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Gate-Rape

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As I’ve noted before, I’m not really involved in the Realms of Geek, realms like gaming, role-playing and comic booking. These are realms I watch from a distance because I’m interested in how women function in them. One thing that particularly fascinates me is geek gate-keeping, that is self-professed geeky dudes, scoring–mostly women–on how truly geeky they are. There’s even a blog documenting this nonsense. (Spoiler alert: If you’re at all attractive, you’re probably not a real geek.)

Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen of “Portlandia” hardly strike me as spokespeople for MRA-inspired idiocy, so it shocked the hell out of me when I saw a short sketch from their show which showed a girl talking to man about being such a “nerd” because she’s into gaming and comic books (it’s implied that this is, like, such a lie, people). The sketch then moves on to inform us that attractive women who see a geeky film are not nerds, then shows us a sampling of Authentic Kung Fu Grip in Their Original Packaging Nerds ™. They are all, oddly enough, dorky-looking white guys. Wow. Slow clap, Portlandia, slow clap. You really kept that gate. You kept it gooooood.

Let me share two letters of the alphabet with you, Keepers of the Gate: A.) I will make sweet love to Andrew Breitbart’s still-ragey corpse if women are–with any frequency–crowning themselves with the sweaty, well-palmed coveted Crown of Geek just because they play Angry Birds or see some comic book movie. (Yes, this is an actual complaint of gate-keepers.) B.) Let’s say there are women doing this. Why do you care? Why do you care? Seriously, WHY DO YOU CARE? Why don’t you just roll your eyes and move on? That you would get so screechy and hysterical tells me that your geeky pursuits aren’t keeping you fulfilled. Now ask yourself this: If you’re not fulfilled, is that really the fault of some silly, random chick who name-checks Angry Birds?

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  • max

    Let’s say there are women doing this. Why do you care? Why do you care? Seriously, WHY DO YOU CARE?

    Quite. I’ve never understood quite why either being geeky or nerdy was considered particularly good or bad, and why anyone would really give a shit.

    (If attractive ladies want to argue with *me* about military history, wargaming, medieval history, archaeology, economics, history in general, space, computers or what not, they are entirely welcome to do so.)

    max
    [‘Americans are *weird*.’]

    • bexley

      What I also don’t understand is what the payoff is supposed to be for the women who are allegedly doing this.

      1. Pretend to be a geek.
      2. ????
      3. Profit.

      • bspencer

        ROFL! It’s supposed to get you attention from the male geeks. Which is so super-awesome, I guess.

        • bexley

          I say this as a geeky gamer type: even small, easily confused children should be able to see through the absurdity of this idea. I’m feeling even more embarrassed on behalf of my geeky misogynist brethren.

    • mpowell

      I have a theory: self-identified geeks don’t fit in / get along very well with regular folks. Some of them think geeks are superior. Most of them really like attractive women but recognize they are unavailable to them. Gate-keeping is their way of establishing what they have, in lieu of what they don’t have. If attractive women (or men, actually) can be geeks, then the geeks are just more guys with no hope of dating the women they consider to be attractive.

      • Cody

        I just assumed this was a normal social behavior. People form cliques then regulate membership as to guarantee they forever fit in.

        I don’t think it’s right, but I assume people go around saying “I’m a geek” and expect that anyone else they run into who identifies as a geek will get along well with them. IF they do not, then they must not be a real geek!

        This is probably why you see “geek-offs” all the time, to establish who is the standard bearer. Two people don’t get along, and can’t accept they’re part of the same clique.

        • Ronan

          Indeed! The idea that you can bend a well established ‘group identity’ to your will seems unrealistic, and unfair on the group* you want to join/identity you want to adopt
          *Of course no group is homogenous/identity fixed, but you will get some pushback.

      • Anonymous

        I have a theory: self-identified geeks don’t fit in / get along very well with regular folks. Some of them think geeks are superior. Most of them really like attractive women but recognize they are unavailable to them.

        That theory falls to pieces if you remember (surprise!) women–straight, queer and otherwise–are geeks, too. Always have been, always will be.

        All of these “theories” about awkward geeks are poorly-thought out apologia for other dudes’ misogyny. Insert actual women into the picture, and these theories make no sense.

        • mpowell

          What? ‘Geek’ is just a social label. I’m talking about certain groups of people who self-identify as geeks and exclude others from that description. I’m postulating why they might do that and obviously any description will not apply to 100% of an amorphous social group. I’m not claiming that non-straight men can’t enjoy ‘geeky’ activities, but they are definitely a small minority involved in this kind of gate-keeping so an explanation really doesn’t need to account for them.

    • thebewilderness

      It is simply the geek application of the dominance dance of the misogynist.

    • Anonymous

      (If attractive ladies want to argue with *me* about military history, wargaming, medieval history, archaeology, economics, history in general, space, computers or what not, they are entirely welcome to do so.)

      How generous of you. What the ugly women will do for your approval, I shouldn’t like to wonder.

  • Malaclypse

    You might be interested in this.

    • Walt

      What’s funny about the example Scalzi discusses is that from an objective poitn of view, cosplaying is obviously the nerdiest activity ever to exist.

    • bspencer

      Already read it and agree 1000%. I’ll never forget when I suggested that things like scrapbooking or knitting or fooling around in Photoshop could be geeky pursuits, and I got a comment–at Whiskey Fire–telling me I was doing geek wrong. FUCK THAT SHIT. I decide what’s geeky and I decide if I’m a geek. If you don’t like I invite you to make angry love to yourself.

      • Karen

        These people have clearly never visited a message board on Ravelry. Those women know how to keep gate, let me tell ya.

      • Malaclypse

        See, the irony of that is that I’ve never seen as high a proportion of knitters:non-knitters as I have at cons.

      • daveNYC

        I decide what’s geeky and I decide if I’m a geek.

        Really? Because if we’re venturing into the land of ‘words mean what I want them to mean’, then we end up with Phyllis McAlpin Stewart Schlafly being the best feminist ever.

        • bspencer

          OK. Then who decides who is a geek?

          • zombies.

            You’re a geek.

            • bspencer

              I’ve never bitten the head off a fish. I’m afraid I will not be learning the secret handshake. (Which bums me out because I heard it had jazz hands in it.)

              • damn you. I added the bit about the Dunn book, and you snuck in front.

                You’re a bunny geek.

              • Incidentally, biting the heads of smelt during the annual ‘smelt runs’ in Wisconsin is considered a rite of passage, but I wouldn’t consider very many of those people to be geeks.

                Gotta be a bird, at least.

                • bspencer

                  Ewww.

                  PS–I had to google “smelt.” That would be a different kind of tragic smelting accident, huh?

            • Especially since “Geek” is originally a term for a freakshow Carny performer, the classic being the Animal Boy type who would bite heads off live chickens.

              Also, “Geek Love” by Katherine Dunn is a fine read along those lines.

              • bspencer

                Stop synchronized posting with me, zombie.

    • Anonymous

      The best operational distinction I’ve heard is that a Nerd is just someone who’s good at math.

      A Geek is someone who has detailed knowledge about a very specific subject, usually pop culture related. It shouldn’t be used without a modifier, e.g., sci-fi geek, movie geek, video game geek. See the obscure and short lived game show “Beat the Geeks” for the use of geek in exactly this fashion. So knitting geek or scrapbooking geek or sports geek should all be fine.

      However, usage rules, and unmodified geek and nerd have tended to overlap, especially as used by people who are neither. For example, “Napoleon Dynamite” is neither a nerd or a geek because he unintelligent, ignorant, and incurious, but fans of that film tend to label him as either or both because he dresses funny and has poor social skills. I would use the term dork for someone like that.

      • Clearly you are an utterly inferior Napolean Dynamite geek because Napolean was totally super-smart about milk and dairy-related Future Farmer activities. Sheesh, it’s like we watched different movies!

        [/snark]

      • Anne of Soylent Green Gables

        For example, “Napoleon Dynamite” is neither a nerd or a geek because he unintelligent, ignorant, and incurious, but fans of that film tend to label him as either or both because he dresses funny and has poor social skills. I would use the term dork for someone like that.

        Of course, for people not involved in nerd or geek cultures, all three terms can be used interchangeably.

      • Sweetums

        really? I’ve always defined dorks as people who are super-excited about silly/simplistic things, but that doesn’t make them mutually exclusive to geeks and nerds.

        (says one who self-identifies as a dork)

  • Jeff Fecke

    Exactly! Women are showing interest in things you like? Horror! What’s next–they actually speak to yo
    u politely? This cannot stand!

    • A couple of weeks ago, I traveled to St. Louis for the FIRST Robotics Championships. Geek/Nerd heaven, high school kids designing and building robots. Plenty of girls present, also; it strives for the inclusiveness and to turn down the gatekeeping as much as possible.

      I went to a couple of presentations on various aspects of the team-building process put on by some of the more successful teams, and at one that was about how to create a long-term sustainable team model, the first question (and arguably the most important one) came from two younger members in the front row: “How do we get more girls on our team?”

      Their heads are in the right place.

      • Western Dave

        ZRD
        1218 Team Vulcan has a strong female presence!

  • “I’ve never understood quite why either being geeky or nerdy was considered particularly good or bad, and why anyone would really give a shit.”

    Marcotte found this from last week, an explanation of why from someone who’s changed his ways http://thehairpin.com/2013/05/explanations:

    “As weird as this sounds, emotionally immature men can experience cognitive dissonance in the presence of women, and rather than work through it they just lash out at the agitant.

    It’s a problem that usually forms over a number of years. When I was in junior high and high school, for instance, geeky activities like video games and tech stuff were a rarity in my small Texas town, and I had a small and almost exclusively male group of friends who shared those interests. This provided very fertile ground for my typical adolescent fear of dating and social interactions.

    Of course I’m not dating anyone, I’d think while sitting at home playing video games. They don’t like what I do anyway. In fact, good for me being so true to myself instead of changing myself just for some woman.

    See how early the toxicity enters the equation? Without knowing it, geeky activity became my excuse, a shield from potential failures. It’s not my fault that I’m not meeting more people and learning social skills, it’s their fault for liking football instead of cool stuff like Star Trek. The only reason I can’t get a girlfriend is because none of them like what I do.”

    • “As weird as this sounds, emotionally immature men can experience cognitive dissonance in the presence of women, and rather than work through it they just lash out at the agitant.

      But that isn’t just geeks, is it? In fact, your example is positively benign. You’re just sitting at home playing video games? Great. You could be an emotionally immature man who physically lashes out at women. Or passes laws designed to deprive women of basic human rights …

      • witless chum

        “At least they aren’t wife-beaters or Republican politicians” seems like a pretty low standard to give people credit for.

        • My point being given the range of behaviors we see in emotionally immature men, playing video games instead of talking to girls is a non-problem.

          In fact, if you swap reading with playing video games, you get me. And reading is way less social that gaming. (Only I tend avoid everyone, regardless of gender. The basic thought process “I’m doing this by myself because no one understands the cool stuff that I like…” I’m still working on that but it is hard to shake off after 30+ years.)

          • Heron

            That quote isn’t about “playing video games instead of talking to girls” it’s about “liking and playing video games and taking out your frustration at life on women who try to like and play video games with you”. That guy isn’t talking about male shyness, he’s talking about why he personally felt the need to attack women for sharing his interests.

        • rea

          You know who else was not a wife-beater or Republican politician?

    • TribalistMeathead

      “The only reason I can’t get a girlfriend is because none of them like what I do.”

      This is exactly why I didn’t have a long-term girlfriend until I was 33. It took that long to finally go “well, why don’t you leave it up to her to decide whether she likes what I do.” And, as it turns out, I like some stuff she doesn’t like, and she likes some stuff I don’t like. And it’s not the end of the world.

    • Huh. Growing up, video games were pretty co-ed. Watching Star Trek too. Even now glancing at people playing phone games, or mentions of Star Trek, it seems relatively even.

      But I think something does happen when someone goes from doing something to making it their life. People can enjoy Star Trek without arguing for hours about which ship would defeat which in a fight, or like phone video games without having to play the newest electronic slaughter-fest every couple of weeks.

      • Joshua

        I love those slaughter-fests and buy way too many of them.

        My fiancee gets hooked on one phone game and plays it for months at a time.

        Whatever.

        I never really got this whole rage at the “fake geek girl” thing. I think a large part of it is sexual frustration from the Reddit-style lizard brain. “these girls use us to boost their cred and then go have sex with bikers” etc.

    • This comes to mind:

      We always take my car ’cause it’s never been beat
      And we’ve never missed yet with the girls we meet

      None of the guys go steady ’cause it wouldn’t be right
      To leave your best girl home now on Saturday night

      Read more: BEACH BOYS – I GET AROUND LYRICS

    • Origami Isopod

      Oh, that. The commenters took his whiny-ass titty baby spiel apart pretty well. He’s not as “recovered” as he thinks.

  • There is a certain subset of people who will (if you let them) ruin anything by making it into a contest with lots and lots of rules.

    No matter who they are or what they’re regulating, they’re all authoritarian assholes and should be ignored or irritated as one’s personal tastes dictate.

  • There’s also a lot of No True Scotsman Geek.

    “You like Star Trek? You’re not a real geek.”

    “You like Star Trek but only TOS? You’re not a real geek.”

    “You like Star Trek TOS but you don’t talk like Spock? You’re not a real geek.”

    Ad inifnitum.

    • Hit return too fast…

      So no matter what a self-professed geek girl or woman says she likes, fault can and will be found.

      • To be fair, I work next to a division that has a very high geek index and there are four guys who have those conversations all of the fucking time. And when they’re not doing that they’re bsing about their gear. (Bikes, guns, gaming systems…)

        It is all fish stories. You caught a 2′ fish? That’s nothin’! last week I caught a 4′ fish! 4′? Ha ha, I caught one that was longer than my truck? Your truck is a tiny piece of shit. I am about to buy a truck that…&c.

        And in the in the further interest of fairness, one-up-personship isn’t a gender specific behavior. (OK, I hear guys doing it a lot more. But still. Some people aren’t happy unless everyone knows theirs is bigger/better/brighter… and they are annoying fucknuggets who should be shunned by right thinking humans.)

        Also too, anyone who tries to tell me I am not a geeky nerd chick will get a megawedgie.

        • You think you’ve heard one-upmanship stories? That’s NOTHING next to what I* have heard.

          *I’m white, male and middle-class. My fish is always bigger than yours BECAUSE THAT’S HOW THINGS ARE ALWAYS HAVE BEEN AND ALWAYS WILL BE BECAUSE THAT’S HOW THEY WERE MEANT TO BE.

          • Malaclypse

            I assumed your fish were bigger because you are white, male, and your ass is in the air while your head is underwater while you are fishing.

            • bspencer

              N_B is always forgetting about his polar bear privilege.

            • You think the bear in my picture os fishing? Who cute.

          • Fine. We’ll pretend your tiny little blue gill is bigger than the muskie I caught.

            Big furry butted baby.

          • Ronan

            “I’m white, male and middle-class. My fish is always bigger than yours .. ”

            I didnt know Flavor Flav was either white or middle class

    • JohnR

      Yeah, I think that’s a part of it, but the “why” is the interesting bit – I suspect you’re focusing closely on the Elephant’s tusk and ignoring the rest of it. What about the special languages that develop in any group (I forget the term for that offhand) – the special words and phrases that only the initiates know? How about in-jokes? What about other recognition devices that let us know who’s a member of our special group and who isn’t? There’s always the Purists and the Wanna-bes. The Old Money and the Parvenu. We’re human; we’re tribal, and we tend to get very defensive when the Purity of Our Group is threatened.

      • Karen

        “Jargon” and “argot” both mean “informal specialized language.”

        • Uncle Kvetch

          There’s always the Purists and the Wanna-bes. The Old Money and the Parvenu. We’re human; we’re tribal, and we tend to get very defensive when the Purity of Our Group is threatened.

          I’ve been gradually getting into opera over the last several years, and I recently started lurking at some opera-related blogs. There are probably few better places to see gatekeeping elevated to an art form. Looking in from the outside I can’t help but find it hilarious.

          • sibusisodan

            lurking at some opera-related blogs

            Blimey, my-internet-browser-is-better-than-yours is always a lame conversation.

          • James Wolcott talked about that with ballet in his book.

      • witless chum

        I think the point is that women are much more likely to be subjected to testing on whether they’re a true intiate or not than men, because the whole elephant is sexist. And also the realization that there’s nobody who can pass every test, especially if the tester wants you to fail.

        Just like fights, no matter how big a badass you are, you’ll eventually find a bigger one. Or someone who knows more about Star Trek.

        • Yeah, that’s what I meant, more clearly stated. Men challenge each other over the minutia, but expect push-back. When they use this crap to challenge women, it’s intended as a neutron bomb that will end all conversation without destroying any computer equipment.

          • I’ve seen guys go all bulgy forehead vein when another guy challenges them. It never occurred to me that a guy’s reaction to push back from me might be … bulgier? Veinier?

            Oh well. Jolly good sport it is. My life would be somewhat duller if people didn’t get pissed when challenged.

            (And in the interest of further fairness – I repeat that the pissing contest is not a gender specific sport.)

            • Say “veinier” to a geek without warning and you may have a mess to avoid.

      • bspencer

        But you’re starting with the assumption that women are “pure.” That’s pretty goddamn troubling.

      • Herbal Infusion Bagger

        I get dirty looks every week from a guy at our boardgame meetup because I:
        (1) Bring my kid to play games with me
        (2) Bring “Ameritrash” boardgames instead of German-designed Euro games.

        Evidently I’m either too geeky, or not geeky enough.

    • Sly

      That’s all well and good. But if she don’t like Firely…

      • Heh. As much as I live Firefly, Mrs__B is waaaay ahead of me on that.

        • I suspect she just likes Captain Tightpants.

          • Nope. Wash. She’d jump his bones with me in the room, but that’s okay because I feel the same way about Zoe.

    • bspencer

      I really think yours and Shake’s are two halves of the same great post. Really well-said.

      • Thank you.

        Provided we all agree that my half is bigger.

    • Halloween Jack

      This is sadly, and literally, true. One of the things that’s kept me from participating more in some fandoms is that, for example, I can come to a Star Trek fan club with a fair degree of not only knowledge of the various series and the lore but also with the background of the original series having been very important to me emotionally while growing up, and being told that I’m not a real Trekker (this is, of course, the type of person who insists, sometimes rather loudly, that they’re a “Trekker” rather than a “Trekkie”) because I can’t speak Klingon extemporaneously. True story, swear to Landru.

  • Donald

    I thought the Portlandia sketch was very gentle satire aimed at the nerds in the skit trying to claim victim status, though even that exaggerates the significance of the whole thing. The idea that someone would be shocked and angered and take it as some sort of manifesto on behalf of emotionally crippled male geeks is just funny. But who knows? Maybe all Portlandia skits should be taken with wooden literacy and I’ve been misjudging the entire series.

    • Donald

      “wooden literacy”

      Wooden literalness. Though wooden literacy almost makes sense–in fact, I think I’ll pretend I meant it.

      • njorl

        I only read Chinese woodcut printing.

    • I love the series. I didn’t love this sketch.

      • Halloween Jack

        You may not have liked the sketch, but I’m mildly flabbergasted that you don’t think that Portlandia was satirizing the attitude, rather than reinforcing it.

        • bspencer

          Well, I guess some of us saw it one way and some of us saw it another way. Perhaps that’s the genius of it. Are you mildly flabbergasted witless chum saw it the same way?

          • Halloween Jack

            At this point, maybe not so much.

        • I don’t watch Portlandia but its been my experience that the more aware you are of “others” watching skits or drama the more the idea of pure satire or parody starts to seem naieve. What I mean by that is take something like Archie Bunker or Stephen Colbert: its well known that both of those shows have their fans on the far right who think that the main character accurately reflects and even exalts their perspective. In the case of Archie Bunker the fact that racists and assholes saw themselves in him really cuts downo n my pleasure in viewing the shows–I know that Archie’s perspective was used to legitimize things rather than to undermine them. In the case of Colbert I think, generally speaking, the fact that he can be so outrageously and flamboyantly, even campily, parodic and still not break through the right wing’s zone of stupidity is part of hte pleasure of watching him. Maybe his work is just that much more over the line that you can imagine running into one of this right wing fans and just mercilessly teasing the hell out of them.

          When I watched 50 days of summer or whatever that ghastly movie was I really felt quite uncomfortable with the ways in which what struck me as bizarre, unrealistic and sad about the male lead was probably something that many male viewers saw as valuable, noble and natural. Even if the ultimate gist of the movie was “don’t do this” vast swatches of it valorized his behavior and I was aware of this ambiguity the entire time I was watching.

      • Donald

        Knowing the series, how could you think that this skit was meant to be taken at face value? There’s even a few seconds at the end where the piece was supposedly funded by some pro nerd rights group (I forget the details).

        • bspencer

          Yeeeeeah, even if it’s poking gentle fun at nerds doesn’t also mean it can’t be taken the way I took it.

    • witless chum

      I wondered about that upon reading the description, but then I watched it and I don’t get that in the sketch. I think the tell is that the girl says “I’m sure a nerd” in a kind of a fakey-voiced way and doesn’t cite specific nerdery. If they’d had her on the barstool talking about just where the Wheel of Time went of off the rails or even which was her favorite Enterprise captain, then I’d buy that interpretation, but I think we’re supposed to think she’s actually faking nerdery.

      • njorl

        Sure, ask about her favorite “Enterprise” captain, and not favorite “Star Trek” captain. Why not just ask, “Which tool of the Federation White Patriarchy is your favorite?”

      • GFW

        Where did the Wheel of PainTime go off the rails? I kinda gave up after 6 or 8 books.

        • witless chum

          I never read it, but I’m told that’s a thing with fans.

    • bspencer

      I suppose you could see it that way. Who knows? Perhaps the sketch is even trying to have it both ways. But you know, you must be right, because if there’s one thing I’m known for it’s not being able to suss out subtle humor or being able to appreciate satire.

      • Halloween Jack

        I think that there’s a bit of difference between “this wasn’t funny” and “this was reinforcing the gatekeepers, rather than making fun of them.”

        • bspencer

          Huh?

          • Halloween Jack

            The distinction is between their trying to do the right thing (making fun of the gatekeepers) and not succeeding, and their doing the wrong thing (reinforcing the gatekeepers). I’m arguing for the former.

            • bspencer

              That makes sense. If they were trying for the former, they missed pretty badly (IMO). But I can understand how people would perceive it differently. I remember seeing it, finding it actually really funny, but kind of cringe-laughing through it. At the very least, I sure don’t think it’s helping geek girls.

      • Walt

        if there’s one thing I’m known for it’s not being able to suss out subtle humor or being able to appreciate satire.

        Is this a joke?

        • bspencer

          Oh behave.

  • witless chum

    Reminds me of Aisha Tyler politely responding to people accusing of her of not being an actual gamer.

    I think they’re trying to say, which is sorta true, is that its somewhat cool or at least less uncool, for people to describe themselves as nerds or geeks and to own their geeky impulses. So, the stereotypical nerd dude is suddenly faced with seeing people not face the same sort of disapproval from mainstream society he got.

    Which sounds like the beginning of telling BSpencer that her weird bunny-eared lady problems aren’t the point, but that would be foolish. The sketch probably still works if it features a stereotypical, attractive hipster guy, but they chose the hot girl in glasses for a reason. And probably a lamely problematic reason, because on some level they believe that.

    And fuck that. I just listened to an episode of A Podcast of Ice and Fire where one of the hosts, a Canadian lady whose main hobby seems to be going to cons and cosplaying as various characters from all sorts of geeky pop culture, was ranting about an article entitled “Why Your Girlfriend doesn’t like Game of Thrones” (this would a podcast where the distinction between the book series and the HBO adaptation is, shall we say, oft acknowledged and the podcast is old enough that its generic name was not taken). So, yes, fuck that. Fuck it with Gregor Clegane and his poor, poor horse.

    Geeky people should just be happy that more people are getting into geeky pursuits and, probably more meaningfully, geeky ways of liking things. And if they can’t, they should take care not to beat up on lady geeks, who seem to get a fair amount of nonsense already, whilst doing do. The gatekeeping impulse might be understandable, but it comes from a shitty, status-pushing place that is incompatible with the meaning of geek. Which is something like “I love this thing so much! Look how cool it is! Let’s spend so much time loving it and saying how cool it is!”

    • bspencer

      I love Aisha Tyler.

  • nonunique

    This seems relevant:
    http://vimeo.com/66450430#cols

  • JL

    I really like this comic for making the point that, for a certain subset of male geeks, there is nothing that female geeks can do to be good enough.

    Also, judging by reports from fellow-female-geek friends, no body type or style of dress that will stop guys trying to grab your ass at Dragon*Con. I still want to go, because a bunch of my social group goes each year and it’s a big geeky party, but I might end up punching some guy.

    • Manta

      Well, you can cosplay, and insert the punching in the cosplay routine.

    • Murc

      Your fellow-female-friends are absolutely right.

      I once had someone I thought I was friends with tell me in all earnestness “Oh man, GenCon and DragonCon are great. They’re filled with lady nerds” (so far so good; I like both ladies AND nerds “who are all dressed up, and the show floor is so crowded you can get away with some real Japanese subway shit.”

      Wait. What?

      “You know. Japanese subway.” And he made sort of a… I don’t know how to describe it. A gesture halfway between a cup and a grope.

      Yeah.

      • sparks

        As soon as you said “Japanese subway shit”, I knew exactly what was meant. It was even featured in the first manga I ever read. Ugh.

  • kg

    If you don’t play Power Grid you’re not a true geek or a nerd.

    • BP in MN

      If you don’t call it Funkenschlag you’re not a real geek or nerd. I bet you play the US map. Nerd poser! ;-)

      • Malaclypse

        Real nerds know to spell it poseur.

        • Bill Murray

          no I’m sure BP was talking about one who poses nerds

      • kg

        Funkenschlag is a pretty cool word. Plus I don’t play the original using crayons either so that detracts about a zillion nerd points.
        The Quebec map is very good, but since I cannot insert the acccent properly I’m obs not a true werd nerd.

  • sharculese

    Engaging in nerdy activities causes the substance called geekulax, which scientists harvest and process to produce nerdy entertainments. The problem is that fakes geeks produce impure geekulax, and fake geek girls are even worse, producing a substance so toxic the byproduct comes out as FarmVille, The Phantom Menace, and the ending of Battlestar Galactica.

    Doesn’t seem so harmless now, does it?

    • Malaclypse

      Perhaps, but fake geek males produced Star Trek Into Darkness, and the heresy that Greedo shot first.

      • That title really needs at least one piece of punctuation. I won’t rest until I see it. The punctuation, that is.

        • And for all the goofiness of the title, it has nothing to do with what’s actually in that terrible movie. The only “Darkness” about is the fact that there are a couple of (very lame) bad guys. By that standard, you could make a Care Bears movie with “Into Darkness” as the subtitle.

          • Greg

            Not true. The Klingons have piercings. That’s very dark.

            • Bill Murray

              not after all the cool kids started getting piercings

          • wjts

            By that standard, you could make a Care Bears movie with “Into Darkness” as the subtitle.

            Some of my college friends and I once toyed with the idea of subtitling every paper we wrote, regardless of its actual content, “A Descent into Madness”. A few of us did it once or twice, resulting in things like “Narrative in Plato’s Protagoras: A Descent into Madness” and “Literacy and Community in the American West: A Descent into Madness”.

      • “Perhaps, but fake geek males produced Star Trek Into Darkness, and the heresy that Greedo shot first.”

        Jeffrey Jacob Abrams is going to be more hated than George Lucas by this time next decade, except that he doesn’t have nearly the fan good will built up that Lucas did. It’s gonna be ugly.

        • Malaclypse

          Mrs Mal and I were conversing last weekend about STID. My position is that seeing it will actively detract from enjoyment of the rest of the franchise, while encouraging more of this dreck, so the only reasonable position to take is “the reboot never happened.” Her position is “how bad can it be?” I’m not positive that I have won the argument, although that io9 review helped immensely.

          • Murc

            My position is that seeing it will actively detract from enjoyment of the rest of the franchise, while encouraging more of this dreck, so the only reasonable position to take is “the reboot never happened.”

            Thankfully, and this is one of the few things Abrams has done right on a plotting level, it’s been well-established that his Trek verse is an alternate universe, a la the mirror universe. And thank god for that. It means we can probably expect a TV series at some point that’s back in the actual non-shitty version of Star Trek.

            • Herbal Infusion Bagger

              Meh. I liked the film, and we are self-editing out the shitty bits of ST:TOS (because Spock’s Brain or the Alternative Factor are sooo awesome).

              As for the reboot: I gave up on television ST after trying to watch ST: Voyager, but the pain of seeing Kate Mulgrew and knowing that Genevieve Bujold could have been in that part was too acute. Doing ST in different times was wearing thin.

              Separating out from canon might cause GeekRage, but it’s to the good of the franchise. If there is another TV version, we might get decent writers.

              • Spock’s brain taught me the valuable lesson – at the age of ten – that just because I liked a show and a genre didn’t mean they couldn’t be shitty sometimes.

            • bexley

              actual non-shitty version of Star Trek

              Woah there, Voyager and Enterprise were plenty shitty. If STID suddenly makes them look good I’m seriously rethinking whether to watch it.

        • UserGoogol

          The Star Wars prequels and the Star Trek reboots are controversial in exactly the opposite ways. The Star Wars prequels are still basically geeky but are just bad movies. (Midichlorians and trade disputes are certainly not the result of making the movie more mainstream.) The Star Trek reboots on the other hands are solidly well put together movies but have fairly little desire to get into the tangly weirdness of the Star Trek mythos. Something being less geeky but still basically good will inspire nerd rage at first, but fans will eventually get used to it because geek culture is actually diverse in what it likes even when you limit yourself to white middle class young men. (See, for instance, the 2003 Teen Titans cartoon.)

      • Oh wow.

        I had been thinking that the whole “fake geek” thing was just unjustified panic swirled with misogyny, but … that really makes sense. J.J. Abrams is a fake geek but a decently skilled movie maker otherwise and that’s why his Star Trek films seem off in the way that they do. They’re Star Trek as told by non-geeks.

        • More of the blame lies with Orci and Kurtzman for being horrible writers. Look at the other movies they’ve done. And on this latest, they were joined by Lindelof, of Prometheus fame.

          • Joshua

            I liked Prometheus.

          • Murc

            More of the blame lies with Orci and Kurtzman for being horrible writers.

            Don’t forget Fringe.

            Honestly, it’s not that they’re entirely horrible. They’re just really, really bad at plotting.

            Orci and Kurtzman care about getting from Point A to Point B, and by God they will make it happen even if all the points in-between make no fucking sense whatsoever. Moreover, once a story has been told they are basically done with it, and if it somehow impairs their ability to tell new stories with the same characters, well, they will ignore or torpedo it as best they can.

            They’d have been amazing writers thirty years ago, crafting standalone hour-long episodes of dramas with loose or no continuity. In their chosen oeuvre, they are just bad.

        • Jerry Vinokurov

          Of course it’s unjustified panic. The “franchise canon” is not sacred and JJ Abrams has no obligation to keep to some holy writ. If you don’t like the movie, you don’t like it, but please don’t pretend that there’s some kind of Platonic Star Trek ideal out there that must be adhered to.

          • In a legal sense I get that the owner of the copyright is free to do whatever they want to the Star Trek name. And as said owner is a media corporation I certainly don’t expect them to hold up any non-legally-binding obligations.

            And it isn’t as simple as like/don’t like. I mean, we all know Star Trek III was awful. But it feels like it belongs with the other movies. Even the truly mind-bendingly awful Star Trek V belongs there.

            So it wasn’t as though I could point to the first JJ Abrams Star Trek movie and say “it was a worse movie than other ST movies,” because it wasn’t. I mean, I’d just finished watching Nemesis on DVD having missed it in the theaters. But the Abrams movie just felt off in a way that I couldn’t put my finger on. As in, this is a totally separate story universe that doesn’t feel at all like the same universe that contained the shows I loved and the movies I loved, or at least (ST V, Nemesis) accepted. And though the movie itself was as good as any generic sfx-driven action movie, after seeing it I just don’t care about those characters. The previews haven’t made me want to go see the new one either, though I might catch it months from now when it shows up on NetFlix.

            There’s a distinctly different story-telling style, and just because you add in spaceships and a bunch of rubber/CGI alien heads doesn’t mean you’ve created a piece of science fiction. I’m all for rebooting the series, but it’s been rebooted into some dudebro buddy-cop thing. That’s fine, but that’s a different world.

            • Jerry Vinokurov

              And it isn’t as simple as like/don’t like. I mean, we all know Star Trek III was awful. But it feels like it belongs with the other movies. Even the truly mind-bendingly awful Star Trek V belongs there.

              Well, the older Star Trek movies were written by and starred a lot of the same people, so it makes sense that they’d have a similar “feel” to them. But other than that, I’m not sure this is anything other than nostalgia.

              There’s a distinctly different story-telling style, and just because you add in spaceships and a bunch of rubber/CGI alien heads doesn’t mean you’ve created a piece of science fiction. I’m all for rebooting the series, but it’s been rebooted into some dudebro buddy-cop thing. That’s fine, but that’s a different world.

              This is part of the problem: who made you the arbiter of what counts as “science fiction?” Who made any of us arbiters, actually? Insisting that there’s some “essential” component of science fiction makes no sense, and the longer we are preoccupied with that kind of pointless boundary-setting, the worse it is for the state of discussion.

              I strongly believe that the only serious questions we can ask about a work of art is “Is it good? In what way(s)?” Trying to figure out whether something “really is” science fiction is pointless; a dispositive answer to that question wouldn’t get us any nearer to an understanding of the work of art.

              • nixnutz

                This is part of the problem: who made you the arbiter of what counts as “science fiction?” Who made any of us arbiters, actually? Insisting that there’s some “essential” component of science fiction makes no sense,

                I reject this. We’re all arbiters, I don’t think it would be possible to be a fan and not have strong opinions on these issues. It only becomes problematic when you’re rejecting someone else’s conflicting opinion out-of-hand.

                I almost brought this up in the romantic comedy thread but I think Sturgeon’s Law is bullshit. Partly because the ratio of treasure to trash does vary by genre but more importantly because fans of different genres have different values and they celebrate different things. And I think that the mainstreaming of science fiction has led to a growing emphasis on action and special effects over intriguing speculative premises. Am I the arbiter of whether that’s positive or negative? Not for you, but for me, absolutely I am.

                Obviously to say “you can’t be a real geek because you’re an attractive woman” is 100% bullshit, but feeling “I’m having trouble recognizing you as a member of my tribe” and then hopefully keeping it to yourself is different. And having someone point out how and why that impulse is wrong is totally welcome, but I’m not going to pretend I can’t empathize with it.

            • Halloween Jack

              I mean, we all know Star Trek III was awful.

              …and thanks for providing proof that your fanon is nowhere near universal fanon. Fans got so stuck on the even/odd Trek film pattern that it’s assumed that STIII is bad, but what’s wrong with it? Yeah, even Shatner pointed out that no film subtitled The Search for Spock isn’t going to end with the crew breaking the fourth wall at the end and saying, “Sorry, we looked all over, but…” Otherwise, it was fine, and a decent entry in what turned out to be a solid trilogy (II, III and IV, with VI as a sort of epilogue), and best of all, it established that bringing someone back from the dead isn’t easy even with the future medicine magic of the Star Trek universe, as opposed to, you know, ubermensch blood being used as the equivalent of a resurrection potion in D&D.

          • delurking

            Heretic.

          • Platonic Star Trek ideal

            Spock’s Brain.

            • Objection. “Shore Leave” also happened.

              • Exhibit A: “Brain, brain! What is brain?”

                • Counter: Six foot tall rabbit cosplay.

                • What’s wrong with that? Also, shore leave had fur bikinis, which is always a sign of quality.

    • Hogan

      I thought it was called poindextrose.

  • Manta

    1) Snobbery is a phenomenon much older than geekdom: disdain for the tastes of the masses is quite old, and I would add there is nothing intrinsically wrong or immature with that.

    2) In my (limited) experience, the only time I saw this phenomenon in the gaming community specifically against a woman was by another woman claiming that another gamer was “faking” (or another equivalent expression: I don’t recall the exact words).

    • “Simulated thumbgasm.”

      • Manta

        Care to translate into English? Google return nil on your sentence (so, congratulations for making up new nonsense?)

        • Faking an orgasm in an activity that mostly uses one’s thumbs.

    • Anonymous

      Your experience is woefully limited. Read the thread, note the many examples of men harassing women.

      • Manta

        “Woefully”?
        I never claimed my experience was universal (but neither are the other people’s): I thought it would be interesting to share one that was quite different from the others’.

        Should I conclude that for you the idea that a person may have a story different from yours is a new one?

        • Anonymous

          And I pointed that that your self-confessed “limited” experience does not reflect reality, and that, helpfully, you’ve got a whole thread here to educate yourself as to the experience of actual women. Choose to use it, or choose to remain convinced that the problem is limited to women bullying other women.

          • Manta

            Dear anonymous friend,
            would you please be so kind as to point out where I said or implied that “the problem is limited to women bullying other women”?

            I asked before: don’t you know already that different people have different stories (and hence one should be wary to generalize his experience to everybody), and hence you think that also I have your same problem of not being able to distinguish between other people’e experiences and mine (which, btw, does reflect reality, being a real thing that really happened. Really!)?

            • Anonymous

              Your “different” story and Unique Male Perspective, in a post about women being bullied by men, provides no epiphanies, no illuminations. As I say, you can solve your ignorance by reading the thread, or you can continue to imply that because you saw a lady doing something one time, ladies do this all the time and there’s “nothing intrinsically wrong” with dudes bullying women out of their own geekdoms.

              • Manta

                Thank you, anonymous person, for the great compliment. Most writers have problems getting complex meaning understood without being prolix: but, by reading your comments, I now see that I have the blessed gift of evoking in the reader messages that are much richer and complicated than the few words I write.

                Surely, when you wrote that my post provided no epiphany, it was in jest, since you seem to have had quite a few illuminations about the esoteric meaning of my words.
                For instance, how did you get the implication “because you saw a lady doing something one time, ladies do this all the time”?

                • Anonymous

                  Oh, you were offering up your limited experience in the spirit of sharing! Well, I have certainly been unfair to you!

                • Manta

                  Apology accepted; sorry for being a bit harsh with you: I hope no hurt feelings.

  • This is long and rambling, but eventually relevant:

    A few years ago, my employer offered a benefit where employees could sign up for one of several non-work-related classes that would be taught by an outside expert who’d come to the office and spend 6 hours or so over the course of three days teaching whatever. I don’t remember all the courses, but I do know some people who took the chance to get CPR certified. I took a course that was supposed to be on personal household finance.

    Confession: I’m absolutely terrible with money. I don’t think I’m doing anything extravagant, but the money is always gone. (The first thing any personal finance advisor starts with is “well, let’s look at your spending patterns” – and at this point I fail; I have no idea what they are and don’t know how to acquire that knowledge) Long story short is that I really, really need help at basic strategies for figuring out where the money is going and what to do with that information.

    And that’s sort of where the course started out, I think. There were only five of us there and after maybe a half hour of basic introductions and stuff about credit reports, the teacher tried to get a “sense of the class” to see what to do and this one guy launches into this complicated question about how to structure your long-term savings (how much to keep in bonds, CDs, etc) and what did the teacher think about the tax situation of x, y, and z, and the teacher asks if that’s the kind of stuff we – the whole class – would like to learn about. And sure, that might be kind of good to know if I ever had any long-term savings, so yeah, I’m nodding, but after that I’m never opening my mouth about what a total personal finance incompetent I am. Not in that class. It took a while to figure out what had happened and maybe I might have said something if I’d realized what was happening, but trying to admit to anyone the degree to which I can’t handle money is an incredible emotional drain, let alone to someone designated an authority on personal finance.

    So anyway, I thought I had a place to address some of my financial incompetence and without any intended hostility that one ringer had totally transformed it into a place I just didn’t belong and in the end the course was, for me, an almost complete waste. (*)

    I think a similar worry drives the “fake geek girl” panic. You’ve got a population of people who have been using their geeky pursuits as a way to set up a space where it’s safe to be socially awkward and physically unattractive and yet still have fun and have friends.

    And then in walks someone with all the social interaction bonuses that automatically accrue to anyone society at large considers attractive. This changes the space (even without any hostile intent on the person who just arrived) into one where if one is extremely self-conscious about ones looks or ability in social situations, one doesn’t belong. Then one either has to leave a place one loves, stay and get depressed about not belonging, or declare the newcomer isn’t really in your geekdom. Combine that with a healthy dose of some good-old misogyny and the long tradition of vendors at video game conferences hiring attractive women with no knowledge of the product to stand around in skimpy costumes and you get the “attractive woman == not a real geek” equation.

    I think part of the solution is to separate the idea of geeky pursuits from a safe space for being socially awkward, and then to make that second place a place where poor social interaction is actually improved on (and not merely tolerated). I will admit to having no idea how to do that, though I like Wil Wheaton’s web series where he plays different tabletop games with his Hollywood friends as a way to break the “geeky pursuits”-“unattractive basement man” mental link. The other part is going to involve geek girls telling their stories publicly and repeatedly (which sucks – not the stories, but the disproportionate need to tell them) and calling out crap like this Portlandia sketch. (and stuff like that god-awful Ashton Kutcher “Beauty and the Geek” show)

    (*) Insert obvious corollary about beginner programming classes here.

    • bspencer

      Thanks for this; it’s actually really insightful.

      • Uncle Kvetch

        I second bspencer — great comment, Daniel. And on the topic of money management: I can’t recommend this program highly enough. After a couple of years struggling with Quicken I was finally able to organize and track our household finances in a totally intuitive way:

        http://www.snowmintcs.com/products/budgetmac/

        (link is to the Mac version, but there’s one for Windows as well)

        • Fanboi.

          (I figured since we were getting into the Star Trek canon flamewars, might as well start a side-flame on Mac vs. PC)

          • Uncle Kvetch

            (I figured since we were getting into the Star Trek canon flamewars, might as well start a side-flame on Mac vs. PC)

            Oh, please. We won that years ago. You just didn’t get the memo.

            • Uncle, I trolled. Long time Mac user, here. I even used System 7!

              • Uncle Kvetch

                Comrade!

              • I used it before it got all popular.

                First one was a 128k. I believe it ran System 0.97.

                Had an ImageWriter 1 printer (what a dog!).

                I’m quite hating my new MacBook though.

                • G’ahead and send it to me.

                • You can have my zombie macbook air.

                  Well, I’m not sure if it’s an animated corpse, but it’s definitely a corpse.

          • Oooh, can we argue whether ‘vi’ or ’emacs’ is better? That’s my favorite!

            • Philip

              The correct answer is, of course, “sed + cat”

            • sparks

              I may be one of the few who actually switched sides on this. I was hardcore vi then I switched to emacs. Many years ago, that was.

              • I actually use both (and sed, and cat and a metric shit ton of quickly hacked togehter perl, etc) quite frequently — they all have their place.

                It used to be fun to watch those arguments though, haven’t seen one in a while.

                • sparks

                  I went through the perl/python wars, too! I chose perl but abandoned the profession entirely about a year later.

    • Mr Peabody

      Thanks for this. It laos broguht to ming this decade old essay about the geek social fallacies, which look at the geek culture as _inclusive_ rather than exclusive. I think a lot of geeks see themselves this way, so when the defense mechanims you discuss kick in they don’t recongize it, and why they react the yway they do to pointing it out.

      http://littlegreenfootballs.com/page/251879_Five_Geek_Social_Fallacies

      sorry for the link tot he link but I can’t get the plausably deinable page directly through the work filters.

    • Very, very, insightful. It reminds me of an incident that just happened in my teenagers life. Her best friend, who is a guy, came out to her as gay. She was one of hte first people he told. But as soon as he had come out their entire relationship changed because what was a sincere and puppyish friendship of outsiders in their 8th grade class suddenly became just a stepping stone, for him, to a wider world of acceptance and celebration. He got right on his twitter feed (!) and Broadway vlog (!) and began contacting all his internet acquaintances and started opening up to a new world of friends and self actualization which completely left her behind. It was kind of funny to watch. Sort of like that moment when teh nerdy girl in glasses takes off her glasses and shakes out her hair and everyone goes “why miss smith….you’re beautiful!” if you studied what happened to all Miss smith’s old friends when she turned out to be Julia Roberts and got all the good parts offered to her.

    • Dave

      At that level, one can only sympathise with the complaint that “Attractive people are waltzing in, having invested NO time and energy on things WE have devoted our lives to, and claiming their geek-chic credit to add to a portfolio of social advantages WE can never have.” It’s just a shame the raving misogyny has to go with it.

      • Western Dave

        Real geeks know that it’s “Good Heaven’s, Miss Sakamoto!”

        What? What’d I say? Quit being so sensitive! You just hate men don’t you. DON’T YOU!

    • brad

      Well said.
      There’s also a generational component, insofar as the internet has changed how and what it means to be a geek. We used to have to buy comics to read them, for one. Another part of the backlash, that I think ties into your point, is that it’s hard for kids today, and especially attractive females, to experience the same kind of social isolation we geeks used to.
      Which isn’t to say they can’t experience the modern version, or that there isn’t inherent misogyny in the idea that only the traditional “action grip” white boy geek can experience that kind of isolation.

      And finally, in very, very, very mild defense of geeks, the simple fact is that with the explosion of popularity of video games a lot of jockish assholes who would never have called themselves geeks a generation ago are claiming the name, and making it even worse.

      Part of this backlash is very simple; Kanye is a geek? When the beautiful people start stealing a culture that was formed in part by their rejection of the people in it, there’s gonna be a lot of anger to go around, and plenty of it is justified.

    • Anonymous

      You’ve got a population of people who have been using their geeky pursuits as a way to set up a space where it’s safe to be socially awkward and physically unattractive and yet still have fun and have friends.

      You’re pretending women don’t already belong to this group.

      And then in walks someone with all the social interaction bonuses that automatically accrue to anyone society at large considers attractive.

      Who says she just walked in? Who says she hasn’t been gaming / cosplaying / reading comics all her life? Citations needed for these “bonuses.”

      The idea that an attractive women is in a privileged position in this culture, and that she doesn’t understand social stigmas, shaming, and policing, is an ungenerous, mostly false one.

      Given that female recipients of male nerd rage range range from (subjectively) beautiful to haggard suggests that the anger these men feel has little to do with Beautiful Ladies with all their Privileges (getting yelled at on the street and on the interwebs being one of the primary ones, I suppose) and more to do with straight up misogyny.

      • bspencer

        Who says she just walked in? Who says she hasn’t been gaming / cosplaying / reading comics all her life? Citations needed for these “bonuses.”

        This x a million.

      • brad

        I have to tread carefully here. I have a close friend who’s a genuinely beautiful woman cosplayer, and I know what she deals with at cons. (Not to mention she lives in the south, which I’m sorry, makes it much, much worse.) Fuck MRAs, fuck guys just looking to belittle women

        But there are people, and especially attractive young girls and guys, who will try to claim a culture they have no actual participation in as a part of trying to appear as deeper and more culturally versed than they are, not to mention as an attempt to hide their own privilege (see many white boys who say they’re into hip hop). And these are the people who, in my experience, forced geek culture to form by excluding its members from the sock hops and such.

        There is no gender based litmus test, I apologize if anything I said makes it sound like I’m trying to justify one.
        But still, if Megan Fox calls herself a geek, I’m gonna be skeptical.
        Same as with Kanye.

        • Well, let’s say you like X geek thing and think its creator should have a million dollars. Convince Megan Fox and maybe dollars flow to the right places.

          This is reminding me of gay marriage in its “HOW DARE THEY TAKE OUR WORD” aspect.

          • brad

            Fair point. But there’s also a point to mentioning that many of the people now calling themselves geeks “I loved the Avengers” are the people who make life hell for the people who experience geek culture as a lived thing and not a fashion accessory. The anger is inchoate and no question is badly betraying the misogyny deeply rooted in much of geek culture, there’s no denying any of that. I just don’t find it baseless.
            But I really don’t agree that geekery has always been nearly so male dominated, historically, as seems taken as a given in this thread. One of the biggest geeks I can think of, in a very positive sense, is BJ’s Anne Laurie. (Who I hope will chime in on this topic at some point, her discussions of deep subcultures are awesome and always teach). Comics and video games, sure, until sometime in the last decade, but scifi has always been the outcast’s refuge, and in some cases it taught young geeks to be more openminded by providing their first meetings with non standard issue cis people, both as characters and as people at cons.

            • I’m still not getting the picture in real life. You’re in a bar having a drink with friends and some new person says “I love underground comics, you know, like that Maus guy. What’s his name again?”

              What happens?

        • Anonymous

          But there are people, and especially attractive young girls and guys, who will try to claim a culture they have no actual participation in as a part of trying to appear as deeper and more culturally versed than they are, not to mention as an attempt to hide their own privilege (see many white boys who say they’re into hip hop). And these are the people who, in my experience, forced geek culture to form by excluding its members from the sock hops and such.

          Who decides who is fake, here? How does a young person get started, if the second they start, they will be accused of “claiming” a culture? How does one begin to participate, if you don’t want them to participate? Why are you so scared the phonies are going to ruin your little club?

          You don’t want a Litmus test, but already you’re suggesting a prerequisite of purity real people can’t provide.

          • brad

            I’m not calling them fake, I’m calling them late to the party and poorly mannered about it.

            • Anonymous

              And your authority is derived from…?

            • Anonymous

              Poorly-mannered geeks. Don’t know one fork from another. Raising their pinkies too high. Incapable of discerning in what situation a gentle tug of the forelock is required. My favorite sort.

              • brad

                I’d apologize for raising your hackles, but you’re being a bit of a dick so moot point.

                Respect the depths. If you can’t do that, then you’re the one with the problem.

                • Anonymous

                  Sweets, you’re not raising anything. You’re looking increasingly like someone who wants to justify and defend, in an irrational way, bullying and gate-keeping ‘cos you’ve got an interest in doing so.

            • brad

              And it’s not about kids getting off my lawn.
              It’s about people entering a pre-existing cultural space and not respecting it enough to learn it in any depth before calling themselves part of it and expecting others to recognize them as such.
              My own anecdotal experience of geek culture growing up was very much gender mixed, actually, and while the comics and video games and (once upon a time) slasher horror movies tip of the geek iceberg have generally been male dominated the rest never was.
              Part of the problem this post and thread are about is, to me, due to how video games changed geek culture from the mid 90s to now to make it much meaner and in many ways much more misogynistic, which isn’t to deny the obvious misogyny behind things like how women have always been represented in comics. There was the same stupidity, back then, but I don’t think as much hate.

              • Anonymous

                It’s about people entering a pre-existing cultural space and not respecting it enough to learn it in any depth before calling themselves part of it and expecting others to recognize them as such.

                You’re not psychic, so you can’t know or prove any of these things. You can’t prove they’re newbies, you can’t prove they’re fakers, you can’t prove anything about them other than they like and support shit you don’t want them to and they don’t look right to you. Too bad.

                • brad

                  What are you even on about?
                  You really think it bothers me that younger people come to like the same things I do?

                • Anonymous

                  Gon’ quote you now:

                  But there are people, and especially attractive young girls and guys, who will try to claim a culture they have no actual participation in as a part of trying to appear as deeper and more culturally versed than they are, not to mention as an attempt to hide their own privilege (see many white boys who say they’re into hip hop). And these are the people who, in my experience, forced geek culture to form by excluding its members from the sock hops and such.

                  You were saying?

                  I get it, dude. You want a hierarchy in which the young’uns respect your authoritah and treat you like an elder and handle your toys with appropriate reverence. That is an impossible wish. People aren’t supporting actors in the drama of your life as a man with a hobby, and they don’t owe their “forefathers” anything. You don’t get decide who stays and who doesn’t, how people are supposed to act, and what they choose to devote their time to.

                • brad

                  Good greebus.
                  This verging on trollish.
                  You’re essentially ignoring every point I’ve made to claim I’m saying the opposite. Geek culture is not mean or exclusive as I have known it, and if you think I’m arguing in favor of any such thing, well.. see above.
                  And if you actually think knowing what you’re talking about is somehow kowtowing to overentitled elders….
                  I’m glad I can stop responding to you now.

                • Anonymous

                  Apparently, you’ve forgotten that this entire conversation started with you complaining that “attractive females” and “jockish assholes” were infiltrating your special club, and that the real geeks (men) required delicate handling, because they aren’t used to reality and because their feelings are hurt when “young people” join their ranks. Goalposts were moved, as you were asked repeatedly to define your terms and provide facts behind these assertions. You couldn’t describe what a “fake” fan looks like beyond the fact that they are young and inexperienced, and when asked how fans are supposed to gain experience, you provided the “politeness” non-sequitur.

                  I’m not surprised you’re confused, because your position is untenable. Snobbery, when interrogated, only reveals layers of bias. Yours started with women, and ended with the young who are, by definition, “late to the party.” I’m not sure how else to interpret these comments.

                • brad

                  “real geeks (men)”
                  Sigh. And here’s the strawman.
                  Sure, the only geek I’ve named is Anne Laurie, but you’re on a roll, why stop to think or read what you’re blockquoting aside from what you presume are loaded flashpoint terms?

                • Anonymous

                  “We geeks,” you originally said, while specifically citing “attractive females” as the fake geeks ruining geekery throughout the land in a post about how men are gate-keeping and bullying women out of nerd subcultures, but I’m putting words in your mouth and making you out to be a sexist. Sure thing, bro.

                • brad

                  And now you call me “bro”, to make clear the person you’ve created to respond to.

                  What you’ve done here is load a huge amount of assumptions on someone who was disagreeing with an aspect of something you said so as to make what they say seem like something it’s not. You’re explicitly ignoring huge amounts of what I’ve said, essentially calling me a liar.
                  Yet you want me to feel as if you’re teaching me something about my real self, based on these assumptions which are laughably wrong. You’re yelling at a strawman.

        • Anonymous

          But still, if Megan Fox calls herself a geek, I’m gonna be skeptical.
          Same as with Kanye.

          Why? Unless you know them personally, how would you know? Why are you being so judgmental?

          Again, you seem to be parsing people’s intelligence, thoughts, and hobbies from a superficial reading of their appearance, which is interesting, considering in the same breath you’re also asking us to be patient with and understanding of the poor, dunder-headed, socially-awkward geekboys, who are bullied for being and looking “different.”

          I’ll also note that, despite your caveats, you continue to imply that good-looking women (and, now, black men and “young people”) are inherently non-credible as geeks. You seem to have a problem with how people look.

          • brad

            You’re very well spoken for a troll, but trying to imply I’m racist for not liking Kanye is a bit of a tell, sorry.

            • Anonymous

              You keep saying I’m implying things, when I’m only quoting you back to yourself.

              • brad

                I’m going outside.
                Get off your soapbox and try learning a few more things about what you’re trying to teach.

                • Anonymous

                  If only I were nicer. Sob.

                • brad

                  And to try to look like less of an asshole myself to those looking in; I’m not claiming to be that well spoken in these matters or without much still to learn.
                  But I also know who and what I am, and Anon here does not.
                  Shutting the fuck up now, I hope no one actually is reading all this shit.

      • Origami Isopod

        You’re pretending women don’t already belong to this group.

        JFC, this. I don’t know why that comment was getting so many kudos from so many smart folks. Women have been in fandom forever. But we get erased from it.

      • You’ve got a population of people who have been using their geeky pursuits as a way to set up a space where it’s safe to be socially awkward and physically unattractive and yet still have fun and have friends.

        You’re pretending women don’t already belong to this group.

        How do you get there from this paragraph? Are you implying that any space with women in it could not be a “space where it’s safe to be socially awkward and physically unattractive and yet still have fun and have friends”? Or are you perhaps implying that the “fake geek girl” epithet is one that is applied to all geek women everywhere by those geeks who apply it?

        And then in walks someone with all the social interaction bonuses that automatically accrue to anyone society at large considers attractive.

        Who says she just walked in? Who says she hasn’t been gaming / cosplaying / reading comics all her life?

        You seem to be ascribing too much to my use of the phrase “And then in walks…” – I was not implying that the person walking in was coming to geek culture from a place of no geekiness; I was imagining a place like a con where people are meeting in the name of some geeky thing but hadn’t met each other before. You’re in this space, getting your geek on, being awkward but it’s okay because you’re with a bunch of equally awkward people and then in walks someone who raises the social bar in a manner that you believe could put the whole place out of your league.

        Citations needed for these “bonuses.”

        The idea that an attractive women is in a privileged position in this culture, and that she doesn’t understand social stigmas, shaming, and policing, is an ungenerous, mostly false one.

        Are you honestly claiming that physically attractive people don’t generally enjoy privilege in social interactions? As someone whose spent his whole life on the homely side of things, this strikes me as just bizarre as asking for a citation that water is wet. But the world is a strange place and sometimes counter-intuitive claims are still true, so I will go try to see what the actual research says. I do not understand what the clause beginning with “doesn’t understand…” is responding to.

        I’ll grant that attractive women face a special form of misogyny and in particular often have their abilities underestimated or belittled. However, they don’t get flat-out ignored in the way that homely women (and, to a lesser extent, homely men) do.

        • Are you implying that any space with women in it could not be a “space where it’s safe to be socially awkward and physically unattractive and yet still have fun and have friends”?

          It sounds like you are the one who implied that. The discussion was about women generally. I’m not going to put words in your mouth, but there’s a way of reading what you said that kind of blames women in general for making it difficult for men who are “socially awkward,” as if all women were the same, and were to blame for making men uncomfortable unless they do what women like, behave in the “generally accepted” manner for mixed company, etc. Therefore, and again putting words in your mouth is the last thing I’d want to do, but it does follow fairly logically, it’s only fair that men who are different get their own space. And it was pointed out quite correctly that you’re assuming women don’t also need that space.

          • I was saying that there were people who used geek pursuits as a way of having a social life despite having less-than-perfectly developed social skills.

            Yes, I’ll admit that I was mostly thinking of men (well, specifically adolescent boys) doing this. Honestly, I was thinking of a group that was maybe 20% female. But my intentions don’t matter. What I said was in a context where we were talking about male gatekeepers shouting down certain women they felt didn’t belong, so fine – let’s assume for the moment I was talking about men using geeky pursuits to exclusively hanging out with men.

            However, from this Anonymous seems to conclude that I’m claiming that there were no geek girls anywhere ever, or that I’m erasing the existence of female geeks from history or something. At least, that’s the only way I can interpret the sentence “You’re pretending women don’t already belong to this group” under the assumption, because the only way to then interpret the words “this group” is as all geekdom. (since as a smaller group of all men getting together, the sentence doesn’t hold as an accusation. Yes; I’m imagining there are some male geeks whose formative geek experiences were all-male homosocial bonding experiences. So?)

            The other alternative is that I wasn’t talking about an exclusively male group implicitly because of the surrounding context, but that the phrase “socially awkward and physically unattractive” or one of the phrases near it made it exclusively male, and Anonymous’s “this group” meant not all of geekdom but some small group where some future gatekeepers had early geek experiences. This is the interpretation my question comes from; I admit now that it’s the less likely interpretation given context.

            In either case though, Anonymous seems to be taking a statement about how some (mostly male) people use geekdom as a source of a social life and turning it into a statement that female geeks don’t exist. I don’t know how they got from A to B. Was there perhaps an implication that all of geekdom exists only as a space in which to be safely socially awkward? I suppose you can read my comment that way, but that’s a bit extreme.

            Part of it may be that we’re coming at an understanding of the “fake geek girl” epithet from different angles. I thought it was something mostly leveled at cosplayers with particularly sexy costumes or primarily at generally attractive women. Where I’ve seen it is in blog posts decrying women affecting geek interests to gain “undeserved” attention (I remember the phrase “con hot”) with the strong implication that a faked interest in geek things was being used to enhance some pre-existing sex appeal.

            Anonymous seems to think (from their other comments) that this epithet is thrown at all women attempting to enter a geek space without regard to behavior, clothing, or physical appearance. As I know this term only from blogs (I haven’t been to a con in over a decade), if that’s been their direct in-con observation I’ll defer to that.

            • Thanks for admitting you’re coming at this controversy from having read about it online (as I am). I’ve never attended a con, but my interest in and opinions about SF were never especially welcomed by male friends either. (Though some of the women I knew who were probably geeky were a little exclusionary themselves.) There seems to be an assumption that there is one, really big, really well-known controversy, so that it will be worthwhile to talk around it until some truth comes to light, and I doubt that’s the case. And your effort seems well-meaning, but both you and Anonymous are coming off as coy, at best. At worst, it looks like trying to find “rules”: you girls wouldn’t have problems, if you’d follow the rules; or if you realized the rules mean you shouldn’t be here, and left. It doesn’t look at all like trying to see things from the other side’s perspective.

            • about SF

              and tech generally, by adults who didn’t already know me well, when I was younger: in fact “you shouldn’t be here” were the words of a man at a large computer club lecture–not said to the boy a year or two older sitting a few rows away–not “you might actually find the kids’ group interesting,” but “you shouldn’t be here.”

              As a computer science major, incidentally, and as a software engineer, I personally didn’t have the same problem. Generally, we hired people who were mature enough to work in a business (corporate) environment. The men who had the most problem with women were the most outwardly macho-striving, football-spectating ones, and didn’t display any geek tendencies where I could see them, at any rate.

            • Heh, it looks like you grew up about 5 miles from where I did.

  • Jeffrey Beaumont

    Thank you for bringing the worst corner of the internet to our attention.

  • CaptBackslap

    Part of the issue is that a lot of geek dudes are unable to have a polite social interaction with anyone. I have one geeky-as-hell hobby, and forums devoted to it make Lord of the Flies look like an ashram. Meaningless disagreements degenerate into name-calling and genuine anger on a regular basis, to the point where the forum is almost unreadable.

    Add sexism to that, and things can get downright ugly.

    • Well, that’s just the internet. Check out the comments for any Yahoo! news story.

      • Bill Murray

        or many small town newspaper comment sections

      • CaptBackslap

        I don’t see it on guitar forums, though.* I mean, they’re kind of a waste of time if you want to discuss anything but gear or pictures of custom guitars, but the atmosphere is friendly and chill (hypothesis: everyone is posting stoned).

        *Is guitar geeky or cool? It has elements of both.

        • Hogan

          “I gotta learn an instrument. Is it hard to play guitar?”

          “Not the way I play it.”

        • sharculese

          Guitar becomes geeky the second it stops being about making music you enjoy and being about who can play 32nd notes.

          Or if you join a band that does video game covers.

          • CaptBackslap

            That jibes well with the geekiness of metal in particular.

        • Uncle Ebeneezer

          Hey Cap, check out the forum for Dr. Z Amps. Obviously it’s mostly threads related specifically to their amps (which are, imo, the best affordable boutique amps out there), and there’s a lot of the gear and custom guitar stuff like you mention, but there’s also some pretty great discussions of just about anything guitar/amp/effect related. Anytime I need a quick answer on speakers, DIY pedalboards, effects chains, guitar maintenance, amp troubleshooting etc., there’s usually alot of really knowledgable people who chime in with answers, or a thread already devoted to the issue. And the people the atmosphere is very friendly and the people are very cool. The pedalboard picture thread alone is worth a visit. Cheers!

          • CaptBackslap

            Thanks! I’ll definitely have a look.

        • sparks

          Not always. Go to a Rickenbacker forum (if one still exists). Then say how much you love your Japanese Rick copy (makes no difference which), and watch the fun!

          P.S. The nastiness in the open (non-guitar) sections of some of these forums can be awe inspiring, especially when it gets political.

      • Karen

        Or, if you are very brave, YouTube.

    • Ronan

      “Meaningless disagreements degenerate into name-calling and genuine anger on a regular basis, to the point where the forum is almost unreadable…..”

      ..or US leftwing politics

    • wengler

      It’s a good thing there’s never been a thread like that here…

  • My first thought on watching that sketch (I’ve never seen it or Portlandia before) is that she’s probably not a nerd or geek. It’s easy to miss at the beginning but she’s saying “I thought I might get into modeling, but that’s so shallow, you know, I’m actually really smart and serious, yeah, I’m a total nerd . . . I even read some comic books once, that must be proof.” I have actually heard people say “nerd” or “geek” when they mean “straight A student, not a jock, not a burnout, not into heavy metal etc.,” which to me isn’t what the word means. And those fake glasses are really, really annoying, and in my experience they really are used to create an impression of seriousness or intelligence among people who feel that’s a quite reasonable way to dress oneself.

    In my limited experience, before gaming, interaction between the Dr. Who and Marion Zimmer Bradley crowds was limited, but one or two of the latter might have called herself a nerd, despite lack of real interest in science, math, or computers, I think. Different thing.

    The rest of the sketch bothers me to because it was obviously written to make fun of geeks. Because twenty-something arty hipsters and geeks get along SO well.

    • Eric B

      Thank you for this. I came to make a similar point:

      I see too many people saying things like “omg i really love glee. i’m such a nerd!”

      Liking something that you’re marginally ashamed of does not make you a nerd or a geek. In fact, that feels rather offensive to people who consider themselves nerds and geeks, doesn’t it? It seems like they assume that everything enjoyed by people they consider nerds is something those people should be ashamed of enjoying.

    • Geekdom and heavy metal are not incompatible. In fact in the 1980s a lot of Geeks were metal heads because of the serious influence of fantasy tropes in a lot of metal. If you want to see a really cheesy example of how they interacted go see Dio’s video for Holy Diver on Youtube. The video is horrible, but it is definitely influenced by Sword and Sorcery tropes. It is hard not to see the Geek crossover in bands like Kiss, Iron Maiden, and Dio.

      • Karen

        There is an interesting graduate thesis to be written about the interaction between classical music nerds and heavy metal fans.

        • rea

          (1) Wagner is clearly heavy metal

          (2) Apocalyptica, the well-known Finnish heavy metal cello band.

          • Lurker

            Apocalyptica was formed by students of the Sibelius Academy, the Finnish university for music. These guys, like many other Finnish heavy metal artists, are in fact educated as performers of classical music.

      • witless chum

        Among me and my thrash metal loving friends, (we were more Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax, Entombed, Sepultura, Pantera; Dio being for sissies) the crossover was damn near 100 percent.

        • Likewise.

        • I remember an interview when MTV when they started noticing The Big Four: one of them said something like “you have to have problems to like our music” and of course I had zero problems so I turned off the TV and threw the winning pass at the big game and hoisted the trophy with a cheerleader at my side.

          • Was the cheerleader George W Bush? Because that dream seems familiar.

      • Anne of Soylent Green Gables

        That was definitely me, circa 1987.

      • Lurker

        This is very true. When I was a recent high school grad and starting my life as a conscript recruit private, the barracks room I lived in was dominated by heavy metal geeks. For me, Nightwish still brings up the memories of recruit training.

        These guys were not just into heavy metal but also sci-fi and fantasy geeks. They could parse the lyrics for extremely obscure Silmarillion references for hours on end and actually get quite worked up on the lore topics of different sci-fi novels. I fit in quite well.

    • Well, there’s the term “theater geek,” and I’ve heard a member of the clergy say that as a teenager she was a “church geek.” It’s saying someone is unconventional in some way, and has some particular interest, especially sciencey or having something to do with certain kinds of pop culture–usually.

      The thing on that tumblr linked in the OP about pre-teen girls with t-shirts they don’t understand made me laugh, because my mom is the queen of buying inappropriate t-shirts out of some sense that they’re appropriate for someone who likes that kind of stuff, or that they’re what the kids these days like. Maybe geek boys rebel by refusing to let their moms do their shopping for them, geek girls don’t bother to visit a department store.

  • nixnutz

    I agree with critique of the gender dimension of this but I still have a problem with the modern geek culture. Maybe this is a generational thing but to me the notion of “geek” is inseparable from bullying, if you haven’t been called “geek” while simultaneously being threatened with violence literally thousands of times then you’re not a geek. And pretending to be one is offensive.

    Although personally that was only a couple years of my life, I started dating and reading real literature by the time I was 15 and never really identified as a geek although I was friends with some cape-wearing, staff-carrying dudes from my AP math classes.

    I just think for some folks who really had it rough they’re never going to accept folks who haven’t “paid the iron price” for their geek cred, so to speak.

    It’s unfortunate because the world of Aisha Tyler and Chris Hardwick is a nice, fun one that would welcome these dudes but consider it a symptom of their PTSD.

    • So wait. You have to be both called a geek AND bullied? What if your attacker fails to use the G word? Should kids being bullied today insist on being called Geeks in order to earn the credential?

      Also, I don’t remember if I was ever specifically called a geek. I think I was but it was over 30 years ago. Should I be prepared to call witnesses? Finally, I wonder if this could explain why women are considered not-geek. There seems to be an assumption is that girl bullies don’t engage in physical violence, which ain’t true.

    • bspencer

      I agree with critique of the gender dimension of this but I still have a problem with the modern geek culture. Maybe this is a generational thing but to me the notion of “geek” is inseparable from bullying, if you haven’t been called “geek” while simultaneously being threatened with violence literally thousands of times then you’re not a geek. And pretending to be one is offensive.

      Who decides who’s pretending? Also, I’m sorry if you were bullied but if you think that someone who wasn’t can’t be a geek, well…bummer for you, I guess.

      • nixnutz

        “Bummer for you” was my conclusion as well, I’m merely trying to give you some insight into the mindset of some folks.

        My understanding of the word “geek” is as a badge of survival. It has absolutely nothing to do with liking Firefly, it’s entirely about surviving years of abuse with your head up high.

        Maybe it’s just a semantic divide, if there were another word I personally wouldn’t have a problem. But I don’t identify culturally with any of the geek stuff, I’m just bothered that this label happened to catch on that resonates in a certain way.

        It’s fundamentally dumb but it comes from an honest place, does that make sense?

        • bspencer

          We’re definitely talking semantics here, then, because “geek” has become a stand-in for a word that describes anybody gets deep in the weeds of a thing. And lately it seems to mostly be a way of giving yourself a subtle compliment, which is one of the many reasons I’d never refer to myself as a geek.

        • John

          If you’re an adult and you’re still obsessing about how people treated you in high school, you maybe need to stop and reassess.

          • Joshua

            There’s a huge geek-jock dynamic here. Jock has popularity and the girls and the geek uses sci-fi or whatever to escape. Jock takes up sci-fi and now he has that and popularity and girls and the geek has nothing.

            • *headdesk headdesk headdesk*

            • I love that girls are universally accepted as chattels.

              • The word for women who talk a lot should be chatesses, no?

              • bspencer

                If you read the whole thread, I love that many of posts start with the premise that geeks are all men. When you start with that premise, all women–by definition–have to be objects or poseurs. Like I said, *headdesk*

                • At that rate, I hope you sell a couple of those framed prints because you’re gonna need a new desk.

                • bspencer

                  I know.

                • Well, yes. Also there is apparently no problem if a guy happens to be a geek and good looking.

                • Hell, she’s going to need a new head.

                • shh. aimai. Stop working my side of the street.

                • sparks

                  Being that I never considered myself a true geek in any sense (call me a dilettante if you like), I’ve found some areas where I have extensive knowledge and am accepted by what could be called the geek community of that area of knowledge. They seem to have a reasonable component of women involved, and I don’t see bullying (unless it’s in backchannels where I can’t see it). None really are what are canonically geek areas, though.

                • “Dilettante Sparks” would be an AWESOME band name.

                  Or hell, a singer-songwriter name.

                • sparks

                  The Sparks I take my handle after is a personally admired figure, but no dilettante.

          • nixnutz

            I wasn’t even a geek in high school so to some extent I’m imagining other peoples’ experience here but I’m not talking about obsessing I’m talking about having an irrational emotional reaction to a trigger word, I think there’s plenty of space between those two things.

    • So… what are you called if you like nerdy things but the only people who bully you are other geeks?

      • A girl or woman, apparently.

      • Murc

        So… what are you called if you like nerdy things but the only people who bully you are other geeks?

        There are actually some nerd subcultures that are viewed as lepers and pariahs even by other nerds. Furries and otherkin are the two big examples that leap to mind.

        • And Bronies.

          • Murc

            No, speaking as a brony, I haven’t encountered more than the usual level of opprobrium from other geeks who don’t like FiM. There’s the usual “your thing sucks” stuff, but nerds have been telling other nerds their stuff sucks since the beginning of time.

            • Manta

              Get either a child or a babysitting job, and all the opprobrium disappears.

          • Western Dave

            Um, Bronies are pretty well respected if they have kids. I suppose that some people would say we are not true Bronies but almost all the dads I hang with know their MLP:FiM.

    • Maybe this is a generational thing

      Not to disagree with the other comments, but I think in addition to being generational (having a Mac in 1984 meant you were a geek, basically, but it might also have meant you were very rich–similarly to being 18 in 1984 and having an elaborate stereo system with CD player might have meant you were really into music, because very few people had them), it might be in part geographic, class-based, rural-versus-urban, public-versus-private school, big-versus-small school, etc. What I’m hearing is younger people from schools where everybody’s going to college, apparently, and there aren’t too many beatings taking place, using “geek” to name people who are more interested in certain kinds of books and culture than in sex, makeup, and sports.

      • nixnutz

        Yes, geographically I grew up in Boston where there’s a strong culture of fighting. I think all boys were being challenged pretty much constantly and whether you perceived it as bullying or horseplay varied. For instance it was also traditional to use homophobic insults in this context and I heard them pretty regularly throughout high school but as a straight kid it didn’t sting as I imagine it would have had I been gay.

        So that I connect my dealings with bullies–which everyone had to endure–with my being on the math team and liking D&D may be largely in my imagination. But it’s a powerful association nonetheless.

        • I really do get the whole “male culture is a culture of constant challenge” thing. (Not that female culture is all sitting around in a hot tub agreeing with each other.)

          But in a school that’s fairly diverse, there’s something to be said for saying the middle class kid who fantasizes that he’s a geek, because when he walks past the smokers’ bench they call him “nerd” for the way he dresses, is wrong. And the working class kid who takes AP classes with dozens of other similar kids, and also reads SF and plays D&D, is just as much a geek as the one who’s bullied because he’s the only one who’s passing.

          I’ve re-read all your comments now and I see this has almost nothing to do with what you’ve said. But I think your take on “geek” as some imaginary thing people imagine they are, just because others bully them with random epithets, is wrong. Just as wrong as thinking people identify as gay just because people bully them into taking on a reified identity is wrong.

  • ajay

    But this kind of behaviour happens all over the place. If there’s a group of people; if being part of that group is a big part of how they define their identities; if, in the past, they’ve been treated badly because they belong to that group; then they are likely to be a bit resentful when, suddenly, their group’s stuff becomes fashionable and they get overrun with latecomer “tourists”. I’m sure everyone can think of some good examples from, say, the musical world and the club scene.

    • I admit there was a period when I might have inflicted severe damage the next white person who wanted to discuss rap music with me. In large part because my appreciation of rap stars and stops with The Sugar Hill Gang.

      • I’ll be your white friend who doesn’t ask about rap, ok?

    • bspencer

      Well, assuming anyone is a tourist is troubling. When you start with assumption that any woman is a tourist that’s pretty troubling as well.

      It would be great if everyone could quit worrying about who’s a tourist and who’s not.

      • Socks with sandals = tourist.

        • Troubling.

        • Manta

          No, Socks with sandals = German.
          Thus, if you are outside Germany, your equality holds, but inside Germany, it breaks down badly.

        • STH

          Or a priest.

        • Or you sprained your ankle in winter and nothing else fits over your aircast.

          • Like that ever happens.

    • FridayNext

      This 100%. I fail to see how this is substantially different from gate keeping in other subcultures. (How can we be in, if there is no outside? to quote the great sage and prophet Peter Gabriel). This one is probably more gendered because being unsuccessful with women and lacking in social skills is part of the identity of the group. But I fail to see how this is substantially different from a dozen different subcultures acting the same way on a daily basis. As a life long dilettante (just another word for being a curious individual) I can’t go a week without being told I am not really a .

      • witless chum

        I don’t think there’s necessarily a claim that geekdom’s gate keeping is that different from other subcultures being made, but right after saying that, you identified how it’s different. In geekland, this kind of thing seems to often operate in sexist ways, where women get an extra ration of shit for being women. Why does that difference not count?

      • I agree with Witless Chum’s point. If the essential nature of the passtime is seen as gendered–like, say, male wrestling–I can understand the insistence that there is a permanent split between practitioners/male viewers and non practitioners/ non male viewers who can never practice. One is condemend to always being a mere observer, not an inititate. But “geekery” is only hsitorically and contingently a male passtime. Girls and women who want to participate want to fully participate, not be included in on sufferance as eye candy, arm candy, status markers for the “real” players, or booth babes. And what I think they are complaining about is the moving of hte goalposts by (some) practitioners (and I’d argue that this debate is somewhat analagous to what is going on in the sceptic/atheist/misogynist subcultures) to exclude women from participating as other than visitors/tourists/viewers–that is excluding them from participating as full owners of the practice.

        • bspencer

          This is so well-said.

          • Yes. It’s not very celebratory of your super-awesome culture if you think it can’t be shared.

            • I am COMPLETELY HAPPY with sharing everything about the Mekons. INCLUDING with women of all kinds.

  • For what it is worth I think during the 1980s at least that Science Fiction and Fantasy related activities in their various forms were a domain heavily favored by socially inept male adolescents. That is the literature was quite literally escapist. A large number of people of course outgrew at least some of their social ineptitude or found other replacement escapism. Some of these replacements like the bar scene were considered at least at the time (1990s)to be more socially acceptable. However, for those people who remained attached to the scene its roots as an escape from junior high and high school bullies, “cool kids”, “preppies” and others who ostracized them is still apparent. Back in the 1980s there were very few females into what is referred to as “Geekdom.” Like other marginalized social groups I think there is a tendency to try and take pride and form defensive boundaries among certain “Geek” groups that have escapist origins. One of the defining boundaries in this case being that good looking women are by definition not part of a group ostracized by others largely on the basis of being the preserve of socially awkward males and hence can not be true “Geeks.”

    • One of the defining boundaries in this case being that good looking women are by definition not part of a group ostracized by others largely on the basis of being the preserve of socially awkward males and hence can not be true “Geeks.”

      Ah-hah! But then women who are both good looking (however that is defined) and geeky are ostracized by everyone, including the male geeks, making them the geekiest of all.

      • Yes, this is undoubtedly the case for some male “geeks.” Again I do not think this is universal among all of them especially today. But, I think it was a dominant tendency among them in the 1980s.

        • You know, this whole concept of no-girl-geeks in the 80s is so bizarre to me, because I learned about Star Trek and soldering and how jets work from my mom, who was a huge Trekkie and Sagan fan. I know its anecdotal, but its anecdotally really freaking weird .

          • No, there were always girl geeks. But, in the 1980s they were pretty rare and they generally were not the type of girls that fit into more “popular” cliques. I think the boundaries around traditional male “geek” culture started breaking down in the 1990s. But, before the era of Glasnost and Perestroika started in 1985 US “geekdom” also had its own era of stagnation.

      • ajay

        But then women who are both good looking (however that is defined) and geeky are ostracized by everyone, including the male geeks, making them the geekiest of all.

        Remind me to make a donation to any group that is working to overcome the tragic isolation of good-looking, popular, socially adept women.

        • Manta

          One of them is called “Hollywood”, and I suspect you are already donating to them.

        • But, we were discussing good looking, unpopular, and socially inept women. They are pretty rare. But, occasionally you meet them. Usually they are so shy and lacking in self confidence that they come off as ice cold. They literally freeze up in social situations. They are not nearly so common as socially inept men, but they do exist.

          • Karen

            *Raises hand*

            I graduated from high school in 1981, LONG before Geek culture was a thing other than Star Trek conventions. I was bookish, introverted, and looked enough like Blair Brown, “The Thinking Man’s Bombshell” to be mistaken for her in airports. Since I wasn’t popular in high school, I never learned any of the signs and clues that women regarded as beautiful from age 2 get and so never acted like everyone else thought I was supposed to act. For example, I never picked up on ths subtle invitations some guys issued for dates. If I was actually busy when someone called at the last minute, I said so, thereby apparently telling the guy I was too good for him, even though I thought I was saying I had an exam in two days and wanted to study.

          • But, we were discussing good looking, unpopular, and socially inept women. They are pretty rare.

            Or maybe being shy means they are INDOORS or otherwise not hanging around where you might meet them.

            Usually they are so shy and lacking in self confidence that they come off as ice cold. They literally freeze up in social situations. They are not nearly so common as socially inept men, but they do exist.

            Explain please how you tell the good looking woman who is freezing up from shyness from the good looking one who is blowing you off, has a head cold, just came away from an annoying meeting, is scared to death of men or any of the five zillion other things that might cause a human being to be less than friendly?

            Jesus, do you even READ what you type?

            • Ronan

              “Explain please how you tell the good looking woman who is freezing up from shyness from the good looking one who is blowing you off..”

              Well a reasonable answer to this is by being friends with someone..by knowing them (as best as you can know someone)

            • Look, I have only met like two people that fit into the category above in the last four decades. It is pretty easy to tell the difference between somebody who is shy and somebody who is blowing you off. Generally the latter had a lot of sarcastic or even obscene words to say rather than nothing at all. I would think the same for coming from an annoying meeting, but I am talking about things from over 25 years ago. As far as being afraid of men that seems to just be a subcategory of being extremely shy or at least functionally equivalent for any males attempting to socialize. Again it is in my experience a very small and rarely encountered set of people. But, two is larger than none.

              • So you admit that you’re using pure anecdote based on old experiences to declare a particular sort of person is rare.

                Thanks.

                • Yes, if I had met a lot of such people I wouldn’t think they were rare. I just have not seen any evidence to suggest they are not rare. If you have evidence suggesting that my conclusion is wrong, fine.

        • Yes because good looking women (however that is defined) are always popular and socially adept and never feel insecure about anything. If they appear to be shy they’re just stuck up or something.

          How does it work for guys? I know many guy geeks who would fit anyone’s definition of attractive. Does being attractive automatically make one not-geek?

        • bspencer

          I’d be careful thinking you know what it’s like to be an attractive woman. It’s not always the barrel of monkeys it’s rumored to be.

          • Karen

            A lot of it in my experience involved having people assume I was stupid and conceited when I rejected their offers of casual sex.

            • The good news is the definition of attractive is very flexible so any woman can know the joys of having someone larger and stronger pissed off at one because you won’t drop your pants right there on the sidewalk!

              Gah.

              • Karen

                I’ll be 50 in July. I’m married with teenaged kids. The last time that happened to me was THIS JANUARY.

          • Oh please. Next you’ll suggest chicks resent it when their accomplishments are put down to flashing their tits and/or judicious dispensing of sexual favors.

          • Yes, and try being defined as unattractive–that’s really no fun.

            • bspencer

              Well, this is it exactly. They get us coming and going. If we’re hot, we’re faking. If we’re too fat or too…whatever, we’re ugly cows.

          • That’s ANOTHER thing about good-looking women. They get all the monkeys.

            • bspencer

              The whole barrel!

            • Malaclypse

              Yet N_B still gets the kettle of fish. Where is the justice in that, I ask you?

              • Survival of the fattest, man.

    • Bruce Baugh

      This really seriously isn’t true for many parts of sf fandom. If you look at who was running major cons in the ’80s, you find a lot of women. Likewise in apahacking, and electronic spinoffs on BBS networks, e-mail lists, and newsgroups. Three of the best-novel Hugos went to female authors, plus more for shorter-form works. And a whole lot of girls and women were reading, watching, making art and fanfic, and the whole deal.

      What geeky male misogynists were doing was simply refusing to count any evidence of women’s fanac as relevant to their own domain. But that’s not the same as the whole field being mostly a guy thing.

      • Bujold, Wen Spencer, there are tons of great women writers out there but I believe that their work is often dismissed or thrown into other Genres which are seen as “femme” like romances or fantasy instead of “hard core” sci fi.

        • Bruce Baugh

          That’s true, with a lot of the dismissals coming from guys who will tell you all about the gripping realism of Niven and Ringo. Catherine Asaro had appalling stories back in GEnie days about things said to her on cons and about her on newsgroups from guys who thought they were demolishing her scientific errors…more than once citing papers by Dr. C. Asaro about the relevant astrophysics without realizing what they were doing.

          I tend to think that something John Kovalic put up on Tumblr yesterday is very relevant. Some male geeks are in the grip of a sort of secular gnosticism, where physically doing any but a short list of approved activities is innately a capitulation to the anti-nerd world machine.

          • I scrolled down that Tumblir till I found the very appropriate cartoon “fake geek girl.” I highly recommend it.

            • Bruce Baugh

              Yeah, that’s the strip I had in mind. Couldn’t find an individual link to it despite a lot of clicking around, and should have said in my original post about it. Oops.

          • Herbal Infusion Bagger

            For true LoLz, see Robert Silverberg’s dismissal of rumors that James Tiptree Jr. was actually a woman.

            And Silverberg wasn’t anywhere near the most sexist of the Silver Age or New Wave SF writers…

  • rea

    Okay, as the official gatekeeper of these things, let me articulate the rule: unless you’ve actually worked professionally in a carnival, biting heads off live chickens, you shouldn’t dare call yourself a geek.

    • I’m in!

      • Do you have to keep doing it to renew your lisence? Like, does it matter whether it was a few years ago? I’m asking for a friend.

        • Why would you stop?

        • It’s like virginity. Once you’ve passed the threshold, there’s no looking back.

          Perhaps I should add, it was a set of fake chickens for my high school senior show. But I bit the heads off with a vengeance, damn it..

  • Jerry Vinokurov

    This isn’t any different from the genre policing you get in other fields where people take it upon themselves to decide who is or is not a “real” sports fan (“If you haven’t been bullied you’re not a geek” “If you haven’t suffered for decades cheering for a terrible team, you’re not a real fan.”) It’s a special case of a larger obsession with delineating boundaries that divide the world into “them” and “us” instead of figuring out how we can make space in that world for all kinds of people. Witness a (far gentler) version of this in the Star Trek debate upthread: people are obsessing over whether JJ Abrams is a “real” geek, rather than whether he made a good movie or not. Can you imagine someone reading, e.g. Ulysses and arguing whether it’s true to the “canonical” version of the Odyssey? That would be totally absurd and also entirely beside the point, but you see people in “geek” cultures doing this all the time. Not because it’s got any inherent importance, but because it’s about establishing how “real” you are, as opposed to those other posers.

    The larger lesson that the geek culture has failed to learn is that there is no geek culture anymore. Once upon a time, that was a thing, because people with stereotypically “geeky” or “nerdy” interests were exiled to the Island of Misfit Toys, socially speaking. Since the advent of the internet, though, and since Hollywood has discovered that you can sell wish-fulfillment in the form of superhero movies to everyone, that distinction has no meaning anymore. The Island has not just been colonized, it’s been absorbed directly into the mainland; it doesn’t exist anymore, and distinctions predicated on assuming that it does look bizarre and weird. Sorry that now everyone likes the things you like. Deal with it.

    • Manta

      If what you claim is true, why are (some of) the female geeks complaining about the gatekeepers?

      If there is no garden beyond the gate, why try to enter it?

      • Jerry Vinokurov

        You misunderstood me. They are right to complain about gatekeepers because those are precisely the people who haven’t figured out that they’ve been assimilated. But they feel it happening. So what happens is that people who are resistant to that assimilation (i.e. the gatekeepers) are now trying to fight it off, the only way they know how: by keeping out everyone else who wants in. Straight-up misogyny combined with the fact that most of these gatekeepers are dudes who don’t understand how to interact with women compounds the problem and makes it easier to keep women than men out.

        • Manta

          Can you rephrase? Too many pronouns (“they”, “those”, etc), that are unclear if they are referring to the gatekeeper or the excluded.

          • Jerry Vinokurov

            My first and second “they” refers to the excluded. After that, the gatekeepers. Sorry for the confusion.

        • “Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated.” ;-)

        • Manta

          I still don’t understand: if geeks have been assimilated, there is no gate to keep: there is no geek group from which the women can be excluded.

          In other words: if e.g. Tolkien fans have their tastes catered by mainstream Hollywood movies, why would they want to join the geek subculture?

          • Jerry Vinokurov

            I can’t help but feel like you’re being intentionally obtuse about this. Of course there is “no gate” other than the gates that people make. My whole point is that the distinction between “geek culture” and the mainstream is entirely meaningless at this point, but some people are devoted to maintaining it nonetheless. This can’t be done coherently in any meaningful way, obviously, but that doesn’t stop them from trying to delineate who is a “real geek” and who isn’t.

            • Manta

              I will let pass your insinuation.
              You tried to explain why gatekeepers exist, but haven’t addressed at all my perplexity: why would *women* care about those gatekeepers, if there is no meaningful distinction between geek and mainstream culture?

              To elaborate on the gate metaphor: it’s like if there is a garden who was once walled, but now the walls have been torn down, but the old gate remained intact: why would one care about the gatekeeper, if she can simply cross the border anytime?

              • Ronan

                Very true

              • Jerry Vinokurov

                Because there’s something called a shared interest, and if you are interested in a thing, you might want to communicate with those who have the same interest? It’s really not that hard; if I care about the NBA, I read basketball blogs and comment on them. If I care about Star Wars or video games, I do the same thing. But the difference is that most of the time no one will question the legitimacy of my interest in either of those things because I’m a guy, whereas a woman interested in those things is open to having a lot of terrible shit thrown at her. As noted elsewhere, it’s actually worse in “geek” circles than it is in sports.

                Crossing the border doesn’t mean the initial interest itself, it means finding shared interest with others. The fact that gaining this initial interest is now effortless means that the initial barrier, the entry cost, if you will, is gone; it doesn’t mean that the problem of having people arbitrarily judge how “real” you are is overcome. But the impulse to make such a judgment in the first place is born of the illusory idea that these distinctions are meaningful in any sense.

                • Manta

                  Are you seriously claiming that those women are looking for the company and acceptance of the very people that the (geek female) commenters here call “emotionally immature men” (to take the first one I could find)?

                • witless chum

                  I expect they have a hard time enjoying themselves on websites devoted to their particular geekery or at cons and such if they’re constantly noticing a low-grade hostility from their fellow fans and would like to have less of that.

                • Jerry Vinokurov

                  Manta, this is why I said you were being purposefully obdurate. I’m not saying anything; female commenters are saying all these things. They want to be part of a community that shares their interest, but find it hard because it turns out many members of that community are assholes. This is not hard to understand.

                • Manta

                  Jerry, you (and not the female commenters) are the only one claiming that there is no meaningful distinction between geek culture and mainstream one.
                  The fact that your claim leads to absurd conclusion is not my fault.

                • Jerry Vinokurov

                  You’re determined to misread what I say despite the fact that I’ve been pretty clear about what I’m getting at. This is a reading comprehension problem on your end, and I don’t see any point in carrying on an argument with someone who moves the goalposts at every opportunity and continually misrepresents the issue.

                • Manta

                  Your claim is pretty clear
                  “My whole point is that the distinction between “geek culture” and the mainstream is entirely meaningless at this point”, and it’s pretty clearly false (for the reasons I exposed above).

                  I tried to have a civil conversation, but I suppose I cannot to that alone. For next time, remember that “people not agreeing with your argument” is different from “people not understanding your argument”.

                  (Hopefully, “next time” will not be with me, since you seem unable to conceive of being wrong, or that people may disagree with you).

              • Jenna

                The reason people care, is that if you have some visible marker(being a woman, for example) that some self appointed gatekeeper thinks doesn’t belong, you will be questioned as to whether you belong there. Whatever you answer won’t be enough, and even if you do satisfy the one gatekeeper, you know that others will question you as well. You have been made aware that you do not fit. You won’t ever really fit as far as some people are concerned, simply because of this one visible characteristic.
                (actually it can be more than one visible characteristic. Try being black and or female in geeky sci-fi spaces sometime)

                • Manta

                  I agree with you, Jenna: but that presumes that there is a “there”, a geek subculture to which you want to belong, distinct from the mainstream one: which was the claim Jerry denied.

    • You know, in my experience the difference in sports is that there is less bitterness. People supporting different teams tease each other, sure, but there is also no real attempt to get someone to switch sides- even married couples will often call themselves “A House Divided” because they support not just different but directly rival reams. And in sports fandom, that’s okay.

      When people tell me, “Oh, you’re not a real fan” in the sports world, its almost always obviously not a serious statement, and occasionally its serious but also uncaring, as if to say, “well, you will be one day, don’t worry”, and the proper and polite social response is “Of course you’re full of shit, you’re bitter from all the losing!” said with a smile and usually accompanied with buying each other beers. Fans who take it too seriously are generally thought poorly of, and people around them tend to shut down that kind of behavior or else they get kicked out of the bar.

      Its also worth noting that sports players almost never say anything disparaging about their fans, unlike that ridiculous comic book guy who was hating on cosplayers, for example.

      So, yeah. Frankly, I *don’t* think this is like any other fandom.

      • Jerry Vinokurov

        You know, in my experience the difference in sports is that there is less bitterness. People supporting different teams tease each other, sure, but there is also no real attempt to get someone to switch sides- even married couples will often call themselves “A House Divided” because they support not just different but directly rival reams. And in sports fandom, that’s okay.

        This is totally true in my experience as well. I tend to straddle a bunch of different cultures (an academic researcher and a die-hard NBA watcher), and by and large, the attitude in sports is far more open than in geekdom. You get a few dudes hurfing and durfing about “pink-hatted baseball fans” but for the most part, you can go to a sporting event and find all kinds of people there: young, old, couples, families, etc. A few years ago I went to a Celtics game to cheer the Mavericks, and it wasn’t a thing even.

        The difference, I think, is that sports has just has so much more time to get there than “geek culture” has. Sports already started in the position of the mainstream; no one was ever ostracized for being good at football. From that standpoint, it’s much easier to get people to come to you; you are already the dominant paradigm, so to speak. “Geek culture” has the inverse problem. The dominant culture expelled them, and now it’s taken them back, only they never got asked whether or not they wanted to come back, they were just straight-up absorbed and that was that. The proper lesson (take a stance of ironic detachment towards your own sub-culture, and appreciate the fact that more people now enjoy what you enjoy) was not learned; what was learned was “we have to be more vigilant than ever, because the barbarians are at the gates.”

        • Ronan

          It depends on the sport I guess but I would have thought the oppossite..English football, for example, was known to be deeply racist (and violent) in the 70/80s (the National Front having a heavy presence at the games) but is much better now. It still exists on the margins though(I didnt live through the 70/80s)
          Continental football is still quite racist (particularly Italy) .. and Eastern European/Russian..
          Football, in general, is generally pretty racist and violent (on the terraces)

          • Ronan

            ..and sexist.

          • Jerry Vinokurov

            I guess I should qualify what I said by confining my experience to American sports. Football in Europe has a historical background that renders the comparison to the American sporting culture difficult.

      • wjts

        In my experience, there’s a huge disdain in sports fandom towards people who are perceived as “bandwagon fans” who only start supporting a team/watching the games when that team becomes successful. The feeling is that unless you were there for the bad times, you don’t deserve to celebrate the good ones. Unsurprisingly, it never cuts the other way – since moving to Pittsburgh, I’ve never been accused of being a fake Pirates fan who’s just interested appropriating the cachet of a 20-year streak of losing seasons.

        • Ronan

          I think the hostility towards a bandwagon fan, or gloryhunter, is legit enough..especially if youre dealing with people who spend a lot of money/volunteer their time/have a greater emotional investment in the team..Ive always been a bandwagoning fan, and have been precieved as such, but what do I care if its true?

    • Just Dropping By

      Can you imagine someone reading, e.g. Ulysses and arguing whether it’s true to the “canonical” version of the Odyssey? That would be totally absurd and also entirely beside the point, but you see people in “geek” cultures doing this all the time.

      That seems like a bad example since Ulysses is very clearly a “reimagining” of The Odyssey, rather than a remake or a reboot, so canonicity doesn’t really play a role in it.

      • Jerry Vinokurov

        The problem is exemplified in the very words you use. Why is “reboot” a real thing, and how is it different from a “reimagining?” The need to draw this arbitrary sort of distinction is exactly the problem here; if we were to view all art equivalently, we’d say that all of these things were “reimaginings” and we’d judge them based on their quality. It could be a bad reimagining because it fails as a work of art, but if that’s the case, that argument can be made on its own merits.

        Consider the paradigmatic case of “Han shot first.” People get very worked up over this because it goes against “canon.” But the real reason why “Han shot first” is just a poor idea is that it fails to work as art; it loses a key element of who Solo is as a character. If the original movie had always had Solo shooting first, that would still be a bad decision simply from the perspective of the actual art; it would have made Solo’s character just that much less compelling.

        • Murc

          People get very worked up over this because it goes against “canon.”

          Uh. I think you have to justify this strawman.

          The reaction to “Greedo shot first” isn’t simply based on the idea that all change to beloved things is bad. It’s based on the idea that it turns Han, who is supposed to be this awesome smuggler starpilot guy, is an idiot.

          Han has been cornered in a confined space at point-blank range by a guy with a drawn weapon who has stated that his intention is to turn Han over to a guy who is probably going to torture and kill him as an example of what happens to guys who welch on a debt. In that situation, waiting for the other guy to shoot first is DUMB, because you will DIE.

          Han isn’t bloodthirsty and doesn’t like killing, so he tries to talk his way free. But once it’s clear that that won’t work, you fucking shoot the space assassin down. In this specific case, Greedo is so incompetent he can miss a stationary target at a distance of three feet. But you don’t wait for them to fire first. It makes you dumb. They retroactively made Han DUMBER two decades after the fact.

          • Jerry Vinokurov

            Those are all good artistic reasons for having Han shoot first. But I’ve been around enough Star Wars obsessives to know that a many of them really do get upset over “canon violations” but don’t really bother to articulate why it doesn’t work on an aesthetic level. Your mileage may vary, I’m not going to insist that this is universal by any means.

            • Murc

              Those are all good artistic reasons for having Han shoot first.

              Uh… yes. In response to your contention that Han shooting first fails to work as art. I quote:

              But the real reason why “Han shot first” is just a poor idea is that it fails to work as art;

              You are right that a lot of people are bad at articulating why a canon violation fails to work at an aesthetic level. I can only say that I usually take that as unstated assumption; if someone tells me “this sucks because it changed/violated canon” I am usually going to assume they mean “it made things worse aesthetically.”

              (Bearing in mind, I view “I would like my fictional universe to be internally consistent” as a legitimate aesthetic argument.)

              I’ve never actually met anyone who would admit they hate change because they hate change.

              • gmack

                FWIW, I thought JV had accidentally mangled his point (i.e., his sentence should read: “If the original movie always had Greedo shooting first…”). I can’t see how anyone could think that the new edits (where Greedo shoots first) improves the film aesthetically.

    • Once upon a time, that was a thing, because people with stereotypically “geeky” or “nerdy” interests were exiled to the Island of Misfit Toys, socially speaking. Since the advent of the internet, though, and since Hollywood has discovered that you can sell wish-fulfillment in the form of superhero movies to everyone, that distinction has no meaning anymore.

      Is that really accurate? The Superman and Batman films were well received, as were the Star Trek films. Star Wars was a hit. Vonnegut and Atwood wrote SciFi. It seems like what’s being defined as “true geek” is a moving target of “what other people look down on,” or alternatively “escaping into a fantasyland.”

      • bspencer

        This is a great point; “geek” has become something of a catchall term. I’m not even sure I’d feel comfortable trying to nail it down.

        • Jerry Vinokurov

          Yeah, I agree with this, which is why I keep putting it in scare quotes. But I think the popularity of Star Wars and the various Star Trek movies notwithstanding, there really was a time when being really into sci-fi could be a ticket to Social Outcast Village. Also, let’s not forget that Vonnegut eternally deplored being classified as a science fiction writer because he considered it a “ghetto” (his word, I believe) where serious literature would get exiled so that people could dismiss it without reading it.

          • Uncle Kvetch

            Is that really accurate? The Superman and Batman films were well received, as were the Star Trek films. Star Wars was a hit.

            I think Star Wars was in fact the game-changer in this respect. Jerry’s take seems to describe pre-1977 popular culture pretty accurately. (At the time of the release of Star Wars, Star Trek was seen by most people as little more than an oddity — a failed TV show that had improbably spun off this weird cult following of…yes…misfit toys.)

            My recollection of the hype building up to the first Christopher Reeve Superman movie in 1978 was that it was still considered was a very big deal — as in a very big risk — for Hollywood to sink a blockbuster-sized budget into a movie about a comic book superhero.

            • Karen

              I was 14 when Star Wars was released. It occupied the same place for people my age that the Beatles and Elvis did for the immediately preceding generations.

            • Well, Wonder Woman started in ’75 (with attempts earlier) and The Incredible Hulk in ’78. You definitely had big SciFi movie hits like Planet of the Apes and 2001. The ’78 Lord of the Rings was successful, and Dune was in the works since the early 70’s. Plenty of SciFi in The Twilight Zone, and there were the Irwin Allen SciFi series in the 60’s.

              That’s not to say that Star Wars or Superman had no effect, but it’s not like any of these movies suddenly made these things acceptable. I don’t think the issue was the subject matter, but rather the degree to which certain individuals got lost in them (and perhaps too the type of individual that would seek such escapism).

              • Malaclypse

                I still remember the Logan’s Run tv series. And my 7th-grade self thought Erin Gray on Buck Rogers was the hottest woman in the world.

                • Uncle Kvetch

                  I don’t think you can compare TV series like the Hulk and Wonder Woman to the Superman movies in terms of mainstream cultural impact. I think you could argue that there was always a place for geek culture on TV, even when the movie biz wasn’t really touching it.

                  (The Planet of the Apes films are a pretty big exception to that, though, so maybe I need to rethink the whole thing.)

            • Even back in ’77 as an 8 year old, me and my friend’s judged other people’s Star Wars “cred” by how many times you’d seen it in the theater.

          • Harlan Ellison also militantly rejected the title of science fiction writer.

            • wjts

              Quiet! Do you want to get sued?

              • I am willing to meet him in court as soon as Final Dangerous Visions comes out. ;-)

                • wjts

                  Have you read Christopher Priest’s essay on his involvement with The Last Dangerous Visions? It’s worth a look.

                • That was interesting. As an academic I am used to waiting years for works to come out in print. I finished a series of encyclopedia articles for _Slavery in the Modern World: A History of Political, Social, and Economic Oppression_ in summer of 2005. It was finally published in 2011, so six years after my final versions. That is the longest I have had to wait. But, to be honest I had already figured the project had died earlier and was surprised to find out it had been published along with most of my contributions. For some reason one did not make it. I assume it was rejected for some reason.

                • rea

                  Interesting review of Last Dangerous Visions here

                • Rea:

                  That is funny. You know he gives away the show to even those who are not aware with the link to the wikipedia article. TLDV was never published.

          • wjts

            I think “really” is the key word there and is the operating principle behind gatekeeping in general and geek gatekeeping in particular. “Really” is an especially useful concept for gatekeeping because its so fluid. You saw The Wrath of Khan three weeks into its run and enjoyed it? Well, you still can’t really call yourself a Star Trek fan, not really, because you can’t talk about different warp drive configurations. You can talk about different warp drive configurations? Well, you’re not really a Star Trek fan, not really, because you can’t speak Klingon. You can speak Klingon? Well, you’re not really a Star Trek fan, not really, because your accent’s wrong.

          • Who is this “Vonnegut” character?

  • Cheap Wino

    I’d imagine that part of the gatekeeping in gaming probably stems from the need to make ones accomplishments and achievements more impressive than they might otherwise be. Success as a gamer has been traditionally looked down upon by, your mother for one — everything she tells you about success outside of gaming that she and society think of as really useful and productive and what you *should* be striving at just reinforce how impressive those accomplishments actually are.

    Somebody else can’t just come in and cheapen your success, especially the girl who also beat you on pre-calc exam last Friday. Your success is purer, invent the reasons why on the fly.

  • Murc

    Hmm. Okay. I’m going to approach this from a couple directions I haven’t seen discussed so far.

    There are, of course, a ton of different reasons for gatekeeping, and most of them are bad. But two big ones, I feel, are that it’s a defense mechanism against being mocked and derided, and also (this is more modern) that people are seeking to cash in on your interests.

    Something that’s a big, and somewhat legitimate, fear among self-described nerds and geeks is that people will feign interest in both your hobby and in YOU for the express purpose of getting close enough to you to hurt you, because they find that funny. That happens in real life (I’ve both had it happen to me and seen it happen to others, although admittedly not since high school) and it’s enough of a trope that it’s gotten depicted in pop culture a lot. See: Carrie. Revenge of the Nerds. Numerous sitcom subplots. Etc.

    So when someone who isn’t throwing off the appropriate cultural signifiers shows up trying to get “in”, it triggers defensive crouch reactions. (There are other reasons for the defensive crouch, of course. And many people upthread have gone deeply into them.) “This person is not of the tribe, but is pretending to be of the tribe. They’re here to hurt us! BATTLE STATIONS.”

    It’s somewhat idiotic, of course. Someone who goes to the effort of strapping on a Xena costume and trekking to comic-con is probably not trying to entice you into dropping your guard so they can sucker-punch you. For that matter, the person who has an extensive collection of cat .gifs and thinks that makes her pretty nerdy may be stretching the definition a bit, but she’s not part of a vast plot to destroy you. Most people stop doing that for fun once they’re out of their teens. They have, you know… lives.

    So that’s one part of it, and a pretty big part. Another part is not wanting to be cashed in on by people who see you as the source of a revenue stream but don’t actually care about the same things you do.

    There are a fair number of “nerd” things that are actually big business these days. Nerd culture is officially a “thing”. A profitable thing, at that.

    I’m gonna bring up Big Bang Theory. There are some who have described it as “nerd blackface.” Those people are idiots, more than a bit racist, and need to be beaten upside the head with the collected works of Ta-Nehisi Coates.

    But that’s a show (and a moderately successful one, to) that bills itself as nerd-friendly and a celebration of nerds, that actually isn’t it. What it is is a show about how pathetic and socially maladjusted the nerds in it are, and how that becomes graphically and (supposedly) hilarious when they’re contrasted with “normal” people. The purpose of BBT is to point and laugh at Sheldon. This provokes, shall we say, a strong reaction in a lot of self-described nerds. We (and I feel justified in using “we” here) feel taken advantage of, and when we complain we get the response “But the show is about you! One joke out of every four is a BSG reference!”.

    JJ Abrams and his gross mishandling of the Star Trek franchise was brought up upthread. Abrams is a competent filmmaker and a somewhat less competent television producers. But when it comes to Trek specifically… he’s on the record as saying he not only doesn’t know that much about Star Trek, he doesn’t CARE to know. And Orci, Kurtzman, and Lindelof have long and proud histories of not being that invested in their work and of treating with amused contempt people that do have that investment.

    So nerds looking at them come to the conclusion “These people are fakes. They’re not geeks. They’re not of the tribe. But they’re trying to profit off the things that are important to the tribe.”

    I’d like to point out that none of this, NONE of it, excuses the people who lash out at women trying to gain access to the subculture because, for example, they think Daenerys Targaryen is awesome and maybe they’re interested in more awesome ladies who have dragons. Or who don’t want to deal with their own insecurities and just want to be locked away in their comfortable subculture that shouldn’t ever change.

    (That’s not a problem exclusive to women. The earlier generations of nerds, guys who came of age in the 70s and 80s, are getting a bit creaky as they pass 60 and they can turn into vicious, brutal old bastards toward the younger generations who don’t even know what THAC0 is and have never seen a movie older than the original Star Wars, the philistines.)

    • Re. JJ Abrams (I won’t get to see the new ST for a while probably), it was noticeable that in Super8 the kids who actually touched the monster were the special effects geeks. They were the ones who saved the world. They also saved the “normal” people who touched the monster: the pretty girl, the housewife, and the cop. The director and writer were way back behind the lines.

      • And, I have heard “nerd” or “geek” used to mean “didn’t touch the monster,” the monster being capitalism or pop culture or whatever. So under this sense, the people who aren’t close to the machine are the “real geeks”. This gets back to ajay’s very good point about any culture that’s perceived to be taken over: the hipsters are more artistic than the schmoes with clay under their fingernails and bad hair, etc. I think it might speak to Jerry Vinokurov’s point, too, because I do think it’s new since maybe the late 1990s.

        And so there’s also the sense in some online circles that geek women are somehow more under the thumb of patriarchy than women who just wear the requisite amount of makeup, Wonderbras or Spanx should that be necessary, and get on with it. It makes no sense, because it’s trying to impose a binary where there can’t be one.

      • Abrams is a mystery to me. Super 8 and Cloverfield are the same story, and the first is well done and the second is, IMO, crap. I can’t figure out how the same man made both.

        • witless chum

          Abrams didn’t direct or write the script for Cloverfield; Matt Reeves/Drew Goddard did. Goddard then directed Cabin in the Woods, which a lot of people seem to attribute to its co-screeenwriter, Joss Whedon.

          But I mostly liked Cloverfield. I thought it was fun to see a disaster movie from that perspective.

      • It might be noted that he ‘borrowed’ that plot device from The Goonies.

    • Malaclypse

      Abrams is a competent filmmaker and a somewhat less competent television producers. But when it comes to Trek specifically… he’s on the record as saying he not only doesn’t know that much about Star Trek, he doesn’t CARE to know.

      Good point. Contrast him to Steven Moffat. Even if you don’t like what Moffat has done with Doctor Who, you can’t deny that he deeply loves all 50 years of that show.

      • Murc

        Right. There’s no sense that Moffat just wants to burnish his credentials/make some money by helming Britain’s second-biggest television franchise before moving on to the things he ACTUALLY cares about. He’s actually invested in the work. He’s “real”.

        That’s no guarantee that being invested will mean you produce good work, of course. Plenty of people have been deeply invested in projects that turned out to be crap. But all things being equal, I’d like people who are producing art they expect me to exchange money for to view me as more than a revenue stream.

    • witless chum

      But that’s a show (and a moderately successful one, to) that bills itself as nerd-friendly and a celebration of nerds, that actually isn’t it. What it is is a show about how pathetic and socially maladjusted the nerds in it are, and how that becomes graphically and (supposedly) hilarious when they’re contrasted with “normal” people. The purpose of BBT is to point and laugh at Sheldon. This provokes, shall we say, a strong reaction in a lot of self-described nerds. We (and I feel justified in using “we” here) feel taken advantage of, and when we complain we get the response “But the show is about you! One joke out of every four is a BSG reference!”.

      Agree with this. The few episodes I’ve seen made me feel like if I laughed I’d be helping beat up nerds. But I have a hard time tolerating comedy that’s so clearly punching down again and again. Plus, y’know the broadness and antiquated sitcom form makes it easy to take that attitude.

    • Manta

      Murc, I pity you and your nerd friends: you cannot laugh at yourselves (while I am not much of a nerd myself, I have quite a few of them, from different countries, and they all love the show).

    • gmack

      I think there’s a lot of truth in this comment. To draw on anecdotes, I spend some degree of time (and have for years) browsing around on CRPG message boards. One common theme is an ongoing preoccupation with the ways in which “corporate” software studios “dumb down” their games to appeal to mass audiences, and this talk is the nearly always linked to discussions of the purer games (usually older ones, though now sometimes linked to “indie” studios) still making games simply for the love of it or whatever. In short, like some indie rock cultures, there seems to be a significant preoccupation with preventing mass capitalism from using their culture to make money, a process that they always see as dumbing down their culture, and the like.

      • Murc

        In short, like some indie rock cultures, there seems to be a significant preoccupation with preventing mass capitalism from using their culture to make money, a process that they always see as dumbing down their culture, and the like.

        Yes.

        I should be clear that I, personally, share this preoccupation. I am of the opinion that if you’re in the business of producing art, your priority should be to make money so you can continue to produce art, and not to produce art so you can make money.

        “We’re going to make an amazing FPS that is both balls fun to play and tells an important story about the human condition in impossibly difficult circumstance, and it’s gonna make us rich, to boot” is a much different motivation, and will produce a far different piece of art, then “We need to exploit this franchise again. Have the latest iteration of the FPS ready to go by the end of Q3, or we won’t be able to book bonuses for this fiscal year.”

    • I’m gonna bring up Big Bang Theory. There are some who have described it as “nerd blackface.” Those people are idiots, more than a bit racist, and need to be beaten upside the head with the collected works of Ta-Nehisi Coates.

      More than that. Look, I am in a computer science department. All the people I know who know anything about The Big Bang Theory like it. No one thinks it’s demeaning to nerds.

      But that’s a show (and a moderately successful one, to)

      Moderately?

      that bills itself as nerd-friendly and a celebration of nerds, that actually isn’t it. What it is is a show about how pathetic and socially maladjusted the nerds in it are, and how that becomes graphically and (supposedly) hilarious when they’re contrasted with “normal” people. The purpose of BBT is to point and laugh at Sheldon.

      While less evil, this is no less stupid. There’s a ton of problems with The Big Bang Theory, but, without question, the 4 male leads are the heroes and are treated and celebrated as such. Yes, they come in for abuse, but each of them receive explicit affirmation from both the rest of the cast and the universe quite often. Indeed, they are forgiven pretty explicit sexism, racism, bullying, abuse, selfishness, cruelty, etc. The women indulge their passions and come to share them.

      Now, you can loathe it because that’s just not how people, for the most part, are. But loathing it because it’s rough on nerds is just fucking absurd.

  • Dave

    What we really need is a discussion of the critical geek-hipster interface.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve never understood the desire of some men to exclude women from their social circle, whether it’s misogynist geeks, the Augusta National Golf Club, or one of the many organizations and workplaces in between.

    I’m a man who finds other men are at their most tedious when women aren’t present.

  • Paula

    There are several strands here, and OP is not careful about separating them.

    Piggybacking on Murc’s two point re:

    1) Defensiveness from being a possible target
    2) Exploitation.manipulation of your passion for something

    Also:

    3) Yes: Attractive, socially-adjusted people generally have it easier than people who are not. The reason why “nerds” or “geeks” or what have you retreat into certain hobbies in such a strong way is probably an initial or ongoing experience of rejection in the social realm.
    4) Some of this segregation is gendered (esp. since so much of the sci-fi/gaming communities are ongoing problems with sexism). Some of it is not. Gendered “female” pursuits like Ren Faire or scrapbooking and even romance novel book clubs are attended by much of the same passion that “male” nerdy pursuits require.
    5) But that’s not entirely clear in OP because OP seems to be reinforcing the idea that sci-fi/gaming nerd-dom is the legitimate nerd-dom and women must be let in.
    6)But yeah, I generally feel like this whole conversation (as well as the “hipsters do this” haterade fest) should be dumped because realize we’re all arguing over which is the better way to give your time and money over to a market-constructed identity … false consciousness … bread and circuses … bleep boop …

    Marx-bot out of power.

    Anyway, I think my taste in movies, music, etc are good because I consciously developed them to the point of ridiculous obsession. I have friends who fit the more “traditional” sci-fi/gaming nerd-stereotype who don’t think those pursuits fit into that box. And then there are those in the snobby movie or pop music community who might roll their eyes at my cd collection. The real problem, as many people have pointed out, is the idea that any of this matters and I certainly think that part of the point of this Portlandia sketch (as well as Portlandia as a whole) is making fun of the idea of people making these value systems regarding their hobbies.

    • There are several strands here, and OP is not careful about separating them.

      Oh, that is just the BEGINNING of the problems I have with the Original Poster.

      :D

  • Paula

    Closing italics. Hope this works

  • Paula

    Argh

    Stop. Help!

    • Paula

      Ok, nvm.

  • wengler

    A sub-culture protecting itself from infiltration from the mainstream culture. There is nothing unique about this phenomenon.

    And ever since ‘geek’ culture changed from a despised and picked on minority to a billion dollar business, those that identify with it have been extremely skeptical at what is being shoved in front of their faces.

    • bspencer

      A sub-culture protecting itself from infiltration from the mainstream culture

      Right. All women are infiltrators. Gotcha.

      • Now that’s a great sci-fi plot.

        • bspencer

          LOL

        • Wasn’t that the plot of V?

          • Don’t get me started on Pynchon.

          • Bill Murray

            which version?

      • wengler

        Not at all.

        Though I’ve seen the hostility to women claiming to be geeks is proportional to their attractiveness. The Aisha Tyler reference above is a manifestation of this because she hosted some gaming events and there was negative comments that she was just pretending to be a gamer.

        She is in fact a huge gamer and it pissed her off to no end that people were assuming that since she is good looking she doesn’t know what the fuck she is talking about.

  • Apologies if somebody’s posted or said this already, and it’s not about gate-keeping but about nerd-dom/geekery in general. Anyway, I really liked Wil Wheaton’s take on what it is to be a nerd. I think it was a great, very inclusive sort of definition and seemed pretty well thought out. YMMV, of course.

  • SEK

    Come on, Portlandia gets the essence of nerdiness. Plus, Carrie Brownstein!

    Alright, that’s all the irrelevant stuff I have to add.

  • Kiwanda

    I can’t entirely discount the gender aspect of the video, and I don’t really know anything about nerd “gatekeeping”. But what came across to me was gatekeeping of a form not mentioned so far, which comes from something like the irritation of hearing someone say how terribly ugly/fat/awkward/outcast they are, when it’s pretty clear they’re really quite good-looking/thin/smooth/popular.

    I’d guess that maybe it’s a small scale version of why “wiggers” are irritating: while wiggers might think it’s only a compliment to black people how interested they are in black culture, there will always be aspects of the experience they just won’t have.

    That’s why the guy in the video is talking about how it’s not a “nerd costume” he’s wearing, that he doesn’t get to take it off. There’s an outcast/victim status to geekdom that non-geeks shouldn’t get to pretend to having. At least, that’s my guess about the attitude.

    • Ronan

      Yes exactly, I dont know how you can expect to adopt a specific identity/join a reasonably defined ‘sub culture’,(without being very careful), and not experience any pushback

    • bspencer

      As I was trying to explain upthread in less detail, I think people better be careful assuming attractive people are always popular and everything’s hunky dory. I grew up in high school that was filled with rich kids. I was middle/lower-middle class. I was also painfully shy and more than a little sullen. (Always being told to smile!) Everyone was divided into cliques and I didn’t have much use for cliques…or pretending I was a drunk party girl. I often felt very alienated. So being attractive didn’t do shit for me in the end.

      BEing attractive isn’t always the social lubricant people think it is.

      I’ve also struggled with depression and anxiety my whole adult life, so you’ll excuse me if I don’t have a whole lot patience for people deciding who can and cannot be a geek.

      • CaptBackslap

        Some of the most beautiful women I’ve known have also been the unhappiest (and no, not because they were dating me). I think it works against really smart women in particular, since it interferes with being taken seriously. Although Tim Daly once humblebragged about that, it’s much less of a problem for dudes.

      • Kiwanda

        I may not have gotten the idea across. Yeah, there’s lots of ways to be outcast. But you’re saying that people (and unpopular people in particular) shouldn’t assume that pretty people are popular. I think it’s more like, ugly people are annoyed by pretty people who think they know what it’s like to be ugly.

        Pretty people are so used to living in a world in which others find them attractive that they can’t imagine what it would be like otherwise. You know. Privilege.

        • CaptBackslap

          You’re assuming that people look the same their whole lives. Lots of people who look good now vividly remember a time when they didn’t. Seriously, ask around.

          • Kiwanda

            No, really? Thanks for the tip, that’s very helpful.

          • LPBB

            OMG Thank you. This is a point that is NEVER fucking brought up.

            When I was in high school and college I was an overweight, socially anxious/awkward woman who almost consciously made myself look as unattractive as possible via hair and clothes. I was also home every Saturday night watching classic Dr Who on my local PBS station.

            In my mid twenties, I got into shape, started playing sports, dressed better, got a decent haircut, got boyfriends, etc. But that desperately lonely, unhappy girl who loved classic Who is still there, just under the surface.

            Don’t look at people and assume that you know their fucking stories

        • But I feel like this misses the point or is slightly tautological–all geek guys were not “ugly” or socially maladjusted, and those two things aren’t at all synonymous anyway. In the real world there is no natural bifurcation between jocks and nerds with jocks occupying all the handsome slots and getting all the girls and nerds being pimply faced 90 pound weaklings. If anything I’d argue that those attributes are a gloss we put on social status that in larger schools or more complex social settings are irrelevant. At any rate it is not only guys who are maladjusted and homely during adolescence–and not all women are either beautiful or in control of their situation nor defined by their beauty nor enabled or priviliged by their beauty. That’s a load of crap–any actual woman can be as oppressed by society’s early sexualization of her and the extreme focus on aking her fit in with a romantic, sexually active but chaste and pure ideal girlhood.

          Just take the weird way dating and getting the girl keeps popping up in this discussion–does everyone here really think that all teenage girls are just dying to date and have sex to the exclusion of every other pleasure? rather than dying to have a conversation, just one, with everyone around them that does not fixate on their attractiveness or their liklihood of going to prom with a high status guy? Do you all seriously think that girls aren’t dying to talk about science, art, the future, work, mushrooms or whatever without constantly being turned into a love object or a hate object just for being female?

          bspencer is arguing that geek culture (the culture of people who care a lot about arcane sci/fi or manga style stuff) should be gender neutral–a safe place for everyone to experience their inner geek/collector/dreamer/actor/writer. Ugly/socially unacceptable guys weren’t first in and don’t get to play gatekeeper or owner. If the assumption is that geekery is some kind of ugly consolation prize for awkward guys that’s pretty damning. Maybe its an enjoyable passtime that lots of people want to partake in, not a prison camp guarded by the inmates?

          • Jerry Vinokurov

            Maybe its an enjoyable passtime that lots of people want to partake in, not a prison camp guarded by the inmates?

            Good luck getting some people in this thread trying to understand that.

          • Some people would rather have their grievance, even if they’re forty and the crime against them took place in high school.

            • Uh…that’s meant as an answer to your closing rhetorical question.

          • Ronan

            “But I feel like this misses the point or is slightly tautological–all geek guys were not “ugly” or socially maladjusted..”

            No of course not, but a culture will mean different things to different people, who’ll keep and drop pieces of it to suit their circumstances at any given time.. and part of the caricature painted (in some places) of ‘geek culture’ was that it was made up of ‘socially maladjusted’ males..so its not unusual that some might have found comfort in that, or some might want to protect the caricature..that’s not to excuse any misogyny or racism in ‘geek culture’, but to understand why there might be ‘gatekeepers’ who want the identity to stay as it is, (or as they percieve it) and so react badly to change..*

            every culture and identity has its ideologues, and at times (perhaps) its about being (a little) senistive to that (once again not the misogyny or racism – but the backlash to ‘reinventing’ certain aspects of geek culture due to its new found popularity)

            *Its at the back of my head that you said somewhere you were trained in antropology? If so Im more than happy to have this amateur anthropologising dismissed out of hand!

            • Yes, I am an anthropologist–but I guess I think that the analogy of what we are discussing to a real “culture” or society is weak at best–to call geek culture a “culture” is just a metaphor: its not a closed society or one with citizenship or laws relating to marriage and reproduction so there is no way for the “real” geeks to exclude others or manage their boundaries. Maybe that makes the imaginary pushback all the harder.

              But lets just take, for example, something like a comic con? If the rising generation of fans wants something its going to happen because they have the money and time to make it happen. If the imaginary core group of nerdy guy geeks who are doin’ it right, with the rightiest rightness of all rightonia don’t want girls there where are the girls going to go? To their own comic cons and their own meetings. Which of those two groups is going to successfully reproduce? The one which is a hybrid of male geekery and female geekery or the purist male geekery is going to devolve into a sick combination of OCD style, unwashed, comic fans and MRA types while somewhere else the women will have everything since normal guys will gravitate to where they are.

              • Ronan

                Yeah your right, the analogy is weak (also, I agree that the prospects of reproducing the culture are better if you adopt a more open, welcoming enviornment..I was just trying – poorly as it turns out! – to try and find a non misogynistic rationale for some of them not being open and welcoming)

          • Kiwanda

            Who is making most of the claims that you are refuting?

            This misses the point of what? Of the video under discussion, or of the kind of “gatekeeping” I was discussing, or of a refutation of geek gatekeeping of the misogynist kind that may or may not be present in the video? Yes, geek culture should be gender neutral, hurray for this insight. Really. But is gender what the video was mainly about?

        • I suppose like other privileges it’s helpful if the individual is self-aware enough to realize that there are advantages to it and that others suffer because of a lack of it, and if others are willing to understand how one can suffer despite/because of said privilege.

      • Tirxu

        Being attractive isn’t always the social lubricant people think it is.

        Yes, but the problem is one of perception, so it does not matter so much that the perception is false. Geek gatekeepers lash out at people that they think are popular, whether this is true or not.

        Of course, this does not mean that you have to spend time “understanding” them. They can can get their lives together without spoiling it for the rest of us (either inside or outside).

  • 300 comments! Look at the validation ol’ Bunny-ears is getting!

    • witless chum

      Clearly a fake blogger just pretending to like LGM so she can mumble, mumble, mumble.

    • Decidedly a Dude

      Yes indeed, a breath of fresh air at this otherwise interesting and often cool website. The uptick in female centered (not exclusively so or anything less than sharp and smart) commenting is also a delight. Take that Glen Greenwald! ;)

      • SEK

        I’m just stoked aimai is back.

        • These are index most excellent events. May the trend continue.

          • Index? Indeed.

            Maybe “Index” is some new awesome slang?

    • Zombie just posted that so he could say he was here back when there was only 300 comments. You know, back when this post was cool, before all these loser fake commenters showed up. I miss those days.

      • bspencer

        Women have started commenting. I feel sure it’s only so they can get attention from the dudes of LGM.

        • Bill Murray

          well after the calendar who wouldn’t want that attention

  • Njorl

    If you haven’t been ridiculed for being a half-man half-animal side show freak, you haven’t paid enough dues to be called geek. “Oh, I got picked on because I had a pocket protector.” Suck it up. I lived on nothing but live chicken heads for 20 years after I was sold to the circus. Wedgies? I dreamed of having underwear. I’d have killed for a chance to read a comic book. I think I might’ve, it’s all a bit hazy.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t regard male elitism and gate-keeping as a problem unique to the Traditional Geek and its subsections. This is a universal phenomenon.

    Everybody geeks out on something. Everybody. Every person both obsessively and compulsively devotes a lot of time to something, serious or no, until it becomes almost silly. One part science and method to two parts raw emotion. South African bulbs, baseball cards, paella westerns, craft brews, Victory gardening, Fluevogs, northern Soul records, meat curing, whatever. These are legitimate genres of geekery.

    In a post- or non-patriarchal, nearly perfect world, that’d be the end of it. In a culture which celebrates male “superiority” and which encourages men to be loud, domineering, hostile, aggressive, women will fall by the wayside, will be erased from existence, will be regarded either pseud-y interlopers or as girlfriend material. Men will hijack hobbies, create magazines and journals for which they will be editors and writers, organize conferences they themselves will head, give awards to one another. Male affirmative action will ensure that, to all intents and purposes, men are the only inhabitants of different little subcultures throughout the globe. Hence, these weird apologies for men’s “awkwardness,” “shyness,” in the face of female “vanity.” Men set up little clubs to argue with one another, but they’re the “shy” ones.

    It’s not particularly surprising, then, that women will react against both outward hostility and “chilly” climates by being quieter, by being content to love a thing, desperately and deeply, in secret. Who wants to draw attention to themselves if this is the kind of reaction they’re going to get?

    • bspencer

      Everybody geeks out on something. Everybody.

      This can’t be thised enough.

  • Tirxu

    I think that this phenomenon, although obviously wrong, is not that surprising.

    Geekdom nowadays is mostly defined as interest in geeky topics, like, as you say, gaming, role-playing and comic booking. However, I think that it used to be very much about (mostly) boys ill at ease with the “normal” culture, trying to find a subculture of their own, where they would not have to compete with the cool kids.

    In this sense, it is very natural to resent the “fake” geeks: geekdom is not safe anymore. The fact that attractive women are especially not welcome is telling: how could she ever feel not wanted in the mainspace? So is the test of intimate knowledge of arcane topics: you can call yourself a geek by spending all your time here; if you do not, if you can spend time outside, then you do not deserve to be here.

    I don’t have much to defend my thesis, except that I am quite sure that up to the naughties, there was a noticeable correlation between geeky pursuits and social awkwardness. As always, correlation does not imply causation, but I think that there is a relation there.

    This should not be read as a defense of gatekeeping. I am a proud geek, I welcome anyone who wants to join, and I will condemn anyone who wants to keep geekdom to themselves. (Nobody denies my geek credentials: I am neither hot, nor a woman.)

    But I kind of understand why some are afraid of the mainstream, and I tend to (also) pity them.

    This was mostly about question B. Why do geeks care if beautiful women want to join? Because where beautiful women go, jocks soon follow, and for some, the point of geekdom is to be away from the jocks.

    Regarding your other point, I think that there is some abuse of the word “geek”. (A former french Prime Minister called himself a geek in an interview. Yeah, right.) But I do not think that this behaviour is gendered.

    • Anonymous

      This was mostly about question B. Why do geeks care if beautiful women want to join? Because where beautiful women go, jocks soon follow, and for some, the point of geekdom is to be away from the jocks.

      This is some middle-school shit right here.

      • Anonymous

        Beyond the incredible pettiness of it all, the belief that men and women behave like this.

        It’s all for naught, really, because these justification and defenses don’t bear up to the slightest interrogation. It’s mostly normal-looking nerd women who bear the brunt of all this misogyny, but admitting that doesn’t play up to the self-serving myth that male nerds are victims nearly as neatly.

        • Tirxu

          Beyond the incredible pettiness of it all, the belief that men and women behave like this. It’s all for naught, really, because these justification and defenses don’t bear up to the slightest interrogation

          I am not sure that I read your comment correctly, but if you think that I defend gatekeeping, or adhere to their justifications, I seriously need to learn to write.

          It’s mostly normal-looking nerd women who bear the brunt of all this misogyny.

          Yes it is (if only because most people are normal-looking, by definition). But there is a special and explicit rejection of attractive women (bspencer mentions it in the in the post) which I find quite surprising, so I try to understand where it comes from.

          the self-serving myth that male nerds are victims nearly as neatly

          In this, the male nerds are clearly not the victims. The women who presume to tread on their grounds are, and some instances are very frightening.

          I do think that geeks used to be bullied. This does not excuse their present behaviour. There are many similar examples, in many fields.

          • Anonymous

            I am not sure that I read your comment correctly, but if you think that I defend gatekeeping, or adhere to their justifications, I seriously need to learn to write.

            Sorry for the confusion. I wasn’t directing my frustration at you or your comment, which I quite liked, but at the justifications and gate-keeping themselves.

            Yes it is (if only because most people are normal-looking, by definition). But there is a special and explicit rejection of attractive women (bspencer mentions it in the in the post) which I find quite surprising, so I try to understand where it comes from.

            Aggression and resentment towards attractive women is pretty universal. I don’t think it’s especially or exclusively within the male geek purview.

            I do think that geeks used to be bullied. This does not excuse their present behaviour.

            I agree. Female geeks, for example, are often bullied as children. This doesn’t generally manifest as hatred of or aggression towards men.

      • Tirxu

        Sure it is. You cannot be that far away (metaphorically of course) from middle school when you are afraid that girls will give you cooties.

        • Anonymous

          True, but I don’t actually think that fear is the motivation here.

          At any rate, dislike of “jocks” (something that is very culturally specific) doesn’t explain why this type of misogyny is experienced elsewhere.

  • No one at all

    Wow, this conversation is so sad and one-sided. We have near-complete agreement on the following theses:

    1. Geeks hate women and all geek-gate keeping is directed at women and driven by misogyny.
    2. But also, there’s no such thing as a geek anymore and there’s no such thing as geek culture anymore which is why it’s so important that anyone and everyone be accepted as a geek and welcomed into every corner of geek culture.
    3. Kanye: biggest. geek. ever.
    4. If you were bullied in high school I’m sure glad I wasn’t you, and if you were desperately sad about your romantic failures I guess you think women are chattels, but if you’re not over it – and me, I can’t remember anything bad that happened when I was a teenager! – then you must be pretty fucking pathetic.
    5. Anyone who cares about the coherence and internal consistency of a set of co-branded texts has laughably bad aesthetic judgment, and certainly shouldn’t be allowed to act as an arbiter of geek taste.

    I’m glad you guys have it all figured out.

    • Anonymous

      Yep. Guess you won’t be needed after all.

    • bspencer

      LOLwut?

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