Personal trauma and systemic oppression

From Laurie Penny's excellent "On Nerd Entitlement" essay at New Statesman:

What fascinates me about Aaronson's piece, in which there was such raw, honest suffering, was that there was not one mention of women in any respect other than how they might relieve him from his pain by taking pity, or educating him differently. And Aaronson is not a misogynist. Aaronson is obviously a compassionate, well-meaning and highly intelligent man - I don’t doubt that I’ll meet him someday, as he’s a mentor to several people I respect and lives in the city I live in, and when that happens, I’ll tell him I think so.

Nonetheless, he makes a sudden leap, and it’s a leap that comes right from the gut, from an honest place of trauma and post-rationalisation, from that teenage misery to a universal story of why nerdy men are in fact among the least privileged men out there, and why holding those men to account for the lack of representation of women in STEM areas - in the most important fields both of human development and social mobility right now, the places where power is being created and cemented right now - is somehow unfair. Nerds are not like the ‘neanderthals’, the REAL abusers of women. They should get a break.

I have a profound political belief that we all deserve a break.

I had a pretty hard time figuring which part of the essay to excerpt—the entire thing is worth reading.

I think one of the key points she is sussing out is the category error made by white guys claiming oppression.

Everyone suffers personal traumas throughout her or his life, and the impact of those traumas should not be underestimated. Neither, for that matter, should the strength and determination required to overcome them.

However, for women, people of color, and basically anyone else in our society who is not a straight white male, there is an entirely different realm of systemic oppression. Men's rights activists and their fellow travelers (even otherwise well intentioned men like Aaronson) want to conflate the two and say "We've all had hard lives—just get past it, but that's like climate change deniers confusing local weather events with global climate patterns.

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