“Being A Nerd Is Not Supposed To Be A Good Thing” Ctd

The owner of the above title-quote follows up:

Hey, I’m the guy who wrote the thing that pissed a bunch of women off. In my defense, I didn’t mean to suggest that women CAN’T be nerds, and when I said I tend to be skeptical of the idea, I actually meant it as a compliment. I understand the over-reaction, as the misogynistic argument many people seem to think I’m making (that only men can be nerds and women must be faking) is far too common, and largely a translation of male nerd insecurity. Then again, if they weren’t insecure, they probably wouldn’t be nerds. I tend to assume women are more confident, well adjusted, and psychologically centered – all things nerds lack in the real world, and only claim when we create our own insular ones.

Again, the point is that being a nerd isn’t just about what one likes or even being ostracized for liking it, but about how one reacts to that ostracism. There are many healthy ways of doing this, either by attempting to acclimate to the group or attempting to forge one’s own identity independent of it. Recoiling into your own obsession until it consumes you to the point where you can’t fit into normal society even if you wanted to (i.e. devolving from an enthusiast into a nerd) isn’t one of them. Most of the women I’ve known in my life, even the avid D&D players and Whovians, were better than that. They can divorce their identity from their passions when the need arises. Being a nerd means you can’t.

A few others defend that reader:

It’s a shame to see people so adamantly reject an opportunity to practice some empathy. Not that there should be empathy for people making death threats, but they (the threateners) are enabled by people who might actually have some lived experience that is worth listening to. There is a market for what Gamergate is selling and we should be asking why.

Look, girl nerds didn’t have it great. But I’m going to venture a guess that they weren’t physically abused over it to the extent that boy nerds were.

The stereotypical jokes – pantsings, wedgies, being chased home by the jocks, getting your stuff stolen, all because you didn’t ascribe to a specific identify type – these things were real, Andrew. Boy nerds actually got the shit kicked out of them for what they liked and watched. I remember it decades later.

Does that mean it’s ok to treat Sarkesian the way she’s being treated? It’s a fucking insult to feminism to suggest your reader said it was, not to mention an insult to intellectual honesty and honest discussion.

Here you have a reader who says, “Hey, you know what? Gender roles were a problem for me too. And they really messed up a lot of people like me, and this Gamergate business is an outgrowth of how we were marginalized, and some people see it as a harmful extension – but an extension nonetheless – of the community that formed out of getting beat the fuck up for liking Star Trek.” And how do people respond? By saying that experience isn’t legitimate.

Please. Haven’t we told enough people that their experiences aren’t worthy of being listened to already? I mean, for fuck’s sake.

Another is roughly on the same page:

I think that boy nerdiness vs girl nerdiness comes down to the differences between systemic male and female bullying.  Boy bullying starts younger because policing gender roles is so critical to male identity.  Many boys, once they identify as nerds, seek to claim the label for their own acceptance and delayed revenge of being ‘smarter’ than the other boys. Looking around they don’t see girls with the same outlook, instead seeing girls who mostly run with groups of other girls and who wouldn’t risk their social capital on an outcast.  Boys suffer much cruelty from both genders and physical abuse from other boys at this age.

Girls, meanwhile, act nasty toward each other later.  Middle school becomes a grapple for power for girls that simply doesn’t exist in the same way for boys whose roles are much the same as earlier.  Girls will take lifelong friends and make them into enemies in middle high.  It is at this point that girl nerds become an identity (not that they weren’t nerds before, just that they begin to identify that way).  Meanwhile, boy nerds who have put up with this ostracism for long enough, see these girls as trying to invade and claim the identity they have had and have had to live with for years.  Plus, constant peer rejection especially from girls has led them to be suspicious of all outsiders as possible turncoats.

Personally, I think the girls have it harder because their rejection is sudden and senseless.  But from the boys’ perspective, the girls have always been complicit in their ongoing rejection and, since cold revenge was always their only solace, they take sick delight in the rejections that they can issue.

I say all of this as a man who thought this way many times growing up and who still must stifle his superiority impulses, especially over women.  It seems to me, though, that the solution is to remove the bullying of all stripes and at all levels of childhood.  Hard work, but if there had not been complicit adults in my childhood persecution, I wonder if it would have been so damaging.

Read the whole discussion on Gamergate and nerdom more generally here.