Booth babes need not apply
There is a growing chorus of frustration in the geek community with - and there's no other way to put this - pretty girls pretending to be geeks for attention.
Rebecca Watson's first-hand account of sexism in the skeptic community — and the 5,000+ comments it's inspired in the past 24 hours — illustrate that just because someone says they value "rational thought" doesn't mean they're not also a misogynist troll. But the controversy also highlights how hard it is for women to broach "feminist" topics within tight-knit communities. What are Watson's violently aggressive bullies so afraid of?
I think there is definitely an element of perceived sexual resentment involved in hostility towards "Geek Girls." When women enter a previously male-dominated field, there is sometimes a tacit assumption that this also signals "availability for sex" (and this is by no means limited to geeky activities- look at journalism or advertising in the middle of the 20th century). When that "availability for sex" is either implicitly or explicitly denied, the response can be hostility towards the newcomer. Compounding this is the issue that men belonging to geeky communities (and already having a degree of social outsider status), may not be all that well socialized in a conventional sense (or may have replaced conventional modes of socialization with in-group modes of socialization that have an oppositional relationship to convention). Having been involved in geeky communities for most of my life (not to mention having attended the University of Chicago), I am well aware of the role of non-standard modes of sociability in my own life, and how they may be perceived by outsiders.
I believe that these factors, plus a (at times legitimate) sense of grievance towards the mainstream, have combined to produce phenomena like the imagined "Geek Girl" who is only into geeky things because they are recently cool, or to meet men (who she nevertheless rejects, contributing to a self-fulfilling cycle of failure in the mind of the imaginer).
I also think that in some geeky communities, what has been perceived as a safe social space has contributed to the emergence of ways of speaking and interacting that are well outside the mainstream, such as explicit sexism and racism (much of it born out of a resentment towards the mainstream that may not be entirely illegitimate). With the mainstreaming of many aspects of geek culture, members of these communities are now being confronted by criticism of their behavior, and responding with resentment and hostility.
I would like to argue that it is still possible to maintain distinct geeky identities and communities without being hostile to newcomers and generally acting like dicks. I would also like to say that it is not OK to be angry at someone because they like something you don't like, or like something in a different way than you do (again this is not limited to traditionally geeky communities- check out amateur road cycling, and various websites with their lists of rules about how to be a "proper" cyclist). If you are responding to these things with a lot of anger, you might want to look at where that anger is coming from. Also, if you are generally being a sexist or racist dick, and people from outside your community are calling you on it, maybe think about how your community is enabling your dickish behavior, and how your behavior reflects on your community (this goes equally for geeks, nerds, jocks and Republicans).
The unfortunate part: whether I meant to or not, I've touched a nerve where respect toward women is concerned. I actually see now, with Marian Call, Wendy Hathaway, Liz Stricklen, Genevieve Dempre, Jessica Sides, Amy Ratcliffe, Taffeta Darling and all of these other incredibly smart, geeky females that I admire and respect (genuinely) calling this out and flat out saying "Look, you make good points but there's a bent here that borders on (or outright infringes in) misogyny" -- There's some reconsidering I need to do...
This is too important now. I can't just let this flow into the stream of things I've written and move on to the next thing. I can't treat this the same as I treat all of my other "Joe The Peacock" type angry-funny things.
I think I'm going to readdress my article(s) on this topic, and then only after a bit of soul-searching to find what it is that is actually causing my concern. Or, in other words, I'd like to start attacking the illness, not the symptoms. And after that, I'm going to welcome ANYONE, supporter or detractor, to converse with me about the new viewpoint and help me to understand what I'm not seeing. Because let's be frank: if I'm this confused by the outrage over the things I've written, and I cannot possibly understand what is being misread or how to get people this angry... It can't be all of those people.
I've screwed up somewhere, either in being blind to the unintended message, or in writing it in a way that isn't clear.
My new TARDIS startles me every so often as its engine noises will suddenly break the studio apartment silence. At first, I thought it was just random events, perhaps jostled into life by me moving around. Now, I'm beginning to wonder if it's returning from journeys through space and time just as I turn to look for the familiar sound.
I say "my" TARDIS. As anyone familiar with them knows, one does not own a TARDIS so much as have a relationship with one. We are still working out ours.
What we are seeing now, a generation later, are so-called "nerds" who were in no way victims of any sort of systematic abuse, adopting the rhetoric of victimhood even as they claim simultaneous superiority of their own mores, tastes, folkways etc. It is no surprise to me that discussions of minority representation in SF/fantasy, or the problems of cultural appropriation in the same often lead to messily hilarious explosions—the white male nerd has begun to believe his own press releases. They're the real victims, not those black people (who are cool and dangerous-looking and get all the booty!) nor all those people overseas (who never had to fight for the right to watch Dr. Who in order, and who can understand anime without subtitles) and thus any remarks that move the locus of victimhood—and the associated "topping from the bottom" fake victims use—from the white male nerd to any other party, including the white female whore nerd is greeting with flailing idiot outrage.
I read on Wikipedia that Nicholas Meyer actually had no idea what Star Trek was like, and was keen to make up his own stuff, which is probably what made that movie so good, as he was able to rethink and reinvigorate it.
When we talk about "geeks", and particularly when we talk about "geek culture", we are not talking about people who have been subjected to just a bit of mild teasing over their quirky taste in movies, OK?...
When an attractive woman enters this circle she is shunned because it's immediately assumed she couldn't possibly have withstood the same abuse due to her aesthetic and social advantages.
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