Skip to content

“Elitism:” Now, It Basically Just Means “Not Having Sex With Everybody”

Ladies: Don’t use real names when you write about your bad dates online.

I know! I know! The temptation to write about bad dates: It is IRRESISTIBLE! And that is fine. I myself have fallen prey to the temptation of writing about bad dates. It’s fun, it’s easy, it gets the bad taste out of your mouth. (But not literally, HEYOOO.) Sometimes, it is even instructive. But, for Pete’s sake, people deserve a little bit of grace in this world. Human beings are never more vulnerable and irrational and stupid and undignified than when they are trying to love and/or sex up another human being. If the only thing people knew about you was how you behaved on a bad date, or within a bad relationship, guess what? They would probably think you were a Grade-A Douche, or dork, or loser, or just plain mess. Just like all the douches, dorks, losers, and messes that you’ve dated. So: Disguise the identity of your bad dates, when you write about them on the Internet. They have friends and family and co-workers that they have to face in the morning.

And that’s it. I mean, really: That’s the only widely applicable moral lesson I can come up with, out of Alyssa Bereznak’s “I Dated A Guy Twice And Found Our Lifestyles Incompatible” piece for Gizmodo. She used the guy’s real name; that was wrong; that’s all I got. And that’s because I am not The Internet, Ph.D.

Right now, Bereznak is being called a “predator,” a “gigantic bitch,” an “elitist,” a “soulless harpie,” a “narcissist,” and a “dumb woman,” and that’s just on this one post. What did she do? She led a guy on! She fucked with a guy’s head! She broke a guy’s spirits! She… didn’t go out on a third date with a guy, because she didn’t share his interests. CATASTROPHE! ATROCITY! Alert The Internet, Ph.D!

His interests, for the record, are “Magic: The Gathering,” the card game, and he is not just playing it. He is the World Champion. He plays it regularly, and at tournaments, and he told Alyssa Bereznak that it was the foundation of his whole social life: “I’ve met all my best friends through Magic.” In other words, he is not the sort of guy with whom you can side-step or ignore the whole “Magic: The Gathering” thing. Calling this “unusual” or “weird” is almost beside the point; he is quite literally the only person in the world with this particular investment in the game. In her piece, Bereznak expresses the apparently-shocking sentiment that, given that the dude’s social life is based entirely around Magic, she wishes he had mentioned it before they started dating. It would probably be a good thing for someone who doesn’t care much for “Magic: The Gathering” to be able to avoid the guy, given that she doesn’t want a lifestyle based around lots and lots of “Magic: The Gathering.” Right?

NOT SO FAST THERE! The Internet, Ph.D. has found you guilty of OPPRESSION! That most horrible, socially harmful, Internet-comment-generating of all “oppressions:” Thinking stuff is kind of dorky. It’s awful! It’s mean! It’s unfair! And, worst of all, it results in women thinking they have the right not to sleep with men they find unattractive!

Sorry, friends: People get to find your interests unattractive sometimes. That’s the way it works. Your first dates are always judging you. It is never fair, and sometimes there are sad times. But that is what first dates are for: They are for evaluating the sexiness of others, in a variety of purely subjective ways. For these reasons:

  • I will never date a guy who tells me on the first date that he loves the Renaissance Faire. I think Renaissance Faires are ridiculous. “Let’s go back to the Renaissance, but also it’s not the Renaissance, it’s the Middle Ages! Where, by the way, you would be my legal chattel! Huzzah! M’lady, wilst thou join with me in celebrating the joys of a world without gender equality, widespread literacy, or indoor toilets?” No thanks. This does not mean that nobody should ever date a guy who is really into Renaissance Faires; if you are into that, you could date this imaginary guy, and fall in love, and maybe have one of those Renaissance Faire weddings. There might be archery. I, on the other hand, would only waste his time. It’s a good thing I will never have a second date with your future husband! But,
  • I will also never date a guy who tells me on the first date that he is really into bicycles. Just having a bike would not be a dealbreaker; even being passionate or snobby about bikes might not be a dealbreaker, if I learned about this after a while, and if he understood that his Special Bike Times were for him and him alone. But I have tried to be into the urban-biking thing; I have tried to be into the urban-biking thing specifically to please boyfriends. And in my experience, biking through New York City traffic feels like 45 straight minutes of “I’M GONNA DIE I’M GONNA DIE I’M GONNA DIE,” followed by fatigue and crotch soreness, and at the end of it I am cranky and martyred and I still don’t understand why we couldn’t have taken the goddamn subway. You riding a bike = good for you. Me riding a bike = bad for both of us. So if you spend a lot of time on the first date talking about your fixie, and how much you love your fixie, and how you can’t decide whether to get a new fixie or fix your fixie so you can learn how to fix fixies, I’m going to decide that you probably need a woman who looks at a bicycle and sees “noble, environment-saving warrior steed,” not “messy death on wheels.” Coincidentally,

  • I will never date a guy who tells me on the first date that he is passionately into football, especially not if he has “a team.” It’s a personal thing. I grew up in a football town, known for its borderline-cultlike adoration of our college football team, and I just hated it. I hated the subculture; I hated the obligation to “root” for strangers; I hated attending games; I hated the game itself. Football was boring, it was long, and in our house, we weren’t allowed to watch anything else on Sunday. So I grew up promising myself that one day, when I was grown up, I would never have to watch, discuss, or think about football, ever again. You might be an amazing person, Imaginary Football-Loving Date, and perhaps I would be missing out on a great love by dumping you because you talked about the Colts. (Are the Colts a thing? The Colts are probably a thing.) But also, I would not have to hear you talk about football. For me, this is a fair bargain.

The list goes on. Because I have “preferences.” Which all people have. We could talk about what a total bitch I am for hating nerds. We could also talk about what a bitch I am for hating hipsters, or bros, or environmentalists. Or we could just acknowledge that I don’t hate any of these people, and that I might just find big parts of your lifestyle unappealing. And since the end goal of dating (for me) is to find someone to build and share a life with, I have every right, and every responsibility, to screen out people whose lifestyles I personally wouldn’t enjoy sharing, before things get serious. And other people have the right to do the same. With me, or with anyone else that they date.

When someone has preferences about their partners’ interests, those preferences are not changing because someone else thinks they’re “incorrect,” and yelling about them will not change a goddamn thing. Women, particularly, have to fight for the right to have those preferences, against the constant message that men are entitled to sex and/or love, and should be able to do all the choosing. I learned about the validity of my preferences by acting as if I didn’t have them: Dating the guy who collected swords, dating the guy who drew mandalas and talked about cosmic love, dating the guy who liked techno music, dating the guy who went everywhere on a bicycle. Guess how those relationships ended? Wait: You don’t have to guess. They ended. And a lot of them entailed a lot of time spent feeling guilty for not enjoying myself. Some of those relationships made me less healthy. All of them made me less happy. And, crucially, they also made the men less happy; those guys could have enjoyed their bicycles or musical tastes or New Age beliefs a lot more if I weren’t passive-aggressively rolling my eyes at them throughout. That’s a lot of unhappy people in the world, because I thought “not liking the way a guy chooses to live his life” was not a valid reason for refusing to get involved.

In fact, as far as our culture is concerned, it isn’t a valid reason. We get a lot of sexist narratives about love, but none of them are more pernicious and subtle than this: The Frog Prince story. You could call it “Beauty and the Beast,” too. Or you could call it “Twilight,” or “Knocked Up,” or “Rory Williams Won’t Stop Whining;” it’s always the same story, anyway. Girl meets guy. On the surface, this guy is unappealing! Because he’s a frog! Or he’s not sexually attractive to her, or he treats her badly, or he’s immature, or he’s Rory Williams and he won’t stop whining; all of these are frog-like states, generally considered unkissable. But only a bitch would think that frogs don’t deserve our sweet, sweet kisses, so the woman doesn’t leave. Instead, she looks for the guy’s good qualities. She lowers her standards; she changes her expectations. She gives up on her silly little “ideas” about “attractiveness” or “compatible lifestyles” or “having fun with her partner.” Finally, she loses touch with her own desires to the point that she winds up making out with a fucking frog. At which point he becomes a prince. Or a loving husband, or a responsible person, or a whiny little Roman Centurion; the point is, in these stories, once you give up on wanting things from men, men magically become what you want.

Here’s the secret, though, if you are the girl in this particular story: That guy never became a prince. At all. He’s still the same guy; he still possesses all those qualities you initially found unappealing, for all sorts of valid reasons. People don’t go from frog to mammal overnight, and they particularly don’t do so because you ask less of them; you are still making out with a frog, in the long run. The only reason he looks like a prince nowadays is that you lowered your standards to the point that you literally could not tell the difference between frog and mammal. It’s not that you got what you wanted; it’s that you settled for wanting what you got. And that is the precise opposite of a happy ending.

Alyssa Bereznak did not kiss her frog. She did not pretend to find something sexy or impressive, just because the man she dated briefly was into it. For this reason, she is being punished. Women are pitching in; men are pitching in. But it’s all about denying women sexual agency and the right to make their own judgments. Yeah: She laughed, inadvertently, when a guy told her he was the World Champion of playing an obscure game. Because she found it funny. Which she had every right to do. If you’re part of an interest-based subculture that some people find unattractive — which is to say, any interest-based subculture on Earth — then, as someone who is a voluntary part of that subculture, you have choices. You can (a) participate in the sometimes-seen-as-unattractive thing, and deal with the fact that lots of people think it’s unattractive, because it’s very important to you, or (b) spend less time doing the sometimes-unattractive stuff, and cultivate more popular and mainstream interests, to broaden your pool of potential dates. Either choice is fine. Either choice is valid. Each choice has different results. I myself am part of a widely thought to be unsexy interest-based subculture, known as “feminist blogging.” It limits my pool of dates. I accept it. I do it anyway, I’m very up front about that (in the five minutes I had an OK Cupid profile, before I started dating a friend who read my feminist blog, I listed “writing about feminism” as an interest), and I find partners who aren’t repelled by what I do.

What you CANNOT do, however, is participate in a subculture, build a lifestyle around the subculture, become WORLD CHAMPION of the subculture, and then scream bloody murder because someone finds your participation in the subculture unattractive. That’s not you being “bullied;” that’s just you exercising a massive and unrealistic sense of entitlement. And when you shriek that some woman is a “bitch” and a “cunt” and a “narcissist” and a “predator” and whatever else, just because she didn’t want to fuck some dude, just because she detailed her reasons why and didn’t bother to pretend she found the guy’s interests attractive, and just because that makes you worry that there might be people in the world who don’t want to fuck you or who don’t find you attractive (SURPRISE, there are, this is also true for everyone else in existence), well: guess who’s actually the bully in this situation? Guess who’s actually siding with the crowd to try and hurt someone else’s feelings? And guess who’s actually reinforcing oppression by doing so? Hint: It’s not the girl who turned down a date.

Of course, you could also argue that “finding Magic: The Gathering unattractive” is an unattractive quality, if you are a guy who plays a lot of Magic: The Gathering. And that is certainly true. Men have every right not to date people who find their interests weird and unappealing. But if your end goal is to make sure that men who are really into Magic: The Gathering don’t have to go out on dates with women who dislike Magic: The Gathering… well. Don’t look now, but I have some really good news.


  1. Katy Pool wrote:

    I read the Gizmodo article in question, as well as some of the backlash against it, and I have to say I think you missed the point. The point is not that this woman is evil or bitchy or what-have-you because she didn’t want to date the guy. The point is that she wrote an article filled with scathing remarks about the guy’s chosen lifestyle. Yes, she is free to find Magic: The Gathering unattractive. Yes, she is free to stop seeing someone she finds unattractive due to his involvement in a game she perceives to be geeky/dorky. But the moment she used her platform as a blogger (on a site that caters to many people of geeky/dorky persuasion, no less) to deride and publicly shame this man for being passionate about something she deems unworthy, that is when she officially becomes Uncool. That is also a textbook example of bullying. So do I think she is a bully? Absolutely.

    At the end of her account of the date, she says he “infiltrated his way into two OKCupid Dates” and joking says “Mothers! Warn your daughters!” These types of comments make it clear that this wasn’t a case of incompatible interests for Ms. Bereznak. She treats his world title and interest in a “dorky” thing as being akin to being a serial rapist, or a pedophile, or something equally predatory and abominable. I have to say, I agree with the critics on this one.

    Wednesday, August 31, 2011 at 6:46 pm | Permalink
  2. orlando wrote:

    This whole American ‘dating’ thing is weird. In Australia we never got beyond hanging around in groups until you end up snogging someone. Sidesteps a lot of the issues you describe.

    Wednesday, August 31, 2011 at 6:58 pm | Permalink
  3. Jenn wrote:

    I once broke up with a boyfriend because he conveniently “forgot” to tell me that he was really really really into Pokemon.

    We were 19. Okay, I was 19 and he was 20. He had, after only 3 weeks of dating me, moved out of his mother’s house and into the dorm complex adjacent to mine. So I was getting creepy vibes, and hoping that no more creepiness would come down the pipeline. I guess I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, for a while.

    But then, since we were both poor and eating nothing but Ramen and Taco Bell, my father invited us both over for steak. Good steak too, Dad never buys the cheap kind.

    So it’s the day, I get there, and the BF is late. Then he’s a hour late. 90 minutes after he’s supposed to show, he calls and tells me his mother’s car broke down and he had to help her. I said, “okay,” and that was that. Yeah, I was really assertive back then (this is delicious sarcasm).

    But then I find out later that he wasn’t with his mom. His friend (who’s also my friend) posted how it was nice to see him at the mall coincidentally the EXACT time he was supposed to meet me at my Dad’s.

    And what was he doing there? Standing in line with 8 year olds to buy some limited whatever Pokemon cards. Creepy, dude.

    So I broke up with him. I was instantly regaled by all of our mutual friends what a heartless bitch I was, and how lucky I should feel that someone was willing to date me. Because I was bitchy, too assertive (I was actually a total pushover, most of the time), frigid (I never slept with him because we were both virgins and not dating very long and I didn’t want to, which is the most important reason), fat, and an elitist cunt.

    He instantly played the “woe is me” card and started dating again, within 2 weeks of the breakup, with a then mutual friend (who is not my friend anymore) who would let him sob about what a terrible person I was into her boobs.

    I found him on Facebook the other day. He had won the goddamned WORLD championship in some Pokemon tournament or another and gloated about it on Facebook. He was standing, grinning like a loon, with some dude in a Pikachu suit, a glittering trophy, and his fellow “winners” — all of which were at least 10 years younger than him.

    I never lied, broke dates, or hung out with children ten years younger than me, but somehow, I’m the villain in this entire piece. Uh huh. I guess I had the last laugh though, because when I saw that picture, all I could think was, “at least I never slept with him.”

    We all deserve to date people that are cool with our hobbies, and be able to freely tell someone “yeah, I don’t like to do what you do, and my naughty bits find your habits or interests off-putting.” And we all deserve the right to refuse dates with dudes really really into Pokemon or Magic the Gathering if we find those things completely uninteresting.

    Coincidentally, the people that didn’t agree with me aren’t my friends anymore.

    Wednesday, August 31, 2011 at 7:03 pm | Permalink
  4. Rachel wrote:

    I agree with Katy Pool. It was a SNOTTY post, completely lacking in respect for the man in question. Its ok to have a preference, and I would never say that its just WRONG that a is even SHALLOW. what was wrong was that she attacked him for being unattractive to her; not all that much different from misogynistic men attacking plain women for being unfuckable.

    Wednesday, August 31, 2011 at 7:05 pm | Permalink
  5. Torpedo wrote:

    Some of the internet reaction has been really gross. But I can’t shake the feeling that had it been say – chess – that no one would have bothered to write an article on it, but that’s probably me just protecting from how often people try and portray it as childish rather than complex and intellectually challenging and how that really winds me up.

    At least Jon Finkel seems to have a sense of perspective on it though. One of his tweets from a couple of days ago was: “To be honest the article doesnt really say anything bad except that she doesnt like guys who like magic?”

    Wednesday, August 31, 2011 at 7:07 pm | Permalink
  6. zar wrote:

    I think it’s worth mentioning that the original ending of the Frog Prince is a little more realistic, emotionally. The frog doesn’t become a prince when the princess kisses her. He stays a frog. The princess, furious that she’s been lied to, slams him into a wall, and only THEN does he become a prince.

    Wednesday, August 31, 2011 at 7:21 pm | Permalink
  7. Xenu01 wrote:

    I can’t help thinking that the moral uproar would have occurred whether or not she was anonymous, so thank you for this post.

    Why do I think that? Why, it’s not like if you mention some anonymous dude who creeped you out in an elevator lots of people from The Internet will gang up on you and tell you you are awful, right? Oh. Yeah.

    Wednesday, August 31, 2011 at 7:34 pm | Permalink
  8. GemmaM wrote:

    I have to take it as a joke, when she talks about him ‘infiltrating’ himself into dates. Even her complaint about him not mentioning it on his profile doesn’t strike me as a huge deal. Alyssa’s got every right to be automatically uninterested in someone because of his interests, but I can’t take it seriously when she implies that no-one else could possibly be interested in that either (and I hope she doesn’t seriously mean that in the first place and is merely exaggerating for comic effect).

    Apart from seconding the “don’t give his name” advice, that’s all I got. All that business about her being an ‘elitist’ ‘predator’ is way over the top.

    Wednesday, August 31, 2011 at 7:37 pm | Permalink
  9. Gnatalby wrote:

    What you CANNOT do, however, is participate in a subculture, build a lifestyle around the subculture, become WORLD CHAMPION of the subculture, and then scream bloody murder because someone finds your participation in the subculture unattractive.

    Has he done this though? As Torpedo notes, his tweets seem bemused, not full of nerd rage.

    Wednesday, August 31, 2011 at 7:38 pm | Permalink
  10. Jon wrote:

    “What you CANNOT do, however, is participate in a subculture, build a lifestyle around the subculture, become WORLD CHAMPION of the subculture, and then scream bloody murder because someone finds your participation in the subculture unattractive. That’s not you being “bullied;” that’s just you exercising a massive and unrealistic sense of entitlement. And when you shriek that some woman is a “bitch” and a “cunt” and a “narcissist” and a “predator” and whatever else, just because she didn’t want to fuck some dude, just because she detailed her reasons why and didn’t bother to pretend she found the guy’s interests attractive, and just because that makes you worry that there might be people in the world who don’t want to fuck you or who don’t find you attractive (SURPRISE, there are, this is also true for everyone else in existence), well: guess who’s actually the bully in this situation? Guess who’s actually siding with the crowd to try and hurt someone else’s feelings? And guess who’s actually reinforcing oppression by doing so? Hint: It’s not the girl who turned down a date.”

    But did the guy in question actually do this? From what I’ve read, it sounds like there were a lot of Nice Guys and MRAs who freaked out, but the actual guy written about was pretty decent about the whole thing.

    Wednesday, August 31, 2011 at 7:41 pm | Permalink
  11. Bex wrote:

    For some reason, I find myself suddenly nostalgic for the good old days of Freddie and his [BONERS.]

    Wednesday, August 31, 2011 at 7:48 pm | Permalink
  12. Aspen wrote:

    I also agree with Katy Pool’s comment above. After reading Alyssa’s article (both the US and AU versions) — Sady, I disagree with your conclusions. Alyssa is perfectly free to date or not date whoever she chooses, for whatever reasons she chooses — yes, including a dislike for Magic: the Gathering or any other “geek subculture” elements, or any reason at all. That is her right.

    Choosing to use her national blogging platform to scathingly deride someone in the way that she did, however? That’s not okay.

    I am not The Internet, PhD, nor have I been monitoring response to this beyond that in my immediate circle of friends (yes, including online friends, thank you very much) and checking out Finkel’s Twitter feed yesterday out of curiosity. From what I saw, he’s handled the situation with class and humor, which Alyssa has not.

    Wednesday, August 31, 2011 at 7:49 pm | Permalink
  13. Knightgee wrote:

    I have to agree with Katy Pool as well. What Alyssa did is bullying. The responses it got with sexist language are very much not okay, but let’s not pretend this piece was just someone remarking on a casual experience, saying “but I couldn’t date him” and then being met with sexism and unreasonable criticism. It is a case of someone deciding not just to go out on a date with someone well after finding out they had a hobby that someone found irksome, but doing so with the specific intention of rooting out more embarassing information about that person, then proceed to post it in an article which included his full name, so others could also get a good laugh, maybe even spam his profile online.

    She intentionally put his name and information out there for ridicule and page hits and then went “y u mad tho?” like some internet troll. Despite knowing this obsession was likely a deal breaker, she decided an unnecessary second date was the way to go, rather than messaging him with her questions because it was of the utmost importance that she ask him face to face about his hobby, knowing full well she was getting a good chuckle out of it, using the meeting as an opportunity to further judge him.

    Her language is also of note: infiltrate” as if because of this interest he just had no fucking business even trying to date “normal” people and his attempts to do so should be seen as some kind of violation or form of trickery comparable to sexual assault.

    This really has nothing to do with thinking he’s “entitled” so much as thinking going out on a date with someone twice, knowing full well that you probably have no interest in him after the first date, just so you can write an article about how un-dateable he was is probably not a very nice thing given that his sole sin was not informing you of engaging in a relatively harmless but geeky activity you didn’t like, nor is publishing said article with his full name on a highly trafficked site a terribly nice thing either. And even if that wasn’t the intention, it becomes irrelevant given the result of her actions.

    Wednesday, August 31, 2011 at 7:54 pm | Permalink
  14. kiturak wrote:

    Awww shit. I’m a girl who likes Magic: The Gathering, low-tech Fantasy, Bikes (I loved MY BIKE, and it got stolen!) and Soccer. And I partly disagree! I think the weirdo-warning didn’t help at all, and tipped over the whole thing into a “I don’t really want to meet either of those people”-situation.
    … I have the doomedest blog-crush ever, only days after GRRM-Gate!

    Wednesday, August 31, 2011 at 7:55 pm | Permalink
  15. alula_auburn wrote:

    The article is in poor taste ( also poorly written, IMO, and a good reminder as to what I dislike about Gawker as a whole.) But there’s just no justification for the misogynistic vitriol of some of the comments. And I’m so tired of so many fauxgressives practically panting at the opportunity to bust out some misogyny as soon as they think they’ve discovered an “acceptable” target. (And no, nerds are not an oppressed class, guys.)

    Wednesday, August 31, 2011 at 8:03 pm | Permalink
  16. Auktastic wrote:

    When I read the article over the weekend, I got the same vibe that Katy Pool got, where she seems to be equating his “World Champion” status in Magic: The Gathering as something predatory.

    Should he have mentioned in his profile that the game is a large part of his life? Probably. Is his not doing so akin to tricking her into a date, in a predatory manner? I’d say no.

    My initial reaction this weekend was, “So, she went on a couple of dates with him, found out that he’s really into something that she has absolutely no interest in, and then they didn’t go out again…Isn’t that how dating is supposed to work? Why is this worthy of an article???” And that’s the thing — it isn’t worthy of an article unless the entire angle is how horrible it is that she even had to interact with someone who was such a dweeb, and now she has to publicly humiliate him as revenge, or something. Like Rachel said, the post had not a modicum of respect for him as a person outside of his “geeky” hobby.

    “What you CANNOT do, however, is participate in a subculture, build a lifestyle around the subculture, become WORLD CHAMPION of the subculture, and then scream bloody murder because someone finds your participation in the subculture unattractive. That’s not you being ‘bullied;’ that’s just you exercising a massive and unrealistic sense of entitlement.”

    As far as I can tell, that’s not what’s happening. Like, AT ALL. Anything I’ve read from him in response to this whole ordeal has been a very laidback, “well, it was kind of shitty for her to use my real name? But I don’t think she’s a terrible person or anything. We just didn’t click.” (See: This tweet [!/Jonnymagic00/status/108408686602489857] and the few preceding it where he briefly describes the entirety of their interaction.) Are *other* people acting in the way that you described? Yes, and it’s incredibly assholish of them, not to mention all the misogyny on display as she gets called a cunt/bitch/whatever. But as far as I can tell, Jon Finkel himself is responding in a fairly classy way.

    Wednesday, August 31, 2011 at 8:04 pm | Permalink
  17. Bostondreams wrote:

    Well, as Torpedo suggested, Jon Finkel is not one of those bitching and whining about it, and has basically said that the feeling was mutual.
    The commenters are reacting in a way that the one they perceive as the ‘victim’ isn’t even contemplating.

    Wednesday, August 31, 2011 at 8:08 pm | Permalink
  18. Lina wrote:

    Why the hate for geeks? Sure, a lot of the backlash to the article was asinine, and some (mostly male) writers who responded to that took the whole thing very personally, but the target of that hit piece (on a geek-centric site, which was part of the controversy) actually seemed fairly relaxed about the whole thing, and didn’t have anything bad to say about the Gizmodo writer (see his IAMA at reddit for examples of this). Your writing makes Finkel out to be the villain, though, and makes him out to be the only world champion of Magic with a unique interest in it, both of which are not really accurate.

    I mean, I dunno, as a queer geeky woman who plays Magic, I thought the real issue with the piece was not that she had a problem with this guy having a hobby, or being really into the hobby, but it was that she assumed the whole internet would find her snotty little piece fascinating. And it wasn’t. It was puerile. And that she named names made this as cheap of a hit piece as the slimey Gawker article from the last election cycle with the dude who slept next to the Delaware Senate candidate…

    But I guess, “stay classy, Gawker,” would promote less traffic than writing yet another hit piece on geeks? It’s so frustrating! There are so many actual feminist issues that affect people in these geeky sub-cultures, whether they’re George R.R. Martin fandoms or Magic, and you’re just bulldozing in with an outsider’s contempt and not even addressing the real things feminist participants in these circles face! As a fan of yours, it’s very frustrating.

    Wednesday, August 31, 2011 at 8:14 pm | Permalink
  19. alula_auburn wrote:

    Oh, wow, the “rebuttal” from Elly Hart is like a bingo card of “I’m not like those OTHER girls” misogyny, and the instant “rewards” she’s getting are pretty disheartening

    Wednesday, August 31, 2011 at 8:16 pm | Permalink
  20. Jenny North wrote:

    Also, can we talk about the whole serial killer play as their FIRST date? Totally creepy, and pretty reasonable grounds for deciding they’re incompatible, on top of her not finding his Magic lifestyle unattractive. They’re clearly not entertained by the same stuff!

    Wednesday, August 31, 2011 at 8:30 pm | Permalink
  21. Michelle wrote:


    I would hope you broke up with the guy for lying to you rather than liking Pokemon.

    Wednesday, August 31, 2011 at 9:08 pm | Permalink
  22. Thefremen wrote:

    What Katy Pool said. I love ya Sady, and the backlash in comments was WAY out of line and filled wish misogyny, but she really went out of her way to shame him for his career. It’s not like he’s a reality TV star, and even if he was why would that be worthy of all the character assassination and judgement?

    Imagine what she’d have to say about me, a fan of My Little Pony? (NOT a Brony) I can’t imagine the kind of assumptions someone this judgemental would make for a 30 year old who enjoys a cartoon aimed towards young girls because hey, it’s really really the farthest thing from Rape Culture and is the perfect way to come down off being triggered and to come up when suicide-ally depressed.

    Wednesday, August 31, 2011 at 10:22 pm | Permalink
  23. Sady wrote:

    @Jon, Gnatalby: Righty-o. The actual dude seems to be handling this well. The commenters, apparently, need to YELL AT THE LADY for having OPINIONS about WHO SHOULD BE SEXING HER, which is a wee bit more problematic.

    Wednesday, August 31, 2011 at 10:22 pm | Permalink
  24. Sady wrote:

    @Michelle: Or, it is perfectly OK to break up with a guy for LIKING POKEMON??? I say this as someone who spent six years with an awesome person who really enjoyed the TV cartoon. I got drunk, got really into the ridiculous voice-acting of “James” and “Jigglypuff,” and understood the campy obsession. But you break up with people because they’re into things you’re not attracted to. Doesn’t make you the villain. Doesn’t even make you bad. End of story.

    Wednesday, August 31, 2011 at 10:27 pm | Permalink
  25. Emily WK wrote:

    @Aspen: “Choosing to use her national blogging platform to scathingly deride someone in the way that she did, however? That’s not okay.”

    Who said it was okay? Why are you saying this as though someone disagrees with you?

    Wednesday, August 31, 2011 at 10:43 pm | Permalink
  26. Pidgey wrote:

    WOW that response article was full of problematic statements!

    For example: “The fact that you don’t know your limits when it comes to alcohol — or that you might have even deliberately got yourself drunk — doesn’t make you look very credible.”

    Uh… drinking alcohol and then creating an OkCupid profile means she cannot be trusted? Did I miss out on the class where they taught people that if a woman ever drank alcohol ever then she is a habitual liar? I do not need to point out how FUCKED UP this reasoning is!

    And I remember Sady just talked about her distaste for “the girl who does the boys’ work” too. Who would’ve thought that someone would supply such a GLARING example of this so soon?

    Sure, as a gamer and geek (though truth be told I am as geeky as I wish I was) I have my disagreements with Alyssa Bereznak’s article. I would tell her that playing Magic doesn’t make someone a “dweeb” and that people with geeky hobbies are in fact “normal people.” Hell, I occasionally read a blog by a woman who lists “Plays Magic: The Gathering” as pretty much a REQUIREMENT to date her.

    But the response article to Bereznak’s article? And many of the comments on both articles? SO MUCH SEXISM! ARGHGHHmyfellownerdswhyareyousosexist?ARGHGHGHH

    Wednesday, August 31, 2011 at 10:49 pm | Permalink
  27. SA wrote:

    Katy Pool is right on with this one. It was a totally unclassy geek hit piece, totally condescending.

    Doesn’t excuse misogynistic comments (nothing excuses that, ever), but she kicked off the whole “mocking and shaming and condescending to build yourself up” thing which was super uncool.

    Wednesday, August 31, 2011 at 10:50 pm | Permalink
  28. Kiri wrote:

    As someone who has broken up with people for what others thought were inane reasons, I must completely agree that she has the right to not like anyone she doesn’t like, for whatever reasons she doesn’t like them. And I also agree that the nerdbros are taking this way too fucking seriously/personally and being misogynist fucking douchebags about it and going HELP HELP WE’RE BEING OPPRESSED when they’re, umm, not.

    (Also, I know I’ve already said a million zillion times that I like you, but Imma say it again: I like you. I like you a lot, actually.)

    Here comes the but: I find myself agreeing with Katy Pool et al., at least broadly if not necessarily in specifics. The original article read more as nerd-bashing for the sake of nerd-bashing than it did as any kind of feminist statement. (In particular, I was really bothered by the whole implication that the dude was somehow trying to violate her boundaries by having an incomplete profile. The article itself makes it pretty clear that he was forthright with her about his Magic-loving — and then it goes on to use language like “infiltrating” and “warn your daughters” as if to imply that the guy is some kind of predator. I’m a rape survivor, so this kind of “humor” gets the side-eye from me.)

    Wednesday, August 31, 2011 at 10:53 pm | Permalink
  29. Jenny North wrote:

    @ Lina: I dunno, what I took from the piece wasn’t that Jon Finkel was the villain, or even that Alyssa’s piece wasn’t ill-conceived. It was more about how most folks (Jon not included) instantly attacked Alyssa as some harpy ingrate bitch who dared not to like Magic/be attracted to some guy into Magic, and how typical these kinds of disproportionate subculture freakouts are, and more importantly, how they actually discourage and prevent honest discussions about misogyny or other forms of oppression in those circles. Does this make sense?

    @ Bex: Ahahaha! Oh, the days of Freddie. Well, not to worry, I’m sure he’ll be back, in some [BONERS] form or another. There should really be a TBD [BONERS] t-shirt of some kind.

    Wednesday, August 31, 2011 at 11:14 pm | Permalink
  30. Megpie71 wrote:

    Okay, on the one hand, the article is shallow and silly, and really (in my opinion, anyway) belongs more on someone’s private pages (Facebook status, twitter comment, private blog) rather than a public tech blog. But in that case, the error in publishing it is more on the part of the editorial staff at gizmodo than it is on the part of the writer (who was probably asked “do you have anything about online dating?” or similar, and handed them that piece in an effort to get paid).

    On the other hand, what the bloody hells has she actually done? She’s said: “I went out on two dates with a guy who turned out to be the world champion at Magic: The Gathering – something I have absolutely zero interest in. Once I discovered he not only was, but still is the world champion at this, and that it’s pretty much all of his social life if you leave out the bit about dates sourced from OKCupid, I decided we were incompatible. He really should have mentioned this on his OKCupid profile; I should have had the nous to google his name before I said yes to the first date. Mistake on my part, I know better now.”

    She didn’t promise this bloke anything – not sex, not a relationship for life, not a bloody thing. She said she’d go out for one date with him, and agreed to a second date with him on the strength of the first. After the second date, she said “thanks, but no thanks” and let’s face it, they’re probably both better off.

    Yes, it was a crap article to write. Yes, it slagged off MtG a bit. But let’s put the blame where it truly lies: with the editorial staff at gizmodo, who decided it was worthy of publication to the internet at large, rather than just saying “keep that one for your facebook, okay?”

    Wednesday, August 31, 2011 at 11:25 pm | Permalink
  31. Scott wrote:

    Finkel’s a stand-up guy. And a pretty smart cookie, too. I think the funniest thing about the whole kerfluffle is that he’s going to get a LOT of dating offers from girls who don’t find Magic players (or hedge-fund managers, since that’s what he does for his day job) unattractive.

    Wednesday, August 31, 2011 at 11:26 pm | Permalink
  32. AllSaintsDay wrote:

    For what it’s worth, what I’ve been told is the original one is up at the Australian Gizmodo.
    In it, her ending is decidedly less “oh, you ought to Google your online dates.” Instead, it accuses him of lying, and threatens nerds who might have the temerity to think they could date someone who works for Gawker. (Gee, I hope the Gawker employees all put that ontheir profile; after all, it’s LYING to leave off such a huge part of one’s life.):

    “But if everyone stopped lying in their profiles, maybe there also wouldn’t be quite as many OKCupid horror stories to tell.

    “So what did I learn? Google the shit out of your next online date. Like, hardcore. Also, for all you world famous nerds out there: Don’t go after two Gawker Media employees and not expect to have a post written about you. We live for this kind of stuff.”

    She’s guilty, in this and the revised version, of more wrongs than just using his real name, but I wouldn’t list “oppression” among them.

    Also, for those who, like me the first time, didn’t click the card he’s on, it’s the Shadowmage Infiltrator. So I think the “infiltrated dates” was an extremely tasteless attempt to reference that.

    Wednesday, August 31, 2011 at 11:29 pm | Permalink
  33. AllSaintsDay wrote:

    Ahh, never mind. I didn’t click through and realize that was the one you linked. Sorry for the now-inane comment.

    Wednesday, August 31, 2011 at 11:32 pm | Permalink
  34. Michelle wrote:


    I certainly didn’t say that at all, I was stating that the lying to her about was he was was a bigger issue rather than his interest in Pokemon.

    Unless she’s perfectly fine with dating liars as long as they don’t have to catch it all.

    Wednesday, August 31, 2011 at 11:49 pm | Permalink
  35. Meg wrote:

    I will note that the guy didn’t scream bloody murder; he didn’t seem to particularly care according to his tweets. The men who seemed to be screaming bloody murder seemed to be the ones who are afraid that they can never have a relationship outside of their male-dominated interest, that their passion makes them unlovable. I can kind of understand that fear, really.

    I do think it’s kind of silly to expect someone to name every geeky interest prior to dates, lest one of them be unacceptable. For one thing, in my case that would be a *really* long list…

    Wednesday, August 31, 2011 at 11:56 pm | Permalink
  36. slutego wrote:

    I don’t have any new or important opinions about either piece; I think the original was a bit snotty, but it’s Gawker, so…
    Howevs, all the WAHOO THIS LADY IS NOW FAIR GAME across the nets is incredibly gross.

    But really, I just wanted to comment because I LOVE ALL THE RORY-HATE REFERENCES. So much.
    I almost sort of okay very much wish the horror of Moff!Who was reviewed regularly around here.

    Thursday, September 1, 2011 at 12:29 am | Permalink
  37. Dymphna wrote:

    Oh how I wish I had received this message before I spent a year dating a dude who loved Nickelback.

    No offence to Nickelback lovers everywhere. But it was 12 months of me wanting to stab my ears with pencils.

    Thursday, September 1, 2011 at 12:58 am | Permalink
  38. Sady wrote:

    @Michelle: Here’s a take-home assignment: Can you express, in 50 words or less, how you are participating in the exact same problematic phenomenon that this blog post/her comment was pointing out? Because, SURPRISE, you are.

    Thursday, September 1, 2011 at 4:39 am | Permalink
  39. Daniel wrote:

    While I disagree with Bereznak’s hierarchy of cool, I very much support her right to choose her dates by that hierarchy.

    Honestly, I myself was annoyed not by Bereznak’s disgust with MtG, but her attitude that her disgust, unlike his interest, was privileged: that it was so _obvious_ that the card game was an inferior sort of entertainment that the guy had an _obligation_ to warn people about it before he met them.

    Nothing on the scale of the damage done by (say) white privilege, but “your interests demand advance apology, mine don’t” is an ugly little claim of privilege just the same.

    Confusing your taste with a universal law others should adapt to — isn’t that exactly what bad elitism is?

    But since she didn’t have fun on the date, surely she’s entitled to be disappointed and grumble, just as I’m entitled to think less of her taste as revealed by that grumbling.

    So I actually agree with the people disapproving of Bereznak’s “my preferences are a universal law” attitude toward other people’s passions.

    And, being a nerd, I of course would love a world where more people were nerdy or enjoyed nerds. More interesting people to talk to is good!

    But I don’t understand anyone thinking that, if you really do find someone’s passions incomprehensible, you should still go out with them. How is that even supposed to work out? For either of you?

    Thursday, September 1, 2011 at 5:36 am | Permalink
  40. Katy Pool wrote:

    @Sady: Wow. I’m not sure I’m going to be reading this blog anymore, as that was ridiculously condescending.

    Michelle’s point (and it’s a valid point, if not directly related to the argument at hand) is that, while the OP was at liberty to break up with a boy for whatever reason — including being a Pokemon fan — the act of lying was a much larger offense.

    If she had simply found out about his love of Pokemon some other way and broke up with him, that’s totally her right. But the fact that she found out about it through him lying (and blowing her off) makes that the larger issue. Obviously there are a lot of reasons for someone to dump a significant other, and none of them “bad” or “wrong,” but hopefully someone lying and disrespecting you and your family by not bothering to show up for an engagement is a more offensive issue than having different issues (which I, and I’m sure Michelle, acknowledge as a perfectly valid reason to break up).

    I think Michelle’s point was very clear, and not at all participating in what you see as the main issue of this post. I am unsure as to why you felt that patronizing remark was necessary.

    Thursday, September 1, 2011 at 5:55 am | Permalink
  41. Clare wrote:


    What makes you think the dudes ‘screaming bloody murder’ i.e. hurling misogynistic insults are doing it out fear of not finding love? If they’re happy to call a woman a cunt for not wanting to date dudes like them, they’re straight-up acting out of a sense of entitlement.

    I dunno, I’m pretty disappointed by the people here saying ‘well, sexism is BAD, but she started it/she was mean/we have to feel bad for the menz’.

    Thursday, September 1, 2011 at 6:09 am | Permalink
  42. Katy Pool wrote:

    hmm on second thought I apologize for my hasty “OMG! WILL NO LONGER READ THIS!” I enjoy most of your posts on feminism in pop culture (even if I happen to love A Song of Ice and Fire as a series, I couldn’t help but agree with nearly everything you said about it).

    However I still am baffled by what seems like a willful misunderstanding of one commenter’s point in order to continue complaining about the misogyny of people finding a rude blog post rude (and it’s hard to deny that Alyssa Bereznak’s post was, if nothing else, rude.)

    Most of the “backlash” against Alyssa I saw was not misogyny (although I have no doubt there was such backlash.) My favorite comment was from Joey Comeau who tweeted: “It might SOUND like she’s a judgemental jerk mocking a man in public, but it’s okay because everyone is?”

    Ms. Bereznak can be a judgmental jerk all she wants, but she should be prepared to be disliked for it. Kind of like how you pointed out that people can have nerdy interests, they just have to be prepared to be found repulsive because of them.

    Thursday, September 1, 2011 at 6:14 am | Permalink
  43. Hope wrote:

    Sady, usually I’m with you, 100%, but there’s something really ‘ugh’ about the tone of the original piece that gives me pause. Yes, the author has a right to reject a guy based on lack of shared interests (a wise policy for everyone) and an even greater right NOT to be abused for it by rabid, angry trolls. However, I’ve been reading my s.e. smith & Harriet J this week, and there is something so obnoxiously bullying and not unlike the various other ‘hipster -ism’s about what she’s doing to him as an individual, based on his interests. The tone of mockery, it is unpleasant. I’m not crazy about the sexism in geek culture, but her critique of him boils down to a stereotyped view of the hobby itself, not anything that he specifically endorses. When I read what she says about him, I’m reminded of the tone used by men who’ve told me I’d “be all right* if I just stopped reading all those damn feminist blogs.” True story. :)
    *Presumably as date, but goshdarnit, I just can’t resist the urge to be all uppity & open about my feminism.

    Thursday, September 1, 2011 at 6:42 am | Permalink
  44. Michelle wrote:

    @Sady, the commenter states she broke up with the guy for liking Pokemon. She then explains that the guy stands her up and lies to her. But when she finds out she likes Pokemon, that’s why she broke up with him. Prehaps the lying was the main point, prehaps its the final straw. But my point is this guy was a douchebag and the commenter how tons of reasons to break up with him in addition to Pokemon.

    I’m not sure how it relates to the Gawker article. The magic guy was nice (as far as the article protrays him), the Pokemon guy not.

    Now, in regards to the Gawker article itself, the author’s protray of the Magic date as a predator is highly problemic and I’m surprised that not much was made of it.

    I’m also surprised that the authors inference that no womam would like a guy who plays magic isn’t mentioned either.

    There were comments that reflected this post 100% but there were also comments that made good points about why its offensive and why the article was more than “I don’t like Magic.”

    Thursday, September 1, 2011 at 6:52 am | Permalink
  45. kiturak wrote:

    LOL @ the Hart piece for the bit on Bereznak not giving the MAN “the respect that he deserves”. That has to be one of the most sexist articles I’ve read in a long time.

    Really, now I’m not drunk anymore, boring everyone with my blog crushes (I’m so ashamed! How did I forget “there’s nothing more unattractive than a drunk girl falling all over the place and having no idea how stupid she looks”), I reread. I am now still with Katy Pool/Torpedo on this one, except in that I personally think this whole deal is a huge publicity stunt for all involved, including Magic: The Gathering.

    BUT your article is also spot on for all the boundary-setting part, and the entitlement/sexist reactions to that, and Bereznak’s piece, and I really think that’s the more important thing in all of this.
    As Jill said in her post on online dating and being a judgmental bitch,

    Be picky and end up with someone you actually like.

    So, thank you!

    Also: hedge funds? really.

    Thursday, September 1, 2011 at 6:55 am | Permalink
  46. Sady wrote:

    @Michelle: Commenter breaks up with dude. Commenter cites “liking Pokemon” as major factor in breaking up with dude. You tell commenter what her reasons SHOULD have been for breaking up with dude, because hers are not the RIGHT REASONS.

    This is literally what the original post was about. If someone finds “liking Pokemon” unsexy, that person has every right to give “he liked Pokemon” as a reason for why she broke up with the dude. It’s not your business to tell her what is an appropriate motivation here.

    Thursday, September 1, 2011 at 8:05 am | Permalink
  47. kiturak wrote:

    re: the publicity stunt, I’m amazed to see that that really didn’t come across as a joke at all! I suck at this. It was meant as one. Sarcasm because of the What A Swell Guy!-direction the whole thing took.

    Thursday, September 1, 2011 at 8:34 am | Permalink
  48. michelle wrote:

    I disagree completely about what the original post was about – and thus why I find the comment not relevant. I did not say it was wrong for her to break up with him for liking Pokemon, I said it was wrong to take her different situtation and apply it to this.

    She had a long term problemic relationship, the Gawker author went on two dates.

    I don’t care if some one breaks up with someone over Magic or Pokemon or teddy bears or whatever. That is completely their business.

    I do have issues with some one being treated badly and ignoring that. Completely her business but a would think a feminist blog would be alright with pointing out she was dating an asshle and had many reasons to dump him, not just the Pokemon.

    In regards to the Gawker article:

    Not liking someone else’s activities is fine. Going onling and bashing that activity wtih a blanket statement that no women would wnat a date a guy who likes isn’t. Turning that guy into an idol of what’s “not normal” isn’t.

    Infering that person is a predator because he went on the same dating site as you is not ok. Infering that person is a predator because his profile doesn’t mention a title he won ten years ago isn’t ok. Infering that person is a predator because you inavertly went on a date with someone without this knowledge isn’t ok.

    Comparing your experiece with online dating to (through the use of lanaguage) an attempted assult is not ok and insluts everyone who actually has been a victim of a predator.

    That none of the lanaguage of the article wasn’t mentioned in this post is problemic to me. This post boiled the response to this article down to fanboys and their toys.

    Thursday, September 1, 2011 at 8:44 am | Permalink
  49. Sady wrote:

    @Michelle: I honestly can’t tell if you’re saying that you disagree with the original post, or if you disagree with me about what it is about. Either way, it doesn’t really matter. I wrote it, so I know what it is about. And, even if you disagree with the post, I am still the comment moderator, and still get to decide what is acceptable behavior in the comment section. Slamming another commenter for finding a guy geeky, or explaining to her how she should have felt about his behavior, is not OK. You are not to do this any longer. Understood?

    Thursday, September 1, 2011 at 9:09 am | Permalink
  50. John G. wrote:

    My first contact with this issue was in a post railing against the shamelessness of publishing it on Gizmodo in order to gin up nerd rage in the first place and gain more page views, which subsequently brought the lady bashing.

    Thursday, September 1, 2011 at 10:14 am | Permalink
  51. Will Wildman wrote:

    It feels to me like there are two separate incidents here that have got a lot of issues tangled up.

    On the large scale, there’s the overwhelmingly misogynist and entitled backlash to the article, which Sady is accurately assessing and dissecting. (And ew, the counter-article made me feel gross to read.)

    On the smaller scale, there’s Bereznak’s original article, which didn’t seem to be about not wanting to sleep with the dude. The whole entitled concept seems to have been invented by Internet PhD as another excuse to be loudly misogynist.

    The article’s main theme seemed to be that people who have unusual interests are lying if they fail to disclose that oddity, like they don’t deserve to be approached like ‘normal’ people. And that’s not of itself a gender issue, because anyone of any sex/orientation/whatever can be a geek/nerd/whatever.

    I’m just trying to figure out what the situation would be like if the genders were altered; if for example Bereznak and the world Magic champion were both women, or something. The article would presumably not suffer the same kind of hail of abuse that it’s getting now. (It would be getting completely different awful comments from guys demanding to watch women make out.) But the whole ‘you’re a freak and you shouldn’t be allowed to pretend otherwise’ thing would still be ick. ‘Infiltrating’ dates? It’d be nice if that was meant tongue-in-cheek; it’s not clear to me.

    But whatever issues there are in are not the ones being addressed by the people now pouring hate on Bereznak, so I guess what I am saying is that misogyny on the internet ruins everything? Which is maybe not the most shocking conclusion ever.

    Thursday, September 1, 2011 at 10:41 am | Permalink
  52. Saito wrote:

    You kind of have to look at the purpose and motivation of Bereznak’s piece. Was it a dating PSA? If so, the moral is – reveal your geeky hobbies so that us normal people don’t have to deal with you.

    It’s exactly the kind of attitude that would make people NOT be up front about their geeky hobbies/lifestyle, because they know they’ll get unfair snap judgments. First impressions matter, and maybe Finkel thinks he’ll get a fairer shake from women if he doesn’t lead with MTG every time, and they get a chance to know him without geek-related blinders on. Finkel has no responsibility towards Bereznak whatsoever, and her attitude of “you should have told me” is pretty spoiled and entitled.

    More likely, the piece is just a kind of explani-brag/traffic troll, and that makes the whole thing even more pathetic. Why post it on Gizmodo, if not to rile up the geeky hordes?

    I’ve played Magic, including tournaments, and I wouldn’t mention it on a first or second date, because I know the immediate assumption people have is of sweaty neckbearded guys with halitosis.

    I’d rather give someone the chance to know me and then realize that it’s not the social-kiss-of-death it’s been made out as.

    Bereznak is either trolling or just a brat, and either way, she doesn’t deserve much sympathy. Of course, the sexist vitriol flying her way is, as usual, beyond the pale – but in a way, I’m pretty sure Gizmodo was counting on it, and I respect the whole site less for that.

    Thursday, September 1, 2011 at 10:43 am | Permalink
  53. Yeny wrote:

    Sady- I absolutely love the way you write, and this blog.

    RE: post. I’m a massive geek: halo, comics, manga, anime, anything sci-fi…and many more. These are all indispensible parts of who I am. I get that there are some people who might be put off by my geekiness, but I’m proud of it so I tell pretty much anyone who will listen. Hiding these things (particularly on a date) would feel like I was creating some fictional me to dupe my date into sleeping with me.

    Alyssa obviously isn’t into nerdage, that’s fine. As far as i’m concerned she doesn’t even have to be nice about it just to spare other nerd feelings. Afterall, I fricking hate Two and a Half Men, and will reconsider my relationship with anyone who professes love for that show. And I will most likely insult fans along with the programme while in the process of explaining why I hate it. Does that make me rude? Probably. But I’m pretty sick of the pressure on women to be so fucking nice about everything.

    Thursday, September 1, 2011 at 10:50 am | Permalink
  54. Sady wrote:

    @Yeny: Right. It’s the pressure to be nice ALL THE TIME about EVERYTHING that is grating here. Yes. Her tone was mean. That’s true. Yes. The post was base-trolling. That’s true. Yes. It was trolling specifically because entitled misogyny was a 100% certain reaction. But the entitled misogyny is still offensive, particularly because now women are joining in it, too.

    @Saito: I get that you don’t want people to assume negative stuff about you, but I just don’t feel like it’s all that hard to disclose what your hobbies are, up front, on an online dating site. Particularly not if they form such a huge part of your life. Isn’t that the point of online dating sites? Not just making yourself look sexy, but creating a picture of who you are and what it would be like to spend time with you? If you have, like this guy, met “all of your best friends” through one specific hobby, I kind of feel like you should put that up front in your profile. The people who are going to be turned off by it probably aren’t going to be the kind of people you’d have a good relationship with, anyway. (Side note: I wonder why this guy isn’t meeting his dates through this hobby, since it’s how he meets “all his friends.” Are they not conforming to some kind of standard he has for women? Or, at these tournaments, are there literally no girls?)

    Thursday, September 1, 2011 at 10:59 am | Permalink
  55. Michael B wrote:

    Though I am outing myself as an incredible geek (I’ve just gotten back into Magic as a casual thing after many years off) I feel it necessary to add a bit of info that has been lacking in the whole internet drama of the original article.

    Jon Finkel was the world champion many years ago and, except for a recent high-level win more akin to an encore performance after being inducted into, say, the Rock and Roll hall of fame, hasn’t really been active in Magic the way he was at the peak of his career (some 9 years ago.) In fact, since leaving Magic he went on to be a professional poker player (winning the World Series of Poker, I think, or at least performing very well in it) and, as the article does mention, now no longer makes a living as a professional gamer. I imagine at this point his involvement is mostly nostalgia for an old hobby/a way to spend time with said friends.

    In this context, I find it completely fair to not put Magic front and center in an OKCupid profile. It certainly isn’t front and center in his life anymore.

    As for my own reaction, I read the original article via Jezebel, and found the author to be rather judgmental and mean-spirited about the whole thing. I’ve seen other blog posts before where people seek to shame and embarrass people they’ve encountered while dating and they all rub me in quite the wrong way. There’s a distinct difference in my mind between a post going “Augh, let me tell you about this miserable date” and “Augh, let me tell you about this miserable person.” Especially when, even by the author’s own account, the person doesn’t really seem that miserable, nor to have acted in any poor or nefarious manner.

    Since Finkel’s reaction has been short, measured, and classy (as far as I know) I think my initial reaction was close enough.

    As for the shit-storm of comments/reactions the article has inspired, (again, I was reading via Jezebel) a lot of them seemed to just be saying “Wow, this was a really jerky post” but I don’t doubt at all that there were people engaged in the actions you’ve decried herein, Sady.

    Honestly, in the grand scheme of things this feels like much-ado about nothing. People are jerks and write jerky things all the time. The fact that it involved into such a whirlwind makes it worthy of comment, I guess, but certainly there are bigger issues everyone could be worried about right now.

    Thursday, September 1, 2011 at 11:16 am | Permalink
  56. Michael B wrote:

    Wow! So many posts so quickly! As a response to your side note; yeah, meeting women through Magic simply isn’t going to happen. The general shittiness of nerd culture pretty much guarantees that any girl you /do/ find at a tourney is either going to already have a boyfriend outside of Magic or (more sad in my eyes) is there because her boyfriend is.

    All of the nerdy women I know/are friends with/have been involved with, and I know many, I have met through non-gaming related things (college, other nerd things, etc.) even the ones who do play Magic. Tourneys just aren’t the sort of place to pick people up! XD

    Thursday, September 1, 2011 at 11:22 am | Permalink
  57. nktw wrote:

    “Tourneys just aren’t the sort of place to pick people up! XD”

    They’re also not the place to pick people up if you’re a decent human being because women at tourneys/cons/etc. get a ton of that sort of thing, usually done poorly and clumsily – and that’s not what they’re there for.

    I’m with Lina (#18) – wondering about the geek-hate. I don’t think geeks are ‘oppressed’ by any means, but geeks are no more a monolith than anyone else. There’s discussion of these issues out there. If you’re not interested in engaging geeks in conversation about these issues, that’s totally your right and I support you in it. But I don’t get why you’d post about geeks when you’re not interested in talking to them.

    It’s your blog, you can do whatever you want, so I’m not telling you what to post. I just find it curious.

    Thursday, September 1, 2011 at 11:48 am | Permalink
  58. Amanda wrote:

    Interesting analysis as always, Sady.

    I have super mixed feelings about this. As a lifelong nerd (and former dabbler in Magic: The Gathering), I take offense to Bereznak’s characterization of Finkel as somehow sinister (“he infiltrated his way into OKCupid dates,” “Mothers, warn your daughters!”) rather than just not to her personal taste in men and/or activities.

    On the other hand, of course she has the right to find Magic: The Gathering unattractive in a potential romantic partner, and she shouldn’t feel forced to justify her preferences. We all have dealbreakers when it comes to dating.

    On the other-other hand, given that she works for Gizmodo and knows that her readership is full of nerds, shouldn’t she have anticipated that she’d be insulting a bunch of people? Even those who don’t engage in that particular brand of geekery are likely to sympathize with a fellow geek who is under attack just for being geeky. Using his real name was a particularly bad move.

    On the fourth hand, a lot of the responses to Bereznak’s piece have been WAY out of line. There’s been some serious misogynistic man-rage unleashed in her direction, and that is absolutely not OK. I’m always dismayed when the sexist side of nerd culture rears its head. Fellow nerds, cut it out! You’re making us look bad! Thankfully it seems like Finkel himself has not been participating in that. I read a little of his IAMA on Reddit, and he sounds like a decent sort of fellow.

    In summation: I’m conflicted. Am I allowed to be conflicted on the Internet?

    Thursday, September 1, 2011 at 11:49 am | Permalink
  59. Lilivati wrote:

    I’m not defending the misogyny and sexism evident in the comments, because there is no call for that. Nor am I going to argue that nerds are an “oppressed group” on the order of other groups.

    But when I’m at work and people are talking about their weekends, about how they rerouted the cable in their house or won a softball game or other “acceptable” uses of free time, when asked about MY weekend, I do not say “Oh, I picked out some new miniatures to paint and then spent most of Sunday playing Pathfinder online with my friends.”

    Why not? Because -this- is what happens when you do. Your hobbies are not acceptable, so the “normal people” around you do their best to shame and humiliate you into more acceptable behavior.

    She certainly has a right to date or not date a person for any reasons (or lack of reasons) she deems relevant. She certainly has the right to not find Magic or other hobbies not only unappealing, but strange. This isn’t about her autonomy. This is about a geek culture that has really had enough of ANYONE, male or female, who doesn’t identify with their hobbies pointing a big bullying finger, tossing their head with laughter, and screaming, “What a DORK!” And let’s be honest, neither they nor she is using dork, nerd, etc. in a reclaimed sense.

    I’m a dork. I’m ok with that. I’m much less ok with other people using that attribute of my identity (or of any geek’s identity) as a way to shame and silence them.

    There’s a difference in acknowledging that your chosen life doesn’t mesh with someone else’s chosen life, even finding humor in how badly they match, and taking the opportunity to assert the superiority of your “normal” life and judge and condemn theirs.

    Thursday, September 1, 2011 at 11:51 am | Permalink
  60. Michael B wrote:

    @NKTW “They’re also not the place to pick people up if you’re a decent human being because women at tourneys/cons/etc. get a ton of that sort of thing, usually done poorly and clumsily – and that’s not what they’re there for.”

    Exactly. That’s what I was referring to with my vague “general shittiness of nerd culture” statement; women at large geek events find themselves to be particular objects of fascination, because many geeks just have no grasp on what is appropriate or not when it comes to social interactions with strangers. (It might be more fair to say people in general don’t, but some stereotypes exist for a reason. I used to be a bashful little nerdling myself.) And if you’re there to play in the event, the last thing you want is to be distracted by some jerk making shitty comments to you.

    (Actually, this happened to the girlfriend of a friend of mine fairly recently; her opponent said when she sat down for their match “Someone’s playing here. You can’t sit there.” before going on to be a prick because his opponent turned out to be a girl.)

    Thursday, September 1, 2011 at 12:13 pm | Permalink
  61. samanthab wrote:

    @Hope @ 43, have I missed something here? Are you really comparing mental illness to a chosen hobby? And then using the word “crazy” after just insisting how powerfully affected you were by s.e. smith’s recent post on mental illness? I’ve never played Magic, and I really don’t have the slightest idea what’s involved in doing so, but I feel confident that it’s nothing like hiding under the covers while thinking suicidal thoughts for two and a half hours every goddamned night, like I’ve just spent the past three months doing until my meds could be re-adjusted. Here’s the thing: I don’t make a lot of great friends while crying under the covers; I don’t win any fucking crying under the covers tournaments; and I can’t quit being suicidally depressive in favor of playing poker. There are some pretty significant distinctions here.

    Thursday, September 1, 2011 at 12:14 pm | Permalink
  62. Nobody wrote:

    Bereznak is entitled to whatever dealbreakers she wants, as is everyone else. If playing M:TG (or liking Hootie and the Blowfish or wearing plaid socks) makes a guy undatable in her mind then, by all means, don’t date him.

    By going on a high traffic website and mocking the guy using his real name, instead of just declining further dates, she violated the “don’t be an asshole” rule.

    Extra asshole points for implying that a whole group of people are undatable troglodytes because they like things she doesn’t.

    The whole “look at me! I’m one of the cool kids, not one of those smelly geeks!” thing is not only juvenile, it’s a strange stance to take in 2011, years after so many previously exclusively geeky things have entered the mainstream.

    Thursday, September 1, 2011 at 12:21 pm | Permalink
  63. Sady wrote:

    @Michael, NKTW: Makes sense! I guess I wouldn’t be automatically turned off by someone starting a conversation and eventually flirting with me at a shared-hobby-based event, if I were single and if they did it in a non-sleazy, non-aggro, non-”you are obviously here to pick up a MAAAAAN” sort of way. (And if, unlike the lady in Elevatorgate, I had not just given a speech about how I did not want to be flirted with at the event.) That seems to me like a fairly organic, non-problematic way to meet compatible people, provided it’s done with respect on all sides. But if it isn’t, well, I get that it’s unwelcome and invasive.

    Thursday, September 1, 2011 at 1:00 pm | Permalink
  64. Torpedo wrote:

    There are women who play magic, I am one, but yeah not so much at higher levels (there’s probably a similar process going on to women in maths and science in HE.) Maybe there are less in the USA than the UK. But I’ve always found that unless events are dominated by teenagers, then women to tend to attend (albeit in much smaller numbers than men.)

    I’ve never experienced being hit on at a magic playing event, and I’m sure it does happen, but really it just seems like the sort of thing that would be distracting.

    Besides everyone knows the true way to a nerd lady’s heart is to be unaware of how (genuinely) funny/smart/awesome you are over the course of a D&D campaign until she gives in and asks you out already.

    Thursday, September 1, 2011 at 1:19 pm | Permalink
  65. Emmitt wrote:

    Is there a word that can properly describe this situation? Kerfluffle? Yeah I like that one. God what a mess this has been. Like I had the same criticisms of the article as you did, Sady, but the nerd-rage has pushed me into the corner where now I can’t help but feel sympathetic for Bereznak.

    Fuck nerds, man.

    Thursday, September 1, 2011 at 4:31 pm | Permalink
  66. Freddie wrote:

    I share a distaste that a lot of people have voiced for her having named the guy.

    Beyond that, I can’t shake the feeling that a lot of people are mad at this writer for being honest about some of the sad facts of human life. It’s terrible to be lonely, and when you like someone who doesn’t like you back, it feels really shitty. It’s tough. But it isn’t the fault of this blogger.

    Thursday, September 1, 2011 at 5:25 pm | Permalink
  67. Dan K wrote:

    I think most of this boils down to “Woman was an asshole to a nerdy man, ends up on the receiving end of (largely sexist) nerd rage, but not from said man.”
    The disagreement in the comments seems to be how mad we should be at the woman being an asshole vs all the sexist assholes.
    I think Sady picked apart the sexist and/or geek rage well enough. I would say Miss Bereznak’s article could have been picked apart more, but that obviously has been done enough in other places in mainly inappropriate ways. That, and Finkel seems to have actually benefited from this anyway.
    So…TL;DR: Totally a dick move, but nowhere near as bad as the rampant sexism in response.

    Thursday, September 1, 2011 at 7:30 pm | Permalink
  68. Jenn wrote:

    @Michelle Yes and no. I broke up with him because he LIED to me about POKEMON. He didn’t represent himself as the super nerd I now know him to be, when I was nothing but honest and upfront about my likes and dislikes, even though he’d often make fun of me for being such a book worm (this was not a healthy relationship, and I was very insecure).

    The Pokemon thing was the last straw though. Putting a card/video game over me and my generous invitation to my father’s house, making me look like a stupid girl who dates assholes in front of my family, and then LYING about it was terrible. It was also terrible because I couldn’t wrap my head around the amount of importance he placed on Pokemon. I’d never go into a relationship without being totally upfront with someone that I read, a lot. I work in a bookstore. I read and write book reviews. I’m the quintessential snooty hipster literati, and I don’t represent myself as anything else.

    Was it the “haha, you’re a dork for liking Pokemon” thing? Yes, it was. I play my fair share of dorky video games. I read nerdy books, and my favorite television show for years was Stargate and it’s several spin-offs. But it’s never been the thing that encompasses my life, that defines my career and social life. And if it was, I know I’d be at the margins of “normalcy,” and freely disclose as such to prospective paramours. Because I deserve to date people that don’t look down on my hobbies, and other people deserve to date people that are not deliberately hiding parts of themselves in order to “get some action” before they know them.

    I thought I knew my boyfriend. That he represented himself as a fairly middle of the road physics major but spent his weekends playing a card game with 10 year-olds and never thought to say as much to me in the months we dated felt extremely dishonest. Like he was lying to me in order to get something out of me. There’s not a lot that I would put in front of a promise I made to someone. And it certainly wouldn’t be something as silly as Pokemon.

    When something is the center of your life — career or social wise — don’t lie about it or hide it. What a waste. And I reserve the right to not fuck people that think it’s cool to spend many hours competing against pre-teens. I reserve the right to say that some so-called “immature” hobbies really kill any potential buzz in my naughty bits.

    Look, if I had known he was that into Pokemon. He probably would never have been my boyfriend. He probably would have never even been my friend. And while I would have had my opinions on that hobby, if I came across him in the various get-togethers my friends held, I still would have treated him decently. Perhaps a bit reservedly, because we really don’t have a lot in common.

    I have no idea where this silly assumption (maybe you don’t have it, but it’s pretty much universal in our culture) that a woman is supposed to accept any man even if his hobbies are a total turn-off. I don’t understand why it is at all controversial to say that it’s fine not to be friends or date people you’re not compatible with, whose interests you find a bit puzzling or repulsive.

    Thursday, September 1, 2011 at 7:46 pm | Permalink
  69. Amy wrote:

    I’m a little uncomfortable with the direction the comments have taken on this article. Before I address why, I’d like to disclaim that I’m not singling out any one person. This is more about how sexism can function independently within a group of educated people. There are very few single comments here that I disagree with. BUT. There have been vastly more words exhausted on whether or not Ms. Bereznek’s article is mean/bad/elitist than on the truly horrible misogyny directed at her. And the latter was the point of the article.
    It was kind of the point of Sady’s last post too. About how women who say “no,” without any qualifiers or excuses, get a lot of dangerous backlash. Here we have a woman doing just that in a truly spectacular way. And there has been backlash. I didn’t expect to see backlash here, but it’s been here too. Not in any one comment, but in people expressing the same thoughts I originally had: “The misogyny is bad and no one deserves that, but she’s kind of an asshole.” And then proceeding to spend a lot more words on why she’s an asshole than on the misogynistic comments thrown her way. And there’s not a single comment that’s wrong! But all the comments read in a row, it kind of seems like we’re debating whether or not she’s one of the protected – someone we should defend. And sexism doesn’t work that way. The misogyny (and the douche-bags who are doing it) should be the focus. Why is it more important to us (if word-count is to be believed) whether she’s in the wrong? Why aren’t we discussing the link that says “Alyssa Bereznek just reminded us that women can be sexual predators online too”? I get really uncomfortable with the idea that her assholishness is worth more of our time than that link. I think it’s because many of you, like me, got really defensive about her attitude towards geeks. Which is cool, and very understandable. But as a previous commenter said, there are two issues here. And Sady’s article is addressing a larger issue than whether Bereznek is a tool about geeks. Can we discuss that? Because feminism doesn’t stipulate that only the nice girls are defended. It’s that misogyny has no place, anywhere.

    Thursday, September 1, 2011 at 8:43 pm | Permalink
  70. Amy wrote:

    I apologize for the wall-o-text, tl:dr there!

    Thursday, September 1, 2011 at 8:48 pm | Permalink
  71. Xenu01 wrote:

    @Amy: Thank you! Yes yes and yes!

    @Jenn: You do not need to explain why you were justified in dumping him! You could have dumped him because it was Tuesday and that would be ok and no one has the right to make you justify that decision! Which is a large part of what Amy said right above me, and what Sady was saying in the first place, IMO.

    Thursday, September 1, 2011 at 11:24 pm | Permalink
  72. Saurs wrote:

    Amy: Totally. The end result of the pure and complete liberation of women from gender- and sex-based oppressions? Will still never mean individual women can’t be assholes. (I don’t even particularly object to Bereznak’s post, anyway. A dude could pen many a tome on the subject of NoFattiezPlz and nary an eyelid would tremble, such is the tacit assumption that men have standards and straight women ought not to.) It’s a terribly exciting prospect, accepting that women can do shitty things and it’s STILL not acceptable to be a sexist shit at her. What will the poor folk do once their arsenal of gender-based insults is rendered obsolete? I suggest throwing poo and bellowing; it amply suits the mindset.

    Friday, September 2, 2011 at 12:08 am | Permalink
  73. Daniel wrote:

    Is there a word or acronym for “more than one person is doing wrong, and none of them deserve a free pass”?

    Because that’s what I really think.

    The idiots who think it’s fun or okay to call Bereznak filthy names or demand people sleep with them are wrong. Bereznak saying her tastes are privileged and others’ demand public apology is wrong. Gizmodo posting this kind of troll-bait and encouraging people’s worst behavior is wrong.

    I don’t want *any* of these bad actions to get a free pass.

    I feel trapped, conversationally, because if I complain about all three things I make things seem messy and not worth acting against. But if I complain about just one thing I give any listener a free pass to forgive the bad action because “well, hey, the others involved were wrong too.”

    How do you complain effectively and convincingly about a situation when more than one person did wrong, and you don’t want the misbehavior of one to become the excuse of the other?

    Friday, September 2, 2011 at 12:09 am | Permalink
  74. Sady wrote:

    it kind of seems like we’re debating whether or not she’s one of the protected – someone we should defend. And sexism doesn’t work that way. The misogyny (and the douche-bags who are doing it) should be the focus.

    Yes. Amy’s comment is the best comment. I’m really uncomfortable with the number of people here who are looking at “being kind of snobby about social interests” vs. “being openly misogynist,” and deciding that Problem A is more serious than Problem B. And it’s disappointing to me that so many women are willing to participate in that. Just above, I’ve got a (probably going to get deleted) comment that actually talks about nerds as a “minority” and says that her post is actually equivalent to a misogynist statement. And that’s just bullshit. I care a hell of a lot more about an institutional, structural oppression that’s gone on for thousands of years and resulted in the denial of human rights to half the planet than I do about people being snobby to each other sometimes. I don’t love snobbiness, either, but that doesn’t mean I have to pretend it’s even close to being a structural oppression, and deserves the same weight or importance in conversations.

    Friday, September 2, 2011 at 12:37 am | Permalink
  75. Nanasha wrote:

    I read the article. I thought it was kind of ridiculous, but then I turned it around in my head and looked at it from the point of view as though it was written about a woman by a man.

    Immediately, two things came to mind.

    First of all, I think that blogs like this would have reacted similarly. If a man was talking about a woman being frumpy, fat and ugly (as pieces of this sort are wont to do), people would simply say “So? Then don’t date her!”

    And so too, must I throw my hat in with those who basically said that she was writing a piece of ranty troll-bait about how she shouldn’t have to deal with those Undesirables and they should just Get Out Of The Way, but not before she can wipe her shoe on their coat sleeve and laugh at them in public.

    Of course, if a man had written this, everyone would be going “Oh, that’s SO true!” and “Oh those American bitches will never learn-they’re going to be fat and alone forever while we date hot women overseas!” and so on and so forth. Unfortunately, the Internet appears to be clogged with articles of this sort, almost all of which are written by men and all of which are accepted as general truth by the readers at large.

    I think that what we should take away from this is the following:

    1) Her feelings of incompatibility were totally justified (and logical).

    2) Her reaction to write a humiliating op-ed piece directed at a specific person who probably is generally decent other than having a non-mainstream hobby was a poor choice.

    3) Any and all “backlash” against her article further shows the disparity in treatment between men and women, seeing as men write “a list of women who should not exist according to my entitled ass” articles every day without nearly the amount of vitrol or backlash.

    4) Let’s at least give some of the blame to the website that gave the “green light” to this piece. For all we know, she was asked to write the piece and ham it up intentionally to get more hits on the site. I wouldn’t be surprised if this were partially the case. After all, pissing people off works way better to get people talking than talking about puppies and rainbows and iPhone apps that do your homework for you (case in point).

    Friday, September 2, 2011 at 3:45 am | Permalink
  76. Jeremy wrote:

    I was going to say something about how we are can (and should!) fight both misogyny and anti-geek elitist assholishness, but Amy really hit the nail right on the head.

    “Feminism doesn’t stipulate that only the nice girls are defended. It’s that misogyny has no place, anywhere.” Now THERE’S an idea that’s worthy of a full post and extensive discussion here, especially since it’s clear that a lot of us even within the feminist community are talking and acting as if our allegiances lie first in geekdom and only secondarily with the liberation of women.

    That reminded me of a long article Neil Gaiman wrote that I am way too lazy to find about how most of the time spent defending free speech is spent defending shitty speech like gross porn and stuff because that’s the part that is going to be facing the most sincere and severe attacks against free speech, precisely because it’s the free speech that people can attack while still having good intentions. He argued that ultimately that’s what we need to do is defend the indefensible because if those attacks penetrate there they WILL be taken advantage of by moral guardians and end up being debilitating to other people with more legitimate things to say. I feel like the same principle applies here: a lot of our time is probably going to be spent defending shameless douchebags like Ms. Bereznek here against misogyny because those are the girls who are going to face the brunt of the strongest and subtlest movements of sexism even within liberal communities. Those are the girls who are going to be attacked to set up the system of kyriarchical oppresion.

    It goes back to the whole blaming the victim thing. “Sure, the girl got raped, but she was a bad girl. She was a slut. She was asking for it.” This ends up being the same as “sure, Alyssa Bereznek was flamed by nerds, but she was a BITCH. She was rude and a shameless troll. She was asking for it.”

    I feel like more needs to be said about this, especially because I can admit to the fact that I myself was tempted to side with the nerds on this one. It’s clear to geeks and feminists alike that Ms. Bereznek was a douche here, so when I read Katy Pool’s comment and the ones that followed in support of the same sentiment, I found myself going “yes! This is what I’m saying.” This is how sexism subverts non-sexist people and even the oppressed can contribute to the system of oppression. I feel like the scene from Ghostbusters 2 with the mood slime: “STOP! IT’S TURNING US AGAINST EACH OTHER!”

    Thank you SO sooo much Amy, for getting us back on the right track.

    Friday, September 2, 2011 at 7:56 am | Permalink
  77. kiturak wrote:

    You know, my problem with Bereznak’s piece isn’t The World Champion Of Awesome. You guys, he’s gonna be ok.

    My problem is that there are people in my life who know about my being [feminist/ bi/ poly/ genderqueer/ mentally disabled] – and to whom I stillwouldn’t tell What I Did During The Weekend.
    Especially if I spend too much time(tm) on said embarrassing activity. Which I do as a means of escaping all that shit for just a little while, and doing something fun.
    The problem is that this is what happens when I tell, as Lilivati said. I won’t even small-talk to people about my harmless fun-times. Because I don’t need yet another way of being called a freak.

    What Bereznak broadcasted was the general contempt that makes my life as a marginalized person just this little bit harder. It hurts people. You don’t have to compare this to the Big, Real marginalizations, you don’t even have to go looking for class intersections. And this isn’t a Us against Them-situation. This is societal contempt hurting both privileged and marginalized people.
    And it’s way beside the point implying we’re Bad Feminists for pointing this out while still condemning the sexist reactions.
    (And the victim blaming-parallel is deeply flawed, but this is getting tl;dr anyway.)

    Know what I’m gonna be doing? I’m going hiking in the mountains. It costs a fortune I don’t really have. I’ve been telling this to everyone. The responses reach from envy to grudging admiration to “I’m glad for you-empathy”. Nice change.

    Friday, September 2, 2011 at 9:25 am | Permalink
  78. Aerik wrote:

    The only thing wrong at all about what Bereznak did was the part where she said Jon ‘tricked’ his way into dating her and a coworker. Her argument sounded exactly like that of men who say transsexuals are ‘tricking’ men into sleeping with them.

    When you think about it, her reaction is exactly like that of other nerd-culture bigshots who need to look down on others when they disagree. The men raging about her are angry b/c she’s acting like *them*.

    Friday, September 2, 2011 at 9:45 am | Permalink
  79. Emily wrote:

    One time I went home from college to see the guy I’d started dating right before I left for college. He picked me up from the train, and then he had me wait in the car while he spent his last ten bucks on Magic: The Gathering cards, and then he asked if I could spot him some grocery money. Then I dated him for six more months.

    Good for her.

    Friday, September 2, 2011 at 11:01 am | Permalink
  80. Lizi wrote:

    I have to agree with Kathy Pool on this one. I also read the article and I found it offensive.

    I can understand that she doesn’t want to date this person due to personal preferences. There is nothing wrong with that.

    But that is not how she describes it. She turns an innocent passion around and treats it as a dirty thing, a hidious contagious disease that should be avoided at all cost. Something that people should’ve been warned about in advance. This way she puts it on the same level as a criminal history. He is not a child molester, he didn’t do anything wrong. In fact, he sounded rather nice.

    Yes, I may be personally invested. Some of my friends are nerds. And I like them a lot. They are gentle, smart and they put time and energy in their hobbies and passions and they do it with care and dedicaion. So, yes, I find it offensive when she describes them as the lowest of the low.
    This could be a friend of mine. A nice guy, trying to find a new friend online, only to get publicly ridiculed about something he is good at, passionate about and proud of. Things like that hurt.

    That being said, I also found the comments disturbing. I had a hard time finding comments that contained an adult respons without attacking her personally and calling her names.

    Friday, September 2, 2011 at 12:16 pm | Permalink
  81. alula_auburn wrote:

    @Amy, thank you for saying that.

    Friday, September 2, 2011 at 12:16 pm | Permalink
  82. Jeremy wrote:

    Kiturak has a good point. There’s a whole culture of shame thing going on here as well.

    Which I guess is a counterargument to Sady’s note that “nerds are not oppressed.” It’s not that nerds are oppressed but more that people have this contempt for any sort of hobby or calling they consider outside the norm for their subculture. I’d imagine that would be really hurtful in other situations (interracial dating comes to mind) as well as nerd ones.

    Friday, September 2, 2011 at 12:26 pm | Permalink
  83. Sady wrote:

    @Daniel: Actually? From what I can see, there’s a power dynamic that nobody is willing to talk about. Which is that nerds, on the Internet, are not bullied. They are the bullies. Maybe you just don’t want to talk to me about this, this week. Or maybe there’s the fact that the subculture is known for being aggressive, abusive, and misogynist, and that if you dare to think you’re allowed to have an opinion about it, you will receive (as I have done) the following comments:

    * Bitch
    * Cunt
    * Psychotic
    * Retard
    * Shrill
    * Hysterical
    * will you be wearing a swastika armband
    * Big Brother
    * make me a sandwich
    * get back in the kitchen
    * rape the shit out of you
    * since you called me a nerd, I’m going to call you brickface-skanknasty-rape-envy
    * sexist!

    All of these are drawn from our personal queue, which currently has about 300 deleted comments in it, of which I am guessing roughly 100 are along these lines. And Alyssa Bereznak is getting “bitch,” “cunt,” “douchebag” (in these very comments!), “asshole” (in these comments, again!), “narcissist,” “sexual predator,” “soulless harpie,” and all of what I’ve listed. Probably worse, probably in her in-box, and it’s probably going on for quite some time.

    And girls will either handwave this away, or participate in it, even when they call themselves “feminists” and would be shocked or outraged if it happened to one of their own. All of this makes it really, really hard for me to buy the idea of the poor, helpless widdle nerd, or to give a shit when people tell me they have a problem with this post because I haven’t called her names. Because the root problem here is that we have to call her names, we have to not like her, we have to participate in her abuse.

    Because nerds are so fucking marginalized. Right. Nerds are just people — people who belong to a subculture that is, in my experience, almost more misogynist than just straight-up football-bro subculture, which at least has a doofy taking-it-for-granted quality to its sexism, rather than an overt, aggressive hatred for women and girly things — and when they find themselves in positions of power, they abuse and bully just like everyone else. It’s just particularly irritating and hypocritical because they do it while insisting that they’re the ones being “picked on” or “bullied.” So I don’t really care to call Alyssa Bereznak out, because guess what? When I see someone being abused and targeted for misogyny, I don’t need to talk about which parts of it she deserves.

    [ED: And, within the next 15 minutes, there was another comment calling the girl an "asshole." Let's be clear on this -- from this point forward, a comment calling Alyssa Bereznak names will be deleted. If you can't write the comment without calling her the name, you're bullying, not talking, and we don't need to extend you sympathy or attention. OK?]

    Friday, September 2, 2011 at 12:40 pm | Permalink
  84. Aerik wrote:

    >So I don’t really care to call Alyssa Bereznak out, because guess what? When I see someone being abused and targeted for misogyny, I don’t need to talk about which parts of it she deserves.

    And that nails it. Bereznak’s punishment in no way reflects the severity of her crime. She could’ve been extremely kind about not being interested in somebody that focused on Magic: the Gathering, and the reaction would’ve changed very little.

    Friday, September 2, 2011 at 12:57 pm | Permalink
  85. Sanoe wrote:

    I liked your article and agree that there’s a strong sentiment in popular culture for women to ‘settle’ and ignore their own desires. There’s also the idea that a woman should see herself as property to sell to the highest bidder, which also ignores her desires.

    However, hope you consider editing this part of the article:
    “What you CANNOT do, however, is participate in a subculture, build a lifestyle around the subculture, become WORLD CHAMPION of the subculture, and then scream bloody murder because someone finds your participation in the subculture unattractive.”

    Cause, you know, Jon has done no such thing. I mean, he went out on a date with a woman twice who then turned around and wrote about how much a dweeb he was because he likes Magic: the Gathering, but I haven’t heard one thing from him to suggest that he thinks she’s obliged like him. It’s been regular commenters on the original piece who’ve been attacking Alyssa.

    Friday, September 2, 2011 at 1:00 pm | Permalink
  86. martini wrote:

    As a geek, I think a lot of the geek-backlash against this article is way personalizing an issue that’s not about us at all. A lot of the responses to the article are either furious or devastated that this one woman doesn’t love our pursuits, and no matter how marginalized you feel because of your geekitude, that seems ridiculous to me.

    Heck, I’d strongly support someone writing an article about how they’re pissed that someone just said that “I play WoW” when really they’re the class lead of a competitive, server-first guild. I’d also support someone who would say they’d never date someone who was in a leadership position in a WoW guild, because of the time commitment or it sucks or whatever, and anyways who is so stupid as to get roped into that? ;) (Current guild lead speaking)

    Friday, September 2, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Permalink
  87. FS wrote:

    My personal favorite is when you are a “manipulator” or otherwise awful bitch for simply not wanting to date someone, but just be their friend. Or even…gasp…go on a date or two with a mutual friend you’ve both known forever! That’s when you’re really terrible. I’ve realized guys don’t ditch each other for the girl because they push the girl out, turn on her, and then bitch about her behind her back. /endrant. Sorry.

    Friday, September 2, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Permalink
  88. Sady wrote:

    @Jeremy: It would be hurtful in interracial dating because it would be racist. (I mean, not, like “racist against white people,” because that does not actually exist — but I am sort of assuming you’re talking about the lovely phenomenon of white people thinking sex with people of color is taboo or scary, or that they “just don’t think [portion of the world's population] are attractive.”) It would be hurtful in a situation where the dates come from different subcultures because they come from different subcultures. I mean, do we really have to lay this out?



    And that is the difference between chosen identity and oppression. You don’t have to join a different subculture, and maybe you shouldn’t, but for fuck’s sake. Denying your own agency altogether is a bit disingenuous here.

    Friday, September 2, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Permalink
  89. Knightgee wrote:

    >”Actually? From what I can see, there’s a power dynamic that nobody is willing to talk about. ”

    Er, where are you looking? Because there are plenty of geeky women, people of color, LGBT people, and other marginalized people belonging to geek communities who do frequently call out the whitewashed cissexual heteronormative able-bodied nature of the face of the popular geek community and how hostile it can be to anyone that does not fit into the above, despite their being plenty of people that don’t and how they have to navigate and deal with that. The only people who don’t realize this are:

    -people outside geek culture who let media stereotypes do the thinking for them
    -the people in geek culture who are represented by the above privilege-having face and are thus shielded from it.

    Friday, September 2, 2011 at 1:44 pm | Permalink
  90. Sady wrote:

    @Knightgee: I’m currently looking at my own comment section, where there are a bunch of women and self-identified feminists handwaving away obvious, blatant misogyny, and not addressing the fact that self-identified “nerds” are actually the ones behaving as bullies in this situation. That is, when I’m not looking at the other part of my comment section, where people are telling me how much I deserve a good raping for being such a bitchcunt to poor, helpless nerds. I’m not exactly “letting media stereotypes do my thinking for me” if I’m talking about something that’s currently happening to me, am I?

    Friday, September 2, 2011 at 1:49 pm | Permalink
  91. Knightgee wrote:

    That comment about media stereotyping was not actually directed towards you and was in fact a comment on the fact that the media limits the public perception of “geek” to ‘glasses wearing straight white males and token straight female”, thus completely erasing anyone else in those communities and making it that much harder for them to identify as geeks comfortably in and outside of those communities. My fault for not realizing you were talking about the comment section specifically and not generally.

    Friday, September 2, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Permalink
  92. Sady wrote:

    @Knightgee: Thanks! And sorry for snapping. The comments have been a bit hard to handle this week, and I think it’s best if I stop engaging before I really lose my temper.

    Friday, September 2, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Permalink
  93. Neal Hebert wrote:

    @Knightglee, I’m really glad you’ve brought up the fact that nerd culture isn’t monolithically white/male/heterosexual. Although I am all three of these things, I guess I’ve been finding it kind of weird to read this blog for the past week and not see more pushback against that characterization of things. While the culture is/seems predominately white/male/heterosexual, I think that’s a function of privilege and economics more than an essential trait of liking geeky things – like you, I know a lot of queer geeks, women geeks, non-white geeks, etc., and have been trying to figure out a way to bring that up without it seeming like I’m mansplaining.

    While I don’t think that issue is more important than calling out justifiable instances of nerd culture being sexist, I am really glad to see someone trying to give visibility to the people in the culture who neither fit the stereotype nor have visibility within the culture to people outside the community.

    Although this isn’t, perhaps, germane to this post, I suspect Sady and other commenters here would like to know that – particularly in fantasy roleplaying games like Dungeons and Dragons (I’ve worked as a freelance editor and writer in the industry for extra cash while in graduate school) – there are feminists (both women and men like myself) who work in the industry and attempt to push back at the kinds of misogyny many commenters here have found both pervasive and off-putting. But just like in society as a whole, the gains are gradual and frequently operate beneath the radar of people outside the subculture in question. They are also inadequate, in my view, but I also think that’s true of all attempts to push back at oppressive social structures in the world at large.

    This isn’t a pitch convincing any of you to like my toys by any means, just a personal message letting the people here know that some of the people making the toys you don’t like are doing their (thus-far inadequate) best to make better toys. It doesn’t change the fact that there’s still a lot of work to be done, and maybe that there will always be a lot of work to be done. But I hope it makes people feel better to know that these sorts of complaints have been heard, and y’all are not just pissing in the wind.

    Friday, September 2, 2011 at 2:44 pm | Permalink
  94. Steve wrote:

    I think that the point about the responses that the author received is a very valid one. No matter what the article content she posted the replies like ‘bitch’ ‘cunt’ and other derisive terms are problematic. The use of those words suggests a link between her ‘negative’ actions and her sex which in turn dehumanizes her and says more or less ‘Well of course you are a horrible person, you are female, and therefore not worth being respected and judged as an individual for your actions’. It is a huge problem that anyone would think that the way in which they should chastise someone for actions they disagree with is to disrespect a significant portion of the population based on a trait completely unrelated to the issue at hand.

    The points on being able to not date anyone for any reason are well received. I hold to that same thinking. As a nerd myself I have walked away from girls who I knew simply could not connect with me on my pop-culture choices and tastes in film, television, and books. For me that matters, and I don’t have time to try to kindle an interest for you, nor do I want to try to be into their more ‘mainstream’ (read: boring to me) interests. Again, you hit the nail on the head that no one should be villainized for not wanting to date anyone for any reason. You obstensively only marry one person. It should be the right one, not just the not entirely repellent one.

    But I have a couple of points of contention. (Certainly minor next to the larger issue of people thinking name calling is appropriate).

    There are a lot of aspects of my life. And it would take more than a dozen dating profile pages to start to encapsulate it. This is the case for most people. There are potentially dozens of things about any person that could be deal breakers to someone else. But my dating profile is meant to be there as an attractant to find someone else to connect to. Not as an obstacle course where ‘if these don’t scare you off, then you can talk to me’. When you meet someone at a bar or a social event and you start to hit it off do you pause to say “Hold on, I have a list of 17 things about me that you might not like, let me run down them with you”? He didn’t lie in his profile, he simply did not include in bright flashy colors one of his facets. That is what going out on dates is for, to find out things about each other. And I know I have some unattractive traits, so I try to keep them on the down low, because that is how dating works. You put your best foot forward, not your whole self with arrows pointing to your potential flaws. I think equal responsibility is shared in this situation. The writer did not include in her profile “Not into the nerd culture thing and Magic the Gathering is a turnoff”. If she had maybe out World Champ would have not gone out with her on a date either. Instead he had to find out that by talking to her.

    Alyssa’s article however does make me rather dislike her. She calls the guy a liar and suggests that he is sinisterly tricking people into going on dates. Like he should have an obligation to say “I play Magic the Gathering” in the same way that a registered sex offender needs to introduce himself to all of his neighbors when he moves into town. And the reason she feels no responsibility for posting about him in such a negative light is because he went after two women who worked for Gawker, therefore he should expect that there will be posts about it. As if to say ‘Hey, don’t treat me like a person, treat me like my job title, because I am not going to look at you as a person but as a blog post in the making’.

    Friday, September 2, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Permalink
  95. nktw wrote:

    I think that self-identified geeks have a difficult time avoiding defensiveness in these situations because of some of the things that have already been discussed: people find your hobby weird and offputting, some people will ostracize you for it, and there’s usually a certain amount of school trauma in one’s background.

    However. The “geek community” (which I can’t believe exists as a larger group; there are communities of geeks, but not so much a larger whole) needs to admit to ‘outsiders’ what we admit amongst ourselves – that the culture and many of the subcultures within it are extremely sexist, racist, ableist, body-policing, cissexual, heteronormative and a whole bunch of other things I likely forgot – and, more importantly – that *those voices are the loudest and most numerous voices of the communities*. That’s why Sady is snapping over the comments at this point, and that’s why the disagreement against the piece in Gizmodo was immediately mysogynist and awful. Not just because we live in a world that condones that, but because the culture is actually MORE regressive than general society.

    Examples that don’t involve Bereznak: Miles Morales can’t be Spiderman, he’s not white!!!; White Wolf wants female fans to be Vampire models, but no one over size six, cause no fat chicks; OMG they cast a black dude in Thor!!!; female warrior drawings that have armor that would protect nothing but boobs; etc, etc.

    People who don’t fit into the mold of what geeks are – or people that are just women, to be honest – are trying to make changes, as stated above. But I have to admit that I have despaired of any change in these subcultures, and see some that may die out entirely due to their insistence on erasing or rejecting anyone who isn’t a white male geek. (Or who isn’t a hot straight girl, because hey! Fresh meat for the dating pool!)

    So – yeah, I didn’t agree with what happened with the piece that we’re all talking about, and I haven’t agreed with everything that’s been said here, but in reading the last few comments, it’s become pretty clear. We cannot tell Sady she’s wrong about the culture, because she’s not. It’s likely worse than she thinks.

    But we can say, as many have, that we’re working on it, and we’re working on being louder. I just fear that it’s a lost cause sometimes. Despite any bullying that geeks faced as kids or in school, many of them have a lot of privilege, and trying to show them that makes me feel like banging my head against the nearest cement wall.

    Friday, September 2, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Permalink
  96. nktw wrote:

    Sorry for TL;DR! And thanks for the discussion and for hosting it, Sady – though undoubtedly frustrating, I feel there’s some good happening here.

    Friday, September 2, 2011 at 4:00 pm | Permalink
  97. Sady wrote:

    @NKTW: Thanks! This was very insightful. I’ll add that, when someone perceives an attitude as based in entitlement and poor understanding of boundaries, it doesn’t help when repeated statements that say “these are my boundaries” are ignored or yelled at because you are ENTITLED to CROSS THEM. For what it’s worth: I was bullied so hard in school that I actually had to be pulled out and home-schooled, because people were concerned for my safety and thought that the environment was likely to cause long-term psychological and educational damage. It took me a long time to catch up to my peers, social-skills-wise, once I entered college. I’m still not great at things like lying, picking up subtle hints, or hinting subtly — not spending time around people I didn’t know well and trust completely meant that I didn’t have to do these things for a very long time — and I’m still very introverted; being around strangers and crowds still makes me somewhat uncomfortable and exhausts me very quickly. I empathize with feeling weird. And I have a life where I can draw boundaries around how much social engagement I have, and with whom, because that’s important to me. But I also know that social skills can be learned (unless you are disabled in a way that literally prevents you from learning them — which I think is true for some people? But I don’t know, I am not Doctor Disability over here, the point is if your brain doesn’t work in a certain way, that doesn’t make you a bad person) and stopping when someone says “stop,” or recognizing when you are in someone else’s space rather than your own, are the first and most important skills to learn.

    Friday, September 2, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Permalink
  98. Jenn wrote:


    “Which is that nerds, on the Internet, are not bullied. They are the bullies.”

    A million times this. When I broke up with Pokemon Master, I was immediately outed as a frigid fat bitch on Facebook by half of our mutual friends. My unwillingness to sleep with him was suspect, as was my close friendships with other heterosexual dudes and the freshmen I tutored to have enough money to live on. I was the villain, he was the victim, because I was involved in somewhat “socially acceptable” geekery, and his nerdiness was both more intense and less mainstream. Then, he commenced a year-long effort, sometimes using the internet, to stalk and harass me, aided and abetted by a good number of my so-called friends.

    You know what? I get that dorks and geeks and nerds get shoved into trashcans in elementary and middle school by jocks. I get it. I was ruthlessly bullied too until the day I started high school. But those geeks and nerds grow up, and they run the internet. Chances are, they’ll never see those jocks again, because they work, live, play, and socialize in entirely different circles. So if someone tells me that they’re being oppressed for being a nerd and they’re over the age of 18, I call bullshit. Because except for very rare occasions, I doubt it.

    What doesn’t stop when you get out of the cesspit of public school is sexism. And racism, homophobia, and slut-shaming. Fat-hatred, Christian supremacy, and other things that don’t end with you upside down in a trashcan or face-down in a toilet. They end with you harassed or out of work. They end up with you assaulted, alienated, and disenfranchised. They sometimes wind up with you fearing for your life, or dead.

    So my thoughts on the original article are totally immaterial. I know intimately what it’s like to be on a date with someone who misrepresented themselves. It’s creepy. If you don’t have a handy feminist toolbox, it might be tempting to try to justify that feeling by denigrating someone’s hobby, rather than their creepy actions. I also know what it’s like to be made fun of, ruthlessly bullied, because I was involved in unacceptable nerdom.

    But then I grew up. The impulse to hide the extent of my nerdiness faded. Why? Because there were more dire things to worry about. Whether or not the man walking behind me at night was a rapist. Whether or not the guy I dated, who stalked me when we broke up, was going to show up at a party, and use being drunk as an excuse to try to put his hands down my pants or up my shirt. Why the male professors wanted to sponsor and write better recommendations for peers who weren’t as ambitious, smart, or talented as me, but were male.

    So I grew up. I learned to worry about better things, things that could get me killed, things that made my paycheck smaller than a male coworker, things that I had to think about every single day because I was female and this is a hostile, sexist, rape apologetic world. You know what I think about people who think that Stargate is stupid, that reading really long hard books just because you can makes you a nerd? I could honestly give a flying fuck. Call me a nerd, and I smile. Call me a bitch, a cunt, a whore, and well, those things mean something. Nerd might have meant pain in my past, but cunt means pain in the past, now, and basically for the rest of my life.

    Equivocating the two really has to stop. Condemning certain facets of geekery is probably indicative of being a bit of jerk. Stalking, harassing, giving death threats, and using violently sexist language, those things are indicative of something far far worse.

    Friday, September 2, 2011 at 4:47 pm | Permalink
  99. nktw wrote:

    @Sady: First off, that sucks. I had my own issues, mostly just social – I didn’t want to go to school, but in the end, I was one of those people who was like ‘okay, I’m weird? I’ll be weird ALL THE WAY’. But I’m very much an extrovert, so that likely has a lot to do with it.

    Anyway, yes. 1000 X. Respecting boundaries and learning to stop when someone says ‘stop’ are things that are DESPERATELY needed in geek cultures. There’s a lot of boundary-crossing in person as well as online, and it can be really upsetting and dangerous – and it’s not taken terribly seriously. And I’m not Doctor Disability either, but there’s a been lot of weirdness around Asperger’s and other forms of autism and whether the diagnosis can apply to geeks or not – so I think some geeks (often men) have identified (or appropriated the identity) as that, and therefor have an ‘excuse’ for bad behaviour. As far as I know from my EXTREMELY limited knowledge, most people with these issues act as you do and modify social engagements accordingly, rather than expect the whole world to accept their crappy behaviour because they’re entitled to it.

    Sadly, some don’t even need the excuse. The largest gaming convention STILL doesn’t have a sexual harrassment policy, but they can remind people to wash and use deodorant in the program. Between BO and being subjected to assholes taking upskirt photos, I’ll take the BO, thanks.

    Friday, September 2, 2011 at 4:54 pm | Permalink
  100. nktw wrote:

    Er, largest gaming convention in North America. Doh.

    Friday, September 2, 2011 at 4:55 pm | Permalink
  101. maddiet wrote:


    Absolutely. I get being a nerd too, I get feeling alienated, made to feel less-than, because of my nerdy interests. I’ve been there. But what we are talking about here is sexism. IT DOES NOT MATTER if Bereznak was mean/unfair in her original article; what matters is that the response to her was so disproportionately nasty and sexist, and why. *That* is what we’re talking about here. Nerds get a lot of shit from mainstream culture, for sure, and a lot of unfair judgment in their personal lives, I have no doubt about that. But to call it oppression or marginalization, or to compare it to other systemic oppressions, or to bring up Bereznak and others’ prejudices against nerds over and over in a conversation about sexism as if it actually weakened or rebutted or even mildly disagreed with Sady’s original point is both irrelevant and downright offensive, in my book. It’s great that not all nerds are bullies, and I love that there are many in the nerd community working to dismantle the sexism present in many “nerdy” forms of media and fandoms. I’m pretty sure Sady is aware of both of these things. So can we talk about the sexism now? Because the point here is that we live in a culture that constantly discourages and punishes women for establishing and firmly maintaining their own boundaries and expectations when it comes to dating and romance. Me or Sady or any other woman being called a bitch and threatened with violence or harmed simply for saying no (which happens A LOT) is a lot worse than being rejected/made fun of or being a nerd. It’s not a conflict or a competition. For once, can there please just be a discussion about sexism that doesn’t get derailed by people talking about less important details of the context/situation?

    Friday, September 2, 2011 at 5:29 pm | Permalink
  102. Hope wrote:

    @SamanthaB. Oh gosh, that was an inadvertently poor choice of words. I’m sorry. What I meant to say with that line is “I am not enamored of/infatuated with the sexism of geek culture, but….” Sigh. Unexamined privilege, coming back to bite me.

    Friday, September 2, 2011 at 5:43 pm | Permalink
  103. Pidgey wrote:

    “Which is that nerds, on the Internet, are not bullied. They are the bullies.”

    Yessss, this is so annoying. It is as if they are punishing women because they think women deserve to be punished for avoiding them. But then they wonder why more women don’t show up. And nerds are often so defensive and will portray themselves as the “real victims” if you point out their bad behavior. As if having the “audacity” to say how their actions make you feel is a reason to harass and punish you.

    I used to think that nerds were better than others regarding gender issues, since I assumed they are more educated and know what it is like to be outcasts. But I became disillusioned after the Penny-Arcade “Dickwolf” debacle, where two of the most influential nerds in the world became bitter and defensive when a feminist blog published a post that said “Hey, I don’t like your rape joke.” They felt so victimized someone would feel uncomfortable about their rape joke that they decided to manufacture and sell T-shirts featuring the dickwolf from the strip containing the joke. This way they their fans could buy and wear it in a show of support for making women feel uncomfortable and unsafe!

    So yes, there is a heavy amount of misogyny in nerdy and geeky subcultures. I think female, trans and non-white nerds are marginalized much more in most nerdy subcultures than they are in mainstream media. So I cannot blame women for being cautious and skeptical of any guy they date who enjoys nerdy things.

    Friday, September 2, 2011 at 5:54 pm | Permalink
  104. Hope wrote:

    @Sady–I think this idea deserves its own post, honestly, separate from this individual situation–because the ‘nerd’ problem is much clearer for me reading your comments below than I’d originally grasped. I don’t know quite how to express my initial reservations about the original Bereznak piece except that she reminded me of a ‘Mean Girl,’–that I instinctively identified more readily with Jon Finkel than her says something about how effectively ‘geek’ has come to stand-in for marginalized, shunned, underdog, etc. Not that I’m booster of his game, or that subculture, but that perhaps there’s a social power dynamic at play–many women automatically read the piece as an attack on a person they could identify with in some fashion, or have a fear of being similarly treated or something, despite all the very, very,very, valid problems you’ve highlighted with misogyny in geek culture. That’s difficult to untangle but important, so I hope you won’t stop engaging with the issue.

    RE: “And girls will either handwave this away, or participate in it, even when they call themselves “feminists” and would be shocked or outraged if it happened to one of their own. All of this makes it really, really hard for me to buy the idea of the poor, helpless widdle nerd, or to give a shit when people tell me they have a problem with this post because I haven’t called her names. Because the root problem here is that we have to call her names, we have to not like her, we have to participate in her abuse.

    Because nerds are so fucking marginalized. Right. Nerds are just people — people who belong to a subculture that is, in my experience, almost more misogynist than just straight-up football-bro subculture, which at least has a doofy taking-it-for-granted quality to its sexism, rather than an overt, aggressive hatred for women and girly things — and when they find themselves in positions of power, they abuse and bully just like everyone else. It’s just particularly irritating and hypocritical because they do it while insisting that they’re the ones being “picked on” or “bullied.” So I don’t really care to call Alyssa Bereznak out, because guess what? When I see someone being abused and targeted for misogyny, I don’t need to talk about which parts of it she deserves.”

    [ED: And, within the next 15 minutes, there was another comment calling the girl an "asshole." Let's be clear on this -- from this point forward, a comment calling Alyssa Bereznak names will be deleted. If you can't write the comment without calling her the name, you're bullying, not talking, and we don't need to extend you sympathy or attention. OK?]

    Friday, September 2, 2011 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    Friday, September 2, 2011 at 6:42 pm | Permalink
  105. Xenu01 wrote:

    The best thing about being a lady nerd? Oh, it’s cool to like Game of Thrones, and the boyz love it that I did my sixth grade book report on Dune, complete with salt-dough sculpture of Paul riding a sandworm!! But the minute I say I ALSO like to read Kelley Armstrong, sometimes, and wouldn’t it be nice if there were more diverse characters in urban fantasy, blank. Bored. Let’s talk about something else. So yeah.

    Friday, September 2, 2011 at 7:19 pm | Permalink
  106. Rebecca wrote:

    Pidgey – I think a lot of us assume that nerds, or quiet shy boys, or just traditionally not masculine guys are better than others regarding gender issues. It’s the whole ‘wimpster’ thing – because they are not masculine, they must be nice and would never hurt us. I’ve had to learn the hard way that’s not true, as the woman you end up doing the heavy lifting and attending to their tender feelings too much.

    Friday, September 2, 2011 at 7:40 pm | Permalink
  107. Sanoe wrote:

    “So if someone tells me that they’re being oppressed for being a nerd and they’re over the age of 18, I call bullshit. Because except for very rare occasions, I doubt it.”

    As a geek/nerd/whatever, I think you’re talking out your ass. I’m constantly looked down on for being a grown woman who wears superhero t-shirts, carries around a bag of d10s, and plays Warhammer 40k. Non-nerds treat me like I’m a joke and nerds (who are often dudes) treat me like a species of exotic animal.

    Numerous times, when I’ve gone out with a woman and told them that my hobbies include LARPing and that I DM a weekly game of Dungeons and Dragons, they’ve immediately made the DO NOT WANT expression. I still remember the time I finished a weekly game, headed to a friend’s dinner party, and the woman across the table from me referred to RPers as pathetic basement dwellers.

    No, that’s not rare at all.

    Friday, September 2, 2011 at 8:01 pm | Permalink
  108. XtinaS wrote:

    I have no idea what I’d said ages ago; my comments never came out of moderation. However, it’s entirely likely I called Alyssa a jerk. What would’ve been more appropriate would’ve been to say her behaviour was jerky. My bad.

    Friday, September 2, 2011 at 8:27 pm | Permalink
  109. Kiri wrote:

    I really like how this thread has developed. Not really sure how to respond yet, though. Thinking.

    Friday, September 2, 2011 at 8:39 pm | Permalink
  110. Justin wrote:

    I want to find a way to defend the people who commented on Alyssa’s blog, only because I understand the initial feeling. It’s natural, I think, to want to attack when you feel threatened. But when the people commenting started saying things like “you should never procreate” and calling her “bitch”, it crosses a line. The problem could be that people commenting on internet forums (that’s me!) aren’t, mostly, very social, and this lack of social conditioning leads to a lack of social control, even when commenting on the internet. So these peeps that took that initial fight reaction over-reacted, and they kind of started snowballing. But maybe I don’t have the right perspective and am giving these posters too much credit and they really are just jerks.

    It would be amazing if the internet had a repetition blocker, so that once somebody says one thing, it’s not allowed to be constantly repeated just so people can feel included, especially something hurtful.

    Friday, September 2, 2011 at 10:07 pm | Permalink
  111. Stacy wrote:

    @Sanoe, et al:
    But the point of this post is not that people are mean to gamers. I’m sure they are, and that’s awful. We’re talking about how women literally are not allowed to say “No” without provoking a shitstorm of rape threats. Without being called a cunt on the internet for the rest of our lives. The point is that whether you’re a good girl or not, this world simply will not accept a No.

    Friday, September 2, 2011 at 10:47 pm | Permalink
  112. Adam wrote:



    That doesn’t sound like something you’d say.

    Friday, September 2, 2011 at 11:23 pm | Permalink
  113. Adam wrote:

    Apologies for possibly sharing a thought already shared – I read most of what I think were the highlights of this thread but I couldn’t get through all of them. I’d like to ask (without sarcasm):

    Is it possible to first acknowledge and condemn the more serious offense (violent misogyny displayed by commenters and responses to the article) and at the same time acknowledge that the public shaming of any subculture or positing them as Undesirables is also wrong, but is in no way deserving of the aforementioned hateful responses? Is there a way to condemn the latter of these two without appearing to justify the former?

    Friday, September 2, 2011 at 11:46 pm | Permalink
  114. Sady wrote:

    @Adam: It might be harsh, and you don’t have to change your subculture if you don’t want to. But I find it really offensive that people are comparing “nerd,” as an identity, to “trans,” “disabled,” “person of color,” “female,” or “discriminated-against religion.”

    There have been no genocides targeting people who like Dungeons & Dragons. Liking comic books does not mean you are at a vastly higher statistical risk of domestic violence or rape. Playing video games will not result in your being legally disallowed to marry your partner, and nobody has suggested a constitutional amendment restricting the rights of people who read fantasy paperbacks. Nobody has ever murdered a sexual partner and subsequently given, as the legal defense for said murder, “I found out that he liked Doctor Who.” America is not built on a history of enslaving people because they attended Comic-Con.

    I could go on here, but you get the point. Social snottiness is all over; there are jokes about nerds, there are jokes about hipsters (and whole blogs based around goofy pictures or mean blog posts about hipsters), there are jokes about frat-boys and bros and Dave Matthews fans, there are jokes about Goths and metal doodz and everyone else. People judge each other on grounds of taste. That’s life. But — crucially — these are jokes based on choices. Nobody chooses to have a marginalized, oppressed identity. And the historical consequences of having a marginalized, oppressed identity are far more serious than belonging to a subculture that people make jokes about.

    Friday, September 2, 2011 at 11:49 pm | Permalink
  115. Sanoe wrote:

    “@Sanoe, et al:
    But the point of this post is not that people are mean to gamers. I’m sure they are, and that’s awful. We’re talking about how women literally are not allowed to say “No” without provoking a shitstorm of rape threats. Without being called a cunt on the internet for the rest of our lives. The point is that whether you’re a good girl or not, this world simply will not accept a No.”

    Right, I agree with that. A person can date or not date whomever they desire. The majority of the backlash to Bereznak’s piece is that she’s a woman who didn’t find a guy attractive and dared to say that she wasn’t interested in him. Alternatively, men are allowed to go on at length about how a woman is undesirable/not worthy of his time because of her looks, personality, interests, lifestyle, etc.

    I recall an episode of one of a reality TV show where a group of women lined up and men tossed eggs on the back of the one they found most unattractive. There an attitude that only men get to define desirability or express that a man or woman is unsuitable.

    That said, if someone suggests my personal experiences are bullshit, I think it’s fair to respond to that. There’s nothing incompatible with the notion that geek culture is sexist and nerds can be bullies online, and the notion that being a nerdy adult means that other adults sometimes mock or belittle you.

    Saturday, September 3, 2011 at 12:44 am | Permalink
  116. Adam wrote:

    Agreed; there is no comparison and I probably missed those comments when I was skimming earlier. I certainly wasn’t comparing “nerd” (it’s a really broad term anyway, when you think about the wealth of things in the universe there are to be nerdy about) to any of the groups you mentioned.

    I suppose I am just averse to social snottiness as it does cause many people emotional distress (although, as you mentioned, not to have rights taken away or be murdered) and was just wondering if we can’t condemn both of these hurtful acts, while recognizing that one problem is really just social and the other is social, much more institutionalized, AND entrenched in our legal system to disadvantage people.

    Saturday, September 3, 2011 at 12:59 am | Permalink
  117. Mike wrote:

    I wonder if it’s easier to switch to discussing the content of Bereznak’s post than the horrible responses because we don’t have to see those responses. I know I personally didn’t bother with the comments on Gawker, because I knew they’d be the usual awful, hateful Internet slime you always see… and here, it was so easy to read through all the comments because that stuff is just… invisible.

    Because I don’t see the work Sady is putting in moderating, and I don’t have to read the stuff she’s reading.

    I almost feel like even though I went and read the original article, I didn’t read it properly. I didn’t go to the comments. I didn’t force myself to actually look at what was being said, and actually engaged with it the way I would if someone IRL had said. Since people are saying it, and I guess dismissing it as “just Internet bs, whatevs” minimizes what it feels like to actually be targeted by that shit.

    Maybe it’s just easier to take issue with a single person than the horde…

    It’s like the moderation hurts the point, because we get to talk inside a bubble. But without the bubble, there could be no discussion.

    Anyway. Thanks for the discussion, made me think.

    Saturday, September 3, 2011 at 4:28 am | Permalink
  118. samanthab wrote:

    Sanoe, your personal experiences are a lot narrower than you seem to think, however, and have left you ignorant to the experiences of others. You’re assuming that people don’t just plain get crap on the based of people’s superficial, malice-filled impressions. When I was younger I got crap for being too sexy; sorority members get crap for being stupid regardless of whether they are; I get constant crap for being too “girly” when it’s just what I fucking am and always have been. There are shitloads of people out there who prop themselves up by putting down others. That shit ain’t unique to your experiences, and it’s pretty ignorant and callous of you to assume otherwise.

    Saturday, September 3, 2011 at 10:54 am | Permalink
  119. Knightgee wrote:

    I certainly do remember all the nonsense nerdy people got. Heck, I even remember when everyone thought D&D players were satanic cultists looking to sacrifice babies or something because some news report said so. But I also remember it ending. The media moved on to another sensationalized target.High school ended. People stopped caring about that stuff beyond making some stupid joke and going about their business.

    But homophobia, sexism, racism, albeism, Christian Supremacy et al? I don’t ever remember a time when those things were out of style. When those things didn’t have effects on your life. I’m more worried that admitting I was an officer in my schools Rainbow Alliance will cost me a job than whether or not future employers ever find out I used to play D&D will.

    That’s not to say there aren’t uncalled for social stigmas and stereotypes or bullying that takes place. I would never undersell just how really damaging any type of bullying can be, but that’s the case with a lot of people, not just geeks.

    Everyone has to deal with pre-concieved notions. Being ridiculed is never any fun, especially in ways that remind you of all the crap you endured when you were younger. But it’s not the same as being oppressed.

    Saturday, September 3, 2011 at 7:11 pm | Permalink
  120. alula_auburn wrote:

    I went back and read my first comment, and I feel bad that I felt compelled to “soften” my remark even to a limited extent by saying the article was in “poor taste.”

    @Justin–maybe I’m just not aggressive (?) enough of a person to fully understand, but I really don’t get the idea that the need to go and yell “NOT ME!” is a totally natural and understandable response to anything critical about your subgroup, and I certainly don’t understand the argument (which you aren’t making, but definitely exists), that an initial emotional response like that makes it understandable to throw all principles of decency out the window. The idea that is obvious or “natural” to respond that way, and the implication that people writing critical things should either expect it or soft-pedal and bury themselves in disclaimers really bothers me. I hate to risk any more conflation of “nerd oppression” and real oppressions, but, well, I’m white, and straight, and grew up with wealthy parents, and still feel some affinity for my liberal Protestant (UCC) upbringing. But I do not feel the need to be “defensive” when people are critical of those categories of people; I do not demand a page of disclaimers to assure myself that they don’t mean me, and I certainly do not accept that casual or broad language on their part gives me or anyone the right to derail and shout their original point down.

    I’m not trying to imply you do or have done those things; just that the comment you made is part of the mindset that does permit that behavior, and I think the instinct you mentioned is definitely worthy of critique (which you are doing.)

    @SamanthaB, yes. I have definite nerdy/geeky interests, and any teasing I’ve gotten is minimally different from general conformity norms (and way less than I’ve gotten for being a feminist.) And I’ve gotten even worse behavior from some (mostly male) geeks for spending my free time writing general fiction and majoring in English (because words are stupid and meaningless compared to computers), and not “admitting” that SF/F is flatout superior to “boring” literary fiction.

    Saturday, September 3, 2011 at 7:54 pm | Permalink
  121. Alex Cranz wrote:

    I will never see the Frog Prince the same way again. And I just realized the recent adaptation deftly avoided this issue by having her prostitute her lips for a restaurant. CLEVER DISNEY.

    The backlash for that article has been kind of ridiculous. I loved the article and thought it was fun and she made sense. As a lady of a certain age I saw a LOT of geeky dudes in high school invest their time in Magic instead of ladies. I get where she’s coming from.

    But two questions. Why did the article appear on Gizmodo? The ties to the tech world seemed tenuous at best.

    And why did she feel the need to name the guy and include pictures? That just struck me as unethical.

    It seems like it would have found a much better home at Jezebel which has broader interests. If it had appeared there sans the guy’s name the feedback would have been DRASTICALLY different.

    Sunday, September 4, 2011 at 3:00 am | Permalink
  122. Zircon wrote:

    Re: “Join a different subculture”– Wouldn’t this be comparable to the examples you gave of dating people whose interests are incompatible with yours? If I leave my subculture and start going to football game nights instead of board game nights, I’m inserting myself into an entire social circle whose interests I don’t share. A big part of your point, in this post, is that we have a right to our preferences- specifically, our preferences regarding who we want to have relationships with. I think that’s as valid for friendships as it is for romantic attachments.

    As a queer female feminist nerd, I’ve felt both attacked and erased by some of the things you and others here have said about nerds, just as I felt insulted by Alyssa’s post. Nerds are not a monolith, but you’ve been writing about us as though the virulently misogynist subset attacking Alyssa- and you- is representative. It’s not. But the marginalization and stereotyping of nerds as pathetic predators dissuades more diverse folks from becoming part of nerd communities and also helps create a culture of angry nerd defensiveness. In that way, it’s part of the problem. I’m not the only feminist nerd who’s felt alienated by what looks like an anti-nerd streak on Tiger Beatdown recently, but I suspect most of us respond by getting sad and going away- something we’re often very familiar with- leaving you with commentary from the minority who get violently angry and attack instead.

    This is such a messy ramble. I have a lot of feelings around this. I want to be part of these conversations. I don’t feel welcome or accepted. I don’t know what to do about that.

    Sunday, September 4, 2011 at 3:05 am | Permalink
  123. Sady wrote:

    @Zircon: Actually, before Friday of this week, I had zero feelings about the subculture, other than finding a lot of the forms of entertainment/engagement weird, and not wanting to do them myself. But, I mean, how do you want me to pretend that I feel here? At what point am I allowed to factor in the teenage girl who’s written 10 posts on Tumblr, this week alone, about what a terrible person I am for not liking Doctor Who enough? The group of college students who accused me of hating rape victims and/or said they wanted to punch me because I didn’t like a Zach Snyder movie? The teenage girl who flipped out and accused us of “polluting” the Doctor Who hashtag by allowing criticism of Rory to surface on it? Alyssa Rosenberg’s need to write an indignant post every time I don’t like Harry Potter enough, or paraphrase her liberal dude friends like Spencer Ackerman without acknowledging that in her post? The commenters who compared “not finding nerds sexy” to the Holocaust? The misogynist trolls? The administrator of the Westeros forums who found the time to call feminism “pathetic” when she was not busy administrating her on-line text-based fantasy fanfic role-playing game? The guy who’s left 15 deleted comments about “reverse sexism,” all under the name “Samwise Gamgee?”

    I tried to be the bigger person here, and smile politely, and say “oh, that’s interesting” when someone brings up their fanfic in the comments, and be nice to the people who are actually in my life who have these interests, and all it got me was people screaming at me when I had an opinion of my own about it all. So: At what point, I am saying, does someone have the right to have negative feelings about a subculture based on interactions with the subculture? Or is the martyr complex so far gone that any criticism at all makes you a “Mean Girl,” no matter what levels of harassment, abuse, and just plain unpleasantness the subculture has inflicted on you?

    Like I said: People make jokes about hipsters, too. They adjust their scarves, pull up their skinny jeans, and go on with life. There’s a lot I dislike about that subculture, too, but at least those folks take it for granted that they’re awesome, and learn to blow off anyone who says they’re not. I admire that. I also admire that they can laugh at themselves. I wish to God online nerd-dom had a bit of this going on.

    Sunday, September 4, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Permalink
  124. Justin wrote:


    Now that you’ve mentioned it, it does kind of seem enabling doesn’t it? I’m not a very aggressive person either. When I said “It’s natural”, I’m kind of saying it from experience observing instead of empathy. There’s just so many baffling reasons people have gotten pissed at me before that I guess my attitude has shifted into the passive, “Whatver”. This “Whatever” attitude might be a problem too, but, it’s an attitude I think born of the exhaustion of irrationality. But I think I’m getting abstract and off-topic.

    Sunday, September 4, 2011 at 2:24 pm | Permalink
  125. tenar wrote:

    @Sady: As a feminist, I certainly don’t just accept anti-feminist jokes as my lot in life and refrain from complaining about them on the internet. Why should other subcultures reject mockery less?

    Also, it seems like a bunch of us here are queer feminist geeks who hate the misogynistic nerdrage mob as much as you do, and we prefer not being erased.

    Sunday, September 4, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Permalink
  126. Lynne wrote:

    I finally went and read the original article after seeing the first few comments here (still haven’t read all the comments but have skimmed and wow, getting interesting).

    Anyway, I read the post and I was amazed at how innocuous it seemed. Tongue-in-cheek, sometimes, and light. Making fun of her own reaction to Magic as much as to the guy’s obsession with Magic. That’s how it struck me, and if it had appeared in my daily newspaper, I think it would have been taken the way I took it. Maybe the setting contributed to the provocation?

    I, too, thought she could have left out the guy’s name, but apparently he has no problem with the article himself—he tweeted as much.

    There seems quite a vicious backlash against this woman and honestly, backlash is so much more often vicious against women than men.

    Off to read some more comments.

    Sunday, September 4, 2011 at 4:24 pm | Permalink
  127. Sady wrote:

    @tenar: Probably because feminists are concerned with gender equality, and anti-feminism is troubling because it rejects and polices gender equality.

    If you want to have socially undesirable hobbies, define yourself around them, enter a subculture that defines itself around social undesirability, whatever: Great. Fine. None of my business. If you have socially undesirable hobbies, define yourself around the socially undesirable hobbies, enter a subculture that defines itself around social undesirability, and are then SHOCKED about being seen as socially undesirable — which is something you made several conscious decisions about, probably with the full knowledge that these chosen traits were seen as socially undesirable in the first place — I have every right to find that a bit silly. I have a problem with people being mocked for things they can’t control — body type, gender, sexuality, race — not for things they’ve chosen. People want to tell me I spend too much time engaging with the feminism thing? Whoopdefuckingdoo, I don’t have to hang out with those people. Although I might want to. Because, at this point, I’m starting to think that they might be correct.

    If we can’t acknowledge that subcultures encourage standards of behavior and thinking, as well as standards of dress and taste, well: Sure. On those terms, we can’t say that online fandom encourages inferiority complexes and aggressive, abusive behavior, from women and men, misogynists and feminists alike. But I don’t accept those terms. It’s my experience that it does encourage those elements. That is based on history, and on the fact that even #MooreandMe has never inspired the level of personal attacks and derailing that not being in love with nerd subculture has done. We can talk about rape, disability, socialism, race, elections, whatever; nothing that any of us says will ever inspire more personal, abusive rage than the statement “I don’t like Harry Potter.” I’m currently dealing with the fact that our Internet is broken (and dealing with suspicions that this might have something to do with the fact that we got linked by some notoriously aggressive forums), having to spend the vast majority of my now very-limited work day engaging with and screening commenters as politely as I can manage, taking care of my emotional well-being as well as I can possibly manage given that I’m in an abusive situation that has sustained itself for over a week, and having my work life and personal life deeply compromised, because I said what?

    I said that when you criticize sci-fi and fantasy, fans tend to overreact in an abusive manner.

    I’m still waiting for the part where someone proves me wrong.

    So your erasure of my personal experience is really galling. I’ve tried to be a tolerant adult, here, and not get into any arguments with vulnerable people, and remind people that I am not saying they HAVE to change their subcultures, and I’ve tried to maintain that tone even when my primary experience of “fandom” happens when people are calling me “the worst person on the Internet” for not loving Rory. My patience has been severely tested, and I’ve fucked up by engaging while angry in the past. I own that. My tone is especially sharp because I’m angry now, and I wish I weren’t; I own that, too. But at this point, people keep insisting that I engage with them, and “anger” is the only mode I actually do have. I am no longer able to give people a pass for derailing or attacking because “they don’t know better” or “they’ve had hard lives,” because I no longer believe that empathy will be justified. And I’m really wondering where you think my personal rights, boundaries, and preferences become an acceptable topic for conversation on my own blog. I’m seeing a re-iteration, in these comments, of the exact same problem that I talked about in the original post. That women aren’t allowed to have preferences or opinions about subcultures that are popular on the Internet.

    And when I become your target, and you have a bigger problem with me not liking your subculture — after repeated negative, aggressive, abusive interactions, not initiated by me, not all from men, and some from self-defined “feminists” — than you do with that subculture’s habitual abuse of anyone and everyone who DARES to judge it, and you insist on “erasing” my own negative interactions, or justifying them, I have every right to roll my eyes when you talk about being “erased.” If I wanted to literally erase your comment, I’d have that option. Yet here you are. Talking. Talking about you, and about your personal feelings, and not about the sexism which is the topic of this post. As I’ve repeatedly requested that commenters refrain from doing.

    I’m unclear why I’m supposed to be warm and welcoming to everyone, no matter what, when the commenters here have trouble treating me with even basic respect.

    Sunday, September 4, 2011 at 4:43 pm | Permalink
  128. tenar wrote:

    Hey, Sady, I love your blog and you personally and I don’t mean to erase your experiences at all. You get a lot of flack from internet assholes for daring to say true things about media nerds love, and I really appreciate that you keep saying true things anyway. And you are also totes entitled to like or dislike who you want, and I would have run *screaming* from the amount of verbal abuse you take in the average week. Your anger is justified. I’m sorry I came across as part of the storm of criticism.

    I don’t see the fact that an identity was chosen as a valid basis for stigmatizing it, though. I do believe in *avoiding*- and not dating- people for having interests you think are dumb. I only believe in stigmatizing people for bad things they personally did or endorsed.

    But honestly I’m posting a second time because I felt bad adding to your stress. You rock, and whatever you need to do to deal with the hatedom is what you need to do.

    Sunday, September 4, 2011 at 6:14 pm | Permalink