One thing you learn quickly in the dating advice business: some topics are more or less evergreen. And with the recent explosion on social media, it’s a good time to talk about one of my favorite topics: Nice Guys. 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 STEM1 fields. As is the nature of the Internet, this immediately was an opportunity to comment on the topic. 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. Of course, this too becomes its own invitation to comment as Scott Alexander rode to Professor Aaronson’s defense ((And believe me, Alexander’s got enough bullshit for me to handle in a future column. Also, bro do you even link?)) , criticizing Penny and Marcotte in turn.
So I thought, hey, why not join in the fun?
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. Both Aaronson’s complaints are excellent examples of what I hear from nerds and self-described Nice Guys all the time. Critically, they’re held forth as reasons why Nice Guys deserve a break instead of the opprobrium they receive and why it’s unfair for women to treat them with disdain, with a dash of nerd victim culture and privilege for flavor.
So let’s dive back into the Nice Guy debate, shall we?
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