Hard-Core Misogyny and Nerd Culture

It’s kind of hairy in the comments over on my open letter to the folks who are psyched to see Lara Croft get raped, but I wanted to pull out this long note from suratd on whether there is a core misosynist nerd culture (separate from the happy, enthusiastic, not-always-perfectly-progressive-but-often-engaged-with-ideas community many of us spend a lot of very happy time in) that is unreachable by reason:

It’s not that these people need explanation regarding “the hard, immutable truths of adulthood.” It’s the rejection of those truths as hard and immutable, the rejection of the notion that “this fantasy of yours, it’s a fantasy,” that form the very foundation of classic male nerd-dom. They know, on some level, that the real world works as you’ve outlined…and their response to this is to reject that greater societal construct in favor of a new one that adheres to rules of their crafting. Such lies the eternal resonance of the Doctor Who quote “I reject your reality and substitute my own.”

And so you can’t actually reach or convince these people by pointing out “there’s a world out there you’re cutting yourself off from”; that’s the purpose of their intent. The hostility on their part comes from the notion that “you can’t put all of us [women] in whatever it is you perceive to be our places. There are too many of us” is indeed starting to come true. If that comes to pass…now they have to reject their own substituted reality and replace that with yet another brand-new one.

People like who I’m talking about will never “die out.” They will never “grow out of it.” Nobody makes fun of their perceived “loser” status in the eyes of the rest of the world more than themselves. For this group, the response isn’t going to be “to assimilate” in response to “why not check out what men and women are building together? If you like what you see, then welcome.” Their response, on some level, will be “we don’t like what we see.” So instead of fighting over a barren rock…they’ll just withdraw further into the worlds of “not reality.” And make a new rock. Or a new planet. Or a new forum. Or adopt a new Internet protocol, one that’s intentionally left overly complicated so regular people can’t easily adopt it.

And that’s something that numbers alone can’t overcome. The most dedicated, the most obsessed, they’re the ones who set the pace for a counter-culture. They’re the ones who’ll put the time in. People who play and are otherwise actively involved in “the culture” for 16 hours a day will ultimately retain power over tens of thousands who rally to something for a day or a week or a month before something else comes along. And when you don’t have people in your lives you don’t want to hurt, when you don’t care about doing damage to yourself because what’s currently done is irreversible, you tend to have more disposable income than other people within your same economic bracket. So they not only have the time…they have the money. How many people can spend at least $60 a week on the new game that comes out? How many people buy the expensive merchandise?

The open letter format is solid for addressing to the rational what the problem is. But how do you contend with the extremely small yet vocal group that sees it and says “I know all that already, and I’m still ready to pay money to see that stuff happen in games, and if it’s removed from the games due to public outcry I’ll find a way to add it back in”?

That’s the million-dollar question. I don’t have the answer. I just know the current answer people have isn’t cutting it. And this is with them already in a state where most must be silent in public and interact via relative anonymity in communities of their own creation.

I want to believe that no one’s unreachable. And if folks are giving up on mainstream society, I always want to believe that we can win them back, that if folks feel hopelessly ill-equipped to succeed given the conditions they face, that we can work together to give each other the tools to get more of what we want. And I do really believe that feminism is not a zero-sum game in which men face only loss and no benefit. But I am at something of a loss when faced with this kind of attitude, if folks think it’s an accurate description of a real phenomenon.