Should gaming be a “safe space” for nerdy dudes who hate women? The Men’s Rights perspective

idiot-nerd-girl-reappropriated-05

I’m back from a brief vacation in Migraineland, and thinking about the ways in which Men’s Rights Activists love to appropriate the language of feminism and other progressive movements, usually in ways that are face-palmingly ass-backwards.

Take this recent discussion on the Men’s Rights subreddit of the dire threat of “fake gamer girls” invading the “male space” of gaming. The generically named guywithaccount sets up the discussion with this post:

I want to talk about "fake geek girls" (self.MensRights)  submitted 9 days ago by guywithaccount  For those of you who don't know about this, there's a bit of a controversy in what I'll call the geek community. Apparently, when women attend geek conventions (that is, those celebrating e.g. video games, comic books, sci-fi and fantasy), some men accuse them of being "fake geeks" or demanding that they prove their "geek cred" by correctly answering trivia questions made up on the spot.  Here's one article (of many) that talks about it: [1] http://bookviewcafe.com/blog/2013/08/08/the-fake-geek-girl-nonsense/  My concern for this issue is that, like anything else that involves gender, feminists and feminist sympathizers are attempting to dominate the discussion and frame the whole thing from a feminist and gynocentric perspective. The prevailing analysis might be summed up as "geek culture is deeply misogynistic, and the people complaining about fake geeks are just sad little losers who hate women."  IMO, the geek subculture has provided a somewhat-safe space for many men who have been snubbed by the rest of society, where they are not expected to prove their value to each other by carving notches in a bedpost or exemplifying traditional masculine traits. The increase in mainstream appeal and female participation over the past decade or so threatens the safety and exclusivity of this space, and the backlash from male geeks is a somewhat-predictable response to the invasion of their space.  Of course, there are few spaces just for men, and when someone tries to create or preserve one, they're accused of misogyny.  I suspect that some of you don't give a crap about any of this and see the whole thing as petty, but realize that it's not happening in a vacuum. I believe it's merely a symptom of the fact that men have almost no voice in gender discussions and their needs are routinely denied or ignored.
Now, there is a teensy bit of gold in this pile of bullshit: the notion of a “safe space,” where oppressed people can come forward and discuss their issues without fear of being talked over or shut down by those outside their group — who have more power in the world and who may not have their best interests at heart (or who may just be Blabby McBlabbypants types).

But there are a couple of giant problems with this notion when it comes to gamer dudes declaring gaming a “safe space” for men. The first is that, despite lingering resentments over being “snubbed” in high school or wherever — evident in the OP and in comments throughout the discussion — these guys are not actually an oppressed people by any measure that really matters.

Indeed, many of them — as tech dudes in a male-dominated tech world — are in fact in fairly privileged positions. For them to claim they need a “safe space” to protect themselves from the evils of “fake gamer girls” is a bit like Klan members claiming they need a “safe space” to protect themselves from blacks, Jews and Catholics. (Which is more or less what Klan members have argued over the years, albeit in less PC language.) No, I’m not claiming that all MRAs are the equivalent of hood-wearing Klan members. Only some of them are.

The second problem with the “game world as safe space for men” aregument is that YOU CAN’T JUST DECLARE BIG CHUNKS OF THE WORLD TO BELONG TO MEN. Yes, men dominate the gaming world in sheer numbers, both as game-makers and game-players. (While women make up nearly half of all game players — 47% — men tend to dominate the “serious” games that many geek dudes claim are the only ones that really count.) But gaming doesn’t “belong” to men any more than, say, novel-reading “belongs” to women — even though surveys suggest that women make up a staggering 80% of the fiction market in much of the English-speaking world.

Yep, that’s right: Women dominate “noveling” much more dramatically than men dominate gaming. Yet you don’t find women denouncing “fake noveler boys” or declaring that the male brain isn’t wired to understand the subtleties of written fiction.

No, in fact men are actively welcomed into book clubs.  And my best friend, a woman, has spent much of the 18 or so years or our friendship trying to get me to read this novel or that novel, though over the years she’s only succeeded in getting me to read maybe one or two of her suggestions, which were pretty good, I have to admit. (I do plan to read some of the others, really.)

If you’re a socially awkward guy and want a safe space to discuss that, find a therapist, find a support group. Don’t pick on women gamers and pretend this is somehow your right because you’re oppressed as a socially awkward guy.

Anyway, here are some other dumb comments from the Reddit thread. YetAnotherCommenter warns feminists that they may lose some powerful allies if they continue acting so feministy.

YetAnotherCommenter 18 points 9 days ago* (22|4)      Woman are assigned status for being nerds where men are not.  Men lose status for their nerdiness. Women gain it.  Some geek girls have admitted how being a female nerd grants you so much attention from men (Rebecca Watson did precisely this in an issue of a skeptic newsletter). They admit the fact that female-geekery conveys a certain level of privilege.  This is actually compounded by feminism because by being a geek (or faking it) a woman is seen as standing up to the "boys club" and thus gets a chorus of "You Go Girl!" cheerleading combined with the ability to acquire victim cred from "teh sexist menz are picking on me!"      Also, the way some pop-feminists go on about fake nerd girl shaming, it's like it's a second holocaust or something.  And then they shame all male nerds as misogynists who are bitter because they can't get laid. "Neckbeard" and "fedora" jokes and "you're just socially awkward and live in your mother's basement" are all derivatives of nerd shaming.  I know several geek girls (real geek girls, not fake ones). I support females who enjoy video games and comics etc. enjoying these hobbies. I also think it makes business sense for some comics and games to cater to this demographic (to varying degrees).  What I protest is how ideological feminists are basically attempting to "reformat" geek culture towards their own preferences, and I protest how they see geek culture (which is a product of the socially emasculated rejects of the gender system) as a bastion of "male privilege." I protest how they interpret the fact that things aren't always about them all the time as bigotry or hatred. You can fairly describe geek culture as androcentric (after all, it is predominantly male and formed from the basis of men's experiences), but this isn't the same as misogyny.  The fact is that if feminists truly wanted to undo the gender system, male nerds would be a fantastic reservoir of allies. Yet by casting us as oppressors and borderline-rapists and engaging in repeated attention-whoring behavior and exploiting female-nerd privilege and inflicting repeated guilt-trips upon us, they have destroyed any hope of this.
Speaking of nerds who can’t get laid — which we weren’t but which these guys keep bringing up (and identifying themselves as) again and again — guia7ri seems to harbor some lingering resentments from high school, and who better to take that out on than attractive geeky women?

guia7ri 4 points 9 days ago (7|3)  I think that the reason why it seems like mostly women (or why it's fake geek girls not just fake geeks) is because girls have all of the power in high school. The popular/attractive girls control who is "cool" and who isn't. But it never just ends there. The ones that get rejected by this group will be rejected by everyone else because they're trying to be accepted as "cool". The rejects end up being forced loners at best (unless they hang out with other misfits, but that can almost make things worse). So when the girls who were (or look like they would have been) responsible for the geeks being social outcasts and losers for being geeks, are now are getting into geek culture it ends up causing a controversy over the legitimacy of a girl's interests.  Even so I think the reason why it may actually be fake geek girls is because women (especially attractive and confident women) are seen as interesting or cool when they identify as a geek. If a man says he likes video games/comics/sci-fi books/movies it's typically seen as either normal or unmanly/childish. I don't think anyone would ever falsely something about themselves that would have negative connotations.

Hey MRAs, if you wonder why feminists sometimes describe MRAs as bitter men who hate women because they can’t get laid, it’s because MRAs like gui7ri so often EXPLICITLY DECLARE THEMSELVES BITTER MEN WHO HATE WOMEN BECAUSE THEY CAN’T GET LAID.

Meanwhile Byuku blames it all on evil feminists pretending to be geeks in order to make trouble. Because that’s what feminists do.

byuku 3 points 9 days ago (8|5)  My belief is that most of the complaining actually does come from fake geek girls. Think about it - have you ever met extremely hostile and unfriendly geeks? Especially around attractive women? Most geeks I've ever known have been treated like shit by society and thus have a really passive behaviour (they're quiet).  My hunch would be that a bunch of crazy feminist nutjobs walk into a convention, and some geek asks "Hey I notice XYZ on your shirt, who's your favourite character?"  Traditional geek girl responds politely. Fake geek girls say "WHAT? JUST BECAUSE I'M HERE DOESN'T MEAN YOU GET TO TEST ME!!!" and bitches about it to all hell all over the enerets.  And now we're here talking about it. That's how feminism dominates mainstream cultural discussion as it does.
That’s how they get you!

EDIT: Added a sentence to temper and clarify my assertion that men “dominate” gaming.

About David Futrelle

I run the blog We Hunted the Mammoth, which tracks (and mocks) online misogyny. My writing has appeared in a wide variety of places, including Salon, Time.com, the Washington Post, the New York Times Book Review and Money magazine. I like cats.

Posted on August 20, 2013, in a woman is always to blame, all about the menz, antifeminism, are these guys 12 years old?, bullying, creep-shaming, dozens of upvotes, entitled babies, evil women, facepalm, female beep boop, geek girls, imaginary oppression, men who should not ever be with women ever, misogyny, MRA, no girls allowed, oppressed men, reddit, straw feminists, video games and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1,209 Comments.

  1. And you think we want your opinion because?

  2. Dude, if you’re going to necro a thread for trolling purposes, could you, you know, have a point or something?

  3. Policy of Madness

    Wait a minute… The whole thing behind feminist ideology is that you want women to be thought of not as a monolith, or as less than men right? I do not know exactly what it is feminists hope to achieve, because I’ve heard so many of these damned arguments (on either side).

    Oh noes! Someone doesn’t understand feminism! Clearly I need to drop everything and exposit for a person who can’t be bothered to type “feminism 101″ into a search engine and spend an evening reading.

    But how are you going to fight for stereotypes being a thing of the past, or at the very least something that is not treated as fact by people, and then say that MRAs shouldn’t complain that women think of them the way they do because ONE person fit that stereotype?

    The hypocrisy gambit, and concern trolling in one sentence. That’s some high-grade stupidity.

    I just feel like if you want to get results and prevent people from bitching at you, you need to present the faults of not just people you view as misogynist, but people who are viewed as “femi-nazis”(I think that’s what people call them, those people who just rage at everything and want to oppress anyone who disagrees with them). You won’t make any difference what do ever unless you actually try to solve a problem, instead of snowballing it.

    This bit is more complicated. It looks like concern trolling, and it is, but there’s also this weird “you need to criticize your allies” argument in there. Is there a name for that? It’s bizarre that someone thinks I am going to slam allies just because some dipshit decided to slap a stupid label on them.

    “femi-nazis”(I think that’s what people call them

    Yes, of course, I’m sure that you’re totally new to all of this and aren’t actually completely certain what “feminazi” means. That’s definitely not a disingenuous bullshit troll maneuver, and I know this because I just joined the internet yesterday.

  4. Doesn’t look like trolly wants to play. What a pity, after he so bravely sneaked into a months-old thread.

  5. OH, NOES!!!! We’ve been feminising rong! All this time, we should have cleared our own ranks of dissenters before we dared ask teh menz to give us basic human rights! If only Emily Pankhurst had been nicer, we might have got the vote by now! :(

    Someone, alert the FHC!!!!! Thanks, neutral d00d!eleventy!!!

  6. Shorter necro dude – I’m too stupid and lazy to figure out what feminism’s goals are, and this is your fault, because you’re supposed to be my mommy.

  7. I read him more as “I know you have a stated mission about mocking misogyny and all but it hurts my fee fees that you don’t spend as much time being as mad as I am about these straw feminists that I made up in my head!”

    And this?

    “femi-nazis”(I think that’s what people call them

    I’m with Policy of Madness on this one. Pull the other one, ThatNeutrollGuy, it’s got bells on.

  8. He’s so sad that he can’t make feminists have a sexy pillowfight for him to watch.

  9. He’s so sad that he can’t make feminists have a sexy pillowfight for him to watch.

    Gack!

    I just made the sound my cats make when they are trying to bring up a hairball.

  10. I’ll take one for the team and volunteer to have a pillowfight with Mr K, purely for the good of the cause of course. *cough*

    But trolly’s not invited to watch.

  11. I’ll take one for the team and volunteer to have a pillowfight with Mr K, purely for the good of the cause of course. *cough*

    What a martyr you are.

  12. What a martyr you are.

    “I know, I know,” she said, piously raising her eyes to Heaven.

  13. It seems a little early for Sadly Sockpuppetting Tedious Tinfoil Tion the Ridiculously Racist Annoying Abnoy to be back already, but I’m half wondering if this is his attempted return just because of the inability to paragraph properly and the feminazis.

    Or GenderNeutralLanguage… who was really not all that gender neutral in their language.

    But I might just be way too suspicious, and way too sleepy. Going to bed, now! If Trolly McTroll returns, have fun!

  14. I actually spotted GNL on another blog at one point, and he seemed even more confused than he usually does here. He’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer, that one.

  15. contrapangloss – I don’t think it’s Tin Ear Abnoy, at this stage. I had a squizz at the IP. GNL was my first thought because of the nym and the general trollfaffiness.

    cassandra – That GNL comment you showed me was lolworthy. Brains he ain’t.

  16. I feel like he must walk around with a permanent confused frown on his face, the poor little lamb.

  17. Troll,
    1. You don’t make any sense.
    2. No one asked for your “thoughts”.
    3. We’re already making a difference.
    4. We will continue to do so.
    5. Fuck off.

  18. Thanks for this article. I’m embarrassed to admit I was feeling hurt and disturbed by so many hateful comments I was reading tonight. They came from nerds hating and resenting women; just shocked me. I know comments shouldn’t get to you but these did for some reason. Funny thing is, men I know complain to me “why do attractive women like the jerk and not the nerd?” I hate to tell you this nerds, but YOU are the jerks. Some nerds are so resentful towards girls to the point of prejudice, and I think it’s because we don’t always pick them. Try being sincere, not sickeningly agreeable when we know no one is that nice, then flipping out at us later because we won’t “date the nice guy.” You arn’t the nice guy. A guy who sees a woman as a person first is preferable, doesn’t hurt if he has some self respect either. I’m sorry to rant, I don’t usually do this. I have some geeky guy friends who are great, but others I cut loose because I learned they were never interested in being my friend, they just saw it as an opportunity to try to date me; it hurt when I actually grew close to them as a friend only to have them hate me because I didn’t reciprocate sexual interest. I have alot of respect for a man who doesn’t blame others when things don’t go his way. An attractive man is self-aware and respectful to others. Weakness is when you have to sustain yourself only by cutting others down, that is the most unattractive thing.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 16,981 other followers

%d bloggers like this: