Otherwise baffled as to why the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and maths aren’t crammed full of women like psychology, social work and education, feminist activists have been leading a noisy campaign over the past few years to paint men in these fields, entirely inaccurately, as raging misogynists – even going to the media with the word “brogrammer,” to convey their annoyance. While the most gullible media outlets took the bait, even left-leaning Gizmodo hit back with a piece called, “There’s No Such Thing as a Brogrammer”.
Nagging and haranguing about supposed sexism has only been getting louder, the pinnacle of which was reached when scientist Dr Matt Taylor was reduced to apologising in tears after wearing a mildly risqué shirt on camera to celebrate his achievement of landing a spacecraft on a comet. On Twitter, a woman proclaimed that the shirt had signalled that women “weren’t welcome in science,” which over 1,000 of the usual suspects retweeted with feverish enthusiasm.
One computer scientist, Scott Aaronson, took issue with the overwhelming narrative being cooked up that men working in the STEM fields were misogynist pigs with no knowledge of the necessary and beautiful art of feminist discourse, and, writing a very personal account of his adolescence and youth, he described reading dozens of feminist books, “studies and task reports about the ‘privilege’ and ‘entitlement’ of the nerdy males that’s keeping women away from science” and feminist blogs. Comment #171 subsequently gained a lot of attention on Twitter, Facebook and Reddit.
From when he was 12, up until his mid-twenties, far from the “entitled” attitude to women that feminists accuse men working in STEM of having, Aaronson, having read these books, having been to “sexual-assault prevention workshops” as an undergrad, was terrified of even talking to women so fearful was he his intentions could be misconstrued and have him deemed a demonic rape fiend.
Desperate at this point to have been born a woman or a gay man so he didn’t have to bear the burden of being a heterosexual white male, seeping malevolent privilege and doomed to stalk the planet oppressing all those to cross his path, Aaronson “scoured the feminist literature for any statement to the effect that [his] fears were as silly as [he] hoped they were,” only to find the opposite. “I found reams of text about how even the most ordinary male/female interactions are filled with “microaggressions,” and how even the most “enlightened” males—especially the most “enlightened” males, in fact—are filled with hidden entitlement and privilege and a propensity to sexual violence that could burst forth at any moment.”
Suicidal, such was Aaronson’s trauma, he even tried to acquire a prescription for chemical castration, so that he could focus on devoting his entire life to maths and have no reason to be seen as a predator. Aaronson ends his piece with the by poignantly noting that while, no, the trauma of sexual assault and the trauma he went through in his 15 years of “life-destroying anxiety” weren’t comparable but that with his, “there are no academics studying it, no task forces devoted to it, no campus rallies in support of the sufferers, no therapists or activists to tell you that you’re not alone or it isn’t your fault. There are only therapists and activists to deliver the opposite message: that you are alone and it is your privileged, entitled, male fault.”
While obviously tragic for him on a personal level, Aaronson’s blog comment has wider, more serious and indeed urgent implications. Universities are rolling out these sexual consent workshops, which will likely become compulsory. Aaronson said he left each of those workshops “with enough fresh paranoia and self-hatred to last through another year,” and there is a petition by the Everyday Sexism and End Violence Against Women Coalition to have them made compulsory in all schools.
Terrifyingly, the petition sets out a curriculum of “sexual consent, healthy and respectful relationships, gender stereotypes and online pornography”. Given that for feminists, there is only one possible viewpoint to take on all these things, the petition basically ensures that third-wave feminism is beamed straight into children’s heads. The scariest thing about this petition is that apart from David Cameron and Nigel Farage, all the other party leaders have wholeheartedly backed it.
Aaronson isn’t alone in being negatively affected by feminist propaganda. He received many grateful emails from guys in the same position, for giving them hope they too could one day make a success of themselves, and when I read Scott’s piece, I was immediately put in mind of a man in his 20s I knew through the games platform Steam, in 2011. Having lurked on the internet a lot and got sucked into reading feminist blogs and websites for days and weeks on end, this man since his late teens had suffered from such crippling social anxiety he was living on disability benefits and unable to leave the house. If children throughout the country are to be conditioned in schools with this sort of poisonous thinking, this kind of tragedy will become far more commonplace.
Yet instead of thinking perhaps feminists would be able to learn from cases such as Aaronson’s, the response he got from them was brutal. Amanda Marcotte claimed his post was a “yalp of entitlement” from someone who saw women only as sex toys, and her piece was met with rapturous applause. Laurie Penny, whose response was deemed by many to be too kind, rather than actually showing any empathy instead managed to talk about how hard it was to be a “horny”, “socially awkward”, nerdy girl growing up, and that as a female, when she wanted to enter a “life of the mind” she found the patriarchy standing in her way. I find this curious, since women are a third more likely to go to university, get well over half of all Master’s degrees and just over half of all PhDs.
But anyway, the upshot is, that Aaronson’s problems with social anxiety were caused by, according to Penny… the patriarchy! Aaronson’s trauma was completely dismissed and replaced with a diatribe about her own experiences growing up, and then she completely ignored what had actually caused his anxiety and twisted it round to pretend the culprit was the ever imaginary “patriarchy”.
Reading Penny’s piece and, especially, Marcotte’s gives an unsettling window into the minds of modern feminists. Even when a man reveals his vulnerabilities and writes with heartbreaking honesty about a cripplingly awful period of his life, they seem pathologically unable to see why he was suffering, and, in the case of Marcotte, that he was suffering at all. It’s as though unless men and boys adhere to their exact way of thinking, they’re inhuman and unworthy of empathy. Rather than filling more young people’s heads with the acrid fantasies of third wave feminists that foster distrust and disquiet between the sexes, venomous ideas like “privilege theory” and “rape culture” should go the way of the woolly mammoth. Only then can we be closer to equality.