On the sexist failures of geek culture

Read this piece. It’s long, but worth it. Seriously, go, shoo.

I know far too many male (and female) geeks who slip into the type of hypocritical, misogynistic vitriol this article describes. But before you think I’m out to slander all geeks guys, I also know plenty that are kind, thoughtful, and – dare I say it? – feminists.

Oddly enough, those are the geek guys I date. What an peculiar coincidence!


  1. PZ Myers says

    To be honest…way too long, and way too deeply tangled in extremely obscure minutiae about Magic the Gathering that overwhelmed his main points. There’s a good essay in there buried under a mountain of obsessive gaming culture, and I just couldn’t be bothered to dig it out.I hope his daughter grows up to be a gaming fanatic, otherwise she’s just going to think Dad was a boring weirdo.

  2. says

    Something that bothered me by the whole Dawkins/Watson issue was the view of many atheist men towards women. I mean, it seemed like over half of them view women as lesser people, or as objects of their fancy.

  3. says

    I totally just finished this article tonight because I had started it during my lunch break. It also made me a little distressed because my fiance still doesn’t get it or doesn’t care, or both. Sigh.

  4. Nstanife says

    This is a great article.  I just taught a research course last semester focused on Geek Culture, and I wish I’d had this as a minor resource.  Honestly, I found myself tugged all over the place by this.  Thanks for the link.

  5. Azkyroth says

    Started out well and honest.  Turned into apologetics for bullying.  May improve, but this is not the day for me to try to wade through it.

  6. LS says

    Okay, I didn’t really follow this whole kerfuffle, nor was I able to claw my way through that wall of text, though I did get the gist of it. I find myself confused, and I’m hoping someone can help me out here. My understanding of the scenario was that this woman, writer for a website which caters to nerds, went on a date. During this date she discovered that her date was a nerd, then wrote an article detailing how learning he was a nerd was reason enough for her to dismiss him out of hand. Again, my understanding of the entire scenario is fuzzy, but it seems like reason enough for a community to become upset. Particularly since (and again, correct me if I’m wrong) Gizmodo isn’t a site which has anything to do with dating, dating advice, or dating stories. Now, I have no doubt that the community overreacted. I’m surrounded by nerds all the time. We’re a group which has a long history of overreacting. We’re also a group with well documented problems with misogyny, so I have no doubt that there were nerds wildly overstepping the bounds of acceptable response. The community should be rebuked for that, and if that’s the only intent of this article then bravo. Somebody needed to do it. However, the article which sparked the whole thing was still reprehensibly discriminatory, was it not? Am I entirely misinformed here?

  7. Azkyroth says

    My understanding of the scenario was that this woman, writer for a website which caters to nerds, went on a date. During this date she discovered that her date was a nerd, then wrote an article detailing how learning he was a nerd was reason enough for her to dismiss him out of hand.

    The real problem was that she wrote the article in language that clearly conveyed her opinion that him being a nerd would be reason enough for ANY woman to dismiss him out of hand.  This is an act of callous arrogant-ignorance that her defenders have been working very, very hard to gloss over, and it’s disappointing.

  8. says

    As I’m reading it, no one’s disagreeing that the original article was, indeed, shallow. But that’s not how the author of this article is using it. He’s only referring to it as the tipping of the first domino that made him realize the male privilege and misogyny  rampant in the industry and community.

  9. Karen Rustad says

    It’s a matter of proportional response. I think that you’d be fairly hard-pressed to find anyone who thought that nerd-shaming Finkel, with the article’s original, mean language, was at all appropriate. That doesn’t mean that the mob’s response–dissecting the author’s looks, calling her all sorts of unconscionable names, “how DARE this ____ not make herself sexually available for nerds!”–wasn’t any less than despicable.

  10. says

    Did you click through to the article he posted by Anne Forsythe about dating a pro-player? It’s buried pretty deep, and ostensibly written specifically with MtG in mind, but most of the information and advice carries over pretty well to gaming as a whole.http://www.starcitygames.com/m

  11. says

    Damn. I could have written this very same article.One thing that I think the author misses, is the sense of equivalency that Geeks have. If, for example, with the original article, if Alyssa had met, a pro Football player and found out that 1) He still played, 2) He was training for a game this weekend, and 3) all his buddies were footballers, there wouldn’t have been near the same social stigma.And they are right. There wouldn’t be as much social stigma. And they are wrong. Because this isn’t the same equivalent.  But there is a feeling in the Geek groups that they are, and that the difference is that same thing as back in High School. They are picked on for being the Geek and not on the Football team.That said, the reactions are completely over the top. The overabundance of young, male, and geeky people online (especially in geek-oriented sites like Gizmodo) makes the tribe mentality (we see the same thing rearing up with “Moo-slams!” after 9/11 with everyone. This is a human thing. It’s dull, ugly, and sickening, but something that everyone, male and female owns) kick in.Of course she’s not just giving a horror story of a date. If it were a professional meat packer or a professional carney, odds are the reaction would be much the same. Had this article landed at one of the many female-oriented sites, then it’d be a good laugh and quickly forgotten.But it didn’t. It landed square in the face of the people who would be most hurt by it. Cue mob-think, cue comments (I’d also argue about the insults being sexist, as there are certain insults that are used on women, just as there are certain insults used on men.) The editors made a bad call publishing it in the first place, but then the later corrections only fueled things. Ultimately, I think the blame belongs strongest there. If the people in charge of a Juggalo site put forth an article about how a woman found out a guy was a Juggy, and didn’t want to date him, or if ESPN put forth an article about how a woman didn’t want to date a pro ball player (or, god forbid, one of the women’s sites put up an article from a guy who didn’t want to date a hairdresser/woman’s studies professor/pro roller derby player), the backlash would be much the same.It’s sad. It’s ugly. It’s human. And I’ve done gone and blogged on someone else’s website AGAIN.

  12. says

    Clearly PZ wasn’t a gamer. :-) I’ve never played M:tG but I was a D&D freak in my teens and early 20s so I found those parts interesting. It turned it from a boring academic article into a story that resonated strongly as I recalled my own transition from a sufferer of Nice Guy Syndome into a (hopefully) more mature and empathetic person.

  13. says

    Exactly. At no point in the article does Mr. Tait endorse her off-hand dismissal, nor agree with her reasons for it. He’s simply making the point that, regardless of whether one agrees with Ms Bereznak’s decision, it is entirely her prerogative to make it. While I’d like to think it might be constructive to ask her – in a non-accusing manner – why she feels that way (as I’m a huge nerd and love discussions revolving around the whither-tos and why-fors of social dynamics… often past the point of advisability, which I’m working on), at that point generally the only rational thing a decent person can do is simply accept it and move on.More to the point, and as a corollary to Mr. Tait’s piece; Ms. Bereznak obviously wasn’t particularly keen on nerdy guys to begin with. I can only imagine what she thinks of us now.

  14. says

    There are some good gems in there for sure. Although I am not happy with his approach to Sean Plott’s (Day9) comments since I saw the original video it was from. The quote followed by saying that he didn’t know that “gendered insults are wrong and off-putting to women” does not seem to paint an honest picture since it seems t0 suggest this was a serious and malicious statement (insults) rather than an offensive joke. I would have *fully* supported him talking about how maybe “bitch” shouldn’t be used in jokes but I think his quote plus his framing is inaccurate. I think a good opportunity at making comments about how dehumanizing humor should be handled was entirely missed.Ok, I am done nitpicking the only quote I knew the entire context for. >.>

  15. Azkyroth says

    …oh JESUS FUCK

    Someone over at Gizmodo noticed. After publication, the piece was edited in the following ways:1. The line “this is what happens, I thought, when you lie in your online profile” was changed to the less harsh “this is what happens, I thought, when you leave things out of your online profile”.2. The taunting, bush-league conclusion was removed: “Also, for all you world famous nerds out there: Don’t go after two Gawker Media employees and not expect to have a post written about you. We live for this kind of stuff.”3. The line “if everyone stopped lying in their profiles, maybe there also wouldn’t be quite as many OKCupid horror stories to tell” was changed to a longer, less inflammatory section that did not refer to “lying.”4. An italicized introduction was added, attempting to explain the thesis behind the article and essentially admitting it was “mean.” Additional explanation was also added at the end of the article, echoing this thesis.5. Jon’s name, not present in the original article, was added.6. Terms like “world champion of nerds” and “champion dweeb” were removed.

  16. Azkyroth says

    I’d have to dig up the Pandagon article, but several commenters and Amanda Marcotte herself flat out denied that the nerd-shaming in question took place.  And in the case of the commenters achieved a creationist-like level of intellectual dishonesty when confronted with evidence of nerd-shaming.That doesn’t excuse a sizable portion of the response, but the initial action here was not simply tone-deaf or not-thought-through, it was the kind of reckless that’s inseparable from malice.

  17. Azkyroth says

    He, um, kinda quotes someone saying “To be honest, the article doesn’t really say anything bad except that she doesn’t like guys who play Magic” as if it were relevant, four Paragraph tags above a list of changes made to the article to tone it down in response to the observation that it said a lot more than just that she didn’t personally like them.That’s kind of intellectually dishonest.

  18. Fencer_guy says

    It was interesting I have to say.  With the few “debates” that have happen in the Skeptical world lately it seems like this is the time to talk about these issue, or else the Skepitcal movemt might  (WILL)be in trouble. One thing I have noticed as a geeky guy is the number of women at cons really has gone up.  I think thats a good thing, the down side is that it is the younger generation more than my generation (I am 37) So geeky/nerdy guys whill have better  exposure to women and hopefully will be better at socializing with them, than my generation.  

  19. cvszsasz says

    Just to note, the “someone” that he quotes as saying that is Jon Finkel, the guy the original article was about, so I would say that the quote is, in fact, relevant, and not, in fact, intellectually dishonest.

  20. Barrett says

    I think the thing that we need to understand about these “nice guys” is that they have a deep seated fear of rejection. This fear turns into resentment for their own insecurity. It’s one thing to be shy and lack confidence: but to blame the person that you’re too beta to talk to for not talking to you, that’s a whole new level of douchiness. I can sympathize with just not being confident (I’m pretty much the king at it), but blaming everyone else for it is petty and arrogant.

  21. Alex says

    Finished reading it, but don’t want to use facebook to post it, so…Wonderfully written. Glad I took your advice to shoo and go read it.

  22. Azkyroth says

    It’s not loading now, so I can’t check, but I remember the next quote down being attributed to Finkel and the attribution on the one I referenced being different.[EDIT]Needless to say, even if it is from Finkel it’s manifestly untrue and contradicted by information four paragraph tags down on the same page.

  23. MaxDWolf says

    Fairly well written. He does address a serious problem w.in various geek communities. But I do have problems with the article.First, in his eagerness to show his understanding I think he overstates the problem in some cases. His own articles he cites to document his previous callousness are not the clear pictures of misogyny that he paints them as. Certainly some clearly sexist language in there, but the main points stand on their own. One has to dig to find the problems. I guess that is part of the problem in addressing this issue.Secondly, it is a bit to wordy. It was written primarily for M:tG players so I don’t criticize him for that. But he could still get more directly to the point.Thirdly, I entirely disagree on his assessment of Todd Anderson’s article. To say this was sexist because it fit into the fantasies of those who are is simply unfair.Fourth, I had problems with how he addressed the article. Am I the only one who had problems with how he wrote to his hypothetical daughter? I know one is likely to speak in gentler tones to a child, but would he address a potential son in such a tone? It bothered me.

  24. Otranreg says

    Agree with PZ and several other commenters:  the article is way too diluted with bollocks. If you know what it is about (way too much ado), there’s no need to read chapters 1—5 (loads of rubbish about his imaginary children, of how he used to be a naughty boy, and how deep he’s in ‘the biz’). 6—8 may shed some dim light on the point he tries to make, although at some point in chapter 8 (just above the penultimate picture) he apparently reaches a threshold of clarity after which he falls into a void so obscure that I would never hope to extract any sense from it.Reading this article is like trying to catch droplets of water in a fog to quench your thirst.

  25. Michael says

    That article just reminded me way too much of “Hello my future girlfriend.” As PZ notes, it’s way too long and crammed full of tl;dr. There’s a great article in there at 25% of its current length.It also lays on the self-congratulations a little thick. “I’m a geek, but I’m an *enlightened* geek,” it seems to say. I sure would have preferred a “how to treat the wimminz” better article, because I think most geeks find how-to articles that they can apply to their lives way more interesting and informative.Fact is, Alyssa Bereznak *is* a horrible human being. The article is going to have to do a lot more convincing about why the response was out of proportion to the original article and why the fact that SHE is horrible shouldn’t be used to generalize an entire gender. I didn’t see much of that here..

  26. says

    Doesn’t that depend on her age? I mean, I have yet to find a girl between the ages of 10-18 that doesn’t think their dad is some boring weirdo. I bet Liv Tyler thought her dad was a boring weirdo when she was a teen…

  27. says

    It’s fairly obvious in our culture (arguably, in all cultures) that some professions and activities are acceptable, some are praised, and others… well, not so much. Likewise, my similog of the pro football player and the pro Magic player. There is a belief in many geek groups that someone who spends all their time memorizing who won what World Series is just as geeky as someone who learns Elvish in their spare time.This is a false analogy. Not only are we dealing with cultural acceptance (again, we aren’t arguing right or wrong, but what is.) but the vast majority of Football fans don’t obsessively track every stat. They sit, swig a beer, cheer when their team wins, and then don’t put much thought into it between games. Magic, almost by nature, requires quite a bit of memorizing of what the thousands of cards do.And while they must exist, I find the D&D geek, Competitive 2d Fighter player, Medieval Re-enactor, or yes, Magic player falls much more into the ‘obsessively memorize World Series stats’ category then the ‘swig a beer and cheer’ group.Is there a element of social stigma? Oh, heck yes. Is your average Football fan equal in ‘geekitude’ to your average Magic player? Iiiiiii…. I’d have to argue no.I’d explain more, but these miniatures aren’t going to paint themselves, y’now.

  28. felipesegundo says

    The Giz article is snarky and unpleasant in tone and has absolutely no place on a tech blog. Buried beneath the snark there is a valid point – that if you’re the world champion of, well, anything, it’s probably a good idea to reveal that in your okcupid profile because it’s a pretty major part of your life. On the whole though, the snark and the inappropriateness of the forum overpower any truth it might contain.However, and this is a big however, the response of the MtG community was utterly disproportionate to the tone and stature of the article. Rather than responding in a measured way proportionate to Bereznak’s really rather minor crime, the Magicosphere exploded with righteous fury.What is more, the rebuttals were chock full of misogyny. It’s entirely possible to rebut the article (as I have done) without mentioning a single word to do with gender. Gender is not the issue here – it is not even an issue. The main problem with the response to the Giz article was not that it was hostile; it was not even that it was aggressive. It was that the enraged respondents fell back on misogynistic terminology and thought patterns, perhaps because crass stereotyping is the only way many of them knew to insult someone. It’s such a shame that members of a community which is routinely stereotyped and insulted in such a manner are still wont to fall back on such childishness when they themselves see the opportunity to attack.

  29. ret says

    he has some interesting points but it turns into way too much of an apologist piece for women that want to completely write off an entire subset of dating options. while trying to teach respect and tolerance towards one group (women) he completely writes off the need for respect and tolerance to another group (men that like gaming).i think my point is that i’d just rather see everyone treat each other as individuals deserving of respect and understanding instead of trying to encourage respect and understanding only for certain groups.

  30. says

    I have genuinely had the puzzling argument where women have defended atheist attitudes (It came about as an argument where a couple of atheists picked on a Hindu asking questions on our atheism which resulted in Atheists posting anti-indian videos and articles from white nationalist sources.) towards minorities. They didn’t see it as an issue because they didn’t think it existed. I had to point out that “Facebook is less of a place where that kind of treatment occurs” and it still doesn’t explain why “50% of women are not atheists”. They were genuinely happy to accept that “Women just don’t see the point of atheism” and “Women don’t get worked up over religion” as acceptable answers. They weren’t too happy when I asked “Why aren’t women so interested in atheism?”. I honestly think the issue is that we don’t realise that we aren’t unique little snowflakes but are just normal people. And that normal people should follow basic laws of hygiene and that obsession is bad no matter what. That the separation from the “normals” is a bad thing. Put it this way, would you find a woman attractive if she was so obsessed with something that she couldn’t balance the time between you and it. I understand the obsession, I will work in a job which WILL always come first (Medicine and I am interested in ER surgical work) but I will hope that I can always spend the time I do have with my family and loved ones. If you cannot take the time from a children’s card game to say hello to your wife/girlfriend and make a bit of small talk then you don’t have your priorities right. And yes, I have been dumped because the women I have dated have discovered rather late that I am a giant nerd and that they simply cannot in all honesty date someone who plays with toy soldiers. Yes it hurts, yes it sucks, yes they are being irrational (IMHO) but if that’s the deal breaker then they weren’t really interested in me as a person.

  31. ara says

    I’m inclined to agree.  He seems way too eager to downplay the absurdity of her article on his way to condemning the male geek response.  Of course, he does refer to himself as a prolific, pandering pundit… I’m ready to agree with him on both of those adjectives.He also suggests at a few points that there was some unheard message in her article that was never well discussed.  I’d like to know what that message is, because I’ll be damned if I can find anything other than “pfft… nerds… who wants to date them?”I’ll readily concede that the response was full of douchery, but, in doing so, I’ll not concede that her original article was lacking same.

  32. MrThing says

    Please stop it with the ageism! I don’t understand how on post about sexism we still get comments that are racist or ageist.

  33. Jwluddite says

    Am I the only one who had problems with how he wrote to his hypothetical daughter?

    I thought his tone was rather condesending and saccharine.  It did take me most of the essay to notice, though.

  34. smhll says

    My takeaway is that I don’t think a blog (with more than 3 regular readers) is the place to write a piece on the topic of “Why I Don’t Like You”. Blogging is great for criticizing society, but I thought Ms. B’s point was too trivial to be of interest to readers.The blowback to her piece was really rude and I don’t defend it.

  35. says

    Calling it a ‘children’s card game’ is actually highly incorrect. Most players of Magic the Gathering are adults, at the earliest teens. It’s a pretty darned complex game and not something most children would at all be entertained by.Calling it a ‘children’s card game’ is very dismissive of it and dismissive of the people who play it (I own a few decks, green/white, and sometimes play). I get the point you are trying to make but think about how many people do the same thing with any hobby they have. Video games, car restoration, insert sport of choice here.The hobby isn’t the issue. Its how the people who are part of the hobby behave. Anything that can be deeply enjoyed and rewarding to a person can lead to the neglect of the relationships around a person.

  36. says

    I read the whole thing and I’m a person who adores reading but yeeeeeee gods he does need an editor forthwith. Even as a fan of the things he talks about he drags on in way too many places, often meanders off in meaningless directions. I think the tone of it, as some have mentioned, is a little condescending but I don’t see parents being more or less condescending to their children depending on the gender. People in general talk down to children.

  37. Azkyroth says

    Again, the issue isn’t that they want to write them off.  It’s that they think everyone should write them off.It’s not that they aren’t attracted to nerds.  It’s that they think nerds are universally and objectively unattractive.  And that nerds should know this and accept it and be gracious about it.

  38. J. Creed says

    It was a good article and it actually made me step back and reassess my initial reaction to the situation.  I’ve played Magic the Gathering for fifteen years so my first reaction to the story was not a pleasant one.  I have to admit more than a few names for this Alyssa came to mind and many of them were very sexist.  Though I still think her article was mean spirited and wrong the remarks made against her were just as nasty.  Many of them did indeed come from a knee jerk reaction due to years of being made fun of for something we enjoy.  That said I disagree with the author’s seemed implication that said knee jerk was solely because nerds have been trampled on by women.  I think he is grossly oversimplifying the issue.  For me it wasn’t women (I was lucky enough to find a girl as nerdy as I was) it was people who thought nerds weren’t part of the “in” crowd.  The “abuse”, for lack of a better word, I endured were from people who considered themselves apart of the ‘cool crowd’.  Kid’s in school who didn’t understand why I wasn’t into sports or thought it was weird that I read comics.  It was also from my father who was actually ashamed of these things in me and hoped they were “just a phase.I commend the author for bringing to light something that needs to be illuminated.  However I take offence to the idea he seems to bring across in that we were angry simply because we can’t get laid.  I also find that the article seems to approach a solution to this sexual frustration by telling us nerds that we are the ones who need to change who we are instead of finding a middle ground.  I very well may be seeing something that isn’t their in that last bit but it is the feeling I get from reading his work.

  39. J. Creed says

    It was a good article and it actually made me step back and reassess my initial reaction to the situation.  I've played Magic the Gathering for fifteen years so my first reaction to the story was not a pleasant one.  I have to admit more than a few names for this Alyssa came to mind and many of them were very sexist.  Though I still think her article was mean spirited and wrong the remarks made against her were just as nasty.  Many of them did indeed come from a knee jerk reaction due to years of being made fun of for something we enjoy.  That said I disagree with the author's seemed implication that said knee jerk was solely because nerds have been trampled on by women.  I think he is grossly oversimplifying the issue.  For me it wasn't women (I was lucky enough to find a girl as nerdy as I was) it was people who thought nerds weren't part of the "in" crowd.  The "abuse", for lack of a better word, I endured were from people who considered themselves apart of the 'cool crowd'.  Kid's in school who didn't understand why I wasn't into sports or thought it was weird that I read comics.  It was also from my father who was actually ashamed of these things in me and hoped they were "just a phase.I commend the author for bringing to light something that needs to be illuminated.  However I take offence to the idea he seems to bring across in that we were angry simply because we can't get laid.  I also find that the article seems to approach a solution to this sexual frustration by telling us nerds that we are the ones who need to change who we are instead of finding a middle ground.  I very well may be seeing something that isn't their in that last bit but it is the feeling I get from reading his work.   

  40. Azkyroth says

    Unfortunately, the quotes on the label “Nice Guy” don’t seem to come through clearly.  I wonder if calling them BINGs (“But I’m a Nice Guy!”) would convey the intent more clearly?…then again, that assumes anyone was ever confused in good faith…

  41. Azkyroth says

    Unfortunately, the quotes on the label "Nice Guy" don't seem to come through clearly.  I wonder if calling them BINGs ("But I'm a Nice Guy!") would convey the intent more clearly?…then again, that assumes anyone was ever confused in good faith…

  42. says

    The “Children’s Card Game” is a reference to Yu-Gi-Oh the Abridged Series BTW.Ultimately it is a game and obsession with “a game” is the same be it the football fanatic who simply cannot shut down his love of the sport (I am a Manchester City fan and was one since 1995. I really love football but I am not the crazy city or die fanatic like many sports fans are. I play football once a week and was on cricket teams but my true love is Rugby) or someone who plays toy soldiers (I play Warhammer and Warmachine. I am not great but I have placed highly in a few GTs and Rogue Traders) or someone who likes RPGs (Shadowrun and I help play test games for a friend). But the important thing to remember is that these are JUST GAMES. Often for children (Warmachine isn’t but warhammer 40K is definitely aimed at squarely at the 13 year old demography) and even Magic the Gathering is aimed at people between the ages of 13 to 17 primarily with the tournament scene being people who take it seriously (just like Warhammer games). It’s just the fact that there are many culturally acceptable hobbies. F00tball, Rugby, Cricket, Car Restoration… Some of those are even considered as “interesting hobbies”. Mainly because they are mainstream obsessions. Your date can possibly understand the drive to restore old cars because a car is something in the normal sphere of understanding. Your date can understand art because art is something in the normal sphere of understanding. Same for music. However Magic the Gathering, Warhammer, RPGs, weird games, video games, LARP, comics and the umpteen other weird things? Those aren’t understood as much. Just remember there are hobbies that we dismiss handily too. I have had my love of opera roundly ridiculed (I used to have season tickets to the opera and ballet and go every fortnight). I have had my love of sport laughed at with people who simply didn’t understand why I had to go watch 20 grown men get paid millions to chase after a ball for 90 minutes or worse my love of cricket which is inexplicable. I like dancing in clubs and talking to random people in bars. And many geeks/nerds have stated that those things are somehow shallow and pointless and mainstream.

  43. says

    I think it’s more an issue that anyone with a driving obsession is unattractive mainly because it’s something that will always supersede the relationship. Be it nerds or normals. I wish more people realise that there is an entire world out there to indulge in rather than just one thing. And that nerds would do wonders for their own development if they actually experienced normal things and didn’t care so much. I suck at football but I still play it to be social. Sometimes trading integrity for social contact is handy. We aren’t special little snowflakes who will find the perfect hole for our oddly shaped peg, sometimes we are just awkward buggers who need a swift kicking into shape so we get some perspective in life. An example of a “serious” driving obsession is medical school. One can argue that my example of medical school is objectively more valuable than playing a card game. That in the end one is a game the other is life or death for people. But put it this way, I cannot honestly trade work for a personal life without there being negative consequences at the moment. To me anyone I date will have to put up with me on saturdays and sundays alone out of every day of the week like clockwork. I may not have time to call, I may not have time to go out and I may have exams requiring me to vanish for months at a time to read. It will be like this till I am 35… My choices are celibacy (which is not the ideal, 3 years without any dates has been extremely distasteful) or to find someone who is willing to play along (usually someone else who has a similar obsessive line of work or understands the nature of mine. Doctors, Nurses, Physiotherapists, Paramedics, Fire Fighters, Coppers… Anyone who basically does not work the 9 to 5 and has a similar job where both of us will understand when the other cannot make it to something important and not begrudge the other. To me it’s completely valid to say “Wow, Avi. I did not realise that medicine is so much work and I don’t wish to play second fiddle to it so I don’t want to date you anymore”. I will probably grumble about women lying when they say they think doctors are attractive, probably call George Clooney some choice words about fooling women about doctors being sexy and pretty and then drink like a mix of  Hawkeye Pierce, House and Cox and probably refer to some of my male friends as Barbie and perhaps regale male friends and acquired fellow dipsomaniacs with my theories on how doctors are considered attractive because people aren’t told the reality of our lives and that women are possibly crazy. I have done the same for female friends who without irony would slag off men while drinking expensive drinks with umbrellas on my tab. And I would have to grin and bear it because that’s what they need right then. To bitch about their lives to someone so that they will feel better the next day and be there for me when I need to bitch about my relationships. They aren’t man haters and I am not a sexist pig since the context is vital. As for the date in question? He took her to a play on Jeffrey Dahmer. I would consider a woman as creepy rather than endearing if she suggested that!

  44. Jared says

    That barely seems responsive to Azkyroth.  Again, the complaint is not that Alyssa Bereznak in particular doesn’t want to date nerds, but rather that she seems to think they shouldn’t be allowed to talk to women (or at least that they should really take better care not to attempt to date women with the social status of herself and her friends). Lest you think “nerds shouldn’t try to date normal women” is an unreasonable thesis to take away:”I was lured on a date thinking I’d met a normal finance guy, only to realise he was a champion dweeb in hedge funder’s clothing.””I later found out that he infiltrated his way into OKCupid dates with at least two other people I sort of know, including one of my co-workers. Mothers, warn your daughters! This could happen to you. You’ll think you’ve found a normal bearded guy with a job, only to end up sharing goat cheese with a world champion of nerds.””Also, for all you world famous nerds out there: Don’t go after two Gawker Media employees and not expect to have a post written about you. We live for this kind of stuff.”[This is of course from the original article, not the current bowdlerized version. She only mentioned the Dahmer play once until she got flak, at which point she repeated it to replace a reference to nerds.  See http://www.gizmodo.com.au/2011… , although even this has the new intro warning that it’s “mean.” ]And so, having made the inexplicable decision to post this on gizmodo of all places, she has a bunch of people saying she’s an ugly bitch who’d be lucky to have access to Mr. Finkel’s money for plastic surgery.  Whoopty-fricking-misogynism-doo.She mentions twice that she hoped or expected he worked for a hedge fund (which I think are known for good work-life balance, incidentally), there’s not even much of a basis to claim that people are hypocritically being shallow by pointing out Mr. Finkel’s financial success.She’s certainly not attempting to present any sort of argument against dating nerds on the basis that you’ll play second fiddle to an obsession, so that’s neither here nor there. By comparison, there are certainly legitimate downsides to dating obese people, but you would nonetheless expect to get a lot of grief for ranting on a widely read blog about how some “bloated sow” used a 5-year-old picture on OKcupid and tricked you into going on a date with her, ending with a warning to “all the fatties out there” about who they should “go after.”  And the criticism you would take would not be evidence of misandry!

  45. Jared says

    If I were Jon Finkel, I’d encourage people to be nice, figuring that she’s going to have enough trouble as it is, while still enjoying the spectacle a little.  It’s called not kicking someone when they’re down.Regardless of what Mr. Finkel said, the article can speak for itself:http://www.gizmodo.com.au/2011

  46. says

    To a large extent it is personal choice. Like it or not human beings are creatures of bias. It’s why sexism, racism, anti/pro religion and all the other little biases in society exist. And like it or not just like how a lot of men expect their female dates to be lean, attractive and sexually active a lot of women have expectations about their male dates. I will honestly stand up and admit that I have dumped a girl because she was ugly and overweight and also had issues that I was just not ready to deal with. I only dated her because I had poor self esteem and thought I was genuinely ugly. And that I won’t date single mothers because I don’t want the drama of children who aren’t my own. Like it or not we aren’t cool. We aren’t regarded as amazingly interesting by the normal population. There are a lot of misconceptions about nerds and there are a lot of nerds who match up to the misconceptions. For every nerd who is a weedy obsessive who lives in his parent’s basement there is one who plays around with Large Hadron Colliders. For every nerd with poor personal hygiene there is one who is doing biology research. But the problem is that we aren’t considered nerds. We are considered as “normal people”. The stereotype nerd isn’t attractive, he isn’t well dressed, he is generally a man and he is generally weird as hell. So the moment we assume some of the same interests people see that stereotype. It’s sad but you aren’t going to change it via nerd rage and photoshops. There is a deeply inherent level of anti-female antics in the nerdly world. And this did show in the backlash of this. Okay, a woman doesn’t like what we are. The response is “Okay, that’s her opinion most nerds aren’t so bad. There are always a few bad eggs in the equation”. Instead it’s about whores and bitches. It shows a lot about us that we cannot accept that there are people who simply don’t like us inherently. We aren’t going to change their minds, and infact all we can do is say. “That’s a shame, why is it such a problem?” or “What has two thumbs and doesn’t give a fuck?”. We can’t simply attack her, after all aren’t we all nice? If we aren’t what she is looking for then all we can do is wish her luck that she finds whatever she likes. She isn’t going to see the error of her ways and fall deeply in love with the world Pokemon TCG champion. She knows what she wants and it’s not us. Deal with it. Go to a bar, whine about her a bit. Drink heavily and declare y0ur undying love for star trek (I have done this once…). Get it out of your system and try again. I actually wouldn’t mind asking her “what’s so bad about being the king of nerds”?  Not confrontationally but just out pure curiosity.

  47. says

    Did anyone else notice how incredibly condescending his tone was toward female gamers? Some of the language made sense in terms of the framing device of a letter to his hypothetical daughter and it’s hard to untangle from when he’s talking about other people’s perspectives, but wow. Talk about white knighting and nice guy syndrome. Those mean boys will expect you to wait in the wings, little girl! They should really stop doing that, shouldn’t they? Maybe someday they will. It’s so sad that you’re expected to demurely wait for recognition. If you’re lucky, someday more of the boys will become enlightened like daddy! Then you might be allowed to come and play and be happy!Has he ever met a female gamer? I mean, ever? It’s not like those women have agency or passion or power of their own or anything. They just sit around being marginalized all day, apparently…

  48. Jared says

    For the second time, I don’t give a fuck who Alyssa Bereznak wants to date.  In fact, this thread is the first time I’ve had occasion to discuss it.  What bothers me is the notion that the backlash against her is evidence of misogyny or anti-female antics.I’m not saying I think people are wrong not to date me, which by the way is a ridiculous straw man.  I’m saying that people should treat me like a human being, or, failing that, expect to be called out as jerks.You can’t expect to be that rude to people and not be insulted back.  Don’t dish it out if you can’t take it.  Again, suppose I rant about “bloated sows” using old pictures on OKcupid and that “all the fatties our there” should expect a blog post about them if they attempt to date me.  Would women who call me a “dick” be man haters?  Of course not, it’s absurd.> We can’t simply attack her, after all aren’t we all nice?Speak for yourself.  I don’t think that women are delicate little flowers such that I can’t call them an asshole if they’re being one or they’ll get the vapors.> If we aren’t what she is looking for then all we can do is wish her luck that she finds whatever she likes. She isn’t going to see the error of her ways and fall deeply in love with the world Pokemon TCG champion. She knows what she wants and it’s not us. And if I were on a date with her and she cut it short by politely telling me she doesn’t like nerds, I’d want to shake her hand.  However, if she were to insinuate that I did doing something wrong by using a fucking dating site to “infiltrate my way” into a date with her, I’d think she was a stuck-up bitch.

  49. says

    Jared, the notion that the backlash against Bereznak is sexist and misogynist comes from all the insults flung her way and at women in general as a result of what she wrote.It would be entirely possible to criticize her for the mean-spiritedness of her article in a completely mature and non-sexist manner. Some few people did that, but it was very few. The vast majority of responses to her were gendered insults, sexist rants and even a lot of full-on misogynistic diatribes.I don’t see how you could miss the sexism and misogyny in that comment thread on the Gizmodo article.

  50. Jared says

    I just wasted my time reading through two pages of the Gizmodo comment thread and the only thing matching what you describe was 3 people calling her a bitch.  I’m obviously not going to read the whole thing.  What I read was all tamer than the examples from Mr. Hait’s article, which is consistent with my assumption that he was showing some of the worst of it, not a random sample.  (And, just for the record, I am obviously not expecting there to be zero sexism: that would be amazing.  Rather, I’m expecting it to be reasonably low given the overall volume.  Ultimately, the ability of a woman to spark sexist insults and rants by being a complete jerk is not very interesting.  I’m sure I could spark some sexist rants against men if I tried.)As far as gendered insults, at the very least it’s not evidence of disproportionate sexism in geek culture compared to the entire culture, since probably over 95% of people, from the subset who swear non-negligibly, use the word “bitch”.Who cares what fraction of the criticisms were “completely mature”?  Welcome to the Internet.  We’re arguing about the extent of sexism, not whether people obey the social mores of Victorian England.

  51. Jared says

    Correction: I missed a comment that compared the Vulcan neck pinch to roofies.  So we have that plus the 3 people calling her a bitch that I mentioned.

  52. ckitching says

    Uhg, yeah.  The woman has the right to dump someone for any or no reason at all.  I would never argue against that.  But the public shaming, and the “How dare he dress like a hedge fund manager when he’s a nerd” is just disgusting.  I thought most people outgrew this by the time they left high school.  At least the object of this public shaming has acted with some maturity — simply shrugging it off.

  53. Jln Francisco says

    It is reason for ‘any woman’ to dismiss him out of hand. Or am I working under the false assumption we don’t get to pick our partners?

  54. WingedBeast says

    Thank you for sharing the link, Jared.And, having read the article, I have lost some of my sympathy for Ms. Bereznak .  She is allowed her dealbreakers.  But, the tone of the article seems to say that nerds and geeks are a lower class of human that should put up disclaimors lest they surprise real people.That said, I will say that the article that Jenn linked to does bring up other instances of sexism in nerd and gaming culture.  I don’t think he needs the Bereznak piece to tie anything together or to make that message of “things are tough for women in nerd culture”.  And, having read her article, referencing her article now seems to detract from that message rather than add to it.Still, sexism acknowledged.  I’d like to see what I, personally, can do about it other than just be aware of my own behavior.

  55. ACN says

    I’d direct your criticisms of the first paragraph more to Jen in highlighting the piece than to the author. Although, in fairness I’d volunteer to be the first in line to tell Geordie he has…issues…with the sidenotes/bars/conversations.He’s one of magic’s most well known writers, writing to an audience of competitive players at StarCity, published on magic’s “biggest deal” website. The overwhelming response to it on SCG indicates to me that the intended audience was able to negotiate through the mtg culture.

  56. Jared says

    Just for the record, Mr. Tait’s article goes on to make various legitimate points.  For example: nerds are not uniformly perfect mates; non-nerds are not uniformly chauvinist cretins; and developing an attitude that women aren’t dating you because they’re stupid bimbos doesn’t help anyone except the women who proceed to avoid dating you, etc.However, he massively detracts from his points by spending so much time on the reaction to Ms. Bereznak’s post.  As I’ve noted elsewhere in this thread, it’s instructive to read her original post which is preserved here: http://www.gizmodo.com.au/2011… (although even the Australian copy added her after-the-fact initial paragraph warning that the story is mean), not the US version which has been edited to be less offensive.Mr. Tait seems to think that nerds are outraged that Ms. Bereznak doesn’t want to date them.  However, if you actually read her post, she’s clearly upset that a nerd merely tried to date someone like her.  It’s perfectly respectable for nerds to find this offensive.  Furthermore, when someone suggests that he or she is out of someone else’s league, it’s perfectly normal, albeit slightly immature, for the second party to retort that in fact they are out of the first party’s league.  It doesn’t actually mean that the second party thinks that the first party is obliged to be sexually available: it’s just trading insults.Finally, I agree with other people that the article is so saccharine that I had to keep reminding myself that people are often condescending to their children, so as not to think that Mr. Tait was being condescending toward women.

  57. says

    I agree with this view! I’m so disenchanted with the male atheist community at the moment. Whenever I read a post about feminism on an atheist blog, I feel a glimmer of hope for our community, but then I read the comments… :(

  58. Blitzgal says

    Her basic point was that if you leave certain crucial bits of information out of your profile then you shouldn’t be surprised if you disappoint the person who shows up to meet you.  This is something that women hear ALL OF THE TIME when it comes to online dating, only we’re told that it’s our appearance that we have to be completely accurate about down to the tiniest detail.She doesn’t want to date nerds.  She’s allowed to have that opinion.  I personally would much rather date a nerd than a jock and for me, the deal breaker would be having to hear all about the football season on our first date.

  59. Chongara says

    “being a nerd would be reason enough for ANY woman to dismiss him out of hand.”It is.ANY reason is enough for ANY woman to dismiss ANYONE out of hand. No woman is obligated to give any man a “Fair Chance” or anything else they may have convinced themselves they’re entitled to.

  60. says

    That is a very narrow, almost stilted reading.  Yes – any person has the absolute right to dismiss anyone for any reason — no question.  What no person has the right to do is dismiss someone as being without value or subhuman.  That was the fundamental problem with Ms. Bereznak’s article, along with the assumption that Mr. Tait deserved his embarrassment.  She saw Mr. Tait as being something less than her, and, in the most immature, mean-spirited fashion possible, proceeded to try to embarrass an apparently decent guy (not a NiceGuy©®™) who hadn’t done anything other than follow his passions in life.

  61. says

    This is a real blind spot for a lot of people, unfortunately.  The problem isn’t that she doesn’t want to date nerds; the problem is that she sees nerds as subhuman.  It’s the haughty, aristocratic attitude toward Mr. Tait that is Ms. Bereznak’s problem.  She is offended that someone like this managed to “infiltrate” their way into her life.

  62. jose says

    So, since nerds are human, it’s okay to hide that defining aspecf of their life in order to get dates (dude was the world champion and didn’t even mention it as one of his hobbies. Come on), and women have no right to complain. You’re saying that qualifying as a member of the human species should be all it takes for women to date you.Ms. Bereznak is well aware dedicated magic players are human beings. She just doesn’t want to get involved with one because she doesn’t like that game. Simple.

  63. says

    Collin, I think you got the actors in this drama mixed up. Bereznak, in her article, was never referring to Geordie Tait, the author of the article Jennifer linked to. Bereznak was writing about her date with John Finkel, a Magic: the Gathering world champion. Tait wrote an article about the gamer community’s response to Bereznak’s article and how that over-the-top, vitriolic response highlights a problem with sexism and sometimes outright misogyny in the gamer community.It’s been a few days since I read Tait’s article, but ISTR that he acknowledges that Breznak’s article wasn’t nicest and she should be ashamed of how mean-spirited it was. Some people seem to think, based on their comments, that Tait’s article *should* have been about or was about Bereznak’s meanness, rather than about the way in which the gamer community’s response, but Bereznak is really a different issue than what Tait was covering.

  64. says

    jose, did you actually read the article?  Nobody is saying that if you are a human being, then everyone should have to date you.  Nobody.  It’s a strawman, and a pathetic one at that.  This woman did not offer any sort of reasoning why a gamer would be a bad person do date, she just judged him on his gaming as soon as she found out about it.  In fact, she was even upset that he dared to dress like a normal person!  Don’t know if his scarlet “G” was in the wash that day or what, but I’m pretty sure you’re allowed to say what you want in an online dating profile.  The fact is, nobody’s saying she should have to date him, or even that you can’t reject someone because they’re a gamer.  What we’re saying is that rejecting someone based on their hobby, while knowing nothing about it other than tired and obvious stereotypes, is stupid.  It also doesn’t make a good impression when you shred someone in a widely-read magazine article when that person did nothing more than have a hobby the author didn’t like.  And as if to ice the cake, she writes for a tech site!  It’s like me writing for a Jebus magazine and getting upset at the people who don’t like me calling them “people who believe in sky wizards.”Simply put, if he had been a total obnoxious asshole on their date, he might have deserved the literary ass-beating he got.  The fact that the only thing he did was be a gamer and not make it the most noticeable thing in his profile makes her article a total overkill and a perfect way to paint herself as a shallow shit-show of a human being.

  65. jose says

    Collin said she considered nerds as subhuman. I only considered his assertion and took it to its obvious implication to show him how he didn’t understand her position.This woman offered a perfectly valid reason why she wouldn’t date gamers: she doesn’t want to. And you and I have absolutely no say about who she will date and who she won’t date.You can have whatever opinion you want about other people’s deal breakers. What you can’t do is to demand I date gamers if I don’t want to. Other thing you can’t do is to deny the right of people to have whatever deal breakers they wish to have, regardless of whether you find them stupid or not.haha, good one, that “not make it the most noticeable thing in his profile”. You’re a funny one :’-DNo comment on judgmental statements.

  66. says

    No sir, I didn’t say that.  In fact, I explicitly said that there is no problem with Ms. Bereznak’s desire to not date nerds, and she is free to steer clear of those who play Magic.  What people choose to present in their online dating profiles is a matter of putting your best foot forward, and many, men and women, choose not to list what they do for a living.  Ms. Bereznak freely admitted she didn’t do her research when she forgot to google Mr. Tait.  What one does for a living or other details that are important to you should probably come out over the course of one-on-one messaging with the person.  Honestly, though, that’s neither here nor there.If you go on a date with someone who turns out to not be your type, yet treats you with respect, the decent thing is not to turn around and post that you just had a date with the “world champion of nerds.”  You chalk it up to remembering to do your research better next time, and move on.  There was nothing to suggest that Mr. Tait did anything untoward, that he’s acting like the “NiceGuy™”, or that he’s doing anything other than behaving gracefully.  Standing back on the internet and laughing at the gall of the king of the nerds for deceiving his way on to dates with normal women is petty and cruel.  Mr. Tait deserves better.

  67. says

    And again, who the fuck is saying you (or anyone else) HAS to date gamers?  This is the crux of the problem, you think the rest of us are saying something that we are not saying.  Here’s a hint: if you think I’m trying to force someone to date anyone else, then you should keep rereading my comments until you actually get what I’m saying.  I do find it hilarious that you thought I said that so much you had to clarify it about three times, including telling me that I can’t “deny her right to have whatever dealbreakers they want to.”  Can you please point to where I tried to deny her right to have her own dealbreakers?  The one thing you did say that made sense is the following: “You can have whatever opinion you want about other people’s dealbreakers.”  Exactly.  And as for myself and a shitload of other people, her reasons are bullshit.  Standard shallow assholery, in fact the exact type of shallow stupid thinking that men are excoriated for (rightly so).jose, the point never came down to someone preventing this woman from being an asshole.  Nobody’s trying to take away her right to do anything, but acting like this is certainly going to provoke a response from people, and that response is generally going to be negative.  You may think it’s perfectly acceptable to not date someone for superfluous, stupid reasons, but it doesn’t mean the rest of us have to agree with said stupid reasons, nor does it mean we have to be silent and “respect” a shithead belief.  She had every right to not date him because she didn’t like his shoelaces, but that doesn’t mean anybody else has to look at that opinion as worth anything but derision.

  68. says

    “BING” – love it! It’s another way to be clear about who we mean. I also like using “menz” when discussing the problem type, leaving the word “men” as a neutral term for all persons of the male gender out there. It’s not the same as MRA because not all menz are aware of MRAs or are “activists”.

  69. aspidoscelis says

    Oh, now this is here, too. Well, what the hell, let’s try posting on this thread and see if it eats all my carriage returns as disqus just did…

    I thought this quote was interesting:

    “Men and women live in different worlds. At core, men are afraid women will laugh at them, while at core, women are afraid men will kill them.” – Gavin de Becker

    Tait interprets this to indicate differences in objective risk by gender. However, to me it looks like a claim regarding perceptions of objective risk–that men perceive embarrassment to be worse than death. Outside of context, though, the quote is ambiguous. I don’t think this quote is accurate in either sense, however.

    As for the rest of the article, it’s kind of an interesting look at a subculture that I don’t know much about, but I found it rather irritating stylistically. Leaving out the “letter to my daughter” schtick would have helped tremendously. My ability to suspend disbelief was not sufficient. His hypothetical daughter, however many years in the future, is going to be interested in an explanation of the gaming culture’s internet-scandal-of-the-week? -And- she knows what juggalos are?! Worse, this baffling premise leads him to talk down to his (actual) audience under the pretext of talking down to his (hypothetical) daughter. Ick…

  70. dfl42 says

    This article does highlight important issues, and is probably worth a read for that, but it’s weird that Tait doesn’t acknowledge that Bereznak’s article was not okay. BOTH the Bereznak article AND the responses it got were really inappropriate, and I find it very strange that Tait doesn’t seem to be able to acknowledge the former in addition to the latter.

    Some illustrations of some real problems, but weirdly presented.

  71. amavra says

    I really enjoyed this as a spouse of an avid gamer (MTG and video games). He was never as bad as the generic gamer described as far as sexism goes, but he too has really grown up and figured out how awful the sexism in gaming is. And I really related to the passages towards the end about the wives of MTG players having to cease expecting anything from their partners, or the players have to break out of the game focused mindset.

    It is something my spouse and I fought over a while ago – when he wanted to go to a MTG tournament on my birthday and spend upwards of $100 on cards leaving nothing left for a gift or date with me. I actually remember the look on his face when he finally viewed it from my perspective, total light bulb moment. It seems so basic but it really is almost a mental addiction like gambling sometimes.

    And because I am marginally in the gaming community and understand enough about MTG to play even though its not something I particularly like, I could follow the twists and turns. I think it could have been formatted better – no real need to make it all letter style for one – and much shortened, but I think the community he was writing to is able to understand it just fine. I hope he revises it a bit and cleans it up because there is a lot of good stuff in it. Just needs organization.

    I think the “letter to my daughter” was supposed to represent the legacy the particular culture is leaving and now the author feels more personally invested in changing it. The letter bit didn’t have to extend through the whole thing though since it made the writing clunky and often awkward and rambling.

  72. bleh says

    I have no doubt some of the reaction to Bereznak was driven by sexist and misogynistic elements in geek culture. There is no doubt that many males in the geek community are very reactionary to any notion that women do not want to date them, and harbor deep umbrage and hostility toward females. These elements should be condemned in their entirety.

    At the same time, though, Bereznak’s article was not exactly a paragon of reasoned writing. She is entitled to her dealbreakers, just like men are entitled to theirs, and perhaps Finkel’s profile should have stated that he was a world champion Magic player. However, Bereznak’s article went far beyond saying, “I’m just not into nerds at all, and, guys, be honest when you go on dating sites”.

    Bereznak very much strayed into nasty territory against Finkel. She painted him as creepy, and that he shouldn’t have been on OKCupid (“[…]he infiltrated his way into OKCupid dates[…]”, and that mothers should “Warn [their] daughters!”), even though the article doesn’t mention him being creepy. She even refers to him as a “champion dweeb”, and even insults his ability to provide for a mate with, “[…]end up sharing goat cheese with a world champion of nerds[…]”. I mean, really? She might as well have just said, “This guy is not a Real Man, how dare he try to date me? Doesn’t he know no woman can find underclasses like him attractive?”

    For the record, I don’t play or follow Magic, nor had I even heard of Finkel until today. Nor am I outraged that some random sees nerds as beneath her in dating. But the unflattering remarks and insinuations she made about Finkel – whose only crime was dating whilst not being a Real Man – deserve reasoned condemnation (not the misogynistic kind, which should also be condemned). And they deserve to be condemned regardless of the gender of the actors involved. I have enormous respect for Finkel, because (from what I’ve seen) he remained calm and restrained, refused to throw invective back at her, and even defended her.

  73. msironen says

    But before you think I’m out to slander all geeks guys, I also know plenty that are kind, thoughtful, and – dare I say it? – feminists.”

    “In fact, some of my best friends are …”

    But can we get the “I even let them use the bathroom” line?

    Oddly enough, those are the geek guys I date.

    Yes we can!

    Peculiar coincidences abound!

  74. DLC says

    Got to agree with PZ here. I read as much of the article as I could stay awake for. He makes some valid points, but they’re buried in mountains of obscurity and bafflegab.

  75. says

    “He’s one of magic’s most well known writers, writing to an audience of competitive players at StarCity, published on magic’s “biggest deal” website. The overwhelming response to it on SCG indicates to me that the intended audience was able to negotiate through the mtg culture.”

    An important point I agree, I don’t get the subculture references myself, but I think given the intended audience they were appropriate. I found it interesting enough to (eventually) get through the whole thing, but I agree that it would’ve been an improvement to cut down some of the content.

  76. azkyroth says

    That is a very narrow, almost stilted reading.

    The word you want is “intellectually dishonest trolling.”

  77. swansnow says

    >unheard message in her article

    I think he’s bending over backwards in saying that the original author was trying to make this point, but he was trying to explain that there’s a legitimate concern with dating a serious MtG player. You have to think about the time commitment and the travel requirements and so forth that the guy has. He’s saying that there’s plenty of women out there who have not been happy with it, and that it can legitimately be a dealbreaker.

    For example, if you met a cute guy on okCupid, and then you found out he was a mercenary soldier with Blackwater, and he didn’t think to mention that fact on his profile, I think it’s be fair to say that’s a dealbreaker.

    Offhand, I can think of other lifestyles that it’s reasonable to have a problem with: rock musician, opera singer, airline pilot, CIA agent, grad student who intends to be an academic someday (jobs are few and may require relocation and tenure is not assured, etc).

  78. swansnow says

    >She’s certainly not attempting to present any sort of argument against dating nerds on the basis that you’ll play second fiddle to an obsession,

    No, but the article Jen linked to was making this point. I think the author was trying too hard to mine that small bit of truth out of Bereznak’s piece, but that *was* basically his argument.

  79. karmakin says

    The big problem with the article, I think is that it implied that the original Gizmodo article was a shining beacon of feminism when it was anything of the sort.

    It happened as well during the initial conversation after the article. Namely because there are two aspects of feminism (both of which I support, but not to the same degree), and some mistook the argument in favor of one when it was against the other.

    First, you have women empowerment. This is a woman should have the ability to say no thanks, for any reason she wants. I agree with this fully. However, I don’t think this is what the original article was about.

    The second, is about fighting back against hierarchical power systems. I am much more keen on this aspect, namely because I’m not sure you can have the first aspect without this aspect. It’s awkward to empower someone when they’re just going to get slapped down for using that empowerment in the first place.

    The original article, in my mind any others, wasn’t “I don’t want to date a geek and here’s why”, it was “Nobody should date a geek because they should be social pariahs” Maybe that’s not what was intended (I actually don’t think it was), but because of the sloppy writing, that’s how it came across.

    One interesting thing about the MTG community is how it’s changed in about 10 years from being a den of scum, basically, to a community that, I think prides itself on not being that. So I think things are moving in the right direction. (Which, to my opinion is ALL you can ask)

  80. says

    I never played M:tG or any other card games in my youth. I admittedly mocked and tormented some of the kids who did. (If only because they were not “My Kind” of nerd)

    That said, oh boy did I ever see a bunch of myself in that post. I saw a bunch of my friends too. It made me feel embarrassed for the kind of person I was. The Nice Guy syndrome is not unique to gamer culture.

  81. msironen says

    But do I really have to spell this out? Jen is using the Bigot’s Defense. Only reason it isn’t being called out is because it’s using the Sacred Springboard of Feminism. Free Thought Blogs; really?

  82. msironen says

    Clearly, you should feel extremely ashamed about the person you are. You might think that you haven’t shared in the moral failures of your gender, but you simply haven’t internalized the proper thinking fully: you have no moral autonomy and bear justly the punishment for all crimes committed by your gender. This, curiously enough, not only flies fully in the face of the theistic/libertarian free will but also the deterministic/compatibilistic free will.
    But the main thing is to pay no mind to what’s going on behind the curtain.

  83. Jurjen S. says

    I think that when she was a teenager, Liv Tyler might still have been under the impression that Todd Rundgren was her father.

  84. Jurjen S. says

    It’s not quite the same when where’s talking about someone like Jon Finkel, who has made over $300,000 competing in MtG tournaments. Finkel isn’t the equivalent of someone who regularly attends the opera or soccer games: he’s the equivalent of an operatic tenor or professional footballer, one of a comparatively small group of people who have been paid to do what others merely do as a hobby, largely because they are very, very good at it. There’s a very relevant parallel to be drawn with someone like Lance Armstrong, who’s left a fair number of busted relationships in his wake because he placed more importance on what might unkindly be characterized as “riding a bicycle around France once a year.” And I can understand any woman who wouldn’t want to be involved with someone like Armstrong for precisely that reason, but somehow I doubt anyone’s going to be writing an article on dailypeloton.com about how she went out with someone she thought ran a cancer charity only to find he was–horrors!–a hardcore cyclist.

  85. Jurjen S. says

    For the record, Finkel does in fact work for a hedge fund; he’s managing partner of Landscape Capital Management.

  86. Garm says

    Actually, I think the main problem was that she decided to publically name and shame him in her magazine. Notice there is also a picture of him above the headline of the article.

    She admitted he was an entirely corteous date, but his dweeby hobby put him into the realm of people who should and can be publically humilliated.

    Plus the whole creepiness of making the normally private setting of a date public, without warning.

  87. Jan says

    Basically, it is a massive straw man, built around the false premise that the negative response to Alyssa Bereznak was only from male gamers. If the point that the negative response came from males and females, gamers and non-gamers, his whole torrent of wrath against gamers starts to fall apart.

    This is so threatening to Tait that he calls women who condemned Alyssa Bereznak “Uncle Toms” and “House Negroes looking for a warm corner in massahs attick” (!) Think about that for a moment.

    I actually took the time to go through it and list the characteristics Tait ascribes to gamers:

    …knuckle-dragging apes… gamers and their terrible attitudes towards you…probably the least-valuable intelligence out there—the smirking, arrogant synaptic pep… an entire race of squanderers, of keen minds turned to inert and even flagellatory ends… The tech industry is among the most [sexist] in America… male keyboard warriors, many with the welts of social ostracization still open and weeping upon their hairy backs… Gamers are always trying to “Next Level” things and fancy themselves the Smartest Boys Club in the World. Pick a societal stricture that might actually prevent philandering and a gamer will give you a reason that he can just shrug it off… boys in her industry treat girls poorly and take them for granted… the subway-groping attentions of the otaku… all manner of ignorance, stereotyping, and hate from male gamers… Gamers are unable to accept that [Alyssa Bereznak was within her rights]… in the romantic arena, male gamers still act like a cringing minority…scornful, entitled males…. fancying themselves unappreciated, intelligent, and more worthy than other males of female attention… their fetishistic gamer culture…[gaming is] an obsession…in their soggy underdrawers….they rot in their basements…[a woman who dates a gamer] don’t have to accept his guilt-tripping and the cruelty of his friends, all of whom play, all of whom resent you for the loss of their raiding buddy or playtest partner. You don’t have to accept his culture and that culture’s ignorance to your needs, nor do you have to subject yourself to their biases….[if you’re a gamer] you voided a black pool of nihilism down your own unsteady leg at age 16, and you’ve been floundering in it ever since….

    He does not qualify this with any phrases such as “some”, “a minority”, or “a subset”. Sometimes he qualifies it as applying only to male gamer, one of the characteristics are only posessed by “many” gamers and he uses “he” occasionally, but otherwise, it applies to everyone. And as written, a lot of that is a blast at female gamers too. Once, he stresses that this applies to ALL gamers “Every woman who has ever dated a gamer has some version of this story.”

    I have not found anything positive about gamers there at all. Unless you count “keen minds turned to inert and even flagellatory ends” as a compliment.

    This is a pretty severe condemnation of all gamers, wether male or female, and considering that he went into some detail on his own geek credentials and addressed it to a future daughter who is a geek, a bit…off.

    Tait could have written something like:

    “Ok, she did a bad thing, and she acted in an abusive way we thought we left behind in high school. But Jesus! enough is enough. Shes had to disappear of the internet leave her apartment and cancel her phone. This is a human being folks! She put it out in public and had to expect some negative response to that, and I am glad to see that the male and female members of the community have each others back. But some of this response have been way over the top, not only in volume but its also been very hostile to women. And I want to tell you something about that and how I once reacted in the same way…” Say the piece…then finish with a compliment.

    That is a management technique for making people take in constructive critique. Compliment-critique-compliment. And from experience it is rather effective. Now I am neither a writer nor a native speaker of your language so I’m pretty sure Tait who is both could have put it a lot better. Instead he chose an insult-vitriol-lecture format that seems calculated to repel the very people who most need to read this.

    But what the hell do I know? Apparently I voided a black pool of nihilism down my own unsteady leg at age 16, and have been floundering in it ever since. According to Geordie Tait.

    The whole gamers vs. women meme it carries seems…off to me. Constructing a conflict between two vulnerable groups is normally considered repellent.

  88. Garm says

    Jose, I am glad you get to rant about something totally unralted. Now can we get back to the Alyssa Berezenak article, which is totally different?

  89. Garm says

    Ick indeed. And according to Tait, the fact that women and mens greatest fears from dating are not balanced completly justifies a woman subjecting a man to his greatest fear?

    Double ick…

  90. julian says

    Constructing a conflict between two vulnerable groups is normally considered repellent.

    Define gamer. I don’t particularly see gamers as a vulnerable group (given just how mainstream it’s become) and definitely not on par with women.

    knuckle-dragging apes… gamers and their terrible attitudes towards you…probably the least-valuable intelligence out there—the smirking, arrogant synaptic pep

    meh. Pretty accurate going off the people I’m used to.

    The piece sounded to me pretty self hating. He isn’t so much talking about ‘gamers’ as he’s talking about him and projecting the flaws he sees in who is/used to be onto gaming overall.

  91. Jurjen S. says

    I’m reminded of a passage from Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash, which remains in my opinion the most succinct summary of the issue:

    [Juanita] was the face department, because nobody thought that faces were all that important–they were just flesh-tones busts on top of the avatars. She was just in the process of proving them all desperately wrong. But at this phase, the all-male society of biutheads that made up the power structure of Black Sun Systems said that the face problem was trivial and superficial. It was, of course, nothing more than sexism, the especially virulent type espoused by male techies who sincerely believe that they are too smart to be sexists.

    Emphasis in bold mine.

  92. Jan says

    “Define gamer. I don’t particularly see gamers as a vulnerable group (given just how mainstream it’s become) and definitely not on par with women.”

    I find this rather sums it up for me:

    http://www.geekgirlsrule.net/?p=1370 If you think it is too long, the most important bits starts about halfway down.

    “The piece sounded to me pretty self hating. He isn’t so much talking about ‘gamers’ as he’s talking about him and projecting the flaws he sees in who is/used to be onto gaming overall.”

    I actually agree. Externaized self-lothing” was the phrase that sprang to mind. By his own description, he was one of the gamers who couldn’t get a girl, and didn’t get social norms. It just he projects this to apply to everyone, whereas most people see it as a tiny minority of most groups.

    I’m sure that’d be intersting to debate…

    “meh. Pretty accurate going off the people I’m used to.” Yes, thats the attitude I am speaking of.

    …but based on this, I am sure you have a KKK meeting to attend.

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