Nerds And Male Privilege

Nerds And Male Privilege

I want to tell you a story.

A few years ago, I was dating a girl who was decidedly not nerd curious. She tolerated my geeky interests with a certain bemused air, but definitely didn’t participate in ‘em… not even setting foot inside a comic store on new comic day. She’d wait outside until I was done… which could be a while, since I was friends with several of the staff.

She came in the store exactly once, after I’d explained that no, it’s a pretty friendly place… well lit, spacious, organised and with helpful — and clearly identified — staff members who were willing to bend over backwards to make sure their customers were satisfied.

She was in there for less than 4 minutes before one mouth-breathing troglodyte began alternately staring at her boobs — evidently hoping that x-ray vision could develop spontaneously — and berating her for daring to comment on the skimpy nature of the costumes — in this case, Lady Death and Witchblade. She fled the premises, never to return.

When both the manager and I explained to him in no uncertain terms as to what he did wrong he shrugged his shoulders. “Hey, I was just trying to help you guys! She couldn’t understand that chicks can be tough and sexy! Not my fault she’s a chauvinist,” he said.

And that was when I shot him, your honour.

So with that example in mind, let’s talk about a subject I’ve touched on before: Male Privilege and how it applies to geeks and — more importantly — geek girls.


I don’t think I’m breaking any news or blowing minds when I point out that geek culture as a whole is predominantly male. Not to say that women aren’t making huge inroads in science fiction/fantasy fandom, gaming, anime and comics… but it’s still a very male culture. As such, it caters to the predominantly male audience that makes it up. This, in turn leads to the phenomenon known as male privilege: the idea that men — most often straight, white men — as a whole, get certain privileges and status because of their gender.
(Obvious disclaimer: I’m a straight white man.)

In geek culture, this manifests in a number of ways. The most obvious is in the portrayal of female characters in comics, video games and movies. Batman: Arkham City provides an excellent example.

To start with, we have three of the male characters of Arkham City:

Here we have the brooding vigilante, the psycho ICP fan and The Doctor

Then we have three of the female characters:

Here we have the dominatrix, the crazy hooker and Exotic Fanservice Girl…

Notice how the differences in how they’re portrayed and costumed? The men are fully clothed and deadly serious. They are clearly defined: the mighty hero, the ominous villains.

The women are all about sex, sex, sexy sextimes. With maybe a little villainy thrown in for flavour. They may be characters, but they’re also sexual objects to be consumed.

I will pause now for the traditional arguments from my readers: these characters are all femme fatales in the comics, all of the characters in the Arkham games are over-the-top, the men are just as exaggerated/sexualized/objectified as the women. Got all of that out of your systems? Good.

Because that reaction is exactly what I’m talking about.

Y’see, one of the issues of male privilege as it applies to fandom is the instinctive defensive reaction to any criticism that maybe, just maybe, shit’s a little fucked up, yo. Nobody wants to acknowledge that a one-sided (and one-dimensional) portrayal of women is the dominant paradigm in gaming; the vast majority of female characters are sexual objects. If a girl wants to see herself represented in video games, she better get used to the idea of being the prize at the bottom of the cereal box. If she wants to see herself as a main character, then it’s time to get ready for a parade of candyfloss costumes where nipple slips are only prevented by violating the laws of physics. The number of games with competent female protagonists who wear more than the Victoria’s Secret Angels are few and far between.

The idea that perhaps the way women are portrayed in fandom is aleetle sexist is regularly met with denials, justifications and outright dismissal of the issue. So regularly, in fact, that there’s a Bingo card covering the most common responses. Part of the notion of male privilege in fandom is that nothing is wrong with fandom and that suggestions that it might benefit from some diversity is treated as a threat.

But what is that threat, exactly?

In this case, the threat is that — ultimately — fandom won’t cater to guys almost to exclusion… that gays, lesbians, racial and religious minorities and (gasp!) women might start having a say in the way that games, comics, etc. will be created in the future. The strawmen that are regularly trotted out — that men are objectified as well, that it’s a convention of the genre, that women actually have more privileges than guys — are a distraction from the real issue: that the Privileged are worried that they won’t be as privileged in the near future if this threat isn’t stomped out. Hence the usual reactions: derailment, minimization and ultimately dismissing the topic all together.

As much as my nerdy brethren wish that more girls were of the geeky persuasion, it’s a little understandable why women might be a little reticent. It’s hard to feel valued or fully included when a very vocal group insists that your input is irrelevant, misguided and ultimately unwelcome. It’s small wonder why geekdom — for all of it’s self-proclaimed enlightened attitudes towards outsiders and outcasts — stil retains the odor of the guy’s locker room.


Don’t make the mistake of thinking male privilege is solely about how big Power Girl’s tits are, fan service and jiggle physics in 3D fighters. It affects geek girls in direct, personal ways as well.
Remember the example I mentioned earlier with my then-girlfriend in the comic store? Her opinions were deemed mistaken and she was told she didn’t “get it”… because she was a girl.

Y’see, one of the issues that nerd girls face is the fact that they are seen as girls first and anything else second. And before you flood my comments section demanding to know why this is a bad thing, realise that being seen as a “girl” first colours every interaction that they have within fandom. They’re treated differently because they are women.

We will now pause for the expected responses: well that’s a good thing isn’t it, girls get special treatment because they’re girls, guys will fall all over themselves to try to get girls to like ‘em so it all balances out.

“Can I power-level your rogue for you? Are you looking for the Jem DVDs? Let me show you the anime section… wait, come back….”

If you’re paying attention you’ll realise that — once again — those reactions are what I’m talking about.

Y’see, nobody’s saying that women don’t receive different treatment from guys… I’m saying that being treated differently is the problem. And yes, I know exactly what many of you are going to say and I’ll get to that in a minute.

Male privilege — again — is about what men can expect as the default setting for society. A man isn’t going to have everything about him filtered through the prism of his gender first. A man, for example, who gets a job isn’t going to face with suggestions that his attractiveness or that his willingness to perform sexual favours was a factor in his being hired, nor will he be shrugged off as a “quota hire”. A man isn’t expected to be a representative of his sex in all things; if he fails at a job, it’s not going to be extrapolated that all men are unfit for that job. A man who’s strong-willed or aggressive won’t be denigrated for it, nor are men socialized to “go along to get along”. A man can expect to have his opinion considered, not dismissed out of hand because of his sex. When paired with a woman who’s of equal status, the man can expect that most of the world will assume that he’s the one in charge. And, critically, a man doesn’t have to continually view the world through the lens of potential violence and sexual assault.

Now with this in mind, consider why being a girl first may be a hindrance to geek girls. A guy who plays a first person shooter — Call of Duty, Halo, Battlefield, what-have-you — online may expect a certain amount of trash talking, but he’s not going to be inundated with offers for sex, threats of rape, sounds of simulated masturbation or demands that he blow the other players — but not before going to the kitchen and getting them a beer/sandwich/pizza first. Men will also not be told that they’re being “too sensitive” or that “they need to toughen up” when they complain about said sexual threats.

Men also won’t have their opinions weighed or dismissed solely on the basis of how sexy or attractive they are. The most common responses a woman can expect in an argument — especially online — is that she’s fat, ugly, single, jealous, a whore, or a lesbian — or any combination thereof — and therefore her opinion is irrelevant, regardless of it’s actual merits. This is especially true if she’s commenting on the portrayal of female characters, whether in comics, video games or movies.

“Bet you’re paying attention to what I have to say now!”

Men can expect that their presence at an event won’t automatically be assumed to be decorative or secondary to another man. Despite the growing presence of women in comics, as publishers, editors and creators as well as consumers, a preponderance of men will either treat women at conventions as inconveniences, booth bunnies or even potential dates. Many a female creator or publisher has had the experience of convention guests coming up and addressing all of their questions to the man at the table… despite being told many times that the man is often the assistant, not the talent, only there to provide logistical support and occasional heavy lifting.

Men are also not going to be automatically assigned into a particular niche just based on their gender. A girl in a comic store or a video game store is far more likely to be dismissed as another customer’s girlfriend/sister/cousin rather than being someone who might actually be interested in making a purchase herself. And when they are seen as customers, they’re often automatically assumed to be buying one of the designated “girl” properties… regardless of whether they were just reading Ultimate Spider-Man or looking for a copy of Saint’s Row 3.

Of course, the other side of the coin isn’t much better; being dismissed for the sin of being a woman is bad, but being placed on the traditional pillar is no less insulting. Guys who fall all over themselves to fawn over a geek girl and dance in attendance upon her are just as bad. The behaviour is different, but the message is the same: she’s different because she’s a girl. These would-be white knights are ultimately treating her as a fetish object, not as a person. It’s especially notable when it comes to sexy cosplayers; the guys will laude them for being geek girls and celebrate them in person and online. They’ll lavish attention upon them, take photos of them and treat them as queens…

And in doing so, they’re sending the message that women are only valued in geek culture if they’re willing to be a sexually alluring product. Everybody loves Olivia Munn when she enters the room ass-cheeks first as Aeon Flux, but nobody is particularly concerned by the girls dressed in a baseball tee, jeans and ballet flats. One of these is welcomed into geek culture with open arms, the other has to justify their existence in the first place.


The reason why male privilege is so insidious is because of the insistance that it doesn’t exist in the first place. That willful ignorance is key in keeping it in place; by pretending that the issue doesn’t exist, it is that much easier to ensure that nothing ever changes.

Geek society prides itself on being explicitly counter-culture; nerds will crow about how, as a society, they’re better than the others who exclude them. They’ll insist that they’re more egalitarian; geeks hold tight to the belief that geek culture is a meritocracy, where concepts of agism, sexism and racism simply don’t exist the way it does elsewhere. And yet, even a cursory examination will demonstrate that this isn’t true.

And yet geeks will cling to this illusion while simultaneously refusing to address the matters that make it so unattractive to women and minorities. They will insist that they treat women exactly the same as they treat guys — all the while ignoring the fact that their behaviour is what’s making the women uncomfortable and feeling unwelcome in the first place. They will find one girl in their immediate community who will say that she’s not offended and use her as the “proof” that nobody else is allowed to be offended.

Changing this prevailing attitude starts with the individual. Call it part of learning to be a better person; being willing to examine your own attitudes and behaviours and to be ruthlessly honest about the benefits you get from being a white male in fandom is the first step. Waving your hands and pretending that there isn’t a problem is a part of the attitude that makes women feel unwelcome in fandom and serves as the barrier to entry to geeky pursuits that she might otherwise enjoy.

Bringing the spotlight onto the concept of male privilege as it exists in nerd culture is the first step in making it more welcoming of diversity, especially women.

And when you check back on Friday, I’ll provide you with some concrete applications on how being cognisant of male privilege will improve your relations with women.

Did I oversimplify an issue with regards to male privilege? Did I miss an aspect of male privilege in geek culture that you feel needs to be highlighted? Sound off in the comments and let me know.

Harris O’Malley provides geek dating advice at his blog Paging Dr. NerdLove, as well as writing the occasional guest review for and appearing on the podcast The League of Extremely Ordinary Gentlemen. He can be found dispensing snark and advice on Facebook ( and Twitter (@DrNerdLove)

Dr. NerdLove is not really a doctor.


        • The point didn’t miss me at all. This is another piece of “women are objectified because of the male standards put forth in medium X Y & Z” garbage that’s been around for many years. Hell, if you read some part of this closely you’ll even notice an undertone of racism added in too.

          Every time an article like this comes out I have to remind myself that women objectify men just as much, if not more, than the other way around. Hell, look at how much the Twilight movies have made. I swear 95% of that movie had guys with six pack abs and well defined muscles standing around all the time so the women can drool over them. The same women mind you that would be first in line to call Harley Quinn’s outfit “offensively sexist”.

          But let me touch on my biggest gripe on this article: The fact that for most of this article it pushes that men are in total control of the mediums in question; which is the biggest load ever. There are many women in comics, video games, cartoons and everything else on the planet that have a say in what happens. Sure we’re not seeing “Suzy the slightly larger burnette with sensible clothes and shoes adventures” on the shelves these days but that’s the type of thing that seems to be pushed in these types of articles.

          Most women would rather see an idealized version of themselves as the main in anything than what they would want to see in the mirror, and the same goes with men; which is why we’re not seeing Batman as a middle aged Bruce Wayne with a beer gut.

          So in summery, before you go saying that someone has “missed the point” maybe you need to stop and think about what you are reading and look at the other side of the argument before opening your mouth to someone who prefers to be more informed about all aspects of the argument than you claim to be.

          • Imagine if every movie you went to see was like Twilight, with the focus on young male abs to drool over. Every single one. That’s what women face in gaming. That’ s the difference.

          • Don’t dig yourself into a hole by pretending “every single one” objectifies females. You are susceptible to one single counter example to prove you wrong.

            Like… Alex from Half life 2+, the moderately good looking, fully clothed, brave, intelligent woman.

          • Hmm, I think you might have sunk yourself with the line “The fact that for most of this article it pushes that men are in total control of the mediums in question; which is the biggest load ever. There are many women in comics, video games, cartoons and everything else on the planet that have a say in what happens.”

            You’ve got the point of the article, I just think you’re wrong 🙂

          • tl; dr: There actually *aren’t* “many” women in comics, or any of these industries.

            “The fact that for most of this article it pushes that men are in total control of the mediums in question; which is the biggest load ever. There are many women in comics…”

            I’m going to stop you *right* there. In DC’s current line up of 52 comics do you know how many women artists or writers there are? 4…

            Marvel has more, but the ratios are *still* terrible. Before you trot out the old “oh, but less women want to be in the field” chestnut, I’d seriously doubt that there is an entire order of magnitude less talent among that gender.

            That’s a specific example from the Comics world, but it holds true in other industries. Some of it is because women weren’t given opportunities to enter these industries until more recently (The number of women in the senior echelons in Disney’s animation department is a direct result of their recruiting policies in the 60s and 70s) but that means you don’t get to bring out the “well, there are lots of women in these industries so they are complicit” chestnut.

          • Surprisingly enough, I agree with that you are getting at, but the way you say it makes you sound overly aggressive and almost one sided in your information.

            Yes there isn’t a huge amount of women in the industries, but the way the article has made it sound is that women are not in the industry at all, which is what I took offense to. Yes my phrasing needed work but I just got off a long an boring shift at work so I wasn’t thinking at 100%

            But at further work with your point somewhat; will there ever be a 50-50 split between men and women in these businesses? Nope. Let’s be honest here, there is no such thing as a 50-50 split in any business. Do i think the ratio will improve? Hell yes, and the industry will be better for it. It’s just going to take time. Nothing is an instant fix.

          • First of all, this whole battle of the sexes thing is such a non-issue for people with social skills.

            Second of all, this whole “why can’t a woman be more like a man” thing is the exact kind of reverse sexism that is detrimental to BOTH sexes and needs to be stopped. Women and men are equal BUT different.

            To be asked as a woman to be treated on the basis that you are a woman is common sense, and to treat a woman this way as a man is understandable too. No this doesn’t mean make disgusting comments or place women on pedestals, it means there is a way you can act when you’re with men, and a way you can act when you’re with women, a way you can act with your friends, and the manner in which you converse with your boss.

            When you try too be overly PC you end up diluting the talent in competitive industries. Here’s an article by Christina Hoff Sommers that everyone should read:


            Furthermore, this flogging of a dead horse is getting us nowhere. This is the internet. The idea that people can’t change is a fallacy, but that change must come from within. The people who NEED to pay attention to this message will not. In fact, one of the only ways they will off the top of my head is to have their world rocked by a woman they admire calling them out on it face to face. A faceless entity spewing condescending rants at them will just shut down their interest level.

            My advice to all reading then, is that Men (boys):

            You will never find a girl who likes you for you because nobody likes you for you, you are a horrible human being and your views on women are warped by a lack of contact with actual ones, and a diet of pop culture written by like-minded sociopaths.

            If you want results you have to make them happen. Pretend to be understanding and mature and well-mannered, you might find the results outweigh the cost of applying yourself to get what you want.

            And women:

            Don’t join “GRRL GAMERS” groups and then complain that you’re being treated solely on the basis that you’re a woman who enjoys games, rather than a person who enjoys games.

            Don’t dress provocatively at things like Comic Con or other such events and then complain about lewd commentary.

            This is NOT slut shaming, this is acknowledging that you are an individual existing inside a world that was here long before you were, and as such, it will not simply bend to your expectations because you don’t want to compromise.

            I, for example, don’t like the idea that there are bad dudes in dark alleys that will mug me if i approach, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to storm down that alleyway anyway because I shouldn’t have to be afraid. If I get stabbed choosing the alleyway instead of the perfectly acceptable footpath that loops around the block, well then that’s the consequences of MY choice in action.

            And most importantly, if you know a man or father or brother or friend in your life that is not living up to standards you espouse, call them up on it, face to face, and make damn well sure they understand. Articles on the internet won’t convince them, it’s up to their friends and family.

          • 1 hour long!? I really want to watch it but my internet bandwidth can’t handle that sort of pressure. Care to summarise?

          • Put simply, you’re demonstrating that you don’t ‘get’ the article because you just think that it only pertains to the objectification of women in media. The question-less objectification of women in particularly comics and in video games is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to ways that women are unequal and misrepresented by video games and comics.

            Also, yes, it is a media that is controlled predominantly by men both culturally and professionally, to say otherwise is being disingenuous. It’s just plain silly to assume that since women exist in the industry that they any control of what content gets produced.

          • This argument is exactly what the author of this article said his opponents arguments would be. So lets be honest here. Just because both genders objectify men, doesn’t mean it’s right. Also sexual harrasment isn’t something people need to “just toughen up” about. It’s assault, it’s illegal, and when men do it to women it’s even creepier for one reason. Men have been portrayed as sex crazed animals, all locked up in the societal cage of decency and politeness. Most women think that all guys have a secret pervert lying right underneath the surface, and whenever they are sexually harrased by men they get a peek at that supposed “monster”. Which is obviously terrifying, to think that at any moment you might find yourself in a bad hentai scenario. I’m not saying that men are like that, but the fact remains thats how woman see us. And having all of these female characters being tailor made for ogling is not helping the stereotype.

          • “Hell, look at how much the Twilight movies have made. I swear 95% of that movie had guys with six pack abs and well defined muscles standing around all the time so the women can drool over them. The same women mind you that would be first in line to call Harley Quinn’s outfit “offensively sexist”.”

            You obviously haven’t actually interacted with any geek girls. No self-respecting Batman fan would be a Twilight fan as well.
            The only show or comic I get into for fanservice is…. hang on. Wait. There is none. Because while guys get fanservice constantly, there is not a single decent show that I can think of right now that provides *me* with eye candy.
            And I don’t care if I don’t get eye candy. I just wish that it wasn’t so predominant in female characters. I need ones I can look up to/respect/sympathise with, as well, and as a games designer in training I can tell you right now that there is a severe imbalance in that area.
            There are a few female characters that are actually good, yes. But I’ll stop complaining when good characters are the NORM rather than the exception.

    • It’s not anti-male, it’s not boring and it’s certainly not preachy. It’s factual, smart, relevant and something that needs to be continually reinforced until people get it.

      • Objection. By the authors own standards it is indeed “Anti-Male” as it talks about these particular issue of gender bais (in the form of privlidge) from one perspective alone. Moreover the author is guilty of the very thing he is trying to point out and stop – lumping the minority with the majority.

        The second point would be that articles like this actually make the problem worse as more and more people feel they have a “moral obligation” to attempt to rectify and in doing so will cause more of the same problems.

        My favourite would be this authors on Bayonetta given what he has espoused above. It fails to take any of the depth of character of Bayonetta nor ANY of the inherent (and very craftily designed) symbolism.

        As a final thought – women have been battling to be liberated sexually for the past 50 years and its good to see now that we have come full circle and again we have a man saying that women are not allowed to be sexually attractive (even if explosively so) and be on equal footing to men while being so. The girls doing slutwalk would be proud of you sir.

        • Bayonetta has no character or level of complexity at all.
          There is no symbolism or anything regarding her games utterly retarded story.
          She is a sex object pure and simple, that’s why you see the constant crotch and boob shots and why half her special moves make her partially naked.

          Samus Aran used to be a positive image for a woman until the Other M managed to screw that up royally

          • Asuron wrote:
            Bayonetta has no character or level of complexity at all.
            There is no symbolism or anything regarding her games utterly retarded story.

            Actually, I think that game is pretty symbolic of how disappointing the new Metal Gear will be. (Metal Gear Semi-Solid: Revengernation)

      • yeah, maybe it feels like déja vu because it’s a problem that hasn’t really been resolved and requires more thought, especially in a rapidly changing world that can barely understand what is happening and where we stand as things evolve at the rate they have been.

        You lot of dumb-bells. Women aren’t trying to be like men, nor do they want to be. BUT they do want equal opportunity, and do they want to be treated in a manner that represents an equality, and it’s damn hard to find that when a guy is busy objectifying you and forming an opinion of you based mainly on how you look.

        Also, any man who thinks equality exists, or that men are objectified as much as women are, must be living on another planet (or sitting for looong periods of time on the couch). Try walking down the street and see how many times a man gets honked at or yelled obscenities at, then look at what happens to the women. Try taking stock of all the movies and games in the world and you’ll see the ratio is grossly unequal. Try convincing me that 90% of the world at large (properties, businesses, political control) doesn’t belong to men. Try explaining to me that there are as many male strip clubs in the world as there are female. Uh-huh. I didn’t think so, assholes. And the Twilight argument was paper-thin to the point of hilarious.

    • I think you need to read into some women’s studies articles. Or just self reflect. A lot.

      These articles are better than the usual trash.

      • I did read some of these types of literature as I’ve got a few friends who are hardcore feminists and I love shooting their men hating crap down with logic.

        • Oh I get it. He’s a feminist-hater. These smug specimens pop up often in geeky circles. Someone who would rather stroke his own ego by proving he’s too smart for feminists than help solve any problems. What a champ. It’s always such a shame to see these people who are (or think they are) clever putting more effort into arguing fruitlessly (in their mind their superior logic pwns feminism though) with people than actually solving social problems by helping others improve their attitudes to certain issues.

  • Count down until obligatory ‘since when was Kotaku everyone’s soapbox’ comment in three… two…

  • I personally am very impressed by this article. Very clearly argued and a very convincing argument. Mirrors my own opinion quite closely.

  • I found it exactly the opposite to you, Mase, it seemed like he was trying to get his point across, but, he knew exactly who he was talking to. Thus, ‘garbage’ as you term it, which I assume includes parts such as “Everybody loves Olivia Munn when she enters the room ass-cheeks first as Aeon Flux….”, were seen by me as an attempt to remain engaged with the people he’s actually talking to (the gamer GUYS that he’s blaming), rather than disconnecting from them and seeming “very preachy”. If you just come out and say “current gamer culture is stupid! accept women!” in the opening paragraph, 90% of people will just say tl;dr, haters gonna hate.

    While this is one of the better attempts at reaching out towards the online gender equality issue, it’s still the wrong way to go about it. The people who are going to read well-reasoned, essay-form discussions are not the problem here. Do I have a solution? No. But if I did, it would not be done like this. So many articles in the exact same vein, no results. It’s not working, and it’s not going to work.

  • I think this article would have been more relevant a few years ago. These days it seems a lot better for women in gaming circles. I mean, you only have to take a look at places like the Mana Bar and how the male customers act around female customers to see that they do infact respect them and aren’t all boob seeking creepers.

    • For every Mana Bar, there are still a dozen comic shops where when a girl walks in, everything stops while people stare incredulously.

      Of course, I’m used to it. It will be a long time before a trans lesbian is anything but a freak to most gamers. Or a joke. Or a ‘trap’.

    • Join a geek-interest club at university – role playing, LARPing, scifi, gaming – and you’ll see that it’s definitely still a thing.

      • Yep. I was advised if I came along to check out a LARPing session to bring my boyfriend if I wanted to remain un-smothered.

  • So I’m confused. Do I treat women different because guys who “insist that they treat women exactly the same as they treat guys — all the while ignoring the fact that their behaviour is what’s making the women uncomfortable and feeling unwelcome in the first place.” are apparently doing it wrong?

    Or do I treat them the same as I treat any other human being because “being dismissed for the sin of being a woman is bad, but being placed on the traditional pillar is no less insulting.”?

    Or should I just maybe take a singular example of one person one time and extrapolate that opinion to tar all people of a single gender in a single aspect of a certain culture with the same brush? Like our leering friend in the comic store, who was outnumbered by those around him decrying his interactions and yet is still used to represent me as a male privileged gamer?

    • But it’s not a singular example. A single example, certainly, but you’re kidding yourself if you think that isn’t going on all of the time and in all of the places.

      And, in case it wasn’t clear, the argument is that you should see women as people first and women second. Men too, obviously, but it’s a much rarer problem for them, and the definitions aren’t as limiting.

      • In the example used to build this argument against males everywhere, there was at least one other white male geek and two male geeks who argued against this admittedly poor treatment of a woman who stepped into a comic book store. I’m not saying this is the only time this has happened ever, that would be ridiculous. But it’s a pretty piss poor example to use.

        As to how I’m supposed to treat women, you’re right. It wasn’t clear. It’s not like I cherry picked that quote and took it out of context. It’s poorly written. My question was rhetorical, I’ll continue to treat women the same as I’d like to be treated myself.

        • I’ve never been a fan of that phrase. ‘Treat people the way you want to be treated.’ I think we should at least try to treat people the way they want to be treated.

          Not having a go, just commenting on the phrase, rather than your comment.

          • Your fetish stuff is your own thing, but I’m not into it so I won’t go there. 😛

            No, look if people don’t want to be treated the same way i do, that’s fine but it’s at least a better starting point than treating them differently based on superficial assumptions. At least by treating everyone the same they get a minimum level of respect until I can find out how they want to be treated.

        • But that’s precisely why the issue is privilege (and empathy). It’s understanding that saying to a woman “I love your work, I will bear you many fine sons” (for an example borrowed from Kate Beaton of Hark a Vagrant fame) *isn’t* the same as saying that to a man, because the context women live under is so different to the one you and I experience day-to-day, that to be a female creative is to be constantly seen as a woman first and a creative second, that for every person who’s saying that as an ungendered compliment there’s a half-dozen others who are romaticising you or fetishising you or dismissing you based solely on your gender.

          • What are you saying, Mr AK? Regardless of my sincerity about wanting to bear Kate many sons I’m still putting her in an uncomfortable position because I come from a position of privilege? Because other white males have said similar with no sincerity, and so as a white male there’s a strong chance I’m coming from a position of insincerity? That’s more than a conundrum Kif, that’s a god damn Paradox that is.

            Tell me Mr Ak, because I sincerely want to know. How should I treat a woman if I can’t treat them as I would like to be treated myself because of male privilege? I honestly want to know. I know the more I explain that I’m not being sarcastic makes it seem more sarcastic, but I’m not being sarcastic.

          • I wish I had a good answer, but I don’t. For me, one of the things which brought home the horror of privilege was reading Brokeback Mountain (Short story, not the movie. Movie missed the humanity of the protagonists, turned them into symbols.) Straight privilege, obviously.

            But yeah, I suppose all I can say is read people’s experiences and try and understand how that would shape them, what it would actually be like to be told that you “play FPS just to impress boys” as a friend of mine has been, to have store staff regularly insist that you’re not buying media for yourself, to know that to write on gender issues, even once, means you might forever be branded by some of your audience as a “crazy feminazi”.

            And to accept all of this. To accept that it happens every day, that while it’s driven by a minority, there’s a whole majority whose actions feed into it, whose indifference reinforces the status quo.

            Sorry, I’m not coming up with anything concrete, am I? And I’m waxing my rhetorical in public, never wise.

            Long story short: I’ve no firm answers, and can’t really comment on how you, personally treat people because I obviously don’t know. As a general rule, though, empathy and self-doubt are your best best. And I mean genuine actual empathy, understanding a point of view which is shaped by factors outside your personal experience.

  • Look, I’m a young single heterosexual male. Ideally, the sex in Arkham City was aimed at me. But I can’t be the only person who found it awkward and uncomfortable, can I? Like, when I was Batman, I slid under everything just for fun. But, as Catwoman, she splays herself out in the most bizarre position I can imagine, just so I can see her breasts when she does it.

    Look, I’m not averse to attractive female or male characters in video games. Or in anything, for that matter. It’s when it’s out of place that I feel awkward.

    I do think there’s a definite “we’re nerds, people oppress us, we can’t be wrong” vibe from some people – not all of them, of course. I wish there was an easy fix, too, but for some people it’s apparently not as easy as “treat everyone like a person the same way you want to be treated”.

    Um. There was a point to these unrelated thoughts, but I’ve forgotten it.

    • That is eerily similar to my experience of Arkham City. Great game, some of the content was a bit misguided.

      This was a great article.

  • Good to see an article on privilege. It’s been missing in all of the discussions around sexism and acceptance so far. Really well written and looking forward to the follow up.

  • ‘Harris O’Malley provides geek dating advice at his blog Paging Dr. NerdLove’
    Dear god I wish I’d read this line first. Ugh.

  • Good attempt mate, but you lost me about three-quarters through the article, right at the “Bet you’re paying attention to what I have to say now!” comment.
    You make some really good points and yes women do get objectified as sex objects in games, but they also get objectified as sex objects in magazines directed at girls and women.
    The objectification of women as a sexual object in general society has been increasing at an alarming rate since perhaps the late 80s up to now.

    I understand where you come from about the comic shop anectode, but I must admit that I feel like your ex-girlfriend whenever i walk into a comic book shop, If you don’t fit in to the geek stereotype, then you just cop the arrogance of the dude who is supposed to be attempting to make a sale.

    I no longer visit computer game or comic book shops because the people who serve me, treat me with disrespect and arrogance.

    Thank-you internet!

    • I agree
      I dont fit the generally accepted form for “geeks” or “gamers” and as a result im shunned by some of the people within communities I interact with.

  • In some ways Im surprised Batman was used as an example; you just need to look at TERA and Blade & Soul to see respresentations of the genders very skewed (though admittedly, the 3rd google image search pic of B&S showed a beefy guy without his top)

  • DC comics wanted to change Harley Quinn’s in-comic costume to the slutty one you see above. There was such a massive surge of nerd rage of this that they changed it back to the less revealing full-body suit.

    The more well known nerdy media tends to objectify women, because it’s easy to sell just-less-than porn to the public. That they’re willing to pander to the lowest common denominator is half of the reason most of those media houses are a successful as they are.

    The problem does exist, but thankfully it is dying out. The internet’s presence giving independent creators the ability to mass distribute creative works that can self-seek the right niche audience, rather than having to seek appeal via genericizing their work, is certainly helping.

    There is a problem, some people propagate it. A lot more seem to be working to fix it.

  • So then what are we to do? Completely remove the sex appeal from all our favorite female comicbook/vg/anime characters so that females will feel more welcome in our culture?

    Coz that’s the only way I can see us removing the ‘male privilege’ in favour of diversity at face value.

    • There’s plenty of sex appeal in full clothed women. If you need females to be 3/4 naked for you to find them sexually appealing, that’s your hard luck.

      Or better yet, have women in games for the story, not because there should be a girl for the guys to look at.

      • actually, if he needs women to be 3/4 naked to be sexually attractive, then he’s in luck, quite a bit of it.
        because there are women like that in media everywhere, and there always will be.

        I agree with a lot of the things the author says, women get objectified and are valued for their sex appeal.

        What no one has really explained to me, is why a woman being valued for her sexuality is inherently bad. Batman and other superheroes may not be skimpily dressed, but they’ve got bodies that would put the greek gods to shame. They exude the impossible amount of masculinity and virility that every guy dreams of being able to mimic. Six pack abs, broad chests, jawlines carved from stone, always full head of hair. Why aren’t any male super heroes balding?

        Males are valued for their strength. If a man isn’t strong, no one cares about him and he’ll never be the hero. And if a woman isn’t sexy, well why the fuck would anyone pay attention to her when there are plenty of sexy women (who can be just as capable). Would an ugly, frumpy Catwoman change anything? No more than if Bruce Wayne had bad acne and a bald spot.

        What I’m trying to say is, in games, movies, tv shows, what have you, each sex is idealized. Everyone is good looking if they are meant to be liked. If the story teller wants a character to be disliked, they make them ugly. Humans just work that way. We like beautiful people.

        That, and Samus Aran runs around in a big armored suit, while Kratos runs around in a loin cloth.
        it goes both ways.

        • Finally! Someone with a brain in the comments section!

          But you have to remember in today’s politically correct environment, objectifying women is bad; but objectifying men, which it does happen, isn’t spoken about because men are evil

          • except the girl in that comic is demonstrably wrong.

            Firstly: buff men in media is not a MALE POWER fantasy. It’s just fantasy, PERIOD. Look at the men on the covers of erotic novels that women read. As Mase said earlier, take Twilight for example. The series is a phenomenon among females, and the male leads show off their washboard abs and smooth chests and muscly arms. They aren’t there to appease the male audience with some ego boosting power fantasy. It’s what women like.

            Her second problem, is that she goes on to try and say what ALL women find attractive. She says that since SHE isn’t into buff Batman, then women in general are not, and ergo, buff Batman isn’t there for the ladies, he must be there for male power fantasy. I don’t know what planet she’s from, but on earth, the majority of women prefer strong men with defined muscles. They don’t have to be body builders that rip their shirts when they flex, but the majority would probably prefer a buff guy to George Costanza.

            Now, imagine, that some guy came forward and said “I don’t like big breasts and cleavage, I like small breasts and conservative clothing. Therefore women are not objectified in media because how they are portrayed does not do it for me.”

            You’d just tell that guy “Well that’s just you, most guys like big breasts and cleavage.”
            And this is where I tell her “Well that’s just you, most women like brooding, dark, muscly Batman.”
            As much as she may hate to admit it, she can’t just dismiss a specific male’s appearance in media as objectification because it doesn’t do anything for her personally.

            Thirdly, after saying she wants a dexteritous Batman, she still drew one with big muscles. Batman is just one example, though. What if we’d used shirtless Solid and Liquid Snake, fist fighting on top of a metal gear? They’re lithe, still with defined muscles, smooth chests and full of sweaty masculinity.

            And lastly, let’s just look at how she depicts the males she is trying to rebuke with this comic. Bald and fat. she may have latent hatred towards men and geeks. It’s barely even veiled.

          • Much agreed mase. The only gripe my girlfriend gamer has with games right now, is not about what their wearing, but more about just actually being in the game as playable characters. eg: counterstrike, killing floor, any battle field games, just to name a few, do not have any female playable characters/skins. The responses I hear from DEVs is that the reason that they don’t include female character skins for the fact is that it takes time to model the 3d textures. Hell, if its equality that people are worried about for female representation in games, then the gripe should be about getting the characters modeled in, as for comics, well, its always going to be about eye-candy, because that is what makes the $$$. Final note, the future of gaming will be in mod-ability, and if you want to put conservative clothes on rather than a skimpy outfit, then the option will be there as well as the possibility for less.

            If people don’t like it then don’t buy it. Sex is probably the oldest traded commodity known to man, next to beer/grain.

          • You’re wrong on the first point. I really don’t understand how you could possibly be anymore obtuse.

            1.) If your point were true, more women would be the purchasers of such content. Ever since the 1930’s, men have been portrayed as shredded, powerful heroes as an appeal to the boys or men buying media with such portrayals.

            2.) Another reason why you are incorrect is because if you look at the examples of men that are objectified by women, they don’t align with the iconography or representation of most of the heroes in video games or comics.

            Like I said before, objectification is just at the tip of the iceberg. As a woman, I don’t really want Warner Brothers to censor Harley Quinn’s tits, I’m a loyal financial contributor to the industry and I would like to feel a little more represented. Actually, I would much rather not be told to “Go back into the kitchen” or “suck my dick” when I play Battlefield of Starcraft. I also don’t want people to assume that I just like to play my boyfriend’s Nintendo baby games. I also don’t want to be corralled in to what games people think are “safe” for my gender.

            People like you guys who think that the author of this article is blowing shit out of proportion have generally been lucky enough to not experience what he is discussing personally. As a girl who loves MMA, Football, Video Games and Comics, I have looked on at the effects of male privilege all my life, especially during my adolescence. Those effects have been dwindling, thankfully, but male privilege is something that even super-cedes video games and comic books, and even paradigms like class and race.

            Also, I worked a comic shop. Most of the customers that visited were bald and/or fat, and that’s not a rip, it’s just the truth.

          • Actually no, the intent in the design in characters like Kratos or Batman is to align with male power fantasy. He is not designed that way to appeal to a women’s fantasy of sexuality.

            Harley Quinn and all the girls in Arkham City were designed very specifically to align with male fantasy of sexuality. It is an unequal portrayal.

        • There’s everything wrong with being valued for your sexuality and ONLY your sexuality.

          Imagine a world where all male characters are the effeminate yaoi bishies. Sometimes they’re given personality, but mostly they exist to have sex and pine for each other. Batman and Robin? They’re just mopey androgynous shaggy haired beauties. Iron Man and Captain America exist purely to have tension and angst and fuck. They might have a place in the plot, but they mostly just look pretty and have sex and sell sex appeal.

          Yeah, that’s right. Your heroes and idols and brooding crusaders? They’re just a teenage girl’s clit-rub fantasy to make the product more appealing. The creators don’t consider the men’s feelings toward their role models being cast as anal chew toys. “It’s empowering!” they say. “It’s empowering because being gay was so oppressed, and now we’re showing off how liberated and AWESOME it is, and if you don’t like it you’re a prude!”

          And that’s what it’s like to be a women in the gaming industry.

  • There is about as much a market for fully clothed non-sexualized female characters in geek culture as there is a need for thousands of copies of ‘Biclops’ at the Andriod’s Dungeon.

  • If you think men’s opinions are not judged by how they look you are sadly mistaken. I automatically dismiss anyone over a certain weight as an obsessed fanboy. On the other end of the spectrum i dismiss people who are too pretty as not really being a nerd and ignore them.

  • I’m sick of these one-sided opinion pieces. Can Kotaku Australia get some sort of live chat going, where people can air their comments? Even a Q&A session where we all submit questions would be good.

    I find that this issue is too prickly to be handled via long-form essays; there has to be interaction.


      Lol. That comic does put the issue very succinctly though.

    • So since I don’t find those huge breasted anime girls attractive, by the comics logic, they aren’t objectifying women?

      While female players might not find Batman/Joker attractive they are intended to be attractive and males do feel a certain need to look like them. It’s probably not an active attempt to capture the female audience or anything, but more just the result of everyone in movies/games/TV/books/music/K-Mart catalogues being attractive.
      In that sense video games work a lot like womens fashion magazines. The women are unrealisticly beautiful and the men are basically just fantasy. Which makes this not a problem with games as much as a problem with human representation in the general media. As soon as the balance tips towards one side being unrealistically beautiful and the other being nothing more than 2D fantasy fuel.

      I’ve got to say using Arkham as a lead in example seems like a poor choice. I’m guessing not many people would reject a Facebook profile picture that made them look like an Arkham Asylum character of their gender.

      [None of this is an argument in favour of poor representation of women in games. It just seems like if you only consider this as a problem with men making ridiculous women in mens games you miss the part where it’s a much bigger social problem.]

  • I generally agree with this article, but I think you got a few things wrong

    “nor are men socialized to “go along to get along”. ”

    They aren’t? You must be thinking “it’s not as bad for men therefore I’ll try and see it in a light that glosses over what guys go through”.

    The vulgar trash talking is certainly a lot more noticeable for women, but… if you genuinely believe guys don’t get plenty of nasty stuff them selves – probably from other guys you really have now idea what you’re talking about.

  • Okay, so I have some issues with the article but they’re not with the spirit of the piece, more in the technicalities. They’re being discussed elsewhere except for this one:

    “Men will also not be told that they’re being “too sensitive” or that “they need to toughen up” when they complain about said sexual threats.”

    Really? I’m not huge with trash talking but I play with friends who do and if *any* guy complained about the way they were being treated they’d be told to man up. It’s even more likely that they would be more polite around girls (which is another form of sexism I *know*).

    • Also this: “Men also won’t have their opinions weighed or dismissed solely on the basis of how sexy or attractive they are”.

      Science (and good old personal anecdotes) suggest otherwise.
      I couldn’t count the number of times I’ve seen the less attractive amongst my peers instantly rated as a lower quality person (especially by the ‘fairer’ sex).
      Science also says that as a 6 foot white guy with dark hair and an ok build I have the highest chance of getting a promotion/pay rise/basically anything out of anyone around.

      Walk into an arena surrounded by the opposite sex and you will be scrutinised quite heavily, the only way we can improve this for girls in geek culture is to increase the number of girls in geek culture. We’re moving in the right direction for sure, but until then we just have to set an example for all our socially struggling brethren.

  • I swear I must live in some sort of alternate dimension then what is generally percieved as ‘nerd/geek’ culture.

    I game religiously, I have a plastic crack addiction (40k, sigh), I have been in and out of comics for years and in all the circles I’ve bounced off, orbited around and traveled through, I just never saw these problems as being wide spread.

    Oh, there’s always that ‘guy’ who brings the rest of us down. You used him as an example with your girlfriend and the comic shop. But most gamers/geeks/nerds I’ve met are generally very nice, accepting people.

    I, personally, think elitism is a worse problem, as it covers a lot of the bases and seems to be everywhere. For some reason we can’t just be people, we have to be Bro’s, Hardcore gamers, Casual gamers, Gaymer’s, Cawadooty fans, Fanboi’s, Aniphiles.

    Maybe the guy who’s being a chauvinistic asshole isn’t so because he’s a geek, maybe he’s just a geek who’s a chauvinist?

    Decent enough read though.

    • I took it less about the community acting towards women, and more about the community bieng willing to accept images and portrayals of women that are so sexualised from the outset.

      • Sex sells and all that jibba jabba. You’d be hard pressed to argue that women lacking in attire being used to increase somethings sex appeal would be a nerd/geek only domain.

        It’s more an issue with society then an issue with the community, as the community is in itself a part of the society.

  • I have absolutely no interest in the ‘sexiness’ of video game females. It’s a bunch of pixels and polygons, anyone who gets turned on by that needs their head examined. Catwoman’s outfit in Arkham city was a joke.

    • I hate this pixels-and-polygons “argument” so much. If you think that anyone who gets turned on by that has something wrong with them, I certainly hope you don’t find yourself getting turned on by photographs of women. After all, they are “just a bunch of pixels” too. And printed images in a magazine – just a bunch of dots…

      A real girl is just a bunch of atoms. Atoms aren’t sexy. You’re a sicko freak.

      • That’s taking it a bit too far. Of course I appreciate an image of a real woman even if it’s dots and pixels. I appreciate it because it’s of a real person (nevermind photoshopping or touching up, that’s a different issue) But an image such as the one of catwoman that has been created by someone on a computer is not something that’s going to ever float my boat. You can fap to it as much as you like though.

        • Right, so it’s only ok as long as the person the image is of actually exists? But what has that got to do with anything? It’s still just an image of a person that you will more than likely never even meet, let alone get to know at all. Especially in the case of an actress or something, the “real” them behind whatever character portray. And then, what difference is there between this and a nonexistant woman who you will also never get to meet or know.

    • Exactly. This is the biggest problem with “privilege” rhetoric.

      It is principally used as a weapon to demoralize, guilt-trip and discredit an opposing argument by attacking the arguer.

      Person X may get preferential treatment from person Y because person Y categorizes person X as a member of group Z. This is undeniable.

      But describing this phenomenon as “privilege” conveys the following messages;
      1) Person X is evil
      2) Person X is conspiring to oppress other people
      3) Person X is actively oppressing other people
      4) It is all person X’s fault
      5) Anything person X says can be ignored because everything he says is just a further attempt to oppress more people.

  • interestingly a man’s attractiveness is based on his masculinity , strength, courage etc so Batman’s outfit is the ultimate in sex symbols for a straight man… both men and women are represented poorly, the ideals are just as unachievable and deningrating for both sexes.

    • Sorry Will, but that’s a strawman argument. Says so in this here article. Did you forget? We live in a patriarchal society so only women can be objectified…

      • Oh i’m not saying it’s right, but for some reason it is ok to objectify men but not women… why does anyone need to be objectified.

        Just as Misandry is rampant in media and Misogyny is reviled, it’s the battle of the sexes that no-one should be fighting.

        Personally I found the outfits of the ladies in Batman offensive, rather tawdry, obvious, and unrelated to their capabilities as heroes or villians.

  • To me, this comes off as a bit exaturated, but I can understand where the author is coming from.
    I’m largely isolated from mainstream geek culture at the moment and largely experience itwhen visiting Melbourne for a comic book/video game run or to go to a convention, but I believe the balance is gradually arriving.
    Admittedly, DC sometimes comes off as softporn, but Marvel has been easing away from that side of things for quite a while, to the point where there are still some super females who display cleavage, there are only a handful, and every superhero uniform is lycra. Both male and female heroes are fit and well-toned.
    As for females in comic book sotres or cons being objectified, I have noticed none of this in Melbourne, with both sexes browsing and working at Minotaur and the various con stalls.

    In my opinion the culture is balancing in Australia, although there is inequality on the whole.
    Yes, games are an issue, but one which is gradually being corrected.

    • Maybe I’m biased, but I don’t want girls in comic book shops to be an unusual thing, so I don’t treat it as an unusual thing. It’s all I can do, apart from acknowledge there’s a problem.

  • “A man, for example, who gets a job isn’t going to face with suggestions that his attractiveness or that his willingness to perform sexual favours was a factor in his being hired”

    I dunno, pretty sure my friends wouldn’t be above making such suggestions regardless of gender.

    • I remember at my office when a new guy got hired, all the middle-aged women in the office rushed to check him out and commented on how much of a “spunk” he was (their words, not mine). So men definitely get judged too..

      • What’s spunk mean? I’ve heard some girls refer to guys as “studs” (sole reason of existence being their d**k), but not spunk.

  • I’d argue that there is more an element of representing a perceived ideal state of the male and female in terms of physiques and such, yes all the ‘mouth breathing troglodytes” will fawn over the rediculously chiseled babe in skimpy outfits, which I tend to have a chuckle at ( you can be hot in appropriate attire… ) but the flipside is that I can’t really think that many female nerds out there wouldn’t mind looking like arkham city’s catwoman, much like I wouldn’t mind resembling the statuesque form of Batman.

  • If I may, I have no problem with the article, or with other inclusive works that Kotaku have published recently. My problem is that there is a double standard at play. The author states:

    “These would-be white knights are ultimately treating her as a fetish object, not as a person. It’s especially notable when it comes to sexy cosplayers; the guys will laude them for being geek girls and celebrate them in person and online.”

    What do Kotaku publish at least once a week? Cosplay galleries, featuring pictures of “queens” as “fetish objects”, not people. Kotaku needs to decide where it stands: does it celebrate gamer culture and include all in its dialogue? OR, does it continue to pander to both sides and let the fires of nerdrage burn out of control?

    I hope for a clear decisive step in the way of inclusion.

    • The cosplay pictures are courtesy of Kotaku US. Although some of the female cosplayers aren’t in sexy costumes.
      While this is a cosplay US article it’s by a guest as was the last one. The only person on Kotaku AUS to have written articles about the double standards in gaming culture is Mark Serrels.

      • I know that the cosplay articles, and the other ones I was referring to are from Kotaku US. That still doesn’t change my message: you can’t have it both ways.

        I’m aware that not all cosplay is about sexy times, but post like Kirk Hamilton’s Tomb Raider porn advertisement aren’t helping either.

        This was a Twitter post I read last month that sums up the situation pefectly:!/SurielVazquez/status/131208070096359424

  • Good article.

    One of the tricky things about privilege is the gut reaction that kicks in as soon as someone mentions it. No one wants to feel like they are part of the problem. And even though everyone here has privilege of some form it doesn’t feel like we’ve got any special advantages, does it?

    That’s what privilege is like. It’s being so used to an advantage you struggle to even comprehend what it’s like not to have it.

    If reading discussions about privilege makes you feel uncomfortable or defensive that’s a very common, normal reaction. But I encourage people to try and think past that. Having privilege doesn’t make you a bad person. Geeky men are not being cast as the enemy. No one is trying to spoil the party. This is just something we can all benefit from thinking about a little bit.

    • If “geeky men are not being cast as the enemy” then perhaps using terms like “privilege” and making the subconscious assumption that there is only one kind of privilege and it operates in a unidirectional manner should be avoided.

      Certain groups do indeed have certain “social advantages” over other groups in certain contexts, just like certain groups do indeed have certain “social disadvantages” over other groups in certain contexts. This is beyond refute.

      But again, saying “SHUT UP, YOU MALE!!!” doesn’t make friends or influence people. And unfortunately a very large number of people that use the “privilege” argument are doing just that; using it to simply discredit an argument on the basis of the arguer.

      The simple fact is that men (on average, not necessarily every single specific man, and not necessarily in the same degrees and the same areas) have some advantages over women (on average, not necessarily every single specific woman, and not necessarily in the same degrees and the same areas).

      But the vice-versa is also equally true. Women do have some social advantages in some areas.

      For more on the rhetorical abuse of the term “privileged” see here:

      • I’m aware of the issues you raise and am a big fan of the blog you link. But I do think it’s important to separate that from the gut reaction many people (male or otherwise) have when being called out on something.

        To me this article took a reasonable approach: to discuss an issue, not to attack and silence men. I’ll happily admit this is probably partly because I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the concept of privilege and learning not to see it as an attack. Which I suppose is what my comment is primarily trying to get at.

        I absolutely do not consider privilege unidirectional — note that I mentioned it’s something everyone here has. When I say it’s worth thinking about I mean to direct that at everyone.

        Many people have discussed privilege in problematic, insulting ways. I didn’t get that vibe here. Do you advocate removing the term from these social justice discussions entirely, or do you think it can be better handled?

        • Cha,

          First, thanks very much for your reply. I appreciate it.

          I think the “gut reaction” is really a product of the word and the tone in the first place. Let’s be honest here, the concept that “society tends to treat different groups of people in different ways, and thus results in some people having an easier time doing certain things and a harder time doing other things” is a completely reasonable statement to make.

          But “privilege” doesn’t sound like that at all. “Privilege” sounds like “you’re a horrible person,” “your suffering is irrelevant,” “my suffering is your fault” etc. etc. Now, in THEORY the term simply refers to the earlier, more reasonable statement I made before.

          But in reality, the vast majority of the time (in my experience), “privilege” is used as a weapon to shut down debate and discussion. It is used to demoralize an opponent and to inflict BLAME and GUILT.

          Honestly, I’d drop the word entirely. “Social advantage” would probably be a better term.

  • Fantastic article. has the reader reaction firmly in mind. I’ve been thinking lately about how gaming is still a bit of a hobby that can’t be talked about easily. despite all the mega sales. isn’t that odd? Id say more but smartphone typing is tedious.

  • Very good read. And if the article hadn’t swayed me to the arguement, the whining butt hurt comments about it being anti male certainly sealed the deal.

    No one whines louder than the privileged.

    The sad truth is that when it comes to sexism and exclusion most privileged young men just can’t see the forest for the trees and get irrationally offended when the truth is plonked down in front of them. Unfortunately there’s really only one cure, have a daughter.

      • No, maybe some are just sick of being told how horrible women are treated, but men don’t have any problems. Women objectify men just as much (if not more).
        It’s double standards I can’t stand. Or when people act like they’re “morally superior”

        • Agreed. Nothing against women’s problems being talked about, but enough of the “guy’s problems don’t exist or aren’t as important”

          • Oh god please do, please write your article about how women objectify men and list all the examples you can think of about how men are made to feel inferior and weak due to media representations.

  • You know six-packs portrayed in all those masculine male characters?
    Yeah, they’re hard to get too.

    It’s a fantasy world. Lighten up.

  • In broad terms I agree with the point being made but O’Malley has managed to take it, turn it into a 2,400 word white knight, miss a bunch of important points and erect a host of straw men.

    O’Malley is way too quick in dismissing the treatment of male characters in sci-fi/fantasy and misses an important point in doing so. If catwoman is some dominatrix stereotype of hyper-feminity (tits out for the boys) then batman is a dominatrix stereotype of hyper-masculinity (muscles and kicking arse).

    Of course that has a whole range of impacts (Body dysmorphia anyone?) but in terms of feminism the big one would seem to be these characters traits and attitudes to women. The role model presented to male comic book readers is all powerful superheroes who women swoon over and we wonder why some comic book readers are a bit rapey? Also see the Comedian.

    In the IRL impacts being treated as a girl first and an anything else second is just a gendered version of all interaction. Watch everyone else get treated as fat, male, nerdy, tall, short, skinny, etc first and anything else second. Sure it’s worse for women but pretending that this is just a gender issue is wilfully ignorant.

    The IRL examples are pretty much all complete crap:

    1. “A man isn’t expected to be a representative of his sex in all things; if he fails at a job, it’s not going to be extrapolated that all men are unfit for that job”

    Happens all the time, especially in female dominated workplaces. ‘Men can’t clean things properly’, ‘men are insensitive and bad communicators’, etc etc

    2. “A man who’s strong-willed or aggressive won’t be denigrated for it”

    Yes they will “Kieran’s such a ballbreaking cunt, why doesn’t he lighten up?”

    3. nor are men socialized to “go along to get along”

    So instead we are socialised to compete, at least we win? right?

    4. “A man can expect to have his opinion considered, not dismissed out of hand because of his sex.”

    See women discussing men’s opinion on female issues. Including ironically enough this very article.

    5. “A guy who plays a first person shooter — Call of Duty, Halo, Battlefield, what-have-you — online may expect a certain amount of trash talking, but he’s not going to be inundated with offers for sex, threats of rape, sounds of simulated masturbation or demands that he blow the other players — but not before going to the kitchen and getting them a beer/sandwich/pizza first.”

    Clearly has not played these games much. Also who even plays on open-comms servers?

    6. “Men will also not be told that they’re being “too sensitive” or that “they need to toughen up” when they complain about said sexual threats.”

    Yes they will. It’s a key factor in the under-reporting of sexual threats/assault by men.

    7. “Men also won’t have their opinions weighed or dismissed solely on the basis of how sexy or attractive they are.”

    Yes they will. See treatment of fat ugly guys.

    8. “Men are also not going to be automatically assigned into a particular niche just based on their gender.”

    Yes they will. The niche of being a comic book buying nerd.

  • Speaking of objectifying women: Read his other articles.

    More top stories from Paging Dr. NerdLove

    • Don’t Date Geek Girls

    • No More Mr. Nice Guy

    • Four Lies Movies Teach Us About Dating

    • Question: Did you read all of these articles, or just make assumptions based on their titles?

      Don’t Date Geek Girls goes into how the “geek girl” is an object of geek guys’ imagination. Once again, a “fetish object”. It’s about how we objectify the idea of the “Geek Girl”, not how girls with geeky interests aren’t worth dating.

      I haven’t read the others for the record.

      • For the record, I went off the titles. However, “Helping Nerds get the girl” seems like a pretty objective statement, don’t you think? “objective: females!” Not “objective: relationship” The objective is “getting the girl”, which makes this article sound a little hypocritical, and also make me want to glass the jerk who wrote it.

        I’m quite sick of the ‘me too’ articles appearing around females being discriminated against in gaming. Can’t everyone just grow up and stop making a big deal about something which actually isn’t a big deal? Guys like girls – generally. Some Girls like girls. Some guys like guys. I don’t care. Do what you want. Just stop trying to make me feel bad about a topic which is currently trending in journo articles.

        This is Kotaku, not Dolly.

        • The big deal is not just about the portrayal of women in videogame/nerd/comic culture, it’s also got a lot to do with most males’ need to vigorously defend their fandom; thus alienating women, homosexuals and people of different ethnicities from engaging with what we love.

          So like you said:

          “Guys like girls – generally. Some Girls like girls. Some guys like guys. I don’t care. Do what you want.”

          Point is, if you’re not in the majority (ie. straight, white male), then odds are you’ll be ostracised if you identify with what makes you different.

          This IS Kotaku. Plenty of sites offer news, reviews and the like, but I like some intelligent discussion to accompany the staples.

  • The fantastic thing about this article is that you can’t point out any of the flaws or make an argument without someone saying “That there’s Male Privilege so your argument is invalid”. And for the record, yes there is a problem, but it seems that it’s the big beacon problem blinding you to everything else.

    I have a lot of opinions that are just apparently “Male-Privilege” but the one thing that really is wrong about this article is the section where the author starts saying that men never face any kind of discrimintation or oppression based on their male-ness. Apparently the author has never seen any movie or advert or read any story in which the man is a bumbling and incompetent “Typical male” who can’t cook, has no idea about housework, can’t do the grocery shopping right, has never picked up any appliance other than a power tool, feels uncomfortable in the lingerie store and can’t just sit and talk about feelings.

    It doesn’t stop there, have you heard of the phrase “Real men eat Egg Pie”? Any man who shows a bit of sensitivity or reacts in any other way than testoterone fueled masculinity is seen as less of a man and told to “Toughen up”. How many times have you walked down the street and seen a gorgeous lady with a less than attractive guy and thought “How’d a guy like that end up with her?”. Congratulations, you just discriminated against males because of their looks. It happens in workplaces all the time. Long hair? No hire. Overweight? No hire. Acne ridden? No hire. Greasy hair and cocky attitude? No hire. Threat to my alpha-maleness in the workplace? Definitely no hire.

    I could go on but it comes down to instincts. A male is programmed to continually try and prove himself as a suitable mate and exert his dominance over any other male that presents itself as a threat. You may not even know you’re doing it, a good natured jab at someone’s character flaw, pushing into a line, or driving just that little bit faster, it’s male instinct trying to prove you’re better than the others.

    So yes, males do get the same sorts of treatment as females, it’s just no one ever complains about it because it’s not “Masculine” and we’d be told to toughen up. Especially if the person oppressing us is female. (Yes, female-privilege does exist) If it weren’t a problem, there wouldn’t be services out there dedicated to giving male counselling for the problems that society laughs at them for or covers up.

    • THANK YOU.

      This reply makes a very important point.

      When someone pulls out the “privilege” argument, nine times out of then they are using it to completely ignore the argument on the basis of the perceived class affiliation of the person making the argument.

      Then along comes the Catch 22 – If you accept my argument, it proves I am right. If you deny your argument, you are only denying it because you are privileged, and thus I am right!

      Now, IN AND OF ITSELF the concept of “privilege” has some validity. The definition I’ve heard is that “group X is privileged if ON AVERAGE members of that group will be treated favorably (in certain respects) relative to members of other groups.” For instance, members of racial minorities typically face heightened scrutiny from police. The article used the example of the fact that males are the presumed audience for most “nerdy” media, and thus the male demographic is extensively catered for whilst the female demographic is not. This is a valid observation.

      HOWEVER, what this implies is people who are “privileged” aren’t responsible for it. Their “privilege” is a product of OTHER PEOPLE’S attitudes, beliefs and presuppositions (this also applies to those without “privilege,” they aren’t resonsible for their lack of privilege).

      But you’d never know this from the RHETORICAL USE of “privilege.”

      Rhetorically, “privileged” is not merely used to ignore and discredit arguments (as detailed above), but to ignore and discredit ARGUERS. It is used to impugn their character and to essentially BLAME them for things that they are NOT responsible for.

      “Privileged” in its current rhetorical use is a bludgeon. It is a thought-terminating cliche that is essentially used to demonize anyone that disagrees as an evil oppressor. It is used to inflict unearned guilt.

      Now, is it true that most “nerdy” media caters to an assumed audience of opposite-sex-attracted men? Absolutely. Are the tastes of other demographics getting less attention? Indeed.

      But here’s another important thing;

      The article is correct that everyone wants to see fictional characters they can identify with and fantasize about being, i.e. fictional characters that embody their ideals.

      But what goes into making a fictional character relatable is FAR more extensive than gender. Just because a fictional character is targeted towards men does not mean that men will identify with that character. Men aren’t a giant monolithic homogeneous block; men are a set of diverse individuals.

      For instance, I cannot identify with the vast majority of male fictional characters. At all. And I think most men would feel the same way. “This character is a dude and so am I!” isn’t enough.

      I don’t identify with Marcus Fenix, who is APPARENTLY meant to be a “male power fantasy” (ahh yes, trying to prove oneself to various authority figures and to win your father’s love and serving in the military of a fanatically socialist totalitarian state and living pretty much exclusively to have other people approve of you is TOTALLY empowering (sarcasm)). I don’t identify with Superman or Batman… I don’t think I identify with any DC Comics characters actually.

      In other words, saying “men have characters they can relate to and women don’t” is a COMPLETE oversimplification. It WOULD be fair to state that “a man is more likely on average to find a larger number of relatable characters in fiction than a woman is likely to” but that is only an average statistical tendency.

      And it should be also noted that cross-gender identification is possible as well. I have female friends that can identify with some male characters, and vice versa.

      It should also be said that there is nothing, in and of itself, wrong with a piece of fiction choosing to cater to one demographic. This isn’t oppressive. I am not being oppressed by the existence of TV shows targeted at girls.

      Another point; “TV/Comics/Fiction/Movies/Games don’t cater to my tastes” isn’t necessarily oppression. Oppression requires some sort of action against you. Not-taking-an-action-for-X is NOT the same thing as Taking-an-action-against-X.

      Is it annoying and unfortunate when works of fiction ignore you? Absolutely! I’ve experienced this feeling plenty of times (as stated before, PLENTY of factors other than gender matter, and every single person has been excluded from something on the basis of some factor, gender or otherwise). But it doesn’t actively hurt me.

      But this is all digression. The point is that whilst “privilege” when understood correctly is a valid concept, the way it is generally used is as a rhetorical weapon designed to inflict unearned guilt, demonize an entire group of people, and ignore arguments on the basis of the person making them. It is used to polarize rather than find common ground, to divide rather than build alliances, and to generate animosity.

      Is it any surprise at all people react defensively to basically being accused of being horrible uncaring oppressive beasts by virtue of something innate like gender? If you want to win people over to your side, you DON’T do this.

      Let me give an example; if one wanted to convince men that they should support any variety of feminism at all, would it be productive or useful to show them a copy of Catherine Breillat’s film “Anatomy Of Hell” or would that film simply prove to them that all self-labelled feminists hate all men?

  • Mark, when are we going to see an article for the other side? No wonder people think you are pushing a political agenda…

    oh sorry… am I using my white male privilege? Doesn’t seem to work at Kotaku

  • I didn’t read it. I’d just like to point out that with one of these articles showing up every damn week it really makes it obvious that they’re posted for hits. Please ladies and Kotaku, if you want to make your point and have it heard, slow down and take more time to write a more ground-breaking article.

    It’s starting to become background noise. Annoying background noise.

    In b4 somebody replies: “You don’t have to read it!”

  • Have you finished blasting your readers with infinite wisdom? You get it all out? You finished portraying your OPINIONS as facts? Good.

    Seriously it seems like there’s an article like this every week now. Let’s class all gamers as nerds and tell them how horrible they are to women. Fantasic.

    Would people be happier if all female characters were not so good looking and dressed in a potato sack? They’re dressed in sexy clothes. SO WHAT. There are also ones that are dressed more modestly. Oh and let’s brush off the fact that males are objectified too. Always tall, ripped body, perfect face, strong jaw line, ect. Oh but that doesn’t matter, does it.

    You say men aren’t told to “toughen up” Are you serious? Men are ALWAYS told to toughen up. That’s the general attitude towards men who are insulted, sexually harassed (yes it happens) abused, ect.

    As for the sexual insults thrown at women in online games, yes I’ve heard it from time to time and it really angers me. But it’s usually some stupid, immature teenager and others usullay tell them to shut up. What do you expect.

    So the game industy puts a lot of focus on catering to it’s main audience. Well there’s a shocker. Every industry does it. It also caters to others too and if the amount of female gamers continues to increase, then more focus will go to them too.

    I treat women the exact same way I treat anyone. But I don’t care about these issues when they’re brought up, because they’re always condescending and double standard. And anyone who disagrees with the point raised (like me) is targeted as sexiest, chauvinist, immoral. I’m tired of it.

    My sister plays games, my nieces play games (who are right beside me now playing Bully and Red Dead) and none of them see these issues. They just play the damn game and enjoy it.

    • The problem is that the defining feature of a female character tends to be her gender, appearance and sexuality. This is a problem because it provides a skewed characterization of women.

      It is a problem for you because people are complex, and complex, more realistic (not two dimensional) characters tend to allow for better storytelling.

      • Oh sorry, this is not to say that a character used for the sole purpose of sexuality is inherently wrong, but that it is boring and if most characters tend to work that way, then you have a problem.

        I think…

      • Who cares if a defining feature is her gender, appearance or sexuality. It’s a big part of who we are. We are not all the same. Males and females are different (in general) and that’s good. When I see a female, I see a female, when I see a male, I see a male. 
        The people that are trying to rid any difference between us are crazy. We’re all human and equal, but we are also different. 

        Back on topic. Nearly all male characters are defined by those qualities too. Always good looking, rock hard abs, perfect looks, jawlines made of stone, very masculine, ect. Is this a realistic portrayal of all men? No. 
        But honestly, I play games to escape reality, not to be confined by it. When people are playing a game for 10hrs I’m sure the majority prefer to have main characters that are sexually/physically appealing (both men and women)
        We can have characters that are physically appealing and emotionally appealing. Doesn’t have to be one or the other.

        Women sexually objectify men all the time. Look at Twilight and how many scenes with guys with their shirts off there are and how girls go crazy for it. Or how they act with people like Justin Beiber. I’ve even seen adult women say certain things about him, a teenager. How about Sex and the City. Or the many other famous men they drool over or movies with men with their shirts off with muscles.

        Some complain that women are sexually objectified in games/movies and wear outfits that are too revealing. But if they started covering them all up and hiding their feminine features, then no doubt those same people would then start complaining that womens femininity and sexuality is being oppressed. You can’t win with some, they always find something to be offended about.

        I have no problem discussing these issues from time to time, if BOTH sides are looked at and everyones opinion is validated. Not continually being preached at in a condescending way each week by the elite, about how horrible and sexiest us men are. This is why these articles get so many negative responses. 

        Like I said, all the female gamers I know never bring up these “issues” They don’t care. I personally believe most women don’t care or take offense. It’s just the elite who seem to want to bestow their “wisdom” on us “simpletons” and show how great and morally superior they are, fighting for “feminism”. 

        • I guess when i asked for an article for the other side, I’m forced to read it in the comment fields.

          You and few others have put it nicely.

          And I guess I can’t expect much from Kotaku… after all, they’re not real journalists. Just bloggers.

  • The same occurs anytime a male goes shopping in a so-called “womans” shop, any guy who’s been jewellery shopping lately will know what I’m talking about.

  • PS. less “thought-provoking” articles, and more focus on actual games please. I realise the release schedule is slow but come on. *raises flame shield

    Love, me

  • So any comments i make which tell the editor to go fuck himself are completely false and misleading because he said so in the article? Well fuck you, i love tits, i am a bloke, i love tits, nice asses and sexy clothes on girls. I like it. And i get it in games. Fuck your Mrs Daisy ass. Since when would a cloppity old fart bitch with a guy hanging out and a polkadot dress get into any game i play? If she did i wouldnt buy it because the developer is a preacher about female rights just like you are. Real women deservve my respect not fantasy based 3D animations of glorified sluts on my computer screen. And yes i can differentiate between the two. You suck.

    • Five bucks this comment is used in another article talking about this, as an example of what their talking about, despite the multiple good arguments presented on this page.

      Well done Sharpy, you just gave them ammo to keep railing about this.

  • I can understand the point of the article, I can understand how some feel offended, I can understand how some feel justified by it, and I can understand why there’s conflicting opinions.

    Overall though I think the article simplifies things to a “SOCIAL JUSTICE AWAY!!!” level, which is nice and all but I prefer to sit back a bit.

    Let us take into account, for starters, that both genders think differently. Women are more sensitive to gender differences, heck, women are more sensitive to a lot of social factors (age, gender, social position, gossip, whatever). Men on the other hand are much more oblivious. We automatically assume that everyone either goes along with things the way we do them or think about them (we meaning I’m a man, in case that didn’t make much sense).

    The problem with social justice is it automatically aligns with the victimised group’s opinions on many an occasion, which means that the accused generally are treated more like a problem and less like an equal variable. This poses problems for equality. But it’s more convenient than equality in this case – after all, how can we reconcile the stereotypical woman’s gender sensitivity with the stereotypical male’s “wait, you mean she thinks differently because she’s a girl, and not because she’s trying to start a fight?!”? It’s easier just to go “oh well, we’ll go with the opinions of those who are feelin’ hurt and those who aren’t can shut their pie holes about how upheaving the status quo will cause them to have to expend more energy thinking about it”.

    Regardless, it’s still not equality. Equality is effectively “both genders have as much rights as the other”. If one gender on average likes to objectify the other, so be it! If the other gender likes to objectify the other, so be it too! When one of one gender and one of the other come together and share each others opinions, be interested, be curious, and have an open mind! Sure, the man’s viewpoint isn’t king, but the woman’s sure as hell isn’t either (well, it isn’t queen…). Both viewpoints have their own merits, and shouldn’t have priority over the other (unless there’s a good reason, like if one gender suddenly takes up cannibalism). If a chick goes “this is stupid, why’s she half naked”, feel free to go “well, I’m sure there’s stuff you like that I find stupid too, but for me, I like it because of XYZ, or I don’t care about it, it’s the author’s choice, I like other elements of it”. A guy goes “this show is stupid, why’s he half naked”, chicks, feel free to do the same thing.

    There’s no point in bending over backwards for the other gender, since that will either result in them suddenly having the upperhand and treading all over you instead (which is pointless), or they’ll do the same thing to you, and then everyone will be afraid to do anything in case they offend someone (also pointless).

    Balance is the key.


  • This entire article can be summarised as “you are a terrible person who insults women.” It’s condescending, it’s insulting, and the best part is, it’s utterly useless. It does nothing to suggest what should be changed, and judging from the article, I think any suggestions the author brings forth are going to be hilariously bad.

    It’s also hypocritical; it pretends the 3 male characters from Arkham City are normal. It briefly brings up the counter-argument that these characters are also ridiculous and over the top (and, in Batman’s case, also heavily sexualized) but then immediately changes the subject. It’s ALMOST as if it only brought up the counter-argument as a preventative measure for people bringing up that argument, without actually giving a reason as to why it’s not valid! (ps: that’s exactly what it did.)

    The article isn’t remotely aimed at the source of the problem, which are the socially-retarded manchildren like the one mentioned in the comic book store story… Which mind you is such a perfect example I would greatly wager it was made up, but anyway. It’s aimed at the people who agree with him, so they can agree on how much they agree with him, and then they can all talk about how much they agree. There’s no way this is going to change anyone’s mind and I’m pretty sure the author knows it. Talk about self-indulgant.

    The fact of the matter is that the best way for women to get a more valid presence in videogames is already being done. Saints Row 3, a game mentioned in this very article, featured one of the most badass women in gaming. She pulled some of the most ridiculous stunts, beat down zombies and secret government armies and didn’t once need saving. She also spent the entire game suited up in baggy full-length pants and a business-casual suit. BECAUSE SHE WAS THE PLAYER CHARACTER. Freedom of customization is the way to move forward with this and, surprise, it’s already being done.

    Other than that this article, like 3/4 of the others on the topic, are just self-righteous circle-jerking from a healthy mix of white knights and female supremacists about how they want a game that features a female – and ONLY a female, no male option! – protagonist, who is slightly overweight but still sexy, but she doesn’t show it, unless the male sidekick meets a stringent list of specific and highly subjective traits and behaviours so that the female is now warranted to display the exact appropriate amount of sexiness. And he must fawn over her but not put her on a pedestal in an exact middle-ground so that the male is neither objectifying her nor is she objectifying herself by making herself sexually available to him, which will make her fall into neither category of slut nor prude nor Disney romantic and then they can carry on the story in an exact way that is neither awkward nor overly romantic nor ‘friends with benefits’ because ANY ONE of the above criteria being slightly off-mark would result in an obvious insult to the entire female gender!

    Did that make any sense to you? Me neither. Personally I’m disappointed a game doesn’t feature my exact life scenario either of a male who is socially dominant and confident but sexually passive but, SURPRISE, it’s ****ing irrelevant to whether a game is good just like all the above rubbish and so I’ll keep playing things anyway even though the main characters – male AND female – usually irritate me at best, and I sure as hell don’t find any of the characters sexually appealing. I’m not about to start some movement about how my needs as a minority aren’t being met.

    also not featured: male protagonists are always idiots. blah blah inequality blah blah sexism

  • All these articles with which we’ve been bombarded as of late are all good and nice and all that. It is indeed important to raise awareness on this matter. However, I believe it is time to start pointing that condemning, trembling-with-indignation finger to the “obnoxious, entitled, drooling, hormone-driven white male gamer” which all them seem to generalize consumers of pop culture as, and focus on those who are more to blame and who actually have the power to start shifting the paradigm (but they won’t):

    The creators and producers of the stuff. While it’s true that women are rather underrepresented in the industry, they definitely are not absent and several are in management positions. And yet, they don’t stop generating media products that misrepresent and exploit the female body. You know why? Because that would be non-marketable.

    However, these people fail to notice (or pretend to fail) that they are not only giving “what the consumers” want; they are -continuously- informing them what they /should like/. And obviously, since there is competence, they find themselves in a process of escalation that keeps feeding the vicious cycle: If the competence created a product in which a prominent female appeared somewhat covering only 10 total centimeters of skin, well, then it’s not time to try the prudish girl in long skirt and sweater, right? It’s time to find a way to cover only 9 total centimeters.

    They do this in the same way that junk food companies add corn syrup to their bun bread: because they know that either subconsciously or consciously they’ll be appealing to a powerful bodily reaction (taste and lust, respectively) to have a say in what otherwise would be a rationale process (parting with your hard-worked money.)

    So yeah, keep pointing your accusing fingers at us gamers, journalists. Keep demonising us. Keep making deriding jokes at our basement-dwelling, masturbation-fueled lifestyles (because, clearly, we’re all like that, right?) Keep feeling self-righteous and desperately trying to attract the praise of females by wielding your pretentious feminism like a divine sword of justice and wisdom. (Small aside: have you noticed how most of these journalists have to remark that we have a skewed perception of women because we’ve never been close to one, which we should try some time? It’s quite clever, they manage to imply how successful their own social lives are by mocking us. Close aside.)

    Yes, keep aiming at the lower tier of the problem and by no means focus on the true culprits. After all, you’re in the business as well, and it would be unwise to bite the hand that feeds you, uh?

  • “The men are fully clothed and deadly serious.”

    Here’s where I stopped reading. If you describe the joker as being deadly serious, then I’m not going to bother reading the rest.

  • I completely agree with this article. I am a white male, and though it is nice to be handed everything on a silver plater, I hate all the things people sometimes do. I read that someone said there was an undertone of racism? The person who wrote this said that is another issue that he won’t get into due to this being about genders, not races.

  • I think it’s interesting that everyone starts saying that because you’re privileged youre evil. The article doesn’t say that. It doesn’t say that all men are pigs that should be shot. What it says is that this is a problem. A problem that are hard to see if you’re in it.
    And most importantly, it doen’t say that ONLY men does it. We women does it to. I know I does. But I try to be aware of it to be able to change my behavior.
    I dont think anyone try to be evil and “leran women their place”. I think this is a deeper structur in society that is hard to see, accept and change. It is about how social norms are reproduced.
    And yes, this is not only true for women. Men meet it to, we also have problems of people not treating each other as persons because of looks and so on. All of these are problems. The reason women get a lot of attention in this is becuse it is such a big discrimination on a grups that actually is more than half of the worlds population.
    So yes, I will keep on pointing fingers at you, but I will also point it to myself and my friends. I will try to do better and try to breake the pattern even if it is hard and I sometimes will fail. But I will not pretend like the problem doesn’t exist, try to blame it on everyone but me or say that there are more problems in the world and therfore I should not have to care about this one or any other for that matter.

  • If you have your genitals on the outside and your skin is light in tone then the only way you can really respond to any kind of discussion such as this is to silently accept that you’re the problem and should offer no opinion or statements of your own. This is not a discussion, so please don’t fool yourself into opening your mouth. Just comply and everything will go smoothly.

    I’d love to give the world to everyone who seeks to change it. I don’t care for it myself and unfortunately it’s not mine to give or to change how I see fit… but I’m sure made to feel responsible for how it is.

  • I really don’t appreciate the suggestion that I’m responsible for the behavior and actions of other adults.

    Yeah, other guys have male bits. They probably consist of the same basic genetic structure, too. Maybe they wear clothes. They drink coffee – more likely in the morning? They don’t like oppressively hot weather.

    None of those things have any bearing on one another, they are not actually characteristics you should use to group individuals together as a lump sum.

    Individual instances can’t repeat. That’s a logical fallacy. Humans and other thinkers just suppose that they can so we can make objectifying imaginary things easier. We learn based upon repetition, after all.

    If you’d like to actually discuss the elephant in the room, that many women in our society have repeatedly been sexually submissive, be my guest. You can’t explain gender discrimination without explaining how we define gender.

    • “I really don’t appreciate the suggestion that I’m responsible for the behavior and actions of other adults.”

      “None of those things have any bearing on one another, they are not actually characteristics you should use to group individuals together as a lump sum.”


      THIS is why “privilege” rhetoric pisses so many people off. It is used to inflict unearned guilt.

      It is also used in a methodologically collectivist manner, i.e. it treats individual people as no more than instances of their “class” with no real free will of their own; just socially-constructed expressions of all-pervasive social forces.

      Paradoxically, this both attacks individual responsibility AND is used to inflict guilt. Collective guilt.

      Male Kotaku readers don’t get pissed off at “privilege” rhetoric because we’re trying to protect our privilege (“If you agree I’m right, if you disagree you’re wrong”). We’re pissed off because this rhetoric inflicts unearned guilt on every single male, equates men who like scantily-clothed Catwomen with knuckle-dragging neanderthal rapists, and is used to completely ignore and discredit anything we say on the basis of the fact we have Y-Chromosomes. It is used to construct and perpetuate a false image of one-way, monolithic, class-based oppression, where All Women are Always Oppressed by All Men.

      In short, we’re sick of this collective-blame/collective-responsibility/It’s-All-Your-Fault-You-Horrible-Male game.

      If one wants to encourage more empathy for female gamers, then articles like this are counterproductive, to put it mildly.

      • The collectivism is the root of gender stereotyping, ironically. Women are individuals, and so are men. They all exist exclusively, and whether or not they practice collectivism is still an exclusive instance.

        Gender relation issues are a bi-product of the collectivist illusion. Persons who find it easier to assume that women are subject to discrimination because of the gender of those in offense are equally quilty of collectivism.

        The belief that stereotyping exists separately from collectivism is irrational justification. It is a simple defensive mechanism. We do not simply group together others who offend us by common traits – those who cause offense must be eroded of credibility, or the collectivist will have to face their innermost confidence issues.

        If someone is behaving selfishly toward you, and justifying it as being due to your gender or other identifying traits, that does not reflect on you as a person. Their logic is an internal process related to their own personal experiences, they are reactionary.

        Of course, you do not need to identify gender to others. People who possess a visible sexual identity should expect to be judged by others in relation to that, positively and negatively. The simple act of building conversation around gender is in itself an invitation to the subject.

        • Thanks for your reply, and I absolutely agree with you that gender stereotyping (when actually taken seriously as a statement about all members of a specific gender) is indeed methodologically collectivist.

  • So your GF met an idiot in a comic store. Ffs tell her to get over herself. That must have been the only time that she’s ever set foot out of her house because otherwise she’d realise that the world is full of idiots and surprise suprise, not all of them are men.
    We all have to deal with it every day of our lives. Welcome to planet Earth.
    Blaming the people who go to comic book stores and somehow gamers by inference has to be the most spurious, arguementative basis for an article ever fucking proposed. Was the editor doing crack that day?

    This whole whiney bitchfest about how “the games industry” treat women in games is unbalanced sensationalist bullshit.

    When do we start seeing the articles on how men are adversely portrayed in video games?
    If the female characters in Arkum are little more than sexual fluff then what the fuck is Batman or for that matter any of the other male characters?
    As a body image for men Batman is as unreachable a goal as catwalk models are for women.
    As for morality he beats the shit out of people! What the hell does that say to men? If you can’t beat the shit out of people your not a real man?
    Every male character in every game you mentioned is as unrealistic as the female characters. They are either violent or on ‘roids or inarticulate knuckle draggers or sex fiends?

    When do the single white males that “get all the good stuff” ever get truely represented without being painted with the testosterone brush?
    When do we see men being portrayed as just guys? The conversation so far has been incredibly one sided (read: SEXIST).

    Yes, video games portray unrealistic sexual characterisations (in both extremes). Yes, people should wave their tiny little fists at the sky untill studio heads start watching My Little Pony and shooting rainbows out of their arses.
    But seriously if your going to write a freakin article about it don’t go down this “a Current Affair” course.

    There are more men than women in gaming, that’s not sexist that’s just an observation.
    Then why do you keep writing articles about the objectification of women expecting men to empathise? They already know how unbalanced it is. Not only do guys get it from games that they will never “match up” but now they have to hear from you that it’s somehow also their fault?
    Write something on the mindless sexism that is being thrown at guys and then, heaven forbid, you might get the guys to start picking up on it as well and you might just find you have more followers than you thought.

    Also I object to your implication that mens “taste” in women are correctly portrayed by video games. Wake the fuck up.

  • …this is why I hate the term ‘gamer girl’. No, I’m not a gamer girl, I’m a gamer…I put this on par with the term ‘gaymer’…you’re identifying your gender/sexuality with one term, and thus allowing the sterotypical archetypes to flow…having said that though, I don’t necessarily agree with some of the points you raise…

  • My main criticism of this article and the false equivalence argument is that they both seek to airbrush issues that affect men out of the conversation entirely. That men have some privileges that women don’t (or to put it another way; that men cause more and suffer from less disadvantages than any other group in society) does not preclude male victimisation.

    The author of the article does this by characterising anyone who says something along the lines of ‘but this happens to men too’ as being blinded by that which he is describing. The false equivalence argument does this by denying that male sexual objectification exists and instead defines it as a ‘male’ power fantasy.

    This trend of attempting to silence (via preemption) and outright dismiss claims of male vicitimisation (I say ‘trend’ as it can also be seen in, among other things, phrases such as ‘whataboutehmenz?’) is, ironically, consistent with the patriarchal notion of shutting up and shaming men who open up about their feelings.

  • I disagree with the article.

    Then again I might have misunderstood the point itself.

    In that first example with the comic book store it’s pretty much an entirely male-dominated culture. I don’t think the behavior of that asshole guy reflects geek culture itself. I think it is a RESULT of the culture being not only dominated by males but by males who have little experience with women.

    Thus I think the problem isn’t the culture, but the fact that the men involved have no experience with women and that women want nothing to do with that culture (i’ll get into that soon). Thus the women reject the culture and its followers and the remaining men face a lack of experience in dealing with women.

    Observe. The guy is rejected as soon as the woman identifies him as belonging to geek culture (despite nothing else being wrong with him).

  • “And, critically, a man doesn’t have to continually view the world through the lens of potential violence and sexual assault.”

    I have to call BULLSHIT at the above. While the worry of sexual assault may be less, the worry and risk of potential violence is MUCH higher for men. Granted by other men and not necessarily women. There is more chance a man will be assaulted walking down the street on a friday night in sydney or melbourne than a woman, crime stats back that up.

    This is yet another anti-male crusade to be honest. Also to be honest no girl i know that plays games wants her character to be dressed like a dude, they always want the ‘cute’ outfits. Notice that all the female characters can all kick arse like a guy, yet wear 1% of the armor? My Ex loved that, and loved dressing her fantasy characters up like she wanted, a way she could not dress in real life, esp at work.

  • Wow, this is exactly why I left reddit. I love the site, I just got tired of the mysoginist crap. You start to feel invisible after a while and if you object you’re a militant feminist with no sense of humour attacking them. There is no way of calling something sexist that doesn’t make it your own fault in some way for being uncomfortable. Thanks for this.

  • I don’t you guys get that when women say we don’t want women characters to be sex objects, we don’t mean ‘destroy all sexy characters’. Lets use the Batman example. Poison Ivy is a femme fatale, and has been ever since she was introduced. She uses her looks to manipulate, and probably doesn’t give a shit what she wears. Ivy wearing a sultry outfit is PART OF HER CHARACTER. She’s still a complex, interesting character and no one would be offended by her sexy dress.

    Now lets look at Harley. She is a naive girl who was twisted into corruption by her love of a madman. She wanted to dress like the Joker (as a clown) and her full body suit fit her perfectly. She was STILL SEXY even though she had no skin showing. It was her flirty personality and acrobatic moves that charmed people. Putting her into a stripper outfit ruins that, and makes her all about the tits and ass. But that’s not her whole character, shes so much more than that. it cheapens her and sends a message that you can only be sexy if look like a stripper.

    Oh, and men are objectified more than women? Ha. Ha ha ha ha ha. I just. How can you even think that? All video game men are designed to look COOL and POWERFUL. They put no thought into how ‘sexy’ people will find them when they design characters. Wanting attractive male leads does not equal making a male character JUST so women can think he’s hot.

  • Unfortunately the other side of this coin is the over congratulations of any girl who is in computer science, or “programs” even if they SUCK at it. There’s a golden ceiling that overly promotes and awards them, and tells them constantly how rare, and special and awesome and amazing they are, even if they totally are terrible at their jobs and wouldn’t get hired at all if they were a man competing against other men for the job. It’s really disturbing and disgusting, and there are plenty of girls who realize how easy it is to latch onto that, and end up majoring in it even though they should have picked something else. Just because you’re cute and blonde and can “program” by getting other guys to do your homework doesn’t make you good at what you do or special or worth anything. I wish people would just hire people based on skills instead of filling gender qoutas because then we get sub par people as workers in every field.

  • I never thought about it like this before… but when I do think about it, I see how right it really is. Maybe this is why, although I’d consider myself a nerd, I never considered myself a full-fledged geek (though I certainly love many geeky things). I am not and never will be a sexual object, for ANYone, regardless of their gender.

    Most geek guys I know have either had to be pushed to accept me (very self-assured, cocky type geeks) or they’ve gotten crushes on me. It’s a little trying by times, but I put up with it.

  • I would love to see some examples of the women you say are working themselves into the comic book industry (as creators, publishers, editors). I buy lots of comics and would love to see some of that profit go towards women, but I have no idea who they might be. As far as I can tell the industry is completely dominated by men.

  • Hi, I just wanted to thank you for this article! I find it spot on with the problems I have with geek culture. I am a feminist and a lesbian, along with having severe learning disability in math and science and general trouble with grades that has most nerd dudes I’ve tried to be friends with at school out right mock me. (How did you fail math essentials ROTFL that course is soooo easy). Also the cost of getting into geek hobbies can be expensive which makes it unappealing to some of us. I’ve also heard from supposedly smart geeks say that “feminism is no longer needed, it hasn’t been needed since the 60’s” this is such utter bullshit and I think if you were truly intelligent and culturally aware you would not ignore the undeniable injustices on basic human rights such as reproductive care for women.
    Although I am interested in other male dominated areas, I want to work as a crime scene clean up worker which is a very male dominated profession and also am into death metal but there are some pretty brutal female metal artists too.

  • So…Kotaku is really taking this geekbaiting thing all the way, I guess. Way to get clicks.
    As for the article, you’d think it was written by Geordie Tait. How much can we possibly generalize and demonize?

  • Really unfortunate how many of these guys are just commenting so butthurtedly. Must be nice to be male and not have to believe in stuff that doesn’t happen to you.

  • The main point of this article is simple really. It’s not to offend guys who are actually fair toward geeky girls. I don’t think that was the intent. It was just to bring about an understanding from a geeky girl’s PoV.

    Guys are privileged when it comes to geek endeavors such as gaming and girls are not, that’s all the article is saying. Guys (usually, anyway) don’t have to worry about immediately muting everyone but their friends when they’re in CoD game chat on XBL just to try to successfully escape lewd comments,

    Guys don’t have to worry about being judged when walking into a gaming/comic book store/ etc, (she must be going in there for her brother or boyfriend…)

    I could go on, but hey, what was that article for?

    It gets old. I can never fully embrace being a nerdy girl. I always get interrupted by a guy taunting me, or downplaying my gaming abilities or just saying I’m a slut. What’s worse, I work in an IT position, and write about games from time to time as well. I stopped caring as much as I used to because I got used to it after a while, but it still makes things more difficult for me. It bugs me that I’m not taken as seriously as my male coworkers.

    And I don’t want to have to mute everyone all the time on game chat.

    And I want to feel welcomed, just like all the guys I play with.

  • This article sucks
    First off it dismisses arguments with “see this is what I’m talking about” instead of actually addressing them.

    Second I swear this guy lives on another planet, because a lot of the things he say that men don’t have to worry about happen a lot.

    For instance you’ll find lots of people saying “who’d he have to blow to get this job” when someone sucks at their job. Men face threats of rape to. Male nurses that are bad can get comments that men just aren’t cut out for this etc.

    “the most common responses a woman can expect in an argument — especially online — is that she’s fat, ugly, single, jealous, a whore, or a lesbian — or any combination thereof ”

    Yeah and if these same trolls didn’t dismiss men with other personal attacks, you might have a point. But they do.

    Oh and female privilege does exist, so please stop acting like females have no advantages.

  • Why does the image of sex sell so much? The answer is simple. Because it interests EVERYONE. Positively or negatively, it still catches people’s attention. That very fact shows just how much our nation cares about sex and all things related to it. There’s no escaping it. And it’s a fucking shame that it’s such an important topic to people.

  • The thing with examples is they are just that, examples (on this and similar contexts). They cannot for the life of me represent any entirety but only certain, specific situations.

    Someone listing or asking for examples to prove their point to you or to others especially on a topic of this scale is not going to break new grounds or rock the world to its senses. I’m not saying it’s bad, or you’re bad for asking it. I’m just saying it might or might not help, but it sure isn’t a solution. Especially since the problem exists on a level far more complex and deep seated than what most of us would like to believe (or at least that’s my opinion as a person and does not necessarily have to coincide with yours).

    Let’s just all accept that many of us may or may not have been guilty of many things, most of which were beyond our *initial* control (environmental factors), especially while we were growing up. Like someone said before: “the world we live in was here before us”. That’s the beauty of human life and interaction; it doesn’t always have to be good plants growing on fertile soil; fact is the world is so diverse that any single or cluster of examples would not encase it for impartial judging. Nor do I believe that it ever will be. We are all part of society, no matter how shunned or disconnected we might feel or attempt to be.

    “Human” is by far the single most inclusive word to define us all, everything else varies vastly from individual to individual. Instead of us throwing words here and there, I reckon we go do our parts in changing what we feel/believe should be changed, whether it be this issue or others.

    At the end of the day, what I say may net any number of positive/negative reactions, but it doesn’t mean I’ll take everything I hear/see to heart. I will most probably make my own judgement based on my own experiences (new and old) and it may or may not matter to you anyway.

    Have a nice day folks!


    Speaking as a privileged male… guys, just shut up. You do not fucking complain every time you think females seem to have power over males, because for the entirety of fucking *history* men have been dominating the women.

    This reminds me of this argument how the term “feminism” seems to imply the favor of women over men, even though the definition of feminism is the equal rights of both genders. This argument falls to pieces once you realize that we also have terms like “*man*kind”, “hu*man*”, the use of “he” as the default pronoun, and even “wo*man*”.

    Stop complaining. I know it must be hard to swallow, but us guys have had it pretty fucking easy.

  • Excellent article! In this geek universe, you have three options if you are a girl: 1) Be sexist too, and agree that girls are made to be only a sexual object; 2) Fight against the sexism and put yourself as an illustration; or 3) Give up and find another hobby. Yeah, after fight for years I got tired of being in long-long-long discussions against geek guys that couldn’t see the sexism in the geek world, and gave up to be part of this community.
    Congratulations another time for your article. It’s very good to see men fight against the sexism too. In the sparse group of guys that admit that it exists, most of them don’t think it’s his business.

  • Funny how right at the beginning he mentions the massive amounts of denial among males about this being an issue… and the comments are filled with massive amounts of denial about this being an issue.

  • On the bit about sexy cosplayers, I have to disagree with your point a little. Of course the girl in normal clothes is going to get significantly less attention than the cosplayer. If you saw a woman in costume walking down the street and a woman in normal clothing, which one would your eyes be drawn to? I can see where you’re coming from; it’s a little ridiculous when cosplayers like Jessica Nigri are borderline “famous” just for being hot and wearing skimpy clothes while they are decidedly better cosplayers out there with less recognition, but most of the time cosplayers in general are objectified because people are excited to see one of their favorite characters in the flesh. As a female cosplayer, I can see where you’re coming from in that respect, but I don’t think that it’s much of a problem. Sure, there are pervs who would rather see a slave Leia cosplayer than some random Jane Doe in street clothes, but nerds would also be thrilled to see a Zelda (who is always modestly dressed), too, because she’s a popular character and people often marvel at the detail put into some of these costumes.

  • Nice thought inspiring read. Would just like to point out that the paragraph about men not being threatened by raped or asked to perform fellatio by other men is incorrect, in my experience that’s exactly what happens while playing online… And then if we point out desensitising rape or some such of course we get called over sensitive or a genital organ. Also in my social group we often dismiss ideas of others by calling them fat, ugly or dirty as if it was a real reason. Straight white male here.

  • As much as I appreciate articles like these for trying to address a deep structural problem within a specific subculture, it must be understood that it is first and foremost a subculture. What the author is describing is far from a unique instance of one subculture being sexist, homophobic and racist. In fact, I’d argue that every Western subculture is like this, for the simple reason that they are Western subcultures and thus reflect the social structures of the Western society as a whole.

    The argument goes beyond poor treatment of women, and I do wish articles like these would actually try to look at the entire depth of the issue instead of narrowing it down to one single instance where it occurs, because truth is, as long as the nerd community as a whole is simply that, a nerd community, there is little that can be changed since the problem extends far beyond the nerd community.

    People that bring up Twilight as an example of male sexism have a point – but only to a point. Saying that it is only to cater female sexual interest isn’t quite right either, because it does just as much cater to the idea of male power. Women should admire men with abs, and that is exactly what Bella does. There’s already plenty of material written about the inherent sexism of Twilight that does again cater to male privilege, not the other way around.

    Sexism towards males exist, but the sexism does rarely come from women but usually comes from other men. This is a very important point to understand. Male-dominated communities are rife with homophobia. This is because homosexuals, especially male homosexuals are social anomalies if we’re going to use Mary Douglas’ definition. Another way to describe it to say that they are abject. Regardless, the reason why words like “fag” and “gay” are common derogatory terms both in gaming and other male-dominated communities has to do with that an attempt to undermine the phallus of the men they are trying to insult by calling them out on their lack of manliness. If the Western society as a whole would have any interest in actually addressing these issues seriously, then homophobia should necessarily be included in this “anti-masculine” stance.

    I would also like to address the sexist nature of player avatars, and it’s a two-fold problem. First, it does indeed cater to a male power fantasy; second, players prefer hypersexualized avatars to represent themselves within the gaming world. See “You Play Like a Girl!” article (google it!) for reference. This again goes to show that the problem goes deeper and far beyond any specific gaming representations, because it also shows that people are learnt to expect these things and that it caters to specific fantasies that we are taught to re-imagine. I wouldn’t want to play an ugly fat woman or guy, that’s for sure. At the same time, my actions of pretense reinforces the status quo. Again, the nerd community isn’t just the only one symptomatic of this issue, but it’s an issue of the entire Western society as a whole. Case in point, it is still however as sexist for me to expect men to look like Batman than just the regular guy next door as it is for me to expect Catwoman to show off her body in the way she does.

    Furthermore, saying that objectification has become worse or increased is a false assumption. Women have been objectified since the beginning of culture. If anything, women have more power today than at any previous point in Western history and that is a GOOD thing, but their power is still not equal to that of men. That this article attempts to address seems to me to mostly try to address the problem of male privilege and how men are mostly scared to lose it. This entire “men’s movement” that declares women to be the bane of their existences and society as a whole is proof of this. Many men that are taught to enjoy their privilege are scared, and when pushed into a corner they backlash in the way only they know how to react in such a situation – to attempt to express their dominance more.

    That most people laugh at these men as poor lonely bastards with low social skills is of course fortunate, because it shows that they are still in minority in exerting their phallus power and do so with quite much fail to boot. The problem is, as some people pointed out, that these men that the article really tries to address, are so blind-folded in their beliefs that women are simply there to spite them that it will make little difference if thousands upon thousands of these articles are made. They simply lack the self-reflection to understand their own social position and how their behavior and re-enactment of certain gender roles affect it.

    The question if anything then, is how we are going to teach these men to be more self-reflective. I have no answer to that despite everything I’ve rambled regarding sociology and gender here. As I said, it’s a deep structural problem and if we’re serious about addressing it then it should not just be addressed within the nerd community (call me silly but “geek” never sat right with me…) but as we are people with many different identities, we seamlessly move within not one but several communities and as long the same structural problem exists elsewhere as status quo it will continually be reinforced as status quo.

    Sure, it’s a start, but we’ve been here since the 70s with the second wave of feminism. Of course, for those wondering how to actually treat women, it’s a tough nut simply because some women do enjoy being objectified and treated as such (whether this is a byproduct of poor upbringing and lack of self-reflection and thus a result of the “dominance through consent” logic, or because they really are like that can be discussed further) and some women will backlash quite fervently at any mention of them even lacking a Y chromosome. But I guess that reinforces the article’s point – treat them as people. Treat them with respect regardless of what they are or what they do. Even if you think they make the worst possible choices they could in life, e.g. becoming teen pregnant, getting married at 18 and being stuck as a housewife all life or joining a radical feminist organization where burning bras is seen as children’s play, they still deserve respect. We can comment on what they do in life but it is ultimately their lives. We can complain that they play out and re-enact existing social structures, but other than telling them so (KINDLY and RESPECTFULLY), there is little we can do about it.

    I can’t do much about the men that join the men’s movement either, as much as I find them silly and quite amusing but I won’t attempt to belittle them more than in conversations like these. They are still people and deserve respect as such. True empathy cannot just come from one side, but both sides. It’s ultimately about realizing it’s not us vs them. It’s not men vs women and it’s not nerds vs status quo. I know that for some gender is as if not important than religion and some even worship their gender as religion (e.g. certain strains of Satanism), but we need to look beyond our identities and not take them so seriously. I have come to the point where I personally rarely find men raging at me when I beat them in a game no longer offensive but mostly funny while I happily press the report button after they have spewed out their shit they felt like spewing at me in a poor attempt to retain their privilege, knowing very well that I may occasionally re-enact the same norms when I rage. (Why do we look down upon retarded people, for instance?)

    It doesn’t mean that I don’t care or anything, but I just don’t take my gender so seriously. It matters but it doesn’t define the entirety of my existence. This became an incredibly long ramble but I suppose my solution to the problem is to simply not take one’s gender to seriously and be more self-critical about it. THEN we can start discussing about how to change our society to for the better.

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