Broken Hearts: Why Vulnerable Gender Discussions Are So Difficult for the Heteros

There is another nerd boy claiming in a very round-about, “but I’m still liberal” way that feminism is to blame for all of his heartache and misery. His piece is rather whiny and insufferable at points but mainly vulnerable and heart wrenching. Severe depression and anxiety did a number on this kid as it does many of us; and he wants to blame something. He wants to use his “logic” and all of his brilliant smarts to solve the equation and figure out that feminism or at least the radical-dworkin-esque feminism is to blame for his hard-knock life. The thing of course is that -as many especially female nerds  have pointed out- neither women nor feminism are to blame for the issues of isolation, a most-human experience if there ever was one. Sometimes life sucks no matter how liberal or good-intentioned you are.

Of course there have been some responses especially from the nerdy tech world to Mr. Aaronson, some biting and harsh as is to be expected, as a lady who suffered through my own emo-tastic youth I find it pretty infuriating that Aaronson wants to blame the fight for gender equality for his misery; but others including Laurie Penny’s from NewStatesmen were simply beautiful and open and honest and exactly where I think the conversation needs to go. Penny writes….

“Hi there, shy, nerdy boys. Your suffering was and is real. I really fucking hope that it got better, or at least is getting better, At the same time, I want you to understand that that very real suffering does not cancel out male privilege, or make it somehow alright. Privilege doesn’t mean you don’t suffer, which, I know, totally blows.”

THIS. This a thousand times over. Having privilege does not mean everything is always easy and good. I am white and middle class. When I saw a police officer, I never thought about where my hands were. I never had to stand in the reduced lunch line to the taunts of classmates. I had food and shelter and support and a relatively easy invisible existence. And I still cried my way through my sophomore year homecoming dance. Life was still hard, just not in a systematically unjust way..

If Penny had just made this one amazingly solid point I would have wanted to give her a gold star. But then she went on with this brilliance.

“We bring our broken hearts and blue balls to the table when we talk gender politics, especially if we are straight folks. Consent and the boundaries of consent – desire and what we’re allowed to speak of desire – we’re going to have to get better, braver and more honest, we’re going to have to undo decades of toxic socialisation and learn to speak to each other as human beings in double quick time.”

1000% why talking about gender becomes so tense is because we are never talking about abstract gender relations. We are talking about that boy or that girl, we are talking about our broken hearts and our bruised egos. And if we can’t get beyond that; if we can’t allow our hearts to heal and our souls to bolster with genuiness, than I feel like we are destined to never talk beyond hurt.

Read all of Penny’s awesome piece here.  


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