On Geek Privilege

MovieBob

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On Geek Privilege

If I were to start a conversation about ?Geek Privilege? the first thing I?d probably want to address is my own growing discomfort with unironically claiming the privilege of using words like ?culture? or ?community? to draw some kind of parallel between the nerd/fandom pop-ephemera and actual marginalized groups.

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Nimcha

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Good piece! I always likeyour pragmatic look on some of these issues.

I also recognize this myself, as in that today's gay culture is indeed gay men culture. Especially in media, an incredible amount of tv shows and movies these days have (I don't wanna say 'token' but it wouldn't be far off) gay men doing gay stuff. Gay women are almost nonexistent and if they do exist they're only there to make out with the girl lead for ratings grabs in sweeps weeks. Or they get pregnant with their best guy friend. It's getting better, but still. Like you said, no 'community' is free of privilige.
 

JPArbiter

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Excellent Article Bob, though I was half expecting you to end with "With great power comes great responsibility." :p
 

Alterego-X

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Are people who like Star Trek or superheroes, being oppressed by today's society? No.

Are extremely introverted people with an obsessive degree of niche interests being oppressed by today's society? Well, their life definitely didn't become a cakewalk the moment geek chic came into fashion.

Is it as bad as oppression of homosexuals? From an outside perspective, no. But then again, if you are the kind of obsessive geek whose life entirely revolves around arranging My Little Pony episode in order of quality, or replicated Middle-Earth in Minecraft, while haven't gotten laid in the 25 years of your life so far, I can see why from YOUR PERSPECTIVE harrasment of nerdiness is a more visibe problem than harrasment of sexual identities.
 

MovieBob

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Really now? There's a huge percentage of Geeks that harass and oppress, and not just anecdotal accounts occurring from time to time, but we have a huge percentage of us doing this?

You know, being a part of the "community" or "culture" since I was 5 years old I can't help but feel that such sentiment, including that we can handle not oppressing. Especially with priding intellect and moral self righteousness, I would very much prefer, that we not rely on anecdotal accounts of individuals being like that, as though it is a damned majority of what the "Geek Community/Culture" and especially you not speaking as though that's what we seem to be doing.

Because it's damned wrong.
 

Tireseas_v1legacy

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Good piece.

Now I'm going to hunker down to watch those who miss the point of the piece cry with unironic rage that they are being targeted unfairly.
 

Izanagi009_v1legacy

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ultreos2 said:
Really now? There's a huge percentage of Geeks that harass and oppress, and not just anecdotal accounts occurring from time to time, but we have a huge percentage of us doing this?

You know, being a part of the "community" or "culture" since I was 5 years old I can't help but feel that such sentiment, including that we can handle not oppressing. Especially with priding intellect and moral self righteousness, I would very much prefer, that we not rely on anecdotal accounts of individuals being like that, as though it is a damned majority of what the "Geek Community/Culture" and especially you not speaking as though that's what we seem to be doing.

Because it's damned wrong.
It is problematic regardless of number and while he made an assumption that paints the majority of the community in a bad light, even a drop of poison can kill an elephant so even one bad person can spoil people's perception of the community.

OT. some background before I talk. I am an Autism spectrum asian in Carnegie mellon studying for materials and biomedical engineering double major. I am an anime fan that has been called a "weeb" (not without good reason at times) and also a man who loves transhumanisum and sci-fi (both soft and hard but i'v seen more soft)

I admit to being something similar to the type of person that Bob is talking about. I have always despited a good portions of sports calling them testosterone-fueled battle surrogates and considered it's proponents to be a meatheaded and ignorant of the world (wasn't helped by the fact that one of my school's football players and classmates was a crass man who seems to hold academics in contempt or disgust). While I do try to be respectful to women and others, I also have a disgust to those who hate science or do not care about poltics and the world: I find much of society to be dumb, ignorant, and apathetic.

I am getting a bit better and learning that most are just average people with average problems but I still have a predominant thought of "intelligence over all" . Perhaps it is for the best that we examine our status and behave as such.
 

Darth_Payn

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To be fair, I never once understood the phrase "check your privilege", neither the kind of people its intended for (speaker and target both). Also, Bob, the deplorable behavior you described is not done by true nerds and geeks. They're done by douchebags. WORLD of difference.
 

Eamar

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Darth_Payn said:
Also, Bob, the deplorable behavior you described is not done by true nerds and geeks. They're done by douchebags.
The two are not mutually exclusive. It's tempting to want to denounce the worst parts of a community/movement/whatever as "not true" members, but it's just not true all the time.

Believe me, I should know, I'm a feminist. I radically disagree with the minority who actually do have a problem with men and make the rest of us look bad, but no amount of me saying they're "not real feminists" will make that true.

There's an ugly side to pretty much every community.
 

MovieBob

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By that notion that a drop of poison can kill an elephant, and your point is fair, Murder still happens, what because we haven't stopped it outright, we must tolerate it?

The fact that Oppression and acceptance into the geek and nerd culture is actually a ridiculously uncommon thing does not mean we don't do anything about it.

Think about this for a second. I disagree with Bob's point of view, some may disagree with mine, we still accept that we are all part of this geek and nerd culture. We aren't saying "You aren't in my group!"

This is not a group that oppresses or tries to keep people turned off from the idea, it happens extremely rarely, and when it does happen, and I've seen it first hand at conventions so don't go telling me it doesn't, many of us will all but lynch an offender that we view as having done wrong. We in fact do the opposite of tolerating that kind of crap.

Saying because we haven't stopped it entirely must mean we tolerate it, may as well be damning us eternally. Because circumstances of such occurrence will always take place. We can't stop it entirely, and we won't always see it/won't always stand up when we see it because not all have that courage to do so.

But many of us do.

If we want to talk about poison killing an elephant we can apply that to all of humanity. Quit damning one group because it fits a particular political agenda, when said culture has worked hard to go out of their way to not tolerate that shit.

Look at Bob. Look at his reputation. Does he tolerate it? Has he made efforts to stop it? Or is it because it still happens, he is still tolerant of it because he is in that group.

Much like the Gay community in the opening part of his post. The problem is a problem, yes, but our problem is at a point where we can almost say there will always be a few bad eggs, and we can't stop them all. We have been doing things about this, not just recently, but for decades.

Like I said, if you want to say one bad person can paint the entire community red, your part of the problem. You can say that about all of humanity, and all we can do is what we can, when we can, when it happens. No more no less.

We haven't managed to stop murder since time began, that doesn't mean we as human being are all murderers or tolerant of it. Nor can we always stop it. But we make efforts when and where we can. Which is what this community already does, and acting like we need to improve, when he offered not even a mention of how we improve it suggests we are already at the point where we are doing a lot already.
 

mecegirl

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I can't remember the episode number or season now, but I remember the scene when Steve Urkel stopped being funny to me.

For reasons that I can't remember Steve and Laura had to spend the night together in a hotel with only one bed. Laura made a fuss about sleeping in the same bed as Steve and tried to get him to sleep in the bathtub. In the end Steve gave some speech about how he deserved respect and Laura decided that she'd sleep in the bathtub instead. Steve suggested that they share the bed but that Laura slept under the covers and that she slept over the covers.

It was at that point that I realized how beyond unrealistic the show was. Sure it was always over the top. No way the average father who is also a cop would let some kid burst into his home whenever he wanted without disciplinary action. But the motivations prescribed to Laura for not wanting Steve to share her bed boiled down to her thinking he's gross or whatever. When realistically she would have just been scared of sleeping in the same room with a guy who had been pestering her for years. No one would feel comfortable sharing that sort of space with someone who was obsessed with them.
 

castlewise

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ultreos2 said:
By that notion that a drop of poison can kill an elephant, and your point is fair, Murder still happens, what because we haven't stopped it outright, we must tolerate it?

The fact that Oppression and acceptance into the geek and nerd culture is actually a ridiculously uncommon thing does not mean we don't do anything about it.

Think about this for a second. I disagree with Bob's point of view, some may disagree with mine, we still accept that we are all part of this geek and nerd culture. We aren't saying "You aren't in my group!"

This is not a group that oppresses or tries to keep people turned off from the idea, it happens extremely rarely, and when it does happen, and I've seen it first hand at conventions so don't go telling me it doesn't, many of us will all but lynch an offender that we view as having done wrong. We in fact do the opposite of tolerating that kind of crap.

Saying because we haven't stopped it entirely must mean we tolerate it, may as well be damning us eternally. Because circumstances of such occurrence will always take place. We can't stop it entirely, and we won't always see it/won't always stand up when we see it because not all have that courage to do so.

But many of us do.

If we want to talk about poison killing an elephant we can apply that to all of humanity. Quit damning one group because it fits a particular political agenda, when said culture has worked hard to go out of their way to not tolerate that shit.

Look at Bob. Look at his reputation. Does he tolerate it? Has he made efforts to stop it? Or is it because it still happens, he is still tolerant of it because he is in that group.

Much like the Gay community in the opening part of his post. The problem is a problem, yes, but our problem is at a point where we can almost say there will always be a few bad eggs, and we can't stop them all. We have been doing things about this, not just recently, but for decades.

Like I said, if you want to say one bad person can paint the entire community red, your part of the problem. You can say that about all of humanity, and all we can do is what we can, when we can, when it happens. No more no less.

We haven't managed to stop murder since time began, that doesn't mean we as human being are all murderers or tolerant of it. Nor can we always stop it. But we make efforts when and where we can. Which is what this community already does, and acting like we need to improve, when he offered not even a mention of how we improve it suggests we are already at the point where we are doing a lot already.
I think there are more than a "few bad eggs" on something like XBox live, for example. There are certainly safe spaces in the gaming community. But it would be naive to think that there aren't any hostile ones either. I guess that's part of the "check your privilege" thing. You can, if you choose (and I do) only visit and post in places that are reasonably well behaved, but you should keep in mind that it skews your perspective.

Still, practical suggestions to make things better can be hard to come by. I can't say that I have any super good advice on the issue.
 

Vegosiux

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ultreos2 said:
We haven't managed to stop murder since time began, that doesn't mean we as human being are all murderers or tolerant of it. Nor can we always stop it. But we make efforts when and where we can. Which is what this community already does, and acting like we need to improve, when he offered not even a mention of how we improve it suggests we are already at the point where we are doing a lot already.
I'm with you on this one. Too much "all or nothing"; "with us or against us" rhetoric flying around. There's only one of me, I have a job, a life, and 24 hours in a day to do it all. I don't have the time to don the proverbial cape and go about righting wrongs like some kind of social vigilante >.> Nobody does. And people trying to guilt other people into agreeing with them just clips my begonias, and I've seen slightly too much of it around, Escapist included.

I don't know, too often this seems to be treated as if there's a "final solution"[footnote]No, not THAT one. Don't read into it that much, jeez.[/footnote] to this problem of online asshattery.

There is no final solution. There is no cracking the code. There will always be assholes. There will always be assholes. Acknowledging that fact and accepting it as a part of life is not the same as condoning asshole behavior, it is not the same as washing your hands on the whole thing and being defeatist about it. Accepting that there were, are, and always will be assholes does not mean you're just going to let them slide if you run into one, nor does it make you an asshole, nor does it make you support assholes.

I personally prefer not to focus as much on the asshole as I do on making those that are being harassed know that they're perfectly welcome, and ignore Tim, he's a jerk, want to go kill some orcs instead?
 

MovieBob

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Look, Bob. I was never bullied in high-school, I've always had friends and aside from moving into the world of 'adult friends' i.e. people you like to see but can only see occasionally because of work/relationships/home/obligations, I've never really felt that much of an outsider. In fact it's only in the last couple of years it's really really hit me there are people who DON'T share my admittedly middle class set of experiences.

I don't have that idea that i am some-how an outsider. I've always had like-minded people to talk to. These ideas of the "Shared Geek experience", "Persecution mindset" and "Nice guy culture" are pretty alien to me. To put it differently; nerds have always been accepted for a large sub-section of my generation. We didn't feel like nerds because it was never really brought up.

Maybe it's more of an extension of not having the same cultural touch-stones as the US does (or as horrible state school system). There is a very British tradition of eccentricity and the lording of the maverick that dates back to the Victorians. Maybe it's also a extension of the traditional class system where a good education and intelligence were seen as evidence of being of higher status or that technically minded people have been lauded as an extension of British greatness for decades.

Hell the 1980s saw a massive boom in the bedroom coder and cheap personal, programmable computers. Even at that time being 15 and coding a videogame was actually something pretty cool to do. British culture just isn't as afraid of intelligence as classic American culture was.
 

MovieBob

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First: the reason geek movies are getting more attention is because they started to pander to mainstream audiences (Star Trek's more flashy and less sciency Reboot's, Avengers big name pretty boy actors) not because geeks have suddenly "taken over" Hollywood. Star Trek/Wars actually started out as blockbuster entertainment, they were never even niche to begin with

Second: there is no such thing as geek "culture" or "community". Preferring certain niche entertainments makes me about as much part of a geek community as smoking cigars and doing lots of blow would make me a Wall Street businessman.
 

MovieBob

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The XBox community is a community of MILLIONS with probably a few thousand, and I am being generous here, major harassers. Yes it sucks because you're on voice chat, anonymity will do that kind of thing.

XBox has allowed you to report users now, taking steps, and I've sat in on a few of those things by the way, a ton of people were trying to tell the pervasive harassers off, but that doesn't matter right? Not good enough right? Because we haven't completely stopped it we are obviously complacent.

I in fact knew someone would bring up XBox, and you know what? We this culture don't tolerate it there either. We can't always stop it, but don't you go telling me we tolerate it.

All we can do is what we're doing. And condemning us because we aren't doing as much as your self righteous perceived idea of what we have to do to make it right in your eyes, is going to make me tell people like Bob exactly that.

We're doing what we can, quit telling me I need to do so damn much, when I can only be in so many places ay a time. If he's so certain he has a fix I'd love to hear his damn solutions and he can put it forward to the worst offending sectors of this community.

Until he does however this whole I condone it bull because I'm part of this community makes him a toxic aspect of this community just as much. He alienates his own community telling them they are as much the monster as the few bad eggs, and that crap needs to stop.
 

nightmare_gorilla

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I think the biggest problem here is also the biggest thing nerds have going for them right now and that is that nerd culture is becoming kind of mainstream. It's like this, I own a spider-man t-shirt I bought in maybe 8th or 9th grade, when I wore it back then someone actually said to me "what are you some kind of comic book fag?" among other things. then the movies came out now suddenly everybody loved the t-shirt and had some of their own. now i'm a grown up and I could give a shit about that kind of thing anymore but at the time I was really pissed off, I wasn't a huge spider-man fan but I read the comics and knew the character and now suddenly everyone was wearing one, I even had one person use it to start a conversation about how awesome toby McGuire is. Some of us still have that ugly duckling syndrome and just don't know how to NOT be part of a niche interest group. but yeah absolutely since they started making comic book... everything, movies, video games, novels, super bowl ads? I mean it's weird to watch something you got picked on for be ok to enjoy in public but that's a personal issue and we're going to have to get over that, my guess is it's going to take another generation, maybe two, before nerds just put everything behind us and grow up.

as far as the women thing goes, I think the golden rule should always apply. and the golden rule is don't be a douchebag. I mean there is what's ok and what's not ok, doesn't matter if your at a convention talking to a hired model or just screwing around with friends playing d$d. don't be a douchebag always applies. but the issue with women in gaming stems from a bigger issue in general of "hot chicks don't dance." there is a perception in America mostly that if a woman is too attractive she won't put forth any effort unless she absolutely has to. As men it's hard to shake that stereotype because if you've ever dated you've met probably more than a few women who fit that description. it's not unique to geek culture and hell pop culture puts it forward pretty strongly too, kim Kardashian, parris Hilton, megan fox, I mean it's littered with people who have no perceived value other than their supposed hotness. I personally think all three are ass ugly but that's me. regardless of the level of accuracy every guy has a story of being burned by some hot chick and sometimes they can't let go of that.


ultimately I suppose these are actually kind of good problems to have because it does mean nerd culture is merging with pop culture, there's some friction that is just inevitable and dealing with it now is better than dealing with it later. being the better man is all good in theory but I keep coming back to that scene in the worlds end where the chubby guy beats his high school bully up with a tree branch. "it's not worth it.", "YES IT [email protected]#!ING IS!!!!!!!" you can't expect everyone to be the bigger man.
 

NihilSinLulz

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Jasper van Heycop said:
First: the reason geek movies are getting more attention is because they started to pander to mainstream audiences (Star Trek's more flashy and less sciency Reboot's, Avengers big name pretty boy actors) not because geeks have suddenly "taken over" Hollywood. Star Trek/Wars actually started out as blockbuster entertainment, they were never even niche to begin with

Second: there is no such thing as geek "culture" or "community". Preferring certain niche entertainments makes me about as much part of a geek community as smoking cigars and doing lots of blow would make me a Wall Street businessman.
I wholeheartedly agree with you.

I can respect where Bob is coming from, wanting to eliminate douchbagary is a noble goal but the simple truth of the matter is that there never was a geek culture.

Sure, micro-cultures existed across many geographic areas but they were usually small only consisting of tens of individuals.

It isn't like Black culture in America where it can be traced to a a unifying event. Rather, geek culture is just a made up thing by marketing people.
 

Erttheking

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It's kind of why I never really bought the movement we had not too long ago about how people weren't REAL geeks unless they had had to suffer for their geekdom. I mean, for the love of God, get over yourself.