January 07, 2015

Source: Shutterstock

Over the last half-century, enormous efforts have been expended by individuals to get their groups, such as blacks, women, Jews, homosexuals, and Hispanics, certified as authentic victims of society. Just since 2013, the “€œtransgendered”€ have achieved cultural validation as designated victims, while other potential identity politics groups, such as left-handers and the working class, seem to be fading ever further from the limelight of concern.

But what about nerds? Will they be able to use the enormous wealth and cultural influence they”€™ve created over the last few decades to achieve recognized protected status? Or will they be increasingly demonized as “€œhyperwhite“€?

There are numerous advantages to being sacralized as an official class of victims, such as quotas benefiting lucky individuals (for example, the president of the United States). For those who don”€™t get jobs as community organizers and activists, however, it’s not completely clear that being constantly reassured by the media that your problems are the fault of cisgendered straight white males is objectively good for you.

For instance, after six years of the Eric Holder Justice Department, blacks continue to screw up at much higher rates than other groups. The government and the media react to this undeniable pattern of blacks behaving badly not just by denying it, but also by propagating blood libels about demonic whites hunting down innocent black children like Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown. Not surprisingly, blood libels lead to pogroms.

Will blacks really be better off if whites retreat to the donut shop like they did in New York City during the liberal Lindsay Administration (1966-1973)?

“€œFeminists were outraged that a socially unsanctioned group such as nerds was attempting to horn in on their privilege of victimization. But Aaronson’s lament about his tortured youth struck a chord with nerd activists.”€

In contrast to official victim groups, which make sure each of their multitudinous anniversaries is solemnly celebrated by everyone (for example, the movie Selma is here to mark yet another 50th anniversary of an event in the life of Martin Luther King), the rise of the nerds has been wholly self-powered.

Nor is it obvious that most women are happier due to feminist rhetoric dominating advertiser-supported media. Granted, the more cynical sort of man treats it for what it’s worth. After all, there’s a good reason that the old joke about how there will never be an end to war of the sexes because there is too much fraternizing with the enemy is universally misattributed to that American Talleyrand, Henry Kissinger. (In reality, Kissinger is too Machiavellian to publicly say something that blunt.)

But the more sensitive sort of modern young male assumes women wouldn”€™t be saying all these horrible things about men if they weren”€™t true. (I mean, nobody would make up a story about being gang raped on shattered glass, right?) And he finds that terribly discouraging.

Because they are better at thinking about ideas than about people, nerds are particularly prone to misinterpreting women by taking what they say at face value. Nerds don”€™t know much about what women like, so they use logic, which fails.

For example, MIT professor Scott Aaronson, an expert on quantum computers, recently opened up in the 171st comment of an online discussion about what it’s like to be a shy nerd in the feminist era. Having read a dozen books of feminist theory, such as Andrea Dworkin’s Intercourse:

I spent my formative years”€”basically, from the age of 12 until my mid-20s”€”feeling not “€œentitled,”€ not “€œprivileged,”€ but terrified. I was terrified that one of my female classmates would somehow find out that I sexually desired her, and that the instant she did, I would be scorned, laughed at, called a creep and a weirdo, maybe even expelled from school or sent to prison.

Granted, Henry Kissinger wouldn”€™t make that mistake, but in an academic world that gets off on blood libel fantasies of gang rapes by nonexistent Haven Monahans, it’s hard for a naïve computer nerd to know what to think:

You can call that my personal psychological problem if you want, but it was strongly reinforced by everything I picked up from my environment: to take one example, the sexual-assault prevention workshops we had to attend regularly as undergrads, with their endless lists of all the forms of human interaction that “€œmight be”€ sexual harassment or assault, and their refusal, ever, to specify anything that definitely wouldn”€™t be sexual harassment or assault. I left each of those workshops with enough fresh paranoia and self-hatred to last me through another year.

It can”€™t be that bad, can it?

So I scoured the feminist literature for any statement to the effect that my fears were as silly as I hoped they were. But I didn”€™t find any. On the contrary: I found reams of text about how even the most ordinary male/female interactions are filled with “€œmicroaggressions,”€ and how even the most “€œenlightened”€ males”€”especially the most “€œenlightened”€ males, in fact”€”are filled with hidden entitlement and privilege and a propensity to sexual violence that could burst forth at any moment.

In reality, an unworldly MIT professor tends to be a good catch. And now Dr. Aaronson is happily married. There’s a general pattern that nerds tend to make unexciting dates but good husbands. Inspired in part by my 1999 essay “€œ

Nerdishness: The Unexplored Cornerstone of the Modern World,”€ four Italian researchers published a 2010 paper in Frontiers of Psychology, theorizing:

… autistic-like traits in their non-pathological form contribute to a male-typical strategy geared toward high parental investment, low mating effort, and long-term resource allocation.

The psychologists found:

In a sample of 200 college students, autistic-like traits predicted lower interest in short-term mating, higher partner-specific investment, and stronger commitment to long-term romantic relations.


Sign Up to Receive Our Latest Updates!