Friday, August 14, 2009

Sexist Beatdown: Revenge of the Nerds' Girlfriends Edition

Why, hello! Welcome to Friday! Friday, in case you have not noticed, is Sexist Beatdown day. It is also the end of my blogcation!

But what, you ask, could be so troublesome as to lure me from my blogcation paradise? (I read two books! I went to a concert! I learned to bake! It was nice.) Why, THE EVILS OF THE INTERNET ITSELF, of course. Also, nerds. For, behold! The lovely (and recently vacationed) Amanda Hess of Washington City Paper's The Sexist has uncovered a tragic tale of a young man who shared his hatred for his girlfriend (and love of bacon soap) (???) on the Reddit, a popular nerd website. His fellow nerds approved! His girlfriend, however...

ILLUSTRATION: Nerds, beware - if you post unflattering comments about Kelly LeBrock on the Internet, she will FUCK. YOU. UP. That includes you, Shockingly Young Robert Downey Junior!

SADY: why hello! i hear the nerds are UP TO NO GOOD.

AMANDA: are they exacting their ... revenge?

SADY: this is what they tell me! at least there are no gorilla masks and disturbingly rape-like scenarios this time around, though. only comments on the internet! and UNFORESEEABLE CONSEQUENCES.

AMANDA: so, why do internet commenters hate girlfriends?

SADY: well! i have been spending a really regrettable portion of my day looking up youtube clips of men railing against "feminists" on their "vlogs," so, one idea: it gives them something to talk about? also, the people who rail against girlfriends the hardest give the unmistakable impression that they are angry because they don't have them.

AMANDA: yes! this is what i wanted to talk about, because i need to figure something out and i think you can help me. i once (okay ... 2 hours ago) thought the very same thing: the phenomenon of "nerd sexism" may be a result of guys who think they're not cool, or attractive, or whatever, lashing out against the people who can make them cool and attractive: girls. and they can sort of get away with this, because it's not as if they're privileged or anything, like most men. they're pathetic nerds, and they're at the bottom of the social ladder

SADY: right. well, i also think so many of the things that are Nerd are gendered in the dudely direction: video games, comics, internet whozimatronical codes and what have you. not to say that girls don't use them, but they are generally considered For Boys. so the nerds end up in these all-dude or 99%-dude environments most of the time!

AMANDA: but then, some dude, who is really into kickball, posted this comment on my blog about why he doesn't like me, and he diagnosed exactly why i don't enjoy kickball: because i need a good fucking. and i realized that this is something i hear over and over again as a feminist: you "hate men" because you're single, you can't get dudes to fuck you, and you're ugly, etc. and they can tell all of this based on about 300 words i wrote about kicking balls in the air. and not to brag, but i do fuck, so i thought, maybe i am wrong about the nerds? maybe they do all have girlfriends?

SADY: true enough. perhaps there is an unfair nerd stereotype! for example, I will now brag by telling you that i had a roommate who specialized in the internet whozimatronical codes, and he had the various anime DVDs, and he suggested starting a concept band about robots. and i would say that this is Nerdy, but - BUT, and this is important - he was totally cool with all that. and he did have lady friends, sometimes lady friends who worked in the whozimatronical code industry.

AMANDA: the whozimatronical what now

SADY: I HAVE NO IDEA. the computer skills, i lack them! but it's easy to forget that Nerd or Geek or whatever is its own subculture, and the people therein are enthusiastic and happy about it. it is not like they are all in a leper colony. YET, they are marginalized, and looked down on, and here is a thing i have noticed about dudes who are marginalized and looked down on (and live in a very male-gendered environment): they DO, in fact, tend to lash out at the ladies!

AMANDA: i see. but they lash out at the cool dudes, the football players, too, right? but i guess the problem is that the quarterback is rarely actually an unseen minority lurking in the nerd forum, like female nerds are. although i love the idea of a quarterback wearing his football jersey and crying silent tears when his after-school activity is pwned on some WoW forum


AMANDA: haha. oh the layers

SADY: well, it's weird. because, basically, nerds are culturally emasculated. right? like the stereotype is that they are all unsuccessful, and can't get ladies, and can't beat anyone up, and that is what men are supposed to do. ALL THE TIME. like, if you are a dude and you are not either having sex or punching someone in the face right now, you're a gigantic pussy. unless you're just waiting for your truckload of cash to show up. so one way for dudes who feel emasculated to, like, reclaim their iron john manhood or whatever, is to talk shit about ladies. OR - just a suggestion - basically bring kelly lebrock to life using a computer and a barbie doll (RIP JOHN HUGHES). whereas, the nerd ladies i've met all tend to be really awesome and feministy! which, dealing with the double-stereotyping of Nerd and Lady, I can see why you would get tired of stereotypes and spend a lot of time talking about them.


SADY: oh, and also? some of this might be due to the evils of the internet itself? and not nerds?

AMANDA: that's true. there are a lot of assumptions made on these internets, and while i like to attribute stereotypes about women and feminists and lesbians or whatever to misogyny, i think a lot of times it's just carelessness. and it's still misogyny, but it's misogyny that can be addressed and explained and all a lot easier in face-to-face conversation

SADY: yeah, exactly. OR - controversial statement here - the fact that you can develop a fake personality on the internet for attention. like the dude you posted about! i am not saying he is not a douche, but the odds are high (in my mind) that a lot of his offensive statements were conceived, not while thinking, "oh how i hate the women of the world," but while thinking, "this will piss people off and/or prove what a loose cannon i am." see his shock when his girlfriend read his comments and was like, WOW, you come off as a dick here! if she thought he was a dick of that order in the first place, they wouldn't be dating.

AMANDA: yeah. totally. he then goes on to say that he's joked about her being a bitch to her face and she doesn't care when that happens. but obviously, there was some sort of disconnect where he didn't understand that the internet is not his real life, and taking the bitch joke behind her back to share with his internet friends she didn't know existed was not on the same plane of reality as he thought it was

SADY: right. there is a difference between tomfoolery and being like, "oh, ha ha, BITCH" in private and basically showing up in a googlable forum for all the world to see and saying that your girlfriend is a bitch because she doesn't like bacon soap (???). which: lesson for us all, there! with the twitters and the facebooks and the blogspots and what have you! people post hundreds of thousands of words a day and i think a lot of us don't understand that YOU CAN NEVER ERASE THEM and ANYONE IN THE WORLD CAN FIND THEM. as someone who has read my bosses' craigslist ads, i can attest to the foolishness of this endeavor.

AMANDA: and yet, for the people in this googlable forum, it's perfectly obvious that she IS a bitch.

SADY: yeah, people do show up to call his girlfriend a bitch. but that's their own form of posturing. like, i am so sure that the "don't let that girl push you around" "take the stick out" people would not weigh in this way were it a lady and a dude that they both knew.

AMANDA: that's probably true.

SADY: OR - alternate take - people on the internet are just jerks. i don't know. personally, i would have dumped him just for having the intense alternate life on reddit! NERD.



  1. It seems like there has been a lot of inter-blog focus on Geeks/Nerds and sexism this week.
    Which I am totally for, being a lady Nerd myself. I play videogames, and tabletop RPGs, and read comic books and fantasy/sciencefiction novels. And even do some of the whozamatronic coding. But being a discerning feminist ladynerd, it's pretty notable to me how limited my options are for non-sexist nerdy fun.

    It's like any other 'Old Boys club', where the men are freaking out because they're noticing how many women are trying to get in, and this will seriously cut into their 'objectifying women and getting everything their own way' time. I mean seriously, a lot of sexist male gamers were FREAKING OUT because when the XBOX came out, the controllers were HUGE and some women complained about the fact that this made it almost impossible for them to play Halo. How dare they demand the privelege of having conrollers that fit their delicate ladyhands! (Lots and lots of male nerd posturing goes here.) That's about as petty as you can get.

    One facet of nerd-dom that's pretty good for ladies, though, is Steampunk. You wouldn't think, being a genre based largely on Victorian times, which were notoriously bad to be a lady in. But since it's a movement that only recently came into its own, it has had a LOT of female nerds working hard at its inception, and therefore has been built into a much more egalitarian (both sex and race-wise) version of the 18/1900s. I mean, seriously, if we'd really had that many female mad scientists/inventors and airship pilots back then, the world would be a hell of a better place right now. Steampunk's not nearly perfect, but I find it a lot more inclusive.

    Apologies for the long ramble, this should probably be structured into a blogpost all its own, but now it has shown up on your doorstep instead! I hope there is something useful in there...

  2. Hey, got your feed and I can at least explain the bacon soap. Okay, not so much. However. It's one of the reddit memes. Started with everyone deciding simultaneously that bacon is the food of the gods. Somehow after that they came up with bacon soap, not sure why. It actually exists:

    Reddit is hands-down the most woman-hating site on the Net that I frequent. Which isn't saying much. I lead a sheltered cyberlife.