Another pretty good article on Male Privilege in geek and gaming culture from Kotaku.

Another pretty good article on Male Privilege in geek and gaming culture from Kotaku. #seb

Nerds and Male Privilege [Gender]

I want to tell you a story.
A few years ago, I was dating a girl who was decidedly not nerd curious. She tolerated my geeky interests with a certain bemused air but definitely didn’t participate in ‘em… not even setting foot inside a comic store on new comic day. She’d wait outside until I was done… which could be a while, since I was friends with several of the staff.
She came in the store exactly once, after I’d explained that no, it’s a pretty friendly place… well lit, spacious, organized …

5 thoughts on “Another pretty good article on Male Privilege in geek and gaming culture from Kotaku.

  1. Hey, did you see, way at the bottom of the comments the link to the Dec 2 2011 Shortpacked comic strip, the one with the sexualized Batman?!? My jaw dropped. It just dropped. That was so, so wrong.

    I knew that male fantasies written by men are different from male fantasies written by women–because how could somebody read novels all the time and not eventually get a sense of that?– but I never thought of applying that to the comic book superheroes I grew up with. Batman as one of those loathsome Twilight heroes. Batman as one of those repellent Regency-era historical romance protagonists. Or, less loathsomely, Batman as Lord Darcy. Batman as Miles Vorkosigan.

    Comic book and video game women are parodies of male-gaze sexuality. Do men find those women to be sort of creepy the way I find parodies of female-gaze sexuality in Twilight or in generic historical romance novels to be? Just think how terrible it would be if in some misguided effort at equality the publishers sexualized all the male characters the way they sexualize the female characters. EVERYBODY would be creepy. There would be no relief from creepiness.

  2. HS, I’ve seen the comic a couple of times as it’s been making the rounds on these discussions. It was pretty creepy and does do a good job of illustrating the point. For those of you who haven’t seen it, here it is:


    I have to admit that as a white, middle-aged male I’m terrible at these discussions because I’m at the center of the problem. I always feel the same way I did when I was a kid and first learned all the shitty things we did to the indigenous Americans to bring about the United States: A small tinge of self-loathing. I was never a huge consumer of comic books or fictional novels, but I grew up on video games and sci-fi/fantasy movies so I’ve had plenty of exposure to hyper-sexualized images of women and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t find them attractive. Of course, that’s kind of what they were designed to be. I’d like to think that I’ve never made the mistake of thinking that those depictions were anything but pure fantasy and that I didn’t treat real life women differently because of them, but even if that’s true — and I’m not sure it is — I know plenty of males who have done just that.

    I can also understand how such depictions would make women uncomfortable in much the same way that the image of Batman above makes me squirm a bit. So there’s a natural bit of cognitive dissonance that results: On the one hand, being a white male, I find the hyper-sexualized women of comic books, video games, and movies very attractive and I’m guilty of purchasing products that contain them more or less guaranteeing more such products will be produced. On the other hand I’d prefer to have an environment which women would find welcoming rather than intimidating.  I recognize the problem and yet I continue to be a part of it. And that makes me feel pretty scummy, but I’m trying to raise my awareness and get to a point where I’m not part of the problem. Alas, I’m 45-years-old and I wonder if I’ll manage to get to that point before it’s moot.

    Does any of that make any sense at all?

  3. Of course I wasn’t registered so I can’t comment, but here are my thoughts on that subject.

    I can only speak from my own experience but this article is spot on. I have often been treated like I don’t matter because I’m female, or the only reason I matter is that I’m f*ckable, and many times I’m treated as though I’m suspect.

    Once on a forum I had the gall to say I didn’t find an actress (who is considered by many to be very attractive) not all that good looking. I didn’t say she was ugly, just that I didn’t get why she was so popular. I was immediately quoted and told that I’m not nearly as hot as she is and to shut up. My attractiveness or lack there of ( I don’t think I’m ugly, I’ve even had guys tell me I’m good looking) was the deciding factor in whether or not I got to have an opinion. I’ve noticed this a lot.

    As for comic books, I love them, but yeah I’ve noticed how DC tends to call every female, “girl”. There are a few exceptions (very few) . But all the comic book pubs tend to dress their females in sexy and suggestive clothes. Marvel is better about that because Stan Lee isn’t into the man/woman/girl/boy suffix, and the females are a bit better dressed because he is a bit more forward thinking. I often wonder though, how popular would these characters be if they weren’t so sexualized?

    As for the charge that women get special privileges, what special privileges?  Ladies night at the bar? Yeah I get to buy my drinks on the cheap one night a week, whoo hoo! Women also get drinks and dinner and free stuff at restaurants, but that is always contingent on if she’s hot or not. If you have a homely woman (who isn’t famous) how much free shit do you think she gets? Not a hell of a lot. Men get paid more per hour than women, they are almost always considered for promotion and hire before a woman, they get to enjoy their success without people wondering who they slept with to get there. Yeah there are exceptions. I’m pretty sure Donald Trump Jr. is in a good job because he is who he is, but I am speaking in generalities.

    Yes women have games and movies and books that are made for them but have you seen them? Chick flicks are almost always terrible, and empty of any real content. The games I’ve seen are stuff like Cooking Mama, and Baby Sitting Mama. There is a science game that has the same format as the Cooking Mama games, but it’s called Science Papa. I’ve been sitting next to my boyfriend when he plays online and the biggest insults you can give to another player is that they’re gay (i.e. effeminate) or that they play like a chick. There are a few games where the main protagonist is female, Metroid, No One Lives Forever, Tomb Raider, Resident Evil, RE 3, Code Veronica, Zero, and Deus Ex: Invisible War ( you can choose to play as a female, but officially according to canon Alex D is a male). Sadly there are many guys who refuse to play games that have only a female main character, and where you have a choice they never play as a woman. Why? It doesn’t make you female, or gay. No one wonders about a female gamer who plays as a male, and it’s considered a compliment to tel a female gamer that she plays like a man. I saw on a gaming forum once where a guy said he could finally play a Tomb Raider type game (referring to Uncharted) because it has a dude as the main character. Really?

    Oh and yes, there are women who buy into it as well, no one said there aren’t women who are misogynists, there are, but that doesn’t make it right. It’s not women’s fault that some believe all the years of being taught that if you aren’t hot, and sexy, you’re basically useless. Look at Olivia Munn, she is always ripping on “fat Girls”. It makes her feel better to rip on someone else.

    I don’t agree that if you disagree with the article you’re a sexist pig, or that you some how have lost any argument. I think you may possibly be ignorant, but not everyone is sexist. It’s hard to be able to think outside your own experience. Besides, nerds get crap from other people and maybe it makes them feel better to belittle someone else? I don’t know, but reading some of the comments there makes me sad.

  4. I get you Les, and I feel the same way, even with the Native Americans too and again when I learned what we have done in Middle and South America. It’s bullshit, but how do you stop it. It would be one thing to make games this way if geeks didn’t have a horrible track record. Its another when things are this way and geeks do have a horrible track record.

    Even though I suppose game sales might drop off if characters weren’t so sexualized, I suppose after time we would probably get used to it just like we are with the ridiculous characters we have now.


  5. I’m not so sure about that shortpacked comic being an accurate microcosm of our society. Sure she might not find those men attractive but a lot of women do, otherwise male strippers would look very different. Maybe it was hyperbole to make a point but that’s even more reason for us to not use it for social commentary. Also I would not give twilight as some sort of evidence (as some might) when there is some buff dude running round shirtless. Not all men find the grotesque charactertures of women in games to be sexy either. I don’t really have a point other then that when either side jumps to massive generalizations it doesn’t help the cause of common understanding.

    I’m a white male so feel free to dismiss my opinion on anything topics concerning gender or race, on the basis of my sex and the color of my skin 😛
    (I think “privileged” is just a way to declare bias without the having to admit your own).

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