Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The nitty and gritty of male geeks

I consider myself a geek and since I'm male that would make me a male geek. One of the topics that's been pretty hot these days is how male geeks treat female geeks that try to get into the various types of geekdom (games, Star Wars, computers, etc...). Something I see are often long posts about how male geeks are so horrible to female geeks and how those male geeks are so terrible for their misogyny. One thing I don't see a lot is exactly where that treatment comes from. Well some might talk about it but I don't think its being brought up enough to be effective. So why don't I just throw in my two cents.

Short and sweet do you know what led to a lot of males to get into geekiness? Being socially awkward can be quite painful when confronted by "normal people". There's only so much abuse one can take from the "normal guys and girls" before you just leave for greener grass. As a way to carve out their own piece of existence they went off to make their geek communities. Dungeons and Dragons, Star Trek, interest in math and science, etc... Finally these guys had their own slice of heaven where they could not just exist but live without being harassed.

Well after a while girls started to show interest in some of those same things and, like any person who is looking for people with similar interests, tried to work their way in with those male geeks. While there are plenty of guy geeks who have no problem with this (either because they are hoping for romance/sex or because they are extremely excited to have someone to share interests with or whatever) there are those who don't take kindly to the "invasion of their space".

Hold up a bit. I think this needs a bit of explaining. You see to an extent I think some of that apprehension toward female geeks may be justified. Think about it like this. A lot of male geeks are heterosexual and are therefore interested in girls/women. Thing is they may be taking interest in "normal girls". You know the ones that probably had a hand in ostracizing those male geeks and driving them off to their own slice of heaven to start with. So when they see girls coming in they feel threatened. The very fact that they are girls is probably triggering something. Triggering something that doesn't go off with other guys coming in (because guys don't match their sexual orientation).

Now I'm sure that someone, somewhere, is flying off the handle because I'm not damning male geeks for their horrible treatment of female geeks, whining about male privilege, or some other easy score for points. Well fuck them because they aren't paying attention.

The reason I want to flesh this shit out is because if people really care about female geeks not being harassed by male geeks then let's actually get to why they do it rather than writing them off as woman haters. Despite the way I've been done by women in my life I don't want them to be excluded from the geekdoms they want to get into for such sexist reasons. I'm not trying to excuse their behavior. I'm trying to figure it out because how can you stop something if you don't know how and why it happens?

9 comments:

Sonja Newcombe said...

I'm a female geek, and I don't get where the "guy geeks treat girl geeks like crap" garbage comes from.

I've been treated with respect, kindness and at times a kind of awe which never ceases to amuse me.

And yes, I qualify as a geek. I have (and play) a Warhammer 40K army of Orks, read fantasy novels (and have done since I was 10), love Star Trek, Stargate, Big Bang Theory, Star Wars, and Firefly. I love a good game of Unreal Tournament and used to be pretty good at it. I've been using computers since I was 5 years old and hold a Diploma of Systems Administration. I own and ride and maintain my own motorbike...

Yeah, I'm about as Tomboy as they come (once you exclude the cross-stitch and crochet that I love ;) ).

Danny said...

I'm a female geek, and I don't get where the "guy geeks treat girl geeks like crap" garbage comes from.
I think its cool that you haven't been treated like that Sonja but I have to admit that I have seen girl geeks get treated this way. It does happen.

Conversely...

I've been treated with respect, kindness and at times a kind of awe which never ceases to amuse me.
I think its cool that you have been treated like that Sonja. It does happen.

Does it happen? Yes.
Is it terrible? Yes.
Does it need to be dealt with? Yes.
Can it be done by only finger wagging and blaming? Hell No.

April said...

<blockquote>Thing is they may be taking interest in "normal girls". You know the ones that probably had a hand in ostracizing those male geeks and driving them off to their own slice of heaven to start with. So when they see girls coming in they feel threatened. The very fact that they are girls is probably triggering something. Triggering something that doesn't go off with other guys coming in (because guys don't match their sexual orientation).</blockquote>

I can understand the guys you're talking about feeling threatened by "normal" girls coming in and sort of seeming to infiltrate their safe zone, but do you really see a lot of so-called "normal" women in these groups? In my limited geekdom experience (I don't really qualify as a "real" geek, IMO, but I get into some nerdy strategy games and Joss Whedon shit, so, I know a lot of geeks), most women who are a part of these circles are more of the geeky-looking type, maybe overweight, and usually fairly socially awkward. Usually they're pretty jaded because guys they know don't like nerdy-looking or overweight girls. I think girls go into geekiness for the same reasons you say guys do. Many of the female geeks I know came into it around that teenage time when the opposite/preferred sex wasn't into them, and they wanted something else to get into.

April said...

And yes, I qualify as a geek. I have (and play) a Warhammer 40K army of Orks, read fantasy novels (and have done since I was 10), love Star Trek, Stargate, Big Bang Theory, Star Wars, and Firefly. I love a good game of Unreal Tournament and used to be pretty good at it. I've been using computers since I was 5 years old and hold a Diploma of Systems Administration. I own and ride and maintain my own motorbike...

The fact that you felt like you had to prove it to Danny, a certifiable (male) geek, makes me wonder if you've really had such a sexism-free experience in the geekosphere (?).

Sonja Newcombe said...

April: I've had difficulties in the past, but not with male geeks. It's always been with other women. I have difficulty relating to other women because of my geekiness and tomboy ways.

Toysoldier said...

<blockquote>The reason I want to flesh this shit out is because if people really care about female geeks not being harassed by male geeks then let's actually get to why they do it rather than writing them off as woman haters.</blockquote>

Another part of it is that many of male geeks were bullied by girls, especially popular or normal girls. So when girls or women come into geek spaces behaving in that kind of demanding way, it puts everyone on edge and they may react more fiercely than necessary. A lot of this does not happen in a vacuum. I hear the same irritation coming from hardcore gamers who get tired of people who only play Wii sports acting like they belong in the gaming community. For the hardcore gamers who had to form those communities as a means of fitting in when no one, particularly women, would have anything to do with them, it can be annoying to have the community essentially "hijacked." I think it is much worse when politics are brought into it.

Danny said...

This is what I was getting at and you just expanded on it nicely TS. Thanks.

Danny said...

Now April. Listing out one's experiences as possible proof of suspicion?

Danny said...

I can understand the guys you're talking about feeling threatened by "normal" girls coming in and sort of seeming to infiltrate their safe zone, but do you really see a lot of so-called "normal" women in these groups?
In my own experience the answer to that is yes. And like I said bear in mind that a lot of those male geeks are straight and are probably attracted to those "normal girls". So you have teasing plus pain of rejection.

I think girls go into geekiness for the same reasons you say guys do. Many of the female geeks I know came into it around that teenage time when the opposite/preferred sex wasn't into them, and they wanted something else to get into.
Oh I'm sure they do. But if you look at the history of geekiness it was pretty much started by boys who didn't fit in and wanted a space of their own which brings us back to them feeling threatened (I think its more imposed upon than threatened).

Think about it like this. Women were tired of the way they were treated because of their gender so they started feminism. What generally happens when men (even the good intentioned ones) start coming around? But we're supposed to believe women/girls should have their own safe spaces while at the same time stamping out the safe spaces for boys/men?

-->