Ending Sexual Harassment In Geek Culture

I want to run a quick question by you.

Which of these do you think is an appropriate reaction to art criticism of a piece of art you enjoy?

  • A: A discussion about the differences in styles and desired effect by the artist with an eye towards the commercial viability of the property, exaggerations of form consistent with a dynamic image and the difference between presenting photorealism and depicting a heroic ideal.
  • B: Ignoring the criticism because you disagree and going about your day.
  • C: Spamming the critic’s email and Facebook page with “You can’t get rid of us. We’re infinite. You’re nothing but a loudmouth c*nt and we’re going to show you the only thing you’re good for.”

If you answered anything other than C… well, you’re actually a well-adjusted human being.

As opposed to being a syphilitic feces-throwing man-child, anyway

As opposed to being a syphilitic feces-throwing man-child, anyway

Because, let’s face it: how much of a freak of genetics do you have to be to think that the proper response to somebody – anybody – disagreeing with you about Wonder Girl is to threaten to rape them? In the realm of potential absurd over-reactions, is there anything, anything more insane, than somebody deciding that the only possible response to believing that somebody’s opinion about Mass Effect, or Altair or Black Widow or The Dark Knight Rises or what-have-you is to promise to track them down and violate them with a stick? I mean that is insane. Pants-on-head, smearing-shit-on-the-walls insane.

And yet so many of my friends – just about every single woman I know who’s active in geek culture, in fact – this isn’t an abstract thought exercise. This is their daily lives. They are deluged with anonymous threats promising rape and worse… because some rando has decided that they must suffer for the crime of being a woman with an opinion online… and they know what you look like and where you live.

And nobody seems to care. Because this is the new normal. This is what, apparently, is accepted in geek culture now.

Yes, this is another column about Nerds Behaving Badly. If you think you’re tired of reading them, imagine how tired am of writing them.

So let’s talk about this shall we?

Janelle Asselin And The Comic Critique Controversy

The story, as so many of them do, starts with something innocuous. In this case, it all starts with a critique. Janelle Asselin, a comics veteran, wrote an in-depth and incredibly detailed breakdown of just why the cover of the Teen Titans relaunch was a lousy cover.

“Oh can you throw a paper airplane in there? We need a bit of whimsey so you can tell it’s not just Stripperella and the Glowering.”

And let’s be fair: it’s pretty much a garbled mess on many levels. There’s no dynamism to the image or any indication that these characters are interacting on any level. The most recognizable character – Robin – is relegated to fourth-tier status by size as he… I dunno, eats a candy bar or something? Meanwhile, there’s barely room for the title and all of the little random, context-free details like the gunship and a freaking paper airplane that just serve to clutter things up without providing any real insight to the story, the characters’ personality or really anything that might make you want to actually, y’know. Buy the comic.

But let’s be honest: the meat of the criticism is Wonder Girl. And by that I mean: her boobs. There’re other anatomical issues but the boobs are the biggest1 – because they’re notably fake. As in silicone. Unenhanced breasts don’t behave like that – especially without any sort of support from a serious push-up bra. And  of course, the entire cover (and most of the critique) is centered around them. The tits of a girl who is, canonically, around 16 or 17.

I should mention that Asselin is a veteran of the comics industry. She was an editor and associate editor on a diverse array of DC titles including Batman, Batwoman, Detective Comics, The Savage Hawkman, Birds of Prey, Robin and Gotham City Sirens, a frequent contributor to Comic Book Resources, and Comics Alliance, the weekend editor at The Mary Sue and an academic researcher with a focus on comics. Which is to say: it was literally her job to know what does and doesn’t make a good cover.

It’s a strong, but not terribly stinging critique. I mean, shit, was on the receiving end of far harsher criticism from my professors during my brief tenure as an art major. To be fair, I haven’t been a comics professional in quite some time, but it’s not like Asselin told the dude that he should cut his fingers off with tin-snips rather than call himself an artist2

Naturally, this was taken with grate aplomb. While many people may have disagreed with her assessment, it was generally agreed to be a valid and professional break-down of some notable flaws in the image over the course of a civil discussion.

Nah, I’m totally shitting you. People went bugfuck. Because if there’s anything that needs defending, it’s a crappy cover.

Comics professionals like Brett Booth and his fans complained that this was a hatchet job because Asselin wasn’t properly reverential and implied that she wasn’t a real comics professional:


…while others prefer to diminish her accomplishments directly because vaginas.

But in what’s become de rigueur for talking to women who dare to have opinions about geeky things, several enterprising defenders of bad taste decided that some opposition research must be done. In doing so, they found that Asselin was also doing an survey on sexual harassment in comics. Naturally this meant that – as a feminist – Asselin must have an agenda to destroy comics because that’s what feminists do: strip you of your god-given right to shitty T&A because fuck you penis, that’s why. And of course, she was called a feminazi, a feminist bitch, a sad bitch and other lovely names and accused of having an agenda because of course an academic survey of people’s experiences in the comic industry must be ideologically driven.

And then the rape threats started coming in. After the chucklefucks discovered3 her survey, they decided the best thing they could do would be to skew the results… specifically so they could use the question box at the end to tell her they were coming to fuck her until she bled.

Because she didn’t like a comic cover.

What the fuck.

Here’s the thing though: this isn’t about whether or not Asselin is legitimately afraid for her personal safety – while not ignoring that these are threats from people who know what she looks like, where she works and where she lives – or if these threats are at all credible. It’s about the fact that this is so common place, that women get so many threats that it stops bothering them. 


I want to reiterate that so that it sinks in: women getting so many anonymous, sexually violent threats that it just becomes normal to them.

This is what we’re letting our culture turn into, people.

The Silence of the Ladies

Cold hard fact: geek culture has a problem with women. We have shown it time and time again. Tess Fowler. Anita Sarkeesian. Mattie Bryce. Zoe Quinn. Lea Hernandez. Colleen Doran. Gail Simone. Kate Leth. Laura Hudson. Jennifer Hepler. Alice Mercier. Courtney Stanton. Elizabeth Sampat.

Whenever the subject of how women are treated in geek culture comes up, people will immediately rush to dismiss and diminish and derail the conversation. They will argue that everyone takes shit online. Or that women just need to learn to grow a thicker skin because this is how the big boys do it. There will be people who want to say “it’s important to note that guys get this too!” or rush to complain that it’s not all men who do this. They will want to play “devil’s advocate” or complain that they don’t harass women so it’s unfair for people to bring it up because it’s “tarring men with a broad brush” or maligning otherwise well-meaning dudes so just shut up about it already because it’s not really a problem anyway because their friend is totally a woman and is cool with this shit and never gets threatened.

"Meanwhile, at stately /r/mensrights manor..."

“Meanwhile, at stately /r/mensrights manor…”

Or she’s strong enough that she just ignores all of those threats because who really gets scared about random people saying shit online.

And you know what?

It’s all bullshit.

Because when people rush to qualify how it’s “not all men” or “it’s not a problem”, it’s a way of distracting from the two real issues at hand.

First: that it’s directed at women specifically because they are women. I write a lot about feminist issues. I even have my own dedicated haters who crop up in the comments to complain every time I talk about anything smacking of feminism. And not only do I not get even a hundredth of the shit that Asselin has – or Lea Hernandez or Kate Leth or any of the other women I’ve mentioned earlier – but I’ve never had rape threats directed at me. Nor have 99% of the high-profile male writers and bloggers who cover the same issues. Nor do any of us get the same volume of violent threats. Or the stalkers. Or the harassment. Because for women, this doesn’t just stay on the Internet. It follows them  everywhere.


The second is that when people argue or derail the conversation about it, they’re trying to distract from the fact women are being threatened in order to shut them up. To make them go away. To chase them away from the community entirely. The “Beat Anita Sarkeesian” game wasn’t about refuting her arguments, it was about making the scary woman who (they think) is going to rob them of their gaming T&A go away. The harassment that Zoe Quinn faced for her game Depression Quest was because people wanted to make her stop talking. Jennifer Hepler had her children threatened because people didn’t like what she had to say about Dragon’s Age 2, a game she helped write. Janelle Asselin gets rape threats for criticizing a comic book cover. Kate Leth – an outspoken critic of the casual harassment and misogyny in geek culture – gets targeted by men who are determined to “punish” her for… making comics they don’t like.


It’s not just comics. It’s not just games. It’s geek culture as a whole. And we’re letting this cancer rot us from the inside out.

The False Myth of Geek Enlightenment

Of course, part of the problem is getting geeks to even acknowledge that it’s happening. And one of the most pernicious ways we brush this under the rug is by pretending that we as a culture are so much wiser, so much more enlightened, so much better than the jocks, the bros, the frat boys… all of those guys who are practically synonymous with date rape and sexual harassment. Nerds and geeks aren’t the bulliers, we’re the bullied. We’re the outsiders.

It were ever thus

It were ever thus…

And therein lies the problem. We’re not the outsiders any more. Geek culture is mainstream culture. We’ve basically won. But we continue to define ourselves as outcasts and losers – insisting that being a geek means being a socially awkward freak who is still – somehow – morally and intellectually superior to the people around him.

We’re used to defining ourselves in opposition to others and assuming that by not being X (in this case, jocks, bros, etc.) we’re also not Y (bullies, rapists, harassers). We get caught up in the identity of “geek” being “outsiders”, meaning that we’re the excluded. If we start to question those definitions then… who are we? How are we supposed to identify ourselves? How are we supposed to know that, deep down inside, we’re the superior ones?

Far easier to pretend it’s not a problem. To minimize the issue. To brush it under the rug. This is why whenever we hear about someone in our culture being harassed – online, at cons, in comic stores – there are so many who are quick to pretend it it’s not a real issue. We get the “It’s not all men” protests because it’s more important to reinforce the inherent superiority of geek culture than it is to address that it’s a large and incredibly visible  portion of the community. Better to enforce the No True Scotsman fallacy and pretend they’re not a real part of the culture than addressing that they exist and they’re causing measurable harm. We get the devil’s advocates who believe it’s more important to consider the harasser’s side of things than the effect he’s having on his victim. We get the no-drama-types who prefer to blame the person who points out that there’s a big fucking problem than the person actually causing the problem because drama.

And of course, we have the ones who just hate women and want them to be consumable products for their pleasure.They prefer that geek culture has a locker-room atmosphere and believe that removing casual sexual harassment from it is an offense to both God and man.

That identification-by-opposition, by the way, is part of the reason why geek culture has that love/hate relationship with geeky women. Because to be a geek is to be an “outsider” by definition4 We don’t get to have the “cool things” that the other groups have – like, y’know, women. This is why for so many, geeky women become fetish objects – they represent everything we want but have been denied to us and we end up desiring and resenting them at the same time. It ties into the idea that women somehow hold all the power. And now they’re presuming to be part of our world where we supposedly have the power? What the hell?

So geeks freak out at women and try to bully them into silent compliance. And – as Marjorie Liu says eloquently at her blog:

Sometimes it feels as though talking about misogyny in this industry is like dealing with Groundhog Day: there seems to be a continuous reset, a collective male amnesia around the issue.  As if, when a woman speaks out, it’s for the first time and everyone is shocked.  Just shocked, I tell you.  Sexism exists?  OH MY GOD.

And the rest of us let them. The men of the geek culture are  all officially part of the problem.

Silence Is Approval

Now I can already hear many of you bristling at this: you’ve never sent any rape threats, you’ve never attacked a woman for having an opinion you disagreed with. You’ve never sexually harassed anyone. You’re not “that guy”.

Congratulations. You’ve achieved the baseline of human decency. But just “not being that guy” isn’t enough. If you don’t want to be tarred with the same brush as the cancerous assholes who target the women in our community, you need to speak up. Because this isn’t women’s problem. This is a man’s problem. It’s men who are the cause and it’s men who can and need to be the solution.

Because our silence is enabling them. Our silence is seen as approval. It’s validating their shitty behavior because nobody is speaking up against them.


This why we can’t be silent any more. We can’t pretend this is a woman’s problem. We can’t pretend that we’re not part of the problem because we’re not the harassers. As I said when I wrote about Tess Fowler, we – men – need to be the ones who stand up and make this behavior unacceptable. We need to be the ones who call the harassers out on their behavior. To not hide behind the fig leafs of “not all men” or “not my problem”.

See, we have the platform. We have the voice. We have the male privilege that says male voices have more impact, that we aren’t dismissed as easily. And we need to use it. We have to be the ones who make geek culture a place where this sort of toxic hate and abuse of women is unacceptable. Do not let this behavior go unremarked. Push back against idea that belittling, harassing or abusing women is somehow a masculine virtue, that it’s acceptable because “Internet, lulz” or “guys just being guys”. Marginalize these people. Isolate them. Excise them from the community – we don’t need them, we sure as shit don’t want them.

There will be push-back. There will be people who insist that just calling out bullshit doesn’t actually do anything because trolls are trolls and assholes are going to ass. Fuck them, they don’t want to see things change. There will be people who will call your motivations into question; they’ll call you a “white knight” and insist you’re only trying to impress women and get laid by standing up for them. Fuck them too; they know damn good and well how much power a male voice telling them that their behavior is unacceptable has on the community at large. They will say anything to try to distract you, shift the goal posts, derail the conversation, try to turn it around and make it about you. Don’t let them.

If we’re going to pretend that we’re better,then we need to be better.

No more silence. No more tacit approval.

It’s up to us men to stand up and be men.

  1. HA []
  2. Which, incidentally, is what I was told… in class. []
  3. Which makes it sound like she was hiding it… []
  4. A bullshit definition, but hey… []

  • superdude1999

    I think that maybe we should come up with a default response that we can use whenever we see this kind of behavior. It would have the benefit of being carefully thought out, and could give us a unified voice. If people write a bunch of rape threats, and each one of them gets the same response from different people, it might show them that a lot of people are on the exact same page, and that page is against them.

    I'm not really sure how to start, but I'll give it a shot:

    "Threatening someone is not an appropriate form of debate. It's unacceptable, childish, and only shows how little you really understand. Correct your behavior, or you will end up alone and angry for the rest of your life."

    This is just the first thing that I thought of, and I was trying to make not too angry. If anyone thinks this is a good idea, build off of this, or start a new one from scratch. Then spread it to everyone you know so they can copy and paste it whenever they see some truly atrocious behavior.

    • Max

      I was literally just thinking this. It can be sort of overwhelming to come with a response to this stuff, just because there's so much of it. I like yours, and I came up with a simpler version: "This is not okay."

      • burritomouth

        You guys are a lot more mature than me. My first thoughts are always profanity, or to reenact the ending of Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.

    • Carrot

      I'd go with "Threatening someone is not an appropriate form of debate. It's unacceptable, childish, and only shows how little you really understand," and stop there. The last bit is a threat that you can't follow through on and has some collateral damage attached to it—especially the "alone" bit.

      • nonA

        Agreed on this.

        Most of the vicious personal attacks are designed in large part to get a rise out of you. Your options are either a bland stock response, or no response at all. Any sign that you're letting them get to you is just feeding the trolls.

    • Henry Gorman

      I think that it might be helpful to focus on pointing out the absurdity of these threats: "You do realize that you're threatening to rape somebody because they disagreed with you about a video game, right?" It shows that you recognize how insane these threats are, highlights their craziness for other readers, and, perhaps, if the commenter is not just a troll, show them just how nuts their behavior looks to outside observers.

      I'm also a big fan of Carrot's formulation– although I might adjust its first sentence to "Threatening someone is never an appropriate form of debate."

    • username_6916

      The problem I've got with this it's painful and angering to a lot of people who are not threatening anyone. There are lots of people who are along and angry with having done nothing wrong to begin with.

      • Gentleman Johnny

        Um. . .if "hey man, threatening to rape someone isn't cool" is painful or angering to you, then you are in fact threatening someone and have done something wrong. No one's saying you should be shunned for tripping over your tongue when talking to a pretty member of the opposite sex here. They're saying that if you're not part of the problem, step up and be part of the solution.

        • username_6916

          Read the post I'm referencing. It's not the "threatening to rape someone isn't cool" that bothers me. I fully agree with that statement. It's the "change your behavior or you will end up alone and angry for the rest of your life" that bothers me.

          I agree, "I'm going to rape that bitch!" is harmful to the community and lowers the level of discourse. To an extent, I agree that upstanding members of a community should voice their dissent in the voice of such things, or to the extent that it doesn't harm legitimate discourse, censor it entirely. But, there's a lot of people who define 'atrocious behavior' as 'criticizing feminism/social justice/progressivism' and use the exact same shaming technique. I read this as 'you deserve to die alone', which I regard as bullying in and of itself.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            Those people you talk about, i don't see them in this conversation. I don't see anyone encouraging their behavior. If you're going to criticize feminism/social justice/progressivism (and I do) by making points that you can back up, you will generally find counterpoints made in the style of adult discussion.

          • username_6916

            I as a matter of fact do see people like this down-thread, even here. For one, there's a highly upvoted user talking about how men don't deserve any consideration for their "Precious Fee-wees".

          • Mel_

            If you read "geeky guys bullied and sabotaged me, so I'm not going to care about their feelings about having been bullied too when they bring that up as if it's an excuse for their community's bad behavior" as "all men who criticism feminism deserve to die alone", then I'd venture to suggest the problem is in your head, not in what people are actually saying.

            The poster you're talking about was harsh, but she didn't say anything like what you're suggesting she said.

          • username_6916

            I the way I read was suggesting that all men who who complain about being the victims of bullying are undeserving of any consideration whatsoever. They *should all* be mocked and bullied for daring to express the wrong emotions because some guys harassed and sabotaged her.

            If the upvotes are any measure, your community's acceptance of such bullying is far greater than mine is when it comes to sexual harassment.

          • Mel_

            But we're not accepting such bullying. Because you're reading her comment totally out of context and ignoring parts of what she actually says. She's commenting on an article that's about geeks acting like it's okay for them to bully other people and do things like *make rape threats* just because they were bullied as teens. She's saying *that's* not okay.

            If she'd been commenting on an article about men being bullied in general, rather than specifically about male harassers who justify it by talking about having been bullied, then your interpretation would make sense. But she wasn't.

            You seem to really want to read hostility far beyond what's there. Again, that's a problem in your head, not in what's happening here.

          • Maximilian

            Don't take upvoting on here as necessarily an argument for or against the comment's content, 50% of the votes (good or bad) are decided as soon as the person posting it's username has been read.

          • Saying "Correct your behavior, or you will end up alone and angry for the rest of your life" is not at all the same as saying you *deserve* to die alone. The point is more that being hateful towards an entire gender (presumably the gender you're hoping to court a member of) is counterproductive towards a happy life.

            It's a cautionary warning, not a taunt.

            In any case, as Gentleman Johnny points out, this particular user was not suggesting that anyone direct this phrase at people merely for critiquing feminism/progressivism.

          • Viliphied

            I don't like it, mostly because it gives them an easy out: "pff whatever loser I'm sure my girlfriend/wife says otherwise." Better IMO just to call out the behavior as shitty without any implied consequences, unless you have the power to actually enforce those consequences. ("That kind of talk will result in you being suspended/banned if it continues" on a forum you're a mod of, forex)

      • Maximilian

        Also, if the reason the person is so bitter and whatever else towards the opposite gender is because of their complete lack of dating/sexual experience I don't see telling threatening them with the thing that made them so bitter in the first place being particularly effective.

        That is down to the individual case of course, out of context or on paper (however you prefer to put it) it isn't a particularly bad thing to say in response to such actions.

        • username_6916

          Well… I'm not sure I see a connection between the 'forever alone' crowd and the "I'm gunna tottally rape and murder that bitch!11One lolol" crowd. Which is why I object to taunting them with 'you deserve to be alone'. Now, I know that n=1 here but… I'm a member of the former, and as much as I dislike those following in the footsteps of Fredric Wertham, I find the latter crowd to be abhorrent.

          In short, I don't want those who are bitter from trouble in courtship being conflated with those take pleasure in such harmful idiocy as the blog author describes.

  • Blurgle

    They do this because they are convinced beyond dissuasion or rationality that they are the greatest victims the world has ever witnessed. They see any criticism as attack, anything but mindless obedience as threat. Because of this they feel entitled to 24/7/365 attention, to be paid solely to them and their victimization. They pick on women, minorities, the disabled, etc. because they **hate** anyone who might experience real, actual victimization – because it takes that attention away from them. When it isn't all about them all the time, when their whims have to take second place to someone else's needs, that furthers their sense of victimization because they think it *should* always be all about them! that the world exists solely for them.

    Of course, to everyone else they're the super-mega-ultra-bullies from hell, whining incessantly about the bruises and blood on their knuckles.

    • This comment was very well-put.

    • Nerdigirl

      thanks for pointing that out – so I am not the only one who saw that

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  • celette482

    Oh yes, the old "I'm just playing devil's advocate."

    I'm an attorney. The devil has plenty of lawyers on his payroll and doesn't need you.

    • fakely_mctest

      Just seizing any available opportunity to link this: http://the-toast.net/2013/10/02/no-more-devils-ad

      "Our records indicate that you have requested to play devil’s advocate for either “just a second here” or “just a minute here” over fourteen times in the last financial quarter. While we appreciate your enthusiasm, priority must be given to those who have not yet played the position. We would like to commend you for the excellent work you have done in the past year arguing for positions you have no real interest or stake in promoting, including:

      * Affirmative Action: Who’s the Real Minority Here?
      * Maybe Men Score Better In Math For A Reason
      * Well, They Don’t Have To Live Here
      * I Think You’re Taking This Too Personally
      * Would It Be So Bad If They Did Die?
      * If You Could Just Try To See It Objectively, Like Me"

      • celette482

        My response is always "Let the professionals handle this, son."

        I should make business cards!

        • StarlightArcher

          I work for a printer… send me your designs & we'll whip something up for ya!

    • Socrates

      Never heard of the Socratic method?

      • celette482

        You are heretofore stripped of your right to call yourself "Socrates" if you think the Devil's Advocate is part of the Socratic Method. Not even in the hybrid sense, let alone in the historical sense. Do not lecture a lawyer on the Socratic Method.

    • It always seems like the "I'm just playing devil's advocate" card crops up -after- they've been soundly trumped, too. (At least in my experiences.) Almost like it's a last ditch effort to backpedal and pretend they didn't -really- mean to be completely awful.

      • chinchilla

        Yeah. I (amazingly) have a friend who looooved to play devil's advocate (and is a young, upper-middle class white straight male). He slowed that down a lot when it was pointed out to him that devil's advocate is just a cop-out for stating your real opinions on a subject. And funnily enough he's a lot more pleasant to discuss things with while drinking now.

        Even if your opinions are misguided or factually inaccurate, you're a lot more pleasant to talk to when you a) actually ready to have a discussion and listen as well as talk, and b) not hiding behind 'devil's advocate' where you get to discuss in the hypothetical the realities of someone's life that you are don't have any knowledge of .

  • Lara

    Thanks for that. As a geeky girl I'm fortunate that I fell for a 'white knight' geeky guy who appreciated having a girlfriend/wife who shared all the same interests as him and a circle of friends that all shared the same interests. Whenever I wanted to play a video game with others, I could do it with real human beings I knew and knew would treat me correctly. When I went to cons, I took him along as a body guard.

    And that's part of what makes this so insideously a problem. Is that when this crap starts happening to you, you feel alone. If no one stands up, you feel alone and unwanted, and that's part of what drives the fear. There are more of them than there are of you and everyone else is just standing back and watching. I made the mistake once of playing with a random pickup group in an online game and ended up dealing with harassment 10 minutes in – something I'll never do again.

    I think this youtube video sums up that feeling nicely: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQnIJ-ljctk

    One person hurling insults makes a bad day but I'll eventually move on. But when I start to feel outnumbered, that's when I start to feel worried or scared or threatened. And every time this happens there are multiples of people jumping to defend the person committing the offense but no one to jump to the defense of the victim.

  • Not much to add, except what you deserve Doc:

  • Bravo. I'll say it again. Bravo and Thank You Dr. Nerdlove. You hit on the main direct thing I'm hating about Nerd Culture that they love to be a huge Boys Club. Exactly like the Jocks or Elks Clubs or other institutions that we gauge as normal without thinking about the impact they have on others. Every time I go into a comic or game store and see that's only occupied by men makes me feel disappointed. (Not that this is anyone's fault, I just wish it were more accepting) They take the level of scorn and hatred to a whole new level. I'd even say "Have you met a geek girl?! They are fucking awesome!"

    It's super easy to insult anyone these days, but women get it much worse than men do. I think if I've noticed anything it's that when someone makes fun of a man, it's to attack their intelligence or opinion. For a woman, it's way more towards their physicality with the rape/attack threats or calling them ugly. That's a much worse kind of attack than just insulting one's intellect. In general, I'm mad that the Internet culture feels no pity or shame in the amount of bullying or insults they fling out.

    I wouldn't blame so much of this on "Not all men," but my brother is personally one of those guys who believes that women are naturally inferior because of their different brain chemistry and the "feminazis." I'm not going to deny that female supremacists exist, but there's a much bigger majority of male traditionalists who believe in putting women in their place. All that this woman was doing was criticizing over a teenage girl had giant, balloon sized breasts. This is seriously one of your best articles, Doc.

    • Gentleman Horndog

      "I'm not going to deny that female supremacists exist, but there's a much bigger majority of male traditionalists who believe in putting women in their place."

      That, and the female supremacists are rarely more than impotent wackos shaking their fists at clouds. The guys you're talking about do real harm.

      • celette482
      • fakely_mctest
      • Max

        It also seems like the vast majority of "female supremacists" and extreme feminists are just teenagers on tumblr. Like, everytime I see someone with proof of how feminists want all men to die, it's just a link to a rant on tumblr.

        Meanwhile, the guys he's talking about are adults with real power.

        • nonA

          Wasn't there much backslapping to the recent /r/MRA poll that found it was mostly white dudes in their late teens/early 20s? (Never mind the fact that it being Reddit would skew the sample by its very nature.)

          You have a few people with regressive ideas who are still in positions of power. A few more who have some semblance of power because they tell people with regressive ideas things that they want to hear. And then you have what's only a small percent of the overall population, but they're still a large number of vociferous people who are happy to live in regressive fantasyland, but have about as much real power as the various tumblrites.

          • Delafina

            Over half congress has regressive ideas and is still in power. They're making laws that affect my access to health care, my safety in the workplace, etc. So yeah, the fact that dudes on Reddit are in their 20s is sort of irrelevant.

          • Wondering

            Congress and the Supreme Court, if the pre-decision gender breakdown on the Hobby Lobby case is any indication.

            It doesn't matter how small a percentage of the population they are when they hold the power to affect my body.

            And that's not even taking into account the crazy-ass laws at the state level that negatively affect women's health, safety, and autonomy.

        • Delafina

          Well, plus a lot of lesbians who just aren't interested in dealing with men are labeled "female supremacists," when they're actually just "female separatists." They're not trying to keep men out of jobs, etc. They just want nothing to do with them.

          From the flip side, I'd have zero issue with men who want nothing to do with me, as long as they're not deciding whether I get to work in my chosen field, etc. If a bunch of gay dudes want to go off and start a no-women-allowed commune, I'm fine with that.

  • Guest

    So if its not me, or anyone I know, how can I help?

    • Another Guest

      Did you not read the article? Because there were some suggestions there, my friend.

      (just FYI the "how can I help" question is a way of putting the onus on women yet again. It's making women do all the work, and if they don't tell you what to do then you get to sit back and say, "Well I tried.". You really can't figure out how to help? That maybe when you see someone say something vile to a woman you couldn't figure out that maybe what you could do is say, "Not cool". Really, how difficult is it to figure out what you can do?)

      • Guest

        "That maybe when you see someone say something vile to a woman"

        Thats the point : I haven't seen geek guys behave like this to women. Its hard to imagine anyone over the age of 14 behaving like the Doctor describes. My group of friends is pretty much mixed 50/50 , and we're nice to each other else we wouldn't be a group of friends, if you see what I mean. Ive seen some scary stuff on places like Reddit but I do not think these people go outside so I dont meet them in real life.

        • Another Guest

          So I'll ask you, seeing as you clearly want to do something regardless, what do you think you can do? Talk it through. Brainstorm some ideas.

          • Xexyz

            I guess that's the question then. How much moral obligation does Guest have toward people outside of his life and social circle?

          • celette482

            Well, maybe the question isn't moral obligation but how much control and influence does Guest (and anyone else) have over the bad actors?

            The answer is that it varies, but what most women describe when they talk about sexual harassment on line or off is an overwhelming rush, a constant barrage of mundanities that build and build until you just don't notice it any more. I can't tell you how many times, when the topic turns to harassment, women say things like "OH and anoooother time!" and remember an event of soul-crushing dehumanization that they *forgot* because there are just so many.

            In the face of this, the only real response is a counter-offensive. To fight fire with fire, to fight noise with noise. The drown out the negative. So, even if you think "I can do nothing because I am one person and I don't have much sway over the voices (I don't know them, they are legion, whatever)" you still have power in being the detractor. Collectively, we have even more.

          • Another Guest

            None. But since he asked, it's clear he wants to do something. So let's see what he can brainstorm on his own, without needing a woman to road map it for him.

            Or maybe he asked so that he could later point out that he doesn't know anyone like that so there's nothing he can do. Maybe it wasn't sincere, maybe it was a way of saying in a different way "Not all men are like that." And if that's the case, there's not much point in asking him to put in any effort.

            But if he really does care, maybe he should care enough to do some brainstorming. Some googling. Some reading up on sexual harassment in the geek universe. There are MANY articles out there where people say what you can do.

          • Guest

            "Well, maybe the question isn't moral obligation but how much control and influence does Guest (and anyone else) have over the bad actors?"

            Moral obligation, of course, is to do good and stop people from doing bad. No one here is going to argue with that. Practicality though, we all have limits. Me and my friends can not form a masked vigilante squad, spending our weekends hanging around comic stores attacking anyone who speaks ill of women. What is left to do?

          • Gentleman Johnny

            Just playing devil's advocate here (zing!) but if the issue were cops using excessive force in your town but it hadn't happened to anyone you know, would you still need someone else to help you figure out what you can do to help?

          • celette482

            *narrows eyes*

          • nonA

            Cops have a chain of command that you can go up. The upper elchons being answerable to people who do care about my vote.

            As we all know, the Patriarchy is a system where the elders decide who gets to ascend to their ranks. I'll get right on petitioning the elders of the patriarchy about this, though.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            OK, so we've established that you're capable of analyzing a situation and critical thinking. Original point stands.

        • StarlightArcher

          And isn't that the rub. These people, with their hate and violence and threats, primarily operate in cyberspace. Where plausible deniability and vague unenforceable ethics agreements provide the smokescreen for anyone to say anything to anyone else. You don't have to look far to see people behaving cruelly to someone else. Take a spin around 4chan, Reddit, or even Facebook and Twitter and you'll see the worst of human behavior preserved for all eternity.

          Part of what's being asked is that you speak up ANYWHERE you encounter misogyny. If you see someone sexually harassing a woman at a convention, you speak up. If you see someone leaving hate-filled rape threat screeds on a females blog/twitter/facebook/tumblr/instagram YOU SPEAK UP! And you keep speaking up. Keep calling people on their shit, no matter if it's in meat space or the cloud. You don't need to tilt at windmills Guest, just open your eyes and be willing to speak up.

          • Guest

            This is what I already do but the article left me feeling like its not enough. So I asked, what more is there I can do to help.

          • Another Guest

            Then why didn't you say: "I do this, this and this, but it doesn't feel like it's enough. Are there things I haven't thought of?" All you did was say you didn't know what to do, you then said that your friends don't behave badly and you never see bad behaviour in real life. All this suggested you therefore never did anything because there was nothing that needed to be done.

            If you feel guilty that you aren't doing as much as you could, that's great, and there are ways of doing more. But right now you are coming a bit across as the victim, as "It's not fair, I do as much as I can, but I still am being told I'm not doing enough. Why is it never enough?!"

          • etherealclarity

            If you are truly not encountering the negativity – try being a force of positivity. Post encouraging comments to help combat the negative ones that you may not be seeing. Post articles about the negative stuff when you see it, to help spread awareness. Spread articles like this one around. It may not stop bullies, but it may help inform people who know bullies and have been keeping silent, or lend encouragement to those who are being bullied and harrassed.

          • A Third Guest

            I'm the same as Guest- I don't know anyone who does this stuff personally.

            But I know how much publicity and social inertia affects this sort of issue, and that the only way to change the tide is to FORCE the tide. So since I became aware about issues like this, as of the last 2-3 years, I've made my Twitter and Facebook feeds very positive hives of reposting good stuff that people say and do on the issue. It has an impact, I think.

            That's what I do. Find the people who ARE activists, who are doing the work, and publicise it and promote it to everyone you know.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            I said "I don't know anyone", too, right up until I was discussing this article with. . .I really need a stable term for her. . .let's call her Lt. Mitzy. In the course of it, we went over a couple of things that have happened in/to the crew that didn't go bad precisely because they had a guy authority figure/figurehead to step in and defuse them two or three steps before it got ugly. Its only happened a couple of times and we're talking guys making a scene or making someone uncomfortable rather than rape threats but its all on the same continuum.

            Has one of the women in your circle of friends ever suddenly called you into a conversation she was having with an unknown guy? Did you find out later it as because she felt cornered by a guy who just wouldn't stop talking and you were backup?
            Have you ever had to be a backup opinion for a woman you knew before someone would take that opinion seriously?
            Ever pretended to be somebody's boyfriend at a club to get awkward guy off of them?

            Show one of the women in your group this article, have a real conversation and I'll bet you find out there's more going on than you realize.

          • Swinton

            Yes! I basically sum up what I do as 'showing up and shutting up' – I make a point to go to things which prioritise women's voices, and I stand there. I listen. I make it so my presence can be used to counter 'only hairy-legged feminists care about this'. I link to things women say, so that they get a wider audience. I talk to men about why they also need to show up and shut up, and I try to make sure I don't talk over women and tell other men to be quiet and listen so that women don't have to spend as much time making themselves heard.

            So yeah, anyone wondering what they can do – show up and shut up. Show up women's voices, and don't drown them out.

          • Delafina

            Just being there and having women's backs is super-helpful.

          • Psychophysicist

            May I suggest, to you and to anyone, especially those in a relevant industry or with platform, that having men take the initiative to criticize sexist and disturbing cover art, and other matters, would go a long way to slowly changing the situation. I haven't read all the way to the bottom yet, but I haven't seen anyone threaten to rape Dr. Nerdlove so far. The more men who speak out against the issues a woman would speak out against, the better.

            The jerks dismiss the opinion of a woman and throw in a rape threat for kicks and jollies. Those same jerks might just get a chink in their armour instead of dismissing the opinion of a man.

            Don't simply react to defend a woman being threatened when she speaks up about something. Be proactive and take the initiative in speaking up yourself first. It isn't some special talent that only women have to recognize when something is sexist.

            I'm not saying women shouldn't speak up, or that threatening to rape them when they do is acceptable. I'm just saying that the type of men who make those threats are more likely to be affected by a man speaking up in the first place, than they would be by men defending a woman they threatened to rape. By the time the rape threat is uttered, it's too late.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            Um. . .ok, but I'm not a comic critic. I wouldn't have ever seen the cover without the whole flap about it. I mean, yeah, Wonder Girl looks kinds. . .off to me but I would have had a hard time pinning down that its because her body is a blend of teen and adult proportions. Now that its pointed out to me, I see it. So yes, I agree with her opinion but I never could have stood up and articulated it. The idea that she should send me the review to release with my biline. . .that's. . .I have no words beyond "thoroughly 19th century".

        • Gentleman Horndog

          Are you familiar with that psychological experiment where they ask subjects to watch a video of a bunch of guys tossing around a basketball and count the number of times a guy with a white shirt passes it? And then when the video is done, they ask, "So, did you see the gorilla?"

          Most subjects respond with some variation of "WTF?" And then the experimenter shows them the halfway mark of the video, where somebody in a gorilla costume ambles across the court waving at the camera. Which hardly anybody notices; they were all focused on what they were looking for.

          Mind the potential for gorilla.

          I think it's great that your own circle of friends does not participate in this kind of vicious asshattery; it speaks well of you and them. But based on the accounts I've heard of women getting harassed to hell and back at cons, I'm afraid those guys on Reddit do indeed sometimes venture outside.

          Just be aware that this stuff is going on. Know what it is when you see it. And when you do see it, call it out. (Unless the context is so obviously a misogynist troll-run shithole that it's not worth bothering.) I don't think the silence referred to by the Doc is typically malicious; I suspect those guys just didn't notice the gorilla.

          • Wondering

            Yeah, whenever a topic like this comes up and a guy says he's never seen Behavior X (which, not in this instance but frequently, is accompanied with the implication "therefore, it doesn't happen"), it raises my hackles. Because it's happening. And I'd be floored if it wasn't happening where Guest has seen it, he just hasn't noticed.

            (Also, am I weird that when I took that test, I did see the gorilla?)

          • Gentleman Horndog

            Whereas I'm actually pretty sympathetic to the poster, because my experience has been similar. I DON'T see much of this, either. I'm not heavily social, and a lot of the social groups I do participate in tend to be fairly progressive ones like this place, where anybody who shows up with that kind of "Shut up bitch!!!" attitude is already going to get eviscerated and I'm free to either pile-on or munch popcorn as it amuses me. It took steady exposure to articles like this (and first-hand accounts from women who have to deal with this shit) for me to realize that yeah, some really shameful shit is going on, and that I'm largely insulated from it is mostly a matter of luck. And that some stuff I've encountered in the past and dismissed as an anomaly wasn't, and I shouldn't have.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            I'm in the same place, although a couple of recent conversations have pointed out to me that there have been some close calls specifically because there was a guy (ie me) present who headed things off before it went to crazytown.

        • Beth

          To give a HELPFUL answer to Guest, what you’re able to do is simple. IF you see it happen, IF it comes up while you’re online, anywhere, anywhen, say something. Make it definitive, make it immediate. I don’t get online enough to run across this at all – yes, I live in real life, not online, lol – and my friends are much the same. But IF I see it, I say something. And as a FEMALE I still get the white knight bullshit, asking why I feel I have to defend anyone who needs it, and btw it’s from women. Groan. So yeah, just – say something. Every time. Right away.

    • celette482

      Signal noise. Support female creators, critics, and voices. Support them vocally. Link to them, post on their pages in rational, thoughtful, supportive ways. Shut the hell up when women in your life are describing their realities and believe them. Shoot misogyny down when you see it. If you're a man, you have a voice that misogynists will listen to. The catch-22 of women fighting misogyny is that if a person doesn't value women as equal humans to men, then women saying "Hey, we're equal humans!" are going to be ignored.

      • Beth


    • Delafina

      1) Start paying attention. If you frequent geek events or geek communities, chances are this stuff *has* happened in front of you but you didn't notice because it didn't affect you. Pay attention to the sort of language that's used toward/about women, how often their opinions are dismissed, etc.

      2) Check your own language and behavior. Sometimes misogyny is subtle, and it isn't always intentionally malicious, but these things still add up into a culture that devalues women.

      3) If you see it, call it out. If someone makes a rape joke in front of you, or uses the term "rape" to mean "beat" or "won" (e.g. "I totally raped him playing Call of Duty"), tell them you're not comfortable with that use of the term.

      4) If there's work you like by a female creator (comics, art, games, etc.), comment and tell her so. Part of the reason online culture can be so toxic is because people are far more likely to comment if they dislike something than if they like it. Getting threats and gender-based harassment sucks, period. But it feels different when it's a few comments among a thread that's otherwise discussing your work positively or at least neutrally versus when it's the only sort of comment you're getting. Help shift the balance of "criticism" back to what it's supposed to be: analysis and discussion and insight, rather than just vitriol.

      • fakely_mctest

        "Start paying attention. If you frequent geek events or geek communities, chances are this stuff *has* happened in front of you but you didn't notice because it didn't affect you. Pay attention to the sort of language that's used toward/about women, how often their opinions are dismissed, etc."

        This. Also, if you've got the big stuff down — I think this is where people stumble because most of us don't live in a situation where things are so Mad Men-era obvious anymore — read up on microaggressions. Modern examples of sexism are going to be less like when my mom's college adviser flat-out told her that women didn't go to medical school, and more like when people at work ask one of my male colleagues for information on a project I'm working on instead of coming to me.

        • StarlightArcher

          Or even go for a read of the Everyday Sexism Project and how it was created. http://everydaysexism.com/

          The entries there run the gambit from microaggression to sexual assault and rape. It's a crash course in sexism, told from the mouths of victims.

    • Max

      If you have a presence online, you've probably seen this. Call it out there.

  • fakely_mctest

    I read a related article just this morning: http://comicsalliance.com/sexual-harassment-onlin

    This bit is a hell of a gut punch: "But it’s not news to a lot of women I know, and to women whose work you’ve read here and around the Web. I know it’s not news to them because of the way they write about it. They describe the latest rape threat as plainly as a man like you or I might complain about a late train. It’s just a another lousy thing that happens. You know, life in the big city.

    “I will find you. I will hurt you. I will physically violate you… for being wrong about Spider-Man.”

    Can you imagine, gentlemen, receiving that threat from a potentially dangerous man whose identity you have no hope of discovering but who knows your name, what city you live in, what you look like and where you work?
    Now imagine receiving messages like that from men so frequently that you’re no longer bothered by it.
    Now understand how f*cked up it is that you’re no longer bothered by it; that you’re no longer bothered by men’s anonymous threats of brutal sexual violence, because they’ve become just as common as a train not arriving on time."

    Fortunately, I've never been on the receiving end of anything like this partly because, when I used to lurk on the DC Comics message boards, some of the postings were so horrifying either in their casual misogyny about the female characters or in the vitriol with which identifiably female posters were torn down or in the gendered slurs thrown around to indicate that something was really double plus ungood, that I just never bothered registering and now just kind of enjoy my comics in a vacuum. It's a shame though because there was a point where I would have really gone in for some in depth discussion of the few books I was really into.

    • Stardrake

      Yeah, the thought struck me while reading that section is that there are actually few things more frightening than realising that you’ve come to accept the intolerable as being a “normal” part of your life.

  • DrThemoWorm

    I think it can sometimes be a self-confidence issue too, why some men who are not "that guy" tend to be silent. I know it was for me for a long time. I just felt like if I stood up and said whatever was on my mind about what I was seeing that was pissing me off so much, I'd be hindering more than helping, that I wasn't eloquent enough to really convince anybody of why they're wrong and why they should stop what they're doing.

    It took some time, but I realized that even if I didn't "convince" anybody, me standing up to sexism is still at least an encouraging sign to those who see such harassment as the norm. I also realize that when I stand up, someone else can see that and think that maybe they wouldn't be alone if they stood up, and so on.

    • Stardrake

      That’s an important thing to remember. Even if you can’t get the morlock to stand down, having an ally makes it that much less bad for the victim. Half of the problem for any victim of bullying (and let’s call a spade a spade here) is that ‘alone in a crowd’ feeling.

  • Delafina

    The thing is, this stuff *isn't* just trolls on the internet. It isn't sound and fury, signifying nothing. And it isn't a case of "ignore them, they're actually harmless." (Leaving aside, for the moment, the point that they are doing harm with their words alone.)

    "Racist online forums serve as a birthing den for self-described “lone wolves” by feeding their rage. Investigators find that most offenders openly advocate their ideology online, often obsessively posting on racist forums and blogs for hours every day, while absorbing the hatred around them. "

    The link above is about online echo chambers for racial hatred, rather than gender-based hatred, but I suspect there's analogous behavior around gender-based hatred.

    You can argue causality, I suppose, but I find it hard to believe that men trying to work up the confidence to do horrible things in real life, whether it's murdering people of a different race or beating up their girlfriend for "disrespecting" them, aren't affected by having an echo chamber of support for their plans.

    • LTP_aka_TheWisp

      True, but what is to be done? Censorship? Calling them out publicly will probably just drive them further into fringe sites, no?

      • Gentleman Johnny

        To be fair, driving assholes out of these spaces strikes me as an acceptable outcome. However, I agree that there should be more of a "dude, not cool. Here's how you play nice and still make your point" role modelling type thing. I don't have anything solid this week but I'm working on it.

      • fakely_mctest

        Calling people out publicly makes a powerful statement about what a group or society does or doesn't find acceptable. Just think of the way things like race and gender relations have changed from, say, the 1960s until now. There are so many things people used to be able to do/say openly and with impunity that they just can't anymore. And sure there are always going to be extremists but what you capture with a lower tolerance for this sort of behavior are the people in the middle. Because we're social creatures and we take a lot of our cues about acceptable behavior from the way people around us behave.

  • magdalenoreilly

    As a blogger who gets harassed on a consistent basis, I just want to say the comments section here really gives me hope. It's so great to see so many men who are willing to step up to the challenge and speak out.

    Being a girl online can be…exhausting. And I really understand what these women are saying. Eventually you just go numb and stop wanting to participate. Because what's the point? If this is never going to stop…

    So thanks, Dr. 🙂

    • Gentleman Johnny

      Got a link to your blog?

  • Anonymous

    This is a great article, but you make one mistake that everybody else talking about this subject makes. It isn't about geek culture, or even sexism. That's the internet.

    You think geeks get death threats, but not comedians, or writers, or journalists, or critics, or ANYBODY who expresses any opinion at all?

    Go to any forum, and you'll find the same kind of hateful speech and vitriol. Its not nerds. Its not sexism. We have problems with sexism, but this kind of death threat response isn't unique to that. Its just something that the internet has now enabled us to do, which we didn't have the ease of access to in the past.

    This is the reality of true freedom of speech and anonymous communication. There's a dark side to it. Its horrible, even, but its nothing unique to geek culture remotely, other than that geeks tend to use the internet even more than most people.

    But if you think people aren't making such hateful comments in, say, sports forums, you're blind.

    • Another Guest

      I think it's less about denying it happens elsewhere and more about forcing geeks to acknowledge it does happen in our culture as well. As it was already said, geeks were the outcasts for so long that we have this sense of superiority compared with the jocks, the class clowns, etc etc. We are above them, we don't behave in such low ways. We are the intelligentsia. We are the wise ones. We don't engage in such small things as sexism, racism, ableism and so forth.

      No one is saying it doesn't happen elsewhere. What we are saying is it happens in our community too, and it's time to take the fingers out of the ears and pay attention.

      • celette482

        Precisely. I also get harassed on the street. People get harassed at work, at bars, in the grocery store. None of these are particularly "geeky."

        But it happens here too.

      • Viliphied

        It always seems odd to me that very much the same people who love to say that geekdom is different/better/smarter than everywhere else are often the first to cry "but it happens everywhere else too! That's just the internet!" when someone talks about geeks behaving like shitheads.

    • Gentleman Horndog

      You'll definitely find vitriol spread at anybody who brings a strong and widely-read opinion, but the same type?

      I've been a regular participant in this site's comments for somewhere in the ballpark of two years. The Doc has posted a lot of things that a lot of people (sometimes including me) have disagreed with very strongly. Guess how many rape threats I've seen him receive in that time. G'wan. Guess.

      And it's not just limited to online interactions either, as a great many women who've been harassed at cons will tell you (and would very much like you to listen when they do).

      I'm pretty confident that the Doc isn't saying this dynamic is unique to geek culture. But since this blog is targeted at male geeks, it makes a hell of a lot of sense to talk about that aspect of it, since that's the subculture readers of this blog are most likely to be able to influence.

      Yes, everybody gets flamed. But it's a hell of a lot more likely if you're (perceived as) a woman speaking about something a lot of guys care about, and the nature of the vitriol will be very, very different.

      • Stardrake

        Plus, just because it’s not unique to us doesn’t mean we can’t aspire to be genuinely better than that.

    • Delafina

      The fact that assholes may direct non-gender-based threats and vitriol toward people they disagree with doesn't negate the problem of gender-based threats and vitriol.

    • Gentleman Johnny

      Just playing socratic devil's advocate here but if this is a systemic problem, doesn't it make sense to start in your own community?

    • eselle28

      I agree it's not just a geek problem. It's a problem in many communities. This is ours, though, so why not clean it up? I'd rather my neighborhood be nice, not merely just as bad as all the other ones.

      EDIT: Or what GJ said.

    • Oh yay, the "It happens in other contexts, so why complain?" argument. That's like saying "Dust accumulates anywhere it settles. Do you think it just happens here?" when your roommate asks you to dust the place because it's your goddamn turn.

      • Carlo

        No the point is to not single out geeks in this and apply a reverse sexism. Otherwise you are applying the very same logic you are accusing geeks for. The point is, yes, point out the problem, but make clear also the wider context. Otherwise you know what happens? Geek community is mostly a male community, next steps are:
        1. those geek men are bad (as if darkness of human soul does not reside in everyone else too)
        2. men are bad
        3. We revert back to the new widespread sexism of man the scapegoat, responsible of all worst shit in humans, and women remain the angels victim of these bad bad males.

        Women are no different in being violent. They just use different tools and methods. But the only modus operandi in the spotlight nowadays is men's, hence it seems that the worst darkness only belongs to men (which is by the way a subtle shit sexism which affirms women superiority in effect) . Women were co-participants of the patriarchal society and males are just as victims as women are. NOwadays, I would say male are more victim because of the very fact that our victim status is not recognized, hence we either deal with it alone or get fucked as noone is coming to the rescue.

        • Carlo

          By the way, I don't like the 'patriarchal' term, because it implies things were one way only: men have power. Women had their power and their priviledges. My grandfather, in the patriarcal society, was effectively kicked out of the house and sent to live in the countryside as a sheperd to look after a herd of sheep. That was a 7 years old kid living alone in the countryside. My uncle, at 7 too, was sent by his father to sell a cow to a village which was 3 days walk from his. He'd never been anyway from home, had to sleep alone at night in conuntry side he did not know. Have you ever slept alone in the forest or countryside? It is terrifying even as an adult. Patriarchal society was really happy days for men.

          • CornedBee

            "By the way, I don't like the 'patriarchal' term, because it implies things were one way only: men have power."

            I have no idea where you get that implication from. "Patriarchy" is a scientific term with a pretty clear (and also quite wide) definition that entered common usage; it has no historical burden that would lead it to be misunderstood. In fact, the only source I've ever seen of the misinformation that patriarchy implies that women have absolutely no power whatsoever comes from strawmen arguments about feminism and patriarchy.

            "My grandfather, in the patriarcal society, was effectively kicked out of the house"

            By whom? A woman?

            "My uncle, at 7 too, was sent by his father to sell a cow to a village which was 3 days walk from his."

            So a man sending a male child on a crazy dangerous errand is somehow proof of women's power? You seem to be under the impression that "men have more power than women" somehow implies "all men have equal power" or perhaps "all men were well off". But why would that be so? Social structures are never one-dimensional.

            If you are trying to argue that women were privileged and protected from such dangerous tasks, you may want to expand on your little anecdotes and point out the women involved – maybe your grandfather's sister who wasn't forced to herd sheep (and that wasn't because an outdoor activity like herding sheep would threaten her fashionably pale complexion, lowering her value in the marriage market), or maybe your uncle's sister who wasn't sent to sell a cow (and that wasn't because, as a girl, her bargaining position would have been far worse, meaning that she could not sell the cow as well).

            "Patriarchal society was really happy days for men."

            The fact that children were not protected to the standards of our current-day ethics must be assumed to have absolutely nothing to do with patriarchy, unless you can show evidence to the contrary.

          • Carlo

            – Patriarchy – Oxford dictionary: "A system of society or government in which men hold the power and women are largely excluded from it"
            – By whom, a woman? By the family. A woman would have never been sent to do that.
            – a man sending a male child. Men were spared from some jobs, so did women. In this case, women had the luxury of being spared from this sort of jobs.
            – if you are trying to argue: yes women were objectified and what you say was part of the equation I imagine. You forget that men too were objectified too: the woman is not sent to look after the herd to spare her beauty, the man is sent because being a man, his body must be able to endure shit and he must not have emotions to deal with. You are pointing out the other side of the story for women, not for the men, curious isn't it? The boy may have been sent instead of the girl because she had to spare her beauty, yet the one enduring the shit results to be the boy nonetheless.
            – the fact that children: so, you admit that children, i.e. both girls AND boys too, were not protected to appropriate standards. They were both victims. You may say they were victims of men, but all of those men were once boys. And how about the mothers though and their education of children. ISn't the mother often said to be the most important figure in child rearing? It's like the chicken and the egg, who comes first: the mother overpowering her son or the adult man overpowering his wife (and mother of his son)?

          • Barretts_Salt

            Yes. In the immediate situation at hand, the boy had the tough situation to deal with.

            But had a young girl been sent with the sheep or cow, I suspect the chances of her being raped en route to market were relatively high, thus ruining her chances for marriage.

            And even if she made the market trek unharmed, at some point she would have had to obey the dictates of her family and marry someone they selected.

            Then spend a lifetime of physical intimacy with someone whom she may very well not desire — or might even be repelled by.

            And in any case, she would have been financially dependent upon someone not of her choosing. And required to submit to all of his decisions.

            Doesn't sound too inviting to me.

          • Mel_

            Seriously. Apparently it needs to be said over and over: patriarchy doesn't mean every man has all good things in his life, never suffers any pain, etc. It only means that *in general*, the *average* man is in a better position than the *average* woman, because of various systemic factors that work in men's favor. The fact that men make more on average doing the same jobs as women is still a sign that men have an advantage even though some women make more than some men. The fact that men are seen as stronger and thus respected more is still an advantage even if it also means some men do dangerous jobs. Etc.

          • Delafina

            Well, not only that, but a key component of patriarchy is the abuse of younger men by older men — sending them off to fight and die in wars that benefit the older men in charge (who never set foot on the battlefield); setting up restrictions about who can marry whom so that older men have access to and control of most of the women (see the Mormon "lost boys," for example); the family patriarch(s) maintaining control of the "family" wealth so that the young men remain dependent on them and under their control as well.

          • Carlo

            Sorry but those example I cited were *average* men conditions.

            "men make more in average doing the same job". I'm aware of that as well as of reports which don't agree with that.

            Also, again, you are just reporting the areas where men are said to have an advantage but omit those where that is not the case.

            Although I do not entirely agree myself with this site, have a look at this: http://www.avoiceformen.com/activism/about/
            In particular it says, "While men make more money than women on average, women control and spend vastly more money than men."
            Are these all lies fabricated by a patriarcal society which is trying to self preserve?

            What I advocate is this: the problem has not got only one cause ("men have power and want/like/enoy to abuse women"). There are many things which enter into the equation, in particular, those factors which do not put women in a good light and which depict men as victim are selectively dismissed. This skews the view enormously. I think there were much less discrepancies than it is said.
            As for present days: I’ve been hit by my a school teacher twice in primary school. Not a drama to be honest, but never heard of the opposite. Yet this is exactly the type of facts which make up statistics. I know of 3 men and 4 women having been sexually abused. Although men were the aggressor in most cases, one of the guys was abused by his mother.

            I also say that:
            – a recent OECD study reveals girl and upper class children are favoured in schools
            – in the last 20 years women have outnumbered men at uni
            – it is now well nkow that is boys who drop out from school (and what do people ask? They do not ask, what’s wrong with the education system or society for failing boys. No, they use that as a proof that women are just as good if not better than men. Ever heard of the word sexism?)
            – the taboo that males are victims is progressively being broken. Do a search on google or amazon for ‘misandry’
            – the taboo that men don’t get raped, or not that often, is being broken too. Most notoriously, London underground has just ran the “men get raped too” campaign, to incite men abused come forward. One reason why women seem to be the only ones being raped is that men simply do not report it or are not believed http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/real-men-ra
            – the patriarchal society revolved around men having to be mucho. The flip side of the coin is that it meant men had to stuff up all soft emotions, with all consequences that this bring to the mental health of a person. Yes, we men were victims too.
            – women took part in creating the patriarchal society, however it is convenient to say women are only victims, this way they are free of any responsibility if the shit hits the fan.
            Think for instance noble roman women who used to pay to have a night of sex with gladiators. Or Mothers poisoning children, husbands etc to ensure the next emperor would be the one of their liking. Women use different startegies to get their ways, only thing is those strategies are never scrutinized, as it is taboo nowadays to say anything against women, men are the scapegoat.
            See for instance the books “that bitch” or “invisible men”.
            You women ned to start owning their own shit and stop playing the role of the victim. Or are you suggesting you are in *average* innocent angels incapable of any wrong doing?

          • Carlo

            The school teacher who hit me was a woman.
            Some misspellings in my post, but I guess you get the drift. Angel.

          • Carlo

            I like how you somehow blunt the suffering of the boy by quickly shifting back focus to women.

            My grandfather was permanently kicked out of the house. 7 years old kid. It was not a temporary thing, can you imagine the isolation and pain? That would last a lifetime. But hey, I guess that was deserved, he surely must have grown to be an asshole who abused women.

            I also like how you view males sexuality. A large majrity of us is a sexual predator ready to rape the first 7 years old girl that is alone? Maybe you have those feelings and are projecting them onto all?
            Funny how it does not even enter your mind that actually that hypotetic girl might have actually received help instead of raping.

            Funny how you do not consider that girls been seen weaker, need to be PROTECTED more than boys, hence must not be sent with the cow away from home.

            Funny how you don't see that men too had to marry women they did not like, or that they had to 'earn' a women by gaining status first in order to get any companionship in ife. It was not uncommon for men to wait till 40 to get married, because the early part of the life was spent trying to accumulate money so that they could be eligible to marriage.

            Funny how you only see the male bad/women victim bit of everything.

            Talking about sexism.

            You are putting men in a condition of having to prove themselves innocent. Smells like a bit of racism.

          • Delafina

            Funny how you come here to an article talking about the treatment of women in geek culture and insist on shifting the focus of the discussion to the oppression of men, and then, when I try to shift the focus back to where it belongs, the original subject, you accuse ME of trying to derail things. (Male privilege, Exhibit A: any conversation not about the feelings of men is a derailment.)

            We're trying to have a conversation about women in geek circles.

            Stop trying to shut down our conversation. You want to have a conversation about the way patriarchy oppresses men? GO FIND AN ARTICLE ABOUT THAT AND HAVE IT THERE.

            I won't respond to you any more because I'm not going to continue aiding your attempts to prevent us from talking about ways to improve geekdom for women.

          • Barretts_Salt

            Oh, good grief.

            Go educate yourself about social conditions both past and present and think about the difference between probabilities and possibilities.

            Now, back to the matter at hand which, as Delafina pointed out, is ways to improve geekdom for women.

          • Jes

            Yeah, I'm not sure where you're going with this, dude.

            If you're wanting us to acknowledge that yes, men suffer too, then yes, we acknowledge that. No one here ever claimed that was not the case.

            However, the fact that men also suffer and what happened to your grandfather in the past does not invalidate Ending Sexual Harassment In Geek Culture, which is what the article is about.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            Being a male doesn't guarantee you a good outcome anymore than being white does. It just lowers the difficulty. You get an easier time all other things being equal. That's not a promise of a college education and a good job.

          • Carlo

            Define "all other things being equal".

            I say that only (or mostly only) the things which women are screwed for are under scrutiny, the ones men's are screwed for are not under scrutiny, hence the so called confirmation bias that men have it easier. Men are judged with the measure devised to judge women's problems. Men should be judged instead with a measure divised to jusdge their own specific gender related problems.

            Men are victim of suicide three times more than women all over the world
            Men represent the vast majority of those victim of homicide
            Men are the vast majority of those dying on the job.
            In my country (one of the G7 nations) men die 7 years younger than women yet can retire 5 years after women

            But I gues the logic is that because men are also the ones REPORTED to be doing majority of crimes, hence, who gives a fuck if men kill each other? Let them do it, so we get rid of the bad gender of human species?

            If you measure women's power according to the way men usually have power, you will fail. Imagine all men being judged on their sexual power over women. They would seem mostly as powerless compared to the women.
            Women's sexual power is real but it's always dismissed as not really a power.
            I live in the UK and I've heard a number of times 20 to 30 years women say "I'll get pregnant and stay home. I don't want to work". Yet feminist are always complaining about the pay gap and men being majority of the workforce. Yet these feminist fail to check the other side of the coin, women willingly wanting NOT to work and have the hubby do it so they can stay home.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            If you measure women's power according to the way men usually have power, you will fail. Imagine all men being judged on their sexual power over women. They would seem mostly as powerless compared to the women.

            Evidence, por favor.

            Also, why should women who don't want to work be used as an argument to pay women who do want to work less?

          • Carlo

            Look man, if you even deny women's sexual power, you are either annoying or you've lived in a bubble.

            Just the last one: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womens-life/1072

          • Gentleman Johnny

            Apparently I live in a bubble but its a bubble where I get to have sex with women who want to have sex with me instead of women who are using sex to get something from me. I'm ok with that. You should spend a weekend in the bubble with me. Its a pretty cool place to be.

          • Delafina

            Prove it.

            If women have asymmetrical sexual power over men, it's presumably because men want sex more than women do. (That is, it's not that women themselves have power, but that they're the objects of a desire that has power over men.)

            Except, the idea that men want sex more than women want it has been proven false in study after study. Women are less likely to *express* a desire for sex, and are less likely to take overt risks to get it, but the asymmetrical level of desire that you're talking about when you talk about "power" isn't at all clear-cut.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            You kind of beat me to my bubble addendum. See, I also live in a bubble where

            A. I don't make important life decisions based on whether or not someone will fuck me for them.

            B. Women who can participate in life as equals can pursue sex based on desire instead of as a way to ensure a provider

            C. I don't compare the most attractive 10% of the female population's sexual success to the bottom 50% of the male population's.

            D. Women are allowed to want and enjoy sex without fear of being labeled a slut or harassed.

            The problem isn't that I live in a bubble. Its that the bubble isn't fucking big enough!

          • Carlo

            Who said I think sexual desire is asimmetrical?

            I say that's what the majority thinks, with all consequences it brings. I think it's a lie, so as blacks being inferiors was a lie, yet nonetheless the lie was causing real suffering and imbalnced power distribution. I put the article up there to prove it.

            I aslo say I used to believe that lie until recently, and it caused me a great deal of Hell, to put it mildly.

            Also, the idea that sexual desire is not asimmetrical, as you surely well know, it is something which is only recently becoming mainstream. Or you don't read newspapers? The very existence of this blog you follow, is prof of it. Geniuses.

          • Carlo

            And again, study after study blah blah blah, see the article above. It looks like a good deal of people, men AND women, still believe in it, and the latter use it. The fact that it is being disproved now, just proves it had to be dis-prooved, i.e. it was once believed, by most, as a fact.

            So yes, I've proved it. Go to nightclubs or check out the typical relationship problems men seek help for, and again, it just proves it is believed by the majority that sexual desire is asimmetrical. The fact that not all women use that power, does not mean that many still do.

            Yes, you are right, your bubble isn't big enough, unfortunately. But being so small, how come you haven't noticed what was happening in the big world outside of it?

          • Carlo

            And last thing Johnny, I like the way you feel a 'cool' guy. Pity you sound like those who never lived in poverty and are ready to label blacks as idiots for being criminals (there's a notorious relationship between criminality and poverty, i.e. it is a situational problem, rather than "me cool, you stupi"). Situations in your life got you to be in that nice bubble. Good for you. Don't pretend though you're clever for being there.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            OK, well first off, re:asymmetrical power: you don't get to use blacks as an example unless you're going to claim that they were the ones with the real power under racism. False equivalence.

            Now, as to me, you can call it luck all you want and you're not entirely wrong. I do spend my free time with some amazing women who I am lucky to have met. Then again, I met them and get to spend time with them because I am the kind of person who fits in that bubble. I'm not prepping to go to bat with a huge national con about their harassment policy because I want these girls to like me. They like me because I'm the kind of person who will go to bat with a national con over their harassment policy when I see how it negatively impacts them.

            Does my privilege as a white-straight-cisgendered male factor into my "luck" in finding people like this to spend time with? Absolutely. Is it the whole of how I got there? Not at all. The other part is because I am the type of person that these sort of women like to be around and I put myself in environments that are conducive to those sorts of lucky breaks.

            I can't fix the world outside my bubble but I can make it better within my own community, and isn't that what this article is all about? I'd think that if your problem is asymmetrical sexual power of women, you'd want to work to make my bubble big enough to fit your circle of friends, too.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            Overly simplistic TL;DR
            The less women need men to function, the more it becomes acceptable for them to want men.

          • Dr_NerdLove

            Did you just seriously call Johnny racist out of goddamn *nowhere*?

            You hear that sound, Carlo? That's the sound of the thin ice you're standing on. I've been putting up with your insistence on derailing the conversation, but you're now pushing up against the limits of my patience.

            Think VERY carefully about your next post or two.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            As someone who did in fact live in poverty, I get what he's saying. A more eloquent version might have been "anyone can claim success is easy from the top of the heap" and I don't disagree with that sentiment. He doesn't have any way of knowing my past. I didn't want to bore the rest of the readership with the whole "two years ago, I was a luckless in love geek guy. Then I found Dr. Nerdlove" speech. It sounds too much like I'm your cheerleader. 🙂

          • Carlo

            Sorry Dr NerdLove but I can't help but laugh a bit. Sound of thin ice? Kick me out altogether and that's it, no need to speak like in a hollywood movie.

            Did I call Johnny racist? I meant it to be like he's just as annoying (for lack of a better word). However, I do believe that 'othering' and being racist is part of human nature, so, make what you want of it.
            And as I'm on the subject, although I think you write some great articles, I do also think that you too are a bit of a racist. In some of your articles you seem to have forgotten, or wanting to deny, the situation you've come from (e.g. the article on nice guys I think). The nice guy is the bad guy, the girl is the good guy. Disagree. There's both the good and the bad in both. Though you don't highlight the genuine bits of the nice guy, nor the not-so-genuine ones of the girl. Your article comes across as if nice guys are assholes only, the girls as always their victims. Where you like that when you were the nice guys? No. You surely were manipulative and asshole for some things, but also had genuine good intentions for others. Why you do not aknowledge that part of you back then? Having said so, I must say your articles have been extremely important for me. So, thank you a lot for that.

          • Carlo

            And this article came across to me as similar to the nice guy one in that respect, hence my anger.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            Why you do not aknowledge that part of you back then?

            Because in a blog about what you can do to get better with women, there's no point in addressing the things that don't need to change. He doesn't address that he had a penis when he was hopeless either but its fair to assume it.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            You know what? I have zero fucks to give how nice a guy is or what great qualities he has when he threatens to shank a member of my cast. That pretty much washes away the fact that he pets puppies and volunteers at the homeless shelter. So no, I don't feel like its necessary to consider the good in a guy who's threatening to rape people, even on line. What's important is to deny guys like that a venue for their toxic bullshit.

          • thathat

            Oh, hey, yeah, that totally got the Russians out of the Ukraine, didn't it? And absolutely none of those women were at risk of being raped! (And, of course, there isn't a history of women who sleep with enemy soldiers being humiliated, raped, and/or killed when/if those soldiers are driven out, which may influence whether or not those women want to have sex with foreign soldiers). But yeah, that sex embargo totally worked!

            THE POWER OF VAGINA!

          • Delafina

            Bad things happening to young men (at the hands of older men, who make decisions that benefit them, but not the young men) is PART of patriarchy, not a refutation of it.

          • Carlo

            What sort of men have you had in your life? Are you saying that men are all selfish bastards unable to care for their family and to have any feelings, so that fathers in a patriarcal society were only, or mostly, or tipycally, acting out of their own, perverse selfish interest?

            Seems like you have some shit to sort out in your relationships with and views of men. Which in part proves my point: there is sexism towards men, as we are the devil of society, responsible for, or majority of, allwrong doing.

            Nice life where you don't have to face up your own dark side because you can simply blame someone else (men) for having one.

          • Carlo

            I also like your mental split. Young men good, old men bad. Yet those old men were once young, don't you think?

          • Oye

            Society hurts little boys and girls alike. There's even been a growing movement within feminism to draw attention to this fact. It all begins with the phrase "boys will be boys." That phrase is every bit as detrimental to boys as it is to girls. Society frequently holds boys to lower standards and makes excuses for their bad behavior, and then we wonder why so many never grow up into men but remain angry, petulant boys. There's also those men who effectively mask that part of themselves offline but unleash it on the internet.

            Additionally, social attitudes of what a boy should be like and what a girl should be like are problematic for both genders. You mention suicide and violent crime. According to gender stereotypes, women are more emotional. Conversely men are expected to hold in their emotions. If they try to express them, they are accused of being less than men. Consequently they act out. You speak as though one issue is a non-issue and the other is the real problem but the fact is they are both bi-products of the same social pressures.

            If you feel that so many women have a negative attitude toward men, then you should be the first to call out those men who feed into that attitude just as I'm the first to call out women who make things worse for the rest of us. Instead you're too busy nursing your own resentments.

            It's pretty simple.

            Do you think it's okay to threaten people with rape?


            Then speak out.

            There's no quota on the number of issues you can speak out against. Learn to compartmentalize. It's possible to condemn men who threaten women AND speak out on behalf of men who you feel have been marginalized. Those men who make rape threats are detrimental to both groups so you're actually killing two birds with one stone every time you speak out against them.

            Men and women alike will benefit from a society that empowers them as individuals. If you want things to be better for yourself, help make them better for others. It's as simple as that.

        • CornedBee

          "No the point is to not single out geeks in this and apply a reverse sexism."

          These two things have nothing to do with each other. And what do you even mean by reverse sexism in this context?

          "Otherwise you are applying the very same logic you are accusing geeks for."

          What logic are you talking about, and how is somebody (who? dackquiri or DrNL?) applying it, and to what? This is extremely confusing.

          I don't understand your progression of effects there. It makes even less sense than Yoda's way to the dark side. Basically you're arguing that pointing out a problem, if it is not accompanied by some treatise on the "wider context" (whatever that is) will inevitably lead to everyone seeing only this problem and using it as the core element of all further reasoning, extrapolating from that particular problem to the general state of the world.

          "Women are no different in being violent."

          Citation needed.

          "But the only modus operandi in the spotlight nowadays is men's, hence it seems that the worst darkness only belongs to men (which is by the way a subtle shit sexism which affirms women superiority in effect)"

          Yes, I can feel my privilege weighing down heavily on me today. Poor me, being exposed to such horrible things as someone complaining about me to their close friends, or God forbid, calling me a creep. Trade me some rape threats any day.

          "Women were co-participants of the patriarchal society"

          And rape victims are co-participants of the rape. Apparently that means they are ok with it.

          "males are just as victims as women are."

          No. They aren't. Yes, patriarchy didn't just bring good things to men; there were some bad things. And it didn't just bring bad things to women, there were some good things. And there definitely were things that some people thought good and others bad. But at the end of the day, women got more (or more significant) bad things and fewer good things than men. And that makes them more victims.

          "NOwadays, I would say male are more victim because of the very fact that our victim status is not recognized"

          That reasoning is utter bs. Being left alone with your problems increases the weight of the problems, but it does not make them bigger than anything else.

          (Out of idle curiosity, why do you use "males" and "women"? Why not "men" and "women", or "males" and "females", as they are usually paired up?)

          • Carlo

            See above.

            A few answers only as I've already spent energy with the previous ones.

            "Being left alone with your problems increases the weight of the problems, but it does not make them bigger than anything else." This is a contradiction. You first say the problems are indeed heavier ("increases the weight") and then immediately deny that's the case ("does not make them bigger").

            "Women are no different in being violent"

            Reply: "We have anecdotal evidence to suggest domestic abuse against men is under-reported" http://www.cambstimes.co.uk/news/police_launch_va

            Women being violent is a taboo, as the current agenda of female victims, male abusers does not allow that to happen. On top of that, part of the victimhood of males in patriarcal society means that a men must not ask for help nor show weaknesses. Hence many men in need of help shut up, perpetuating the belief that men are less victims as you say.

            See the "about" page of Movember movement (a movement to raise men's health problems): "raise awareness for the often ignored issues of men’s health, by prompting conversations wherever they go"

            Men issues are not talked about, hence people like you thinks men don't have problems, or not as much as women.

            I've had many problems because I'm a man, I've suffered a lot. Why do not I share my personal history here, then, idiot that I am you may say?

            I answer with this: would you call idiot a woman who is not able to e.g. talk about her domestic abuse or being raped? No, because women fragility is understood and appreciated. Men's fragility is not, it is actually often (by women first) ridiculed. Similarly, as a man I have difficulty about speaking of some of my most intimate and worst problems. I'm neither encouraged to do that ("let's talk about women first, shan't we?") nor wanted to ("shut up, men don't have it as bad as women, you are just a self entitled spoilt child who's not getting his way like he used to")

            Women complain men are machos, but they forget they are the first ones often asking for the macho and not the sissy sensitive person. But when the macho backfires they say "we are victims of these machos! Men are bad! Look at us poor powerless women!"

            So yes, women co-created patrairchy.

            As for your example on rape. Why do you think it is the same as patriarchy? It just says it all on how you view patriarchy.
            On this point though, I add that I've spoken to a number of therapist and psychiatrist (yes, trying to sort out my shit) and one surprising thing which I was told is this: one thing which professionals do not say to the wider public is that, part of the rape experience is that there's actual enjoyment of the victim. Reason this is not said is to prevent some men going around and say "you were just looking for it".

            However, the other side of the rape coin is this: men who are victim of rape by women are not believed, because for a men to get raped he must get a hard on, hence he can't be raped. But what if it was said that women may get wet when getting raped? The story would change won't it?

            Finally, answer me this. Do you think men and women are equals? If you do, why do you think though that it's mostly men who do bad staff? Saying that we are equals but men are the ones who do the worst things, means in effect that women are better than men, which is a female supremacy theory.

          • CornedBee

            "This is a contradiction."

            Your lack of reading comprehension boggles the mind, and I suspect you're trolling. But if not, maybe I can help you with some primary school maths.

            Let's assume that the gravity of men's problems is 5 (on average – I don't want to denigrate your personal experience here, which IIUC is on par with that of a woman getting raped). Let's assume further that being alone with this makes it twice as bad, making the final situation a problem of gravity 10. 10 > 5, i.e. men's problems are bigger because of being alone.

            Let's assume women's problems have a base gravity of 20. There are no modifiers. Now 20 > 10, so men's problems, even aggravated by loneliness, are not bigger than women's problems. (Again, on average. I willingly concede that your personal problems are likely worse.)

            And please don't go and dispute my made-up numbers; they are merely an aid to illustrate my meaning.

            " "We have anecdotal evidence to suggest domestic abuse against men is under-reported" "

            May I point you to this sentence from the same article?

            “Throughout the year we run a number of high-profile campaigns to target women who are victims of domestic abuse and it’s important this work continues as they represent around 75 per cent of victims."

            This estimation, as is clear from the context of the article, already takes into account the estimations of underreporting. In other words, 75% of victims are women, and 25% are men, but only a small part of that 25% are reported.

            Now sure, this is bad, and a campaign to improve it is a good thing. But if you're trying to prove the point that "women are just as violent as men", citing a statistic where three times as many men are abusive as women (working under the assumption that "domestic violence" always means violence in a heterosexual partnership and doesn't include parents abusing children) just isn't very convincing.

            Re: your personal problems. I am sorry to hear you have been abused, but the assumption that I would call you an idiot for not sharing is ill-placed and undeserved.

            "Women complain men are machos, but they forget they are the first ones often asking for the macho and not the sissy sensitive person."

            Did you seriously just claim that the "girls want bad boys" story is part of the historical emergence of patriarchy? I am no historian, but I have sincere doubts about that.

            Splitting for length …

          • CornedBee

            "As for your example on rape. Why do you think it is the same as patriarchy?"

            I don't. It was just, given the context of the article, the first example that came to mind where there are multiple participants and not all of them had any say in the matter. I admit it was a rather cheap rhetorical device, but that doesn't invalidate the underlying point.

            "It just says it all on how you view patriarchy."

            Speaking of cheap rhetorical devices…

            But I'll bite. Both rape and patriarchy are bad, though trying to compare their badness directly is pretty much apples and oranges. Nevertheless, there are close links between patriarchy and rape culture, so the latter is partially an enabler for the former – the parallel isn't that far off.

            "part of the rape experience is that there's actual enjoyment of the victim. "

            And women do get some advantages out of patriarchy. What's your point? Anyway, this is hardly some big secret only known to those who were victims. The fact that rape victims sometimes take some measure of pleasure away from the experience, as well as the massive guilt and self-doubt associated with that pleasure, should be known to anyone who has taken more than the most superficial look at the topic.

            "men who are victim of rape by women are not believed, because for a men to get raped he must get a hard on, hence he can't be raped."

            As a man, I am well aware of the fact that a hard-on can be produced by physical stimulation alone. But the point is moot, because you're not even supporting any point you've previously made – it's just a random anecdote thrown in.

            "But what if it was said that women may get wet when getting raped?"

            It has been said. The particular culture-shift that has changed that isn't that old.

            "Do you think men and women are equals?"

            Yes, but please note the distinction between "equals" and "same".

            "If you do, why do you think though that it's mostly men who do bad staff?"

            There is little connection between the two questions – you're trying to create a link that isn't there. The idea that men and women are truly equals in the rights and respect they deserve, and in the way they should be treated in non-gender-specific situations is very recent (or a recent resurgence of something very ancient, but the point stands). It is not yet pervasive – just because I hold that belief doesn't mean everyone holds it. And our culture is still heavily burdened by heritage from the long time where it was a very unusual thought indeed. The majority of bad things are done by men because our culture enables them to.

            So the thing to do is to change this culture, to tell the men who feel enabled by the culture to harass women that no, we no longer accept this. And this is what this article is about.

          • MizzLady

            First of all, women did not (and do not) "ask" for macho. Harsh conditions and an excruciatingly long pregnancy that aided in the formation of the amazing human brain "selected" for "macho" in our forefathers. But we've come a long way since pregnancy being the only option to be a successful female of our species. We can have children called "books" and "art" and "Fortune 500 companies" and not be any less of a woman than those who chose the traditional, biological means of leaving a legacy. So how does "macho" matter there?

            And to be honest, selection works another way. Early women only had to convince "macho" he was the dad to get protection while vulnerable. THAT'S how patriarchy was born–males convinced of their importance and indispensability. Not that that's an entirely bad thing. It's not been an entirely good thing either. Double edged sword, two sides of the coin, et cetera, ad nauseam, ad infinitum.

            Just saying, though: Amazonians, anyone? 😛

          • Gentleman Johnny

            I'd argue that on that scale patriarchy came from Machos who wanted to make sure they were taking care of their own kid, not the one Slick made while Macho was out hunting. You know who the mother is but you need a fairly ironclad set of rules to be sure about dad.

            Speaking of selection, there's a reason the name Smith became so popular in the age of crusaders and chastity belts. OK, that's probably not true but it makes the point.

        • trixnix

          "3. We revert back to the new widespread sexism of man the scapegoat, responsible of all worst shit in humans, and women remain the angels victim of these bad bad males. "

          Outside of the frothing ramblings of the tin foil hat brigade that are Men's Rights nutjobs, this doesn't and wouldn't happen. We'd be taking a look at harassment and finding ways to stop it happening. And this always angers Men's Rights lunatics because they have huge egos and dislike being told to take responsibility for their own behaviour.

          "Women are no different in being violent. They just use different tools and methods."

          Ridiculous, unspecific generalization which has no meaning. Women can be violent. Mary Ann Cotton was a more prolific serial killer than Jack The Ripper was. People have the potential for violence. But a responsible look at harassment and ways to prevent it doesn't cast mad sexist generalizations. It looks at how to deal with specific problems and issues.

          "But the only modus operandi in the spotlight nowadays is men's, hence it seems that the worst darkness only belongs to men (which is by the way a subtle shit sexism which affirms women superiority in effect)"

          Have you been drinking the kool aid again? How does it affirm women's superiority. If women had superiority, they would not be getting harassed.

          "Women were co-participants of the patriarchal society and males are just as victims as women are. "

          Largely twaddle.

          "NOwadays, I would say male are more victim because of the very fact that our victim status is not recognized, hence we either deal with it alone or get fucked as noone is coming to the rescue. "

          There are reams and reams of angry, sexist drivel written by A Voice For Men and other MRA wackos who claim that women are responsible for getting harassed in the street because they wear clothes that provoke men. If anyone is stopping the vital work that needs to be done to stop harassment happening to men and wonen, it's the wackos in the MRA lair.

    • Thing is Mr. "Anonymous" (Because who is more braver than someone posting on the Internet behind an ambiguous persona,lol) that geek culture by it's definition is supposed to be more democratic and egalitarian. Sure there will always be Star Wars vs Star Trek debates, or Firefly Vs Farscape arguments but it is in the domain of the subject not ad hominem attacks. It is supposed to be more Asimovian than Assinine.

    • MizzLady

      The issue I think that really makes misogyny an issue in geek culture is the fact that many are trying their darnedest to elevate comic/geek culture it to a sort of art form that, in many works, has been proven to be. There are very powerful and valuable themes and messages in many comics, and if you raise the bar just imagine where it could go. Raising the bar involves eradicating marginalization. So you can talk all you want to about zooming out to the big picture and violent, unrestrained threats being a part of anonymity and the culture of the internet. But that's like saying, "Well, the education system in our state sucks, and even though its been brought to the state senate as being unconstitutional a couple times, you know, politicians are just corrupt douche-bags. So let's talk about why they are the problem instead of why the way we fund our schools is a problem." No raising the bar for education; same shit, different shitty day.

      As Dr. NerdLove states, this "not all man" ploy is often a subversive (unintended sometimes?) way of getting those against the status quo of "T&A" to shut up and let people have their superficial-FAP!-bank-material, unrealistic depictions of women. Shutting people up–marginalization–cuts off chances of discourse and dialogue. Hell, think of what beautiful intellectual and borderline-literary intercourse between nerds of all demographics could occur!

      So talk all you want about big ideas and societal issues. It's the little movements and actions that get the ball rolling on progress and change. Your post smacks of too much fatalism Yes, shit happens. There will always be people who want to shit all over everything. But shit stinks, is messy, and disease ridden. And human diets (both nutritionally and spiritually [e.g. hate, suffering, ignorance]) for the most part ruin our excrement as any sort of fertilizer. So can we start shoveling it away to clear the way for more beautiful aspects of human life and existence? Comics can do that. Comics HAVE done that.

      Remember: "Little by little does the trick."

      • Gentleman Johnny

        This isn't particularly about your post, because you're dead on. Just one little thing caught my attention that relates to some previous things that have come up that I wanted to touch on:

        Hey now, I loves me some T&A. Some people like being T&A in the proper context. My cast, they're unrealistic depictions of women. In real life they have normal jobs and boyfriends and whatever. When they out on the uniform, though, they're bad ass post apocalyptic action girls. We do pinup shoots, we do burlesque acts (and other stuff but that doesn't relate). Some people like watching that sort of thing. Some people like doing that sort of thing. The thing is, if you like girls wearing skimpy outfits or taking their clothes off on stage, you don't get to turn around and give them shit in the halls. Because if those people don't feel completely safe in the space where they're doing those things, they'll either quit doing them or leave entirely.

        Women, people really, aren't going to go places or do things that make them feel unsafe. You want to hook up with a girl at a con? Make sure all the women there feel safe hooking up at the con. You want to have an intelligent debate with women who have opinions on their fandom? Make sure all women who express their opinions on fandom feel safe doing so.

    • rowdycmoore

      Precisely there. I am a rarity in that I can claim to be a member of both the geek and sports fandoms, and I call out sexism/abuse against women in both areas. And get eviscerated for doing so. In fact, I get assaulted MORE for doing so in the realm of sports. I frequently call out the biggest sports radio station here in Dallas for being sexists because they've never had a woman among their on-air talent and frequently ridicule women about sports and have even called certain female journalists "bitches." Fans of said station frequently whine back at me "It's not like that! They have no problem with women in sports!" pointing out how the afternoon show will on rare occasion have this one reporter on – who is made to talk about relationship, pregnancy and other "girlie" issues over actual sports. And then there's my ranting against football players who do more than just threaten and actually rape women. I say the game has a serious problem, and the football fans come after me hard. One actually told me "dude, get out of your parents' house, get a girlfriend and learn what real life is like; only a small percentage of football players do that." – even though that's bunk for anyone who knows the likelihood of many more doing it and not getting caught.

      So yeah, props to you for calling out this issue, but yeah – it's far from exclusive to just the geek community.

  • LTP_aka_TheWisp

    So, let me state right up front that I am *not* trying to justify the behavior, I'm just trying to think about why it exists:

    DNL touched on some this in his explanation for geek culture's hostility to women, but I don't think he was explicit enough about it. I think it boils down to geek men being afraid of and feeling inferior to women. This comes from a mixture of sources: High school, where you are strongly attracted to women yet there are disproportionately few women who are willing to date or even be friends with geeky men. Even later in life, it seems geeky men have more trouble finding dates and female friends. They feel powerless to get what everyone else seems to get effortlessly and in their bitterness and feelings of inferiority arises anger. Of course, the tragedy is that the anger drives more women away, making them more bitter, feeding a vicious cycle.

    As far as solving the issue, while stigmatizing current trolls is good, in the long run I don't think just telling young geeky men that "oh, you actually are in the powerful position" will work to change the culture. Invalidating such deep and vulnerable feelings will just promote a backlash, even if you feel you are correct to invalidate them. But I'm not sure what to do instead to raise a generation of geeky men with more healthy views of women and how they relate to them. You can't redistribute pussy or female friendship, nor would it be moral if you could.

    I almost wonder if some sort of an equivalent of the "it gets better" project for young gay men that was targeted at lonely geeky men could preempt some of this. The social isolation and lack of dating experience does change as you leave high school, and especially when you are in your mid to late twenties (I'm only twenty, but I've heard enough anecdata to believe this). Raising the self-esteem of young geeky men *before* they become bitter misogynists could be very helpful I think.

    • Gentleman Horndog

      I think your second paragraph is dead-on.

      "I almost wonder if some sort of an equivalent of the 'it gets better' project for young gay men that was targeted at lonely geeky men could preempt some of this."

      Trouble is, for gay teens, a lot of what that project promises is environmental. When they can extricate themselves from environments where they're constantly being told to hate themselves and can come into contact with more people who are like them, yeah, it really DOES get better.

      For us geeks, it only gets better when we put in the work to MAKE it better, and as anybody who's tried to do that work (even successfully) will tell you, it's neither easy nor a guaranteed success. As snappy taglines go, "You Will Have The Opportunity To Make Things Better Yourself Through Personal Growth" lacks a certain panache.

      You're right that telling guys they're doing something wrong and indulging in deplorable behavior can and will produce backlash, which is why I'm generally only in favor of really giving somebody both barrels when they're doing actual immediate harm. But a lot of times, they're doing actual, immediate harm. If shutting down somebody's harassment of a cosplayer in a revealing outfit results in that guy's feefs getting hurt, I'd rather that than the person he's harassing continuing to feel uncomfortable and threatened. If guys knock this shit off not because they've grown as people but because they know white knights/humorless feminazis/etc etc will jump on them with both feet if they don't, that's a step in the right direction.

      • LTP_aka_TheWisp

        I agree with you about going after people doing real harm, I guess I'm talking about "early intervention" with the next generation of geeks who are in their early to mid teens now. But, as I said, I'm not sure what to do about it.

        • Gentleman Horndog

          I'm with you in that it sounds worth doing and I have no blessed clue how to do it. By choice, I have nothing to do with teens. 🙂

        • MizzLady

          Re: your nerd guy "it gets better" movement: less silicone T & rarely bubblicious A in comics. Idolizing and fantasizing about beautiful strong women that look like real women is key. If they're going to be superheroes and athletes, understand that more muscle mass means less body fat. A and B-cups are more likely in athletic women. Shoulder-to-waist-to-hip ratios should be scrutinized for sheer plausibility as well.

          Show young men "real" (and physically fit is key if they are to be athletic and strong as a part of their character), and they will define physical beauty differently. The standards of sexual attraction (both ways) need to be realistic. Yes, there are Barbie-women out their that love them some non-tradtionally handsome men. But that is an exception.

          Also, why not some not-so-sexually-attractive strong females that aren't past their sexual prime or otherwise undesirable and are fucking awesome? Not all men in comics are overtly sexually attractive. Why are female depictions disproportionately so?

          Representation matters. I recall a well-traversed story/meme about a certain Star Trek actress that made a difference to black women everywhere because she wasn't a maid or servant on TV. And she paved the way for a paragon of sheer-female-awesomeness-that-is-Whoopi-Goldberg and (oh wait) a more "real woman" in the Star Trek universe: Guinan. Yeah, sure, she fits the trope of a "wise grandmother", but Whoopi was by no means old or unattractive at that point in her career.

          And look at what genre is most color and ethnicity blind and defies tropes and stereotypes that still exist in network television! SCIENCE FICTION–COMIC BOOK MOVIES. Popular, highly visible forms of entertainment. Gateways to the wonderful, geekier world of true nerd-dom.

      • Gentleman Johnny

        I don't have a pre-pack answer here but you are making me ponder if there's some sort of positive role model thing that those of us on the side of light can be doing. My crew may be doing a few cons this year, so I'm already talking with my #2 about what we can do to be proactive. We've been lucky to avoid a lot of gendered issues for several reasons but if we've got the luxury and the platform, we should be using it.

      • Swinton

        This also presumes that there aren't huge problems with "it gets better" as a whole concept.

        "It gets better" was founded on trying to convince young gay boys that they shouldn't kill themselves before they can experience the world because the world is not high school. And I agree with this message, because it will get better for any teenager once their brains finish mylenation and everything stops feeling like the end of the world. (There's a biological reason for the incredible intensity of our teenage emotions.)

        But it doesn't say that it gets way more better if you're white, male, straight-acting, cis, and living in a big city – which is also true.

        And the problem isn't that nerds aren't surviving high school. The problem is that nerds don't seem to realise they're not in high school anymore.

        • Joy

          "And the problem isn't that nerds aren't surviving high school. The problem is that nerds don't seem to realise they're not in high school anymore."

          I want to embroider this on a t-shirt. So very frustrating, yet so true.

          • That could be it. Instead of “It Gets Better” the slogan could be “High School Is Over.”

            E.g., “Hi, I host a meetup group of a dozen geeks. At the end of the day, at the end of the week, we do what we want: game, eat pizza, cosplay, watch movies. The bullies who used to pick on us are long gone, and we don’t have to put up with that crap anymore, so we don’t. And we don’t stand by and let anyone else get away with it, either. High school is over.”

    • fakely_mctest

      "I almost wonder if some sort of an equivalent of the "it gets better" project for young gay men that was targeted at lonely geeky men could preempt some of this. The social isolation and lack of dating experience does change as you leave high school, and especially when you are in your mid to late twenties (I'm only twenty, but I've heard enough anecdata to believe this). Raising the self-esteem of young geeky men *before* they become bitter misogynists could be very helpful I think."

      What about lonely geeky women? That's the thing that really really irks me about this whole issue of Toxic Nerdery. It's largely predicated on the erroneous assumption that all nerds are male or white or cis het. And the focus on the woes of the stereotypical white male nerd to the exclusion of all others is part of what makes the visible "valid" nerd community so insular and so incredibly toxic for people who don't fit that mold who ALSO want to participate in nerdy things.

      This goes along with what Blurgle said elsewhere in the comments: nerds are not a protected class and treating them as such is doing no one any favors. There may be other factors at play when it comes to social isolation: so what are they? Some people are bullied and bullying is a problem. Some people are non-neurotypical and understanding of those issues can be lacking in schools. Some people are dealing with mental illness and that's still stigmatized.

      Some people are isolated because they have trouble seeing past the ends of their own noses in order to expand their interests. When I was an isolated high school girl, even though I thought it was mega annoying (because I was a teenager and everything was mega annoying), the community service hours required to graduate at least got me out of my own stupid head for a while and exposed me to new people and experiences.

      • LTP_aka_TheWisp

        Hm, I didn't mean to invalidate the experiences of others, I guess I'm just focusing on how to combat this problem in the long term. The quote of mine you selected was just thinking out loud more than anything. I guess I just believe that a lot of geek misogyny comes from a root of low self-esteem and loneliness, and that if we could raise the self-esteem of young geek men somehow (and by young, I mean middle schoolers and high schoolers) then I think the misogyny would be lessened (and more men would call out misogyny).

        Also, I agree that geeks aren't some special class of people that need to be protected, but I do think that certain kinds of special classes of people that are not given as much attention as other classes by the broader culture (as opposed the visible ones like sexual orientation, race, gender) such as people with asperger's, other mental illnesses, victims of bullying, as you noted, also are over represented in geekdom. Of course, actions that help those groups wouldn't be targeted at just geeks, but there would be a lot of overlap.

        • trixnix

          There's some truth in the notion that bullying either teaches you to love or hate. It largely taught me to love but I guess it could teach some people to hate others. But something bugs me about that idea and it's the notion that someone acts out simply because they have low self esteem. That having a low view of yourself somehow means you don't have to take responsibility for your own behaviour and that if and when women get harassed in the geek community, it was somehow caused by some other women in some other place and time who wouldn't sleep with or hang out with some other random men.

          There's a fair few women who won't sleep with me. They are not responsible for my behaviour towards anyone. The more we recognise that we don't own fun and that fun is meant to be shared, the less threatened we feel by people coming into our fandom communities.

          • LTP_aka_TheWisp

            Hm, I would say that low self-esteem is a necessary but not sufficient cause for acting out like that. Most people with low self-esteem are actually quite reserved. However, remove the low self-esteem and I think many of these people would stop.

            There's a big difference between recognizing the causes and seeking to remedy them, and letting people off the hook. By all means, hold people accountable, but also try to prevent future harassers by striking at the root.

      • Gentleman Horndog

        "That's the thing that really really irks me about this whole issue of Toxic Nerdery. It's largely predicated on the erroneous assumption that all nerds are male or white or cis het."

        Given that LTP is talking about nerds who engage in the kind of behavior described in the article and speculating on ways to head-off that behavior pre-adulthood, 75% of that assumption seems perfectly reasonable in-context. Though, hey, if outreach that can help squelch misogynist attitudes before they last into adulthood can also improve the lives awkward young geeks who were highly unlikely to be a part of that particular problem, that'd be awesome, too.

    • LeeEsq

      Is the first paragraph really true anymore or was it ever true? In the past there was a gender imbalance in many nerd cultures and sub-cultures but these days it seems to be relatively balanced. Conventions seemed to be split relatively equally between men and women in attendance from what I remember. The growing number of feminist critiques of fan culture also suggest a growing gender balance.

      • LTP_aka_TheWisp

        I can only speak from personal experience, but, depending on how you define geek, there were conspicuously fewer geek girls at the places I went to school and most of the geeky guys did not date. I have no experience with conventions. Even at community college there seem to be significantly fewer (though more than at high school).

        • LeeEsq

          My high school had no truly geeky subcultures. We had individual geeks but because of a variety factors, there wasn't much bullying of them and there was no need for all the RPGers to hunker down together. If you define geek or nerdy broadly, we were at least a plurality or maybe even a majority of the students. In college, the anime club was very male for the first two years but it was also extraordinarily small. It grew and became more gender balanced in my junior and senior years. Anime clubs that I was part of after college were relatively balanced.

        • guest

          Because of everything written above, article and comments: there is a significant portion of geek culture that actively excludes females, and thanks to the silence and inaction of the rest of geek culture, succeeds. How much time are you going to spend with people who don’t want you around? Not much, no matter how much you love something, whatever it is. You just go off and enjoy your geek interests by yourself. That’s what I have done for decades and will continue to do, as it’s clear that the culture has changed very little. Signed, Old Geeky Female Nerd

          • Gentleman Johnny

            Dear OGFN,
            I've heard that many times before. It makes me feel honored to be part of (one of) our local women-safe geek groups. You're not the only one and if you look around, maybe you can find some other women to share your geekdom with.

      • Gentleman Johnny

        Been to a comic/game shop this century, Lee? There's a higher percentage of women, yes, but its maybe 10% up from 1%.

        • LeeEsq

          Yes. I live in New York City so the demographics might be a bit different than other areas.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            Even New York, from my most recent experiences, doesn't have anything approaching gender parity. There are certainly more women in comic shops now than there were 20 years ago, though

      • nonA

        High school is a nasty time, when people get most of their formative experiences by being forced into a crowd full of arbitrary people around their same age, all of whom are figuring out their identities and how their actions impact other people. Dating takes everything I said above and ramps it up a notch.

        It's very much worth giving people in that situation pointers so that they can have successful interactions with the opposite sex, just so they can have normal interactions instead of seeing them as some mysterious, alien Other. Then again, that's kind of what most of this site is about.

      • Delafina

        Depends on the particular corner of fandom, but yes, there's still a gender imbalance. Only about 10% of the competitive Magic circuit is female. Only about 25% of Call of Duty players are female.

        And it gets worse when you look at the people creating geek culture, and not just fans. Only 11% of game designers are female. 12% of comics creators. And Geena Davis has all sorts of stats about the paucity of female representation in television and movies.

        So yes, it was true and it remains true. It's nowhere even *approaching* balanced yet.

        • "Only about 10% of the competitive Magic circuit is female. Only about 25% of Call of Duty players are female. "

          Both of those segments are widely spoken of as particularly toxic to women.

          However I did see an artticle in Publishers Weekly this morning that shows that the fastest growing segment of comic book sales are to women age 17-33.

          • PhaedraB

            Unfortunately, "fastest growing" can be a deceptive statistic when compared to real numbers. A group that starts with 10 and adds 2 will be statistically faster growing than a group that starts with 1000 and adds 50. A group that starts with 5 and adds 5 has growth of 100%. But the group of 1005 still dwarfs the "fastest growing" group.

        • LeeEsq

          I was in manga and anime fandom for a bit, which tends towards relatively even gender balances. Games weren't my thing.

          As for the creator imbalance, I recognize that it exists but the problem is partly created by past gender imbalances and the shape of the industry. The American comic book industry is much smaller than the Japanese comic book industry. The first shoujo comics were written by men but by the late 1960s and early 1970s, more and more women were getting into comic creation in Japan. The girl's comic industry in the United States practically collapsed by this point with a few holdouts like Archie Comics. Most comics were very boy-oritented and there were few avenues for anybody to get into the comic industry. You had DC, Marvel, Archie, a few independent presses and that was it. If you wanted something relatively mainstream and non-experimental but aimed at girls and women, you were badly out of luck. It took until the late 1990s for there to be enough opportunities for anybody to create somewhat to very mainstream comics outside of DC and Marvel.

          • PhaedraB

            Yet when I was a girl and reading lots and lots of comics, I wasn't reading "girl" comics. I thought Archie Comics were boring. I read DC superheroes. (Marvel superheroes hadn't been invented yet.) Is the issue that comics are "aimed" at either boys or girls instead of being "aimed" at everyone?

          • Delafina

            What on earth is your point?

        • CmE

          in my experience 10% of the competitive Magic circuit being female is a gross overestimate, it's nowhere near that high in the UK. I'd guess there's a higher percentage of women working in WoTC R & D (Alexis Janson was lead design for Dragon's Maze) than you see at your typical UK PTQ.

          • Delafina

            Not a significantly higher percentage, no. Wizards is still pretty male-dominated.

    • Swinton

      You make the erroneous assumption that all misogynist nerds are straight. They're not. There are a lot of gay boys and men who are nerds who are absolutely vile about women. Because they've grown up in a culture where being vile about women is okay, it's how to make them shut up, and if they disagree with something a woman says then making her shut up is much easier than actually considering she might be right.

      And in some cases these guys are worse than straight men, because they have this thought "Why should I be nice to women, I don't even want to fuck them."*

      We need to start making nerd culture in general hostile to the attitude that being vile to women is okay. It's not about sexuality, it's about treating women as people.

      *Note: it's hard for straight people to tell queer people their attitude sucks – it sounds like oppression. Other queer nerds (like me, I'm holding my hand up here) need to start dealing with this stuff amongst our own. Living with queer oppression doesn't excuse us oppressing others.

      • Delafina

        It's true that some gay men are hostile toward women, but the reverse is also true. The strongest male feminist allies I've had have been gay men, because they recognized the problem of geek culture being hostile to anyone who wasn't a straight white male, rather than it just being a women's issue or LGBTQ issue.

        • Swinton

          Oh definitely, there are some awesome gay male allies to women or POC. I just wanted to point out this attitude doesn't come from being denied the chance to have sex with girls in high school.

    • Maximilian

      "I almost wonder if some sort of an equivalent of the "it gets better" project for young gay men that was targeted at lonely geeky men could preempt some of this."

      Its called "it'll happen some day" and its a piece of shit for all concerned.

    • What potentially misogynistic nerds need isn't an "it gets better" movement. They need a "Make yourself better" movement."

  • wysewomon

    I'm too ill with stomach flu at the moment to say anything more than THANK YOU. When even my reasonably intelligent male friends consistently say things like, "Just don't give it any attention" and "If she keeps hearing these things, maybe she should look at her own behaviour," it lifts my spirits to know that men like you actually exist. Thank you.

  • burritomouth

    Notes in no order:
    • The "White Knight" insult always entertains me. I'm not calling you an asshole in order to get laid, but instead, I get laid because I am the kind of guy who will call you an asshole.
    • I really liked the observations about how geek culture has WON and that's frakking with some people's heads.
    • Please, you guys who send these threats, PLEASE act like this in public. Be proud of who you are, and share it with the world.

    • g2-9412afb6b652404c3f65011a1daae279

      Going slightly off topic, re: "I really liked the observations about how geek culture has WON and that's frakking with some people's heads."

      I find that that also seems to be the case with regards to the Cold War. Basically, there is a subset of Americans, sadly with disproportionate political power compared to how many of them there actually are in the U.S., who just lost their damn minds when the Soviet Union collapsed, because they defined themselves so much by who their enemy was that once that enemy no longer existed… And you can tell who these people are, because they are the elected officials and journalists who will try to get us into any war they can, regardless of who the President is. Your Bill Kristols and John McCains. They don't care where it is or why, they just NEED a war, the same way these angry geek boy misogynists need to feel oppressed.

      • Cactus

        Also, people like the Tea Party, Rush Limbaugh, etc, who accuse even moderate liberals of being "socialists" just so they can cause fear among people for whom that might still be the scariest thing ever.

      • Tricksterbelle

        Related to the Cold War, many of those people are so flummoxed because the Soviet Union fell and America didn't actively conquer it for that to happen. There was no triumphant soldier sticking the American flag in the ground to claim victory. And I think many geeks are still stuck in the cultural stone age in the same way. No one stuck a flag in the ground and proclaimed Geeks dominant now. So many are either operating like they're still underground, (just a more spacious one), or any mainstream geekery is a rug to be swiftly pulled out from under them.

        Some cannot comprehend a victory without a defeat, and they will semper and warmonger until they get it.

    • Maximilian

      The ultimate irony being "White Knight" is pretty much exactly what other people refer to as "Nice Guy"

      • Maximilian

        Why was this thumbed down?

        Nice Guy (from the perspective of the people who dislike them): Person being nice in order to gain something from the person they're directing it to.

        White Knight (from the perspective of the people who dislike them): Person being nice in order to gain something from the person they're defending

        Oh, I posted it – my mistake. As you were, DNL comment section!

    • Waddles

      The craziest thing about the White Knight label is when it's applied to you on an anonymous online forum, as if somehow the things you type on the internet under a pseudonym activate a kind of homing beacon for sex in the real world. Personally I'd love a zombie film where all the zombies are moaning "freee speeeeech" and "sociaaal juuustice waaarriorrrrrr" right before they get flame-throwered.

      I've read various articles about the police response to online sexual harassment and part of the problem seems to be that prosecution is quite spotty. If more people were arrested or even cautioned for threats made online to specific people then perhaps people would think twice before abusing people like this. It's not a perfect solution, but often problems like these can be institutionalised to the degree that even the authorities don't see the problem.

      • Gentleman Johnny

        The problem with prosecuting is its almost always going to be a federal case with the victim in one state, the server with IP logs in another and the originating system and offender in a third. So if I get harassed in Des Moines, the prosecuter needs to subpoena the IP logs in San Jose then contact the cable provider in Orlando to find out who the client is.

        • celette482

          Federal Public Defense Attorney here: This is less of an issue than you might think. The US Attorneys don't care where your IP address is. Problem is, there isn't a federal law specifically against this.

          Now, there are other things that make cyber harassment hard to criminalize (yes yes this is where the First Amendment actually DOES come in, not all threats are created equal), but being able to track down and find a venue in which to prosecute people isn't one of them.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            My point was not so much difficulty of prosecution as a whole. Its more that you have to involve the federal system, which is necessarily a more involved process for a more busy court system than getting a restraining order from your local county courthouse. Thanks for giving me more details, though. I honestly have little idea of the inner workings and just sort of assumed it would require the FBI be willing to investigate, which would promptly swamp them.

    • kfizz

      White knight is only as trying to get a advantage by doing something nice rather then always being nice. Plus its a good way to be taken advantage of not in a bad way. It will mean you are just the patsy and you will try to bend and over reach and lose ground. Its more like say if you were working as a store clerk and the people who try and steal go to the rube to get away with it. Because they are staring at the ground barley talking rather then being able to stand their ground when it comes to a conflict.

  • etherealclarity

    I just attended this related panel at PAX East this past weekend! http://www.giantbomb.com/videos/pax-east-2014-why

    It is a talk by Zoe Quinn and Patrick Klepek, and focuses on overall internet bullying rather than specifically gender-related bullying, but it offers up some great insights as to why it happens and how we can help prevent it.

  • trixnix

    Not sure if I'm geeky. A Facebook quiz says I'm mildly geeky. I have no idea about comics but have dressed up as The Doctor from Doctor Who before now. If I meet a woman and she likes Doctor Who too, that's fantastic. I remember the period where the show was cancelled. Most of us fans couldn't get a date for love nor money if we revealed we had toy Daleks in our bedrooms. One of the blessings of the new series is it's really updated the whole thing and it's become much more engaging for a modern audience of men and women. Though of course we love women who stuck with the show through the classic era.

    I can't fathom being angry or aggressive about someone else liking something I like. Fun is to be shared. You don't own fun. I wasn't lucky with girls when I was in high school but I've never felt the urge to harass women. But I have seen it. I've seen some very dark harassment crap. I've got a build that kind of looks a bit like a night club bouncer so when I say: "erm…nope, you're not pulling that kind of crap", harassers give it a rest. I've got female friends who are more geeky than I am and that's great. Having a passion is great.

    Everyday sexism follow me (under my real name) on Twitter and reading through their twitter feed shows just how much women (and men too) put up with on a daily basis. Geeky or not, harassment is a real problem out there.Rape threats are disgusting and technically a threat to commit a crime.

    It isn't all men doing this harassment crap. But I think those of us males who aren't doing it need to make it clear that we don't put with that kind of behaviour towards women (or men).

  • Pingback: What Are Misogynist Geeks So Afraid Of?Jobrny's World | Jobrny's World()

  • Nothing to add except to say that I'm a longtime geek and I stand with Doc here.

  • Jared

    ” Marginalize these people. Isolate them. Excise them from the community – we don’t need them, we sure as shit don’t want them.”

    That’s a great idea. Take the broken people who get so angry they do awful things like threaten rape and death and then isolate and marginalize them MORE. Perfect. Don’t treat them like people that need help. Don’t treat them with kindness and love and empathy. Fuck them right? That’ll totally make it better.

    Holy fuck article after article about how you need to kick “bad people” out of the door and treat them like shit because they did something bad. I admit those things are awful and terrible but you don’t know anything about their lives. Maybe they have mental problems. Maybe they’re victims of physical or mental abuse. Maybe they’re sociopaths. Forget all that let’s just insult them back and kick them out. Complete the cycle, continue a world devoid of empathy and compassion, that’ll totally make things better. Again these people are doing horrible things. There is obviously something wrong with them. Maybe our community should go to them, honestly and sincerely, and ask them what’s wrong and if we can help. Maybe through caring and empathy we can help. If it doesn’t work? Well at least we tried. We treated them like people while they treated others terribly. Like the idea of just telling them to go fuck themselves?

    Congratulations. Now you’re all monsters

    • Gentleman Horndog

      If I throw a party and one of the guests starts punching people in the face, I don't give a shit what combination of abuse, dysfunction, and mental illness in his history causes him to act that way. He's no longer welcome in my home until I trust he's not going to punch any more people in the face.

      These guys can heal on their own time, and I hope they do. But insisting strangers put up with their abuse in the meanwhile is nonsense.

      • Jared

        I agree with your thoughts on people in your home but this is an internet issue. Most bullies don’t use real names and real profiles so even if you do eject them they’re just going to come back worse.

    • eselle28

      You know, if men who sympathize with men who behave badly to the point of making rape threats and want to work to help them, then by all means they should feel free to do so. But they should do this outside of the broader community so as to not impose people who behave badly on their past victims and on people who they may victimize in the future, and there should be no obligation in the part of victims (or anyone else) to participate in this effort. Receiving rape threats is bad enough. It shouldn't come with an obligation to be a part time, unpaid social worker.

    • Gentleman Johnny

      All of those things explain their actions. They do not excuse their actions. I agree that there are more productive solutions for those men in the long term. In the short term, though, those concerns do not outweigh preventing them from victimizing people.

      • Jared

        I’m all for the safety of everyone but this is the internet, you can’t stop people from creating accounts and saying awful things. The people being attacked should take every precaution they feel will make them be safe. To me though if we default to attacking people or ejecting them it will cause them to get worse.

        • you don't know a lot about human psychology do you? Because I've taken just a few courses on how human communities function, and I can tell you that shunning people for poor behaviour stops people from engaging in that behaviour. Humans are social creatures and *will* without exception conform their behaviour to the expectations of the masses. This is why it is the responsibility of the masses to ensure that only behaviours that are harmful are shunned.
          What doesn't work is excusing it or allowing it to continue. Insisting that we need to have sympathy for them and help them, instead of requiring that they change their behaviour is like taking issue with the teacher who puts your kid in the corner after they stole another kid's shoes. In winter. And then telling the this little bully-in-the-making that there's nothing wrong with them, it's all okay, etc.
          Please stop excusing people who terrorize and put others at risk of immediate physical harm, and stop absolving them of responsibility for their actions. It's sad that they are probably angry, bitter people who don't know how to relate to other human beings, but as adults, it is their responsibility to work on that. They cannot be helped unless they want it (another fact of human psychology).

          • Delafina

            Yeah, I've been doing community management for over a decade, and the safest communities tend to have active moderation, but more importantly, the community itself tends to set the tone for what is and isn't acceptable by calling out bad behavior and, yes, shunning people who engage in it.

            In an online community, unless you have admin/mod powers, your only actual power is the power to get people to listen to you and engage with you. With the exception of "drive-by" trolls (who are actually in the minority, as even most trolls want to continue to engage for more than a single post), most people get that at one level or another, and so if the community chooses to disengage with them, they will either leave, or they'll bring their behavior in line with the community's standards so as to be able to resume engaging.

        • Gentleman Johnny

          So people can make anonymous, disposable accounts to avoid being held accountable for their actions and the solution is. . .don't hold them accountable for their actions? Yeeeeeeeaaaaaaahhhhhhhh. . . .no.

        • Delafina

          Actually, you can. You can ban them from your forums. You can revoke their ability to use your services (most services like Facebook and Twitter, that people are using to threaten and harass people have terms of service that say pretty explicitly that if you use the service to threaten people, they'll revoke your access, and we need, as a culture, to be better about holding Facebook and Twitter to those terms). In some cases, you may be able to get their personal information from their ISP in order to file a police report against them.

          Handwaving about "oh, there's nothing that can be done!" helps perpetuate the ability of these people to continue to threaten and harass their victims.

    • trixnix

      "Maybe our community should go to them, honestly and sincerely, and ask them what's wrong and if we can help. Maybe through caring and empathy we can help".

      I've been bullied so much growing up it stopped being funny. I don't harass people. Having bad stuff happen to you does not excuse you visiting similar bad stuff onto other people. I am responsible for my own behaviour. I'm responsible for the times I've been a dick and responsible for the times I've been a great person.

      Empathy and support from others helps. But none of that has any power unless the person takes responsibility for themselves and their behaviour.

      • metaljared

        Where did I say it was an excuse? What they do is awful. One would assume there is a reason they do that. Again maybe they're just awful sociopaths I don't know. Of course people need to take responsibility but the internet gives people anonymity so just kicking people out doesn't help since they can just come back again this time with more hatred.

        • trixnix

          Sometimes people behave badly just because they can or want to. The "look for a reason for everything" approach really doesn't work. Yes,the internet gives anonymity to some extent but you'd be hard pressed to reason with trolls and harassers online. Kick them out and if they come back, kick them out again. Who cares if doing that makes them more aggressive. It usually doesn't but who cares if it does. Pandering to the bully does not solve bullying. It just leaves a psychological scar on the victim with the implication that people cared more about the bully and their needs then they did about stopping the bullying.

        • anon

          You are underestimating the value that shaming has in a community. Which, ironically, is what the minority of women have stuck around through. You are right that some of them will just come back worse–these are the ones who are actual, hardcore misogynist trolls; they don’t actually want to be part of the community, they literally just want to violently harass women and try to make them leave.

          For the “redeemable broken”, however, having the community turn on them for bad behavior can be a powerful call to action…or at least a very persuasive “come to jesus” argument. People who are looking for community will seek to amend their behavior so they will be accepted again. (THAT is the value of speaking out.)

          And, to your point, that is more likely to be the case if there is some empathy and respect thrown into the course correction. I don’t think anyone was really suggesting returning the threats or violence–just telling them their behavior is unacceptable and that they are not welcome in the community if it continues.

        • Delafina

          Actually, it does help. You kick them out, they come back, you kick them out again. If they keep coming back, you report them to their ISP, then IP ban them. And yeah, maybe they'll use a proxy and come back. So you ban their proxy.

          Plus, publicly kicking these people out *isn't* primarily directed at them.

          It's like harassment policies at conventions. Each time a small convention gets big enough to start talking about having behavior policies, you hear, "well, harassers aren't going to read the policies, so what's the point."

          And the point is that the policies aren't for the benefit of the harassers. They're for the benefit of the victims and the staff. Having a clearly stated policy lets people know that the convention has their back, and if someone harasses them, there's recourse. It lets them know who to contact and what steps to take. And it lets staff know that they're empowered to act in these cases and gives them a policy to follow.

          Kicking harassers out of our online communities functions in much the same way. It's not going to stop new harassers from showing up, but it does let victims know that they have support and recourse, and encourages them to report incidents because they can see that something will be done about it.

    • Delafina

      Um, no, not wanting bad people in my community doesn't make me a monster. You behave horribly, you lose the right to be part of the community.

      Other people aren't responsible for your behavior, and they're not responsible for "fixing" you. If a dude is awful to me, I am not obligated to CONTINUE SPENDING TIME AROUND SOMEONE WHO IS HURTING OR THREATENING ME for THEIR benefit.

      Own your own behavior.

      The flipside is, if you can't control your own behavior, you shouldn't be afforded the same freedoms as people who can. Generally, we institutionalize people who aren't in control of their behavior and are harmful to others.

      You don't get to have it both ways. Either you take responsibility for your own behavior, like an adult, or you lose adult privileges.

      • Gentleman Johnny

        Isn't there an article back a ways about missing stairs and how geeks feel so bad about having been excluded that they often don't want to exclude anyone else, even if they have a legitimate reason to?

        Doc, can we get a link?

        • Dr_NerdLove

          I've referred to both in articles ( here, in fact) but what you're generally talking about is the Geek Social Fallacy.

          And the Missing Stair Problem

          • Gentleman Johnny

            Thanks. Sometimes i feel like I need an index to point people to the articles that inform these sorts of discussions.

    • chinchilla

      I'm fascinated by this response. If not wanting to be around people who threaten to kill or rape me makes me a monster, then so be it. RAWR.

      Like, really, this is laughable. Next time you are threatened with acts of violence by multiple people at multiple times who know where you live, where you work and where your children go to school, please tell me about the time you sat down with them and asked them what's wrong and how you can help. Let me know how that works out for you.

    • Joy

      "I admit those things are awful and terrible but you don't know anything about their lives."

      If someone is threatening me or anyone else with absolutely vile things, I don't flipping *care* about his life and whether something bad might have happened to him at some point (and guess what? Almost everyone has had or will have at least one traumatic or truly awful thing happen to them, probably many more). Maybe his parents were abusive or neglectful or he got his feelings hurt when some girl was mean to him or he is mentally ill or he is just a really enormous jerk. You know what? It doesn't *matter* why he's being an awful human being. He needs to stop being an awful human being. And other people (most of whom, by the way, are dealing with their own hurts) are not obligated to coddle him or put up with his awfulness because there might possibly be some mitigating factor.

    • Niktike

      See, the thing about horrible harassers, is that they're CURRENTLY ostracizing women who'd very much like to get more involved in geek things. For women like me, guys like the ones in the article make us put so much effort and energy into participating in geek culture that either we cut back to just people we know personally, and no longer participate in the larger culture, or we get chased out entirely. That's the whole point of the harassment, in fact.

      So really, it's a choice between ostracizing the harassers or letting them ostracize the victims. The harassers are forcing you to make a choice, them or their victims. And right now, you're choosing them.

    • Cozzer

      Yeah, how could you even think about telling a person who threatens rape to go away. You horrible man.

    • Robjection

      I don't know much about people who do awful things to other people. All I know is that when I was bullied at school, the help route, the "kindness and love and empathy" route, didn't make the guy stop, whereas the harsh discipline route did.

      It doesn't matter if they have mental problems, or if they're victims of physical or mental abuse, or if they're sociopaths. Awful things are still awful things and when one does awful things, one should be punished for it. Rehabilitation can be combined with this, but it is not a replacement.

    • enail0_o

      I'm a bit curious, Jared, are you doing this? When you see someone posting rape threats, have you yourself tried saying "it sounds like you're hurting a lot. Threatening people's not a good way to express that, but if you want to talk about it, drop me a PM, I'm listening."? If so, how did it go?

      Because if you're right and the people making rape threats are really just acting out on their pain and would stop if they experienced caring and empathy, I think that taking them out of the space where their behavior is harming others and talking with them privately could be an excellent thing to do. But it needs to be in addition to making clear that they are not welcome when they behave in unacceptable ways – there's no reason we can't try to deal with a problem through more than one tactic, and maybe that's a good role for you – but if you're suggesting that we should empathize with them instead of keeping them out of common spaces when they behave that way, well, that sounds like you're saying that women should just put up with rape threats and feeling unwelcome in their community just in case the person making the rape threats feels unwelcome. Which, I hope you can see why that's a shitty thing to do.

      • Mel_

        This comment also needs all the +1s!

        • Barretts_Salt

          Yup. Joe Bob Briggs says three thumbs up:)

    • Kelly

      I agree you have a point, and think all those down votes might be a bit unfair, but the most important thing though is to completely disempower them and to render them and their toxic ideas harmless first. As the article mentioned, never should the attacker be given more rights and privilege over the victim. Kindness to them should never come at the expense of the victim.

      I will acknowledge though that it does happen where people unfairly side with the women in a situation, even in geek culture because the guys involved are that immature and desperate to please any girl they encounter, which just feeds the cycle of hate and hostility of the other guys towards girls in geek communities. Equality for everyone period would help so many things.

      • Gentleman Johnny

        I really don't see that second part often. Mind you, I don't see a lot of harassment in the first place but I definitely don't see a dog-pile on guys who do it, either.

    • shaenon

      Yeah no.

      1. There are literally millions of people I could hang out with who don't hate me for being female. As I have a limited amount of time on this planet, I choose to hang out with them.

      2. There are countless people out there with real problems I could help, instead of soothing the feelings of entitled middle-class white dudes whose worst trauma ever was getting picked on for playing Magic: The Gathering in high school and are taking it out on women for some illogical reason. There's got to be someone in greater need than these guys.

      3. Hey, you know who I could spend my time helping and understanding and empathizing with instead of bullies? Victims of bullies!

      4. Trust me, I have picked up on the implicit threat in your post: if I don't respond to abuse by trying to placate the abuser, he could turn even more dangerous, and then I'll be sorry. Fuck that. I don't negotiate with terrorists. Doesn't work anyway.

    • Blurgle

      They are not hurt. They have not been damaged by society. They do NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT need help.

      They are spoiled, pampered, entitled, self-centered special snowflakes with a MASSIVE superiority complex. They have learned to game the system by LYING about being victimized, to the point that they believe it themselves. The only "pain" they have ever suffered is the bruises they got on their knuckles from beating other people into the ground.

      They deserve zero empathy, because they are not victims. They're perpetrators.

  • nonA

    "There will be people who want to say “it’s important to note that guys get this too!” or rush to complain that it’s not all men who do this. They will want to play “devil’s advocate” or complain that they don’t harass women so it’s unfair for people to bring it up because it’s “tarring men with a broad brush” or maligning otherwise well-meaning dudes…"

    Well, yes. When the discussion turns into pointing out how evil is inherent to the Y chromosome, you'll have people get upset. Although as they learn that discussion is a complete waste of their time, they resort to plans B (returning snark for snark) or C (completely tuning the discussions out).

    I'm a dude, so no skin off my nose. It's still worth looking at the reality on the ground.

    "There will be push-back. There will be people who insist that just calling out bullshit doesn’t actually do anything because trolls are trolls and assholes are going to ass. Fuck them, they don’t want to see things change. There will be people who will call your motivations into question; they’ll call you a “white knight” and insist you’re only trying to impress women and get laid by standing up for them. Fuck them too; they know damn good and well how much power a male voice telling them that their behavior is unacceptable has on the community at large. They will say anything to try to distract you, shift the goal posts, derail the conversation, try to turn it around and make it about you. Don’t let them."

    So I take it that feminists have perfected their "control the culture" strategy? That I couldn't find plenty of examples of gross transphobia, slagging on sex workers, or heterosexuality-is-internalized-misogyny types if I went out there and looked?

    I'm not trying to invalidate women's experiences, say that these problems are not problems, or that we should all throw up our hands and give up. What I'm saying is that most of the proffered solutions remind me of the old quote; "For every complex problem there is a solution that is simple, obvious, and wrong". If our goal is to improve the quality of life for any group of people, discussing effectiveness does become kinda sorta important.

    • Gentleman Johnny

      I'm not trying to invalidate women's experiences

      Its generally a safe bet that if you start a sentence with this, the rest of your point will involve minimizing the issue. If gross transphobia, slagging on sex workers, or heterosexuality-is-internalized-misogyny bother you, then by all means work on solutions to those issues, too. This is an article about a single issue, women being harassed in geek circles. Changing the topic doesn't make you a broad minded activist. It makes you look like you're diverting the topic to avoid dealing with the issue.

      • nonA

        To repeat/paraphrase the rest of my last paragraph:

        If the people offering solutions still have these problems in their own community, it's worth asking if their proffered solutions actually work. If you want to effect real change, "does it actually work?" is an important question.

        • Gentleman Johnny

          Agreed but lets define "work" as "fewer women are being victimized" with a useful secondary objective of "are these guys learning to behave better in order to avoid being ostracized?"

          Again, very eye opening experience today tells me that yes, what I've been doing works. I haven't changed the whole world, or even all of geekdom but I have achieved the primary objective on multiple occasions. It also made it quite clear that there's more I can do.

        • PaulRivers

          Lol, dude, the kind of people who write feminist-issue articles describe their own way of thinking better than anyone else could. Take your comment, and the reactions, and just grab a bit out of the article and rephrase it with the other gender and you automatically have exactly what happened in all the responses –

          Whenever the subject of how men are treated in feminist culture comes up, people will immediately rush to dismiss and diminish and derail the conversation.

          • trixnix

            Paul, I don't know what feminist culture is but if it actually existed or held any sway then women wouldn't be getting harassed in the first place.

            It's not all men doing the harassment crap. Doesn't mean we don't all have a power to change things.

          • PaulRivers

            Lol, responds to post pointing out dismissal and derailment with more dismissal and deraillment.

      • Delafina

        Yeah, it's sort of like starting out a sentence with, "I'm not racist, but…"

        Chances are >99% that you're about to be racist.

        • Joy

          Or like how "no offense, but…" means the rest of your statement is likely to be at least a little offensive.

    • shaenon

      Noooope. Nope to all this. Juuuust nope.

      Most feminist communities do call out bigotry among their members, but I am not required to make sure that every woman or every feminist in the world is enlightened on all intersectional issues before I feel able to critique a GODDAMN COMIC BOOK COVER without getting rape threats.

      I'm not sure how not tolerating guys who make violent threats and hur-hur sammich comments is a solution that's "simple, obvious, and wrong." Perhaps you could explain.

      • nonA

        It costs nothing to set up TOR, get a free email address, and send vile invective to somebody. Then I can just go back to whatever echo chamber reinforces those ideas. If you call me out and I can just write you as a feminazi/white knight, that's not going to change my behavior in the slightest. The internet will still be a place with plenty of people who harass women to silence them. Or just for kicks.

        Even in the real world, that sort of ostracism is best used in limited doses. Otherwise, you end up driving away a bunch of people and they find their own place to congregate. Doesn't sound too bad on the face of it, unless you're a girl just starting to explore geeky interests and don't know which game stores host which kind of people.

        We both want the same thing in the end. I just don't think that ideas like being hyper vigilant about calling out bad behavior are as effective as people like to think

        • Desultory Philip

          What would be "hyper vigilant"? Calling out, say, over 50% of the sexism and misogyny you see? 75%? Is that too much calling out? Cuz the way it seems now, ANY calling out meets with But But But What About Teh Harrassers?…

  • LeeEsq

    One of the things that I found infuriating about fandom when I was more active in it was how so many fans really wanted fantasy and science fiction to be taken seriously by critics but would get very dismissive and invoke the MST3K defense when their favorite piece of science fiction or fantasy was subject to negative criticism. The reaction to the critics that pointed out some of the not so entirely positive implication of Cameron's Avatar was a classic example of this. When you add the sexism and sense of entitlement that lacks in certain fans than your getting this reaction pumped up beyond belief.

  • Swinton

    Exactly. Sometimes assholes are just assholes and we insult people who have been abused, or who live with mental illness, by saying that all assholes must have these things and that these things mean they are broken.

    I have mental illness. I am queer. I have had the shit kicked out of me by people on the street for wearing clothes that they thought someone of my gender should not wear.

    This does not make me broken. It does not make it okay for me to hurt other people.

    • Swinton

      That was in response to Jared. Damnitt.

  • Counterillusion

    I’m one of the geek women that never post in most geek spaces on the internet because of the crap you’re calling out. Many of us lurk, though; we watch, we listen, and we wish we felt safe enough to actually join in. Thank you for creating a geek space online where I can actually feel safe enough to leave a comment, Doc. It means a lot to see so many people stand up and say “No more!”

    • dem_bones

      So so true. I see a story that I have a strong opinion about, but that will reveal my gender, and I see other self-identified female commenters getting endless shit piled on them, all with lots of up votes, and I leave.

      Because, you know what? It feels like shit getting that stuff said to you. Good for those women that have stopped being bothered, but that's not me. And why should I have to become an automaton in order to enjoy these spaces? Why should I have to change to meet the masculine standards of toughness?

  • Lynnberrie

    I've actually been a bit timid for a long time to actually get involved with certain online communities do to my overall timidness. One of the first times I made a comment on a Youtube video about how I wasn't happy about the X-Box One, I immediately received two comments that called me immature and how my opinion was stupid because I'm female. Needless to say, I've been very cautious of what I type and where I type it one the Internet. The worst part was that I wasn't the only one having a negative reaction to the new X-Box.

  • Gentleman Johnny

    Counterillusion, Lynnberrie, welcome to the community. Your input is welcome and I for one am glad that you picked this spot to speak up.

  • Jacob

    I just have to say, I couldn't give a flying toss if you're a man, woman or child. You could have white skin, black skin or green skin. You could be a published authority on a subject, or some randy with access to a blog and a moderate fan base, if you have an opinion that I think is wrong, I'll tell you, and I feel that more people could benefit from this attitude, so that we're not all walking on egg-shells forever.
    It's not a matter of women "not being allowed to have interests", the fact of the matter is, when something becomes mainstream, in this case "geek" culture, it inevitably becomes saturated with people deemed less than worthy by those who have been part of said community for what they believe to be a longer stretch of time, regardless of evidence supporting or to the contrary.
    Here's the thing though, length of time followed does not equate to amount of right you have to like something. High school might have been a terrible place for you and your D and D group, but just because the popular girls spilled water on your crotch as a joke, does not mean that you have an automatic right to like something above someone else.
    Although I do not agree with many modern feminist ideals, There is certainly a problem with "geeks" feeling that they are entitled to so much more, just because they didn't get laid until the were 25 or what have you.
    So whereas I admit that there is a problem with this fan base, I do not think that just because men are men, that it is their duty to fix this innate problem. Maybe everyone could pitch in, so that there isn't a deep-rooted debt-fulfillment ideology set between the men and women of future generations.

    • Swinton

      The only thing I can think of, is this – http://asofterworld.com/index.php?id=478

    • Gentleman Johnny

      You know what women catch the most shit for? Trying to fix the problem. Check out Anita Sarkeesian some time.

    • chinchilla

      I'm not sure when being colour/gender/whathaveyou blind meant completely ignoring major inequalities. Probably day one.

      Anywho, you missed the point. No one is saying 'only men have to fix this' they're saying that men can and should speak up against sexual harassment as well as women. Unlike your last sentence implies, women aren't interested in debt-fufillment (like seriously, where have you been lurking on the internet to actually think that's a thing), they want to be treated like human beings and not be threatened with rape and murder when they have an opinion, regardless of whether the raging misogynists, trolls and typing fedoras think they're right or wrong.

      • trixnix

        I have been watching Doctor Who for decades now. Some people I meet only started watching and liking it from the start of the new, updated series. Which is cool. The mind boggles at people who seek to own fandom and fun like it belongs to them. This stuff is supposed to be enjoyed.

        As seen in the comments here, many women feel unsafe commenting on stuff they enjoy in case some random dickhead turns up to harass and complain at them. That's just not fair. Women obviously are valued as individual human beings and not sex objects or potential dates. And there's the idea that geek males who do the harassment are somehow frustrated virgins who can't talk to women/girls. Well, duh, let women/girls into fandom communities. Ready made stuff to talk about, ready made stuff to connect with women over. Being frustrated that you can't connect with women whilst actively blocking women from connecting with you makes no sense.

    • dem_bones

      'Walking on egg-shells"?!? Is that what men are doing online? You poor poor things!
      If there is one problem with being a woman online is that people are just TOO polite and don't express their true feelings. Sigh. I hate that.
      Do you feel forced to say 'I disagree with your illogical point madam' when you want to say, 'I hope someone fucks you with jagged glass'? What is the world coming to?

  • Maximilian

    Pedantic as all hell but can you put socially awkward in quotes in the article Doc? Some of us genuinely are socially awkward – as in, the guy/girl sitting in the corner or the third wheel not knowing what to do or say – not a wannabe rapist using it as an excuse.

  • Justin

    It’s sad that geek culture needs to have basic courses taught regarding human decency, but it’s clear we do. I’m talking about men here because it’s painfully obvious that women are not accepted into geek culture be a large portion of that culture. Perhaps it’s that belief that men were here first and had to suffer for their geekdom. Well I call bullshit as there have always been female geeks, they just suffered a greater stigma for their interests and many women I know had to hide them or suffer greater ostracism than I ever faced in the 80s and 90s. So if you’re some guy who thinks they deserve more respect than a female geek because you’ve had to suffer for your hobbies, it’s time to remove your sippy cup lids and stop having your mom do your laundry. Women have and do suffer worse than you in geek culture when they should be accepted as friends and fellow miscreants.

    Fortunately I think that parts of geek culture, both women and men, are coming together and I think will start forming a unified front to fight this behavior within the community. I can’t wait for this and hope that our community will become a voice that speaks out against sexism and other negative social behaviors. We’re the outcasts and the downtrodden, shouldn’t we be looking at treating others the way we want to be treated?

    Question: on a related note, I would like some feedback on something I just experienced in a large game I play in. The character I play, a deputy from the west at the end of the age of cowboys, made an in character comment on the message board stating he’d shoot slavers on sight and would be even less forgiving towards rapists. I was asked by a player to take the comment down because rape didn’t exist in that game’s system. To me this seems like trying to keep rape hidden under a rug and only protects rape culture in the USA, rather then bringing it out as a terrible crime. The comment is based on my values that rape is an evil crime and can never be justified, so being told this rubs me the wrong way. Do you think it’s better to keep all mention of such things to avoid the chance of others using it in a less than negative context or do you think removing even anti-rape statements only helps hide the problem?

    • Justin

      Okay, having gotten a reply from a friend and fellow geek, I can now say that I was being defensive in my position with my question. I was not taking into consideration the impact it might have on possible victims. She reminded me of this and I think it’s a good reason things like this should be discussed, because I was just seeing things from a limited point of view.

      • Swinton

        It's worth thinking "What is my audience, and why are they here?" If your audience are people who you assume to be fundamentally decent, they agree with you on the 'rape is evil' thing. And in your audience (your fellow-players) may be someone who plays to get away from the reality of rape – whether they're a survivor, or just a woman living with rape culture every day.

        Not everything has to be historically accurate, and I'm glad you were able to have a conversation and change your opinion on it. Changing your opinions is a good and valid thing to do!

        You're right that rape culture thrives in silence, but you can make more of a difference by challenging problematic things other players say (and if you're not sure, talking with an open mind, especially with people most affected by it) than by saying things which – while right and good views to hold – can upset people.

    • eselle28

      The comment seems like it's out of context in a game where there's no rape, so I think you should treat it in the same way that you would a declaration that a player would shoot anyone who used a cell phone in a movie theater on sight. I'm guessing that something like that wouldn't be considered appropriate, but that you wouldn't necessarily think ill of someone who had in good faith designed a character who was a time traveler, or one who simply was a little clueless about what roleplaying a character at the end of the age of cowboys required? Or, if that's not the case, how would you react?

      When it comes to historical accuracy, I think there's room for a variety of interpretations. Ones that acknowledge that rape, racism, homophobia, and slavery exist can be interesting and can encourage people to think more deeply about those issues. Ones that present a fantasy version of whatever world, and that are self-aware about it being a fantasy version rather than blankly idealizing the past, also have their uses. They let us imagine a different sort of world than the one we live in, and they provide a haven for people who have experienced those abuses to get away from them for at least a little while. If nerds can have a few places to escape the dullness of office life, I don't see why women and people of color and people of all sorts who've been sexually abused shouldn't also have a few places to escape. I'd also say that, in the context of roleplaying, keeping rape talk to a minimum has some other benefits. I'm not much of a roleplayer, but a lot of lazy writing tends to use being a victim of sexual abuse or a defender of those who are as an easy characterization crutch, and it easily gets tiresome.

      • nonA

        "I'm not much of a roleplayer, but a lot of lazy writing tends to use being a victim of sexual abuse or a defender of those who are as an easy characterization crutch, and it easily gets tiresome."

        Just wanted to underline this.

        If there's an explicit "rape does not exist" rule, it's probably easier to institute a blanket ban even in your case, then to allow it to be argued case by case and leave the door open for all the rape-as-backstory or rape-to-be-evil types. It's the flip side of how hard it is to control an internet full of people. Sometimes you have to draw arbitrary lines to limit the ability of a dozen assholes to ruin it for a community of hundreds.

        (Side-note: Having a character say "rape is bad" has zero impact on the culture. I don't think you'd find anyone out there who disagreed with that statement. The question at stake – and the one behind countless flame wars – is what acts do or do not count.)

      • Xexyz

        Damn Eselle, such a juicy post with so many bits to respond to!

        I'm currently running a game with the Pathfinder system (medieval fantasy D&D offshoot) I'm always thinking about the best way to incorporate rape, sexual abuse, and other nastiness into my game such that it delivers the emotional punch I want it to (and thus the reason for including it in the first place, along with verisimilitude) but without being crass, cliche, or juvenile. I agree that having these themes present in a thoughtful, measured way is a way to encourage people to think about them, which is another reason I include them (albeit subtly, since I don't want my players to think that I'm using my game as a platform for spreading my own ideological views.)

        I also agree with sex-abuse-victim-as-backstory being lazy and unimaginative, but I will admit that it's sometimes an easy trap to fall into. Especially when you're writing for a setting that approximates the real world and have sadly come to the realization of how common it actually is =(

        • celette482

          The best question is why are those the only ways to deliver emotional punches? Especially since there's a misogynistic or homophobic (in the case of male-on-male rape) element to why rape and sexual abuse are soooo traumatic.

          I read a post once that I will never find again where a woman said "Why is rape the worst thing that could happen to me? Don't you think that, say, having my entire family murdered in front of me would STILL be worse than being raped?" It's an interesting point, and one I'd like to see considered more often. Because ultimately, what makes rape and sexual abuse The Threat, The Emotional Punch, is that they are based on being female or being used as female. In other words, the worst thing that could happen to a character is that they are a woman.

          If you want to add some verisimilitude and emotional poignancy, try the "We didn't save the village/town/people in time" or, and this one is my favorite, the realization that you can't possibly win without losing something or someone and having to decide whether to go forward or not.

          Rape is like never the answer.

          • AstralDazzle

            It strikes me as being dramatic and obvious, almost (or intentionally) stereotypical in that the writer doesn't have to explain, because everyone knows that an event like this is The Big Bad. And yes for some people it is a defining life moment. But I know others for whom, in the greater story of their life, it's simply one of those bad things that happen, and there is no epic story that unfolds from that point.

            Who wants to read the story where people generally have non-event days but every so often:
            Mechanic trying to cheat her (is it because she's a woman?)
            Landlords trying to cheat her (is it because she's a woman?)
            Trying to get important work done in a place without strong norms against sexual harassment and men always trying to feel her up or derail work conversations into sexual ones (it's definitely because she's a woman by herself which means she's asking for it)
            Salaries for the important-to-society work she has been doing which require advanced degrees remaining stagnant for 20 years (is it because these are fields where a majority of women work?)
            Charming guys who say progressive things but sure seem to be playing their women friends against one another and gaslighting but a lot of people still like them. (Is this a subtle way of reinforcing patriarchy?)

            To a certain extent it's the microagressions we all go through everyday, add oomph to the aggression and possibility that it's prejudice, discrimination, and an attempt to uphold a form of dominance for each gender, race, ethnicity, religion, ability, sexual orientation category that impact the interaction.

            I know most entertainment is not based on everyday life stuff that don't have a lot of obvious ways to resolve, and our stories need something larger-than-life to draw in our attention and move the plot. There are only so many of these. I found the "Buffy" structure, where whatever micro-issue someone in the crew was dealing with in a given episode was magnified in the demon du jour one of the most fascinating ways of attending to both. Even though the power of sexual exchange was a major theme throughout the series, simple sexual assault story lines were largely absent.

          • Xexyz

            To answer your question Celette, of course rape & abuse aren't the only ways to deliver emotional punches; there are other ways to do so as well, sexual violence being just one of many. I don't care to limit myself when it comes to thematic elements that I may want to include in my game, and frankly making it verboten feels like a cheap cop-out to me.

            That said, using sexual violence as a quick-and-easy way to invoke an emotional response from the players is also amateurish and lazy, which is why I said I spend a lot of time thinking about how I'm going to include it when I choose to do so. You said, "ultimately, what makes rape and sexual abuse The Threat, The Emotional Punch, is that they are based on being female or being used as female," but I find that's only necessarily true if sexual violence is included thoughtlessly and without critical examination. In that sense it's like most other themes: the more thought and consideration put into using it the better impact it has.

        • Guest

          I think the way not to fall into the trap is to ask yourself "Would I be using this backstory if the character was male?" If rape as backstory is so useful, why don't more male characters have it? Men get raped, we know they do, and yet most of the time it will be a woman's backstory. So I think flipping the gender of the character you are giving the backstory to can really help one realise that there are many other traumatic things that can happen to a person, than just the cliche. Women can have their parents murdered in front of them, can have a hand cut off, can want to seek revenge against the man/woman who killed their lover. They don't just have to have been raped in order to have had a violent past.

        • Delafina

          Well, as you'll frequently hear on the Paizo forums, step #1 to doing that in a way that's respectful is probably finding out if your players are okay with having it in their game.

    • AstralDazzle

      I wanted to reply to the first part of your post, Justin, because I think it's really important to look at what you're raising in the larger context of childhood gender socialization and behaviors that differ from the norm, the fact that girls tend to emotionally mature more quickly than boys, and whether geek interests are a child's only interests.

      Most kids in primary-school have a variety of interests, but it's only later that we seem to feel more pressure to pigeonhole and "other" one another. I was a precocious book-worm and liked sci-fi stuff, but I also liked stereotypical girly stuff, music, the outdoors, and I was on at least one sports team every year through middle school. One of the most popular guys and probably my biggest tormentor always read fantasy novels and constantly drew comic-book like scenes, but he was also a good athlete, tall, and muscular, and everyone wanted him on their good side (I was an exception apparently!), so of course, he didn't get the same type of shaming for his geek interests as the smaller socially awkward non-athletes did.

      The kids with geeky interests plus social skills and good hygiene were not additionally shamed for social and bodily peculiarities. Girls, in general, are still raised to be more sensitive to negative feedback and isolation where boys still get the "boys will be boys" treatment oftentimes when they do something socially defiant and stubborn. In my school, picking your nose was an instant way to bring the public shame of the whole class down on you. It seemed like girls got the message more quickly and stopped by the end of about second grade where some of the defiant boys whose interests tended toward the geeky kept this up until middle school. Girls also, even if they were poorer, at least tried to wear things that were decade appropriate, whereas some of the geeky boys kept wearing clothes that were too small or from another era (and at least one of these guys had professionals as parents so it wasn't an issue of money).

      Ooh, and reactivity to bullying and shaming was an important ingredient. The guy I just mentioned simply ignored or laughed along with the teasing, with a "you're right" so people pretty much left him alone. I, on the other hand, got easily angry and cried, so I didn't see the end of teasing until the end of middle school when I developed a serious illness. However, earlier in response to some of the teasing and bullying, I did have a year where I tended to so some creepy, boundary-pushing stuff where I was trying to "get back" at them, but I stopped when I realized just how gross I was being and that it was certainly not getting me the love and acceptance I longed for. Harassers are those who haven't stop this kind of crap.

      In the meantime, a lot of girls get boy-crazy earlier than boys are interested romantically in girls. So while we wanted to share comic books and action figures with boys AND we wanted them to think we're pretty and kiss us, a lot of the the geekier boys were still all "ooh girls, cooties, ick!" Then we thought they were mean and rejecting, too. Once they find women sexually attractive (if they're het), I'm not sure they're even "seeing" the geeky girls. Heck, I've worked with a lot of young adult geeks, and believe me, the quiet young women with cool glasses, light to no make-up, and comic book tee-shirts are NOT getting noticed/talked to by the geeky guys. One guy is on a work team with several young women that span the outspoken geeky to the pretty and socially conventional. They are all kind and accepting, and he still remains standoffish and know-it-all and contrary…even when they are telling him his ideas are good and integrating them into the work! He doesn't seem ready to let down his defenses yet and still rejects before he can be rejected (oh, I've been there, too, yes I have!)

      tldr: there are a lot of gender socialization, personality, and rate-of-maturation factors that intersect with the simple issue of geek ostracism that we also have to address to build the accepting spaces for young people you describe!

  • Mr. grey

    Oh great another internet call to arms. Excuse me if I don’t answer but I’m not really into fighting thankless battles. And just like I won’t let them “White Knight” shame me I also won’t be “Your silence is enabling” shame me either. Is there sexual harassment problem in geek culture? Without a doubt. Will me running off to start Internet fights solve that? Not one bit. Sorry my baseline decency isn’t enough. Find hero’s elsewhere.

    • Guest

      No one's asking you to be a hero. We are well aware being a hero is a difficult task. Heroes are not everyday people, they are people who think beyond themselves, who give more than they receive, who work to better society at large. Often for little personal reward. That's a tall order. You are free to continue to enjoy watching movies and reading comics about heroes. Meanwhile others will find moments in their day to day life for those small but vital heroic acts. No one's making you do anything you don't want to.

      What's a bit odd is your need to let everyone know that you aren't going to do anything beyond the baseline. If you really don't care, why post at all? At any rate, whatever floats your boat. But you ain't getting any cookies for that. Admitting it's just too hard and too much work for you isn't noble or brave. It's very very average. And you are under no obligation whatsoever to go beyond average. It's just awfully nice when people do. That's all. But don't feel any pressure or anything, no one is going to come to your house and enlist you. And now that we know you have no desire to be heroic, well we shall cross you off the list 😉 .

      • Mr. grey

        I say it as an act of defiance. A little cry of how tired I am of constantly being told that I should do more that my choice of neutrality is just as bad as the others. The way you present the argument is very well put and appreciated the way the doctor presents it seems like it a “you’re with us or against us” mentality. I said that because I’m tired of people asking more.

        • Swinton

          Your act of 'defiance' is to do nothing, even as people say how doing nothing at best upholds the status quo and at worst makes things worse. That doesn't sound like defiance. That sounds like capitulation.

        • trixnix

          Nope. You got angry and choose to vent. We've all done it but it's not exactly an act of defiance.

          Nobody is asking you or forcing you to do anything about this problem. The mind boggles why basic common decency between human beings doesn't actually automatically compel you to try and make the world a better place for the victims of bullying and harassment considering how I think we're all aware that bullying and harassment feel awful.

        • Robjection

          Regardless of whether or not doing more would actually be a good thing? I feel like the phrase "rebel without a cause" goes in here somewhere.

        • Guest

          Call it an act of defiance if you like. From here, it looks like an act of cowardice, and of hypocrisy.

          The article points out that doing exactly what you say you want to do — shrink into a safe corner and say nothing when people are bullied and abused — means the bullying will continue, and that you’re supporting it with your silence. You could have shrunk into a corner and refrained from commenting on this article, but no, you dive in and declare “I don’t wanna say anything!” Now you’re a hypocrite.

          Presumably, the next time you see abuse taking place, you’ll stay silent so the abuser knows he’s free to continue. Well done. An excellent demonstration of why you’re part of the problem.

          • First Guest

            That's an excellent point other Guest! It isn't as if Mr. Grey is just lazy and doesn't want to participate online. He is quite the opposite, he even created an account here. He is happy to participate and comment and offer thoughts, he is happy to take the time and construct sentences and think about his answers to others. But only when it is about how he doesn't want to step up and silence bullies because it feels like too much work. So he is willing to speak up, but not to help others.

          • Mel_

            I can't possibly give this enough +1s. Yes, yes, yes.

        • Delafina

          I feel so bad for you having to hear that your choice of tacitly supporting harassment is bad. Why, that must be so much worse than the harassment female geeks put up with every day.

        • thathat

          So instead of an act of defiance against people who harass and threaten women with rape for talking about comics….you make it a point to have an act of defiance against…the idea that we as a community need to take measures to STOP rape threats?

          Dude, that is some kind of messed up.

          This isn't political. This isn't something with reasonable shades of gray, like gun ownership or healthcare where people can disagree reasonably without necessary being Bad.

          The "with or against us" in this case is: "People making rape threats" versus "people who think rape threats are not okay and need to stop right the heck yesterday." It's not an actively hard choice.

    • Rylan…

      Imagine a world in which Bruce Wayne, after witnessing his parents' death, goes off, masters a myriad of fighting disciplines (and stealth techniques) in an attempt to prepare himself to do what he could not do as a child, returns to Gotham as motherfucking Batman, utilizes his wealth to amass an arsenal of weapons and vehicles, which will allow him to defend the city against even the most heinous and elaborate of crimes, and then says to himself, "Eh, I'll let someone else take care of it." And then back to the comfort of Wayne Manor he retreats.

      That is, in essence, systematically and societially speaking, is what happens when men don't speak out against harassment.

      • PaulRivers

        Yeah, but in this world, when Bruce Wayne returns and becomes batman, all of the people he saves complain that he's some sort of "white knighting" jerk/asshole:
        By trying to come to her “rescue”, the White Knight is essentially denying that women have agency of their own and have to wait for someone else – the self-declared hero, in this case – to come to her “rescue” and “save” her from all of her troubles.

        And label him a "Nice Guy" – http://www.doctornerdlove.com/2012/12/problem-nic

        "Let’s start with the most obvious issue here: the supposed “Nice Guy” is a liar from start to finish."

        This is what you can expect from trying to be the hero – that the people you're trying to help will be out of get you even more than the villians you're trying to fight. You can expect that the people you save will turn around and call you a loser for trying to save them. You'd have to be an idiot to take up that role.

        • trixnix

          @PaulRivers, so the message is: I won't be rewarded for doing this so I won't do it.

          I got bullied. I had and have urgency of my own. But I did need support and others to help me sort out a problem.

          You're not "saving her from all her troubles". Mainly because you can't. But you can support her when and where she needs it.

          Women don't label people who support the defeat of sexism and harassment as "NiceGuys". A NIceGuy can't even tell a woman he likes that he likes her. How exactly would he have the balls to actually take onboard a "hero" role.

          You don't need to be a hero saving people. Just stand up for the notion that people should not be harassed or bullied.

          And as for the feminist culture, point me towards where this feminist culture exists and explain why, if such a culture is as powerful as many claim, women get harassed at all? You'd think they'd have a shadow feminist police force by now.

          • Joy

            Yeah, I don't think PaulRivers understands the meaning of "Nice Guy." Shockingly, it isn't just a catch-all term for "when a hapless well-meaning guy does something the Female Monolith Inc. doesn't approve of."

          • PaulRivers

            There's a reason why those articles don't put any substantial effort into trying to differentiate between one kind of nice and another – it's because they don't care. The point is that nice is bad.

            The articles speak for themselves – you would be playing hero (batman) to feminists who have spent years telling everyone what a weirdo loser you are for…uh…playing hero for them. Who want you to stick your neck out so people will be nicer to them when…they've spent years telling everyone that guys who are "nice" are – liars from start to finish, and creepy weirdos.

            Ironically, the White Knight article itself describes best what it would would be going on –

            White Knights often find it difficult to extract themselves from these sorts of relationships once they’re in them; emotional abusers and grifters are masters at using a White Knight’s sense of responsibility against them.

          • nonA

            I've alluded to what seems to be eating Paul before.

            Help out, you have a bunch of people who quietly acknowledge it, and a few loudmouths who keep insisting that you're a bad person because you didn't do more. After enough of these people for whom nothing is good enough, there's a strong urge to say "fuck it" and stop trying entirely.

            Which now that I say this, puts an interesting spin on the main article's topic. You're not going to get rid of the noisy assholes. It's probably much more effective to make sure that reasonable, supportive messages keep coming through to counter out the bad.

          • Delafina

            As I've said elsewhere, the point of taking action isn't to forever prevent the noisiest assholes from showing up. That's impossible.

            The point of taking action is to let victims of harassment know that they have recourse and support from the community — that we may not be able to prevent anyone from ever harassing them again, but we'll kick out this harasser and if another person starts harassing you, we'll kick them out too — and to let newcomers to the community know that it isn't acceptable to harass people, so hopefully less of them will start.

    • Delafina

      You certainly have a right to be part of the problem by choosing to let harassment happen in front of you and responding with silence.

      If your policy is standing by silently, however, I'm confused as to why you felt the need to participate in this discussion.

  • reboot

    Not on topic, but I can see why she negatively critiqued that art. Too busy and the characters seem like they are trying to avoid Breach based on their lack of connection to each other.

  • Hal9000

    It’s sad that as I read this, I was starting to get riled up. This article is well argued and well written, and I agree. The only problem I find, is that web culture moves in split seconds, and often times the moment to speak up vanishes before you even know what happens. I believe that alongside a net bill of rights there should be community enforced rules and social standards applied to web based responses and forums. If we as an internet community want to be taken seriously, to be allowed our access to an undisturbed web culture, we as a emerging society need to truly learn from the past, to truly rid ourselves of all old predjuces and create something new. Annonimity is fine but we need to go beyond that, to a point where it doesn’t matter who you are, if you are part of the web community, you are a fully respected member of its society, free from disdain and insults. I will take the lesson here to heart and try and change my online code, to make a voice heard.

  • JCfromNC

    Now I can already hear many of you bristling at this: you’ve never sent any rape threats, you’ve never attacked a woman for having an opinion you disagreed with. You’ve never sexually harassed anyone. You’re not “that guy”.

    Congratulations. You’ve achieved the baseline of human decency.

    And for those people, here's your cookie.

  • "The “Beat Anita Sarkeesian” game wasn’t about refuting her arguments, it was about making the scary woman who (they think) is going to rob them of their gaming T&A go away."

    True – but whenever someone DOES try to refute her arguments, they get dismissed as misogynists. That's not exactly healthy discourse, either.

    • Guest

      Please don't tell me you think these two actions are on par.

      • Mel_

        Not to mention, I haven't seen a single thoughtful, well-reasoned refutation of her arguments that resulted mainly in dismissals and accusations of misogyny. Those tend to get thoughtful well-reasoned discussion in response. The people who get dismissed, from what I've seen, are those who think things like simply "OMG this is ridiculous, there's nothing wrong with sexy women characters" or "um, no, there have been two big games with female main characters so everything you said is wrong" count as a real refutation (or, of course, the people who include obvious misogynist language with their arguments, like using slurs and suggesting women don't have a place in video game culture, which kind of makes your argument not worth listening to no matter what else you say).

        Anita spends a lot of time explaining her arguments with plenty of references and research backing her up. She's not perfect, but if you want someone to respect your counter-arguments, you have to put at least a little effort into backing them up too.

        • Than you haven't been looking hard enough or are just rejecting what they're saying outright because they don't agree with your position.

          None of these can be considered misogynistic and one is from a feminist.

          • I should also preface that while I disagree with Sarkeesian as well, and anonymous internet trolling should be given the attention it deserves, none (not the case with trolling/harassment when it's actually personal). The person who made the beat up Anita game is a piece of shit, and noone deserves personal rape/death threats.

          • Mel_

            Er, Chucky, this looks like *you* rejecting what *I'm* saying outright without even bothering to read what I wrote.

            I didn't say that I hadn't seen a single thoughtful, well-reasoned refutation of her arguments, full stop. I said I hadn't seen one "that resulted mainly in dismissals and accusations of misogyny." The second part of that sentence should be included when determining its meaning. 😛

            None of the videos you linked to "resulted mainly in dismissals and accusations of misogyny," as the_markunator suggested happens to everyone who refutes Anita's arguments. The first one, the top comments are all either agreement/encouragement or thoughtful discussion of why they disagree, except one comment that seems to be obvious trolling, not someone taking themselves seriously (it's all in caps, and basically is a parody of "hysterical feminism"). The second, third, and fourth video have the same, with no one at all in the top comments making any nasty comments or accusations (well, not toward the video creators. I'm seeing quite a few nasty comments aimed at Anita and feminism).

            How exactly does that disprove my suggestion that thoughtful, well-reasoned refutations of her arguments are not automatically dismissed as misogyny?

        • There have been several people accusing her of not doing her research very well at all.

          • Guest

            And did she dismiss them as misogynists? That's the point people are trying to make. Not that people didn't have responses to her research, but that the ones she called misogynists didn't actually do that. They didn't present cogent arguments, they said things along the lines of "You're wrong!" and that's it, or implied that because she was a woman she couldn't know the truth, or said she was wrong (again without explanation) and then called her a name. Basically the people who behaved like misogynists she called that. But anyone with a reasonable counter argument and treated her like a person and didn't call her names she didn't.

            I would be really interested to see a reasoned argument presented in response to her that she dismissed by calling the person who made the argument a misogynist.

          • Mel_

            And have those people been dismissed as misogynists? Link please. Chucky has already (inadvertently, I suspect) provided evidence of four separate people criticizing her who weren't shouted down as misogynists, and on the contrary, had people who disagreed disagreeing in a respectful way.

            Remember, your claim was not that a) Anita hasn't responded to criticism, b) not enough people are paying enough attention to the criticism, or c) some critics have been accused of being misogynists. You claimed that *every* person who tries to refute her arguments is dismissed as a misogynist. If you care so much about having clear and open discussion, you might want to start by supporting your own statements properly, especially when they're far more sweeping and negative than what the person your complaining about has said. (Unless you can find for me somewhere Anita has made any sweeping claims at all about all the people who disagree with her.)

          • username_6916
          • So, only two of those mention misogyny, and both of those responses are addressed to someone making unsupported character-assasination assertions, *not* well-reasoned, thought-out or even expanded upon arguments.
            The other one, I can't see anyone being accused of being a misogynist, and there is actual discussion and refutation of the video in question.
            Your point still has not been proven

          • username_6916

            I'm fairly certain that 'dudebro' pretty much means misogynist in that context within that community.

            Beyond that, Thunderf00t's 'character-assassination' is quite well supported by Anita's own words. I get the feeling that I might be up against no-true Scotsman. No true criticism of Anita has been labeled misogynist because because all criticisms of Anita that are labeled misogynist are somehow not well reasoned.

          • Mel_

            Apparently Thunderf00t does things like claim Anita's a bad feminist because she wears make-up. How is that not an attack on her character rather than her arguments? What does her wearing make-up have to do with her ability to analyze video games?

          • username_6916

            Her wearing of make-up and hoop earrings kindof detracts from her point when she criticizes the presence such gender markers in videogame characters.

          • Mel_

            Um, no, because she criticizes those gender markers not because wearing making and earrings is "unfeminist" or destructive in some way, but because the male characters don't have similar gender markers. Where character gender is not obvious (non-humanoids), all characters are assumed to be male unless they have those gender markers, which makes them the default and the female characters secondary. Have you even watched her videos? Because she explains this quite clearly.

            I'm pretty sure that Anita is not a construct designed by someone else who put make-up on her because otherwise we would assume she's a man. So the two factors are not remotely related.

            Even if she was such a construct, the problem with be with the person who created her, not her. And it still wouldn't make her arguments automatically invalid. People affected by a system can still say true things about that system. Heck, a person who makes rape threats isn't then wrong if they say rape threats are bad. So, double fail.

          • Delafina
          • username_6916

            No, my fallacy is: https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/the-fallacy-fall

            Related, but note I'm not attacking Anita as a person with this argument, I'm attacking how her argument contradicts her argument. By pointing out this hypocrisy, I don't necessarily refute her logic.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            Does that mean she can't criticize Princess Peach being the prize at the end of the game if she lives in another castle herself?

          • Mel_

            In the first example, the person calling the critic out on misogyny is suggesting he's become misogynistic based on his videos in general, not this one in particular. So he's not being dismissed simply because he criticized Anita, but because of his views in general. (And he's not *just* being dismissed, these people are discussing an article that provides a point by point, thoughtful breakdown of what's wrong with the guy's arguments.)

            Your second example, the person responding to the critic doesn't say anything about misogyny. And the critic isn't "refuting" Anita's arguments, he's making a personal attack, implying she's a bad feminist because she missed a deadline, purposefully ignored constructive criticism (no proof of this given), and pretended to be a victim (no proof of this given… and considering that people were quite publicly attacking her, I'm not sure how anyone could say she's "pretended" it happened). He doesn't say anything at all about her actual arguments. So *he's* dismissing her without even considering what she's saying. Why should anyone responding to him treat his "arguments" seriously?

            In your third example, the only time misogyny is mentioned is by a commenter quoting the critic. None of the people responding to the critic talks about misogyny. And again, the critic isn't just dismissed–people like Anovadea provide a long refutation in response, addressing the actual arguments.

            So you've actually not proven your point at all–in fact, you've given further proof that people *are* responding to criticism of Anita's videos with thoughtful return arguments rather than just dismissing it out of hand. 😛

            I mean, seriously, if one person mentioning misogyny = "everyone dismisses it as misogyny", then just one person making a rape threat would = "everyone who disagrees with Anita makes rape threats". But you don't see any of us claiming that that's the only response, only that the minority of people who do that are doing something hugely unacceptable. And hopefully you'd agree that graphically threatening to rape someone is way more unacceptable than suggesting someone is a misogynist.

          • username_6916

            Yeah actually just ignore this video," is not dismissive? "Basically the same shit as all the other dudebro counter videos." is not calling the video's maker a misogynist?

            Your claim is that this doesn't happen. I quote: "I haven't seen a single thoughtful, well-reasoned refutation of her arguments that resulted mainly in dismissals and accusations of misogyny". I think now you have. Either that, or I'm stuck in a no-true-Scottsman situation.

            And, there are people who seem to be claiming that "everyone who disagrees with Anita makes rape threats". It seems to be the point of this entire post! You're either with us, or you're with the misogynists. This attitude suggests that in order for me to even mention the name Sarkeesian I must repent for the sins of my gender and explicitly condemn a group of trolls and bullies who's behavior I've never endorsed or even encountered in the first place. This strikes me as a deeply sexist and unfair attitude.

          • Mel_

            Okay, this is the last time I'm going to engage with you, because you clearly have an agenda and are interpreting everything through it rather than actually reading what the post or the commenters here are actually saying.

            1. One person (or even a few people) dismissing a video is not the same as it being "mainly" dismissed. "Mainly" is the key word in my statement. I didn't claim it doesn't happen. I claimed it wasn't the overwhelming response, that there was also quite a bit of thoughtful conversation going on.

            2. No one has claimed that everyone who disagrees with Anita makes rape threats. Did you actually read the post? Right at the beginning, it gives three examples of possible responses when you disagree with someone–one of which is stating that criticism without using threats. So it acknowledges from the beginning that there are indeed other ways people disagree with each other, used by "well-adjusted human beings". It clearly differentiates between reasonable criticism which comes from reasonable people and misogynistic harassment–it does the exact opposite of saying all disagreements are rape threats.

            It also doesn't ask you to "repent for the sins of your gender" (no one is suggesting all or even most men do this). And is it really such a hardship to be asked to condemn awful behavior? You've obviously "encountered" it–or are you going to claim you'd never heard of the Beat Anita Sarkeesian game before this post? Or that all the other examples the post gives–with actual twitter comments etc.–are just made up and not real awful behavior that should be condemned?

            3. Finally, Anita Sarkeesian is mentioned a grand total of twice in the post, briefly, along with many other examples, so it's obviously not all or even mostly about her. If it's mainly about anyone, that would be Janelle Asselin. So I don't know why you're trying to make this all about how people talk about Anita.

            If you honestly think the "problem" of some people dismissing Anita's critics is far more important than the problem the post you're commenting on is actually about–that pretty much every woman who criticizes geek culture getting huge amounts of unacceptably vicious backlash, to the point that they see it as normal–so much so that you feel the need to go on and on about how people talk about Anita on a post that barely mentions her… You may need to re-examine your priorities. Or go rant about it on a post that is actually mainly about Anita rather than derailing this one.

          • username_6916

            Okay, forget about Freeman… Err… Sarkeesian….

            "It also doesn't ask you to "repent for the sins of your gender" (no one is suggesting all or even most men do this). "
            But it does say that all men, specifically, have a responsibility to somehow stop this. He closes with this:
            "It’s up to us men to stand up and be men."

            Imagine if I said that all Muslims have a responsibility to stop terrorism, that all catholics have a responsibility to prevent child sex abuse. Would you see that as a problem? Would you see that as an example of bigotry?

            And this is why I say it is a hardship to condemn this. It is a tacit admission of guilt in some contexts. It is admitting that the male gender is somehow as a group responsible for this behavior. I don't think that's right. Just as a Muslim shouldn't have to condemn 9/11 ever time they speak, or a Mormon shouldn't have to condemn Mountain Meadows every time they speak, I shouldn't have to condemn a group that I share nothing but dislike of various folks pulling a Fredric Wertham gambit and maybe (after all, who's to make an assumption about the gender of all Internet trolls?) a gender identity with every time I speak.

          • Mel_

            And please note that when your claim is "whenever someone DOES try to refute her arguments, they get dismissed as misogynists", as soon as we have one example (and we now have several) of someone trying to refute her arguments *not* just being dismissed, you are clearly incorrect. If what you meant is, "sometimes when people try to refute her arguments, some people dismiss them as misogynists while others actually address what they say," you should have said that… and I don't think anyone would have disagreed with you.

          • username_6916

            1) I'm not @the_markunator .
            2) @the_markunator was saying that ever refutation of Anita's argument or attack on her character would be dismissed as misogynist by someone, not that every argument would be dismissed

          • Mel_

            Apologies. I asked for examples and when examples were given, I assumed they were given by the person I'd asked for them from.

            the_markunator's statement could be read in different ways–the way he phrased it, it seems to me implies that no one is listening to her critics at all, not that a few people don't respect them but plenty others do. If your interpretation is indeed what the_markunator meant, then I'm not sure what his point really is. Anytime anyone says something on the internet and gets more than a few comments, at least one of those comments will be some sort of dismissal. This isn't specific to Anita's critics. What's the problem, if plenty of people are still responding to the criticism thoughtfully rather than dismissing it? If he's trying to say that a few people dismissing her critics is somehow on par with people making games about beating her up, sorry, I'm going to have to disagree there. 😛

            And you're even if you didn't make the initial argument, you're still contributing to the derail by arguing for him.

          • I never said Anita has, but it has just seemed to me like her fans/supporters have. At least in my experience on Twitter.

          • Delafina
      • What two actions?

    • dem_bones

      I'm sorry, but that is simply not true. That is a pathetic cop out. She is TRYING to start a discussion. Disagree with the specifics, sure, but not with the whole topic of her work.

      However, if someone does say, "I don't think this is important", "Why are we talking about this? It doesn't matter", or in anyway responds to her by telling her what she is producing is pointless or unimportant, then it's shutting down a discussion because it makes you uncomfortable or you just don't realize that there are other people to whom the discussion is important.

      • Waddles

        Yes, I don't think the majority of people I've seen criticising Sarkeesian's work want to start a reasoned debate, even if it does exist. Rather, most of it seems to be a character assassination, which smells like people trying to shut down criticism of problematic media they enjoy for fear that it'll be taken away. That's not to say that it shouldn't spark reasoned debate, which is obviously what it's intended to do, but when there are genuine misogynists trying to kill the videos' arguments with rhetoric, that tends to dominate over more nuanced, reasonable voices.

        • Joy

          "I don't think you did enough/the right kind of research, or that your sources were particularly credible, because some reasons" and "When you said A meant B, I think that was a misinterpretation. I'd argue that A means C, because more reasons." These statements, and others like them, are reasonable critical responses to someone's work and statements that actually contribute to a debate or discussion.

          "You just want to take away all the boobies!" and "lol ur stupid/fat/ugly/wrong." These statements, on the other hand, are not. These are not attempts to interact with another human being with whom you disagree. They are attempts to shut someone up or shut a conversation down.

      • Gentleman Johnny

        Exactly. There's a huge difference between "here's why I think you're making a mountain out of a molehill" and "this is not a fit topic for a woman to bring up".

      • How is she trying to start a discussion? She hasn't tried to debate anyone so far. She hasn't responded to anyone trying to respond to her arguments.

        • Mel_

          I don't think you understand how being the creator of a work, well, works. Anita isn't just posting her opinion in forums or making casual rant videos. She's making at least semi-professional (I'd say professional but I don't feel like getting into a debate about what qualifies) video productions. You wouldn't expect the creators of a TV show, or a comic (even an indie one), or whatever, to have to debate with every person who takes issue with their creation in order to be taken seriously, would you? Or, closer to the actual content, for every professional reviewer and media critic to have to debate with any person who disagrees?

          I'm an author–it's not my job to address every person who doesn't like something about my books. If I see many people making the same point that I feel is valid, I might make one post in my own space addressing that issue. But my job is to write the books and put them out there, and what other people do with them is up to them. As far as I can tell, that's what Anita's essentially doing too. She's putting her work out there *for other people to discuss*. You can start a discussion without continuing to be a part of it. I've seen her address some of the criticisms in interviews, articles, talks, and sometimes in later videos. She shouldn't have to respond to every critic directly–how would she ever get her actual work done if she did?

          I suspect the problem is that many people (including you, it seems) don't respect her work as actual work, and are treating it as if it's on the same level as someone just posting comments in a forum. You might want to ask yourself why that is. Why should she be treated differently from other (semi?) professional critics?

        • dem_bones

          Sigh, ok- this is how conversation works: "Hey guys, I've been noticing this problem, here are some examples, what do you think?"
          That's how a conversation starts. And what we are doing right here is talking about it, so yeah, she started a conversation. And starting a conversation doesn't mean she is responsible for carrying on every debate herself. I can't believe I have to explain that to you.

          • Not when you censor comments you don't Also, I have seen plenty of people respectfully debating her points but I haven't seen her actually come to defend any of her respectful critics at all. That's not carrying on a conversation of any sort. I'd be pleasantly surprised if you could come up with links showing her actually debating with her respectful online critics.

          • Mel_

            See my comment above dem_bones about professionals and debating with critics.

            Also, Anita only disallows comments on her Youtube videos. (She's not censoring them. Censoring would be deleting ones she doesn't like. She doesn't allow anyone, including supporters, to comment.) Anyone can comment on her Facebook page, and people frequently do comment there with disagreements that aren't deleted.

          • Obviously it's unrealistic to expect someone who puts out an idea to address every criticism. Disallowing comments on youtube is a form of light censorship and I know the reasons she disallows them. I would legit like to see Sarkeesian debating respectful critics though.

          • Mel_

            I don't think you understand the meaning of the word "censorship". From the Miriam-Webster dictionary, to censor = "to examine in order to suppress or delete anything considered objectionable; also to suppress or delete as objectionable".

            Not allowing comments on one's own video is not examining communications and only deleting the objectionable ones, nor is it suppressing objectionable communications (people are free to post their responses anywhere else on the internet, even on her own Facebook page, and as I said above, she's obviously not just disallowing "objectionable" comments but supportive ones as well). Censorship is when people are prevented from communicating specific types of thoughts. No one has been prevented from communicating any thoughts about Anita on YouTube or anywhere else, as evidenced by the videos you yourself have linked to; they've just been prevented from commenting on her personal video page–along with everyone else. That's no more censorship than me deciding not to let anyone hang out on my front yard is discrimination.

            Since you're someone who regularly complains about feminists supposedly using language that's more extreme and negative than what's actually happening, I'd expect you to be a little more cautious before throwing around words like that. Calling disabling comments on one's own video "censorship" is insulting to people who've faced real censorship–all the way to being silenced through violence and imprisonment–in trying to get vital needs met, which happens all around the world, all the time.

            I'd also like to know if you're ever planning on admitting that you didn't bother to properly read my comment above about the thoughtful, well-reasoned disagreements with her, and that the videos you linked to did not in fact disprove (actually, they proved) what I had said. Or are you completely incapable of ever acknowledging you've made a mistake? Being able to admit you've misstepped is a vital part of showing you're debating in good faith, you know. You might notice I've done so myself in these comments when it happened.

          • Max

            I'd guess there are, at any moment, no less than 100 different people offering "criticisms" of Anita. 99% of those criticisms are worthless. That's not something any one person could possibly handle and remain sane.

          • shaenon

            What? Who gives a shit if she wants to have a "conversation" with random people on the Internet? I'm not Anna Sarkeesian, but I generally expect my work to speak for itself. Wading into YouTube comments sections or keeping Google alerts on my name so I can run over whenever a website mentions me sounds like a colossal, demoralizing waste of time.

        • Delafina

          Her videos are the start of a discussion. *She* doesn't have to personally respond for the discussion to happen.

          • It just seemed to me that if you want to start a discussion, that means that you want to take part in that discussion yourself.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            So, essentially, no one should ever spend hours making a video if they aren't also willing to spend more hours personally interacting with anyone who comments on it? I like this rule. Bring me Joss Whedon! He's got some shit to answer for!

          • Delafina

            That's not really how culture-wide discussions work, dude.

        • Max

          I'm really tired of this argument. You do realize that if she ever opened herself up to debate online, she'd have to respond to 10,000 "BUT WHAT ABOUT SAMUS"s and "YOU DON'T EVEN PLAY VIDEO GAMES"s. That not something you can debate with, especially since every single one of those points is either irrelevant or has been disproven.

          • shaenon

            It's so optimistic of you to imagine that comments on an unmoderated YouTube page would contain words that are a) not slurs and b) correctly spelled.

          • Well, there IS that video of her saying that she doesn't play video games because she doesn't want to rip people's heads off; "that's just gross".

    • username_6916

      I'm not sure I agree with you (and the blogger) when it comes to the 'Beat Anita Sarkeesian' game. When you could kill Jack Thompson in one of the GTA games, no one was crying misandry. What's the difference here?

      • Delafina

        Because the criticism against Jack Thompson isn't centered around his gender, ergo it's not misandry.

        Which I'm pretty sure you already knew.

        • username_6916

          Isn't it a tautological definition? There are lots of folks that say that any attack on Anita's credibility is centered on her gender because Anita is a woman. So, even if we treat Anita exactly as we treat Jack Thompson and we're still misogynists…. somehow? How can you say that, without some massive jump to conclusions about Anita's detractors?

          • Delafina

            Oh, FFS. I don't need to jump to conclusions about Anita's detractors. I JUST NEED TO READ WHAT THEY'RE SAYING. Jack Thompson's detractors aren't saying, "Your arguments are invalid because you're a man." Anita Sarkeesian's detractors, however, ARE by and large saying, "Your arguments are invalid because you're a woman."

            And I'm pretty sure you knew that already, so I'm done with you.

          • username_6916

            All of Anita's detractors? I'm not saying that. Nor are most of Anita's critics that I read. Can you point to a single, relatively mainstream and popular criticism of Anita that says exactly that?

            I am critical of Sarkeesian for the same reasons I oppose Thompson. They are outsiders bent on harming the community, and harming the creative freedom of developers and studios for their own personal an ideological gain. Does that mean that I am "by and large saying, "Your arguments are invalid because you're a woman." "? How?

    • Delafina

      I've seen plenty of people criticize her arguments (or, more often, her choice of examples) without getting dismissed as misogynists.

      They did this magical thing where they didn't bring *her* gender into it, or impugn her motives for making the arguments, or threaten her. They just engaged with what she was actually saying.

      Of course, you're not going to see this in the Kotaku comments sections, or other places where most male gamers hang out, because the majority of male gamers seem to be incapable of reasoned discussion when it comes to gender issues.

      • Well, to be fair, her arguments are ones based on gender, but it is obviously unproductive and immature to attack that gender to argue against her points.

        • Mel_

          There's a huge difference between an argument about how the genders are portrayed in video games (pointing out patterns and how they may be problematic) and talking as if a person's gender should influence how seriously you take their arguments. No one's saying people shouldn't talk about gender when addressing Anita's arguments–talking about gender as it's portrayed in video games is obviously totally fine. That's what she wants people to be talking about!

          Delafina's saying it isn't right to act as if Anita being female changes the meaning of her words (as if the exact same thing said by a man would somehow be different). Just like it wouldn't be okay if Anita suggested that content in a video game made by a man should be considered differently than the exact same content in a game made by a woman–e.g., that it would somehow be problematic in the former case but not the latter. Which was far as I know she hasn't done.

        • Delafina

          What does her gender have to do with discussion about how women are portrayed in video games?

  • Negative_Nancy

    I hate to be the negative person here, but I'm with the "what could we do" people.

    I mean, I get it, if I see harassment call it out but I'd rather not see harassment at all, and I don't mean it by closing my eyes, pretending I didn't see anything, I mean they wouldn't happen at all.
    My problem with this attitude is that it's about treating the symptoms but not attacking the sickness from the source, probably because that's kind of impossible.
    We can't do anything until the damage is done, especially on the internet where things get public only after it goes beyond a limit and by then it's usually too late.

    I guess the idea is that with constant positive feed would outweigh all the negative but it really doesn't feel like a permanent solution. Most problematic people will ignore it, some people would agree but forget it next day meanwhile us, the random populous of the internet is blamed for all this for being enablers, possibly alienating some from the this.

    I don't think becoming Social Justice Batman who actively searches for harassment on the internet just to say their piece would help in the long run.

    • trixnix

      I was bullied a lot at school. And most of the time, the teachers made out like it was my fault for being moody. I was moody because nobody was sorting out the bullying I'd told them about. And the whole thing went round in circles.

      Women (and men too) get harassed online and they start to feel like they can't contribute when they want to to a fandom that is every bit theirs as it is anyone's. And when the issue is raised, people start thinking showing empathy without direction or thought to the supposed issues of the bully (without even investigating the individual cases first) happens. Which just goes to re-enforce the idea that the victim never should have raised the issue in the first place and the bully, despite their behaviour, is more important than the victim. The victim is scared to talk about abuse ever again but never mind because we just uncovered that the bully felt bad about himself a bit.

      Now, I'm not mocking psychological problems here. I'm not underestimating the power abuse can have over how another person grows and develops and that bullying can teach us to hate as much as it can to love. If we don't make the victim secure then nobody comes forward about this stuff and it happens underneath the radar. People think it's okay because nobody stands up and says "no!" because they are too darn scared nobody will support or believe them.

      Protect the victim. Do not make the bully your priority. It's their behaviour which is wrong. Sometimes the greatest thing a victim can see in addition to support is someone actually doing something about the problem they've reported. And we can all play our part in that. I've spent a lot of time telling various men in my social group to cut certain shit behaviour out. And that's already made a difference.

      We can make a difference. Doesn't have to be a mass protest or march or anything just in our own way.

    • Henry Gorman

      Here, you're indulging in something called the Perfect Solution Fallacy. Maybe standing up to harassers won't fix the problem at its source, but it does make people who are attacked feel less alone, and it might discourage some of the attackers. We should do things that make things better even if they do not make everything perfectly different.

  • dem_bones

    Fantastic piece. What I always want to say to those guys is: Try to remember high school more accurately.
    I have gotten into online arguments which boil down to, 'well you would have ignored me in high school', 'no girls would talk to me, so fuck you'. Literally.

    And I say: go look at your high school yearbook! It is full of shy, average looking girls, wearing plain t-shirts with limp hair and ugly glasses who you never gave the time of day to AND you have now completely forgotten ever existed.
    You think high school was a picnic for us?? I would have gladly dated one of the dungeons and dragons guys at school, but BIG SURPRISE they didn't care that I existed. All they wanted to talk about was the tits on the prom queen.

    The cheerleaders didn't know you existed? Who cares? You think I had a chance with the football players?
    We were in the same boat and now you act like every geek girl is a fake who was actually Jessica Alba in high school.

    I had a lonely/ugly high school experience – as did A LOT of geeky girls, and yet we know how to behave online.

  • 'You are an enabler' has lost all its power as a rhetorical device. Adding rape threats to the pile of slavery, racism, environmental degradation, animal suffering, war crimes and the like is peanuts. 'No more silence' is an utter non-solution.

    Good blocking and reporting mechanisms on social media, program a word filter that blocks the usual word salad of threats pre-emptively, IP detectors, sending the subject of the harassment a supportive message, flag-bombing, screencapping comments as evidence for the subject of harassment, feeding the numbskulls who post threats with little regards for their own privacy to the relevant Tumblr, the list of what you can actually do goes on and on.

  • erenaya


  • Kelly

    Not disagreeing that men are a lot more empowered and have less to fight against when expressing themselves online, and yes, to be pragmatic about it more initiative on their part would be very effective for progress. So this isn't meant to dismiss that, but I would like to add that I've seen women wish horrible rapey things to other women they don't like.

    I think it's important to acknowledge that gender/being part of the oppressed group doesn't stop people from participating in enforcing horrible things. It's a double edge thing, it just shows people are people regardless of gender/race/etc (which is great for reinforcing that equality is a worthy cause), but that also includes the bad stuff like having the same horrible paradigms to situations as the other group of people oppressing them.

    So yea, even the women have some slack to pick up.

  • thegeekanthropologist

    Thanks for bringing this whole debate to my attention! It adds to the long list of harrassment towards women in comics…

  • jake

    I think that you are overreacting at people who are looking for a reaction, most the time people do ignore or ridicule these people on forums and it's never seen as acceptable in the places that I've been. Maybe you visit different forums and go to places that are less female friendly but I've never seen this issue where someone made a sexist comment and it was treated as okay, maybe you did but many of the rest of us… no.

    As far as the whole "nerd" thing goes, this depends on what "nerd" area you are in. What is it comic books, video-games, lego's, dungeons and dragons, other PnP games, computers and technology, DIYers, model cars/planes/sceneries, tabletop miniatures, various at-home science fields, the list just goes on and on. None of these are mainstream as you seem to claim they are, comic books, anime, and computer "hacking" has become a little more mainstream because of television and addictive video games but those book sales are still just as stale for the ones that lack shows to go along with them.

    I know this because whenever I talk to someone about shadowrun, or pathfinder they give me this puzzled look, I then tell them it's a roleplaying PnP game or that it's a tabletop and then they reply "what's that?" and exasperatingly I give in and I just say dungeons and dragons to which they reply "oh, that's cool" and promptly walk away. It's not that it isn't getting better, at least it's acceptable to play those games (barely) and you don't get (to much) shit for it, but it certainly isn't mainstream.

    At the same time there are certainly less females in the tabletop scene then males, but I have never played in a group where they weren't welcome, my own group I actively recruited for females to the point where they made up an even half. Why actively recruit females? Because they showed much more interest and were more likely to stay focused on the game and keep the plot running like a GM's best dream come true! Plus they made the experience more varied and opened up new plot lines and adventures to explore, an all around a great experience… warning about this though DO NOT invite your girlfriend just because she is your girlfriend, if she isn't interested she will just say yes because you asked her and it will drag the game down! same goes the other way girls!

    Anyway so the point of all that? The point is that the broad "nerd" definition just doesn't work here as far as I know the only problems that come up are in the computer and video game scene where things are already over hostile to everyone. This is because there is a practical war going on between canon and mainstream big money shows as well as a collusion of "nerdy" and cool or hipster or whatever you want to call it. Then women get caught in the crossfire where if they disagree with something they get heckled by overeager fanbois who can explode a comment section by their lonesome. On the internet where porn is prolific and anonymity (or the illusion of it) is a given, yeah they're going to get bad. How to deal with it? Make your own little culture bubbles, you already have one here notice how anyone who disagrees is massively down commented? You kind of hit the mark here but you were just to broad and to accusatory and self-righteous. Yes not defending someone who's being verbally abused is wrong but no I'm not going to search out places where this happens and pretend to be forum superhero.

    • jake

      BTW, went and read her review, and it was very well done and brought up many good points. It was funny because I studied the cover myself before reading and was thinking that the paper airplane looked out of place and the beast boy looked pretty well done.

    • Guest

      "I haven't seen it so it isn't a problem" – check!
      "People should just ignore sexism and harassment and create their own communities" – check!
      "I do all these awesome things for "females" therefore sexism isn't a big deal" – check!
      "You are being self-righteous but this entire response I just wrote to you isn't" – check!
      "Yes it's bad when people do harass others but I'm not going to go out of my way to tell those people what they are doing is wrong because I don't want to, sorry" – check!

      BINGO!!!!!!!! What do I win???

      • Guest

        (also gotta say I find is fascinating that this is the second geek poster who specifically said they didn't want to be heroic. It's just . . . I mean kind of ironic that men who are obsessed with heroes in fiction have no desire whatsoever to be them in real life. I can't help but find that a little pathetic – I will only indulge in fantasy heroism because real heroism IS HAAAAARRRRRDDDD!)

        • jake

          I'm saying that going out and searching for comment arguments is idiotic and a waste of time trying to argue with trolls. If you think that the above is example of real heroism then you have much to learn about life.

          • Guest

            I think going out of your comfort zone can be heroic yes. And I actually think searching out places where abuse is happening and calling people out on it is a noble task. I know the old argument of it's pointless to argue with trolls. But actually it has been found that not arguing with them doesn't stop them. That those who call them out actually make more of a difference. Once again you use the easy excuse, "No point arguing with trolls!" Meanwhile women are being trolled all over the internet to the point that they are quitting blogging and changing their phone numbers etc etc. So it's nice you can live by your little philosophy. The rest of us will have to just go on being troll food. Whether we actively seek them out or not.

          • jake

            Will I argue with them if they come onto one of my forums? Of course, but if you genuinely think that it is heroic to go out in search of abusive websites/people and comment attacking them then more power to you, go forth and be the women-justice-commentator of the interwebs!

          • Gentleman Johnny

            The trick to arguing with trolls is to make it amusing for your audience. You can't beat a troll with logic. You can't beat a troll with anger. You have to beat them with ridicule, making laughing at them more natural than being angry.

          • Joy

            So they're like boggarts? Shame you can't just Riddikulus them.

          • Max

            Spending 5 seconds to tell someone that what they said was wrong and hurtful: WASTE OF TIME

            Spending 5 minutes writing an essay (and then spending an hour defending that essay) on how that is a waste of time: WORTHWHILE

        • Gentleman Johnny

          I don't want to be heroic either. Zefram Cochran said "don't try to be a great man. Just be a man and let history make its own judgments."

          Be a man. Stand up when someone is being a bully.

          • celette482

            And always, always use Steppenwolf as your soundtrack to awesome.

      • jake

        One, didn't say it wasn't a problem simply because I hadn't seen it I said that you can't brush over and blame others when there are communities that don't have this kind of thing happening in them and it isn't acceptable in them.

        Yes people should make their own communities because you can't literally burn out harassment and sitting there complaining it exists while not doing anything useful about it and then whining isn't acceptable.

        Not sure what your third bullet is, guessing that's just you being a moron and trying (once again) to put words in my mouth

        the "self-righteous" argument, yeah critiquing his work as sounding too self righteous is something I do as a commenter, I actually critique the work. If you can list where I'm doing so be my guest.

        the last one, you honestly think that I should seek out forums with a bunch of misogynist idiots on them just to comment attack them??? What logic is that?

        what do you win? Wow.

        • takshak

          Women should abandon the communities they themselves built because……?

          • jake

            If they were communities built by them then I doubt that the comments would be accepted by the other majority of commenters on those forums, even in the forums where the original critique was posted most people are amiable or defensive of the article, go look at them.

          • Guest

            So there's a convention. And men and women together run it. They put it together, they contact guests, they arrange the hotel etc etc. Then the convention happens and guests show up and certain male guests start harassing the women involved. Should women just leave that convention and start an all female convention?

            Also having a fair bit of knowledge about how hard it is to get a man who harasses women kicked out of a con, especially if he's a veteran of that convention, I can tell you that nope, even if women help organise a convention it doesn't guarantee that they will be safe.

            Further, the experience of almost every female blogger is that of getting rape threats at some point, and that is certainly her own self created community. Sites that are geared towards women get MRA trolls all the time to the point where I saw one moderator attempt to delete a man's membership but he just kept re-registering under new names and mocking her how he would never get rid of her. Even if the majority of commenters are saying fuck off to the guy, the guy is still there, still threatening her, still launching twitter campaigns against her. It's really that bad.

          • Guest

            ugh . . . *how SHE would never get rid of HIM

          • jake

            I understand that these people should not be accepted and I get that you can be heckled on your own site or blog and that banning them doesn't stop it because they'll just make a new account. However, at that point your community is fine and there are just trolls trying to ruin it, there isn't a problem with your general people in such places it's just some oddballs trying to ruin it. But on the whole their are many places that are hostile and these places should just be left alone and avoided, it doesn't solve every issue and you'll still come across those guys but there is no other way short of making a verifying process to keep them out. To stop it as a whole… we just have to wait for them to realize the times are changing and get over it or wait until they can somehow be shamed (take away their anonymity).

          • Guest

            Change doesn't happen in a vacuum. It happens when people stand up and say they aren't going to take this bullshit anymore. So some people might yes sit around and wait, but the reason that works for them is because others are doing the work to make the change. Unless people are actively doing something things stay stagnant.

            And also, it might be easy for you to say, "They are just trolls, don't worry about it" but it isn't easy when you are the woman being threatened with rape. It isn't just some odd ball. It's insidious, it seeps into your every day life. And heck maybe the threat is just a joke, but it could also be real. How do you tell the difference? How do you know when someone claims they know where you live that that is an empty threat? It also doesn't help that women live their everyday lives encountering casual sexism everywhere. So it is also a cumulative thing.

            Also from what I understand online gaming is a hostile place. Are you saying women just shouldn't online game? They should just not pursue that particular passion until there is a verifying process? Do you not think women gamers are not as passionate and obsessed about it as men? Do you not think for some of them it's how they make their living? Better they just quit and wait?

          • Gentleman Johnny

            You know, I don't hear anyone saying MRA's shouldn't be allowed to have their own communities. What we're talking about here (and its an important distinction not yet made) is that women should have a place in any community that considers itself public. Online gaming is a great example because if you play on XBOX, for example, there's a single massive pool of players. Maybe if guys want to be shitty to women they should take their lame asses to their own community instead of women being expected to leave a public forum. Because, honestly, the metaphor that comes to mind is "if you can't take being cat-called at the mall, you should make a women only store" and that's a shitty attitude to take.

          • enail0_o

            THIS THIS THIS

          • jake

            Ummm, you get banned on xbox live for rape threats or sexual harassment, period. In mass public forums this is not normal or acceptable. The issue is that many communities ARE smaller and do have a more set-in -their ways feel that is or can be hostile towards women. I'm not saying a "Women only" forum but "segregated" forums for people that don't put up with this BS. The idea is that I'm a male and I don't want to be around someone making rape threats at one of my friends, so I'll try to get them off and if they are a majority we'll just leave and find a more friendly forum or start our own.

          • Delafina
          • jake

            Yes you can find cases where things get overlooked it's a massive company and a service with over 40 million active people using it.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            The thing is, those "things that get overlook" happen often enough that many female gamers will play on Xbox live only with a gender-neutral handle and never using a microphone because their experience is that of receiving this harassment every single time their gender becomes apparent.

          • Delafina

            Please, tell me more about how quickly women's reports of threats get responded to on Xbox. I hadn't realized that you were a woman, or someone who works for XBLPET.

          • Sebastien Fauste

            Considering there were issues of then new xbone accidently auto-banning people for profanity when it first came out I have a pretty good indicator that there new system is more sensitive to harassment and is being actively worked on.

          • Delafina

            Truly spoken like someone who's never written a profanity filter.

            They don't stop harassment, bullying, or anything like that, dude. All they do is filter out the people who hadn't *realized* that some terminology is disallowed — that is, people who have zero interest in bullying others, and every interest in following the rules, but who use some salty language.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            Oh, well as you're describing it there, 100% agreement. To use the straw MRA forum example from my previous post, I'd expect women to catch gender biased harassment there. I don't think its the behavior of a decent human being but hey, even assholes get their free speech. Its when those same guys track a woman down to make rape threats on a survey she is conducting, post games about beating her in prominent places, or find her on social media to launch attacks that it becomes and issue. . .and that's what I assumed we were talking about.

          • Delafina

            Brenda Romero, I think, would disagree with you that communities founded by women can't turn misogynist.

        • Guest

          Meh everything you've said has been said before. That was all I was referring to in a very very very snarky way (had a really shitty week, so I do apologise for that particular level of snark, wasn't cool). I find it strange when people come along, write massive missives of self defense when no one accused them of anything, and the conclusion is basically, "Yeah things are bad but I still feel a need to defend my own honour because even though you aren't talking about me, I feel judged."

          People who post like you like to claim some kind of debating superiority by digressing from the subject by talking about how amazing they are which for some reason is supposed to be meaningful to the people who are dealing with harassment somehow. They also enjoy telling the people who are dealing directly with the problem that if they just segregate themselves they won't have a problem anymore. It's so easy to be such a person.

          Oh and the third point was me addressing you going on some kind of long explanation about that fact that you are not sexist so that means . . . what exactly? Sexism doesn't exist? You are awesome? I put "females" in quotes because usually when men use "female" instead of "women" it speaks to a larger othering attitude. You might have not been meaning to do that, however, so I will apologise for putting it into quotes.

          • jake

            It's not about feeling judged or not but more about addressing the problem specifically and the ways to deal with said problem that are effective, I feel as if when people write articles like this that they are making the whole thing out to be a majority of nerds or an issue that ALL of us are ignoring and that ALL of us don't stop and keep in check. I feel as if the communities that are fair and actively see the benefit women provide to groups are just ignored and wrapped up with all these other communities that sound horrible.

            As far as how amazing I am… not me but many of the groups I've joined have been amazing and I love to brag about them 🙂 I love talking on some forums where DM's are complaining about not having females or their players not paying attention and feeling proud of some of my groups. As far as the segregation thing goes, it's just how I was always taught, you move someone else away or control them but you can control yourself and distance yourself from them and stay away from them.

            Oh, about the "female" thing, I'm in the navy and we often refer to the different sexes as "female" and "male" so it just kind of comes out in speech and writing now. Yeah, I have bad weeks too BTW and sometimes when I make a comment that's snarky or downright name calling I have to apologize and just distance myself from human interaction until I figure out what's going on that put me in a bad mood, plus I was a little snarky about the commenter super hero thing.

          • Guest

            I guess for me I don't know how effective it is to qualify every time someone writes a post on this subject with "There are many nerd communities that are awesome, but let's talk about the ones that aren't." I feel like people make qualifications all the time in these situations and it is never good enough. Witness the NiceGuyTM debates. Someone will write an article about the NiceGuyTM and before launching into why it's a problem they will take a good long time to define what makes a NiceGuyTM and that it isn't the same thing as a nice guy and that there are many genuinely lovely nice guys out there and this is just a comment on one particular unfortunate type of dude . . . and invariably people will show up in the comments to say "But I'm not like that!! And not all nice guys are NiceGuysTM" and basically say everything that the person at the beginning had worked hard to qualify.

            Ditto the harassment of women thing. If the doctor had spent the first couple paragraphs praising good communities before he went on talking about the bad ones, people STILL would have said, "There are good communities out there!" Further I really think that most people don't read an article like this and go "He is clearly talking about every single nerd out there!" One hopes the geeks/nerds of the world who pride themselves on their intelligence would understand rhetorical devices.

            And here's the big thing. While it is very likely there are many spaces where men and women nerds co-mingle in harmony, as one could mention at the start of a blog post like this, it is still very likely that while the men of that group can go out into other parts of their lives, even other nerd communities, and not experience anything gross, almost every woman nerd you meet will have had a bad experience in some other community. Maybe not to a massive extent, but at some point or another most women in the general nerd community will have felt harassed, will have felt objectified. So even though there are safe communities for women, that doesn't mean all communities are safe for them, and it isn't as if it isn't a real systemic issue. Talk to almost any woman in the nerd community and she will likely have a tale to tell.

            So it really starts to feel a little pointless to point out the good in the community in an article like this when so many women within the community are dealing with the BS. And I also think it's very clear that the good doctor is angry. He is sick and tired of seeing the same arguments brought forth about how the community doesn't have a problem, seeing the same kind of threats made about the same kind of things. And if he's that angry, just imagine how angry we women are about it.

            So maybe in an article where someone is basically saying, "Enough is enough!" we are allowed to just talk about the crap. We are allowed to analyse what people are doing wrong and how they could be doing it better. We don't need to tip toe, or qualify, or praise. I think the tiptoeing around male nerds is what causes them to get away with this stuff in the first place. Did you notice the person up thread who called us all monsters for daring to not ask the harassers why they were harassing and have sympathy for them? This is a prevalent attitude.

            So while I understand your desire for a balanced thesis, I just don't think it's always necessary. Not with an article like this, not in a forum such as an online blog, and certainly not when this isn't exactly the first time this issue has been raised. This isn't a new concept. This is a really fucking old concept. Women get harassed daily for just expressing an opinion. It needs to stop. And it's time for this community to stop overanlysing it and to just tell people "Not cool."

            That's why I get so passionate and snarky (aside from because of the personal issues I'm dealing with). Because as geeks/nerds we love to discuss and theorize, but putting things into practice is quite something else.

            I grant you you might not share my perspective, but there it is.

          • jake

            I understand what you are trying to get across and I kind of get where you're coming from, this is my first post on this website so yeah what I've said has probly been said before. I was simply exasperated at the tone of the article and the bashing of nerds as a whole when the people I know are such great people! It feels like an assault on all the people you care about by saying that they are rape threat trolls or people who let others bully women, I realize that this wasn't the point and that it addresses an issue that needs to be actively addressed and have solutions sought out for. I'm not surprised about the reaction that they get it's hard not to see somebody sectioning out "nerds" as an attack.

          • Joy

            Thing is though, this is a site *specifically geared toward nerds* ("helping nerds get the girl"). Sure, the article could have talked about rich frat boys or sports culture or the military or some other subset of the population (none of which are without their own problems). But I wouldn't expect to go on a "dating for fishermen and other outdoorsy types" site to see articles calling out harassment in video game culture or articles on attraction that use a lot of geek metaphors to back up their points. That's not the target audience.

            Doctor Nerdlove is not "bashing nerds." This is a site *for* nerds! And as such, he is likely to say, from time to time, "Guys, this is a problem in our community." He never said ONLY in our community. He never said the ENTIRE community. But just because it is *also* a problem elsewhere does not mean it *isn't* a rather large problem here.

          • jake

            I realize that, it just comes off feeling very aggressive, I understand now what he is saying and trying to do, just clearing some things up with why I originally responded as I did.

          • SpiltCoffee5

            The aggressiveness is probably out of frustration on DNL's part that he's writing yet another article on this particular topic.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            I don't see a lot of bashing nerds as a whole. The only way to get these problems out of our community. . .our community, the place you and I spend our free time, is to bring it to people's attention, discuss it and do something about it.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            I feel as if when people write articles like this that they are making the whole thing out to be a majority of nerds or an issue that ALL of us are ignoring and that ALL of us don't stop and keep in check.

            Did you actually read the article/ Because it sounds like you're commenting on what you think it says instead of what it actually does. What its actually saying is "we should all be more proactive about keeping it in check". As one of those "it doesn't happen around me" types (hint: I'm wrong about that), I'll be the first one to stand up and accept that challenge.

          • jake

            Except for the fact that we "all" shouldn't be because some never accepted this in the first place and never would. You think that there are a whole ton of people out there who think rape threats and sexual harassment is funny and okay? Not where I'm from that's just way out of this world crazy, I can't imagine someone making a comment like that around me and thinking it's okay. As I've previously said I'm not searching out conflict but I will do my part in taking care of my own communities.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            OK, sure, given none of us would let a comment like "bitch wears a costume like that, she wanted it" in our presence. No debate there. My point, even though I can't promise its the point of the article, is that less severe examples on the same spectrum happen in the geek community all the time and we don't notice because we're comfortable with the narrative that "stuff like that doesn't happen in my group". I'm not saying your immediate Five Man Band does but if you've got your eyes open, you won't have to look far outside your immediate circle.

            As to the article itself, Del hit on it. If something like this does happen at a con, online, at the comic shop and you don't say anything, you're giving the perpetrators tacit approval to continue their behavior.

          • Desultory Philip

            I don't have to "think" there are "a whole ton of people out there who think rape threats and sexual harassment is funny and okay". I *KNOW* there are. As you would too, had you thoroughly read the article and followed the links provided therein…

          • Delafina

            The majority of you are ignoring it, and by ignoring it, tacitly supporting it.

        • thathat

          "Yes people should make their own communities because you can't literally burn out harassment and sitting there complaining it exists while not doing anything useful about it and then whining isn't acceptable."

          Y'all heard it here, folks–discussing problems prevalent in nerd communities and bringing them to light so they are known and not hidden is "whining." Also, if you are doing that, then obviously you are doing nothing else.

          I'm always a little surprised by the folks who just believe "well, it won't work." As Gentleman Johnny pointed out upthread, in the space of a generation or two, there are a whole slew of words, behaviors, and actions that have become unacceptable in public because we, as a community (that being a much larger community) decided that they were, and called out or ostracized people who refused to play nice with the other kids. Is it perfect? No. But you can bet that by bringing this weaselly, creeping behavior into the light and making it a shameful thing–and shameful to one's peers, to fellow nerds, to the people we want esteem from–that it will lessen. That the people who have to deal with it will be taken seriously. That maybe ten or twenty years from now it won't have as thoroughly infiltrated our community as it has these days, and on such high levels.

          "Hey kids, call out douchey behavior and make sure the people in your social circle know it's not something you're cool with!" That's not particularly hard. I don't even understand why people get angry about that. I mean, surely to some extent, we all do it anyway, yes?

          • Sebastien Fauste

            Nope, once again you like to change the words of others, discussing is fine but if you are in a place that is hostile to you and your solution is to talk to people sending you rape threats instead of getting out of the situation then you just aren't going to accomplish anything. Talking about ways to solve this issue outside of such places is great and it's what I am actively doing by suggesting that new communities should be made.

          • Delafina

            So we should have "women only" and "men only" drinking fountains in geek spaces, is what you're saying. And seats on the bus.

          • thathat

            See, and now you're deliberately misrepresenting what happened to make it seem like the victims are at fault.

            You're talking about being in a "place that is hostile." Okay, where was Janelle Asselin's initial critique, the one that got her those rape threats? Was it on an MRA board? Was it even on one of the crappier, more dude-bro servicing messageboard? No. It was on her own personal blog. As was the survey about sexual harassment in comic book places.

            How about Sue of "DC Women Kicking Ass" fame? Hey, her stuff is all also posted on her own personal blog. And yet, she receives rape threats. She gets stalkers. For discussing comic books.

            So that means that the "place that is hostile to you" is…THE INTERNET. Or maybe Nerd Culture in general, since this crap can happen at conventions. Hell, y'know what you call a place that is hostile to women? THE FREAKING WORLD.

            You can't just "make new communities." Y'know why? Because these dickholes come into these new communities. "DC Women Kicking Ass" is specifically a blog about the ladies of DC comics, made by a woman, and yet there's always hostile dickweasels who come in and try to crap all over it with gendered insults and rape threats for Sue. They always come. The attitude of "well, just go somewhere else" is the crappiest, most cowardly and victim-blaming of attitudes.

            What you're saying is that women need to get out of this hostile situation. But the situation in question here is: TALKING ABOUT COMICS WHILE FEMALE.

            That's it. That is actually "the situation" you are telling people that they have to get out of. And since we can't really stop being female, that means that, following your advice, we would have to stop talking about comics. At least in public. Where unpleasant men could potentially hear and act.

            What a joke.

            You're also misrepresenting the solution presented here. We're not talking about a soft-touch New Age mom going, "Oh, Timmy, no, don't hit mommy. Please don't hit, Timmy," while a little hellspawn of a child throws a tantrum. We're talking about social crackdown. We're talking about making people unwelcome in our communities, about kicking them out, about dragging their behavior into the light and making them the pariahs not for who or what they are, but for how they choose to treat people. Because this crap really has survived this long and these widely because it can hide and because these guys get to feel justified.

            But we're not going to just take our toys and go play in the corner because some mean kids want the whole playground to themselves. That's what these bullies are trying to do–they are trying to scare women into shutting up, into not voicing their opinions about comics on the internet, into not participating in nerd culture. And that's why it's so very distasteful to see someone saying, "Hey, just do what they want." Why the hell would we just give into bullies? Screw that.

            Hey, actually, it's the mirror world of your solution. If these dickmunches want a place to be terrible, they can just go make their own communities. Because we will make ours actively hostile to them.

          • Mel_


          • Gentleman Johnny

            TL;DR – if I'm in a bar and you threaten to stab me, I'm not the one who needs to leave.

        • Gentleman Johnny

          Yes people should make their own communities because you can't literally burn out harassment and sitting there complaining it exists while not doing anything useful about it and then whining isn't acceptable.

          You know what, fuck that. Fuck that up, down and sideways. Fuck anyone who thinks that's some sort of solution with a goddam chainsaw. I just got back from an event that my cast really loves, that they want to perform at. One of them will never go back again without a guy to run interference for her. More than one of them got degrading remarks and fucking death threats IN FUCKING PERSON and security did fuck all about it. So if you're saying we should go make our own event rather than participating in that community, FUCK YOU! How about we run off the fucking fucker who fucked up our fucking weekend with their fucking death threats instead? Will new ones crop up? Sure and we'll fucking run them off, too. Those guys are in the vast, vast minority but it only takes one motherfucker to fuck up the day of my entire fucking crew and then you say the solution is that we shouldn't go to this otherwise great event because there will always be one motherfucker. Fuck that! How about fucking security learn to do their fucking job instead?

          And while we're on the subject, when that shit happens on the Internet and these motherfuckers get away with it, they start thinking they can get away with it in real life AND THEY FUCKING DO.

          just for the record, I intend to do something about it but running away is not on my list of options.

          • Sebastien Fauste

            Wow, didn't realize I was talking to a pre-teen here. My solution was that if you can't stand that one person and you can't get rid of them (I don't condone violent hypocritical solutions) then you take yourself out of the situation. Anyway if you want to act like a child and talk like one then I have nothing more to say to you.

          • Delafina

            You're not. You're talking to an adult who's taking responsibility for the tone and attitudes of his community.

            Also: https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/ad-hominem

          • Dr_NerdLove

            I'll agree you have nothing more to say, yes…

          • Mel_

            How do you know you can't get rid of these people when no one's really tried? The whole reason for this post is that the general response to women in the geek community getting harassed has been to ignore it, assume she's lying/exaggerating, talk about how it's really her fault, or focus on the problems of the people doing the harassing. Why would you assume that if the majority of people actually reacted with disapproval for the harasser and support for the person being harassed when it happens, that wouldn't reduce how often it happens? Or at very least reduce how awful and isolated those harassed feel, which is a pretty valid goal too.

          • thathat

            …calling people out and taking action isn't "standing up," then? Just because something upsets someone doesn't mean that they're not also gonna do something. But why the hell should the most unpleasant of people get to dictate who gets to go where safely?

            If you've got a garden and the garden's got weeds in it, you don't just plant a different garden. This is your freaking garden. You dig up the freaking weeds.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            Tell you what, see how calm you are after sending your sister/girlfriend/mom through an environment like that. I've done calm and reasonable really well up to this point but I have had enough of people standing up and going "but what about the assholes? Will no one think of their needs!"

            You want to set the tone? Stand up for something that matters instead of shrugging and saying "boys will be boys". Because, like the article says, if you're sitting there enabling people behind your comfy screen, you are part of the environment that's the problem.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            Wow, didn't realize I was talking to a pre-teen here. My solution was that if you can't stand that one person and you can't get rid of them (I don't condone violent hypocritical solutions) then you take yourself out of the situation.

            Right. So you're saying one asshole should have the power to drive anyone he wants out of any space that doesn't actively get rid of him. I'm saying its on all of us to get rid of him.

  • takshak

    I was the first D&D player in my (very large) high school. I speak FORTRAN & COBOL. My first computer was a mainframe, the desktop wasn't in existence then. I stood in line for the premier of "Star Wars". I've been a geek since before most current geeks were gametes.

    Geek guys? You were bullied? Boo-hoo. I was bullied by the folks that bullied you & *by you*. You didn't get your dream date? Tough, *you* chose not to date at all because you couldn't get the cheerleader. It wasn't the fault of the girls you completely ignored, or or the geek girl you were busy sabotaging (I loved that, no really, screwing with my class assignments was soooo clever). You are socially awkward? Do you think social awareness just descends on girls with the onset of their menses? Like magic?

    I'm over 50. I've dealt with this crap all my life, don't look to me to coddle your delicate fee-fees, Geek Culture. I'm not interested in wiping your nose or putting a bandage on your boo-boo, you don't deserve it.

    It's good to see some men finally "getting it", and speaking up. Thank you. If you don't stand up to the haters, you are the hater.

    • username_6916

      If you don't care about other's "delicate fee-fees", then, why should other's care about yours?

      • Guest

        No all delicate fee-fees are created equal. Also I think the point here isn't that takshak doesn't have empathy for men who were bullied. It's that she doesn't have sympathy for the bullied who then become the bullies. Because the people the new bullies are bullying are exactly like how they were when they were bullied. Bullying female nerds is basically bullying themselves. And she has no sympathy for someone who excuses that behaviour by saying, "But when I was young people bullied me!" People bullied women nerds too, but now, instead of getting to become the people in power they are STILL getting bullied.

        So yup, no caring about those particular delicate fee fees. Especially since it is clear the men who do this do not in any way care about hers. Just as you said.

        • username_6916

          It's funny how differently we read the same post. I read "men's delicate fe-fees", not "harasser's delicate fe-fees". I think the point is exactly that takshak doesn't have empathy for men who were bullied. That she in fact wants to bully them further because other men are bullies themselves.

          • But then entire post is address to "you" – men who were bullied *and* who bullied her, to the extent that she has come to feel that this is representative of Geek Culture as a whole.
            And I'm really not seeing where you're getting that she wants to bully others. Could you point out exactly what she says that indicates to you that she wants to bully them? Because I only see that she is unwilling to offer 'you' (still men who bully others and excuse it on being bullied themselves) sympathy, because she feels 'you' are undeserving of it. As someone who's been bullied myself, and expected to sympathize with the bullies, I can't say I blame her.

          • username_6916

            I'm reading "you" as the set of all "geek guys". Ie, me. Men were the ones who bullied her, therefore she is allowed to mock and bully men and their 'delicate fee-fees'.

          • Guest

            Is there any way possible that you might acknowledge that you are reading it wrong? Or is it simply that you read it that way, thus it must be true, despite you being the only one who read it that way?

            Because it's very clear to the majority reading it she is referring to geeks who bully women not all geeks in general (even if it was marginally less clear than it is, it isn't a leap of logic to assume that's the topic as that is the topic of the blog post she is commenting on). You read "you" wrong. Can you maybe see that you might be wrong? It's okay to misread things, we none of us are perfect. But to insist that you are right because you read it that way and since you read it that way that's all there is to it seems a little stubborn.

          • Guest

            Also now that the original poster has made it more than clear below (she specifically refers to it as "the fee-fees of bullies") that the reading most of us took of her post was correct, can you now admit to having simply misread?

          • There's a difference between passively not giving a shit when dudes derail a post that is about the misery of dudettes and actively not giving a shit by barfing 'lol male tears' at dudes talking about their tribulations somewhere else.

          • takshak

            Careful with that strawman, they tend to burst into flames

          • God, I wish they were straw(wo)men. Point is, it's perfectly valid to saber down every 'but what about the menz/wimminz' post, dependent on which group the original topic was. That's not lack of empathy, that's a vital manner in which not to turn it into a who-has-it-worse wankfest.

            Confusing that with asinine edgy teens who see 'misandry' as the latest cool thing to shit up discussions on male abuse survivors and the like with is what the username guy seems to be doing.

      • takshak

        I don't recall any hater EVER caring about anyone's feelings but their own. The question is, why do you think a comment about the fee-fees of bullies is about you?

        Unless you aren't a native English speaker, unfamiliar with the use of the 2nd person plural as a rhetorical device?

        • username_6916

          I am familiar that use, but your opening sentence fragment ("Geek Guys") seemed to be the subject you were addressing. It seemed like were accusing geek guys, collectively, of bullying you and thus you feel entitled to bully and mock all geek guys. Or perhaps even all guys. Or, as another poster put it "lol, male tears".

          So, did I read that completely wrong?

          • Guest

            Where did you get that she was saying she was "entitled to bully and mock all geek guys" or any geek guys for that matter? All she said was she wasn't going to offer comfort and empathy when geek bullies say "Woe is me, I only bully now because others bullied me." Seriously, where does she say she will bully someone?

          • Delafina

            Yes. You did. As has been pointed out to you numerous times.

        • Max

          "unfamiliar with the use of the 2nd person plural as a rhetorical device"

          This seems to happen a lot in these discussions.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            Which is why I try to specify you (max) vs you (guys) vs you (geeks) vs you (humans). Its clunky but it seems to work.

  • Storm at Sea

    Remember, too, that even if “all men aren’t like that,” women have no way of knowing who is and who isn’t. And so the only safe assumption to make is that any random geek encountered online or IRL is the kind of guy who would, in fact, make rape threats and sexually harass. That’s why it’s in *everyone’s* interests to call out and shout down this kind of behavior.

    • thathat

      And honestly, the kind of guy who's got to take a discussion about sexual harassment women have to put up with and make the conversation about his feelings in that way…is kind of like that. Not, y'know, such a vile sort of person as someone threatening other people, but not someone who's primarily concerned with other people and their feelings.

  • aidel

    Excellent essay. I wish I could talk to you URL or over email about this. Hits close to home.

  • I'm pretty much obligated to share on our social media these what with owning a comic shop and all. Keep up the good work.

  • chris smith

    Yes, geek culture is like this. But feminists can also be evil and make death threats, then deny it. This happens a lot in feminism.

    • Citation needed

      • Of course those exist. Quick example: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erin_Pizzey

        Also Suzanne Steinmetz, and of course TERFs regularly go after transfolks, and I can also dig up a few femisphere dogpiles that led to suicides from Tumblr(I'm a bit skeptical of those, but fake or not the gravedancing afterwards was fucking appaling).

        However, none of this is relevant to the current discussion and tu quoque's are useless anyway.

        • takshak

          Well, if anyone wants to identify all women with TERFs, I don't see why they would object to identifying all men as harassers…..

          Personally, I'm pretty sure that's not how it works, but given that a number of guys are reading "male harassers" as "all men" it seems to be a common belief. Perhaps I am wrong, & all men are harassers?

          (/snark tag, in case anyone's snark meter is malfunctioning)

          • I think you're parsing it wrong. The example at the top of the comment thread explicitly mentions feminists also doing the whole anonymous threats spiel, followed by NAFALT, but that's neither here nor there. Every segment of society has parts like that, so it was a useless derail anyway and does fuck all about actually combatting that shit in the geekosphere.

        • shaenon

          So we have:

          — A researcher who received death threats from radical feminists about 30 years ago for claiming that women are as culpable in domestic violence as men.
          — A researcher who may have received a bomb threat after making similar claims, although I'm skeptical of this because I can't find any mention of it outside of MRA websites. MRAs also claim there's a feminist "whisper campaign" against her, which I take to mean, "we can't find any evidence feminists are trying to destroy her, so they must be doing it really quietly."
          — TERFs going after transwomen, which is a genuinely serious issue and one of the big reasons TERFs are shunned by the rest of the feminist community.
          — stories of "a few femisphere dogpiles that led to suicides" that even you doubt the reality of.

          You know what? Still not scared of the deadly feminist horde.

      • Max

        [lists single tumblr blog written by 14 year old girl who says she "hates all men" because her boyfriend broke up with her]

    • Delafina

      And yet strange how THE VAST MAJORITY of feminist spaces on the internet don't involve threats against anyone (except for those threats made by male visitors), while almost every space in which female writers talk about geek culture, unless it's very actively moderated, is full of them.

      Your false equivalence is showing.

    • Gentleman Johnny

      Yep, and when I'm part of a community where that's an issue, I'll definitely do my part.

    • shaenon

      Even if feminists were evil man-hating hellbeasts making death threats left and right, why would that make it okay for "geek culture" to consist of men threatening, harassing, and being generally awful to random women? Please explain.

      • Joy

        Yeah, seriously. First of all, "she started it!" is something you should only hear on elementary school playgrounds. Second, even if all feminists were "evil man-hating hellbeasts" (love that phrase), not all women identify as feminist (and I'd imagine there'd be significantly fewer feminists if you told them the price of admission was becoming a hell beast). And third, how are the awful contingent supposed to be able to identify whether that woman they're threatening with rape and/or murder *is* in fact a feminist? They don't typically wear signs, you know. (Of course, for a not-insignificant portion of the awful contingent, "expresses an opinion I disagree with" automatically makes a woman a rage-inducing feminist spoilsport.)

        • Gentleman Johnny

          Wait, feminists get to be hell beasts! Now that is totally not fair! I want to be a hell beast. . .but more of a morally grey non-hating hell beast. . .with a tail and little horns instead of the big swoopy ones.

          • Joy

            Sure, it *sounds* like fun being a hell beast, but the boss is downright evil.

          • celette482

            As an official devil's advocate, that might be true, but the health benefits are to die for.

          • takshak

            plus it's always warm!

          • thathat

            I think that's called a Dik-dik : http://youtu.be/te6AMqdTu9s?t=58s

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  • Delafina

    The song remains that same.

    1) Someone posts an article about how sexual harassment in geek culture is a problem, and how we need to find ways to stop it.

    2) A bunch of dudes come out of the woodwork to comment. They can't openly say what they're feeling, which is that they *don't* want to see an end to sexual harassment of women in geek spaces, so instead they nitpick:

    –Sexual harassment really isn't as widespread as women in geek circles make it out to be.
    –What these women are experiencing isn't sexual harassment — it's just bullying of the same sort male geeks put up with.
    –Geeks were bullied by women who wouldn't go out with them in high school, so they're just reacting to that.
    –They haven't seen it happen, so it must not be happening.
    –There's no way to fix it, so why do we have to keep talking about it?
    –This isn't about games/comics/whatever, so why do we have to keep talking about it?
    –If women want to be in these spaces, they should toughen up.
    –Evil feminists just want to stop men from having a chance to get laid.
    –But the harassers are just socially awkward, so we should be helping them (with the implication being that the women they're harassing should just "give them a chance").
    –But it's so hard for men to know what is and isn't harassment vs normal flirting!
    –Men get harassed too!

    3. Having successfully turned the conversation away from the problem of harassment and potential solutions to the feelings and experiences and challenges of men, and thus neutralized the threat of actually talking productively about the treatment of women in geekdom, they disappear into the ether.

    I'd love to see, just as an experiment, an article and subsequent discussion about ending harassment in geek culture where everyone just *ignores* the dudes who come by to try to claim it doesn't happen or it's women's fault or it's just about social awkwardness or any of the other standard derailing techniques, and just engages on potential solutions instead.

    • shaenon

      What's especially impressive this time was that DNL spent half the column listing all the standard deflection/minimization/excuse-making techniques, and people still showed up in the comments deploying every single one of them. You know, in case anyone doubted that this crap really happens.

      It just gets tiring. I'm a cartoonist. I stopped hanging out on comics sites and discussion groups years ago and am much happier for it. And that's effed up. Because I like comics, dammit.

    • enail0_o

      I'm inclined to see these kinds of articles on this particular site as something of outreach to the fence-sitters, the people who don't quite believe it's really that bad, the people who balk and need to argue it out a bit but might eventually come around, because not everyone who comes to understand a new perspective comes to it easily or willingly or comfortably. Somewhere's got to be the 101 space, as tiresome as it can often be.

    • chinchilla

      bingo time?

  • kfizz

    Yeah its kinda crazy there are so many things that are just accepted by avenge guys. My friends that are single get angry about not being able to find a girlfriend. I am single too but I have gotten over myself. Im just take me for who I am and hopefully I can find someone.They get typical geek guy about it, like its not fair. In fact they have a attraction to all female friends so sadly the state of us is only seeing women as a way to get laid.The problem is seem to only attract people who go and party with their aunts and uncles in their 40's and 50's. Smoke like chimneys and go to the casino with them. The crazy thing I know its only up to me and upon myself to be able to get a girl friend I just have to keep picking myself up and try harder next time.

  • Pingback: Woman criticizes comic book cover. Rape threats follow. | Fraser Sherman's Blog()

  • A Geek Girl gets her first gaming community rape threat around age 11

    My daughter and I were talking about the amount of how much personally directed sexual violence geek girls must endure. She was talking about the obsessive personally detailed threats Anita Sarkeesian creator of Feminist Frequency endures from the geek community on a continual basis. Some of these are threats include her personal details required to carry them out. This is really scary stuff.

    I had just read this posting and told her about it.

    We were talking about geek violent theaters and she casually let it drop:

    “I received my first rape threat in a forum when I was eleven”

    She casually went on:
    “Eleven is the age when geek girls first start discovering the Internet and make their first posts. They comment on some small feature they don’t like in a game and some guy will flame them with a rape threat”

    As they say, “you could have heard a pin drop”. This is very shocking for a dad to hear his daughter say. “My eleven year old little girl!” She is twice as old now. That she said it so casually is disturbing.

    My daughter has assimilated it. She has grown a “thick skin”. I think she enjoys giving back as good as she gets. But not the violent rape stuff.

    It is very sad that the male geek culture permits such abuse to go on. We men need to start talking about this and not tolerating the men who threaten sexual violence. Its never funny. It is not “just a joke”. It is not harmless. It is really scary for geek girls because there is always a risk that it might be real. There are unbalanced men out there after all.

    How do I change this? I start by writing about it. I talk with other people. I try to get men to understand the problem and see how scary it is for women.

  • Pingback: Cleverly Named Bunch o’ Links: Hating on Feminists Edition | Gravity's Wings()

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  • Steve

    I am a comic book fan, not a nerd simply a fan of the art. Forget any excuses this is plain and simple a bloody crime. Any one who does this sort of thing needs to be arrested and made to explain there sick views in a court of law.
    You go up to a person in the street and make such threats and you have a problem with the law, why should the internet be any different. The Lady who said she has no idea who she meets while been behind a counter at a con is speaking the truth, She has no idea nor does she have any idea if the person who wrote such things might act upon them. How would any of us feel about going through life wondering if the next person we meet is "The Sicko" who has been sending you threats.
    This sort of behaviour is a sick hate crime and should be stopped.

    • But these threats get made in the streets all the goddamn time. In the club, at cons, on social media, in schools and unis. Quickly in passing, in a way that's still deniable, and no gal wants to go through the he-said-she-said. Or maybe there could be even more backlash if she makes some noise about it, because who kicks up a fuss if this is the norm. Nobody wants to be a potential life-ruïner over a quick threat that was made in a moment of frustration.
      And then you tell your friends, and their first reaction is one of indignance and wanting to kick the ass of whoever made that threat. You don't want them to get in trouble over it, so you keep silent.

      There's some progress being made on internet legislation, but that's still subject to the same factors mentioned above.

  • Kendal

    I have to disagree with the idea of turning the violence trollers into pariahs and shunning them completely. As Jared stated, take someone who already feels marginalized in society and then ostracize them further. Not a good idea.

    However, I would recommend that ANY female who receives these sorts of threats take them to local law enforcement. Maybe the police, or FBI, won't do anything about it. After all, its nerds trolling nerds. But, perhaps, just perhaps, with the precedent set already that cyberbullies are being punished for their roles in a peer committing suicide, then trollers of this ilk will get their just due before a judge.

    I have my doubts that another masculine screen name calling out some troller to say "hey, threatening rape is bad, don't do that" won't have much affect. Much like what I am typing right this very second, are just words on a screen after all. In these cases where these women are getting these threats dozens, if not hundreds of times, they publish anything dissenting, those become more than just words on a screen. When the threat is against a woman's children, when the threat is that someone will show up at your job and take care of you, that goes beyond keyboard courage and trolling to issues the police really should be looking into.

    Calling the trollers out is good in theory (on paper, or on a screen!) but that won't change their behavior. Case in point, the Penny Arcade 'dickwolves' event. PA makes a comic mocking the repetitive nature of quests in MMORPG's. And, as PA will do, they used the most outlandish concept they could think of. A wolf made of penises that rapes villagers to sleep. Seriously. Now, keep in mind previous comics had an actual rapist character, a pedophile, bestiality. But the dickwolf concept, someone complained. EVERYTHING before the DW was copacetic, but the 'feminazi' had issues with the dickwolf. I am being sarcastic here, I find it deplorable that someone decries 'this one thing offends ME, you must stop it! But all the other things you've done that have offended others are just fine, go ahead on.' This mentality is just imbecilic. The rapist character, fine. The bestiality, OK. A pedophile? Sure! But a dickwolf? Oh.. NOW I'm a feminist and you offend me! Sorry, but that sort of picking and choosing just ruins credibility as a defender of anything.

    I digress…. back to the point of the article… So, in the kerfluffle around the PA comic, a feminist took issue. And, as this article demonstrated, she received threats. Numerous threats. In the ensuing back and forth between the detractors and defenders of Penny Arcade, the author of the actual comic.. the GUY THAT WROTE IT, defended the feminist and called out the trollers to stop, the threats were too much, this had gone too far. So, the trollers then turned and threatened the author's children. My point… you can call out the trollers all you want, all this does is reinforce their belief their opinion is correct, even to the point the creator of the issue being debated becomes the vitriolic target.

    Standing up is all well and good, and yes, we (gentlemen) should do so. We have to keep the idea that doing so probably won't actually change behavior. But, when there are real, serious, long lasting, consequences to these inflammatory statements, that will change behavior. These trollers, for the majority, KNOW it's just words on a screen and do it to try and instill fear and generate feeling of self worth. They realize someone calling them out is still words on a screen, and now their actions are further justified because now someone beyond the target has been affected, they now have power. But, lets say Joe Troller sits down to see who's replied to this tweeted threat to do X bad thing to Y's children because Y didn't like Whedon's run on X-men and the FBI come knocking? Now Joe Troller has to real consequences. Now we'd be getting somewhere.

    • Delafina

      Just reiterating Jared's argument doesn't make the arguments against it go away, dude.

      I'm not interested in how harassers feel. I'm interested in NOT HAVING THEM IN MY COMMUNITY.

      Nice try at shifting all the responsibility back onto the victims rather than the harasser.

      And I'm not required to risk my safety (or emotional health) to try to help them work through their shit. That's their responsibility. The end.

      And did you just SERIOUSLY USE THE TERM "FEMINAZI"? I'm sorry, I didn't realize upon starting to read your post that you were a terrible person.

      1) I am a feminist. I have yet to invade Poland. Even a little. And comparing women criticizing the way the media treats women to genocide as if they're equivalent is screaming bigot territory.

      2) Nice job at trying to make it seem like it's just fun-killing feminists looking for something to be offended about who complained about the dickwolves comic, instead of, y'know, rape victims who were triggered by a rape joke mocking victims and the seriousness of rape. (Not to mention that the initial protest over the comic was fairly mild — what caused the uproar was Gabe doubling down on his "right' to mock rape victims, instead of just apologizing.)

      • Kendal

        Ah, and by categorizing me as a 'terrible person' because you a) didn't actually read where I stated 'this is sarcasm' and b) prove my point by attacking me personally as opposed to the point I'm making.

        Oh, and I know several rape victims, I am married to one, I catered another's support group. They ALL GOT THE JOKE. The most severe reaction? An eye roll and a heavy sigh. Please don't assume ALL victims will ALL be triggered by a joke done in poor taste.

        My point was Mike Krahulik (eventually) told people to quit with the threats of violence (hey look, a MALE calling out rape threaty behavior! Just what the article wanted) and received threats against his own kids. It didn't change the behavior, it just redirected it.

        I never said it was the victim's responsibility to help the attacker, but it is the victim's responsibility to report threats to the authorities, if they feel its warranted. I do agree further ostracizing doesn't do any good. I'm all for banning the name, ban the IP. But I don't think that will change their behavior, it just demonstrates they have power. If you report the behavior, especially in the cases of threats against children, or specific statements of 'I'm coming to your home/job/etc to do X violent act" and those people get arrested, jailed, THAT will change behavior.

        Okay, you're a feminist. Who's just a quick to attack someone on a personal level rather than the opinion…. Hey Pot, this is Kettle…guess what?

        • Sarcasm means "I believe the opposite of this, so I'm presenting an exaggerated version to make it clear how absurd it is." It doesn't mean "I genuinely believe this, but I'm stating it in what I think is a 'funny' way so if you disagree I can say it was just a joke."

          Jonathan Swift did not actually want to eat Irish babies.

    • Gentleman Johnny

      have to disagree with the idea of turning the violence trollers into pariahs and shunning them completely. As Jared stated, take someone who already feels marginalized in society and then ostracize them further. Not a good idea.

      Tell you what, you go pick a violent criminal with mental issues out of jail to reintroduce to society. Then you can talk about how concerned and inclusive you are. In the meantime, if someone starts shit, they are the problem, not the person getting shit. They should be treated as the problem.

    • eselle28

      As I stated elsewhere in this discussion, if you feel a great deal of sympathy for men who sexually harass women, then by all means spend some of your time reaching out to these people to help rehabilitate them. As long as you don't do it within the broader community, where they can cause harm to others, and don't expect that victims will be the ones doing the rehabilitation, I don't think anyone would object to this at all.

      If you're using this argument to try to justify everyone putting up with broken stairs (or becoming pariahs because they're not willing or able to tolerate contact with their victimizers), while not doing anything to help them yourself, then no dice.

    • Gentleman Johnny

      Hey, what if we started a blog with advice for geeky guys who have low self esteem, lack social calibration, don't get boundaries etc and genuinely want to get better with women so they can become part of the solution instead of the . . . waaaaaaiiiiiiiiit a minute. Isn't there already one of those?

  • Pingback: Graphic Policy Radio: The One About Harassment in Geek Culture, Live This Monday Night | Graphic Policy()

  • John

    While I do agree that men need to make move to remove such reprobates, I really shudder to think that women not be a part of this. . . which you are probably not advocating for, but it could come off that way to others. What needs be done is coalition building: persons of all genders coming together to oust such violent and aggressive behaviors, and BELIEFS.

  • Chazz

    It's so sad that articles like this are stil so necessary.

    However I'm not 100% on this:
    "And therein lies the problem. We’re not the outsiders any more. Geek culture is mainstream culture. We’ve basically won. "

    Not sure what the win was? American anti-intellectualism still runs rampant. In my neck of the woods a man's worth is still measured by his athletic prowess and bank account. Here's a story from Shea Stadium circa 2006. Overhead to women ~40yo discussing one's upcoming trip to Florida
    Lady 1: "I'm going to visit Sheila. I haven't seen her or the kids in at least 10 years"
    Lady 2: "How wonderful. That should be great."
    L1: "Yea but I hear [the oldest son] is a real nerd, into computers and everything"
    L2: "Oh, that's awful. Sheila must be so disappointed"

    Not as disappointed as I was to have to overhear that….

    • Delafina

      Eh, there will always be some holdouts and Luddites.

    • thathat

      Eh, geek culture is mainstream, and 2006 isn't 2014–seriously, the social climate has pretty drastically changed in the past ten years, in terms of "geeky" things being widely accepted. Nerd movies are blockbusters, most people aren't going to tease you for wearing a Batman shirt (I play a game on the college campus where I work–spot the Batman tee. At least one a day, and from all sorts of people).

      Anti-intellectualism is something different, and sadly, far more prevalent. But that's more of a political thing. Not entirely…but sort of.

      But his point there wasn't that the US is a Nerd-topia. Just that it's generally less likely that having nerdy hobbies will get you teased (this doesn't mean being unathletic and broke might not get you teased, which sucks. Just that the nerd hobbies are generally more widely accepted–plenty of roughnecks in this area are into comics and nerdy movies and game nights when they're home).

      • chazz

        I don’t know if “nerd movies are blockbusters ” proves anything. Star wars was a blockbuster in 1977. War of the worlds was a blockbuster in 1953.
        But I dont want to get to far away from the original point of the article. Which is to always fight for what’s right. Afterall, isn’t that the premise of the majority of works in our sphere?

  • randomguu

    “that women somehow hold all the power”

    Sexually, since that’s what you were referring to in that case, they almost do. See evolutionary psychology. Yes, the top guys have more power than even the top women but the average guys (the vast majority) have less than the average women.

    I mostly-to-entirely agree with the rest.

    • Delafina

      Evolutionary psychology is about as scientific as phrenology.

    • chinchilla

      Ahh yes, evolutionary 'rape is an evolutionary strategy' psychology.

      And don't tell me that that's no longer accepted in the "discipline". It was rejected because people objected and it made evo psych look bad (which is it), not because its proponents decided it wasn't true.

      • randomguy

        " Ahh yes, evolutionary 'rape is an evolutionary strategy' psychology. "

        It's a positive claim, though, not a normative one (and yes, I realize apolitical science when it comes to those fields probably can't really be claimed exist) so I don't see the problem you seem to be hinting at. So what if it's true?

        Humans are animals, after all. The difference is that we can reflect upon our behavior.

        • chinchilla

          Hmm, I think we've got a typing fedora alert.

          That one's already been answered for you, but I'll leave it to you to find it in the above. Good luck buddy.

          • randomguy

            "I think we've got a typing fedora alert. "

            That's not a particularly impressive argument. I do find it funny that people with fedoras are now getting splash damage for a fashion choice from people who usually (and rightly) argue that no one should get shat on for such things. Nice going in picking your insults there, people. That being said, I do dislike hats as fashion accessories for myself. :))

            "That one's already been answered for you, but I'll leave it to you to find it in the above. "

            Nope, it has not. Keep thinking so, though. Evolutionary psychology, like biology, explains things well, within a rigorous framework whether you want to agree with it or not. The fact that most of the things it tells us don't make humans, men and women, look particularly good doesn't matter.

          • chinchilla

            Yeah, I'm not arguing with you buddy, I'm dismissing you. Typing fedora isn't an act of wearing a clothing item, it's a state of mind.

            But since you can't find it, please see Delphina's comment above. Evolutionary psychology is not a thing. Please don't liken it to biology (interestingly biologist generally really don't like evo psych. probably because it's not a thing). More accurately, you could say evo psych is like conservative politicians everywhere – old white dudes making shit up in a last ditch effort to conserve the status quo. It's not a science, it's an extinction burst.

            Evo psych: by white people, for white people.

          • randomguy

            "Yeah, I'm not arguing with you buddy, I'm dismissing you"

            That's what I said. 🙂

            "Typing fedora isn't an act of wearing a clothing item, it's a state of mind"

            Missed the point there.

            "please see Delphina's comment above"

            Her comment said nothing constructive so I'll stick to "nope, it has not." Let me try it too: "your arguments against evolutionary psychology are on the level of anti-Darwinian intelligent design proponents and creationists."

            "interestingly biologist generally really don't like evo psych. probably because it's not a thing"

            You took a poll or something? What's next, biologists don't like ethology either? Lol.

            "More accurately, you could say evo psych is like conservative politicians everywhere – old white dudes making shit up in a last ditch effort to conserve the status quo"

            I see you're still confusing positive claims with normative ones, as much as those conservatives you dislike frequently do. You should also tell that to all the *liberal women* who study and write papers in evolutionary psychology.

            "Evo psych: by white people, for white people. "

            Tell me how evolutionary psychology reinforces WHITENESS, please. Yes, the demographics usually studied in evopsy shouldn't be so limited, that's true, but some of its claims run much deeper than even such relatively recent (sub)population differentiation and they seem to hold true for the vast majority of human populations.

            Evopsy isn't reinforcing a status quo (that a substantial minority -but it seems not the majority in many cases- of people don't like, either, myself included). It just points out that it might run quite deeper than some people think. People can and should still try to influence the culture since that can massively drive change.

            It's not to my benefit to trust its findings, the problem is that most of them (not the utter crap that serve as a strawman, like berries are red and that's why women like the color; as if no field has its share of that) haven't really been refuted.

          • chinchilla

            You keep telling yourself that, whatever that is. I've been to those classes, I've read Pinker etc etc and I've even done a smidgen of evo bio (aka real evolutionary science) to cleanse my palate and I really don't feel the need to read 20 paragraphs by another evo psych clone. I know what it'll say and it guess what? It's quackery with an ulterior motive.

          • randomguy

            I'm glad this has moved from "biologists generally" to just you disliking it. Much better that way.

            Evo bio has ulterior motives too though, to deny our special creation by the very hands of our Lord! Such quackery.

          • The central problem with evolutionary psychology is that it almost always fails to rule out alternative explanations for observed behavior, even when the studies aren't shoddily conducted. I'm trained as a psychology researcher and I've read dozens of "ev psych" papers (I can't bear to validate it as psychology). The vast, vast majority of them would not pass muster on some very basic research measures. It's embarrassing.

          • Gentleman Horndog

            I'm still fond of your "phrenology of the twenty-first century" quote, and hope I get to use it sometime.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            I can see PUA's picking up on phrenology. Not only do you get the cold reading intimacy, you get to lean in close and massage a woman's head.

          • Gentleman Horndog

            I imagine it would need to be updated a bit.

            "You have the cranial morphology of a coachman. A SLUTTY coachman."

          • randomguy

            Yes for sure, the way many things are claimed as adaptations can be mindboggling (I gave a particularly well-known and egregious example; even Pinker who was mentioned above and is a "prominent" proponent of evopsy, while frequently also criticizing it in his own ways, isn't above criticism himself).

            What you say is applicable to a large number of fields in the 'soft sciences' (others much more so), unfortunately, though I do think you're exaggerating a bit. We hopefully won't start shitting on the fields that inform public health policy any time soon and start calling those people quacks (well that's already kinda happening too I guess). Especially since in that case, there is some advice offered in the way things *should* be, unlike evopsy. I do think that some of the claims made by evopsy (e.g. about the sexual strategies and behavior followed by most, but not all, humans) are the best explanations offered so far.

            Tavris & Wade, for example, give evopsy a pretty critical but *fair* shake but still no fedoras there!

            Btw, since you collaborated with Baron-Cohen, what's your opinion on his contributions to evo psy?

          • Gentleman Johnny

            All the evo-psych I've seen (and I've read a fair bit that people in the comments cite as evidence) is either shoddy to the point where someone with no degree (ie me) can find gaping holes in the methodology or its blindingly obvious things like "human socialization as a whole probably began as a cooperative survival strategy and survives because the lone wolf types were far more likely to die out in a scarcity situation".

            I have yet to see a convincing case for rape as evolutionary strategy, alpha ape or preference for a given waist-hip ratio deriving from evolutionary pressures. I've seen plenty of bad attempts to demonstrate them. In fact, let me go ahead and add one to the corpus.

            Rape is a failed evolutionary strategy. Since humans, like all creatures, are pre-conditioned to protect their own genes but not others, it makes sense to ostracize or even kill anyone who doesn't adhere to tribal breeding norms. This is kind of like alpha lions eating the cubs of other lions. So while it might work once, its not a useful long-term strategy for out breeding the tribe as a whole. That's my wild "it makes sense" evo-psych theory.

            The "rape as evo-strategy" hypothesis also pre-supposes that the tendency to rape is going to be passed along to your offspring, who will continue to use it as a survival strategy. Show me a correlation that children born as a result of rape and raised in adoptive families (ie controlling for nurture) have an increased incidence of being rapists themselves compared to other adopted children, and you've got something interesting enough to begin research but still no proof. Even in soft sciences, you want to eliminate all the other horses, so you're at least only arguing over zebras.

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  • Soledad

    I have nothing to add to this article except to say that I used to make it a point to call out shitty behavior in one of the online communities I used to frequent, then after realizing that I'd been doing it for ten years and it hadn't made a lick of difference I basically just stopped. I feel bad about it, but there's always an infinite stream of new creepers influxing in (it's a fetish community) and, at this point, a couple of trolls who pretend to be creepers or devils advocates for laughs.

    I've heard the burnout rate for SJWs is pretty high. I can see why. Can't imagine having to carry the weight of the world on a regular basis like that.

  • James Allen

    Amazingly good article, 100% behind you, needs to be read. EXCEPT. Kinda disappointed in the characterization of mental illness? I understand what effect you're driving at with it, but it's just rather unfortunate that in defending one marginalized group of people you're perpetuating the stigmatization of another. As a schizophrenic, one of the "pants-on-head, smearing-shit-on-the-walls insane," I object to being conflated with those responsible for knowingly threatening rape against other human beings. Don't mean to divert too much from the intended topic, just wanted to bring to your attention something that, probably unintentionally, was hurtful.

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  • Don
  • rpgrabbit

    I appreciated reading this. Thank you, good sir.

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  • hemophiliac

    This is exclusively a gender issue, of course. It's not like every dude who's ever peaked into the internet or played a MMO game has been called a faggot and informed about how much dick his mother is getting or anything. Well-adjusted people take it for what it is and move on with their lives instead of playing the victim card and whinging about TEH CULTURE! Part of being a grown up is being able to easily dismiss childishness.

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  • Jeri

    As someone who has a breast implant in response to a disfiguring accident, I find your implication that I'm somehow a fake and that it is something shameful to be in great distaste.

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  • Anonymous

    Thank you

  • Thinks2much

    I’m a little late to this party.. but gosh, if only geeks knew what an easy turn-on they have at their disposal, with the Heartfelt Discountenancing of Shitty Behavior Towards Women.

    We don’t actually want a gender war, y’all. We just want to be, you know.. people. Same as you.

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  • Just don't expect feminists to greet you with open arms when you dare to disagree with them civilly on any point of their narrative. I've seen myself and others demonized because we didn't buy into the puritanical, sex-negative arm of radical feminism. I've seen a friend of mine snarled at with the line "So says the white straight male" when he dared to say that the world hadn't ended because the democrats lost the Senate. Any movement that eats it's allies when they aren't in lockstep with them isn't worth my time.

    • Gentleman Johnny

      Don't expect them not to, either because I've had some pretty strong disagreements where we sat down and discussed it in detail, taking both sides into account. Strangely enough, people are people and its often a bad idea to generalize an entire group by the actions of one.

      But hey, no one says you have to join The Movement. I haven't. I just try to do right by the people in my life, which includes treating the women in my life as full people with something unique to say.