So I feel like I need to throw some fuel on the fire…

Nob Akimoto

Nob Akimoto

Nob Akimoto is a policy analyst and part-time dungeon master. When not talking endlessly about matters of public policy, he is a dungeon master on the NWN World of Avlis

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147 Responses

  1. Avatar RTod
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    There’s such a thing as Men’s Rights Activists?

    sigh…Report

    • Avatar Will Truman in reply to RTod
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      There are. And sometimes they actually have good points (particularly on issues of paternity). Good points often undermined by their tone and outsized rhetoric of course.Report

      • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Will Truman
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        Any good ideas they have are literally buried under the bad ones, and of course the outright, screaming, crazy.

        I’ve yet to meet anyone calling themselves a “Men’s Right’s Activist” who wasn’t eight shades of crazy or angry.

        At best they’re men going through a painful divorce and have turned their personal issues into a screaming crusade of victimization. At worst? They’re like the KKK, but instead of longing for a world run solely by whites, it’s about one run solely by men.

        I feel sorry for the angry ones, and nothing but contempt for the misogynists.Report

    • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to RTod
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      Dude, you need to wake up to your systemic repression by the… Man…Report

    • Avatar greginak in reply to RTod
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      you haven’t heard of MRA’s…oh dear dear. As Will said they do have some decent points but typically squash any good will or sense they may have in a storm of invective, way overheated rhetoric and, sadly, sometimes just clearly hating women.Report

      • Avatar Fnord in reply to greginak
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        Besides the “storm of invective, way overheated rhetoric and, sadly, sometimes just clearly hating women” hiding their good points, they’re also hiding their good points among plenty of bad points.

        Western culture could benefit from a movement focused on issues that disproportionately affect men. The so-called Men’s Rights Movement is not that movement.Report

        • Avatar greginak in reply to Fnord
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          I agree in general.Report

        • Avatar trumwill mobile in reply to Fnord
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          Their argument that “Men who are not fathers should not have to pay child support” would be made stronger by not also arguing “men who are fathers should not have to pay child support (to those floozies).”Report

          • Avatar zic in reply to trumwill mobile
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            Actually, YOU are that movement.

            Thank you.Report

          • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to trumwill mobile
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            Actually, I think that the sad irony is that the assumption that we should reconsider the fact that Women Should Always By Default Assume Child Support is, in fact, a feminist issue.

            The whole idea of a Men’s Right’s Activist Group seems inherently based on the desire to see sex and gender issues as Boys vs. Girls, which is not what feminism is.

            And I”m not even going to into the whole eye rolling about assumed “We’ve gone from having 95% of all Fortune 500 Execs to only 85% – who will stop this growing oppression?” dialogues.Report

            • Avatar trumwill mobile in reply to Tod Kelly
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              I don’t follow the first paragraph.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to trumwill mobile
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                That women should not always be assumed to be the ones to do child rearing – even in the case of divorced couples – *is* a feminist issue.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Tod Kelly
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                Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Some feminists yes, some feminists no.

                MRA’s often want to have it both ways. Which is to say, they don’t want to be the custodial parent, but they also think the custodial parent is getting too good a deal.

                This is sort of why the Fathers Rights Advocates kind of splintered off. They became interested in issues – such as actually getting custody and visitation rights – that disinterest a lot of MRAs (in my observation, MRAs tilt towards favoring abortion rights). The FRAs are also more sympathetic in general, and so have other reasons to distance themselves.

                Anyway, FRAs and feminists often butt heads, even though both ostensibly (to some degree) support modernizing gender roles.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Will Truman
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                I think this is what I was trying to say above. That they butt heads leads me to believe that it ends up being more about Boys vs. Girls than anything else.Report

              • Avatar Michelle in reply to Will Truman
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                The Father’s Rights Movement, when not consumed by its own self-righteousness, has done some good in bringing more balance into the family law arena. The presumption that the woman should get primary custody of the kids in a divorce is outmoded. There are plenty of fathers who are equally involved in child-rearing and relegating the to every-other weekend and dinner on Wednesdays plus a few weeks of vacation does a disservice to the kids. When the Father’s Rights folks have focused on issues like custody and visitation, rather than simply the unfairness of the whole child support system (even though there are some gross inequities there), they’ve been on pretty solid ground.

                I don’t associate the fathers’ rights guys with the bunch of whiny white guys, upset because they’re losing too much of their white male privilege, who comprise the MRA.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Michelle
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                To hear Martha Fineman tell the tale, one might conclude the Father’s Rights Movement is consumed with its own self-righteousness. Others might disagree. It is good of you to say some balance has been brought into the family law arena: there’s a dire shortage of it these days.

                Giving mothers custodial rights might be outmoded yet it remains the norm. While the likes of Martha Fineman continue to harangue us, saying the legal system continues to perpetuate male dominance while that legal system routinely takes the most important thing in a father’s life from him — by default — Martha Fineman’s little fun house mirror might not be the only viewpoint.Report

              • Avatar Michelle in reply to Michelle
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                It depends on where you are. My experience is in two states, California in Illinois. In California, the default custody arrangement is joint physical with child support determining by considering both parents’ income and the amount of time the kids spend with each parent. Pretty fair as these things go.

                In Illinois, primary custody generally went to the woman. My husband’s attorney told him not to bother trying to get primary custody even though, up until the divorce, he’d been the primary parent. Unless the woman was a raging drunk who beat the kid, he’d never win.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Michelle
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                Illinois I know. It’s why I stayed married. I’ve previously alluded to my go-round with Illinois DCFS. Not a pleasant experience, to put it as kindly as possible.Report

              • Avatar ktward in reply to Michelle
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                In Illinois, primary custody generally went to the woman. My husband’s attorney told him not to bother trying to get primary custody even though, up until the divorce, he’d been the primary parent. Unless the woman was a raging drunk who beat the kid, he’d never win.

                Interestingly, my experience was very different.
                In the mid-90s, I went though divorce in IL. DuPage Co. My attorney advised me that I was in no way guaranteed the residential custody I was seeking simply by virtue of being the mom. She explained that precedent surely favored my odds, but that Father’s Rights advocacy had built some serious inroads. Nevertheless, I was clearly the primary caregiver and on that basis, I shouldn’t worry too hard.

                My husband, otoh, started out with an attorney who billed herself as a Fathers Rights advocate. She gave him some very bad advice. Advice that seemed very obviously bad, and I wasn’t sure why he didn’t see it for the bad advice it clearly was. As we journeyed through our contentious divorce and he worked his way through a few more attorneys, it became obvious to me he simply wanted to hear only what he wanted to hear.

                Anyhoo, none of that mattered because, in DuPage County, all child custody disputes were immediately referred to mediation with a court-appointed family psychologist. Basically, the judge was going to rule on custody according to the mediator’s recommendations. Which is exactly what happened.

                I don’t remember a lot of what went on during my divorce. The final ink was stamped on it a very long 15 years ago. It’s kind of like the pain of birth– I know it hurt, a lot, but I can’t recall the actual pain of it. I do remember, in an academic sense, that the mediation process was emotionally harrowing– 10 interviews (and a battery of psychological tests) with us all, both individually and with one another. My kids were 5 and 8 at the time. In the end, the results were exactly what the rational part of me ever expected (though it was hardly my rational self driving me, at the time), and the Doc’s recos mirrored the custodial remedy I had petitioned for in the first place. I felt vindicated, but my ex felt victimized. I felt bad for him, but then again, back when I knew him intimately I’m not sure he ever felt anything but victimized.

                No matter. He loved his kids. And he never missed a visitation day. Not once. He’s done a few things that seriously disappointed his kids, especially as they’ve learned about stuff as adults, but he’s done way more things that make his kids love him. I didn’t divorce him because he was a shitty dad– heck, I stayed married to him as long as I did because he was a good and loving dad.Report

              • Avatar Reformed Republican in reply to Michelle
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                I am in Florida. My first wife was a wreck, so I got custody of our son. It was definitely for the best. I do not get child support. She sees him every other weekend.

                Her family had convinced her that she would end up with custody no matter what. The day we finally got to the hearing, I had an attorney, detailed notes of things that had happened during and after the wedding, and character witnesses. She had nothing and no one. When we left, my attorney described it as a bloodbath.Report

        • Avatar zic in reply to Fnord
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          Yeah, but but but they have pocket constitutions.Report

    • Avatar Michelle in reply to RTod
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      You write extensively about the rightwing-o-sphere and you’re surprised such groups of angry white guys exist?Report

    • Avatar James Vonder Haar in reply to RTod
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      The ironic thing is that, as far as I can tell, feminists are doing a much better job of safeguarding men’s rights than they are. All I hear from the MRAs are imagined slights and paranoia, and there’s the feminists, patiently explaining how a toxic culture of masculinity hurts both sexes, though it hurts women more.Report

  2. Avatar NewDealer
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    The comments prove Lewis’s Law as well.

    The internet still seems like the unrestrained ID of way too many people. Freud would have a field day with the Internet.Report

    • Avatar dhex in reply to NewDealer
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      he would, but most of his field day would be getting dodgy coke offa craigslist.Report

    • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to NewDealer
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      Freud said the Ego was merely the Id, shaped by the outside world. Time and a long career in consulting has taught me absolutely everyone lies to your face, especially when they have the power to get away with it. The Ego is a worthless guide to anyone.

      There are any number of nasty ethnic jokes along this line but there’s a sad thud of truth to them all:

      Q: How does [member of hated ethnic group] say Fuck You?
      A: Trust me.

      Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.Report

  3. Avatar KatherineMW
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    That’s an excellent article. It certainly does feel like the fewer women there are in a given industry or group, the more angrily and violently men in that group react to people pointing out sexism.Report

    • Avatar RTod in reply to KatherineMW
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      That’s an interesting observation, Katherine.

      And now I’m thinking… is that a thing? If we replace Men with Women, or Whites, is Straights, or Dog Lovers, does it always pencil out that way?Report

      • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to RTod
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        It seems to be true with regard to race – I remember one recent incident where a Democratic politician said something racially problematic and there was a backlash, the party said it was unacceptable almost right away, whereas when people point out racial issues with the Republican Party it’s almost invariable that a lot of the responses are denunciations of “political correctness”.

        I would guess that there are a few connected reasons:
        1) If women, or racial minorities, already have a reasonable level of prominence within a group, they’re in a better position to identify problems and call for changes.
        2) Due to 1, a fair portion of the criticism will be coming from inside the group, so it’s less likely to come across just as “outsiders attacking us”.
        3) If people are a member of your group, you’re more likely to see their criticisms as constructive rather than as attacks.

        In short, when a group includes (and is acknowledged to include – for example, there’s a fair number of female gamers, but a lot of the gaming community doesn’t see things that way) a decent proportion of women or racial minorities, bigotry, discrimination, etc. are likely to be seen as an attack on “us” and provoke a response. When a group doesn’t, then outsiders calling out instances of bigotry, discrimination etc. are likely to be seen as attacks instead.Report

        • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to KatherineMW
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          4) Double standard. Democrats are seen as allies and given the benefit of the doubt; Republicans are seen as enemies and interpreted less charitably. Consequently, the threshold for “racially problematic” is higher for Democrats—they’re only called out when they say something that leaves no room for interpretation.Report

          • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Brandon Berg
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            Case in point: Don Young. Given a legitimately racially problematic statement from one of their own, Republicans responded quickly and appropriately.Report

          • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Brandon Berg
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            Brandon,

            But don’t you think there is a reason why the Democrats are perceived differently than the Republicans? The benefit of the doubt, or lack thereof, can be legitimately earned. A double standard is not always inappropriate.Report

            • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Kazzy
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              Sure. In the case of Latinos, I do think that the Republican party’s position on immigration is a legitimate reason to look on them with suspicion. But with blacks, I think that it’s more about Republican policies on economics and affirmative action rather than about any legitimate problem with anti-black racism in the party.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Brandon Berg
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                “But with blacks, I think that it’s more about Republican policies on economics and affirmative action rather than about any legitimate problem with anti-black racism in the party.”

                Why don’t we ask black folk? You mentioned that Democrats are “seen” as allies. But if that status as allies is bestowed by the group they are allying with, as opposed to being self-appointed, doesn’t that rightfully qualify them as such and legitimize a different standard?Report

              • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Kazzy
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                Sure. If they want affirmative action and left-wing economic policies, then the Democrats are their allies. But that doesn’t mean that Republicans are racist, or that everything they should say be interpreted with the presumption that they’re racist—it just means that they want different policies.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Brandon Berg
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                If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck…

                Honestly, Brandon, you’re better than this.

                No one is saying that every Republican is a hood-wearing out-and-out racist. But if you want to deny that the GOP has a much bigger problem with race than the Democratic Party, that’s not really an argument I see much worth in having, personally.Report

              • Avatar zic in reply to Brandon Berg
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                If they want affirmative action and left-wing economic policies, then the Democrats are their allies.

                You don’t even realize it, but that sentence could well be construed as racist. THEY are allies with Democrats, they are not Democrats. They’re somehow a separate, other, illegitimate group, not part of the whole. It’s a subtle variation of the dog whistles heard from the GOP during the last election season.Report

              • Avatar zic in reply to Brandon Berg
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                Again, so as not to be to subtle, read TNC.Report

              • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to zic
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                Well, yes, that’s my point entirely. Everything Republicans say is interpreted from a presumption of racism, not because of any actual evidence of racism, but because of their opposition to left-wing economic policies.Report

              • Avatar zic in reply to Brandon Berg
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                Hmmm. Perhaps we can look at attempts at vote suppression, which, thankfully, backfired?Report

              • Avatar Will H. in reply to zic
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                I try to take a more individualistic view of such things.

                I used to live right in the middle of hard Pendergast territory; not far from the old racetrack. People there still remember him, and speak highly of him.
                Odd things went on out there.
                But I’ve heard of the trucks full of voters that they would take from one precinct to the next.
                They still talk about it at the barber shop out there.

                Now, I don’t believe every Democrat is affiliated with the mob.
                But I would be a fool to think that none of them are.
                In fact, I have a pretty good idea of where to start looking, did I care to.Report

              • Avatar zic in reply to zic
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                WillH, I don’t claim that all Democratic politicians ever are clean and pure. When they’re not, I try and hold them accountable.

                But there’s is a huge difference between not allowing legitimate voters to vote — voter suppression — and vote fraud; people who aren’t eligible to vote actually casting a ballot.

                Voter suppression is actually quite common, and happens on a large enough scale to potentially change the outcome of elections.

                In Florida, before the 2,000 elections, over 20,000 people were purged from the voting rolls because their names were similar to known felons from Florida and several other states in the south. Thousands (no exact number is known) were turned away from the polls on election day — far more then the margins that actually won the election. That’s voter suppression. It was such a problem in the state, that then Governor Jeb Bush swore to fix it.

                The lines that were many-hours long in poor predominately black neighborhoods in Florida and Ohio? That’s another kind of voter suppression. Rich, white neighborhoods don’t seem to have those kinds of lines; even within the same city.

                Voter fraud — illegal voting — is rare, and even when it does happen now, it’s not on a scale large enough to actually change the outcome of an election. Only a handful of individuals have been convicted of it; it’s difficult to organize, and even more difficult to keep secret on a scale large enough to change election outcomes as your story indicates.Report

              • Avatar Will H. in reply to zic
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                I didn’t mean it as a D/R thing.
                I deleted the last part of my previous comment because I didn’t care for the wording.

                But what I was getting at is that it isn’t so much that “D’s do this” or “R’s do that,” so much as a matter of certain people doing certain things. And they would likely be doing those things regardless of their party affiliation.
                Character, or lack thereof, is not a product of which check box you darken on a little card.

                I have the same name as the police chief of major metro area & a movie star from the days of silent film.
                If anybody ever thought that I was really one of those guys, I think I might play it up a bit.
                Maybe give an autograph.
                Certainly not going to show up for work for them.Report

              • Avatar zic in reply to zic
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                Well, you may not mean the D/R thing, but my response was to Brandon in regard to the presumption that Republicans are racist; and in fact I think that their attempts to suppress votes from predominately black communities is, in fact, racist. Sure, it may ben an attempt to keep/control/gail political power, but in a Democracy, you do that by convincing your policies will represent their interests. Rather then try and win minority votes, the GOP seems intent on suppressing them.

                I would call that racist.Report

              • Avatar Will H. in reply to zic
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                I’m not so sure the perception is justified by the data.
                Even with the Congressman from Alaska’s latest foot-in-mouth, it doesn’t change the fact that there are a lot more minority legislators at the state level than nationally.
                Lots of Mexicans in Texas. (Mexican-Americans I’m referring to; not foreign nationals). If they didn’t keep elected Rick Perry, who did?

                Blacks are a different lot.
                I really don’t think there’s some concerted effort to suppress the black vote.
                I think it’s more of an adherence to principle and damn the consequences type of thing.

                But then, so much of voting is governed locally, and that’s ripe for petty corruption. I’ve lived in small towns enough to know. Where there is no oversight, people get to acting like there’s no oversight after awhile.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to zic
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                In the 2010 election, 39% of Hispanic voters voted for Perry.Report

              • Avatar Will H. in reply to zic
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                How many people is that?

                I never had to sit next to a percentage at my school.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to zic
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                Can’t find the number with a quick Google search, though I’m sure it’s out there. I do know that the Hispanic vote was down in Texas in the ’10 election, but I’m not sure by how much. It’s probably worth noting that before ’10, there were no Hispanic Republicans in the Texas legislature, and now there are 5.Report

              • Avatar Will H. in reply to zic
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                And how many over the last 30 years?
                It’s been about 25 since I’ve been in Texas.

                I find it hard to believe that places 80% Mexican routinely elect the 20% of the white population.Report

              • Avatar trumwill mobile in reply to zic
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                The places that are 80% Hispanic vote Democrat.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to zic
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                There have been 25 Hispanic Republicans in the state legislature since you’ve been in Texas? Hmm… since when is that?

                And Will’s right, the mostly Hispanic areas in Texas vote Democrat. The state as a whole was ~38% Hispanic as of 2010.Report

              • Avatar trumwill mobile in reply to zic
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                I assumed he meant 25 years.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to zic
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                Oh sorry, I misread it. I’m not sure how many there have been in the last 30 years.Report

              • Avatar trumwill mobile in reply to zic
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                Me neither, but I’d guess 30 years ago the majority of everybody were Democrats.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Brandon Berg
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                Have you ever wondered why so many black people feel the way they do about the Republican Party? Ever asked any of them? They’re individuals, lots of them are culturally conservative. It’s a far more religious culture, for one, with all that goes with religion. On the down side, there’s considerably less tolerance for LGBT within their own cultures. There’s considerable animus against Hispanics, who are viewed as “taking their jobs.” And yeah, alienation from white culture.

                Other cultures have banded together, other cultures have advanced into acceptability. Black cultures have somehow never quite coalesced. Do you have any guesses why? Could it have anything to do with systematic repression for a few centuries? Or could it be that neither party knew quite what to do with the black cultures?

                The GOP should have scooped up the conservative black vote a century ago. They completely screwed it up. And the GOP has been consistently screwing it up ever since. And for my money, they’re going to continue along this insane path forever.Report

      • Avatar Maribou in reply to RTod
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        I think it’s only a thing where there’s an Up group and a Down group and the Up group is much larger. In areas where the power differential is attenuated, disparity of numbers seems to matter much less. (I’m thinking, for eg, of male librarians – while there is some anti-male sexism among the members of the professional group, it’s never as vigorously hostile – and part of that may have to do with the fact that male librarians are more likely to have job status and power than their far-more-common female peers. ) I’m only sort of vaguely thinking this though, so counter-examples are most welcome. (And I’m NOT thinking of stuff like South Africa under apartheid – yes, that up group was smaller by far than the down group, but they had the historical backing of the Dutch and British empires – power differential not attenuated, but tilted WAYYY in the opposite direction of population size.)Report

    • Avatar Fnord in reply to KatherineMW
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      Um.

      Here’s the thing. What happens when a woman in the social justice community screws up and ends up unpopular there? Well, it turns out they react angrily and violently.

      http://www.dailydot.com/society/laci-green-sex-tumblr-death-threats/

      It says all kinds of screwed up things about our culture that gratuitous rape and death threats are used as bludgeons to enforce social norms (even good social norms) on women (and they are used disproportionately, though not exclusively, against women). By all means we should talk about it and how to stop it. But talking about means admitting it’s a widespread feature of our culture, and I’m skeptical of any attempt to make it a problem that’s ascribed to out-groups.

      Which strikes me as a problem that the linked article has, and is even more of an issue with articles like “In defense of Adria Richards and call-out culture” (http://www.dailydot.com/opinion/adria-richards-pycon-call-out-culture/) when many people have observed that callout culture is a hugely toxic dynamic within the social justice community (http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2011/10/17/call-out-culture-and-blogging-as-performance/), that it’s used as a silencing tool within that subculture, and in the extreme ends up with something that looks a lot like what happened Richards happening to Laci Green.Report

      • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to Fnord
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        It seems to me that a lot of this is a medium related thing that creates a certain culture. Whatever it is, the internet seems to make this sort of thing happen more often.Report

      • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to Fnord
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        That’s bad, but it’s not the same issue I was referring to. I wasn’t suggesting that lefty people can’t do wrong and sexist things.

        I was noting that, in general, groups with fewer women in them respond more harshly and negatively to accusations of sexism, whereas in a group that does include more women, you’re more likely to have people saying “that’s not okay” in response to in-group sexism. And “these violent and sexist comments are not okay” is exactly what the blogger in your first link is saying, which seems to back up my point.Report

        • Avatar zic in reply to KatherineMW
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          I’ve spent the last 35 years amongst musicians, another industry that’s male-dominated. I’ve sat through countless rehearsals, pre/post gig socializing, etc., where people are relaxed, cracking jokes, etc.

          When there are no women in the band, the misogyny is often pronounced, lots of jokes about ‘chick singers,’ etc. Add one woman, and it will still occur, often with the woman participating, but not as strong. But increase the women in the band (not in the room, mind you, but actual working musicians), and it nearly vanishes.

          There is strength in numbers.Report

          • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to zic
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            I don’t think this is a sex-linked characteristic. I think it’s a majority/minority dynamic, generally.Report

            • Avatar zic in reply to Patrick Cahalan
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              Some combination of both; the misogyny exists, and is okay in the male-only culture, it get’s diluted as the number of women present increases.

              I think the same thing happens in groups of women only, too; though to lesser degree; and it isn’t typically the sort of thing that makes a work environment hostile, though the guy might have to listen to long discussions about menses and makeup.

              Then again, perhaps talk on menses and makeup would constitute a hostile work environment.Report

              • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to zic
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                When I am in groups of women, menses and makeup is not what we talk about. We talk about the ridiculous number of papers we have to write, and about Game of Thrones.Report

              • Avatar ktward in reply to KatherineMW
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                I’ve found that group dynamics among women really depends upon the nature of the group.

                My experience with a womens UU group likely mirrors your experience, Katherine. My experience with the PTA might more mirror zic’s take (which gave me a chuckle.) My experience within an academic collaboration was altogether different from either.

                If we’re talking about a collective mentality, to my mind the meaningful distinction seems to hang on the aims of the group of women. I mean, the neighborhood block party might have a group of women kvetching about how [insert pejorative of choice] men are when it comes to [insert topic of choice], but in any goal-oriented or professional setting, women aren’t at all reflexively inclined to talk about men in either a sexual context or in any otherwise demeaning (even if unintentional) terms. We can certainly say the same thing about some men-dominated groups, but we cannot at all say the same thing about men-dominated groups in general. Not yet, anyway. (I have 20-something kids, including a son, and I see tons of reasons to be hopeful for the future.)

                Upon reflection, clearly some parts of my comment belong elsewhere on the thread. If I had the time I’d redirect and expound parts of it, but I don’t. So I hope you’ll forgive the sloppiness.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to ktward
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                I think this is pretty spot-on.Report

        • Avatar Fnord in reply to KatherineMW
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          says:

          Ahh, so your meaning was more along the lines of “it certainly does feel like the fewer women there are in a given industry or group, the more [negatively] men in that group react to people pointing out sexism” as opposed to “it certainly does feel like the fewer women there are in a given industry or group, the more angrily and violently men in that group react [when that group’s norms are challenged]”? Not on how they respond, but what they respond too. That interpretation I don’t really have a problem with, so if that’s what you meant, I apologize for misreading.Report

  4. Avatar Kazzy
    Ignored
    says:

    I’m going to say something that might be unpopular, has a high probability of being wrong, and which is likely to offend some folks here. I’ll apologize in advance for it, but I think there is also a high probability that it is right, or partially right, and hope that folks here can see the broader point that is mixed in with something potentially offensive.

    Here goes…

    As I understand the tech industry, it seems one in which a great majority of positions do not require a high degree of interpersonal skills. Much (not all, but much) of the work is done between human and machine. This attracts a certain sort of person… people who might not be as skilled socially… and doesn’t ask them to stretch these weaker skills. Within the culture, a language, a social code, a culture is developed, and it is developed primarily by young, white men… young, white men who lack social skills, who probably have fewer interactions and weaker relationships with women. And they’re a group themselves who were likely marginalized in other areas of life.
    So now they’ve come to inhabit a world where they are not marginalized, where the people they *do* interact with are much like them, and because of this affirming echo chamber of sorts, they begin to see outsiders as the weird ones, the ones who don’t get it. As such, any criticism is not going to be well-received. And even less so if the criticism is coming from an out-group member who is criticizing that very culture in which they finally feel embraced and empowered.

    I don’t think this broader phenomenon is unique to the tech industry… I can think of elements of teacher culture that make certain criticisms likely to engender very intense responses. But on the issues of sexism, misogyny, racism, etc, members of the tech industry seem somewhat uniquely poorly positioned to respond to them appropriately and, instead, often double-down on the errors because there are so few people within that culture to model for them just how wrong those errors were.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Kazzy
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      says:

      There’s some truth there, but it’s not the whole story. To begin with, “white” is not accurate, by the way; there’s a heckuva lot of East Asians too, and lots of folks from India. Second, the exaggerated geek stereotype is a bit silly. Lots of us have wives and girlfriends, and even daughters. And we go to movies, and watch and play sports, just like regular people. And read. Lots of SF and fantasy, it’s true, but I think I’ve met more people who read good books (literature) in tech than in the general population. And while lots of the work happens by communicating with machines, much of it is in inter-personal just like anywhere else: being members of teams, co-ordinating with other groups, inter-office politics, etc.

      What you do have that’s unusual is a lot of very intelligent, very clever people , often with strong verbal skills (which is why there’s so much reading.) That leads to a lot of in-jokes, private dialects, verbal shortcuts, etc. that can be very off-putting to outsiders (which is, admittedly, a lot of the point.) And there’s a lot of ego, particularly among younger people, who are quite well aware that they can do things that most people can’t. (Fighter pilots have this too, but turned up to 11.) This can certainly lead to friction and misunderstandings. But we’re not barbarians that you need to protect your wimminfolk from. (No Tailhooks.)

      Still, what you say certainly is not unpopular — it’s the dominant story on the liberal and feminist blogs I’ve seen discussing this issue. Very ironic when you realize they think they’re the ones fighting prejudice.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Mike Schilling
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        says:

        Despite what I say below, this is true, too. I think this part is particularly true among the more skilled and adept of the geek crowd. It’s kind of ironic that the more skill that is actually required for any given IT job, the less stereotypically geeky the staff is. Oftentimes, those that embrace the stereotype the most are lacking in the skills. Lab operators versus high-skill developers.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Mike Schilling
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        says:

        Thanks, Mike. I feared it be unpopular because I know we have a lot of “techie” people here. And I knew I was painting in broad strokes that was not representative of every techie but my perception of the broader culture. I’m glad to hear that I’m not totally off in my assessment, but moreso appreciate you taking the time to thoughtfully correct where I was off.

        Your last point there made me think of a point I find it important to make when discussing the bussing riots in Boston, which was a really, really ugly moment of racial strife: while nothing excuses the actions that so many people took, those riots happened because the powers that be set one very, very marginalized group (blacks) up against a very marginalized group (Irish poor). Had the black students been bussed into affluent neighborhoods, you still would have seen opposition, but it wouldn’t have been as violent or ugly. But the Irish poor had been shit on for so long and one of the things they held on to was, “Well, at least we’re not black,” and then suddenly they felt as if they were even getting shat on by the blacks and that was just a step too far.

        So, to some extent, you have two groups that are often the victims of prejudice and marginalization coming up against each other. That is never pretty.Report

        • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Kazzy
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          says:

          Another way to ponder the dynamics here… imagine that, on a social hierarchal scale of 1-to-10, you think of yourself as being treated as about a 3. Then, suddenly, you’re being yelled at and condemned for how you’re treating some people who, it seems to you, are sometimes at least a five or six.

          Now, maybe you’re wrong about being a three. Maybe you’re wrong about them being a six. But you can’t help but notice… a lot of the people condemning you for looking down on people are 7, 8, 9, and 10. And they’re talking to you about your undeservedly lofty place in the hierarchy, keeping others out and down.

          I don’t know if this makes any sense.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Will Truman
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            says:

            Sure it makes sense. But that’s sortamaybe precisely the point. A person can subjectively think they’re a 3 and another person is a 7, while that other person subjectively thinks the rankings are flipped. In that case, both people are subjectively resentful of each others perceived status and especially resentful that they can go around trumpeting how they’re a member of the oppressed or disadvantaged group. Some measure of objectivity is the only way to break out of that ridiculous circle. Of course, the person who thinks he or she’s the oppressed disadvantaged party will describe reality according to their already entrenched resentments and not the other way around.Report

            • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Stillwater
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              says:

              There are no objective metrics. No objectivity. I mean, you can argue all day long that these guys are really 7’s because they’re guys and they’re white, but I am simply not going to agree. They lack a lot of the privileges of being guys and being whites. They’re obviously going to disagree, too, though I may also disagree that they’re 3’s (some very much are, others not but think they are, and collectively it depends on who is measuring and for what purpose).

              The issue comes into play when different types of 7-10 are champions of different types of 1-3. Nobody sees it objectively.

              I remain at least somewhat understanding of the irritation that comes with being low in the hierarchy and yet being treated poorly by people higher on the hierarchy for treating those lower on the hierarchy poorly. The problem is that the irritation serves no purpose. And is typically counterproductive.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Will Truman
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                says:

                There are no objective metrics.

                I have a hard time believing you believe that Will. Here’s one that Tod has been throwing around: 85% of all corporate and government jobs are held by men. There are lots of em.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Stillwater
                Ignored
                says:

                You mean “top government jobs”? That tells us about men and women generally (though even there it’s subject to some debate). It doesn’t tell us about specific groups of men and groups of women. It doesn’t tell us that a group of men can’t be a 3 while a group of women something higher.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Will Truman
                Ignored
                says:

                Look at it this way. If a group of men think there a three, and they think a particular group of women are a seven, then presumably they have evidence to support that conclusion, evidence which will be either true or false, evidence which is objective.

                If they don’t have objective evidence, then their view isn’t justified by anything like facts, and reduces to something else. Like resentment. But it also means that the view isn’t justified.

                So either way, there has to be objective evidence for the claim to go thru.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Stillwater
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                says:

                So either way, there has to be objective evidence for the claim to go thru.

                I think it’s more complicated than that. There were, without a doubt, groups of women at my high school that had far more social power than myself and my friends did (and, of course, many that had less). I can’t prove it with metrics. You may disagree. But I remain pretty sure it was true.

                This can easily qualify as “resentment,” though. I never denied that. I am in part explaining where the resentment is coming from.

                I don’t make staunch claims on the validity of their view. For one, I think they very likely overestimate the placing of the women they are referring to. I think they underestimate theirs. Probably. But I can’t prove it either way. Citing the overwhelming presence of male CEO’s doesn’t really help. Their solidarity with CEO’s is… limited.

                Which isn’t to say that the CEO stat isn’t important and isn’t worth noting in discussions of gender and the workplace, including the IT workplace. I view it as significant. But the social hierarchy I refer to goes beyond the workplace. It certainly goes beyond the race to the absolute top.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Stillwater
                Ignored
                says:

                Hmmm. We’re talking past each other again.Report

              • Avatar trumwill mobile in reply to Stillwater
                Ignored
                says:

                We’re good at that.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Stillwater
                Ignored
                says:

                Will,

                Is this not just another form of self-victimization? Underestimating one’s relevance in relation to their expected or desired relevance while overestimating that of another and then finding themselves to be unfairly disempowered by the perceived imbalance?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Stillwater
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                says:

                Will, I don’t know if this will help, but one thing that struck me on re-reading your comment is that if a group of men compare themselves to a group of women, the comparison is only valid – or informative, anyway – if there are some shared properties between the groups. Blaise example of women receiving preferential treatment wrt custody is one example. Tod’s example is another.

                To simply compare the popular girls in school against the … well … whatever you and your friends were 🙂 isn’t a relative comparison. Now, were the popular girls in your HS were more powerful than the popular boys? Sheet bro. That’s something to argue about.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Stillwater
                Ignored
                says:

                SW,

                Now, were the popular girls in your HS were more powerful than the popular boys? Sheet bro. That’s something to argue about.

                No argument here; the popular boys were more powerful than the popular girls. My point had more to do with a couple other things:

                1) The fact that we can’t look at power dynamics strictly on the basis of boys vs. girls and confer some powerfulness on the boys by virtue of their being boys. They might have a leg-up in an apples-to-apples comparison. But there are other factors in power dynamics. Nerds who argue that they are disadvantaged because they are men are… blinkered. But, they can be socially disadvantaged despite being men. And can find themselves losers in the general pecking order – losers to most women. I am not sure this is the case, but I do think it’s the case that male social privilege is not evenly distributed and they get less of it than others. I got less of it back in the day. I think I get more of it now. (I think they could get more of it, if they modified certain things on their own end.)

                2) That the social value hierarchy is hard to objectively measure. That tangible distinctions can exist even if they can’t be easily measured.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Stillwater
                Ignored
                says:

                but I do think it’s the case that male social privilege is not evenly distributed and they get less of it than others.

                Less of it than other men? Well sure! No one would argue with that. The question is this: for any metric, do men have more privilege than women with respect to that metric? That’s a question that can only be answered empirically.

                The answers will fall as they may, but if the question is relative privilege between the sexes, it doesn’t make any sense to say that because some men are less privileged than other men women aren’t an oppressed group (or whatever). That’s called a “category error” in certain circles. And I’ll call it that as well.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Stillwater
                Ignored
                says:

                Will et al.,

                Privilege is a tricky thing and I feel like people are talking about it a bit strangely.

                It is not a binary… privileged people on one side and unprivileged/oppressed people on another. It is far more complex than that.

                A black man has male privilege but not white privilege. In most situations, he is more privileged than a black woman but less than a white man. How he compares to a white woman, who has white privilege but not male privilege, depends on the context.

                So while white male “tech geeks” might be less privileged than white male football players and maybe even black female “babes”, their diminished privilege is *not* a function of their gender… it is a function of something else… their “tech geek” status.

                So it’s not so much that some men have more male privilege than others… they don’t. Some men have additional privileges that make the totality of their privilege greater than other men.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Stillwater
                Ignored
                says:

                SW & Kazzy,

                The question is this: for any metric, do men have more privilege than women with respect to that metric?

                That’s not the only question, though, or not the question I am exploring (maybe that’s why we’re talking past one another?). We are in basic agreement on that general topic (men are usually going to have an advantage over women). I am looking towards something different, whether, because men are privileged in the overall, whether we can look at a man and de facto say “privilege.” The privilege they enjoy by being male might be outstripped, in general or in any given conflict, by their lack of privilege elsewhere.

                So it’s not so much that some men have more male privilege than others… they don’t. Some men have additional privileges that make the totality of their privilege greater than other men.

                Agreed. But that’s not the only factor at play here. My basic point is that a group of men can look at a group of women (or a co-ed group) and be at a general disadvantage. It may be despite gender rather than because of it, and the differential might be even greater if they were not men, but that doesn’t change the social power dynamics of the situation.

                You guys don’t need to tell me that privilege exists. I’m not arguing that it doesn’t. I am arguing that while a factor in general social value, it is not determinative. If a guy is low on the totem pole, the fact that he would be even lower if he weren’t a guy doesn’t change the fact that he is low on the totem pole.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Stillwater
                Ignored
                says:

                Kazzy, for me, the word “privilege” refers to advantages one identifiable group has over another group wrt a particular area of life (a measurable). It makes no sense to me to say that white male geeks are more or less privileged than black female supermodels. It’s literally comparing geeks to sexy women. Err …. apples to oranges.

                The only way the concept of privilege makes any sense – to me anyway – is by identifying a measurable (ie, observable!, ie., non-subjective!) property and comparing groups wrt to it.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Stillwater
                Ignored
                says:

                Will,

                I agree with all of that. I was responding more broadly to how the term privilege was being used.

                SW,

                I agree and I don’t. The reality is, many folks play “Oppression Olympics” and will argue over whether gay whites are more or less oppressed than black straight men, in part because we often structure things such that these groups are in opposition to one another rather than opposing those who are oppressing them (which is often one in the same). A divide-and-conquer approach is often used by the powers-that-be meaning, for many folks, a firm sense of where they stand vis-a-vis other oppressed groups is important.

                That being said, I agree that we need to look at individual dynamics. But when doing so, we should be careful to not conflate other ones.

                To both,

                So if we are comparing “babes” and “geeks” and are deciding that their relative power differential is a function of their social standing and not their gender, we should leave gender out of it, even if we know that the the gap between “studs” and “female geeks” would be even larger because it’d be compounded by gender.

                Am I making sense? I’m not intending to so much weigh in on your debate as I am trying to clarify a term I see getting tossed around a bit strangely.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Stillwater
                Ignored
                says:

                SW, this is giving me a much better idea of why we’re talking past one another. Thanks.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Stillwater
                Ignored
                says:

                Advantage only applies in a given situation. I’m not sure we can derive a sum-of-vectors for which sex will have any practical advantage: we’re achieving parity with considerable speed.

                More women than men are graduating from college. Now that we’ve finally got the Lilly Ledbetter Act passed, long overdue, it really doesn’t matter if other things are equal: higher education translates to higher wages. In a world where money is the primary vector of power, women will soon out-earn men.

                Not all black men are powerful: a substantial fraction of them, something like a quarter, have been through the justice system. When black women qualify for jobs black men can’t get, they are more powerful than black men. Money is power.

                Physical strength plays an increasingly small part in a world where people are paid for what they know, not how much they can bench press.

                Beauty is not power: with a few exceptions, models live miserable lives. There’s a growing scandal with models being paid in merch and they’re obliged to sell the stuff to live. And beauty is transitory.

                Money is power. Anything else comes in a very distant second. I foresee a world where women’s educational coefficients will translate into a very different world. It’s already happening.Report

              • Avatar Fnord in reply to Stillwater
                Ignored
                says:

                I think you’re using words like “objective” to mean slightly different things. Stillwater says something like:

                there has to be objective evidence for the claim to go thru

                And means something like “Merely feeling oppressed is not the same thing as actually being oppressed. Oppression is a real thing, and can be identified by evidence in reality”. Which is true. And, indeed, oppressors can feel that the dismantling of their oppressive privilege is oppressing them.

                Unfortunately, it can also be read as “society won’t recognize your claim that you’re oppressed until you provide proof that you’re being oppressed and also incidentally society doesn’t care about your subjective experience”. Which is a classic silencing tactic which has been used to deny the existence of all sorts of privilege.

                Here’s the thing: even though oppression is objective and measurable, that doesn’t mean it’s easy for those within the system to objectively measure. Just the opposite, in fact. Privilege is frequently invisible to those who possess it, and privileged people can control the discourse to silence the disprivileged who might identify oppression. That’s a fairly basic part of the theory of privilege, and has been extensively discussed in the context of male privilege.

                But it’s a fact that cuts both ways. The privilege possessed by the conventionally attractive and socially adept can be identified by objective evidence, but that same dynamic means that doing so isn’t easy.

                I’m not generally a fan of using the word “Patriarchy” to refer to the concept that feminists use it for. But it does allow a nice quip: Patriarchy isn’t empowering to men, it’s empowering to patriarchs (kyriachy is empowering to kyriarchs doesn’t sound nearly so witty).

                When people say things like 85% of CEOs are men, they’re correctly pointing out that women are largely excluded from being patriarchs because of their gender (demonstrating the existence of male privilege). But some men are excluded from being patriarchs, too.

                That doesn’t mean they don’t have male privilege. And to the extent that those men don’t recognize that privilege, that is a problem. But that, in turn, doesn’t mean those men wrong that the people citing the CEO stats may share some privileges with CEOs that the men they’re citing the stats to lack.Report

              • Avatar Fnord in reply to Stillwater
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                says:

                Beauty is not power: with a few exceptions, models live miserable lives.

                Models are a small minority. Modelling is hardly the primary way beauty can be leveraged into power. There’s evidence that shows that, eg, attractive people earn more money than their less attractive counterparts.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Stillwater
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                says:

                Fnord, I just returned to this thread and saw your really excellent comment. I don’t have anything specific to say about it other than I broadly agree. I think you’re hitting the nails right on the head.Report

              • Avatar Will H. in reply to Stillwater
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                says:

                When I see people putting in their resumes to be CEO, I’ll take that as relevant.

                Until then, it’s just another realm of imaginary.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Will Truman
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                says:

                Kazzy, I don’t think that’s an unfair characterization, though a lot of it is going to come down to our perceptions of the validity of their claims. Though I think their perceptions are likely off, I also think the fact that they are men is itself often over-stated. DRS referred to them as “frat boys” and others as “the old boys’ club” with imagery of the men with cigars in back rooms. The reality is more… humble than that. These people were often rejected by the frat boys. The men who run things aren’t really their friends, either.

                And it’s part of a more general thing, in my view, that when we talk about privilege in broad strokes, as often put more of the burden on the least privileged subclasses of the privileged class. I don’t know that there is a way around that, but as an element it’s there.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Will Truman
                Ignored
                says:

                Oh, certainly. In calling it “just another form of self-victimization”, I didn’t mean to downplay it, but rather to show that it is not something necessarily unique to the tech industry, though the specifics may vary.

                “And it’s part of a more general thing, in my view, that when we talk about privilege in broad strokes, as often put more of the burden on the least privileged subclasses of the privileged class. I don’t know that there is a way around that, but as an element it’s there.”

                This is a great point. That is why I brought up the Boston busing riots. A lot of people wanted to just pose it as an issue between blacks and racist whites, ignoring that the whites in question did not have the typical “white experience” in America. So while they were more privileged than the black folks they were coming into conflict, they were not nearly as privileged as their fellow whites on Beacon Hill. Which is why they were targeted with the busing.

                Ultimately, we’d all be better served to interact with more people outside our little spheres. If the “tech geeks” interacted with the “cool girls” (and vice versa), they’d have a better perspective of both their own social position and that of the “other”.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Will Truman
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                says:

                Kazzy, I very much appreciated your comment about the Irish. It goes very much into something I think is often overlooked.

                You’re right that it’s not remotely unique to nerds. Nor anime fans.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Will Truman
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                says:

                Or the Irish. In the South, it was (at least stereotypically — see To Kill a Mockingbird for an example) the poor whites who were most racist, because not being black was all they had.Report

      • Avatar Veronica Dire in reply to Mike Schilling
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        says:

        I think there is another dynamic here, one that comes from this: tech is full of very intelligent males who are *very* confident in their ability intellectualize all troubling situations.

        In other words, they are so darn smart they can figure out what women should want, what blacks should want, what is right or wrong for their community, how offended any woman or minority should legitimately be, etc.

        What they do not do is this: entertain the idea they may be deeply ignorant about the lives and experiences of others, or that the environment they create can be deeply horrible for them, or that (and this is most) they should shut up and listen sometimes.

        Males in tech have a very hard time discovering they are wrong about some things.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Kazzy
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      says:

      There is a very high degree of truth to this, Kazzy, in my opinion. Some of it I think is a little off-kilter, but very impressive for someone who doesn’t actually inhabit this environment.

      I’d love to write a post on this, if only I had the time. But a lot of it comes down to a group of people who have often been marginalized by mainstream culture, ill-socialized because of that marginalization, who respond by finding their own cultural pocket. The primary hierarchy of social acceptability is one they tend to place poorly on. More poorly, in fact, than most women.

      The imposition of the values to which they did not measure up – I mean social values as much as or more than moral values – being imposed on that cultural pocket is threatening. They know where it leads. Women are often emblematic of that threat.

      You actually see something very similar within anime circles. There is some overlap between computer geekery and anime geekery in personnel, of course, but a lot more in terms of circumstance. So in anime circles, there has historically been a very big push for who is genuine and who is not genuine in the culture pocket’s hierarchy. And people who get to look down on very few people get to be superior to the guy who prefers dubbed anime over subtitled, who gets some arcane reference over someone who is not firmly enough entrenched to get it. Someone who watches something popular versus the one who watches the thing that hasn’t even been released in this country yet.

      Girls tend to be on the wrong side of these metrics. Now, as with geek circles, there is a lot of fascination with girls. More of that than animosity. Some of that fascination… comes out wrong. The animosity can come out more clearly.

      Anyway, the result is that when you go to an anime convention, you’re in this place where the brochure, the program, and leaders have to make a point to say “Please shower!” and people consider it one big joke. Where there are some horror stories about how females are treated. Where the vast majority of the guys mean no harm, but will nonetheless often close ranks when they see their pocket threatened by the more traditional social value system.

      (This is all highly, highly stereotypical. Go into a software industry office, and you’ll actually find a lot more normals than geeks much of the time. But certain tendencies nonetheless often congeal. The defenders of the culture are the most emphatic. The computer equivalent of the guys who watch subtitled anime that hasn’t been released here yet. I myself fall or fell somewhere in between the normals and the geeks, in both cases. I had some lucky breaks along the way that ingratiated me with the mainstream value hierarchy.)Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Will Truman
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        says:

        Thanks, Will. As I said to Mike above, I’m glad I wasn’t totally off in my assessment, but am happier that you could so thoughtfully point out where I was.

        You and Mike are like my geek ambassadors. Can you explain D&D next? :-pReport

        • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Kazzy
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          says:

          I’ve played it once in my life and hated pretty much every minute of it.

          Hope that helps 🙂

          P.S. On the other hand, from what I’ve read it’s largely based on Jack Vance’s Dying Earth series, and JB is already nudging me to write a post about Vance.Report

          • My parents bought me a D&D set one Christmas (I had asked for it, too). I couldn’t find anyone to play it with me, so I never really learned how.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Pierre Corneille
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              says:

              Okay. You know that speech at the beginning of Speed? “What do you do, hotshot? What do you do?”

              Well, it’s like that. Except when you say “I shoot the hostage”, you have to roll to see if you pull that off. And then you have to deal with “what happens after that?” and “what happens after that?” and then you are once again asked “what do you do, hotshot?”

              I tend to use these games as opportunities for monologues.Report

            • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Pierre Corneille
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              says:

              If you wanted to play now — find someone that uses the FATE system.

              Spirit of the Century if you like pulp comics. The Dresden Files RPG is pretty fantastic. D20 systems are generally very combat oriented. FATE systems lend itself towards storytelling. And Dresden Files lends itself to Awesome, Crazy, and Crazy Awesome. Admittedly, it’s based on a series wherein the main character raised and rode a dinosaur so…..only thing that tops Dresden for sheer Crazy Awesome is probably Exalted. (And maybe Mage). And Exalted is about characters empowered to kill Gods, so they sorta gotta be crazy awesome.

              My wife played her first game at 27 or 28. The trio of characters we had (her, me, and my friend — alsot his first time. The GM was highly experienced and simply converted people to tabletop gaming whenever he moved to a new location) became legendary.

              Although I have to admit, that particular trio — I’m always in the dog house after. I identified with that character in a particularly deep way, and well — he had a particular attitude that I just sorta slid into on game nights and it totally annoyed her.

              Absolutely worked in context, though. 🙂

              Seriously, all D&D is? It’s make believe, like kids play. With some rules to settle whether or not you actually DID get shot or not.

              Oh, they call it cooperative storytelling — but it’s kids playing pretend with some dice. Generally there is also beer, lots of geeky jokes, and fun outside the game. Honestly? We do it because we prefer it to hanging out in bars or playing cards.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Morat20
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                says:

                Heh… for a long time, I thought it was just some nerdy board game. Then I saw that episode of “Community” and was like, “Wait… really? THAT’S what it is? HOLY CRAP!” Then I made Zazzy watch that episode of “Community” and she was like, “This can’t be real. They must be mocking people who actually play the real game. THEY’RE HORRIBLE MONSTERS!”Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Kazzy
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                says:

                Then I went and put my “Settlers Hat” on and played some online Settlers of Catan with friends.

                So… what do I know?Report

              • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Kazzy
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                says:

                lol. Our DM has the Catan board game — I think one of the original run. He’s been playing it since before it was cool. 🙂

                Actually we do a lot of games as well — everything from HeroClix to Apples to Apples. We’ve been wanting to play Ticket to Ride, but haven’t gotten a chance to.Report

        • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Kazzy
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          says:

          Read Order of the Stick from the beginning, you’ll know everything you need to know after the first 250 or so stripsReport

          • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to Kolohe
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            says:

            And it’s an awesome webcomic in its own right – once you get past the first ~100 strips that are fairly simple D&D gags the plot and characters (and art) really improve.Report

      • Avatar bookdragon in reply to Will Truman
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        says:

        The difficulty at cons is that that fascination with women still reduces them to objects – much like the recent thread on Damsel-in-Distress in gaming, the women at a con are frequently treated like objects to be won. And if they object to that or call someone on it – Bingo! hostility comes roaring out – usually in the form of ‘what right right do you have to be here?’ type stuff. (Which, I’ll grant is definitely better than physical assault, but it’s still wrong).Report

        • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to bookdragon
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          says:

          This and Will’s comment above I think are linked.

          When you’re socially awkward and typically spending the first 3/4 of your life somewhere between the bottom rung of the ladder and six feet under, you do have a bit of class resentment for everyone who is above you.

          And let’s be completely honest, here, the dynamic between young men and young women inherits an awful lot of this grade school – early college baggage.Report

        • Avatar Will Truman in reply to bookdragon
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          says:

          Well, most women don’t generally go to cons to fascinate. So there’s one problem right there. And even when they do (they’re dressed up to cosplay or whatever), they’re still not there to be gawked at. So there’s not much disagreement here. There are some gray areas as to what constitutes interest, flirting, and harassment. No easy answers there. Except for the “harassment” part after she has declared non-interest. But these guys are often clueless, which causes a lot of the problems.Report

        • Avatar Just Me in reply to bookdragon
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          says:

          I have to question, where do women not get reduced to objects? In our society women are treated as objects, sexual ones at that in about every venue I can think of. This is were I get confused, we objectify women and then we wonder why some men tell jokes that we feel objectifies women, why?Report

      • Avatar Jim Heffman in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        “a group of people who have often been marginalized by mainstream culture, ill-socialized because of that marginalization, who respond by finding their own cultural pocket. The primary hierarchy of social acceptability is one they tend to place poorly on. More poorly, in fact, than most women.”

        Scott Adams, 1994:
        http://dilbert.com/strips/comic/1994-06-03/Report

    • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Kazzy
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      says:

      I think I need to get back to that Problem with IT series that I let die.Report

    • Avatar RTod in reply to Kazzy
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      says:

      Kaz –

      It seems a very, very big jump to go to [immature teens with a computer = the technology industry].Report

    • Avatar Pierre Corneille in reply to Kazzy
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      says:

      “And they’re a group themselves who were likely marginalized in other areas of life.”

      I’m inclined to question this notion a little bit, even though person per person, it might be true that these people are statistically more likely to have been (in some respects) marginalized growing up. The points that Will and others make in this sub-thread about being used to being low on the food chain and then having a safe place in which the tables are partially reversed are all well taken. But….

      ….there’s also a sort of mythology here. Not mythology in the sense of “something people believe to be true but is actually false,” but in the sense of “this is the story we like to tell about ourselves and we’re going to use it to justify our actions or at least make them seem less bad.” I think a lot of people, not just the stereotypical techie, tells this story to him or herself about themselves. I suspect the number of people who believe they were marginalized growing up is very much larger than the number of people who probably could be counted as marginalized on most objective measures.Report

  5. Avatar Rufus F.
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    says:

    I know very well that we have plenty of techies here, so no offense intended to them, but jeez, some of the most unhinged, angry, entitled wackjobs I’ve ever tangled with have been dudes who were hot shit tech nerds by day. There’s something about the fantasy that you were picked on in high school and now you’re going to SHOW THEM ALL that really goes to their heads.Report

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