An Eloquent Apology For Geek Misogyny To A Woman That Doesn't Exist (Yet)

Geek men like to believe that we're the sensitive, thoughtful and caring men that attractive women often pass over for arsehole alpha male types. Recently male geek culture as a whole proved that not to be the case.

Late last month a Gizmodo story about an OkCupid encounter with a champion Magic: The Gathering player brought the full force of male geek fury down upon the head of the article's author, Alyssa Bereznak. In a lengthy letter to the daughter he may never have, Star City Games columnist Geordie Tait grabs male geekdom by the scruff of the neck and rubs their noses in what they've done.

Some have said that Alyssa was trolling, but whether she was or wasn't does not matter anymore. The furious punishment became, after a short while, more significant than the crime. It continued long after any compassionate person would have kept his silence. For each studious rebuttal, there were nine withering, sexist remarks riding sidecar. And this I believe, kiddo-the man who leans in for insult number one-thousand, having already seen the first nine-hundred ninety-nine reprisals vault from the barbed tongues of his peers, is furthest in the wrong.

Tait walks his fictional offspring through the various forms the Bereznak hate took over the course of the backlash, from gendered insults to ironically shallow responses to her perceived shallowness, before taking her through the reasons behind those response. Reasons like pride, and fear.

Now, pumpkin, pretend you're a man. What's your greatest fear in a romantic situation?

Give up? More than anything, we fear being laughed at and made to feel humiliated by the opposite sex.

I know, that worry must sound pretty awesome to you-a big improvement from what you've had to worry about. Well, most men don't see it that way. Men hate when women laugh at them. It makes them feel powerless and afraid and out of control, and when it happens they lash out.

Guess who recently laughed at a big group of men?

If you said Alyssa Bereznak, you're a good guesser. And when she did it so publically and with such apparent disregard for the tolerance to which gamers felt entitled, things got nasty. She had made them feel vulnerable, returned to the forefront of their minds those memories of rejection, those long nights spent brooding, telling themselves "if a woman would just get to know me, she'd fall in love." The readers of her article had thought the universal acceptance of their fetishistic gamer culture close at hand but were confronted by a maddening truth-that their ways and customs were, for many potential romantic partners, still a turn-off.

As he points out at length in the article, Tait himself is far from innocent of misogyny, having written his fair share of women-bashing posts in the past. This is an apology for his own actions as well as those of male geek culture as a whole.

Geordie Tait doesn't have a daughter. He's not even conceived a child, but judging by the amount of character he shows in this article, he's going to be a damn fine father one day.

By inviting my friends to read, I might burn a few bridges-but it's for the greater good. I'll teach you when you're older that bridges can damage you. Sometimes, they're little more than the rotting scaffolding that supports a worse version of yourself. Put another way, if one's only religion is progression, bridges, with their connection to old ideals and lessons better forgotten, can be heretics. So light 'em up. Become free. Become explosive material.

To My Someday Daughter [Star City Games]


Comments

    The best point from the article is towards the end, and I'm going to reproduce it before the comments get too bad:

    "Resist the belief that you know everything about the issue already. Feminism is an actual field of study. As with any field of study, it should be entered with an absence of preconceptions. If a woman has strong feelings about women's issues, it doesn't mean she spends all of her time sharpening her castration tools. Talk to women about what's important to them. As you learn more, you'll understand more, in the same way that a budding engineer might gradually grow to understand a complex blueprint. 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."

      That's a brilliant paragraph. We all have initial reactions to things, but I feel it's the responsibility of anyone wants to pass judgement, or even better, find a solution, to understand both sides.

        +1.... your character learns 'Intelligent Conversation'
        Troll is evolving into.... Decent Human Being.

        Maybe if I'm lucky I'll reach the same level some day.

    This article is real nice.

    "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." So true and humourously put... nothing like a Pokemon reference. The legitimisation that the 'tribe' mentality of gamers (and other male groups) give each other is poisonous, especially when they feel like they are a downtrodden group in regard to human romantic affection. I have seen this behaviour in regards to other things, like a superiority complex within a music scene, the group mentality blinds members to the 'obvious' superiority of their particular genre and clique. Blah.

    "This is an apology for his own actions as well as those of male geek culture as a whole."

    Having read Geordies letter, I would like to respectfully decline to be included in Mr Taits apology.

    I found it to be wordy to the point of rambling, entirely to long without coherent point in places, and almost bordering on self righteous.

    Geordie Tait sells himself as some kind of geek guru, enlightened in the ways of women and the feminine. He pats himself on the back with one hand, while wagging his finger at the male gaming community with the other.

    Between the rampant name dropping, non sequitur anecdotes and condescension of geeks as a whole, I found Mr Taits letter to be lacking substance. I believe this to be 'White Knighting" at its finest. If anything, his piece is a soapbox for reverse sexism. We need to rush in and defend women from the big bad geeks because they're women? Way to draw attention to the sexual differences that the letter seeks to do away with.

    Geordies rant serves little more than to paint male gamers/geeks/nerds as misogynistic man-children with a chip on their shoulder. While this is true for some, I find it offensive that he should make it seem that all members of the demographic behave in such a manner. All except Geordie of course, because hes such a reformed citizen.

    My advice to him would be to get off his high horse and stop talking down to the masses, lest he be persecuted for rampant, baseless generalizations of the same ilk that kick started this whole mess in the first place.

      Thank you for saving I, and many others, from having to say the exact same thing.

      As for the backlash, I saw quite a few women having their say on the matter and of the character (or lack-thereof) of Alyssa Bereznak and it was equal in all regards to the backlash from male gamers both in terms of the properly constructed intelligent responses right through to the far more harsher words thrown around.

      Either way two things are abundantly clear;

      Geordie Tate thinks WAAAAY too highly of himself and Alyssa was still clearly in the wrong and based on her further remarks regarding her article is beyond a doubt a cruel, cold-hearted person. Trying to deflect from that by spouting holier-than-thou wankery serves no purpose other than to increase one's self-worth.

        Thank you for your support Chazz.

        What baffles me in regards to the rambling missive, are all the people praising it as some kind of divine revelation and a prophetic insight into the issues of gender in gaming.

        It is neither, and I for one cannot fathom why this would be called anything aside from condescending and self gratifying. It is most definitely not eloquent as the title of this page erroneously suggests.

          No need to thank me, it's just a relief to see that not everyone is easily blinded by fancy words being thrown around.

          Also, I'm sure you'll find that most of the people praising the article are also of the same ilk as it's author. Easily fooled into thinking that "white-knighting" is actually a good thing.

          As for the title? Well it's posted by KotakuUS and that speaks volumes about the integrity of the reposted article and it's treatment by KotakuUS.

      So you're saying that the insults quoted in the article that call this women out for essentially being a woman are all okay? Because that's what white knighting is, dude. Yes, she wrote a bad article, but it doesn't strike you as wrong that people couldn't just say that?

      I hate to break it to you, man, but men and women aren't treated as equal, and it's pretending that they are that is the problem. When something that only women have to deal with raises its head, the community, men and women, turn their back, and they don't even realise they're doing it. Which is why Geordie's piece has the tone it does - if you don't recognise there is a problem, you ARE the problem.

      But I'll leave you to it, I'm sure there's a TGS booth babes gallery you're holding out for.

        "if you don’t recognise there is a problem, you ARE the problem."

        I always react negatively to statements like that. It's practically identical to "if you're not with me, you're against me".
        Or, recognising it as the fallacy it is, "if you're not an apple, you're a banana".

        It's rhetoric; any resemblance to the reality of the situation is purely coincidental, and I lose respect for the person who utters phrases like it.

        Merus, I don't think you know what White Knighting is. It is rushing to the aid of a damsel in perceived distress, whether the aid is required or not.

        All the insults targeted at her gender are the exact opposite of White Knighting..dude..

        I hate to break it to YOU, but its not a shock by any stretch of the imagination that men and women aren't equal. We already know this, we've known this forever. So, coming in here, and making that out to be some kind of hidden truth that we didn't know is pointless.

        As for the community turning it's back on womens issues, I think you'll find that issues such as breast, cervical and ovarian cancer, get much more publicity than prostate cancer, and depression in men. If anything, we pretend that mens issues don't exist because men are perceived to be creatures that are not to show weakness. It always goes both ways. This is the problem that I'm having with Geordies letter, he separates women from men, then proceeds demonize all men as misogynists.

        Baseless absolutes such as "if you don’t recognise there is a problem, you ARE the problem." are stupid. Plain and simple. I can regognise the problem, and still be a part of it, be it through apathy, or active contribution.

        Booth babes know why they're there, so please don't make it out that ogling them is wrong.

        Great white knight post though, Merus.

    It seems a bit ironic that the US site is lecturing about misogyny when they hire Brian Ashcraft.

    Also, Fahey is making no move to apologize, it seems, for Alyssa's original article, which is incredibly insulting.

    And then he and Tait, go on to criticize the Australian site for the well-written (albeit possibly badly titled) piece that served as an eloquent rebuttal? He criticizes Hart for lacking evidence, then claims she wrote the article to simply appease the misogynistic mass he believes gamers to be. It couldn't possibly be that Hart actually made good points, she must have ulterior motives.

    Tait's response seems condescending at best, and he seems to group all gamers together. To him, it seems, gamers are fearful and proud sexists who love ganging up on women because they can.

    Never make apologies on someone else's behalf. It makes you come off as a twat because what you're effectively saying is that you're not only right, but that everyone you're apologizing for is not as smart or as sensible as you are.

    Does his article make some good points? Yes. Quite a bit of the reaction was unnecessary, like those captioned pictures of Bereznak. Is it a male-dominated industry that is often catered for by misogynists and booth-babes? Yes. Is finding legitimate flaws with Bereznak a sign of that? No.

    I have yet to see any situation where it has been appropriate to make assumptive, sweeping statements about any group of folks.

    This "apology" is just another petty bit of arrogance in a long, repetitive line.

    I must agree quite strongly with Lobo here. I also find it hard to see how anyone could find this a good piece of writing.

    The impression I get is that Taits instinctive urge to be the White Knight has run away with him. If you look at the flak Alyssa has gotten, it is easy to notice that the numerical majority are from women. Mostly girl gamers. The female gaming community has often been marginalized, and had its voice ignored. So it was rather heartwarming to see the community stand up and make its voice heard.

    And Taits attempt to trample it in his haste to defend Alyssa is just as disturbing as the attempts to throw the entire gaming comunity under the bus to impress the blonde.

    The chosen format does not work well either. As a vehicle to communicate something to male gamers, the "letter to my daughter" can work because male gamers do not feel it is talking down to them,

    As a vehicle to critizise and marginalize the female resonse to Alyssas article, it is beyond creepy. Mansplaning does not begin to cover it.

    It is a pity, because there is some real good stuff buried in there. Real good. But Taits chosen the wrong format and the wrong case to argue. Let us review the actual case: Alsyssa Berzenek dated, decided that he wasn't boyfriend material due to playing magic. And if that was it, Tait would have a strong case. But Alyssa went on a second date for more ammo for her article. And the she wrote that Jon was a liar and a creep for not disclosing that he played magic prior to the date, and pretending to be a hedge fund manager. Something she considered incompatible with being a geek. And she did this indentifying him by his full name. Intending to shame him publically for being a nerd.

    Now Tait finds this above critizism. In fact, he says he wouldn't critizise Alyssa if she'd physically assaulted Finkel after what he did. Am I the only one who finds this amount of excusing indefensible behavior from someone, as long as that someone is female, more than a bit off?

    Are there any female gamers out there who can remember similar behavior from their male gamer friends in high school, when those boys tried to curry favor with the popular girls?

    Taits -entirely unsupportet- unsupproted rationalizations for Alyssas behavior are mixed with a huge amount of talk about Geordie Tait. And this is by far the best bits of the article. If Tait had managed to rein in his urge to be Alyssas Nice Guy, defending her from the Other Men and lecture female gamers on how they ought to feel about her behavior, this would have the beginnings of a really good piece of writing. There are a lot of good reflection in there. His calling his former self out on some of his earlier attitudes and comments are especially strong.

    The problem is, I don't think that person is as far in his past as he wants to think. Not only in his reflexive urge to Save the Cheerleader. But a lot of his crude generalizations about the gaming community smacks of extrernalizing his self-loathing.

    It reminds me of that book, "The Elfish Gene".

    I realize a lot of this comes across as a personal attack on Gerodie Tait. It is not meant that way. However, I do feel that when he uses an incident like this to write a piece that is mainly about Geordie Taits Journey To Enlightenment And Why Women shold Love Him For It, it has to be expected that the replies will be about Geordie Tait too.

      I'm a female gamer and thought the whole thing was blown out of proportion and that the level people stooped to insult Alyssa was actually worse than what she herself did. To say that the majority of the people commenting were girl gamers is just plain wrong, most of the insults were slung by dudes.

        I don't actually think so. Although since writing that I've found that the original issue was taken up by the Washington Post, CBS, Forbes etc. And I stand by the observation that while the strongest language came from men, numerically female condemnation outnumbered that of the men. But its not just gamers, its...everyone. Men and women, gamers and non-gamers.

        I really did read Taits entire piece and was repulsed. Yes, there are some really true and legitimate points in there, but it contains so much hostility and fakery that anyone who really need to absorb the points have a lot of easy excuses to reject it out of hand. It would have been far stronger without any reference to Alyssa.

        And like someone said commenting on the article itself, it is not going to be other geeks that drive Taits daughter to suicide and his son to misogyny, its going to be the Alyssas.

    The misogyny of geek culture is a problem, but it's a completely separate issue. Anyone this foul, man or woman, deserves every droplet of hate that is slung at them, no matter what form it comes in.

    If the person tapping away at their keyboard decided that sexism was the most effective way to make this loathsome, arrogant creature feel some of the pain they dished out onto the innocent target of the article - and the others that doubtlessly preceded him - all the power to them.

    I think this entire article is built around a straw man.

    I do not believe that it was the rejection of the fellow for his geeky ways (being a MtG champion), but is was the way that Alyssa publicly outed him, named him, and shamed him, that stuck in the craw of so many people.

    Certainly, many of the responses were juvenille, purille and down right mysognistic, but at the core of it, I believe people offended that a girl would not like a "gamer" were a significant minority compared to people like me who believe that the internet, let alone a publication, is not the correct venue for naming old dates and ridiculing them.

    Make no doubt, her behavior was entirely reprehensible and this has nothing to do with her not wanting to pursue a relationship due to this mans past time.

    (And yes, I know we all know who he is, but I'm not going to do the same thing she did.)

    Outstanding. Much of what I thought the resonse was "really" about was well summed up in this post.

    What a typical white knight. People didn't give Bereznak shit because the victim was a gamer, they did it because she's a thoughtless, mean-spirited, bitter woman who publicly humiliated this guy and not once showed an ounce of humility and never once apologised.

    They'd be in arms if she did it to a regular guy because as many have pointed out, she dissed him about being a nerd despite being a tech blogger. The hypocrisy was staggering.

    As for Tait's rambling, divisive, deliberately contrarian article, shamlessly engineered to target a topical event for page hits, I wonder how he'd feel if he was that Magic player.

    If Fahey thought this article was (in his words): eloquent, then it explains a lot about the recent quality of Gawker writing.

    George Tait totally fails to support the idea that the geek comminty in gerneral is more misogynistic that other communities.And he goes through some reather amazim mental contortions to preten the response to Berezank was amle gamer only.

    possibly a little late in weighing in on this convo, but here goes...

    any person of sound mind (and i use that term in the loosest possible way!) is responsible for their own actions.

    was Bereznak wrong in turning away someone genuinely seeking a relationship with her, based on his preferred hobbies? not really our business, but we would like to think there are others out there who wouldn't have the same response.

    should she have used her position as a journalist (again, used loosely!) to publicly shame him when all he had done was turn up to a date? probably not, but again, not really our business. he definitely has cause to feel wronged by her actions, but our collective "angry mob with pitchforks" approach has only fanned the flames of this issue.

    to George Tait: let me help you down off the soapbox. it is wonderful that you have these feelings and opinions, but they do not need to be shared with the internet at large.

    and lastly Mike: really? do we need to humiliate the victim further by dragging this out? how about we all take a step back, take 5, make some nachos and move on.

    i'm not Mexican; i just like nachos.

    Just as a last note would like to urge everyone that felt the need to comment on the original issue to read Tait's article. The whole article. Don't just skim but actually read the whole thing and think if anything he has said rings true. I think most people would acknowledge (albeit grudgingly) there are some really true to life, legitimate points made. So many good quotes but I really agreed with this:
    "Gavin de Becker is an author who has written several books about the nature of fear. In his book The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us From Violence, he noted that the outcome a woman feared most from any romantic encounter was rape and death. I know it must be really hard on you, kiddo. You're going to go through life fearing that, in a worst-case scenario, you could be sexually assaulted and murdered by a member of the opposite sex. Sure, it's likely that something that terrible will never come to pass (god forbid! I feel sick even talking about it!), but there are no guarantees. In fact, some men (and presumably some women writing for Gizmodo Australia) will tell you to avoid drinking too much or wearing sexy clothes in order to spare yourself such a dark outcome. Imagine that! Hinting that it'd be your fault. It's tough being a girl, huh?"

      I'm sorry, but "avoid drinking too much or wearing sexy clothes in order to spare yourself such a dark outcome. Imagine that! Hinting that it’d be your fault." Is hardly a fair chain of thought.

      It's like saying that choosing to be a war correspondent makes it your fault if you're killed.

      Yes it's reprehensible that people take advantage of other people. Yes it would be great if we could all do exactly what we want, but that's not how the world works. Every action anyone takes has accompanying risks.

      Is it they're fault when one of those risks doesn't go their way? That's a highly contentious question and, I'd submit, a flawed one. The person who takes advantage of a drunk girl is a rapist and the person who shoots a war correspondent is a murderer. They'll be punished as such (hopefully), but you should be aware of the risks you choose to take.

        *their

        Damn it, I thought I'd done so well...

          Mate, I'm really disgusted by that thinking and as a woman I find it reprehensible. To be able to go out and have a few drinks and wear a nice mini with a gorgeous new pair of heels you have just bought should not in any way, shape or form "put you at risk" of being raped. To try and compare that to a soldier knowing the risk of getting shot... wow, just wow. This whole issue has made me really sad and I feel a bit deflated by it. I thought in Australia in 2011 we had, largely, moved away from a lot of that type of thinking but sadly no. I need a strong drink after all this, don't judge me for it everyone out there.

      Well, I have read the entire article and even went off to think before I started writing this response.

      Overall, I think Tait wanted to highlight the bad side of gaming. However, he let his own views stereotypically categories gamers as Judi Dench delightfully put it as 'sexist misogynistic dinosaurs'. Now, that is wrong way to go. Instead, he should highlight the lack of respect on BOTH sides. I'm not defending gamers here but I'm not above defending Alyssia's actions.

      His response is only one to gain attention. Simple. But what he did was open a closing wound that should have healed now.

    I think the worst bit of dishonesty, as someone pointed out in the comments, was that he pretends that it was only male gamers that responded negativly to the article. In fact it was males and females, gamers and non-gamers form a truly diverse range of publications.

    This was so threatening to Taits article that he had to call one of the female responders an "uncle tom" for being negative to Alyssa.

    Plus all that crap about gamers that he totally failed to support -that wasn't really about other gamers, I think.

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