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.


    Typo "guy" = "gut" in 4th line.

    It's cute when Kotaku tries to post real words.

    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?

      I meant "stop" when I said "start" in the first paragraph, ugh.

    "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.

    This article in picture form

    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.

    Other articles by Dr. NerdLove.

    "Don't Date Geek Girls"


    ...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''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.

    Anybody who doesn't understand this article needs to watch this video, but they probably won't understand why it's funny:

    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.

    Go fuck yourself.

    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.

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