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After all, what better way could we ring in a new year than by looking at some old issues?But first, some context: Over the last week or so, I had several people forward me links to this comment from MIT Professor Scott Aaronson’s blog about growing up as a nerd terrified of women and trying to be a Nice Guy and how this meant that nerds couldn’t be keeping women out of STEM fields.As is the nature of the Internet, this immediately was an opportunity to comment on the topic. Flippancy aside, my purpose isn’t to add to the criticism per se; instead, I want to talk about some of the underlying attitudes at play here regarding nerds, entitlement and dating.Many people had some interesting and thought-provoking comments to share; Laurie Penny focused on the tricky topics of intersectionality and privilege while Amanda Marcotte discussed the problematic subtext of his complaints. Both Aaronson’s complaints are excellent examples of what I hear from nerds and self-described Nice Guys .The problem isn’t in the desire, it’s in the belief.At their core, these imagined nightmares are about ego protection.
It’s a basic benefit of being a man – men don’t experience sexual harassment or risk sexual assault the way women do.This is an incredibly common complaint that I hear from men, especially Nice Guys: they’re scared.I’ve lost track of how many men have told me that they’re terrified of making a mistake, of being called a creeper or – as in Aaronson’s example, somehow ending up being thrown in jail because that’s how law works.Google will inevitably tell you that you have cancer.