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To My Someday Daughter
September 16, 2011 1:48 AM   Subscribe

To My Someday Daughter, an article on Finkelgate and women in gaming by Geordie Tait.
posted by SkylitDrawl (86 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
TL;DR: Throwing an internet tantrum at some woman, attacking her and calling her names because she publicly rejected someone you identify with does not make you a "Nice/sensitive/caring guy".
posted by delmoi at 2:21 AM on September 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


If you are experiencing déjà vu, sweetheart, it's not because they changed something in the Matrix. (What? You don't know what that is? It's a movie that came out well before you were born, and had no sequels whatsoever. Honest.)

Heh, I wanna be the mother of his someday daughter!

... until I met your mother in 2008.

Drats!
posted by dabitch at 2:24 AM on September 16, 2011


Daa-ad! Dad! Shut up, dad!
posted by Segundus at 2:41 AM on September 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


I didn't read the whole thing. But I still feel insulted by it.

"A gamer might promise to treat his partner better than “some alpha male,” but what he really wants is a partner who will pop out of a Pokéball when A WILD LONELINESS APPEARS, use the FORNICATION ability, and then retreat mutely back into his collection, dormant until needed again."

Really, you spend the whole article talking about how women should be treated better than they are and choose to end it with a gaping generalization demeaning gamers. Really.
posted by j03 at 2:47 AM on September 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


j03: Clearly this guy knows gamers and can pinpoint specific criticisms about them, while gamers poop tons of criticisms on women without ever really interacting with them in any meaningful way.

The second I read this awesome article I knew half of MetaFilter (the champion dweeb half) would be immediately up in arms about it without actually considering its thesis. Bring it on!
posted by Mooseli at 2:58 AM on September 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hmm, it seems to be Patronizing Male Feminism week. I suppose I should have a go.

Dear Women Of the Universe
I would like you to know that unlike those insensitive other guys, I totally support your struggle against the hand of Male Privilege. I would never harass you on the street. I would never catcall. If I ever saw a man catcall a woman on the street, I would totally call him out on it, except for this damn tendonitis that means I can't ever risk any physical confrontation. I have the utmost respect for your incredible ability to walk down the street and go to work and stuff, in spite of being female in this hideous patriarchal society. But rest assured, whenever anyone uses sexist or patriarchal language on the Internet, I will always be there to admonish them, especially if its a woman using that language. So do not fear. I'm always there to protect you. And if you feel like doing anything in exchange, from a BJ to a humble handjob, well that's entirely your own decision and your own right to choose. If you wanted to be utterly ungrateful for my intense commitment to women's issues, in spite of all the effort I've made, I'd be completely OK with that.

So thanks, Women. Thanks for being you.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 3:00 AM on September 16, 2011 [19 favorites]


I have to say this didn't do very much for me. I think there's a few points hiding out in there but I found the hypothetical daughter framing awkward, and patronising.

More crucually, I felt like there was way too much of him in the article and not enough about the ostensible points and issues he wanted to discuss - which really, when it comes down to it - amounted to not much more than "two wrongs don't make a right" (or at least, that's the only non-muddled part of the thesis I could make out as an outsider).

The explosion of the internet and the almost supernova-like expansion of fan culture has exposed some wonderful writers and thinkers that would never have gotten the audience they deserve otherwise. By the same token, though, I think it puts out a lot of severely undercooked writers and writing. This second category relies more on almost adolescent-type narcissism, over-sharing and a cult of personality that takes cues from op-ed articles - the absolute nadir of professional writing imho - rather than solid features, criticism, news, or essays.

It's just not very strong, either as writing or argument, and I think the opacity actually helps contribute to the firestorms that piece like this tend to engender; the ambiguity makes for a horde of different mis/interpretations.
posted by smoke at 3:10 AM on September 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


Certainly there are lots of specific examples of (male) gamers being insensitive or downright nasty to women. But using that to say *ALL* gamers are jerks or even *MOST* gamers are jerks is an attention bias because negative behavior is getting all the attention here.

"Nerdy gamer boyfriend treats his lady right" doesn't make headlines.

I'm just saying it's wrong to make generalizations about women and it's wrong to make generalizations about (male) gamers.
posted by j03 at 3:13 AM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


In fact finkel is well known in the mtg community for being disqualified during a very high level game for allegedly cheating by having a card on his lap.
posted by Joe Chip at 3:25 AM on September 16, 2011


lolz, TheophileEscargot!
posted by taz at 3:34 AM on September 16, 2011


Mooseli: It's thesis seems to be "be nice, except to gamers because they're all horrible jerks."

Also, don't date boys who have serious outside interests or ambition.

It's on?
posted by j03 at 3:39 AM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Joe Chip: I think the card-in-lap disqualification was someone else (Mike Long?), not Jon Finkel.
posted by Urtylug at 3:47 AM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


But using that to say *ALL* gamers are jerks or even *MOST* gamers are jerks

I didn't read it that way. I read it to say, "The noisiest parts of gaming culture are often noisily hostile to women." Not all gamers. But honestly, the business about burying "FeministWhore" in the code as a stand-in for women is the kind of thing that suggests that programmers believe that this is the kind of thing that will be well-received and found funny by the bulk of the target audience, no?

Really, you spend the whole article talking about how women should be treated better than they are and choose to end it with a gaping generalization demeaning gamers.

I don't think so. That's why he says "a gamer." He's saying "a gamer may say A, but he means B." That means he's talking about the ones who say A, not all gamers. I think he's saying that the kind of gamer who goes on and on about alpha males and how unfair it is that they get all the babes is likely to harbor his own hostilities about women and often has an unrealistic expectation of how relationships should work.

It's a long piece, and I certainly don't agree with all of it, but I actually found it really interesting. And I have a pretty high sensitivity to Patronizing Male Feminism, which I didn't find this to be at all. The line about "feminist" sometimes meaning "someone who won't tolerate the only jokes I know how to make" encapsulates an experience I have often had but never been able to explain. (He says that's true for some gamers; I think it's true for some people -- he sees it among gamers because that's his sphere.)

Anyway. As I said, I don't agree with all of it, but I think it's well worth reading.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 3:47 AM on September 16, 2011 [11 favorites]


Joe Chip: I think the card-in-lap disqualification was someone else (Mike Long?), not Jon Finkel.

This is correct. Mike Long is a notorious cheater. Jon Finkel has never been, to my knowledge, DQed from a Magic event.
posted by explosion at 3:51 AM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


That seemed like a reasonable article hiding within a rather strained premise. I don't think his point can readily be argued with form a rational point of view, can it?
posted by maxwelton at 4:00 AM on September 16, 2011


Based on the other pieces on the site, Tait seems to be someone who considers himself an active member of the MTG/gaming community, and who was deeply embarrassed by a lot of unquestionably sexist behavior by other members of that same community after that Gawker article. And so instead of just complaining about it, he spoke up in a public fashion, not to internet women, and not really to his daughter, but towards the community itself. Good for him! Think about how many AskMe questions have been around issues of addressing racism/sexism/homophobia in social groups; making a public stand is hard. Whatever you may think of the rhetorical technique, the precise details, or the novelty of the points (although, ugh, I'd not heard of the "FeministWhore" comment thing), the general points are all valid and are, if nothing else, not internalized within the culture he's a part of and to whom he's addressing.
posted by Schismatic at 4:04 AM on September 16, 2011 [26 favorites]


I think he's saying that the kind of gamer who goes on and on about alpha males and how unfair it is that they get all the babes is likely to harbor his own hostilities about women and often has an unrealistic expectation of how relationships should work.

Well if he had said it that way, I might have given it more credence. Probably the worst part of this article is not so much what it says as how it says it.
posted by j03 at 4:13 AM on September 16, 2011


If he had said it that way...

In fairness, you get that vibe more if you read it all. I know it's long, and nobody has to read it, but if you don't read it, you may get a sense of the tone based on which sentences you happened upon.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 4:31 AM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


And so instead of just complaining about it, he spoke up in a public fashion, not to internet women, and not really to his daughter, but towards the community itself. Good for him!

I really liked that. The "asides to his imaginary daughter" got a little tedious to read, but maybe they had the benefit of having some people in his audience consider it from the same point of view. And really, his remarks were addressed entirely to his fellow men instead of trying to tell women something they already know (much appreciated).

I was feeling pretty discouraged yesterday about how so many feminism-related discussions here seem to get mired down in the same tired defensiveness and nit-picking and not believing women when they say something, but this article gives me hope. Tait isn't shy about admitting his faults. He's someone I might have given up as a lost cause if I'd read him a number of years ago. But he was able to change, and that gives me hope that maybe having the same discussions over and over really does make an impact to some people. That I can change, and others can change, and maybe the world is getting better in some small ways. It's rare to find someone who is able to look back and pull their indiscretions into the light and say, "Hey, wow, I was really a jackass and was actually part of huge problem."

(The part about internalized misogyny is the only bit that really made me cringe, and I'd feel the same way about a white person writing that way about internalized racism. That's where the whole talking-to-my-daughter bit got uncomfortably condescending.)
posted by Salieri at 4:32 AM on September 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


TL;DR: Look at me! I am great!
posted by CautionToTheWind at 4:32 AM on September 16, 2011


j03: Clearly this guy knows gamers and can pinpoint specific criticisms about them, while gamers poop tons of criticisms on women without ever really interacting with them in any meaningful way.
Here's the thing: How is this guy even characterizing "gamers"? Don't plenty of frat-boy alpha male types play Madden or Halo or those Modern Warfare games? This guy is talking about stereotypical nerds, and while there is probably more overlap then there is with, say, hardcore football fans I don't know that the correlation is really that high these days. Maybe if you restrict it to people who play card games like MTG
posted by delmoi at 4:53 AM on September 16, 2011


I love the illustration (where "love" = makes me want to cry). The illustrator is Justin Treadway, who is a gaming artist, and also known as Griffen Valentine.
posted by taz at 4:53 AM on September 16, 2011


From the article: This is a sentiment that sexually assaulted women have been hearing from the police for years. Elly Hart uses it here as she shucks and jives to appease the multitudinous, nerd-raging masses. In her defense, master's house was on fire, and there was a warm corner in the attic waiting for her if she was able to dump some water on the blaze.

That seems to me to be such a staggeringly offensive and inappropriate thing to say that it pretty much torpedoes the entire piece. Whatever they might say or do, (effectively) calling someone an Uncle Tom when one is not only not a member of the group that the target is accused of being a traitor to, but on the privileged end of the axis from the one accused- that is something that's well beyond fraught, and indeed, I can't really picture any scenario where it would be an appropriate thing to do. Also in the category of things that probably just shouldn't be done at all are highly charged racial analogies used when the subject isn't about race, and one is not a member of any of the categories in question. Tate seems to have absolutely no idea what sort of fire he's playing with in using that kind of rhetoric- he just dives right in and makes use of the most inflammatory analogies he can. It wouldn't have seemed quite as bad if he'd made something along the lines of a "Ladies Against Women" joke (though one should still be quite careful there, I think), but no, he goes right for the lines about shucking and jiving and the master giving her a warm corner in the attic. And he seems to be trying to play this whole house slave analogy for laughs, which... no. Just no.

Add to that the paragraph after it, which to me comes off as a weird sort of "feminist" pseudo-chivalry that ends up basically denying his target her agency- Hart is a female writer for a tech site so she has to internalize misogyny just to get by, we shouldn't get that mad at her or consider her fully responsible for what she says, and all this after right after he effectively called her an Uncle Tom- to me it all comes off so wildly condescending that I think it crosses right over into being outright sexist, and thus pretty much by all itself makes the article into another unfortunate example of Patronizing Male Attempts at Feminism, IMO. It's a shame- there really is a lot of horrible misogyny among gamers, but this piece just made me think he needed to do some more work on himself before he took on the world.
posted by a louis wain cat at 5:02 AM on September 16, 2011 [6 favorites]


The patronizing nice guy attitude in the post is pretty awful, but so is his attitude towards us barnacles. Knock it off, dude!
posted by barnacles at 5:16 AM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


1. a whole lot of the positive feedback i see for that gizmodo article seems less about any real kind of social concern and a lot more a kind of encyclopedia-dramatica style troll applause, which is okay i guess but i dont know if it is really that good for legit/real social change?

2. a whole lot of culture is pretty fucked, "gaming" whatever the fuck that is included, who the fuck even gives a shit about gaming when there are larger legal legislative etc things going on that have like hundreds of times the impact that some dumb hobby does, that seems kind of deck chairs/titanic to me, plus what the fuck even is a "gamer"

3. i do not deny that many of his criticisms are legitimate but the author has set himself up in a position where he cannot lose. any criticism of his article or of the gizmodo article for that matter can be indicted as aggrieved dork pride-injury (if it's a dude) or Uncle Tomming (if it's a lady). congrats on the semantic fortress i guess?

4. weird patronising tone? uhh thanks, i guess i am your daughter, its nice that you are explaining things to me, you are one of the Good Ones??

3. also could someone make a case for how this is not built on shaming the mentally ill, because it seems like it's a list of Serious Shit with a little spike of troll bait at the end


basically between the lame gizmodo, the rage at the gizmodo, and this kind of fulsome article, i think sexual reproduction/gender has shown itself to be a pretty obvious failure, to the clone machine
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 5:24 AM on September 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Kudos to him for not only owning up to his own 'smug, intellectually worthless' rants of the past, but actually quoting from and linking to them as examples of the behaviour he's condemning. While they're just as painful to read as he says, there's so many rants like that out there today - it's encouraging to read one while knowing the author has since become somebody who can look back on it, cringe, and kick himself.
posted by Catseye at 5:28 AM on September 16, 2011 [9 favorites]


also i dont know if indicting a bunch of dudes for people in their circle being shitty is going to do anything besides get them to circle the wagons around those shitty dudes and enable them

also fuck this white dude quoting fucking malcom x to call women uncle toms, that was some cringe-inducing shit
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 5:29 AM on September 16, 2011


TL;DR: Throwing an internet tantrum at some woman, attacking her and calling her names because she publicly rejected someone you identify with does not make you a "Nice/sensitive/caring guy".

I don't know if you meant for it to read this way, but it looks like you're accusing Jon Finkel of perpetuating all this nastiness. I don't know a damn thing about the guy other than what I've read from this and the other FPP, but it seems like he's been very restrained about this and it's instead been "The Geek Community™" that has been very publicly spitting venom at Bereznak. Am I mistaken?
posted by to sir with millipedes at 5:31 AM on September 16, 2011


Finkel's Twitter feed from August 30th, the day after the article was posted. (read from the bottom up.)

Jon Finkel
Id like to thank everyone for their messages, and Im sorry I cant reply to them all - especially all the date requests from cute nerdy girls
30 Aug

Jon Finkel
At that point I just thought she was a nice girl, which I still mostly think. God knows we've all made poor decisions in our lives.
30 Aug

Jon Finkel
But its raining heavily out.Eventually I suggest we head out anyways and luckily I find a cab. We go our separate ways and never speak again
30 Aug

Jon Finkel
Since I know she works around the corner. An hour later we meet up and it quickly becomes clear I'm bored, she's bored(I assume)
30 Aug

Jon Finkel
and I'm a bit bored and I know she works right by me and seemed like the sort of girl I should like so I text her about grabbing a bite
30 Aug

Jon Finkel
She then texts me about serial killer dreams and I dont reply because I didnt think we had much chemistry. A couple days later I'm home
30 Aug

Jon Finkel
Next day the girl tweets me about what shes reading about me, my reply is merely a prophetic, "Remember to use your powers only for good"
30 Aug

Jon Finkel
Thanks for all the support internet. People want "my side" but it was really a complete non event. Go out on a date that's kinda blah.
30 Aug
posted by to sir with millipedes at 5:36 AM on September 16, 2011


PS: nevermind, Delmoi, I just fail at reading comprehension.
posted by to sir with millipedes at 5:37 AM on September 16, 2011


Despite some miscalculations w/r/t framing choices and comparisons that will probably torpedo the essay's reception, I think this was a good piece, an accurate characterization of the misogyny that's shot through the gaming world, and an example of the kind of attitudes I'd like to see more of in the geek world.

Accusing him of making unfair generalizations about all gamers is missing the point. Huge swaths of gamers ARE like that; their preponderance is the whole problem. To turn around and say "ah ha, I think YOU are the prejudiced one! You're racist against gamers!" or whatever is being deliberately obtuse, in my view.

I only made one dismissive comment about the girl when the whole Gawker mess was posted, and I feel pretty bad about it now, particularly in light of the utter embarrassing shitstorm of misogyny that ensued. I'd go back and delete it if I could, but it's good that I can't.

We all have to own the shitty things that we say.
posted by pts at 5:44 AM on September 16, 2011 [13 favorites]


Throwing an internet tantrum at some woman, attacking her and calling her names because she publicly rejected someone you identify with does not make you a "Nice/sensitive/caring guy".

Uh, He doesn't do that?
posted by empath at 6:04 AM on September 16, 2011


empath: No, but many other guys did, on his behalf.
posted by pts at 6:11 AM on September 16, 2011


Q: is it possible to think the gizmodo article was gross without being a misogynist/uncle tom
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 6:18 AM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Very interesting, and for the most part very perceptive, but in need of a good edit. It could have been a third the length and said just as much just as well.
posted by grimmelm at 6:24 AM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


You have to admire the guy for admitting he was wrong. On the Internet, no less!

I'm a woman who plays games (including Magic) and I actively avoid most of the gaming "scene" because I'm incredibly sensitive. While the article has its problems, it gets a check in the "positive" column from me.

There was some pre-publishing hype on Twitter about how Tait was going to post something big and amazing, so I'm certain a lot of Magic players have at least given this a skim. Tait had the good sense to use one of the most important points in The Gift of Fear as his epigraph for part 7. If that gets even one man to think about male privilege, then Tait has done a great service for the Magic community.
posted by giraffe at 6:37 AM on September 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


I don't know if you meant for it to read this way, but it looks like you're accusing Jon Finkel of perpetuating all this nastiness.
Yeah, as other people pointed out, I didn't. I was talking about people who 'identified' themselves as being like Finkel, even though Finkel wasn't actually all that much like them. Maybe a lot of those guys harbored fantasies that they were so smart and so good at games that they'd one day make enough money playing that they could afford to start their own hedge funds (and be good at it, because they are so smart).

It was probably a shock to them that even their fantasy selves could still get rejected by girls.

Finkel also did a reddit AMA, btw which went into more detail
posted by delmoi at 6:47 AM on September 16, 2011


I think he spends far too much time beating up a straw man: I don't think people were angered at her because she didn't want to date a Magic player. They were angry because she went out and called him a liar, and mocked him and called him names in a very public forum. It's not OK to treat people that way. That's really nothing to do with misogyny.

Then, he overlooks human nature, I think: when people are mad, they use whatever insults they have ready to hand. Those may be misogynistic insults, but that's because we're in a misogynistic culture. It would be nice if gamers were a vanguard that was better than the culture as a whole, I guess, but it's useless and unfair to single them out because they are not. Unless you can show that gamers are more likely to be sexist and use "bitch" or "whore" as an insult, or treat women badly in other ways, than the male population as a whole, I don't see that it says anything much about gamers in particular.
posted by tyllwin at 6:47 AM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


> Q: is it possible to think the gizmodo article was gross without being a misogynist/uncle tom

That was my biggest problem with the piece, This, of course, alludes to you. (Taken on face value, that is a very weird sentence.) Although I thought Elly Hart's response was muddled and condescending, I agreed with her central thesis, which was basically: this was a dick move. Because it was. It was a total dick move.

It felt like Tait was defending Alyssa Bereznak's article to help set up his central thesis, which was that gamer guys can be awfully hostile towards women. (Which, as a woman and ex-gamer: I concur, sir.) I think the piece would've been stronger if he'd taken a more nuanced approach, and acknowledged both that a) what Bereznak did was wrong, but b) the reaction to her, both the depth of it and the kinds of slurs that were used against her, were ridiculously over the top. It was like bringing a WMD to a knife-fight.

I felt the piece was strongest when it left the gamer world behind and talked more generally about men and women. Perhaps not coincidentally, that was when he was quoting Gavin de Beck.
posted by Georgina at 6:52 AM on September 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


I hadn't seen that Finkle FPP, so that was interesting to (belatedly) read. The main article here, though, had some interesting points but was a chore and a half to read. He badly needs an editor; I also wish he had just directly addressed his audience (gamer men) rather than used the cutesy device of supposedly writing a letter to an unborn daughter.

I dunno, I'm not a gamer at all, but I certainly had my share of social awkwardness as a youth, so there's a sense of connection on that. In some ways, though, I think there is a meta-level to this, where the kind of gamers/nerds he is talking about know what the stereotypes are, and use those to give themselves permission to behave inappropriately, becoming a self-reinforcing cycle.
posted by Forktine at 6:54 AM on September 16, 2011


Do I think Alyssa's article was nasty? yep. But I'll also point out that if some dude wrote an article on his date with a woman who's a nationally recognized toddler pageant organizer or maybe a doll house collector... women would not be lining up to call him names.

This article was nice just to bring attention to the ugly stuff that kinda flows under a lot of the backlash to Alyssa's piece. Some of these guys were so full of hate and rage, it's hard to look at. Alyssa was not kind. She failed to be funny and should have thought about her audience, but i don't think the reaction that she got was reasonable. BUT it IS the internet. People let their mean come out to play here.

Her attitude after seems to be a little weird. Twitter has her snapping back some choice comebacks to her attackers- but hasn't figured out that she did anything mean.


Of course there are female gamers, but it is a very male-heavy hobby. My awesome boyfriend Griphus plays magic with his friends and has been trying for years to get me to play. I really just don't have much interest.
posted by Blisterlips at 6:55 AM on September 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


Q: is it possible to think the gizmodo article was gross without being a misogynist/uncle tom

See, this is the sort of comment that makes these kinds of discussions so tiresome because...of course it is, and you know it and I know it and everyone knows it. Plenty of people have already mentioned here things they didn't like about the article (including me, although I approve its message overall). It would be nice to raise the level of discussion above knee-jerk defensiveness.

Unless you can show that gamers are more likely to be sexist and use "bitch" or "whore" as an insult, or treat women badly in other ways, than the male population as a whole, I don't see that it says anything much about gamers in particular.

Why in the world not? Why does he have to prove that gamers are *worse* than the general population (which is already bad enough) in order to address gross sexism? Isn't it enough to say, "Hey, here are some real problems in the community that we need to address?"

That is the way progress is made. You don't fight sexism/racism/homophobia by saying, "Well, that's the way the culture is so I'll have to wait for the culture to get better first." He wants to change the community he's a part of for the better, and I'm sure he'll face a lot of heat for doing so. Good for him.
posted by Salieri at 6:56 AM on September 16, 2011 [7 favorites]


(Oh crap, and I misread - I totally skipped over the word "gizmodo", and that's entirely my fault. I apologize for misreading you.)
posted by Salieri at 7:04 AM on September 16, 2011


If your first instinct when you hear the word “feminist” is to say “those man-haters want equality, but they still want me to pay for everything, hurf durf!” then you currently have as accurate an understanding of feminism as a confectioner would have of a Titan II missile schematic. You know those congressmen who say that Grand Theft Auto IV is a “crime simulator” that is “training new felons?” That's you, and feminism.

I know you can do better.


Sorry, I know I'm supposed to suit up for another fun BoyZone "how dare he point out that gamer nerds aren't always the white knights of goodness, and that my sexual frustration isn't completely rational and justified!" Pearl-Clutchin' and Knee-Jerkin jamboree, but I agree with everything written in said article. I've been a [video]gamer since my earliest memory, but Gamer and nerd "culture" is downright embarrassing. We need more articles like this, and more of this self-examination, not less.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 7:10 AM on September 16, 2011 [9 favorites]


I stand by my initial comment in that thread, personally. It was a gut reaction to reading the piece cold. The incredible internet-wide pile-on seemed a bit excessive, though, but you can't say that she didn't deserve scorn for that post.
posted by empath at 7:17 AM on September 16, 2011


no one deserves scorn for anything
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 7:22 AM on September 16, 2011


Isn't it enough to say, "Hey, here are some real problems in the community that we need to address?"


Maybe it should be, but as a practical matter, not usually, no. You're chastising and pointing out people in the community as problems there. That may be enough if the problem is unique to that community, i.e if the community doesn't live up to societal norms. Maybe even enough if the problem is one that directly goes against the group's stated or implicit values, e.g. "we're the humane society, we have to treat animals better than society as a whole."

But when the things that define community are completely unrelated to the problematic behavior, I don't think you'll get far with chastisement. When gamer/nerd treatment of women is just like the treatment of women buy the guys at the gym or the sales meeting, the whole weight of society is opposed to you. Scolding may improve the community, but it will be by driving members out, to set up camp elsewhere,or to conceal their opinions, but neither of those things is real change.

If you want to initiate change and make your community the avant-garde, you've got to convince them to become the leading edge in that social change. The tactics you'd have to use for that are different, to inspire vs to scold.
posted by tyllwin at 7:23 AM on September 16, 2011


It's been very disheartening to read the responses to the Finkel article. Yes, what she wrote was dumb, and publishing it in Gizmodo even dumber (though predictable; the Gawker family of websites is all about getting pageviews). But, like, this is a shock? That someone who you're meeting through a dating website is going to be evaluating you, looking for things that match or don't match? As a person deep in the online-dating trenches right now, I'd want to know that my potential boyfriend spent most of his free time playing a game that takes many hours to master and that I was uninterested in playing. (And I've played Magic, I know what I'm talking about.) And I would be mildly unhappy if that kind of information wasn't revealed in that person's profile. She shouldn't have called him a dweeb, but are gamers so incredibly sensitive and sheltered that they haven't realized that there are a lot of (sane, nice, discerning) women out there who don't see an interest in gaming as a "plus"? The howls of rage about her article are a bit much. So one lady doesn't want to date a dude because he plays Magic all the time. HOW IS THIS NEWS. Why should it make anyone this incredibly angry?
posted by chowflap at 7:32 AM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


My point is that the reaction to her article makes gamers as a whole look really, really bad. So, kudos for Geordie Tait for trying to smack some sense into these guys.
posted by chowflap at 7:35 AM on September 16, 2011


Jesus Christ, this fucking article goes on and on. TL;DR:

Dear Daughter: Don't date gamers. They are emotionally damaged. Some beyond all hope of repair. Despite what gamers tell you, gaming is an escape. Trust me when I tell you that they don't know what they are escaping from, and even if they did, you sure as hell wouldn't want to hear it. No well adjusted person wants to spend countless hours on a fantasy.

EOM
posted by Pastabagel at 7:39 AM on September 16, 2011


I really liked this article.

There were parts that weren't perfect. There were things I'd have put differently. That's fine. It really is. I would never find fault with someone for not quite being finished on their journey yet - I don't know anyone who is.

At root, though, what he's doing is the one thing I can ever ask anyone to do when talking about feminism: He is considering the experiences of others, he is taking his privilege into account, and he's actually listening to what women are saying about the experiences of women.

And when confronted with information that makes him uncomfortable, he's not going with the gut reaction of trying to prove that it's wrong first and foremost. I wouldn't go so far as to say that misogyny is endemic among gamers, but I've seen that reflexive reaction so, so much. It makes me really happy to see someone who gets it and who is calling out shitty behavior when he sees it. If there are a few missteps along the way, then that's fine. His attitude is completely the right one.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 7:40 AM on September 16, 2011 [9 favorites]


I'm a geek/gamer girl. I go to Dragoncon. I find Stormtroopers hot. But then I read this and it's not that you're a gamer or a geek. You're just fucking boring, whining, and bitter. STFU and pass the controller---bitch.
posted by stormpooper at 7:42 AM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


pastabagel can you link me to your blog/youtube/vlog pls

i think you have got valuable stuff to say and i want you to write for my magazine
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 7:46 AM on September 16, 2011


no one deserves scorn for anything

you can't possibly mean that.
posted by empath at 7:47 AM on September 16, 2011


(its a blog on blogger its not really a magazine)
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 7:48 AM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I really can't understand people who go the anecdotal route when someone writes an article with a valid criticism about a specific community. Yes there is always exceptions to the rules, but last I heard humans are social beings and tend to act the same way when in groups. "Gamers" are no different from any other social group so for the people saying he is generalizing gamers he is clearly not. Browsing through the internet it can be depressing to see so many self righteous men and boys who feel they are better than everyone else because they flip some cards or push a button. It's just a hobby like any other hobby.

Also, the article though long is a great read to me. I think the author did a stand up job of addressing these issues even though I think he should have laid a little criticism to the Gizmodo author. However, I understand why because she has every right not to find a guy attractive because of his hobby, job, career, etc.

Lastly for the people who do this TL;DR nonsense, it exposes more of your lack of a long attention span rather than whether the article is good or not. I really don't understand the reason of typing it. *shrugs*
posted by LilSoulBrother85 at 8:00 AM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


@empath of course it's an exaggeration but scorn can combine with/is conducive to Moral Righteousness, schadenfreude, anger etc. and can turn toxic pretty easily. i think that there are situations in which scorn and empathy/communication are at odds.

also this article is kind of set on turning a gawker pageview-bait post into a Moral Thing which imho allows Gawker to gain way way more moral high ground than they really have any legit claim to. i really don't like how much good PR theyre getting for something so cynical and exploitative.
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 8:05 AM on September 16, 2011


. . . I find Stormtroopers hot. . . .
posted by stormpooper at 10:42 AM on September 16 [+] [!]

To poop on? [/Triumph]
posted by The Bellman at 8:09 AM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, Stormpooper, no. Why'd you gotta go and do that?

Part of the point of this admittedly long article is that the hobby marginalizes,stereotypes, and sexualizes females -- both gamers and not. By making your hobby about sex ("I find stormtroopers hot!") you're making it harder on the rest of us. You're saying that all we are, do, think about is sex. And you're fetishizing yourself (and, by extension, me). What compelled you to bring that up? I'm serious -- what? Is that the best thing about Star Wars, to you? That's the thing you love the most?

Now, having that opinion, fine. But bringing it up as a defense of females who play games? That's just.... making things worse.

Of course, your gendered insult in the end makes me think maybe I've read your comment wrong and you were intentionally satirizing the responses this article gets from men who refuse to consider their both privilege and their treatment of women. If that's the case, I apologize for the above.
posted by AmandaA at 8:30 AM on September 16, 2011 [5 favorites]


does anyone have that one interview where nick denton talked about how he patterns himself on Hearst? that creeped me way the fuck out.
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 8:34 AM on September 16, 2011


Great read! It could have been more focused, with clearer arguments and chains of supporting evidence in each section, and yeah, the "to my daughter" thin wore a bit thin, but what the hell. He covered a lot of territory and did so thoughtfully. Just about every section had at least one or two arguments or ideas that deserve careful considered.

Two in particular stood out to me. The marriage issues described in section 8, and the linked article from the MTG player about his marriage, was chilling. I believe many people would benefit from reading it with a mind open enough to let it past their defenses.

The other massively, hugely important idea that resonated with me in particular is this one, already quoted above:

You know those congressmen who say that Grand Theft Auto IV is a “crime simulator” that is “training new felons?” That's you, and feminism.
posted by jsturgill at 8:57 AM on September 16, 2011


...careful consideration. Christ.
posted by jsturgill at 9:02 AM on September 16, 2011


It is good that Tait was outraged by some of the more idiotic responses to write something about misogyny in part of the gaming culture (or gaming fora, rather). However, in talking about gamers, he seems to wield too wide a brush. First of all, let me say that I have not enough experience with the culture of Magic pro-gaming to comment on it. However, the word 'gamer' evokes video games, and he also writes about video games later on in his article.

My main objection is that he doesn't seem to address the fact that a significant percentage of gamers, often the majority, are women. 53% of gamers in mobile platforms, 42% of online players, 42% of players in the USA. According to the last link, 72% of U.S. households play games and the average player is 37 years old. In the UK, 59% of 6-56 year-olds are gamers with 48% being women and half of the 36-50s playing games according to the Beeb.

Seeing as a majority of people plays games, it behooves us to ask why societal norms aren't followed online. Other Mefites have suggested that aspects like casual misogyny are a reflection of society's overall mores. I tend to agree, but I also think that the lack of a sense of community and regulation and, in a sense, a variation on the tragedy of the commons very often make online interactions poorer both for women and for men who prefer a non-toxic environment. These are factors are counteracted in part by the creation of communities that enforce their own standards like Gamers with jobs, mefight or some of the various WoW guilds. An issue is that huge, prominent fora, like Xbox live, poison the well with their non-existent standards.

I still think it dilutes his point when he has a 'humorous' geek card that mentions 'acted like a douche' to establish his cred. I (and you perhaps) might not be the intended audience here, but the gaming population is more representative of the general population than the [geek stereotype] he seems to be talking about. In the end, though, I'm largely sympathetic to the things he says in his conclusion and I'm sure that registering publicly his disapproval of his past words is an important step for him, too.

Everyone needs a hug, you know?
posted by ersatz at 9:26 AM on September 16, 2011


Alternate TL;DR: Tait used to be a dick to women and feels the need to share his Hero's Journey under the guise of talking about a current event. Continues by supporting an asshole to prove how amazing he is at understanding gender dynamics.

Now if we could just get him to realize that both the ill-defined "gamers" and women are not a single unitary type of person we'll be getting somewhere.
posted by soma lkzx at 9:31 AM on September 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


@Amanda.

I go to bed by 9pm after an hour hour work day and with my 2.5 year old toddler who goes from Star Wars light saber fighting with me to football to "where's my Spiderman costume?" in 3 hours before bed non-stop. Trust me, I'm not thinking about sex 24/7 while gaming, working, or playing with my son. Sad that you would think that after a comment. And yes, I do find Stormtroopers hot. So what? If a gamer/geek thinks that's what ALL women do--geeks or not--then that's just stupid.

I've stayed up 24 hours to get through a game (albeit with a walkthrough--sue me). I've gone to GenCon, local ComicCon and DragonCon and had a blast. Not because I'm that sexualized fetish girl flaunting my website to gamers, but because I had fun with the company who was around me. I met all sorts of nice, great, smart, funny people. I felt like I belonged because outside--I just don't. I can't even fill up my 10 friends/family plan frequent numbers. So in a way, I get the lonliness, the outcast, the feeling the odd person out. And sorry if I relate more to guys (who are the majority of gamers). Work and outside my life it's always been that way. It's not my fault I join a men's hockey team and a women's hockey team and low and behold it's the women who are all "I can't practice with you, I'm waiting for my friend." WTF is that? They created their own stereotype of 'the bitch'. Not me.

All I was saying was that this piece was ridiculously long, unnecessary, and I couldn't even finish reading it because it was just one whinebag of a piece. Geeks aren't the only peopel who get dissed, not with the popular crowd, or gets the girl in the end.

I worry more about corporate and "SouthSide" Chicago men thinking than I do about Magic the Gathering Gamers. The first two are way more harmful to the feminist movement than gamers and geeks.

And I prefer the second Star Wars. The first one, Vader's helmut is small, dull, and tacky. The second one it's bigger, shinier, and just more powerful.

And if that comment/observance is too sexual for a geek well...a cigar is sometimes just a cigar.
posted by stormpooper at 9:59 AM on September 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm pretty much with FAMOUSMONSTER on this one. We can acknowledge that parts of the article are problematic and that maybe he needs an editor, but it's somewhat heartening to know that this guy might actually listen to the criticism and learn from it, rather than blowing up in your face and saying it's your fault for being offended.

I am cynical enough to think that the article will ultimately have little effect on the overall community, but I'm still pleased to see it. Just because something may not be world-shaking doesn't mean that it's worth nothing.
posted by ashirys at 10:02 AM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


@Stormpooper:

Sorry, I think I failed to explain my problem properly. I certainly didn't mean to question your geek-cred.

What I should have said was, "By bringing up sex in a a defense of female geeks, those who believe that we, all of us, are nothing but "that sexualized fetish girl flaunting my website to gamers" are going to continue to believe it."

It's just that the comment seemed irrelevant to the discussion -- why does it matter that you're attracted to stormtroopers? -- and smacked of something the type of person you mention in your second comment would say for titillation, to get a rise (...literally) out of the stereotypical basement dweller.

And I find the thing about corporate sexism interesting. It's more fiscally harmful, for sure, but I think normalization of misogyny is harmful no matter where it comes from. So, yeah, even though the piece could have used an editor (it was a bit tl) I was glad that someone sat down to say, "no, we should think about this."
posted by AmandaA at 10:32 AM on September 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


[Email or MeTa with the personal business, please, folks. ]
posted by restless_nomad at 12:53 PM on September 16, 2011


This article isn't deeply flawed; it's fatally flawed--maybe the worst article that could be written on the subject. It's not just that Tait employs the endlessly-discursive, overly-long style that I see in a lot of nerd writing about serious subjects that comes off as passive-agressive--the "I'll get to my point when I'm damn well and ready to" approach--but that he's so self-righteous since the sexist scales fell from his eyes on the road to Damascus that he not only justifies Bereznak's trolling by saying that, well, MtG dudes are totally like that, but even takes Elly Hart to task for allegedly being a "house negro" before lathering on the condescension:
Now listen—you mustn't be too upset with Miss Hart. She's a female writer for a tech website, and that is a very, very difficult job. In order to fit in, she has had to internalize all the ways that boys in her industry treat girls poorly and take them for granted. It's okay to blame her less than you do the boys who were mean. As you grow, I'll be proud of you if you tend to assign blame to power and tend to forgive the oppressed.
He follows it up with: "Some have said that Alyssa was trolling, but whether she was or wasn't does not matter anymore." Well, you know, I rather think that it does.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:23 PM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm a gamer. I'm married. My wife's not a gamer. We work it out. We have kids. Girls. They sometimes like to play games, but they sometimes don't. Some day, they may choose to date somebody. This whole topic is pedantic.
posted by Chuffy at 1:40 PM on September 16, 2011


-- why does it matter that you're attracted to stormtroopers? --

Maaaannn people just don't get my sense of humor.

You're a Jedi, aren't you?
posted by stormpooper at 1:51 PM on September 16, 2011


My main objection is that he doesn't seem to address the fact that a significant percentage of gamers, often the majority, are women. 53% of gamers in mobile platforms, 42% of online players, 42% of players in the USA. According to the last link, 72% of U.S. households play games and the average player is 37 years old. In the UK, 59% of 6-56 year-olds are gamers with 48% being women and half of the 36-50s playing games according to the Beeb.
Yeah, he's using "gamer" to mean, basically, "nerd" He doesn't seem to realize that there is a huge range of 'gamers' encompassing much of the the human race. Old grannies playing Wii. People playing farmville. Whatever. I think he meant to restrict it to card games/fantasy games (he is apparently big in the 'magic' world, or something?)
posted by delmoi at 2:08 PM on September 16, 2011


Can we all agree that Jon Finkel did the right thing by not responding to Hart's article?
posted by CCBC at 2:21 PM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


He follows it up with: "Some have said that Alyssa was trolling, but whether she was or wasn't does not matter anymore." Well, you know, I rather think that it does.

I don't know... what she wrote was just so dumb and pointless and dull. To me, it was a little bit like calling someone a poopyhead. Kind of hard to get too worked up over such weak sauce.

I've tried to figure out what on earth the point of the thing was, and I've settled on this scenario being probable: She had a wicked hangover, something due, and no ideas, so she spent 10 minutes trying to make a funny anecdote about an Okay Cupid date before staggering off to find a greasy breakfast.

Or similar. The flu instead of a hangover. Staggered off for a bowl of chicken soup. I don't know. It just seemed like something that was written off the top of her head and embellished with sarcasm to cover the fact that it didn't have any point or thesis or even amusing observation. It was totally flat, boring and inconsequential.

It was silly, the response has been silly, and while I do appreciate this guy tackling the subject of sexism in gaming and he makes many good points, using her as a rally 'round figure is a little silly. The only person who hasn't been silly is Finkle, as far as I can see.
posted by taz at 2:21 PM on September 16, 2011


Can we all agree that Jon Finkel did the right thing by not responding to Hart's article?

Do you mean Bereznak's article? Hart's article was "Alyssa Bereznak Just Reminded Us That Women Can Be Predators Online Too", which apparently makes her a "house negro".
posted by the_artificer at 2:42 PM on September 16, 2011


on sexism in gaming: is it possible that the enhanced agency lent the player by the control they necessarily have has the potential to make games a uniquely empowering art form

i ask this because games and theater share territory and feminist theater seems to be pretty alive at least from what i can tell
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 2:45 PM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


My son plays cards at StarCityGames most weekends. He wants to make a living at Yu-Gi-Oh. There are very, very few girls there, but they're all treated with respect. So I can't speak to corporate sexism, but the players themselves seem pretty evolved.
posted by headnsouth at 2:58 PM on September 16, 2011


If you're watching somebody trying to paint a barn, and your response to that attempt to paint the barn is "Stop painting with such a wide brush, because you're getting paint on me; I'm not a barn," I would like to suggest that you shut your mouth and stop complaining, because complaining about getting painted isn't doing anything to get the barn painted. Yes, I realize I'm not helping to paint the barn by saying this, and they're getting paint on me, too, but getting a little bit painted isn't nearly as bad as letting the barn continue to weather without paint, and spectators like us need to either pick up a brush or get the hell out of the way.
posted by jsnlxndrlv at 4:45 PM on September 16, 2011


It was silly, the response has been silly, and while I do appreciate this guy tackling the subject of sexism in gaming and he makes many good points, using her as a rally 'round figure is a little silly. The only person who hasn't been silly is Finkle, as far as I can see.

This about sums up my feeling on the matter. Using a crappy article which really was insulting to a large number of perfectly great people as the hill you want to die on for even an important issue is a strategic and, I think, moral error.
posted by Justinian at 5:34 PM on September 16, 2011


Please try to resist the urge to critique the part of the article that offended you, without critiquing the article as such. This thing is long because it's trying to give a fairly comprehensive overview of the various angles that male chauvinism can come from in the gaming scene. The hypothetical daughter-character makes those things easier to point out, but it is really an article by a white male gamer to other white male gamers.
posted by LogicalDash at 6:24 PM on September 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Do you mean Bereznak's article?
Yes, thanks. Whichever Alyssa was.
posted by CCBC at 7:02 PM on September 16, 2011


Please try to resist the urge to critique the part of the article that offended you, without critiquing the article as such.

I'm not sure I understand what this means. "Without critiquing the article as such"?
posted by Justinian at 7:41 PM on September 16, 2011


I think it means if a part of the article offended you, try not to judge the whole article.

I wouldn't agree with that as there is quite a lot to dislike here. His nastiness toward "gamers" as a whole. His pretty offensive use of uncle tom all the while slapping himself on the back about how great he is since his "conversion".

I'm pretty much 100% sure that whatever good he might be hoping to do isn't going to happen as a result of this, except for perhaps some of the people he knows personally, but that could have been achieved without a long sprawling article.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 4:28 AM on September 17, 2011


Man, I sure am glad the gaming community has become so liberated and gender-equal! I mean, since I last checked women were routinely lambasted with aggressive sexual comments in online games and most of the few female leads that existed were giant tittied objects and women who worked in the gaming industry routinely complained of sexist and good-ol-boy attitudes. Tait must be WAY behind the times for this article to be so completely irrelevant! Good thing Metafilter is here to set him straight!
posted by schroedinger at 7:27 AM on September 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


That sort of sarcasm is one of the more poisonous forms of discourse here, actually.
posted by Justinian at 11:46 AM on September 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


I really wanted to like this article, and did for about the first 3,000 words. He has some very good points in there, but they're buried and obfuscated by the lulzy tone. The "open letter" thing doesn't bother me as much as the "look at my clever writing style" thing. Murder your darlings, people.
posted by Phire at 6:45 AM on September 20, 2011


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