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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.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 “might be” sexual harassment or assault, and their refusal, ever, to specify anything that definitely wouldn’t be sexual harassment or assault.Not meant as a criticism of feminism, so much as of a certain way of operationalizing feminism. In my heart, there is a little counter that reads “XXX days without a ten-thousand word rant about feministm.” And I had just broken three digits when they had to go after Scott Aaronson.
The psychiatrist refused to prescribe them, but he also couldn’t suggest any alternative: my case genuinely stumped him.
That I managed to climb out of the pit with my feminist beliefs mostly intact, you might call a triumph of abstract reason over experience.
But I hope you now understand why I might feel “only” 97% on board with the program of feminism. Guy opens up for the first time about how he was so terrified of accidentally hurting women that he became suicidal and tried to get himself castrated.
So I scoured the feminist literature for any statement to the effect that my fears were as silly as I hoped they were. On the contrary: 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.
Because of my fears—my fears of being “outed” as a nerdy heterosexual male, and therefore as a potential creep or sex criminal—I had constant suicidal thoughts.