continue to be a discussion worth having, everyone is going to need to keep in mind that it is possible for intelligent, reasonable people to read and understand something and still come to different conclusions about it. Otherwise, we're just going to land up talking past each other. Thanks, y'all. </mod>

On a non-modly note, I've been finding this a really interesting, nuanced discussion for the most part - but I have to say I find it fairly difficult to address it in a terribly nuanced way when the starting point is an essay by someone who feels that shy nerds versus Neanderthals who are good with women is an accurate or useful breakdown on which to base conclusions about who is likely to engage in sexual harassment. That's not a perspective that has typically lead to good things on this site or anywhere else I've seen it, and I tip my hat to all of you, on all sides of this debate, for helping us understand different perspectives and making this a more interesting and nuanced discussion than I would have ever expected.

I don't really have a horse in this race anymore but I'm quoting this for truth. I expected this thing to implode by the end of page two.

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Post by Caffeinated on Tue Jan 06, 2015 6:38 pm

azazel wrote:
Caffeinated wrote:
Re: 2. Good point. I was unquestioningly going with the idea that the details could be reported without revealing the victims' identities. But even then, just knowing the story was out there could increase shame. Interestingly, I remember a post somewhere (maybe it was on Slatestarcodex? maybe somewhere else?) saying how awful ElevatorGate was for the guy who made the pass, even though Rebecca Watson didn't use his name. Just having the story out there on the internet being talked about was supposed to be a terrible thing to live with, unnamed or not.

Incidentally, ElevatorGate marked the moment I was seriously considering just to chop my balls off. Would certainly make things easier.

Really? May I ask why?
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Post by reboot on Tue Jan 06, 2015 6:44 pm

Enail wrote:....

On a non-modly note, I've been finding this a really interesting, nuanced discussion for the most part - but I have to say I find it fairly difficult to address it in a terribly nuanced way when the starting point is an essay by someone who feels that shy nerds versus Neanderthals who are good with women is an accurate or useful breakdown on which to base conclusions about who is likely to engage in sexual harassment. That's not a perspective that has typically lead to good things on this site or anywhere else I've seen it, and I tip my hat to all of you, on all sides of this debate, for helping us understand different perspectives and making this a more interesting and nuanced discussion than I would have ever expected.

The Nerd who is bad with women vs Neanderthal who is good thing is one of my hot button issues. I will not derail but it pisses me off to no end seeing people I care about being dismissed as subhuman because they happen to be better at sex and romance. Especially when some of those people *are* nerds, but apparently are booted out of the club because dating does not intimidate them

/rant

*put soapbox away*
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Post by Guest on Tue Jan 06, 2015 7:03 pm

reboot wrote:
The Nerd who is bad with women vs Neanderthal who is good thing is one of my hot button issues. I will not derail but it pisses me off to no end seeing people I care about being dismissed as subhuman because they happen to be better at sex and romance. Especially when some of those people *are* nerds, but apparently are booted out of the club because dating does not intimidate them

/rant

*put soapbox away*

I almost created a thread spinoff about this, but I decided the smurfette thing mattered to me microscopically more...

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Post by reboundstudent on Tue Jan 06, 2015 7:31 pm

Caffeinated wrote:
azazel wrote:
Caffeinated wrote:
Re: 2. Good point. I was unquestioningly going with the idea that the details could be reported without revealing the victims' identities. But even then, just knowing the story was out there could increase shame. Interestingly, I remember a post somewhere (maybe it was on Slatestarcodex? maybe somewhere else?) saying how awful ElevatorGate was for the guy who made the pass, even though Rebecca Watson didn't use his name. Just having the story out there on the internet being talked about was supposed to be a terrible thing to live with, unnamed or not.

Incidentally, ElevatorGate marked the moment I was seriously considering just to chop my balls off. Would certainly make things easier.

Really? May I ask why?

I'd like to know this too!

This kind of dovetails with my earlier post wondering why date/sex is kind of the Be-All, End-All of men's issues for a lot of the vocal guys we see out on the Internet/in real life. Similarly, I have run across so many, many, many guys on Reddit who seem terrified of being called creepy. And I agree, it ain't pleasant, but the sheer level of terror was odd to me.

The thing is... I have absolutely been very socially awkward. I've probably been downright creepy more than a handful of times. I've been called creepy directly to my face once. (For the life of me I can't remember what I was doing.) Heck, I managed to be creepy today by standing awkwardly next to a small stand-up meeting as I tried to look for a coworker's desk. ("Uh-can we help you, RBS?")

Anyway, it certainly stung and hurt and made me question myself, but it wasn't scarring, per say. I'm certainly not terrified of being called creepy again-I'll do my best to avoid it, but I'm sure it will happen, or I'll embarrass myself in some similar way or another. Despite having similar experiences, I just can't process why being called "creepy" is so terrifying to nerd guys.
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Post by Guest on Tue Jan 06, 2015 8:17 pm

Okay, maybe there is stuff I still have knowledge of for the conversation...

When it comes to being perceived as creepy, while I'm not so sure why it's considered a permanent status, the fear I always had was that everyone would know. Like, instant dissemination of information.

So, obviously this is just my experience, but I somehow got it in my head that being labelled a creep is permanent, everyone would know and there's the usual 'death knell to social life / hated by people' thing. There's a lot of stuff to sit down and think about there.

I do know that, nowadays, I'm worried about hurting others with my awkwardness. Which creates that cycle of being more awkward, causing more problems, blah, blah, blah.

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Post by reboot on Tue Jan 06, 2015 8:31 pm

I have both been called a creep and acted like a creep before (and still blush and say "Damn, what was I thinking!") back when I was younger. It was not a label I liked and one that I had to work hard to shed in a few social circles back in college, but it was not the end of the world. Embarrassing as hell, made me avoid certain men because I felt bad and awkward and creepy, but did not destroy my social life or get me branded with a scarlet C for life.

So I guess I do not get it either...
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Post by Caffeinated on Tue Jan 06, 2015 8:38 pm

MapWater wrote:Okay, maybe there is stuff I still have knowledge of for the conversation...

When it comes to being perceived as creepy, while I'm not so sure why it's considered a permanent status, the fear I always had was that everyone would know. Like, instant dissemination of information.

So, obviously this is just my experience, but I somehow got it in my head that being labelled a creep is permanent, everyone would know and there's the usual 'death knell to social life / hated by people' thing. There's a lot of stuff to sit down and think about there.

Very interesting, this idea of a permanent status. I'm reminded of the research about praising kids by saying they're smart versus praising kids by saying they worked really hard, and how it shapes their idea about the malleability of intelligence, where believing they did well because of working hard makes them more successful in the long run. I suppose it would make a big difference in how you felt about the word creepy if you thought it was a label that, once applied, could never be changed, as opposed to a word that described a particular moment in time that could be lived down or made up for. Could that be what's behind the notion of "creep-shaming", that the guys in question also believe it's some kind of permanent state? That would make more sense than what it looks like from the outside, which is a straight-up denial that a particular action at a particular time and place and context was out of line.

MapWater wrote:I do know that, nowadays, I'm worried about hurting others with my awkwardness. Which creates that cycle of being more awkward, causing more problems, blah, blah, blah.

In what way do you feel you might hurt others with awkwardness?
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Post by azazel on Tue Jan 06, 2015 8:54 pm

Caffeinated wrote:Really? May I ask why?

Because it's something I would've done.
Everything from "don't take this the wrong way, but I loved your speech and wondered if you wanted to get a cup of coffee at my hotel room" as a way of saying "you're an awesome person, I'm romantically interested in you, but hey if you don't want to no biggie" to asking a girl out on an elevator ride - because I'd think if she said no you just wait a few seconds until your floor arrives and you can leave minimizing the awkwardness.

So I get terrified when people hug me because I'm afraid I'll screw the hug up even when they're the ones initiating it without my consent, and yet I'm still in the position of accidentally making people uncomfortable, because somehow elevators just didn't register to me as *real* secluded places. That I'm still able to make mistakes like that makes me want to look for permanent solutions.

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