Nerds and Male Privilege

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Hear, hear:


Nerds and Male Privilege.

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

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

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

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

Very well said.

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Nerds and Male Privilege — 1 Comment

  1. I find this subject interesting, aside from the geek sphere this problem is found, as mentioned, in the work place or even among a co-ed friends.

    My stance is this (it may be a little ruff, but stick with me)-

    The 20th century had brought us, among other things, the feminist movement(s). For the scope of this argument, let’s just say that a benefit of this was to show that indeed a woman can do the job of a man. Now in the 21st century, in Western Civilization, it is a bit old fashioned to think that a woman can’t. A new fact had been proven- and yet now in the 21st century we deal with the aftermath of this fact.

    Women can be scientists, women can be geeks, women can gamers. However, a woman is still female and a man is still a male. I will cut out the bit about having more females now in college than males, and a bunch of other stuff and cut right to the geek part. It can be understood like this- 1)geekdom was a male-dominated from the get-go and women to to scene are still relitively “new comers” or, if nothing else, a minority of some sort; 2) The majority of gamers, comic nerd, etc are still male and these males are still highly sensitive to sexual simulous.

    Even if a guy respects a girl, he still thinks of her as a girl- at lest 33% of the time the complementing half of the whole sex process. If 3 guys are sitting around playing D and D and there is 1 girl, eventually she is going to be turned to to represent the “girl opinion”. This is only logical, if there people were sitting around a broken car and then a guy comes along who used to be a mechanic 5 years ago… guess who is going to be asked what to do about the car?

    Often times girls are objectified in comics and moves and, everything (as seen in comic book covers above)… it is just as much apart of the male psychye to have sexual fantasies as it is for the female psychye to fulfill sexual wants in order to become popular/ well liked. Neither do this all time time- there is more to each gender then sexy-time, but to me when I see big-tittied chicks in fighting games or comic book super villains with their nipples poking thru their spandex, I can’t help but to think that this is complemented by all those girls who dress up like said super heroines at comic-cons or on Halloween.

    Harassment is just that- you know who harasses people? assholes. The guys that make disrespectful comments to women while playing Xbox Live, these guys are just dicks and if you weren’t a girl, they would think of some other reason to mess with you. I watched a YouTube clip last night of this guy playing Modern Warfare on PSN. The whole time he was messing with some random dude on his team about how he is a pedophile (something to do with his screenname). I even understand that guy-friends will make sexist jokes and then play it off as “I was just kidding”… but that’s the thing, they probably were just kidding, and it seems like a cop-out but that’s how guys are and I think the reason why women have such trouble with this is because men and women simply think differently. Guy, brothers, mess with each other all the time. In a way, it’s a way to bond. So when a bunch of guy friends are poking fun at your being a girl, it’s kinda like a way to let you be equals. The problem with this is you, being the poked at, have to react in a certain way to get them to stop. I don’t know what to say or how to say it, the nuanced details are too infinite, but if there is a sensitive subject, there is a way to draw a line in the sand for guys… usually it involves an elevation of physical threat even amongst friends. It’s difficult for women to get men-friends to stop treating them as women because this is the part of speech that men and women don’t have in common. A typical women would handle this issue one way while a typical male would handle it a different way, more over these confrontations mean different things to a man as it would a woman…

    So while I do see what is being said here, I fail to see a bad guy in the issue. It’s like complaining that winter is cold. Perhaps in a few generations things will -somehow- change… but we just now elected a black president, so let’s finish up this whole racism thing before we move on to sexism ;P

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