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This whole affair makes me despair of the power of language to convey human reality—or at least, of my own ability to use language for that end.I took the most dramatic, almost self-immolating step I could to get people to see me as I was, rather than according to some preexisting mental template of a “privileged, entitled, elite male scientist.” And many responded by pressing down the template all the more firmly, twisting my words until they fit, and then congratulating each other for their bravery in doing so.Not after they understand how I clung to those ideals through a decade when I wanted to die.And any teenage male nerds who read this blog, and who find themselves in a similar hole, will know that they too can get out without giving up on feminism.This is one reason why I’ve staunchly supported gay marriage since adolescence, when it was still radical.
Weaponised shame- male, female or other- has no place in any feminism I subscribe to.
I believe establishing this principle was one of the triumphs of modern civilization. I believe women who go into male-dominated fields like math, CS, and physics deserve praise, encouragement, and support.
But that’s putting the point too tepidly: if I get to pick 100 people (unrelated to me) to put onto a spaceship as the earth is being destroyed, I start thinking immediately about six or seven of my female colleagues in complexity and quantum computing. I believe there still exist men who think women are inferior, that they have no business in science, that they’re good only for sandwich-making and sex.
Ironically, Aronson [sic] actually writes a lot like Dworkin- he writes from pain felt and relived and wrenched from the intimate core of himself, and because of that his writing is powerfully honest, but also flawed …
What fascinates me about Aaronson’s piece, in which there was such raw, honest suffering, was that there was not one mention of women in any respect other than how they might relieve him from his pain by taking pity, or educating him differently. Aaronson is obviously a compassionate, well-meaning and highly intelligent man I’ll have more to say about Penny’s arguments in a later post—where I agree and where I part ways from her—but there’s one factual point I should clear up now.