I’m writing this article as a follow-up to my previous article about “fake” nerd girls and the shaming of women in geek culture. It happens to be the most popular article I have ever written and to this day, over seven months after it was posted, it is the most viewed article on a daily basis here on LSZ; hitting a record-breaking 1,100 views in one evening. I’d like to shed a little more light on the topics that I previously talked about by sharing some excerpts from comments I received and discussing how they showcase the issue at hand which is misogyny in the geek, nerd and gaming communities.
Sadly, the issue of misogyny and sexism in video games as well as within the gaming community is still a huge problem. Of course, there are plenty of people out there who don’t see it as an issue at all which is something that I use as motivation. I have been told that it’s “just a game” or to “get over it” more times than I can count, and each time it reminds me that this issue is still as large as it ever was. The fact that I get in more arguments due to the fact that people don’t like me taking issue with sexism in video games/other media outlets than anything else still shows me that there is still a long way to go in the fight for equality.
In another article that I wrote I brought up feminism and facing adversity in the gaming community. I defined feminism, stating that by definition it is about equality of the sexes. There are different ways to maintain this lifestyle, but at its core it is simply a need for equality. Of course there are “feminists” out there who parade about as self titled “man haters”, but they are not truly feminists. I want to point this out so that more people understand the fact that if someone is against men or women in any way they are not feminist. Don’t let them fool you into believing the whole feminist movement is about the hatred of men or want to bring down men in some way, because that is simply not in the least bit true. Now that I have made that point as clear as I could make it, I urge more people to think about feminism in a positive light. When I say I am a feminist it’s automatically assumed that I either hate men, am a lesbian or some kind of degenerate who wants to watch the world burn. None of those things are true, I just want men and women to be equal in all ways possible.
So onward to the meat of this article: discussing the dilemmas facing women in nerd, geek or gaming communities. It was brought to my attention through the comments received on the post about nerd/geek girl shaming that people have varying definitions of what it means to be a nerd, geek and/or gamer. To me, a gamer is simply one who plays video games. Maybe that is the most simplified definition of the word, but I find it most fitting and least discriminatory. Other seem to think that there are qualifiers to being a gamer and/or a nerd such as having been bullied for your interests at some point in life or how many games you play/ how many hours you have played. In my opinion, it is a weird notion to take some sort of pride in having been bullied for your interests, saying that anyone who hasn’t been through the troubles that you have is not what you are – a gamer or nerd – and that they can’t be like you. It’s also odd to say that only people who have played a certain amount of games for a certain number of hours can be gamers. Definitions like these are problems for everyone, not just women, and I found it rather interesting that this was brought up by so many commenters.
This brings me to a quote from a comment made on my original post:
People attack pretty girls claiming nerd for a good reason, they were not nerd less than 10 years ago and they are in their 20s now? what? The argument usually goes like this. ” im a girl nerd and have the same interests as other nerds why cant i be a nerd? ” simply because the things you like do not make you a nerd. A nerd is someone that is an outcast most of their life, has little to no friends, has social issues and does not speak up at all. […] No hot , pretty girl ever was really bullied and if you say you were you bullshitting yourself and others to be accepted into the nerd world. people are offended when others call themselves nerds, probably why guys are so on edge when a pretty girl says they are a gamer also.
So not only are there qualifiers for being a nerd/gamer, but there is also no way a woman (especially an attractive woman) can possibly qualify. This is exactly the point of my article, women are bullied because they are “too pretty” to have ever been tormented for their likes, or “nerdiness”, or they simply are too young to be a true nerd/gamer; if you weren’t a gamer in the 90’s you definitely can’t be one now, apparently. I think it’s wrong of people to assume that because a person is attractive that they can never have faced any adversity, regardless of their gender. How do they know that the pretty girl wasn’t bullied in school for being a nerd? It happens. I know plenty of attractive women who have been bullied for their gamer/nerdy dabblings and guess what? The people doing the bullying are the people who, like this commenter, feel the need to bully people for not having been bullied enough. The hypocrisy of this mindset is through the roof. The logic seems to be: You told me you are a nerd and would like to be friends with me but judging by your picture you are too attractive to be like me, there is no way you could have faced any kind of adversity for your likes and interests like me, so now I’m going to bully you like I was bullied for liking these things.
This also highlights another valid problem within the nerd/gaming community: Hot girls cannot be nerds or gamers so stop lying to us men because you will never be accepted. This is why I wrote the article in the first place, because women and being pushed out of communities they would like to be a part of simply because of their looks or because there is no way girls can play games or like nerdy things. It seems the only way to be fully accepted is to never show or imply that you are in any way female, which is ridiculous. No one should have to hide their gender so that other nerds/geeks/gamers will not harass them. This mentality is the most toxic one there is when it comes to the subject of sexism in the gaming community, in my opinion. It’s mindless, needless and discriminatory in the highest degree.
Another point that was brought up often in discussion about my article was one revolving around people assuming that since it doesn’t happen to them, it probably doesn’t happen to anyone else or at the very least is highly uncommon. One female commenter stated:
I’ve never had to experience this . I play what I like like what I play . Part of the gaming generation. Any conversation I’ve had with guys or girls involving games its never come up that I am a faker and or poser so I guess I’m normal .”
I wouldn’t say it’s normal to not face the issue discussed in my article, which is sad. It’s pretty normal to be harassed and I’d say it’s pretty abnormal to have never once experienced harassment as a female in the gaming community. The same commenter also went on to be a bully herself, stating that her “only problem with half of the gamer girl gen” is that they wear glasses for fashion (apparently she is the only one who wears them out of necessity?). She also went on to mildly insult me for “advertising yourself like blogs like this protesting your identity” which is somehow drawing attention to my gender and is basically the reason why I have been bullied. After this point things in that comment got a little crazy as due to poor grammar and I couldn’t really tell what she was getting at, though she did end up saying that people (or maybe only me, I couldn’t tell) should “stop whining stop defending urself” which was just disappointing. If you feel that defending yourself against sexism is the same as whining then you need to be shown the right path, the one you are on now is only going to hurt you.
This is an ideal that plagues commentary on almost every major issue, the mentality that if you haven’t personally experienced something then others probably haven’t either. Ignorance is bliss but this isn’t bliss, it’s shortsightedness and generally selfish. After reading through responses both on the article itself as well as on other platforms (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) it was made apparent to me that many people, both men and women, see the issue of sexism in the gaming/nerd community this way. They don’t notice it, so it must not be common or happen at all. Just because you don’t care to open your eyes and see the issues facing women in the gaming/nerd community, which aren’t hard to spot, doesn’t mean that they don’t occur at all. For example, I’ve never experienced child hunger, no child I know personally goes without meals on a regular basis, but that doesn’t mean that child hunger isn’t a global issue that affects children around the world every day.
These are the most common reasons for rebuttal to my article and thus they are the ones I chose to talk about. Overall, the comments and discussions on and about my original article really opened my eyes. Here I thought the issue of sexism and misogyny in the gaming/nerd community was common enough for every member of these communities to see and acknowledge, but I was mistaken. It seems as if the issue itself is underplayed to disgusting degrees. Maybe I felt differently because of my personal experiences, maybe I thought that since it happens to me so often that it must happen to other women equally as often and men would have had to see that at some point. My theory is that a lot of people choose to remain ignorant of this topic, as was made clear to me through comments and discussions. They may see it or even experience it themselves but they don’t really care, if it doesn’t happen to them at all or at least doesn’t happen to them often then they simply brush it off and think everyone else should do the same.
When talking about this subject matter I’ve been told to do just that, brush it off. Who cares if you are being bullied or harassed on a daily basis? Brush it off. Does it matter if someone on the internet calls you a poser or a faker? Brush it off. Why do you care so much about what other people think of you? Brush it off. I refuse to simply “brush it off” and I encourage others to do the same. By this I mean I will not simply choose to ignore what is happening because “it’s just the internet” or “that’s just how the community is”. There is never an excuse for bullying, in real life or online and when it affects me personally then no, I will not back down and let these bullies keep on doing what they are doing. I choose to write these articles and talk about these issues with the hope that maybe, just maybe, the word will get out. People who previously never thought about sexism among the gaming community might take a closer look, or those who never saw it before might see it and actually say something. Even if only one person takes something positive away from this article or the others that are related to it then I win. We all need to start standing up for ourselves, surrounding ourselves with positive friends in the community, and speaking up against bullying and sexism.
It’s not hard, so let’s change the world we live in today so that those in the future don’t have to deal with the unnecessary garbage that we did.