I reread this post by Skeptic Lawyer from two years ago, Miss Manners and playing the victim, and I feel like giving some elegant extracts.
There are various manifestations of these atrocious manners, but they seem (to me, at least) to boil down to an inability, on the part of certain men, to take ‘no’ for an answer. I think this is tied to participation in various ‘geek’ subcultures (both on-line and off-line, so while it may be convenient to blame the internet, blaming the internet is unfair). Participation in these varied subcultures is seen to give people something of a pass for rudeness. The justification proffered is that participation in the subculture resulted in bullying when the man in question was young, conferring victim status on him as an adult. And, as I’ve pointed out elsewhere on this blog, wrapping oneself in victimhood is often a way to avoid having to take personal responsibility–for anything.
That can happen. It’s certainly a much-rehearsed claim about feminism, as we all know – Paula Kirby’s “Sisterhood of the Oppressed” appeared several months after SL’s piece (and is orders of magnitude less good). There is also a hell of a lot of claiming to be victimized by feminism and feminists.
While doing the research for this post, I found that the largest gaming convention in North America has to remind attendees to wash daily and use deodorant in its program. I’ve seen a man who a woman rejected on the basis of his online gaming hobby tell her she ‘needed a good raping’. And there was worse than that in some places, which had to be closed down on the basis that they had reached the incitement stage. Incitement, in case you didn’t know, is a crime, and I’m afraid saying ‘it was only on the internet’ will not impress any judge of my acquaintance.
Incitement is at the heart of the problem, as far as I’m concerned, and it gets ignored far too often and too easily.
Then an interesting note in a comment (also by SL):
There’s probably a fair bit of cross over between the two classifications, however I think the undesirable trends will manifest differently between the two. The former would be more likely to be the ‘respectful but awkward’ type, and the later would be more likely to be the ‘entitled/arrogant’ type as they would see the awkwardness as a cultural element they are entitled to rather than an unfortunate side effect of not being neurotypical or lacking experience (as per Adrien’s feedback loop @7).
This strikes me as quite an insight, and ties into the point a few people have been making upthread about the boundaries of ‘geekiness’ shifting of late, such that rudeness can be worn as a badge of honour, rather than worked through and around (which is what people would have done in the past).
There is also a larger problem of relativising when it comes to knowledge or achievement. Traditional geeky pursuits (like being good at maths) often enjoyed a significant occupational payoff — such as an opportunity for work in the City as a quant, and in banking generally. Other, more modern examples of ‘geekiness’ enjoy no such cachet (memorizing every episode of Buffy in order, etc). We are not good, these days, at suggesting that knowing maths is better than knowing popular culture.
Then again, knowing popular culture can also enjoy a significant occupational payoff, because somebody has to create the popular culture, and who better to do that than people saturated in it?