Girl Geeks/Gamers and the Fandom. A Conversation.

Gamer Luna - The Pwned

Intro

We (Kurt and Jason…and Dom, I guess) had a really good time doing the last conversational-style blog, and it garnered a lot of attention on the blog itself as well as some on other sites like Equestria Daily. One critique that we found really useful, however, was that we were probably a little flippant in our treatment of questions of gender in the fandom. Of course, that’s the very definition of male privilege–the ability to be flippant about gendered experiences that aren’t your own–so we really wanted to do something about that.

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We invited Michelle to write a post a few weeks ago that proved to be a hit, and it raised even more questions about gender in the fandom, so I asked Michelle if she would dialogue (trialogue?) with us about those issues and share with us a different set of experiences about this and other fandoms. Thanks for being a great sport Michelle! -j&k

Check out the entire conversation below the break!

(J = Jason Nguyen ; K = Kurt Baer ; M = Michelle Turner)

Geek/Gamer Girl Stereotypes

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J: So, I’m only peripherally familiar with stereotypes about geek/gamer girls in general, but the idea of such a person has come up multiple times in the Research is Magic blog, insofar as we were describing ways in which women are marginalized in what are already niche/marginalized subcommunities. Do you have any thoughts about that? Am I even characterizing it right?

M: Honestly, the only geek girl stereotype I’m aware of that applies specifically to women is this whole “Fake Geek Girl” concept — the idea of a woman who, I guess, has some typical geek interests (gaming, usually, but sometimes things like The Hunger Games movies or Doctor Who — stuff that has made it into mainstream culture enough that everyone’s at least heard of them) but is somehow not geeky ENOUGH to count as a real geek. I’m not sure who asked the nerd police to determine where that line is, but apparently this is a thing. I’ve not encountered many people who actually take it seriously, but there are things like this ad [locally-hosted image below] that have made it into actual published DC comics issues as “humor”. I think a lot of marginalization is like that. It’s subtle. It’s little jokes that creep in here and there. It’s people saying things like “You don’t act/look like a geek.” Geeks stereotyping other geeks has always been a thing, and if you’re a woman you somehow get the worst of both worlds. You’ve got to navigate this traditionally male-dominated space and put up with a lot of frank misogyny, but that’s only if you manage to pass as a “real” geek.

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… and now I’ve typed “geek” so many times that it no longer looks like a real word.

Michel Foucault x Discord

J: I Googled “gamer girl” this morning and the majority of the search results are aimed at men looking for a gamer girl; I think it went so far as some kind of campaign by Maxim to find the sexiest gamer girl or some such nonsense. So, I think you make a great point: few people, at least not in public spaces where it’s easy for us to see, actually say things that are denigrating to women directly in these spaces. What they do is to simply affirm a very small subset of things that valorize women from a chauvinistic frame–and THAT makes women in these communities feel a palpable difference and even a diminuation of oneself as someone who has that identity (geek/gamer). It’s the subtle difference between “A girl who has MY interests” and “a girl with interests that are LIKE MINE.” If I were to get all Foucauldian, I might say that in such a discourse, the subject is almost always the male and his gaze rather than the female’s, who is then relegated to being the object of the gaze1 .

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M: Yeah, it’s very weird. I never self-identified as a geek (at least, in traditional terms — I was a theatre and band geek, but at my high school those tended to overlap heavily with the popular kids, so…) until my mid-20s, so I kind of entered geek-space as an outsider. For a while I had the weird experience of either being ignored completely or talked down to when I went to a heavily male-dominated event, like my college’s Games Club night. The flip side is going to a con in cosplay and only wishing I could be ignored a little more. At one large con last year I started tallying up the references made to my boobs by gross drunken con-goers. It was something like 5 or 6 in one single evening, and probably wasn’t more than that because I was accompanied most times by my husband or a (female) friend who was good at looking like she’d punch someone if they tried anything. It makes me really reluctant to set physical foot in a new geek-space unless I already know the makeup of the crowd, if my only options are being ignored or being ogled.

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J: To what extent is this different from ritualized spaces of male dominance that don’t involve either video games or rainbow-colored ponies? I get the sense that what you describe is not unlike the fraternity parties or dance clubs I’ve attended. And if that’s the case, then–for better or worse–the typical male fan of MLP is probably as complicit in the denial of “true” membership to women as any drunken dude at a football game. Nadia Seremetakis in The Senses Still writes: “What is being said may be relativized, contradicted or confirmed by embodied acts, gestures, and sensory affects. This process of confirmation or negation is a performative moment where gestures and/or a surround of artifacts are mobilized to bear or deny witness to language”2 . Men (everyone really) import these non-linguistic ways of understanding the world into these spaces and reproduce patriarchal structures. Even talking about your boobs constantly–though linguistic–functions more importantly in terms of the things they AREN’T saying.

M: I don’t think it’s different — except that geeks often pride themselves of being accepting of outsiders. MLP fandom in particular prides itself on being “the tolerant fandom.” I will say that I haven’t encountered either snubbing or ogling from any Bronies, yet, but I’ve only been to a few events. I just think it’s funny that geek culture prides itself on being accepting — unless you’re the wrong kind of geek. This tendency hasn’t yet become overt in the MLP fandom that I can see, but I do feel like there’s a certain pride that male Bronies take in defying expectations — they’re guys who like this girly thing for little kids! Isn’t that great and wacky? Being weird is awesome! — so being a bit more in line with the “expected” audience somehow paradoxically throws me into outsider — or at least fandom minority — status.

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K: It has always been interesting to me how resonant the “love and tolerate” slogan is with so many people in the fandom. On the whole, I find the desire of people in the fandom to be “tolerant” to be quite great, and a lot of amazing things have come from it. It is very interesting to note, however, the ways some things are tolerated more and better than others and where the general push for respect and acceptance within the fandom at least temporarily breaks up over divisive issues. As you say, on the whole, I (admittedly, as a dude who has only been doing things in the fandom for a few months) haven’t seen much outright intolerance or straight-up misogyny and I feel that many try very hard to be accepting of everyone. The interesting things here typically happen on a much more subtle scale—a lack of a “benefit of the doubt” on some issues, headbutting between two different groups who want “tolerance” in ways that conflict with each other (e.g. the different parties at play surrounding issues about Princess Molestia… although this example is probably the least subtle possible with regard to gender issues, it does show two different people who are looking to be tolerated in conflicting ways), etc. I am not really sure I can think of any fake geek guys, for instance. The issue of me being a gamer or a geek is never something I have had to prove–I am more of a geek than some people, much worse a gamer than other, but there is a benefit of a doubt that I get that allows me to identify myself as a geek without any burden of proof on my part that our bespectacled meme girl doesn’t seem to get3 .

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J: While some of these encounters sound really horrible — the discourses of gender and allegations of the perpetuation of rape culture linked to the Princess Molestia tumblr definitely come to mind (I don’t know where I personally stand on Molestia yet, though /mlp/ was kinda a morass of nonsense during the Golden Muffin Awards nominations, since a number of them had nominated the Down With Molestia campaign for one of the “bad” awards) — I think the positive end of all this is that it produces possibilities for certain kinds of encounter that are unlikely to happen otherwise. Sometimes that turns out really badly, but on the whole, I’ve been really impressed with how the various surprising connections within the fandom produce resources and potentialities for teens and young adults (and even some who are older) to form social bonds and affirm themselves. A concept coined by Mary Gray, “boundary publics,” really encapsulates well what I think of when I see this fandom at its best: “I define boundary publics as iterative, ephemeral experiences of belonging that happen both on the outskirts and at the center(s) of the more traditionally recognized and validated Public Sphere of civic deliberation […] I suggest that we imagine boundary publics as strategies for space making and constitutive processes for the queering of identity that increasingly, though not exclusively, incorporate new media use”4 . I think it’s important to realize, as Gray suggests, that we understand “experiences of belonging” as requiring both social encounters and a workable medium for communication. And as I think we are all suggesting, the strategies of belonging that some people use will naturally exclude others. The issue here is that the overwhelmingly male makeup of particular social circuits within the fandom means that people are importing these strategies from their experiences in other spaces, warts and all. Still, because the fandom is at a boundary, people are liable to run up against all kinds of different people using the fandom’s social resources in completely different ways. There’s going to be that guy who really wants you to know that he’s a really manly Christian brony just like there’s going to be the advocates for transgender bronies on Reddit (an AMAZING group, by the way). There are going to be the fans on /mlp/ who are interested in stirring things up just as there will be the ones who really espouse the love and tolerance ideology. The question for me is: in such encounters, to what extent are female fans at a disadvantage because of their gender, and why/how does that mirror geek/gamer behaviors and discourses?

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M: I don’t think this fandom is remarkable among geekdom as a whole when it comes to interacting as a woman in a male-dominated space. I think any strangeness is a result of this undercurrent of — I don’t want to say resentment, because it’s not that hostile — but this sense among women that MLP fandom was “ours” until the Bronies came in with the new generation and made it a guy thing. How would a majority of fans of a traditionally male-dominated fandom feel if that fandom suddenly became associated with teenage girls? I don’t know if there are many female MLP fans who feel that way, but I can see it being there subconsciously, at least. I felt a tiny bit indignant when my husband started watching, to be sure — I was like the hipster MLP fan going “I liked ponies BEFORE it was cool!!!” So I think that’s why I feel it a little more acutely in this fandom than in any of the other male dominated spaces I’ve entered as a geek girl. It’s unexpected to me that I would feel like the outsider in something that was originally “mine.” So I guess I don’t think there’s any real disadvantage that’s unique to this fandom, but it’s more of a shock when an unpleasant interaction does happen.

Fandom(s) and Gender

J: To speak about the fandom around My Little Pony as a singular thing is probably a synecdoche5 without a real reference–there’s no singular MLP fandom. There ARE a large number of people with resonating interests that somehow produce an affinity for the current MLP incarnation. That “somehow” is complicated, because those affinities, for some people (and especially for the originators of the “brony” moniker and the somewhat ironic/playful fandom of 4chan), include being part of a group that is clearly over-represented by males with interests in games and geek stuff. So even if the fandoms that gravitate to Friendship is Magic are not explicitly a group of geeky men (though anyone calling themselves a brony is coming pretty close to making that statement), what they generally all do is reinscribe certain behaviors that index being a dude–even when they’re being done by non-dudes. Which is fucking weird, because presumably women should have equal (some might say greater) claim to this fandom. [Aside: to someone who has not been following MLPFiM fandom(s), there’s no knowledge of this shift and so non-fans generally treat MLP as “girl stuff” and thus marginalize the MALE fans…that’s a later post.]

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K: One thing I would add to this is that there is an MLP fandom—insofar as people are very invested in the creation and maintenance of an MLP fandom. I know you are implying this, but it is something worth mentioning explicitly. There is no monolithic thing that you could point to and say “that’s the MLP fandom” without running into some problems. There is an idea of a community that many people are very invested in maintaining and it is as much of a thing as anything else is. The same issues arise with the idea of a “brony,” or any other thing that happens to be a word: everybody understands these terms in different (and not necessarily even remotely internally consistent) ways and, while there is a general sense of what “the fandom is,” there are really no clear cut boundaries that can be pointed to. But I digress—

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M: There’s an older generation of MLP toy collectors that I know have some overlap with current MLP fandom, but it’s hard to say how much because there’s not really any crossover conversation happening. At the last in-person MLP fandom event I attended, I won this Collector’s Guide that covers the past few years of MLP merchandise, including the generation of toys that existed before the cartoon became a thing. I know for a while there was also this trend of custom repaints of MLP toys, and some of those were amazing. This still goes on, and I’d love to see that side of fandom interact a bit more with the “brony” half — especially those of us who fall somewhere in the middle. I was never a collector, but I loved the old toys as a child and admired the things people did to customize them. I’ve thought of doing some custom repaints myself, but so far the furthest I’ve gotten on that end is painting one of those Princess Luna Design-a-Ponies.

J: Friendship is Magic has done an interesting thing where it produced a kind of punctuated growth of the fandom in an unintended and unimagined way, arising from a very different set of experiences than the fans of MLP before that. I can’t think of any other fandom, off the top of my head, that has done that. I’m pretty involved in the Transformers fandom and through those various iterations–Transformers, Generation 2, Beast Wars, Beast Machines, the Michael Bay movies, etc.–there have been gigantic leaps forward in terms of the number of fans, but the demographic makeup of the group has never shifted so dramatically. Maybe with the Michael Bay movies, fans might argue that the new mainstream following dramatically changed the makeup of the fandom, but it was still something more like that hipster mentality of something special becoming less so because of the dirty hands of the public at large, not a different subset altogether. Or to put it otherwise, the fandom is more like if a bunch of people from New York City moved to Atlanta all at once, as opposed to Atlanta opening itself up to people from all over the country. Each would produce some local tensions and anxieties, but the former would be a specific difference while the latter would be a general one.

My Little Pony Transformers crossover cover

K: I definitely can’t think of any other fandom that has done this either. Also, with the Bay movies, I think there is a certain general appeal that Faust was going for (moving from a niche audience to a much more general audience by virtue of creating solid and characters) that Bay didn’t necessarily have to, or even care to, try for. I mean, it’s a movie starring Shia The Beef and Megan Fox/whoever the model/”actress” that replaced her was.

M: Star Trek, maybe? I know there’s a hint of derision directed at people who like the new JJ Abrams Star Trek movies without having been a Trekkie previously, but I think that happens with any remake. Fans who get brought in via the new movie/show/iteration are automatically looked down upon for a while unless they get into the “classic” version. Same with Doctor Who, though not as much now as when the series first restarted.

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K: I guess, with issues such as this, there might be a bit more of a possibility for anyone to be considered a “fake” fan of something—the Whoovian who hasn’t seen any Doctor before Tennant, the Tolkien fan who hasn’t actually read all of the books, etc. I am interested in how this works on the micro- level though. I feel like there is a lot of negative, hipteresque sentiment that comes out of these situations— all sorts of late adopters coming in who are seen as not really being part of the fandom. However, how much of that is just felt as a general feeling about “the fandom” and how much really gets directed toward specific people? I don’t personally identify as a “gamer” or anything like that, but I find that a lot of people are, on the whole, just more than happy to talk about games, or Dr. Who, or WWE (the real WWF), or what have you with me even though I am only mildly competent in being able to act a fan. This could be a general thing, it could be gendered, or people could be circulating memes of my horrible attempts to converse about GTA with them.

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J: There’s a certain level at which latent affinity or competence is attributed along an axis like gender, age, race, etc. Based on repeated experience, the men you interact with in daily life are probably going to be more likely to be interested in games than the women. To the extent that socializing requires that we make boxes to put people in, the girl-gamer or geek-girl doesn’t have a pre-existing box in most people’s experience. Realizing that she does not fit into that box, she may use a strategy of identity politics to make that box–she may need to consciously and deliberately affirm that she’s a girl AND she games/has extensive knowledge of particular niche hobbies. But since she’s a minority, everything about her ends up overdetermining the features of this new box. She will probably need to assert herself and be better than others (men) to gain the social capital necessary to make that box, but that also produces a box that holds only better girl-gamers and geeks6 . I’m going to stop before it sounds like I’m suggesting that we put women in boxes.

K: We all know we put them in binders. (Are we still allowed to make old election jokes?).

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(Winter) Wrap-Up 

And THAT’S HOW EQUESTRIA WAS MADE…


  1. The “male gaze” comes out of gender/feminist theory, but depending on your academic pedigree, the idea of the gaze as some sort of social condition can be attributed to a few people ranging from Lacan to Foucault. In referring to Foucault, Jason is also pulling in panopticism and the notion that in believing  that you are being watched, you self-regulate your behavior 

  2. Seremetakis, Nadi. 1984. The Senses Still: Perception and Memory as Material Culture in Modernity. p.6 

  3. Kurt’s using the concept of “male privilege” here. Peggy McIntosh’s work is probably the most cited. 

  4. Gray, Mary L. 2010. From Websites to Wal-Mart: Small Town, USA. In LGBT Identity and Online Media (edited by Christopher Pullen and Margaret Cooper). p.292 

  5. Jason’s being a pretentious asshole here: “synecdoche” is a form of metaphor in which a part of something metaphorically stands in for the whole, i.e.
    “all hands on deck” 

  6. Jason is alluding here to the concepts of “strategic essentialism,” coined by Gayatri Spivak and “identity politics,” which has a less specific origin 

34 thoughts on “Girl Geeks/Gamers and the Fandom. A Conversation.

  1. I’m not entirely sure how to even begin picking apart the many tangled issues that women face in geek culture, but I’m fairly certain that objectification lies at the heart of it.

    Most geeks are straight men. I’m going to leave that assertion with only “common knowledge” to support it, but I think it’s pretty well accepted. If we wish to narrow our focus to those specific geekdoms which are predominantly straight men, so be it. I’ll also assert, based only on “common knowledge”, that most of these geeky straight men have had difficulty with romance. Between the stigma attached to geeky pursuits in general culture and the fact that introverted and/or awkward personalities do seem overrepresented in most geek circles, I don’t doubt it.
    I would then posit that part of the cause of “fake geek girl” accusations – which seem to be levied more often at more attractive women – is a degree of resentfulness these geeks have developed. “Women like you have been rejecting me forever for being a geek; you’re not allowed to just BE a geek now.” This is obviously wrong-headed in more ways than I can count, but I think it’s less misogyny than objectification (or it’s misogyny based on objectification) that has them seeing all these women as interchangeable enough to effectively be the same person.
    Part of why I think it’s objectification rather than pure resentment is that the geek-vs-jock dynamic is also real in a lot of ways, but we don’t see anything like “fake geek jock” accusations. Vin Diesel “came out” as a huge Dungeons & Dragons geek a few years ago, and we loved him for it.

    Of course some objectification is obvious. Booth babes. Cheesecake comic book covers. Whatever the hell is coming out of DC Comics lately. But a lot of this seems to be lazy marketing from corporations, rather than anything from the fans themselves (except of course when that lazy marketing works too well). Some of it is a little more subtle, at least to those who don’t think about it for five consecutive seconds. Take the new CoD:Ghosts ad with Megan Fox for example. She’s more competent than the guys, see? And the guy likes that, see? It’s all good! Except she’s still just there for him to have a hard-on for, rather than being one of the guys. But again, I don’t necessarily expect much from marketers.

    That leaves direct harassment. Crude comments, leering, etc. This is something men everywhere need to stop doing, and I personally hold geeks to an even higher standard. (As a minor point of geek defense, I’ll note that at least half of the comments Michelle mentions were not from congoers, but from random guys on the street while walking between con hotels.) As she says, we generally claim to be the outcasts, accepting of everyone. If we can’t even make members of an entire sex feel safe and comfortable, how can we claim that? Some of it is social awkwardness – I think everyone objectifies members of their preferred sex to some extent, but our social sensibility keeps those thoughts hidden – but that can’t be an excuse. They wouldn’t excuse someone telling an awkward geek, “wow, you’re really annoying; shut up and go away,” so this can’t be excused, either. Zero tolerance harassment policies that most conventions are adding to their rules are great. All the awareness of this problem is great. We still have a ways to go, but I do hope our subculture can lead the way for society at large, as I feel we have for other forms of change.

    The last bit is definitely more of an open question: even if we all behaved impeccably, to what extent would a female geek feel like an outsider simply by virtue of being in the minority? At BronyCon last year, a black attendee was carrying a dry-erase board with a count of how many other black people he saw there. I don’t think anyone was treating him poorly because of his race, but he still felt it. I occasionally feel that my age makes me stand out at brony events. It’s probably not possible to make someone in a situation like this feel completely comfortable right from the get-go. But treating them exactly like everyone else – and accepting the ways that they’re not, when the difference does incorporate a personality that differs from the majority – is certainly the best way to get them feeling that way in the shortest possible time.

    And yes, “old school” fans have scorned new fans since time immemorial. Forget Abramsverse – TOS trekkies felt that way about TNG fans. Whovians, of course.

    That’s probably only a tiny fraction of what I really want to express, and I’m sure I managed to mangle half of it to sound like I meant what I didn’t, even when I’m not sure what I did. I will add an explicit disclaimer that I’m not seeking to justify or excuse any bad behavior, even as I attempt to explain it. (Well, I do appreciate cheesecake comic art, but there’s too much of it.) Even my explanation is speculative and partial – I’m not sure it’s right, and even if it is, I’m sure there’s other stuff going on, too. But there it is – tear it to shreds! 😉

    1. First of all I’d like to make my views on the idea of objectification clear. I don’t consider cheese cake or the like to be objectification or even problematic in any way.

      For starters fictional characters are objects as they are not true human beings with thoughts and feelings thus they themselves can be directly objectified in any way without consequence. Though lack of substance in a character can obviously harm story telling depending on utilisation, I was speaking of consequence to society.

      The notion that sexualised characters objectify women by their mere existence is based on the fallacy that they will be taken as representative of all women. Over-and-above the false notion that sexualisation negates meaningful characterisation (Elizabeth from Bioshock Infinite being a good example of why this isn’t so) the idea that the audience would, without pre-existing misogynistic tendencies, view all women based on the example of a single (fictitious) women is frankly laughable.

      Unless there is a clear underlying massage that the character is meant to be taken as representative of women as a whole, I don’t regard less than ideal depictions of women as harmful. Note also that I would say the only problem with sexualisation is that there isn’t enough for straight women/gay men. For the purposes of clarity I am a lesbian, if you feel that colours my views you are most probably right but I still stand by my views on the matter.

      A final word about objectification before I move on; it has been my experience that sexually appealing characters lacking in characterisation tend to be dismissed in favour of more interesting characters.

      I’d like to clarify something about the “fake geek girl” thing, though I could be mistaken about this. It came about as a rant by a comic book writer or artist (I forget his name. I’m not good with behind the scenes stuff) about “fake geek girls” being attention seeking posers that aren’t actually interested in the media involved. They simply show up to cons in revealing outfits because it’s “cool” at the moment with the mainstream success of superhero films. As far as I’m aware this wasn’t actually a thing until then, at least I’d not encountered it personally and haven’t yet either.

      To me this seemed more like the attitude “hard core” games (I consider myself a hardcore gamer so I use the term loosely here) have toward “casuals” (I don’t have this attitude for the record). It is more elitist than misogynistic IMO. A sort of “damn posers, don’t even really care about this stuff” resentment of those they view as leeches reducing gaming/geekdom/ect to a fashion trend. While I find this kind of attitude childish and more than a little insecure I can at least understand it to an extent since geek was originally a derogatory term used by others to describe others. So a degree of defensiveness is inevitable.

      I don’t believe this is an indicator of an inherent problem as much as a case of greater visibility of those individuals creating the problem to the rest of the culture. Which isn’t to say it shouldn’t be dealt with, which it is.

      To answer your question…well I guess I’m technically a minority within the Brony fandom though I can’t say I’ve experienced discrimination of any kind personally. That I’m a minority in terms of gender doesn’t bother me as I’m a fan of MLP like every other Brony which is the trait that brought me into the fandom, so anything else isn’t really a concern. Actually I’m also a minority in the sense that I’m a G1 fan though I’ve never felt the sense of resentment toward Bronies for “stealing” my fandom (apologies for the wording, I couldn’t think of a better way to phrase it. I’m not trying to put words in anypony’s mouth). That might be because I’ve been a Transformers fan since G1 as well as other male-orientated media (Guyver being the only other fandom I’m as passionate about as FiM) so yeah.

      I guess the short version is that I don’t agree with your post overall but I will say you raise interesting points.

      1. Let me clarify: I don’t think that hyper-sexualized comic art should cease to be. I’m a fan of a lot of it myself, in fact. I’ve got my J. Scott Campbell and Jamie Tyndall art books, and the fancy Zenescope limited-edition cover gallery they were selling at NYCC. I like hot cartoon girls as much as anyone – probably more than most. But there’s so much of it, and it’s so prevalent, I can certainly understand any woman who’s new to the world of comics seeing it all and thinking that women collectively are objectified by the industry and the fans. If the majority of depictions of women are purely as eye candy, how could they not? The fact that the women shown are fictional doesn’t change that. They’re depictions of women, and how they’re depicted says something about the attitudes towards women held by the creators and the consumers. Otherwise you might as well say nothing in the industry matters – the stories are all fictional, too, right?

        I don’t think that fans are going to begin objectifying women (let alone all women) as a result of seeing these depictions (let alone a single such depiction) – that would be laughable. I think the art is being created in such tremendous numbers and being put front-and-center on covers and shelves because this attitude of objectification already exists, or at least marketers perceive that it exists. Everyone knows sex sells, but it can also be a PR problem. If we believe that geek men are no worse than (maybe even better than?) the average man when it comes to this sort of thing, then we should try to present that face to the world.

        Basically, there’s so much varied artwork and so many varied stories in comics today (to continue to use comics as representative of geekdom as a whole), that it’s sad to me if someone never discovers what they’d love because it’s buried under an avalanche of tits.

        “Avalanche of Tits” – that’s mine, don’t use that, I’m trademarking that. 😛

        1. These arguments and your discussion about the feelings, depictions and more of what women think…

          Very smart thinking y’all hehe!
          I’m liking that you two are going back and forth agreeing and disagreeing and providing some good arguments that can come to an conclusion of pure reasoning.

          Very polite, yes…
          I will say this, I do agree with you Benjamin on how those new to the comic fandom or something will find the depictions of women, in the quantity it is in many comics, quite daunting and shows an rather intriguing look into how females are seen and sometimes treated in the artwork of comics.

          Yup! But I also see some points that azamonra made that I feel to agree with as well hehe! But Benjamin may have made an stronger point on the feelings, attitudes and more of objectification in comics and media.

          But i’m not say you’re wrong, i’m just saying what I see feels right compared with my knowledge of what’s happening in the real world.

          2014…then 2015…then years later…something changes
          for hopefully the good and not the bad.

          I’m not referring to removing or getting rid of hot girls or something like that but…some sort of equal balance in making females awesome but not too *ahem…slutty unless it’s in their character. (Not that sluts are bad, it’s just…well…don’t overdo it for too many characters. Just saying is all! ^_^)

          I gotta say, this is like one of my first thought-thinking processes on something controversial topics! woohoo~

          Yeah, I wish you both an wonderful day/night hehe!
          To azamonra, even if you’re an minority in the brony fandom, you’re still part of it and I highly welcome you to it! Awesome that you’re an G1 fan too hehe! I may have not watched G1 personally but I do actually like it from an episode I saw of the show.

          I think I should check out that awesome animated pre-cursor to MLP movie! =D

          Anyways brohoofs /) to y’all and never stop having fun, continue to learn and discuss politely in the world, smile with your friends and family, enjoy the colorful pastel ponies we all like/love, and pony on! yay~

          Isn’t this fun?
          Well fun in the sense of discussing and learning new things!
          An open area for discussion, positive people to discuss to, no means of being bashed and respected for their opinions, and more! Yup hehe!

          Well i’m done so see ya haha!

        2. Hey guys,

          First of all, your posts have been super insightful and brought up a ton of good points. Thanks a lot for that! I’m totally digging the discussion on objectification. Here are my thoughts at the moment… take em’, leave em’, rip them to shreds. I don’t mind. Sorry if I am wordy and unclear.

          My personal take on objectification is that it is inevitable, essential, and just part of life. In the act of perceiving, it’s impossible not to “objectify” and the arguments that I have seen that suggest that we somehow start with an idea of others as subjects and then proceed to turn them into objects is also really strange to me (although it has been made). I’m pretty sure that, were we to walk around always fully aware of others’ unique subjectivities, our heads would probably explode. I’d also guess that we probably wouldn’t have words like “crowd,” “person,” or “brony,” which all imply a concept of interchangeability and commonality… it would certainly hard to do any sort of anthropology and there is no way that I could ever get a job. As you point out in your post, it is especially silly to talk about the objectification of fictional characters, as their status as objects pretty much guarantee that you don’t have to do much work to objectify them.

          I’m a bit more inclined to speaking about the process as one of subjectification rather than objectification. While people certainly start out as subjects before I perceive them, I feel like the act of perception in an of itself is inseparable from objectification: when you initially see someone, you see them as a general “person” or according to some flat-characterization that you have already formed in your head (a “goth,” an “attractive person,” a “brony,” etc.). It’s from this point that the real work of turning an objectified “person” into something with some semblance of a subjectivity can be done (it is a lot easier to realize that someone has bewbs than it is to realize the true depth of their character).

          In this sense, the issue is less about not objectifying women as it is about being more willing to take the extra steps to afford them subjectivities. Thus, going back to your discussion of fictional characters, I would definitely agree with you that stock and even hypersexualized characters often have important roles to play within a story, sexualization does not all negate meaningful characterization, and that sexualized characters aren’t somehow objectifying women. My issue here would be ways in which female characters are not being afforded the type of subjectivity that moves them from “hot character” to “deep and complex character that is also hot.” As far as this move from object to subject goes, I would add that the fandom is an amazing place for this; MLP:FiM has some of the strongest female characters on television and the fandom has done a ton of phenomenal work fanonizing characters like Lyra.

          To this extent, I don’t necessarily think that sexualized portrayals of women—or even an Avalanche of Tits™—are bad things. However, I feel that the fact that there is on the whole so much less sexualized material aimed at straight women/gay men (or, I suppose, no Flood of Dicks) indexes larger societal gender biases. Thus, having fleshed-out, kick-ass female characters doesn’t really do anything to change the subjectivities afforded to women on the whole, but the presence or absence of such characters might serve as a decent index of larger societal norms and gender roles.

          1. It’s true that on first encountering another individual, all one has to go on is appearance, and it would be incorrect to try to use that to judge their character. However, even if I know nothing about what’s going on in their head, I can safely assume that it’s something. It shouldn’t take effort to recognize that another person is a conscious being with thoughts, feelings, and a subjective reality. With apologies to Descartes, I feel safe assuming that without proof.

            When seeing an attractive stranger on the sidewalk, that recognition of subjectivity – without having to know anything else about it – is what draws the line between thinking something vulgar and shouting something vulgar (or worse). Yes, there’s a degree of objectification either way, but at least one recognizes the existence of the person’s subjective mental state and chooses not to violate it.

            Fictional characters, of course, have no real subjective mental state. But any time we engage with a fictional work, we have to recognize their fictional subjective mental states. Creators of fictional works provide us with clues in those works to their characters’ subjective mental states. And artists know how to do that visually, so viewing a talented artist’s work is not the same as seeing a random person busy about their daily life – a great deal can be conveyed about the subject’s internal mental state (fictional though it may be). The point is, the creator is now in control of the character’s state.

            So what does it say when a preponderance of creators choose to show female (but not male!) characters as sexual icons without any apparent deeper internal mental state? Does it explicitly say, “We think all women are only here to be our eye candy”? No, but it certainly implies something along those lines. So women are more likely to feel uncomfortable. And frankly, it probably will tend to attract more fans who do think along those lines.

            As an aside, I’ll note that this may be more perception than reality, but it’s a self-imposed perception. The most blatant offender, at least by comic book shelf inches in my local shop, is Zenescope. But the thing is, if you read most Zenescope books, you’ll find strong and complex female main characters, not really in line with the almost-softcore-porn on 99.9% of their covers. Perhaps that’s a pure aesthetic style choice, perhaps it’s to sell more books to guys – either way, I have to wonder if women who’d love these stories aren’t even trying them because of the message conveyed by the cover art. It kind of works as a metaphor for a lot of geeky fandoms, now that I think about it.

            MLP, of course, has none of that, so is less likely to attract those sorts of fans. Trekkies are pretty good, too – Lindelof and Abrams had to severely backpedal from backlash over the Carol Marcus changing scene in Into Darkness. So I think women are less likely to encounter overt objectification (of the explicitly negative sort I described) at brony events than at some other geeky events. Is there still going to be some social awkwardness from some specific people whose brains really just shut down when they encounter someone they find attractive? Probably, but it’s going to be the Rajesh Koothrappali sort, not the obnoxious asshole sort. And some awkward people are everywhere (as are some obnoxious assholes – we’re talking statistically here, as one must for any large group). This is why I initially suggested that women may feel uncomfortable at a brony event purely as a result of being in the minority, rather than as a result of any actual different treatment – I don’t know if there’s anything that can absolve that except continued interaction on their part, such that they become comfortable over time. Which is itself not unlike getting to know a person whose appearance might initially make you uncomfortable.

  2. Wow, what an article/conversation this was hehe!

    This is the very first article I read and it was filled with all kinds
    of issues and stuff about the fandom, geek girls/gamers and more and I like it!

    I gotta say though that I find it sometimes hard understanding a bunch
    of the words y’all say at times. I can certainly say that you’re taking this serious
    with a side of jokes and all haha.

    I’m no debater, major thinker or any of that…
    So I don’t have anything much to say but one thing to Michelle Turner.

    I’m a brony going way back to December 2010 and proud to be one.
    Reading this article has brought up a bunch of interesting ideas/issues that
    are currently happening in this modern age. Yes-sirree!

    What I want to say to you Michelle is that you interest me as an
    fairly new brony/pegasister/mlp fan/etc to the fandom and I notice that
    you mention “outsider” somewhere in the article. I can understand if you’re not an complete fan or into a lot of things in the fandom, that I learned over the course of years in my time in this fandom.

    And while i’m a brony, I just want to say that I don’t care who you are or what
    your interests may be, i’ll respect you and accept you in no matter what.
    I’m a thoughtful, kind person and don’t use Love/Tolerance that much but the understanding and kind words with a bit of tolerance and love hehe.

    Yup! These issues with women being discussed and tackle…it’s an controversy
    that I believe is gonna lead to something good in the future if it’s not bottled up and drifted away in the sea of the world. The more we talk about this, the more we try getting discussion and understanding of these issues…the more better people will know and maybe help lead to the treatment of women as equals.

    I’m an man, yes…I might not understand everything that you have gone through and I understand that well. But I want to learn and also understand your point of view and continue to help look at women, LGBTQ, and more people as equals to myself. I highly support and respect those who are different from me, different like you Michelle and J/K.

    I’m hopeful that this will lead to somewhere good, especially in this fandom which to this day…I haven’t seen that much discord to females as an whole and I hope it continues that way. Females are just as important as males, actually we’re all equal and should be treated as such hehe.

    Alright that is all I wanted to say.
    Sorry if I say something wrong, I’m just saying is all!
    Thanks for making this awesome article and have a wonderful day/night!
    Oh and I came from Equestria Daily’s Nightly Roundup #869! =)

    Brohoofs to y’all…if you don’t mind that is.
    /)

    Continue to have fun, smile with your friends, family and your husband Michelle, never give up, and pony on! yay~

    1. Thanks for stopping by and commenting and a big thank you for the fandom welcome! We’re glad you are interested in the post. Feel free to keep stopping by and joining in the discussion—we always love to hear what other people have to say.

      Have a wonderful night yourself. Also… we TOTALLY accept you brohoof!

      (\

      -k

      1. yay~ =D

        Thanks for being awesome and kind Kurt hehe!
        Woohoo~
        Brohoof completed!
        /)*(\

        If you don’t mind…internet hugs to you as well hehe!
        Anyways enough of me being ol’ silly, thanks and i’ll be sure to check
        out your other posts in the future Kurt and y’all!

        Maybe discuss too hehe!
        Feel free to contact me on twitter btw…if you want to.
        Bye! ^_^

  3. Geez, a fella goes on a bit of a vacation and all the good bits are already said.

    OK, I’ll try to find something new.

    I agree with a lot of what Ben and azamonra said. There is almost certainly an element of resentment involved here as Ben mentioned, but the most common use of “fake” gamer girls (that I have seen ) is the situation azamonra described.

    Ben mentioned the resentment thin the Trek and Whoovian fandoms when new people just show up and proclaim to have ‘discovered’ something new. Gaming saw a very similar influx when Halo came out and the resentments were much the same. Often times the very people who had openly mocked us just months before were now praising gaming as this new amazing thing (only Halo tho, any other game was still stupid). Of course us older gamers were pissed off about this.

    What the hell did they get off? Suddenly it was cool because ‘they’ said it was cool, but not all of it was cool, only the little part they had claimed as their own. Everything else was still geeky trash as far as they were concerned. I see a lot of similarities between this and issues Michelle brought up about bronies bashing earlier incarnations of MLP, and it is just as wrong as when the jocks and frat boys did it to us.

    But I digress. When all the cool kids suddenly became ‘gamers’ but us older gamers were still left on the fringes, you bet your ass there was resentment. This in turn lead to the idea of ‘jock gamers’ and ‘real gamers.’ So there is actually a bit of a precedent for questioning the legitimacy of male geeks as well, just not nearly as widespread.

    This brings me to the gamer girl. I am in much the same boat as azamonra as far as this goes. In my experience the question has never been “is she good enough to qualify as a gamer” but rather “does she actually play games at all?” This ties heavily into Ben’s comment that geek (gamer) culture is largely male, and largely single. This was more true 15 years ago than it is today, but society is slow to change ideas. When gaming suddenly became legitimately popular among highschool and college age people, there was also a boom in people pretending to be gamers, hoping to ride the wave.

    Let me give a rather crass example. I don’t know if anyone has seen pictures of young women teasingly holding old NES cartridges to cover her breasts, or laying amid a tangle of controllers, or other such nonsense, but they exist in alarming abundance. There is a strong sense among gamers that the people who do this are simply doing so to get attention. Common knowledge says that gamers are lonely and desperate guys, so they’d naturally snap up the chance to oogle (and possibly compliment?) a cute girl who ‘apparently’ is also a gamer. So in my experience a ‘fake gamer girl’ is someone who posts suggestive pictures like these because she is hungry for attention and believes the gamer community is an easy mark. I guess a more modern interpretation of this would be the girl who logs into a CoD game and spends the entire time flirting rather than playing. Let us then say that a ‘fake gamer girl’ is a woman who utilizes games or gaming as a tool to garner attention.

    I’ve never been into comics or Dr. Who, so I have no idea if this idea extends into those areas or not. But I can comment on comic book art. I feel like some of the arguments being made here are similar to things that Anita Sarkeesian levels against gaming. You see a woman in a metal bikini and the immediate reaction is “she’s being objectified!” This is really easy to do in modern times and there is certainly a truth to it, but nobody has yet really asked the question why this is how it is.

    Within gaming, and this is far more true of older games than newer ones, the creators had around 6 seconds for exposition. You need to see Bowser kidnap Peach so you know what the hell Mario is trying to do. It is a highly abridged story that gives the player all the information they need. More over, it tells a story that the predominantly male audience will be able to instantly understand. Someone has taken your girl, you go and get her back.

    I feel like a very similar thing happens with comics. Often a comic artist has only the cover page to sell the comic to readers. So what makes a comic stand out in a crowded comic shop? How do you attract the, still predominantly male, audience to buy your comic and not that other comic over there? What image can you put up that will not only draw a guy to take a look, but also inform him of the story he will find inside? Ben said before that sex sells, and of course sex sells. There are bikini clad women on comic book covers for the exact same reason there are shirtless men on the cover of romance novels. It’s a problem of marketing, and trying to get people to buy your brand.

    Kurt mentioned that objectification is inevitable, and he’s absolutely right. We see too many people every day to avoid paring at least some of them down to basic elements. This being the case, I think the comic book covers are here to stay, and whatever baggage they bring with them. He also said that we need to be open to allowing these objects we encounter to grow into actual people, and that is very true as well. I feel that a corollary is that we need to act in a matter that asserts ourselves as people rather than objects. Given that all of us, male and female, are objectified every single day, it falls to us to prove that we can be people too.

    1. Well said Danny, I agree whole heartily. Man there are so many great ideas and conversations going on it is amazing.

      I will disagree on some level with the notions of objectification, subjectivity or even a sense of “attitude” as azamonra and Danny described being the root cause of marginalization. These views look at the singular nature of an individual and then try to extrapolate why and how that one person behaves and their attempts to marginalize another based on their own proclivities.

      This is fine when dealing with one on one interactions and attempting to nail down psychoses, but it can get rather muddled when dealing with an entire culture, as cultures are by nature not singular. A culture, while linguistically singular, is comprised of a often vast array of communities. Even the word community while again singular, is never so. (damn you English language) A community may be based around a singular ideas or concept but often diverge into a multifaceted entity giving rise to a hierarchical composition that allows the community to begin, sustain itself, grow and , if the need arises, defend itself (the conversational piece above does a fantastic job pointing out the multi-tonal approach of groups that comprise a singular fandom).

      It is the last part, defense, that I think plays a large role in the marginalization of any individual or group within a culture. As human’s there is a inborn need to defend what we feel is our space. This is not just physical space, but it extends to the boundaries of our personal sphere of perception, and encompasses what we believe to be most dear to us. For geeks, (and I am totally one) passion for imagination and fantasy run very deep (as is illustrated in the abundance of talent in many abstract and artistic elements that exist in the geek culture, from art to music and everything in between), and thus create a stronger bond between us and the metaphysical realm we dwell in. Thus when someone from outside our own sphere enters we are automatically driven to confront and defend what we believe to be important to us, often in non-violent and pleasant manners through getting to know the person and seeing if, how and why their views align with ours (sometimes though these events will not be so pleasant).

      So that whole last paragraph seems very singular, talking about a single person and their own spheres of perception. And it is, but communities are comprised of people that have ultimately aligned themselves within a same sphere, having to accept some givens based on what is seen as indispensable truths (Even within the vast mlp sub communities we see wildly differing opinions on what is acceptable and not to be considered a true fan, but there lies a basis for every group as to what they believe it to be). This establishes a base for determination and ultimately creates irreconcilable differences that cannot be overcome between anyone attempting to enter the community and anyone already established inside, due to inflexibility of the base system.

      For a person, it is easy to talk to another person, learn what their interests are, and then either accept, deny, or adjust yourself accordingly. For a community of people who’s sole relationship is predicated on certain truths, this can be very hard to do and so the community fights back. What you have, then, is a sphere occupied by multiple groups all pushing back against one another attempting to defend their own place within it.

      This is where women, and minorities, within communities come into play. it is very hard to determine who is and isn’t within the small sphere each community occupies, thus it starts with the most logical beginning. If you look different then you cannot be the same as me (this is a pattern we see repeated throughout communities all over the globe). Woman within the geek culture can easily be target since they do not fit the typical profile of what a “geek” is suppose to be (thus why we are more accepting of Vin Diesel and his D&D than a semi attractive lady who genuinely shares our own interests). in smaller groups this can be overcome as there is more influence directly from individuals, but as the communities grow and become more diverse it becomes more of a problem.

      For me, the problem is ultimately the structure of which community is occurs, and as such it becomes a microcosm of the result of human living (although I do think that everyone should be accepted and it is one of the things that drew me to the fan base and show).

      Well, I think I have rambled on enough (please don’t take any of this to seriously, these are just my opinions, and probably wrong anyways). Bro-hoofs all around for such amazing insight and discussion from everyone and keep being awesome! /)*

      *I totally typed this twice, I originally posted a shorter version last night with my first comment only to notice that it never posted /).

      1. I agree to an extent, but I’d note that communities are, in the end, composed of individuals, and a new person’s interactions “with the community” are, similarly, just a collection of interactions with members of that community. How that new person ends up feeling about the group is going to be based on how those individual interactions go. (Plus experience with the artifacts of the group, like the comic covers we’ve been talking about, but let’s presume that those – whether they’re comics, games, or episodes of MLP – are appealing to the person, which is why they’re checking the group out in the first place.) Rightly or wrongly, the person is going to ascribe traits to the group – by which I mean, assume those traits in members of the group by default – that were encountered in those members of the group he or she interacted with (however few that may be). I mentioned this only in an aside earlier, but that’s why I think we can talk in a statistical sense about individual interactions. For a given newcomer, what percentage of group members will treat them well vs poorly – what percentage will exhibit traits they find comforting vs off-putting – etc. Someone could always have bad luck and end up talking with the one jerk at a meetup of 200 people, but looking at larger trends of who (rather, how many) decide to stay or not based on the impressions these interactions create, it’ll even out based on those statistics. (It’s not strictly headcount – “louder” individuals will count more, for example – but you get the idea.)

        Where I can see this really getting interesting for Jason and Kurt would be to see how the rise of the Internet affects this dynamic. Are people more likely to be jerks online? Perhaps more still to certain demographic groups (e.g. women) of newcomers? Does the fact that the Internet allows a newcomer to a group to interact with far more members of that group in a far shorter time change things? For example, if a certain number of really bad interactions would turn someone off regardless of the number of positive interactions, the Internet could be a problem for the growth of these groups. Or that dynamic could work in reverse. I’m in wild speculation land now, but these seem like interesting questions.

        FWIW, I don’t believe that there’s such a strong herd mentality that everyone in a group will agree to, for example, exclude women when no one in the group actually wants to exclude women. Perhaps that’s overoptimistic on my part, since I’ve observed that level of groupthink in the workplace, but I give geeks a bit more credit. Additionally, whatever fundamental truths there are to various geeky groups, I’m fairly certain “no gurlz” isn’t actually one of them.

  4. I agree with azamonra that sexualization is not necessarily the same as objectification, per se. Indeed, I might argue that one of the tasks of contemporary feminism within the public sphere is to get everyone else to decouple the two: it continues to be difficult to suggest that women are privy to a SUBJECTIVE sexuality, that they are themselves sexual beings with desires rather than simply the objects of sexual desire, since a woman with overt sexual desires often gets slut-shamed something fierce.

    Also, I think it’s useful to think about what good things objectification can do. Judith Butler argues that conscience and self-awareness/reflexivity arises from an individual doing just that: “Conscience is the means by which a subject becomes an object for itself, reflecting on itself, establishing itself as reflective and reflexive. The ‘I’ is not simply one who thinks about him- or herself; it is defined by this capacity for reflective self-relation or reflexivity.” (Butler, The Psychic Life of Power)

    Social interaction on the whole is always a tension between the two–neither being inherently bad. I think when people decry the objectification of women by men, what they’re seeing–and perhaps not articulating–is that there is an INEQUITY in terms of who has the power to objectify/subjectify.

    And, to Ben’s point, I think that resentment (as a particular posture and attitude one strikes relative to a perceived injustice) is probably key in a lot of interactions with “geeky guys” who may mistreat women in the fandom. I think what you’re getting at is a generalized habit that comes from their own marginization: when you are constantly marginalized, you develop “technologies of the self” (strategies and techniques for self-understanding) that help you cope. Since these are embodied understandings, it’s not like a person makes sure that they are pointed at the right person before they deploy them. So you aim your resentment-guns at the girl who is both more socially adept than you AND doing your niche thing–even if that’s a person who would probably understand you better than most.

    There might be more later, but that’s the bulk of it.

    1. I have to disagree on the inequity of objectification. Men are objectified all the time, just in different ways. Men are treated as monsters and rapists, especially by feminists, and this is every bit as dehumanizing as sexualization. The only difference that I see is how widespread the two are. Overt sexualization of women has completely permeated society while overt demonization of men is slightly less so. This is borne out in our schools and courts every single day, where the simple accusation of misconduct from a man is often all it takes to end a career, even when those accusations are proven false. Does anyone remember Duke lacrosse?

      I went to a radically liberal college and then worked for 6 years in a facility with a 70% female staff. Being a moderately conservative male, I had some pretty horrible experiences at both that I will freely admit color my personal views on these issues. Personal experience has shown me that women can be every last bit as cruel and dehumanizing as men can be, and for just as little reason.

      To your point about marginalization of others coming from marginalization of self, I have to agree. The phrase ‘once bitten, twice shy’ comes readily to mind. There is a certain level of mistrust, possibly even an expectation of antagonism that people develop towards groups that have hurt them in the past. This is an incredibly difficult sentiment to get past and can only happen through time and positive experiences to counterbalance the negative ones. None of this is to say that all women need to be held accountable for the actions of a few, no more than the same need be true for men. It may though help inform a behavior, and give some insight into a root cause. At the end of the day the cycle of mistreatment needs to stop, and that burden is on everyone, men and women both.

      1. (Trigger warning – sexual violence discussion.)
        .
        .
        .
        .
        I dunno man. For every Duke lacrosse scandal, there are a bunch of Steubenvilles. I think it’s important to always realize that men and women can be as amazing or as horrible as one another. So I get you there. But I’m not convinced that being more likely to be accused of rape is the same thing as being more likely to GET raped. That year was probably hellish for the three Duke lacrosse players, but it looks like they were pretty well able to pick up the pieces of their lives ( http://sports.espn.go.com/ncaa/news/story?id=4980370 ). In the Steubenville case, one of the guys is going to be let out on good behavior soon, but that girl is always going to bear the scars of having been violated.

        So on an individual level, we can certainly find cases that remind us anybody–male, female, genderqueer, etc.–can be a bad person. But while power flows through individual cases, no individual case reflects the entirety of the reach of a power relation. A study in the UK found 35 false accusations of rape for 5651 prosecutable cases ( http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/mar/13/false-allegations-rape-domestic-violence-rare ). If those cases are like most, then the lion’s share of those cases were assaults against women (and I’ve seen some studies suggest that because of the stigma, only 1 in 7 of sexual assaults against women are reported). So we’re talking about a difference by orders of magnitude — structural differences.

        I’m not suggesting that your experiences are anything other than valuable as your experiences, but it’s also surprising where certain patterns of behavior arise from. Sometimes women are mean: there’s a fair bit of scholarship that suggests that high school girls are more socially vicious to one another than boys are to other boys, for example. But most of that can be attributed to the impossibly high standards of beauty and gendered behavior that we all (men and women) place on women. Girls end up judging each other based on really grotesque standards and those standards are, by and large, chauvinistic.

      2. Sweet Zombie Jesus, I think my head just exploded.

        Danny, I’d like to think you have good intentions, so I’m going to try to sum this up succinctly and politely.

        You’re right, objectification and mistreatment does exist on both sides. The problem is that, by and large, the consequences of that mistreatment are worse for women. There’s a reason that women still only make 80 cents to a man’s dollar. There’s a reason that the Steubenville rapists were spoken about as two teenage boys that had just had their lives ruined — oh, so sad — by a news anchor. There’s a reason that even though movies with lead female actresses are doing better than ever, the number of movies directed by women still remains a tiny percentage of those directed by men. That reason is that even in 2014 women are STILL treated as second-class citizens. Not all the time, no, and not by everybody. But these things are internalized into our culture in such a way that almost AUTOMATICALLY makes people like you question whether or not a woman’s rape allegation is false every time it is made.

        I’m not saying that you, personally, have done these things. But the fact that you feel you have to chime in with “but men are treated badly, too!” shows that you do not get the crux of the issue. It goes deeper than treatment of individuals by individuals. Our society has been broken for a long time when it comes to women, and it’s only slowly getting better.

        Admittedly, I am a liberal feminist who went to a liberal feminist college, but you know what? I still probably have some pretty shitty attitudes about myself and my entire gender that have been hard-coded into me from birth because this is the society I was born into.

        So, yeah, when stuff like My Little Pony gets co-opted by guys and the creators love it, but Cartoon Network cancels Tower Prep because it’s appealing too much to girls (who, apparently, “don’t buy toys”, according to the network!), we get angry. We get defensive. We’re being told over and over and over again that we can’t hang in traditionally male spaces. So no, it’s not *just* the objectification. It’s that plus everything else. You can’t look a tiny piece of the puzzle in isolation and say “look, things are equal!” because then you’re missing the bigger picture entirely.

        And that was way more than I said I was going to type, and I’m not even sure I was coherent, so I’m going to leave this here.

        1. I agree with pretty much everything you said Brony Wife, but I can definitely see where Danny is coming from.

          To me, if we want to continue the objectification theme, there is almost a self objectification happening (if we want to call it that) that goes on by men in response to a geek girl coming into contact with them.

          Society has a very bad habit of subliminally, although in alot of cases it is more overt than covert, programming us into accepting and desiring certain traits both physical and intellectually. Often time men within the geek culture fall outside of this “Jacobian” (From “Twilight” not Mrs. Jacobs) body form representation and comparative acceptable behaviors and hobbies. Thus when they see a female, there is never just a straight objectification of her (although objectification does happen) there is also a self reflective objectification of their own self image and personality.

          It can be likened to a guy that meets a woman for the first time (geek or not) and says: “okay she is a woman, and as a woman she must like A,B,C. Well, I’m not A, B and definitely not C, so we have nothing in common” (Crude I know, but at least I’m trying) In this scenario the guy has objectified the woman to the fact that she is a woman, regardless of personality and preferences; but he has also objectified the notions of masculinity and his own self image, where he stops seeing himself as a person with whom this other person might like to get to know and, heaven forbid, might have fun with and instead sees himself through the narrow lenses of what society says he should be viewed as. (In geeks case, I think it is a blending of the two cultures, the geek culture and mainstream culture; thus there is a blend of not only the stereotypical body image but the “nerd” mentality and all it brings with it)

          A lot of geek guys cannot (and should not be forced to) be what they, as society has told them, should look like or act like in order to be appealing for the opposite sex. (I would like to note that the reason it is so hard for women is that they are women. The fact that they are inherently different from men, in gender only mind you, makes them an easier target for marginalization) This object mentality of masculinity is just as problematic as the objectification and sexualization of women, since it more easily lends itself to perpetuation (Since once you convince someone of what they need to be it becomes very hard for them to break free of it, as we have seen with various cases in the bulimia and anorexia, where a person will go to extreme lengths to transform themselves into that viewed object).

          I know I am stretching the notions of objectivity kinda thin, but I feel that there is some leeway as to the interpretation of what an object is and how it can be applied. Anyways, take it for what you will.

          Also, this:

          1. If you’re saying that a lot of geeky guys have a poor self-image, well, sure. But that doesn’t seem to affect them when dealing with other geeky guys. It should only affect them when dealing with a geeky girl if they’re seeing her as a romantic/sexual prospect more than as a fellow geek.
            Even then, it doesn’t fully logic out – as a woman, she may very well like A, B, and C, but as a fellow attendee of the con or meetup or game session or screening, she’s basically guaranteed to like D, which the guy is. At least, there’s nothing preventing them from analyzing episodes for hours on end.

            Don’t get me wrong: as someone who’s very shy and quiet with people I’ve just met or in situations to which I’m not accustomed – and in particular (back when I was single) with women I found attractive – I get that there’s a lot going on there that isn’t going to be purely logical and isn’t likely to go away. Even so, I don’t see any of it leading to something as proactive as “fake geek girl” accusations, rather than simple social awkwardness and inaction.

            In case it wasn’t clear, I do completely agree with you that almost ALL of society’s notions of ideal masculinity and femininity are totally jacked, both in their narrowness and in their unachievability.

      3. We’re talking about the things we are because we’re talking about geek culture, not society at large. Within geek culture, men, as a group, aren’t being objectified, stereotyped, or demonized. (To clarify, of course we are by those outside of geek culture, but that’s a different thing entirely.) But if you do want to go there….

        The difference in “how widespread the two are” is tremendous. The percentage of women who’ve been sexually harassed is huge, and the percentage who have been sexually assaulted is startlingly high. I’m not sure there are any studies of the percentage of men who have, personally, been harassed by being called a monster or a rapist, but I’m fairly certain it’s quite low. I certainly never have been. I don’t hear about women hanging out in public places catcalling male passers-by in that way. If it were true that the permeation into society of demonization of men were only “slightly less” than the marginalization of women, there wouldn’t still be men in most positions of power here in the US and around the world – the public would be too scared to give them real power. The contexts in which women have a systemic advantage are few and far between.

        A difference in number like that is critically important when you’re talking about society as a whole. A few “militant feminists” screaming at rallies that all men are pigs just isn’t the same as widespread, generally-accepted mistreatment. It’s one of those cases where a quantitative difference is so massive as to become qualitative.

        It’s also a meaningless argument. Mistreatment of men is not the sort of balance we’re seeking – proper treatment of everyone is. For example, an increasing percentage of boys are having body-image issues due to how men are often depicted in media (as girls have forever). Some feminists (a small minority) scoff at this, either not caring or being smugly happy about it. I’m happy to call them out on that – “two wrongs don’t make a right” sounds trite, but this is exactly the sort of thing that demonstrates it. We should be trying to temper the negative effect this has on all kids, not fuck up the other half just as bad. It’s the same here: if men are being mistreated, that’s wrong, too, but it doesn’t justify or excuse mistreatment of women.

        To wit, your assertion that the “root cause” of mistreatment of women by some men is that they’re mad at or hurt by “those durn feminists” is absurd and frankly kind of offensive. (If you were only referring to geeks excluding women because of prior romantic rejection, then you’re basically saying girls should sleep with them in order to be accepted, which is just as bad.) That’s straight up victim blaming.

          1. So that blew up pretty quick. Lemme take it from the top and work my way down.

            I never mentioned sexual assault. We were talking about objectification and Jason said that women do not have the power to objectify men. I disagreed. We had also been talking about perceptions of women in society at large, and I mentioned Duke lacrosse because I felt the story demonstrates that society has some widely accepted negative views about men as well.

            I went on to talk about resentment because I feel it isn’t enough to point to a behavior and exclaim that it is wrong. That’s like treating a symptom without treating the disease. If you want to correct something in a truly lasting way, you need to understand it and try to correct the underlying cause. I also figured that correlating the mistreatment of women within geek culture with the mistreatment of geeks in society at large was an apt comparison to make. I went on to say that everyone needs to be nicer to everyone, and problems like this may work themselves out.

            I never said that women were to blame for their own treatment, nor did I say that women need to be nice to guys so this doesn’t happen. I have friends who have been assaulted and I would never, for any reason, place the burden on them.

            I do feel that this is a much bigger issue and this discussion, like so many like it before, was falling into a trap of looking at the very topmost layer and no deeper. Yes, this treatment is wrong, yes it needs to stop, yes we need to make positive changes to ensure that it does. I assumed all of that was a given. But I say again, simply looking at a behavior and proclaiming it to be immoral is one step, we have identified a problem. To correct this problem, it’s not just enough to criminalize a behavior. We need to look at ‘why’ this behavior exists and work on that as well so it doesn’t return in the future.

            I’m honestly a little confused by how we made the leap from objectification to assault, harassment, and income inequality. This isn’t a competition about who has it worse because women have it far worse in society in general than men do. Nobody is questioning that. I simply felt that the discussion up to that point had been highly one sided and felt the need to provide a counterpoint. I’m not defending the behavior or trying to justify it by saying “men have it bad too” but I do believe that starting a discussion from the stance that this issue is 100% one-way is simply untrue and weakens the arguments.

            1. If you’re trying to explain behavior without trying to justify it, fine. One can often sound like the other.

              Still, I don’t 100% agree with your explanations. If culture at large has treated geeks badly, I could see that explaining why geek culture often looks with disdain at popular culture (terms like “muggle” come to mind), but I don’t see how it explains excluding women who profess to be geeks to a greater extent than excluding men who do so. (There is an extent – in some subcultures much more than others – to look down on any newbie, but among some of them there’s a clear gender-based discrepancy.)
              If you actually think, as I initially mentioned, that it’s failure in romantic dealings with women that are making geeks do this (because in what other dealings would they have such different experiences with the different sexes?) then, as I noted in my reply to you, I see only one solution, and it isn’t really a nice one. That’s why all I could say about it in my original comment was that it’s “obviously wrong-headed”.

              There is the long game: if the stigma against geeks fades from society, it’s likely that fewer women would say, “I’d never date a geek,” and things would eventually resolve themselves. I hope we do get to that point. But I honestly think that in large part, we can just communicate to the perpetrators of this discrimination that they’re wrong-headed, and many will adjust their behavior. I often give people, and geeks in particular, too much credit, especially where logical decision-making is concerned, but it doesn’t seem unreasonable.

              Basically, I think the disconnect we have is that I’m taking your very general prescriptions and trying to create situation-specific prescriptions using them. While the generalized versions sound reasonable, I’m unable to create workable specific implementations with them.

              1. I don’t think I ever mentioned romance either, I was simply talking about broad mistreatment. But I can narrow it down a little if it helps. When someone is hurt, for whatever reason, there can arise a strong desire for revenge. Sometimes this can manifest in broad strokes, or sometimes it doesn’t really matter who the target is, because emotion is irrational and the person just wants to hurt someone else.

                There is an element of power relationships at work here. A geek can be harassed by society, they have no power to fight back against society, so they settle for a battle they feel they can win. They may not be able to retaliate against the bully who pushed them down or the girl who laughed about it, but they feel that they can direct that anger towards a girl in a comic shop, particularly if she is the only one.

                I don’t have small scale solutions, but I do believe that beginning a conversation from the stance that “you are wrong and you need to change” is a guaranteed way to put someone on the defensive and ultimately accomplish nothing. You’ve basically assumed the role of whoever had been antagonizing them in the first place. I feel a much more productive approach is to understand why they do it, empathize with it, and help direct them to the correct path rather than try to browbeat them into compliance.

                I’m going to give a poor example here, but it’s one I feel everyone will be able to relate to. I have a dog, and when I leave food out on the counter, the dog steals it. I have repeatedly scolded the dog for doing so, and now the dog doesn’t steal food unless I’m not around to catch her. I still find the evidence of it later, but the deed has already been done. I scold her again, but the next time I leave food out it will be stolen. I can scold the behavior and tear my hair out when she doesn’t change, or I can understand the root problem and put the damn food back in the fridge, solving the problem at the source.

                Of course the change has to start somewhere, and looking to geeks to be better is a much more manageable task than looking at society as a whole. But I will say again, with every jot of conviction that I can muster, that beginning the discussion by painting geeks into a corner is the wrong way to go about it. I feel that discussions of gender almost always begin from a position of attack like this, and is the primary reason that I have such a strong distaste for the topic.

  5. I feel like this conversation stalled on a sour note because of me, and I don’t wanna just leave it there, so I’m gonna make another pass at this. I swear it’s my last one, then I’m gonna leave it alone.

    Let me begin by saying that I agree, women are treated poorly in geek and gamer culture, and this is a disturbing trend that needs to be addressed and curbed for the betterment of everyone. Women deserve to enjoy what they enjoy without being mocked or marginalized, and men can only benefit from interaction (platonic or otherwise) with women. Especially in light of the social stigmas that geeks face from society at large, it’s really important that we come together rather than try to drive ourselves apart.

    That being said, what do we need to do to begin correcting this behavior? I feel that the first step is understanding why this behavior exists to begin with. I think it’s safe to assume that anyone who legitimately hates women or believes women to be inherently inferior isn’t going to curb their behavior for any reason. I would dearly like to believe that there are very few people in this category, and because I believe them beyond help I will ignore them for now and move on to things that may be fixable.

    I think more often than not the mistreatment of women stems from the skewed power dynamics in the fandom. Being the only girl in a CoD game puts her at what? a 15/1 disadvantage? Being alone or in such an extreme minority may embolden men to lash out at women because they feel it to be a safe way to flex their power and have no real fear of retaliation. Internet anonymity and having 14 perceived allies may make a guy feel bold enough (or protected enough) to be a complete ass to that one woman without any real cause.

    Stereotypes exist for a reason, so it may not be unreasonable to assume the guy isn’t very athletic, and is probably at least a little socially awkward. He may feel completely powerless in the real world. Maybe he gets bullied at school or shunned by the popular crowd. Maybe he has a bad home life and doesn’t have a viable outlet for his anger and pain. Whatever the problem in the real world, when the guy is in the game or comic shop or convention and surrounded by people ‘just like him’ he might act against the few women present because they are the only things he feels he has any power over. Maybe he’s jealous that she’s getting more attention from his peers, or maybe he’s trying to impress his peers by acting out. He probably doesn’t stop to consider that she’s probably in a very similar boat to himself, or that he would probably have more fun hanging out with her than making her feel horrible. I think these are the directions we need to move in to begin fixing these problems.

    His experiences in the world at large may be bad, but he has the opportunity to make his experiences in the fandom into whatever he wants. By being so antagonistic towards women, is he possibly assuming the role of his own antagonists in his daily life? Would he have a better experience trying to get to know them instead of attacking them? If we are to correct this problem and curb these behaviors, I think the best way is to start a conversation, but that conversation absolutely has to start from a position of neutrality.

    As I said before, beginning from a position of “you are wrong and you need to stop” is a guaranteed way to put someone on the defensive and accomplish nothing. It may be more productive to acknowledge the issues they themselves face, and help them see that the issues they face are the exact same issues they are inflicting upon those that they torment. Help them see the pain they’re causing through the lens of their own experience and you’re far more likely to get a positive change. Even better, try to make connections between positive experiences they have had, and positive experiences they could have. I’m not even talking about sexual stuff here, I’m talking simple platonic stuff. If they talk about comics/games with their male friends, is there really any reason they can’t have the exact same conversations with a girl instead, especially if she has the exact same interests? Would a female perspective add to his understanding or see things he may have missed? I’m reminded of Equestria Girls, “you look a little deeper and you will see, that I’m just like you and you’re just like me.”

    Maybe I’m just being naive, but I would like to believe this is a better approach than simply telling someone they’re a jerk and need to stop. It needs to be a conversation, not an admonishment. It also needs to be flexible and not based on absolutes: women are ‘always’ victims, men are ‘always’ aggressors. Their own experiences may not bear this out and that will weaken your own position. Understand that there will be differing opinions or outright opposition and deal with it calmly. Not to put too much of an edge on it, but I expressed a differing opinion earlier and was met with issue escalation and overt hostility. Those are totally understandable reactions, but in the end they aren’t really productive.

    TL;DR version: People are way more responsive to a conversation based on mutual understanding than they are to a perceived attack that ignores their position. Rather than try to force them into a certain behavior that they may not agree with, help them see the issues from both sides and come to the decision on their own. It may be a slower change, but it will be a much longer lasting one.

    Ok, all finished. I’m gonna stop now and I’m not gonna tackle gender issues again. I don’t feel that my involvement is productive, and I have nothing left to say anyway.

    1. Hey Danny,

      I’m actually really sorry for the awkward silence on my part. I was trying to get back to this post and do some responding but life/other posts took over and I didn’t get back to it. Thanks for the multiple passes on this issue as well, I definitely feel that I have a much better idea of where you are coming from than I did and sense a lot of commonality between our positions (although that doesn’t necessarily mean anything… who says that people need the same opinions). My gender studies chops are not the best, so you’ll all have to excuse if this isn’t coherent or call me on any BS so I can refine my points a bit… I also apologize if my gender studies chops resemble my “Wittgenstein permeates my worldview” chops (I’ll probably talk about words being words at some point). Not much I can do about that.

      Anyway… I ultimately feel that the rub against much of the posts you made was not so much about *what* you are saying as it was about how that sort of argument is often invoked as a means of masking gender inequalities. As you point out, these issues do indeed exist and you are not trying to deny them in any way, so much as you are trying to nuance the discussion to point out that some guys aren’t all trying to do these things(or even doing them at all), that there are serious issues with the concept of “masculinity” as it is forced upon men in society, and sometimes girls can be as abusive as any guy. These are all issues that I feel very much true and that, I believe, pretty much everyone would agree with.

      However, in order to point to large-scale social problems such as gender inequality, it is often necessary to use big, bulky, essentialist terms to deal with them. Gayatri Spivak talks about “strategic essentialism,” where groups bring forth their group identity in specific and strategic ways in order to achieve their goals. In this instance, it is hard to talk about very real, yet very broad-scale issues of gender inequality without adopting generalized and essentialized notions of “male” and “female” in order to point to this problem. They aren’t the pretties terms, or the most accurate, but general, broad terms are often the best for general and broad topics of discussion (even if people dealt in the minutia of individual cases, they’d have to aggregate them and talk about them in terms of broad trends to point the issues out). While it is totally accurate to point out that these essentialist notions of gender are indeed essentialist, it also often serves less as a means of providing nuance to an argument than as a way of deflecting conversation away from these big issues by taking away the terms being used to point out these broad scale issues. It also turns the tables so that the critical eye is no longer upon the original structural problem but instead upon the terms being used to point it out, shifting the conversation from being about male privilege and structural problems inherent in gender relations (which can be uncomfortable to listen to and talk about as a dude) to one that explains how guys aren’t all that bad and that girls can be just as horrible as guys. So yeah… I guess ultimately what I am saying here is that your argument is in many ways totally right and you definitely mean well by it, but it is ultimately an argument that often serves to deflect and derail. It’s ultimately an issue that happens on all sorts of fronts (people have even been making many similar arguments and counter-arguments about feminism privileging white/straight women lately). I feel that it usually comes down to issues of scale and problems with words—discussions of gender inequality have to talk about “men” and “women,” actual men get defensive because “men” isn’t ALL men (even though it was never necessarily meant that way so much as it is a means to address broad scale gender issues), men fire back with counter-examples aimed at providing more nuance (that actually have the effect of dismantling the term used to discuss the problems and defensively turning the tables on the issue to particular cases in which the larger trend/norms/issues don’t apply), and things devolve from there.

      As far as your solutions go. I definitely agree that the best way around things, on the small-scale level (and ultimately the large) is through understanding and open dialogue. By looking at these issues of gender, I personally saw it less as a “you [guys] are wrong and you need to stop” moment than one of “look at these large scale societal issues that can arise.” I think these issues are interesting to point out in the fandom and in geek culture not so much because geeks and bronies are overtly sexist, but because they tend to at least try to be the exact opposite (The MLP fandom in particular is one of the most accepting groups that I’ve had anything to do with). The fact that these issues arise HERE to some extent says less about the qualities of bronies or geeks than it says about the presence of lingering biases that still manage to pop up even in spaces where they are consciously minimized. Really the only thing that can be done, as you state, is for people to acknowledge that these issues exist, keep them in mind, and continue to be as accepting as they can toward each other in the hopes that, by doing so, these issues can one day cease to be a problem.

      I’ve gone on for WAY too long already, so I will try to wrap things up with something a tl;dr paragraph. Sorry I didn’t get this post out pre-awkward silence, as I ultimately agree with many of the things that you say. We’re hoping to have some posts coming up that deal with other fandom issues such as trolling/bullying, the idea that bronies are somehow “sexual deviants,” etc. where I feel like much of what you point to here regarding messed up societal views of masculinity and the overall super-accepting nature of people in the fandom will be echoed by just about everyone (because they are REALLY FUCKING MESSED UP). I feel that the rub ultimately has less to do with the points you are making as it does to how those points are often used to magick the discussion of large-scale structural problems that women face into one about smaller scale (although still very real) problems that men face, thus further masking/ignoring the original problems that are trying to be addressed.

      So…. yeah… I hope that made some sense… it’s 3:00am and I have class tomorrow though, so I’m just going to post this and hope it doesn’t suck.

      1. I get what you’re saying and I agree, to a point. Inequality and mistreatment are large issues that exist on a societal scale, and as such I think there is validity in using generalities to frame the issue. Saying that “women are marginalized or objectified in geek culture” is undeniably true, and provides a context for the discussion to begin. Then things get really complicated really fast. I wanna keep this short so I’m just gonna line these up without any discussion.

        1) While I think that most women in geek subcultures have suffered mistreatment in this fashion, I think there are a small proportion of men causing all the trouble.

        2) People who make public displays of misogyny are dealt with very quickly by society, so I think most of the incidents happen on an individual basis; one person being mean to one other.

        3) The fact that society does deal with public misogyny so quickly and decisively demonstrates that society already understands that this behavior is totally unacceptable.

        I mention this because if the ultimate goal is to curb this behavior, what do we gain by framing the conversation in general terms? If most of the target audience already adheres to the socially accepted guidelines, and those who don’t are knowingly ignoring those same guidelines, how can a discussion in general terms change anything?

        More over, you mentioned that those general terms are flawed specifically because of small scale counterexamples. If the people who need to change are the ones defying generally accepted behavior, aren’t they the very people likely to seize upon those flaws to subvert the discussion? If the arguments I’ve been raising are the very same ones often used to destroy arguments made in general terms, wouldn’t it make sense to start on the small scale and remove the possibility of that subversion?

        I’m sorry if this sounds like I’m being difficult, I’m not trying to be. I understand the need for generalized framing, and the convenience and expedience that a generalized discussion makes; but it seems to me that the only thing a generalized discussion can possibly accomplish is raising awareness of the issue, not enacting any real change. Can we say then that general discussions improve social awareness and targeted discussions improve behavior? If this is the case and this topic was only meant to raise awareness, then I apologize for misunderstanding the purpose.

        1. To echo Kurt previously…yeah, definitely don’t take the silence as an indicator that your words and thoughts didn’t have a value. Kurt and I talked about this discussion a lot and we just ended up being too busy over the past week, for various reasons, to reply right away. In part because I think your last few posts deserved a nuanced answer that needed time to craft. And I think Kurt did that pretty well.

          I’m going to change the terms of utility for generalities a little bit. So far, the operating assumption by most people (in this thread and elsewhere) is that there are people who are sexist/classist/racist/etc. and those who are not. Within that framework, the generalities appear to act like mathematical approximations of numbers of people, i.e. when we say “men do this,” we are saying that a particular proportion of them are doing particular things, and they are standing in for the whole.

          That’s not the way I use generalities about large structural issues though. For me, every large structural issue is not about the overt things that, as you are rightfully pointing out Danny, can often get refereed and policed within the court of public opinion. Instead, the real interest in shifting structural problems (or what are perceived as structural problems) lies in the unspoken, seemingly okay actions of the moral majority.

          So, when we are discussing the inequities that might arise around gender, there’s totally always the possibility that in a certain moment, my being a man may NOT be a source of privilege. But that said, at every other moment, I can put my male privilege to work without even realizing it.

          Privilege is itself contextually contingent and hegemonic in form–it asks for those without the privilege to be complicit in it and to perpetuate its benefits for others. Women are also complicit in structures of male dominance. Men who believe in equality are as well…and certain men who don’t are complicit too.

          Danny, like you, I have felt moments where the thing that supposedly gives me power has felt like it has weakened me. There are moments when being a guy sucks. There are moments when being raised suburban does not give me the social capital I would like. These moments are real, but to understand them often requires holding them simultaneously in relation to other things you know are true.

          For example, it’s true across multiple variables that African Americans continue to have it worse than most racial groups in the U.S. I think we can all agree that there is nothing inherent to being African American that makes those things true…but they are. And yet, there’s that crazy study that showed that significant chunks of white people think the racism against them is greater than the racism against blacks.

          That’s CRAZY. But also something we can understand by putting the particularity up against the broader social formation. They probably do experience racism…and a person of color has possibly said a mean thing to them at some point. THAT’s where it gets interesting, because we have ALL learned the language of racism, from top to bottom, but the social effect of our acceptance of those norms is that some people shake out on top, and they statistically most often happen to be white.

          So, in other words, the particularities tell us where the boundary of conflict actually is. When a man feels the need to push back legitimately against equally legitimate feminist critiques of men, we understand that somewhere in that particular exchange, the discourse that is embedded in all of us plays out. Here, there are existentially real and, in some cases, potentially serious wrongs being committed against men. But what’s their backdrop? A society that sometimes over-corrects for the prejudices that it knows are still there, and in some cases are not getting any better.

          I believe one of the hardest things civil rights of any kind will have to do moving forward is to articulate a socially responsible world view that also acknowledges that, because of the unequal conditions into which we are born, and our tendencies to resist changes to them even if they might benefit us, we are all a little bit racist/homophobic/sexist/etc. Then the question is no longer who is the bad apple…which always devolves into bullshit scape-goating, but how do we 1) make ourselves better despite our personal hangups, and 2) create social structures that counterbalance our worse biased tendencies.

          Why I love working on these issues with this community (though I agree with Kurt that the next few articles being about other stuff entirely is all for the best) is because this community ACTIVELY tries to do both things, and probably in many ways does them better than mainstream society. That means that the gender tensions that arise come from some of our society’s most sensitive members when it comes to gender. What a remarkable place to see really nuanced discussion of some legitimately important debates.

        2. OK, another disconnect in our premises is that while I agree with your first bullet point, I disagree with the second (and therefore the third as well).

          The most overt or extreme forms of misogyny are unacceptable to society, but the more subtle forms happen all the time. They’re at least accepted and sometimes even endorsed. I’m referring to the sorts of things that are minor enough that no single instance even is a problem – it would be silly to take instance with one hypersexualized display by the media, or one particular insult (among many) flung during an intense video game – but when these things become pervasive, that is a problem. And it’s easy for them to become pervasive, exactly because each individual occurrence viewed in isolation is so minor that no one notices, or scoffs at anyone who points it out. (I know I’ve pissed Michelle off many times with that last bit.)

          FWIW, I only didn’t reply earlier because I felt I had nothing new to say and didn’t want it to become repetitive. Though I will note that if I were talking to someone who I believed were part of the problem, I wouldn’t necessarily open my dialog with, “you’re wrong and you need to stop.” But that is the stance I’m coming from, so I see whatever else is said as purely a messaging/PR issue.

    2. Don’t sell yourself short Danny, your involvement has been super productive and you have alot of good and valid points. Anytime you can get people to talk, and especially disagree, with one another it is very valuable. No one ever learned anything by agreeing with everything.

      Not much i can add beyond what Kurt has pointed out other than the dynamic of power relationships within communities, and the perpetuation of stereotypes for the retention of status. In order for a perceived “class” (I’m using the word class here as a demonstrative term for those that would categorize themselves within a certain niche) to maintain their achieved social (social being the most prevalent out of the three powers) hierarchy status they must keep the others “classes” from ultimately being able to close the gap, so to speak. By creating stereotypical images and ideas it is much easier to marginalize an already marginalized group by ostracizing them to their peers. (Best example the concept of propaganda and its relationship to media culture)

      Kurt’s approach of acknowledging the flaws and actively fighting them individually is very sound and I feel can work somewhat effectively. The only problem is when you get to the large cultural scale where things become to big to be handled individually or even communally (where the community consists of smaller levels of people) As Kurt pointed out you need over arching rules and perceptions to adequately deal with the large scale system or those systems cannot work as they become to large and complex to interact with anything, even itself.

      But how do you fix a system that has been in place for thousands of years? Can it even be fixed? I have no clue, I don’t get paid enough to answer such things, or at all in fact (That is a joke, I feel that it is our duty to actively try to make the world a better place, compensation or no)

      Also, I knew there was a reason I liked Equestria Girls and Danny, I think you just found it.

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