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Nerds and Male Privilege (kotaku.com)
193 points by seancron on Dec 17, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 241 comments



One comment I wanted to make about this the last time this came up...

"Privilege" is a loaded word. It's a word that some people take great offense to, but it's a word that cannot rationally be ignored.

Success can be a pretty fragile phenomenon. I never fully appreciated the benefit of privilege until relatively recently. I was an unfocused teenager who slacked in college, but stumbled onto a good career anyway (so far, fingers crossed). I would like to ascribe it to turning myself around and working hard, but the fact of the matter is that privilege played a huge role. I got to work at a cool startup right out of high school, because I lived in the sort of relatively nice neighborhood where well-connected people launching startups from their basements might live. I never had to worry about credit checks for jobs because my parents had kept me on a small line of credit all through college to build up my history. When I quit my job to go to grad school, I never worried about running short of money just as finals were rolling around--daddy could always front me a couple of hundred to get me through the rest of the month. This is not trust-fund level privilege, just something pretty much any engineer or the like could provide for his (or her) family, but I'm pretty sure without it I would be working some below-median job today.

So... before you decry the article, remember that success, for most people, is at the margins. Think about how you got to where you are, and ask yourself: if people just found me 5% less credible because of my gender, race, etc, would life really have turned out identically?

PS) I was reminded of how uneven things can subtly be a couple of days ago during the SOPA hearings. One of the posts that made it to the front page of reddit was a photo of some woman giving testimony, where the photo had been edited to look like it was an x-ray shot through her shirt. I thought to myself how interesting that was. Not that it was so insanely offensive in and of itself, but rather because I've never seen something like that pop up on the front page when a man says something dumb on TV.


Credit checks for jobs?


Standard procedure in some fields, surprisingly common in others. I had a friend get hassled about an open collection before taking a job with the feds.


No credit as a 20 year old should be acceptable, no?


I would not worry about it.

Probably worth looking into establishing some credit anyway though, if you're thinking about buying a car or anything like that in the near future.


It depends on the job. PCI-DSS requires credit checks for employees handling credit card numbers. I would expect no credit to be fine, but deep indebt to be a big warning sign.


Is there a term for the ridiculous rhetorical tactic of insisting that any attempt to refute one's claims as being illogical is itself only further proof of the claims made? I stopped reading when he said this:

"I will pause now for the traditional arguments from my readers...Got all of that out of your systems? Good.

Because that reaction is exactly what I'm talking about."

Why bother having a discussion with someone who sets up their argument to be that those who disagree with their argument are only proving the point?



I think the author has a good point, although it's tricky to make: You can spend all day making excuses for specific instances of sexism in comics and video games, or you can realize that your ability and need to do that is a sign of a problem.


You seem to be spending a lot of time making specific excuses to why you don't need to listen to an opposing argument. Perhaps you should realize that your inability to listen to logical arguments is a sign of a problem.


Or, perhaps you should realize that the "logical" arguments are not actually logical and have been repeatedly refuted.


If you're trying to win over rational people, and refutations are out there to be had, they need to be included. Anyone who thinks "everyone says this argument has the same glaring flaws, and that illustrates how awesome the argument is!" is at risk of reaching conspiracy-theory levels of crazy.


The author explained why the people making the traditional arguments do in fact illustrate how accurate his observation is. It's true though that articles won't reach guys are so defensive or clueless on this subject that they're not responding rationally.


Lets not be sexist and respond in a fashion that anyone would respond to a male who whines: stop whining, get a life. Either put up or shut up. Can't handle the heat? Stay out of the kitchen. If male centered entertainment bothers you, make your own. Use your money as a vote to influence the industry. I guarantee that the industry likes money.

The arguments that women should be treated with silver gloves are by their very nature sexist.

"mouth-breathing troglodyte" pretty much immediately tells me what way the article is going to go. Which is to demonize male sexuality.

"And that was when I shot him, your honor." another sign of clear bias.

This is like reading straight from a feminist cookbook. Nothing new, nothing that would be worth any deeper thought.

I enjoy what I enjoy. It's not illegal so you may as well shut up. It's not up to you, dear author, to tell me how I should live my life.

There was nothing new in the article. It was the same tired argument that because men like boobs and they consume popular entertainment that contain boobs they are evil. Which makes no sense to me.

Maybe as the author grows up and lives a little he will see through the matrix.

We all have our biases. But it is a different thing entirely to confuse your shallow rationalizations with actual fact.


I have but one quibble, why is treating women like a men automatically not sexist? Your response follows the same line of logic as "gay people have equal right, right to marry the opposite sex"

I think there is a blind spot.


What a waste of time, this article. There is a great case to be made for treating every human as a person, and not a member of the class, but he did not make this case.

First, the author complains that women get treated only as sexual objects in most games/comics/etc. Ok, that could be. It's not in Halo or Bioshock, the only games I play, but let's look at the data. So then he mentions opposing view - that men get sexualized too, and then instead of addressing that objection calls it sexist and dismisses it. Really? I would expect some stats, not simply "only sexist would say that" kind of reply. He does this repeatedly throughout the article - not addressing an argument, but simply labeling it with an ugly label and moving on. FWIW, the picture of batman he posted looks sexualized to me, as far as I can judge those things.

Then he just goes to make unsubstantiated broad claims. But of course pointing out lack of substance would be sexist, reflexive and defensive of me :)

A few choice quotes: "A man who's strong-willed or aggressive won't be denigrated for it". In my neck of the woods he will. I did, and I saw others going out of line getting a talk.

"...nor are men socialized to 'go along to get along'." Same thing here, I've seen it all the time.


"It's not in Halo or Bioshock"

Not to take sides in this argument, but you might want to reconsider that specific statement: http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3449/3698998163_fe844856da.jp... http://gamingsrapture.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2011/...


This article is built on a bunch of assumptions and stereotypes which is terribly ironic given the subject matter. Some of it may be true but some of it just very wrong.

Men can expect that their presence at an event won't automatically be assumed to be decorative or secondary to another man.

Not really. Ask the benchwarmers for a high school sports team.

Despite the growing presence of women in comics, as publishers, editors and creators as well as consumers, a preponderance of men will either treat women at conventions as inconveniences, booth bunnies or even potential dates.

I can't comment on comic books but in the books, movies and TV shows I want I've actually found the exact opposite is increasingly true. There's a strong temptation to make the female characters super-human creatures with a PHD and a shotgun. Always a witty comeback. Always the most moral and ethical characters.

Men are also not going to be automatically assigned into a particular niche just based on their gender.

Tell that to some straight guy who happens to like female-centric things. They're going to be assumed to be homosexuals most of the time.

And when they are seen as customers, they're often automatically assumed to be buying one of the designated "girl" properties

Perhaps in the same way a man strolling around certain types of stores popular with females would be seen?

One of these is welcomed into geek culture with open arms, the other has to justify their existence in the first place.

Says who?

makes women feel unwelcome in fandom

Tell that to all the rapid female Twilight fans.


In other news, most comic book artists and writers are male, most readers are male, a big chunk are teens, and males like pretty/nude/curvaceous females, most teen males likes big breasts and many teen females want to have big breasts, and oh yeah, sex sells. And comic books don't exist in a bubble in their own universe. It's part of this larger thing called the human race. Whatever good/bad/natural things exist in the human race will also be present in the comic book industry. Men have been ogling and fantasizing over females for thousands and very likely millions of years. Clue up. Next topic!

And on a related note, I really wish "gender" submissions on HN would start getting banned automatically. Because they almost always end up a case of beating a dead horse over and over and over again, especially from the perspective of those who've been around long enough.

ps. The author of the OA needs to wander into the Romance section of a bookstore some time. He'll be shocked, shocked at the level of sexual objectification and stereotyping that goes on there. But in the reverse direction. But since the college/PC/lesbian/feminist litmob doesn't care about that, then it's not talked about. It's considered perfectly okay. Quotes from the article like this are common with people who've been programmed with that mindset: "(Obvious disclaimer: I'm a straight white man.)" <-- Oh you poor accidental oppressor you!


most comic book artists and writers are male, most readers are male, a big chunk are teens, and males like pretty/nude/curvaceous females, most teen males likes big breasts and many teen females want to have big breasts

The TV show Mad Men is set in the early 1960s USA, when the same thing could be said of the professional world. "Everyone who works here is men, our clients are men, our customers are men" etc. And yet there was a lot of discrimination and sexism then. And things have changed (in the professional business world) then.

the college/PC/lesbian/feminist litmob doesn't care about that, then it's not talked about

Sure they do. Here's a series of blog posts about how twilight has terrible characters. http://skepchick.org/2011/11/twilight-breaking-wind/


I really enjoyed this article. Harris O'Malley seems to actually see the real problem, and expresses it with a hell of a lot more nuance than most other treatments of the subject do.

>> And when you check back on Friday, I'll provide you with some concrete applications on how being cognizant of male privilege will improve your relations with women.

I'm excited about the possibilities of the "practical applications" - there is an awful lot of "identifying the problem" and "raising awareness" (as Helianthus refers to in another comment on this thread), however, not a lot of solutions. Obviously they're not simple, and they're not easy, and they're imperfect, but I'd like to see some other people's ideas about them.


At first, I enjoyed the article.

However, I lost all respect for the author after reading some of his responses in the discussion thread.

One post of his in particular caught my eye :

"...And the first thing you did when confronted with this topic was to defend, counter, argue, and resist.

And by doing so, you immediately lost based on the rules set forth by the article..."

The notion that an argument cannot be refuted because of some preemptive ban on counter-arguments is, frankly, ludicrous to the point of being offensive.

This doesn't invalidate the contents of the article, but it effectively ends my interest in reading anything else by this author - including his follow up piece.


That is a fairly disappointing rebuttal by him. Hopefully we can simultaneously absorb the good of a nuanced discussion of the issue and condemn bad arguments about it by the same.

In what is a largely evidence based/logical culture, it's frustrating how both sides are often almost completely filled with illogical shouting. Hopefully HN can become a place with a lot more productive discussion about it than it previously has.


Probably the worst feature of modern feminism is the idea that any and all disagreement with modern feminism is sexism and thus deserves no consideration or response.


I wish authors of these sorts of pieces would focus more on the following two questions:

1. What do you want me to do?

2. What's in it for me?

Paint a picture of your ideal gender politics, and let me know why I'd like it better than the one we've got now. You might get further than you are just by attempting to convince me that people I like are "misogynists".


What do you want me to do?

"Feel bad about yourself" is usually my takeaway.


I used to think this and it's not true. The takeaway is to when you interact with people think about what your interaction is doing to the other person, on many levels.

Feeling bad is A) crappy and B) not productive.

Whatever you do when you read an article like this is you shouldn't feel bad about being male, and you shouldn't feel bad about the fact that you are a privileged class. You should recognize the ways that privilege can cause the people around you to be uncomfortable and then avoid doing those things. There isn't a list of actions you can take, other then treat everybody in a way that makes them feel welcome. Nobody wants to be leered at in a technical setting, nobody wants to be groped in a classroom (true story), and everybody wants to be treated like they are your peer.


In some ways the solution falls out of just knowing that it is a problem. If you think about it during your interactions with other people, then you can avoid the harmful things that could be said.

The reality of male privilege is that it's so pervasive in our community (in many communities) that even a little bit of acknowledgment that it might exist, and the males in that communities trying to lessen the harm that it creates can make a huge difference in making it less an issue.


I wonder how much of this acknowledgement can be done effectively as a group vs. as individuals. It seems like individuals can change their behavior very well this way, which eventually trickles to the community, but I've come to be a bit disheartened on the group side.

In a thread not long ago, I made a comment calling out an article (of an article about Steve Jobs, not gender) for expressing a (to me) particularly exasperating form of the "pedestal" side of female-discouragement. (http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3229502) If I recall correctly, the score of my comment fluctuated a bit before hitting 10, then going back down to 2. I didn't find any of the responses particularly thoughtful, but clearly it is a contentious issue.

A number of recent call-outs by women about conferences seem to indicate that accusations of sexism without 100% proof of sexist don't fly in our community, much as anything without 100% proof tends to fall flat. However, one of the most frustrating parts of sexism (and related problems) is that they are subtle and often subconscious. This discourages me.


I think community acknowledgment is basically useless honestly. I think it comes down to individuals needing to understand privilege and how it affects them and the groups they are a part of. Then the individual has to take it upon themselves to make a change that matter to the people around them, and the people they want to have around them.

If individuals don't take responsibility for their actions groups can never change.


While I agree this is a problem, I think it's as much one of society in general both polarising and demonising. (Context - IT nerd guy, single.)

I've known similarly female-dominated groups where men are automatically regarded as good-for-nothing troglodytes who will lazily eat, drink and watch sports all day with no positive contribution to wider life, while the intelligent, capable, hard-working and long-suffering women get on and do the important things the men simply can't, because they're men. Indeed, this will sometimes be seen openly in popular culture - advertising, sitcoms, soaps etc. I've done quite a lot of voluntary work with children, particularly younger children over the years; in some contexts there is still mild incredulity about the idea that a man can understand and cater well for small children, because that's What Women Do Best.

Sure, we need to watch out for ourselves and try to respect all on their merits, not objectify and stereotype. Equally there's plenty of women who don't fit in with the group I outlined above. But - work to address this problem on all fronts. Fix it when we see it in our behaviour and those of us around us, whether we're the aggressor, the victim or neither.


I don't think this is limited just to video games, comics, and such - a lot of TV and sporting events are full of "beautiful people" often wearing less/tighter things than they ought to be wearing.

How is this different/worse than having cheerleaders on the side of a football field? Or Baywatch?

Not that I'm defending poor or sexist behavior, but singling out "nerds" as being the worst troglodytes out there seems a bit much.


a lot of TV and sporting events are full of "beautiful people" often wearing less/tighter things than they ought to be wearing.

"Ought"? The feminist position is that women should be able to express themselves however they want. And it turns out that given the choice, many women actually do want to wear revealing outfits. Exhibit A: Halloween.


Halloween is a bad choice to prove anything. Using your logic, I could prove that most people would prefer if our standard wardrobes were a choice between zombies, pirates or ninjas.

I saw someone with a really great Two-Face costume this Halloween. Does this mean that that person would rather spend their entire life in a Two-Face costume?


From a sociological perspective, it's different in that gaming and comic fandom are low-status.


> How is this different/worse than having cheerleaders on the side of a football field? Or Baywatch?

It's not, but (as mentioned in the article) football fans and Baywatch viewers aren't generally holding up their communities as beacons of meritocracy while nerd communities frequently do.


Footballers, cheerleaders and hollywood are held up as a meritocracy.


I wrote "football fans and Baywatch viewers aren't generally holding up their communities," IOW I was referring to fan/viewers, not the players, cheerleaders & actors/actresses themselves.

(and I count myself as a rabid NFL fan)


The article makes some interesting points, but permit me to play devil's advocate when it comes to the way women and men are portrayed in geek media. All media, really.

Men: Serious. Women: Sexy.

Okay, no arguments there. But what does this difference in portrayal of the two sexes really mean? However much some might believe otherwise, humans are hard-wired by evolution to have gender roles. Homo sapiens has been around for roughly a hundred thousand years. Our species evolved from older hunter-gatherer species and has existed for almost its entire history as hunter-gatherers. What little we know about hunter-gatherer societies suggest that they were relatively egalitarian, but with definite gender roles.

Men: expendable risk takers. If half the men in a hunter-gatherer band are wiped out by a mammoth hunt gone wrong, the next generation can still be just as large, only with slightly less genetic diversity. So what makes a mammoth hunter popular with the ladies? Well, he has to look like he's going to be one of the guys who will actually come back. i.e. A badass.

Women: non-expendible reproducers. No matter how many men are around, the number of women who successfully bear children are what defines the reproductive success of a band. If you're a man, you don't want the woman who goes out mammoth hunting with the guys, you want the woman who picks berries (gathering was probably even more vital to a band's survival than hunting!) and who has hips made for making babies.

In this light, what we might really be seeing in geek media is portrayals of both males and females that cater to our perception of desirability to the opposite sex. Powerful, serious, badass men are desirable to women, so they are what we see in comics. The same goes for sexy, fertile, women. Men and women are being portrayed differently because different things set them apart as elite or superior to others of their gender, thanks to our hunter-gatherer wiring.

If this interpretation is correct, then media that portrays men as badass and woman as sexy isn't necessarily showing evidence of pandering to males. It may simply be reflecting evolutionary gender roles. It may be that this is one thing males should stop all the self-flagellation over.


> If this interpretation is correct, then media that portrays men as badass and woman as sexy isn't necessarily showing evidence of pandering to males. It may simply be reflecting evolutionary gender roles. It may be that this is one thing males should stop all the self-flagellation over.

It's not about self-flagellation or who is pandering to who. The article makes a broader point about how the perception of gender roles affect's our collective judgment about women's' contributions in geek society.

Your point about the basis of roles in biology is well taken, but:

1) It's not really clear how it's relevant to the larger point of the article. Batman is surely the epitome of sexual desirability in a man (rich, smart, attractive, crime fighter!) but what about the Joker and the Doctor? Skinny guy with disfigured face and pudgy dude with a neck beard? Those portrayals have nothing to do with sexual desirability. The Joker is supposed to convey manic-scary, and the Doctor precise-scary. Meanwhile, all the female portrayals are sexy-something. Sexy-crazy, sexy-eco terrorist, etc. Indeed, the point you make really reinforces the point in the article: we only portray women in terms of their sexual attractiveness, while we're willing to entertain a full range of human traits in men.

2) You can't say how much of these perceptions is rooted in culture versus biology. We're genetically predisposed to be skeptical of people not from "our clan", and slavery of not-like-kind people has been a feature of human society since antiquity, yet here we are in 2011, with massively different perceptions than even 60 years ago.

Perceptions aren't just abstract subjects of self-flagellation. They matter. Heck, geeks should be all too aware of this. As a born loudmouth, I've noticed countless times where people would take my opinion more seriously over someone who was more socially cautious. My girlfriend and I went through a pretty extensive recruiting process in our field in the last year, and you couldn't pay me to switch places with her. She assiduously avoided mentioning me, because it always lead to people trying to figure out if she was a flight risk, while my mentioning her always made me seem more stable. Even if the difference in perception gives women a few % handicap (though I'd postulate, without evidence, it's a heck of a lot more than that, especially in fields like tech or finance), that's a pretty substantial liability when you factor into account the level of competition.


>but what about the Joker and the Doctor? Skinny guy with disfigured face and pudgy dude with a neck beard?

Yes, I'm sure no woman found Heath Ledger sexy in Dark Knight. Also the Doctor being an imposing, dominating, taking the control type, surely kills any and all appeal he might ever have on women.

Both the Joker and the Doctor are still very masculine, powerful characters no matter how you look at things.

If you use male criteria for judging the attractiveness of a man to a woman, you are using male criteria for judging the attractiveness of a man to a woman. It is also called projection.


> However much some might believe otherwise, humans are hard-wired by evolution to have gender roles.

This is heavily debated in academic circles, with strong arguments either way. Please don't assume it is a scientific fact.


You're addressing what is. The article is addressing what ought.

I think.


Remember the example I mentioned earlier with my then-girlfriend in the comic store? Her opinions were deemed mistaken and she was told she didn't "get it"… because she was a girl.

i'm not sure how that had anything to do with being a girl. she was told she didn't get it because she didn't get it. if a male walked into that comic shop looking out of place, picked up a book and said something disparaging outloud, he'd probably get mocked just the same for being a newbie.

my girlfriend is into comics and i'm not. if i went into a store with her and started saying shit about comics, i would completely expect to get called out for it. the only difference is that i wouldn't storm out and never return like the author's girlfriend.



Not really sure whether that applies. There is a rather combative part of geek culture when it comes to defending either your own or the established view of your immediate peers. In that regard, geeks can indeed be astonishingly egalitarian in their derision of somebody with a perceived inferior viewpoint or understanding of the matter at hand. At that point, really all bets are off and if it is a battle between geeks, it is often a competition for who can be the most emotionless asshole.

This piss taking is something that most people would find offensive and it is this area of geekdom that is often perceived as the prime example for the emotional and social inability of geeks, particularly when a non-geek or a very fresh geek gets into such a fight. Put differently - the inability to understand that an argument about viewpoints can have limits that are deeply hurtful to other people when crossed is something that is often lost on geeks. In that regard, it is easy to conclude that the geek in question was simply being sexist. But it is also true that it was just an example for a geek not understanding that he didn't win additional points by venturing into the area of gender.

The problem is that the article really doesn't do much to qualify the "because she was a girl" statement. Was that an actual quote? Was it heavily implied? Or did it just fit the narrative closely enough that it would be accepted as another example per default?


Part of the problem is that the OP is concentrating on a game targeted specifically at guys who can't relate to women.

You can't say that Angry Birds is misogynistic, nor could you say the same of Bubble Bobble, Spy Hunter, Tempest, Centipede, Strider, Tetris, Farmville, and thousands of other video games throughout the ages. One thing Facebook, iPhone and Android have FINALLY brought is "casual" gaming for the masses, by demonstrating a market that nobody could see due to the social stigma of the geeky loser gamer.

The crazy shit only comes with heavy action games, mostly FPS (but even here there are numerous exceptions, such as Left 4 Dead).

But then again you see the same thing in TV and movies; they cater to different audiences, some of whom are offended by things the other audience likes (usually what the other audience finds sexually appealing). But when it comes down to it, it's escapist media. People don't care that it's unlikely, and they most certainly don't assume that it in any way reflects real life, any more than someone playing a FPS is likely to take a gun to work and start shooting up the place.

The comic industry in America on the whole has never grown up beyond male adolescent fantasy. That's unfortunate, as there are much richer possibilities (the Japanese manga industry, for example, caters to so many segments it's mind blowing).

But make no mistake: The American comic industry is not an example of male privilege, or any unconscious attempt at keeping women down; It's a vicious cycle of social stigma against comic READERS, and the resulting lack of market for a wider audience. Maybe someday the "iPhone of comics" will come and save us.


When an article about the problem is published on a gaming site, after it makes the point, it's got a couple of gratuitous chick images stuffed in it, with captions like "Bet you're paying attention to what I have to say now!"... Hmm.

I have always hated "You are male, YOU WILL LIKE THIS CHICK" flavored messages, and this still bothers me. Especially in an article like this.


What a load of crap. Female comic book characters are scantily clad? You don't say. But let me suggest that has not much to do with "privilege" and everything to do with the fact that teenage boys are hard-wired to appreciate this kind of thing. No, it's not a "social construct" or an effort to keep the oppressed in her place.

Where do I sign up for the privilige of having members of the opposite sex fall all over themselves doing things for me in order to get my attention?


Where do I sign up for the privilige of having members of the opposite sex fall all over themselves doing things for me in order to get my attention?

Yes. I think we should drop this discussion as it is bound to turn into a stereotype-fest which is counter-productive. The first step in getting rid of gender discrimination is to not make gender an issue at all.

It takes a great shift to regard people as individual people, not males or females. It requires "shutting out" a lot of cultural programming and maybe even biological reactions. Both for men and women. Most gender-discrimination is not conscious at all.

Arguing about "privilege" doesn't help anyone. How to go about this? On the internet it might be easier by just removing "gender" fields. But in the non-virtual world?


Where do I sign up for the privilige of having members of the opposite sex fall all over themselves doing things for me in order to get my attention?

If you're an attractive man, then you can get gay men (esp. older gay men, especially older, ugly, gay men), to do this. If you want people falling all over you, and doing things, there are ways to do that.


Well, you see I specified "opposite sex".


What you meant (i presume) is "i want people who I want to sleep with to fall over themselves to please me". What women actually get lots of time is "people I don't really want to sleep with, but want to sleep with me, falling over themselves to try to please me". As such I think the analogy of 'ugly gay guy hitting on straight guy' is apt, and similar to what a lot of women face.


It's not really the same. The thing is gay guys don't actually constitute a large percentage of the population, but straight guys do. Women get all sorts of preferential treatment without even realizing it.

I once went to Vegas with a friend and his attractive wife. We showed up without any kind of plans, and she decided she wanted to go to one of the more exclusive restaurants. I wandered over to ask if they could squeeze us in. Nope. All booked until we were gone. So I went back to the casino and broke the bad news, at which point she went to the restaurant to talk to them herself. We were eating there a few hours later.

Now, she didn't give them a big tip or promise sex or anything like that. She just asked (well, "wheedled" is probably a better word). And she knew to ask when they said no to me because that kind of thing happens all the time. Why? Well, according to her it's because men just don't know how to ask. I have another theory, which is that (straight) men are wired to do things for attractive women even when there's no chance of a relationship.


The other day I was shocked to see this:

http://twitpic.com/7to6eb

An article referring to females working in technology as "tech totty".

This isn't some obscure insider tech publication, it's the cover for the industry journal for graduate recruitment.

I find it shocking that a mainstream HR journal would use such a term, and I think it's a sign that it's a wider issue than just the geek community. Society as a whole needs to become more accepting of girls in geek culture.


Want to see less sexism in games? Stop buying shallow and commercialized titles and support developers who actually try to express their ideas via the medium. Seriously.

I'm not saying you should switch to a different kind of games and ignore the trends in the rest of them, but I see that a lot of people decrying "sex and violence" in various types of media are also validating the exact same works that are fundamentally based on sex and violence. That doesn't make sense.


Yes vote with your wallet. "Money lets you effect the change you want to see in the world".

But that doesn't mean you aren't allowed to give out about sexist stuff when you see it.


I thought there were some interesting things that he missed in his assessment of comic books, presumably because of a specific cultural lens he was looking at.

The commic book male figures he mentioned fell into two types: The deadly serious, strong, sexy Batman and two not particularly sexed supervillains. In other words, while the women are all about sex, for men, only the good guys-- the superheroes-- are. This may still make a case for male privilege but it's not as clear-cut I think as he wants to think.

The second thing is that men tend to stare at boobs. This is not unique to geek culture.

This being said, I do think that it is important not to dismiss people's views because of gender. Some of the most talented programmers I have ever met were women. In fact I would take that further and say the most talented programmer I have ever worked with is a woman. I learned a heck of a lot about security audits, programming secure code, and also general algorithms and good software design, development, and engineering practices from her (including her starting IRC dialogs to call me on the carpet for mistakes on my part). To the extent women's views are ignored because of gender that's pretty bad.

But another thing I have heard from women in open source is that one of the most annoying aspects of gender in open source is to be asked over and over "so what do you think we need to do to get women involved in open source?" I have seen plenty of replies of "Do you have ANY idea how annoying it is to be constantly asked that?"


One thing to note is that it only takes one obnoxious person to ruin it for all the other well-informed and well-behaved people in any given room/server, because good behavior, by definition, does not draw attention to itself.


We don't know he was even an obnoxious person (see also, the Actor-Observer bias http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Actor%E2%80%93observer_bias ), we only have her boyfriend's third party account of the interaction.

Other options:

- What she said was stupid and noobish, and he replied bluntly - rudely but not sexistly.

- What happened was misinterpreted as sexist because the interpreter is her boyfriend and jumps to her defense easily.

- The man in the comic book store interpreted her as being mocking and hostile and retorted in a similar fashion, when she didn't mean it that way.

- The man in the comic book store intended his comment to be a mocking imitation of a sexist, thinking he was being witty, but was taken as being literal.

- The shop manager agreed with the complaining customer because he was complaining and not because he was right.

- The man in comic store is normally nice and was temporarily more sexist than he usually is for some dull and specific reason, like he saw a very-near-miss in the carpark by a female driver.


I think your comment is much stronger if you take out the last one.


I've had a serious interest in comics/animation for about 45 years. I've had a professional interest for about 30 years.

I can't really comment on video game culture, from a personal point of view; obviously there were no video games when I was growing up. And the only video game that ever held my interest, other than for their graphics technology, was Myst; and it hardly had any people in it at all, objectivized or otherwise.

(I have been doing some work learning Blender the last few weeks. And a lot of the tutorials I've been working through have a definite gamer design aesthetic to them. I swear if I have to work through another youtube video about how to create an inappropriately under-clad-for-the-forrest elf girl, or sullen, post-apocalyptic hooker/warrior, I'm gonna barf...)

American animation has always been stuck at the grade school, pre-puberty level. So its gender problem is less objectification than it is the whole princess thingie.

However, for American comics the primary audience has pretty much always been sexually maturing males. (Historically, with a few notable exceptions, comics aimed at girls were created by men with little insight into what a female audience might like.) So it's not particularly surprising that the successful comic market caters to power fantasies, rebellion, and sexual objectification. And the fact that comics, again in the U.S., have usually been considered a third rate art form, means there's been no real incentive to conceal or domesticate the raw, naked id on display a lot of the time.

Now I actually have no real problem with that. Geeky teenagers who can't get a date, or have gender empathy issues are people too. I can relate. And a little misogyny, and misandry, can be fun at times. (There's nothing particularly uplifting and socially relevant about the Three Stooges either; but I still enjoy the occasional Nyuk and eye poke.) And certainly the over-the-top, operatic story lines would seem to require picaresque, allegorical characters, ripped from the collective psyche.

But, damn, a little variety would sure be appreciated.

If I accidentally wander into a comic book store these days I'm surrounded by little else but 40-60 year old S&M archetypes, minute variations on characters created years before most of the current audience were even born. And with a bipolar range of emotions, angry dominatrix to submissive sex kitten, that would make an anime/manga tsundere blush.

I lost interest in most American mainstream comics around 1975, mainly through boredom. Now there has always been higher quality work floating around. It's there if you look for it. But Sturgeon's Law applies, with the added characteristic that the 90% case is almost indistinguishable and frozen in time; and at adolescence. Sure the technology is getting better; we've got better reproduction and the distribution system is no longer random mafioso magazine distribution. But the literary style and moral compass is provided by Frank Miller, with art direction by Eric Stanton. It's an insular culture, with little cross fertilization with the rest of society, that keeps telling the same story over and over. Now the base story and its archetypes are not without their merits, but it's certainly not the be-all, end-all of the medium. It just seems that way sometimes.

A year or so ago, when the _Scott Pilgrim_ movie out, I really enjoyed it. After seeing it I immediately ran out and bought the graphic novels. I had almost nothing in common with the characters, the music and video game references were largely lost on me, but it was so nice to have something a little different than the dull thudding of the mainstream American comics Ur-legend. It was light, fluffy, with a novel, to me, storyline. And it had engaging characters. I found it very manga-like, both in its visuals and its approach to storytelling.

Which brings us to manga.

I got re-interested in comics around 10 years ago when the Japanese manga and anime started to become easily available. Now everything bad and/or chauvinistic that you can find in U.S. comics, and by extension, game culture, you can find in spades in the Japanese product; and that's what you usually find imported and bought by the U.S. comics companies and distributors. However, if you look at the bigger picture, at the market in Japan, there's much more variety and a generally higher level of literary and visual quality than you find anywhere else in the world for visual media. I'm not really sure why this is. Partly it is because there is much less stigma in their culture directed towards comics; but that doesn't explain the problems with video game culture over here. Over there not only boys read comics, but girls do too. And young adults, and even 40 year old salarymen and OL (office ladies). They have comics aimed at insurance salesmen, golfers, pretty much any kind of genre you can conceive of. The Onion would have a hard time parodying the variety of Japanese manga.

Now Sturgeon's Law still applies, but the absolute numbers are so much greater that the absolute numbers of the good 10% is much higher than over here. And the distribution of non-juvenile, male oriented material is much healthier. The anime and video gaming industries seem to be less so, but they do seem healthier than ours. And don't many of "our" more popular games come from Japan?

One big difference in Japanese comic culture, in addition to its size, is that it is much more of a participative one. Non-professional, fan created comics, or Doujinshi, are a major "craft industry" over there. Comiket, the biggest non-professional sales and marketing convention, routinely has half a million attendees, twice a year, with 30,000+ author circles, or groups, selling their often high quality amateur comics and visual novels. Now admittedly, the "adult oriented" Doujinshi get the most press, and a substantial percentage of the audience, but there's a lot of alternatives for those who want it. One of the alternatives is a form of erotic literature, some quite pornographic, and much of it quite good, created by women and aimed at women. I don't see that kind of thing in large demographic U.S. comics. Other than the Japanese imports, of course…

Maybe the solution to the U.S. game industry's geek image has to do with smaller scale, more diverse, more specialized gaming creation companies. With games aimed at demographics who aren't 14 year old males or those who were once 14 year old males and have never had an easily available and well marketed alternative. I'm not really qualified to speculate intelligently. That market may well exist and I'm just unaware of it.

If it does exist, I may be interested.


There's a lot of diversity in North American comics, just not in their sales. All the diversity gets shoved into the back corner of the store, where only those already "in the know" would dare venture. Check out Fantagraphics and Drawn & Quarterly and their decades-long output of original, reprint and translated material, on about as many different subjects as you can name.


I'm well familiar with the non-mainstream American comic market and literary scene; said as much in the post. But as you said, demographically it is very small, though it does poke through here and there in the mainstream awareness.

Frankly, I find more diversity in the comics/graphic novel section at Barnes and Noble than I do at the local comic book shops. And I'd say about half of that was manga and manga oriented material.

Something I didn't touch on in my previous post, which is kind of ironic considering our current venue, is the diversity found in U.S. web based comics. (The 800 pound gorilla there is Penny Arcade, which is a sort of sympathetic deconstruction of gaming culture.) But since the barrier to entry is essentially zero, there's a lot of diversity in web comics; diversity in style, themes, maturity, ... and quality.

Without really trying I've had the opportunity to meet dozens of web comic creators. Their fan bases range from dozens to thousands; with the largest rivaling mass media audiences. There is certainly much more exploration of specialized interests in this arena than in any other western, English language comics.

There doesn't seem to be a lot of commerce involved. Only a few are able to make a full time living at it. In some ways that's healthy for an art form. In others it can be very limiting. We can hope this aspect will change over time.


I object to the connections drawn in this article. I am a tech professional which means it is not terribly uncommon to have the nerd/geek label placed upon me, but I have never and will never have anything to do with the comics/videogame culture being described here.


That doesn't seem to be the important part of the article? I think the title (ought to) imply "Some nerds..." anyway. Some people understand privilege better than others, often due to their own circumstances. Being gay has given me an interesting insight into privileges that span sexuality and gender issues and having a close female friend who tells me about her daily experiences repeatedly shocks me into new realizations of how good I have it as a male, even if not a straight male.


That seems to be the entire focus of the article. A modified headline would have saved me my time.

An article about male privilege in the tech industry, which is what I expected seeing as this is HNs, I would have appreciated. This however meant nothing to me.


I guess I took it as more of a general intro to privilege for the lay-person or 'lay-nerd'. I mean, take the basic concepts of privilege and extend them to almost ANY females-in-tech-industry topic and you'll see it fits.

It's just like the thread a few weeks ago about women asking for raises or more competitive pay with a shocking number of HN users saying "it's their own fault for not asking for more", ignoring the research, discussions and psychology behind why women don't ask for raises (they're rejected, shunned in the workplace and often later let go).

(For the "record", I agree that there is a potential for a better discussion of male privilege that would be more appropriate for HN that would probably foster a more directed, specific discussion.)


As an outside observer, I'd say that speaking about male privilege from the context of comic book stores is like speaking about racism from the context of 19th century Alabama. It's just so blatant to anybody disconnected from it that it is very hard to make comparisons to other contexts.


How fortunate for the slaves of 19th-century Alabama that the abolitionists of 19th-century New England did not think this way.

Though I'm sure plenty of people tried to convince Frederick Douglass to stop talking about Alabama all the time. It must have made for more than one uncomfortable dinner party.

Anyway, back to the point. Yes, this is a particularly blatant example of a male-privilege subculture, used in part for educational purposes. [1] You would prefer to begin a conversation about male privilege by discussing much more subtle examples? So that we can be treated to the usual two hundred pages' worth of denials that the examples are even real?

---

[1] Though in gamer and comic culture this is not an abstruse academic exercise. And these are not small subcultures, even if they apparently aren't quite big enough to encompass everyone.


You are intentionally misrepresenting my comment. I vehemently disown any meaning you apparently see in it.

What I am saying is that if we attempted to talk about, say, allegations of racism in the YC process (a fairly popular discussion around here), it would not be effective to talk about 19th century Alabama.

If you did, everyone would just say, "well hell, we're not lynching slaves for sport, there clearly isn't actually a problem here."

Trying to base a discussion about sexism in the tech industry on something talking about comic book stores is similarly flawed. The tech industry is not the comic book store community. Everybody outside that community knows they are disgusting sexist pigs. It therefore bears little insight.

You may as well try to base the discussion on something about sexism at truckstops or stripclubs. Either would be equally effective starting points for a serious discussion.


[warning: slightly offensive]

I really would hope, that women in video games are in fact judged by how attractive they are. I certainly wouldn't want an obese woman superhero saving the world, just as I'm sure the gay males and the straight women wouldn't want to see a tub of lard (excuse my language) in a male, who is supposed to epitomize the superhuman virtues that we lack.

Yeah, it's shit easy to wave a finger and say "omg u guyz objectify womenz!!!" but honestly, stop for a moment and think about it. This isn't unique to nerd/geek/whatever-you-want-to-call-it culture.

This is spread through the ENTIRE western world. Why? We like beauty. We (and I speak as a straight male - feel free to adjust the context to your preference) like the way those subtle curves meld into a girl's hips. And why shouldn't we? The female body is a thing of beauty - it's delicately crafted, given form by years of grooming and attention. You'll be hard pressed, even among the straight-female population (at least the 18-25 age group), to find many people who think likewise about the male body.

When I told pg about my idea, he told me to consider how females would react; this is very much the same situation. Try dressing a video game girl up in a trench coat, with green hair, and ugly classes, and ask a girl if that's a character she'd like to play. No, it's not.

Who am I to speak? I've been in the gaming industry for a while, and I've probably passed my 10,000 hours of MMO development/management. Give most gaming girls a choice, and they will CHOOSE to dress their characters in slutty--or as they call it, "sexy cute"--clothing. Can you almost see most of their legs? Yes. Should their nipples probably slip out once in a while, if there was a realistic physics engine? Yes.

Do they care? No. Just as I would not like to play a male character whose genitals are almost falling out, females would not like to (in general) play female characters who are covered by obstructive and unattractive clothing. Why do my friends adorn themselves in dresses that barely cover their underwear when they go to clubs? I used to think it was because they wanted to attract males, and while that may sometimes be the case, many of them have loyal boyfriends and won't even dance with other guys.

Want to know the real reason, why there are so few girls in gaming? Well, I don't know - though here's one (partial) guess:

Most "nerds/geeks" are disgusting. I have a terrible sense of smell, and sometimes I'm forced to recoil from my more nerdy peers. If everyone took the time to shower daily, use proper body wash, shampoo (and watch out of dandruff) and condition separately, exfoliate, and shave, I'd bet way more women will enter the gaming phenomenon.

Remember - gaming isn't always a solo affair. Much of the time, directly or indirectly, it's a social activity.


> Give most gaming girls a choice, and they will CHOOSE to dress their characters in slutty--or as they call it, "sexy cute"--clothing.

I think there's a subtle point being lost here. Female characters designed to appeal to women look different than female characters designed to appeal to men. For example, if the characters are designed to appeal to women, you can pretty much guarantee that they will not look like they have had basketballs implanted in their chests.

Likewise, massive male characters built out of a mountain of muscle are designed primarily to appeal to male power fantasies. Relatively few women will find this especially attractive, and male characters designed to appeal to more (straight) women would be built more along the lines of Ryan Gosling or Ryan Reynolds.


"For example, if the characters are designed to appeal to women, you can pretty much guarantee that they will not look like they have had basketballs implanted in their chests."

I am not a woman.

I live in Southern California.

I see quite a large population of women here who choose to implant what appear to be basketballs in their own chests.

One could debate whether or not this is due to a negative society influence or whatever other factors, but clearly there is a segment of the female population that embraces the "basketballs on the chest" look. Enough so that they choose to participate in the look personally.

So be careful speaking for an entire group, especially when it is as big of a group as "women".


To be fair, IIRC the 'hunky guy' that was well-built/muscled was popular with women in the '80s (so far as I know, feel free to correct me). And I do know at least one woman that is into that archetype.


Have you stopped to think about what the effects of sexually objectifying women are (aside from titillating you)? I don't see how arguing that a harmful thing is pervasive excuses it.


I'm afraid I'm not an expert on subjective causation.


I'm sure the gay males and the straight women wouldn't want to see a tub of lard (excuse my language) in a male

You seem to have a narrow view of human sexuality. Lots of non-heterosexual people have (obviously) decided that mainstream attraction isn't for them, and shag who they want.

And yes for some men, they want to shag big fat guys. They are called "Bears" and are a large niche within the gay community http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bear_(gay_culture) You might see these bears at a gay pride parade. They are big, fat, hairy and proud of it. And they'll get laid that way.

Likewise there are straight men who like big girls, just search for BBW (Big Beautiful Woman) in you favorite porno site.

So your "pretty soft femme girls and butche men" theory is nice. Shame reality disagrees.


Can we look at general themes, rather than exceptions? I'm well aware that exceptions exist, but it's impossible to analyze situations like this that way. There are men and women who are attracted to animals as well, but obviously, these are outside the scope of this discussion.


How general do you want to be? You included gay men, which is ~ 2→5% of the population, so you're already siding on the "include lots of minorities" stand.

My point is that you can't really "analyze the situation" at all, because there are so many different sexualities.


> Most "nerds/geeks" are disgusting.

well at least we agree on something!


Sexism isn't exclusive to nerds, and nerd hostility is about more than females. This is the golden age of the geek, his once scorned subculture has been universally vindicated across all domains. In TV, movies, music, fashion, gaming, and of course business, being a geek is now the in thing. The geek's meteoric rise into the mainstream has caught the culture off guard. Suddenly, everyone wants to be seen reading comics, playing games, and tinkering with computers, and now the once ostracized "true scottsman" nerd must account for the burgeoning interest of the general public in "his" world.


Please just Google images for "romance novels".


.. or look at the way men are often presented in chick flicks. Rich, handsome, without any own personality whatsoever apart from magically mirroring what the female character needs at that point.


I agree with the commenter who points out that the culture is not dominant, and if it's that bad, it won't have much acceptance.

And all who care of the sexism in IT, geek culture, etc., should turn themselves to the core problem. Use the Japanese method: ask 5 questions "why?"

Why are geeks so sexist? They see women first of all as a sexual object.

Why they do this? Because this is what they want. They are sexually hungry young men.

Why are they sexually hungry? They don't have much dating and sex. I admit that some guys are ok in this area and just misbehave.

Why do they have issues? Because they're geeks, and geeks are uncool, not sexually attractive.

Now, start curing this issue, not telling them to behave.

If a person is depressed, up to having no appetite, it's a common complaint from the relatives that the sick person is mistreating them, doesn't want to talk, closes the door, etc. Do you think a depression can be solved by telling that person to behave? Or by telling "life goes on", "birds are tweeting, ha ha"? No. It still doesn't make that person's needs met.

Yet when it comes to social phoenomena, the treatment that is zealously promoted is to treat the outcomes, not the source.

So, I suggest to the IT industry managers: start making your nerds' needs met. I don't know how. Hire a prostitute? May be valid in some special cases. Make a dating event? Maybe. Hire a psychologist? Can be useful. Make a party with a most-women company? Maybe.

Basically, I think it's worth trying to let them have more dating and learn some social skills. (This all has to be in a very delicate way, of course.) But stop teaching people how to live. If you don't like how they behave, fire them, don't try to become a father who dislikes his son but keeps living together. (This is exactly what the article says: I hate this, but I stay!)

Solve the real issue, make their needs met.


The point of the five whys is to elicit insight and fact, not stuff you just make up.

It turns out that guys who get laid are also often sexist, so your theory is bunk. There are also plenty of guys who don't get laid who aren't assholes to women.

When you got to the notion that IT managers should create a culture of respect for women by hiring prostitutes for their most sexist male employees, you should have realized that you had approximately no idea what you were talking about.


We did hire a prostitute for a depressed friend to make him feel better. Not openly. I have no idea how it works for your company, that's why I wrote "maybe".

Your trying to be judgemental and look down on everyone around completely discredits your arguments.


Comic-book culture seems to me very tangentially related to nerdism, computing, what have you. Al Capp was drawing remarkably endowed women in "Li'l Abner" a decade before ENIAC appeared. I doubt he was the first cartoonist to do so, as he very definitely wasn't the last.


TL;DR version: http://xkcd.com/385/


This site still looks blank with Javascript off.

How hard is it to provide content in 2011?


If you turn javascript on, the text appears but it is still pretty blank.


This site is part of the Gawker network, which recently had a redesign for the entire network of sites. The response from the community was very critical.


I'm assuming you need some soft of an iPad to view the site...

maybe I'm wrong


Hi! It turns out that discussions about privilege are not entirely novel. If you would like to avoid making an argument that is a) missing the point, and b) common enough to be listed in a catalog, start here:

http://derailingfordummies.com/

Arguments of that form are already all over this thread, so you can also use this as a bingo card.


Author writes "A man isn't expected to be a representative of his sex in all things; if he fails at a job, it's not going to be extrapolated that all men are unfit for that job", yet he seems to draw an awful lot of conclusions from some random guy in a comic store coming on to his girl-friend.


Anyone remember Perfect Dark? There was a female protagonist that could kick some ass.


Yeah, but she was attractive and therefore a tool of the patriarchy, or something.


Or Metroid! The reveal of Samus's identity at the end of that game was a little bit gender-bendy for me as a young man.


I'm not sure why the author of this article somehow thinks that geeks deny the existence of sexism in geek culture. The reality is that it's widely known and accepted. If the author wants to find something to rail against, he should have chosen the fact that everybody knows, but nobody cares.

I'm not going to defend the treatment of women in geek culture, as much of it is indefensible. but it seems that few people bring up one of the most important factors in its existence, one which has nothing at all to do with objectification. It has more to do with envy, anger, and an amazing ability to hold a grudge.

Many HN readers are from a younger generation than myself. Many of you grew up always equating geek with "cool", and have no conception of what it would be like to be treated as nearly subhuman for liking computers. Some of us, however, remember the torment, the humiliation, the violence, the scorn and the ostracism of finding science, electronics, and computers fascinating. There was, indeed, such a time. Many nerds who endured poor treatment at the hands of their peers developed deep emotional traumas that, to this day, exist to some extent or another. One of these traumas is borne of the experience of being not merely rejected, but openly mocked by girls during the most critical time in a young man's life when he is supposed to develop his sense of social status and sexuality. Frustration and humiliation is quick to turn to anger, and from anger, a deep rooted misogyny.

The result of this kind of upbringing is often a socially stunted man who, despite all his powers of logic and reason, finds it difficult to reason away the anger that he knows shouldn't be there, but is. He witnesses sexism and mistreatment of women around him, but he lacks the empathy required to say or do anything about it.

This concludes my armchair psychologist's analysis of one possible dimension of a hypothesis of why many of my generation permits geek culture to allow rampant sexism.

Caveats: I have no data or training in psychology to suggest this is at all a significant factor. But I am quite familiar with the phenomenon, and I know several other nerds who experience the same thing. I mention it only because it seems the zeitgeist is that men don't even see the sexism. I posit that many do see it, but it doesn't matter to (a good portion of) them. And that a possible cause of this in geek culture specifically is latent adolescent anger at women.


"Some of us, however, remember the torment, the humiliation, the violence, the scorn and the ostracism of finding science, electronics, and computers fascinating. There was, indeed, such a time. Many nerds who endured poor treatment at the hands of their peers developed deep emotional traumas that, to this day, exist to some extent or another. One of these traumas is borne of the experience of being not merely rejected, but openly mocked by girls during the most critical time in a young man's life when he is supposed to develop his sense of social status and sexuality. Frustration and humiliation is quick to turn to anger, and from anger, a deep rooted misogyny."

The irony here is that the stigmatization of "nerds" was/is a product of males falling outside acceptable gender roles as well. Calling these males "privileged" is a way to dismiss and marginalize them.

Why is it that the majority of feminist articles I run into feel the need to dismiss the problems of "privileged" in making an argument for their perspective? They are not mutually exclusive. Perhaps it's selection bias and only controversial articles float to the top but it really seems like this is the norm.


This is a pretty good starter inventory for what feminists mean when they talk about "male privilege".

http://www.amptoons.com/blog/the-male-privilege-checklist/

You may disagree with the analysis behind the list's construction, but I see little if anything on that list that obviously gets crossed off the list by virtue of being a geek.

Social justice theorists also talk about different kinds of privileges, so the idea that geeks have male privilege does not exclude the possibility that there is another form of privilege that they lack that others have. Some other types of privilege that are sometimes considered are white privilege, class privilege, heterosexual privilege, etc. You can have male privilege but not white privilege, etc.

In other words, privilege isn't simply a binary have/don't have thing such that geeks have it and women don't.

You could make an argument that there is some sort of gender-stereotypical privilege that, say, football players share in but geeks do not. Is that where you were going?


Males have the "privilege" of being the "stronger" sex. If you're not collected and emotionally unreactive you are abnormal/weak. Any emotional expression that deviates from a narrow acceptable range is abnormal. You do not need the same reaching out or emotional support of the "weaker" sex because you are strong. It's no wonder males have the privilege of being more likely to be isolated. Have the privilege of being 5 times more likely succesfully commit suicide. Being 10 times more likely to die on the job. Our "strength" gives us the privilege to be drafted into wars and be generally disposable to the hazards of society. None of this captured by your list though so I suppose it's irrelevant.

"Weakness" in females signals a socialized response to reach out and support. "Weakness" in males signals a socialized response to stigmatize. Because after all you are privileged, why don't you just "man-up"?

"Social justice theorists also talk about different kinds of privileges, so the idea that geeks have male privilege does not exclude the possibility that there is another form of privilege that they lack that others have."

That's my point. When is the last time you read an article about leveling the field of female privilege? In theory the idea of privilege is inclusive but in practice it's not.


You're thinking about the word privilege in the wrong way. When you use the term in a social justice setting you need to stop thinking about all the possible meanings and focus on a very few specific ones. (Think of the word in the same way you think of class when you are talking about programming, it has a specific meaning, trying to make privilege mean more then it does makes you look like you are trying to argue semantics).

When we talk about privilege in a social justice setting you want to think about the privilege of being the default. Ignore every other privilege and think about that one in particular. You point out all the downsides of that privilege in your post, which are all true and valid, which is why calling whiteness and maleness a privilege breaks our brains a bit. It's not unadulterated good, there are a lot of bad things that come about due to the default of maleness and masculinity.

Lets look at the idea that you put forward about Weakness, how in women it's ok, and in males it's not ok.

In males it's not ok because it violates the default maleness that is expected (a negative aspect of the default maleness), and in females it is ok because it goes along with the !default of femaleness.

When you start thinking of privilege not as things that you get for being male, but about expectations of the world, what we view the default as, and what we view the other as, the idea that male privilege could be bad for males and females makes more sense. In a lot of ways the word privilege is a crappy way to put it, because it makes us think about things that are privileges in our lives, not the privilege of being the default.


> None of this captured by your list though so I suppose it's irrelevant.

They're not on a male privilege checklist. A catalog of gender differences would be a different list.

> When is the last time you read an article about leveling the field of female privilege? In theory the idea of privilege is inclusive but in practice it's not.

I think most feminists would discount the idea of "female privilege" per se as a false equivalence similar to a hypothetical "black privilege".

> "Weakness" in females signals a socialized response to reach out and support. "Weakness" in males signals a socialized response to stigmatize.

The fact that there is a societal preference toward masculinity, which underlies many of your points, is definitely a topic that gets brought up in feminist/gender studies circles. This is why it's comparatively okay for women to be tomboys and such, and highly frowned upon for men to be effeminate or show what are considered feminine traits.

Many feminists call this general societal enforcement of gender roles part of patriarchy, and seek to remove the stigma associated with violating these roles. So if that's something you're interested in, there's no reason you can't find common cause.


"I think most feminists would discount the idea of "female privilege" per se as a false equivalence similar to a hypothetical "black privilege"."

That's my point.

"The fact that there is a societal preference toward masculinity, which underlies many of your points, is definitely a topic that gets brought up in feminine circles. This is why it's comparatively okay for women to be tomboys and such, and highly frowned upon for men to be effeminate or show what are considered feminine traits."

My point is that's not a fact. I mean look at what you're saying. You're saying that the fact a gay male is more likely to experience stigma, have less support, more likely to be a victim of hate crime, and more likely to kill himself than his gay female counterpart is an offense against the feminine. The determining factor for these injustices is being biologically male.

"Many feminists call this general societal enforcement of gender roles part of patriarchy, and seek to remove the stigma associated with violating these roles. So if that's something you're interested in, there's no reason you can't find common cause."

In theory there is no reason why there can't be common cause. Gender analysis is gender analysis. In practice it usually doesn't work out that way.


I think you are right, but it is really hard to take a nuanced position like that out in public (or anyway, it invites a lot of criticism) because it is inevitably interpreted as a political move to neutralize efforts in favor of groups which are, still, disadvantaged on-the-whole even if they actually are privileged or advantaged in some specific ways.


So I guess we can add "Being able to speak frankly about [opposite gender] privilege in public" to the list of female privileges.


Hmm, I'm not sure - because women talking openly about male privilege might find agreement from some quarters but ridicule or worse from other quarters.

This is like saying that black people have the privilege of talking about race in the US, but whites don't. That might have some truth to it, but overall it's a point-missing half-truth, since black people who talk about that kind of thing are often treated as "angry blacks" or "to ideological" or whatever, and the broader context makes "feeling mildly uncomfortable about race discussions" a comparatively trivial complaint.

(I feel secure in saying this, as a white male)


Personally I don't find it problematic to talk about female privilege at all. I think one has to be careful (just as women have to be careful talking about male privilege) but there are areas where it is so blatant and damaging that it must be talked about, particularly in areas of domestic violence.

When I was just out of college, I was (as a male) the victim of some pretty intense domestic violence several times a week for about six months. It was a very hellish situaiton, but one thing that made it a lot worse was the sense that if I went to the authorities, I would be blamed for the attacks against me. Yet I was assaulted with lethal weapons (knives mostly) several times a week.

Nobody can tell me that there aren't key areas where female privilege doesn't exist. The problem is that it is as invisible to females as male privilege is to males.


A related problem is the distinction between isolated incidents and social problems. Your story counts as an isolated incident because you're male, whereas if you were female and the attacker was male it would be treated as a serious issue by some well-organised lobbyists and any attempt to question this or suggest that male victims exist too would be shot down as a direct attack on you.

Of course, this doesn't just affect men; female victims of violently abusive women get similar treatment. There was a lovely incident where a really major feminist blogger wrote a post [1] which talked about her experience of domestic violence and attributed it to the fact that the abuser was male, just completely erasing victims who'd been treated in the same way by a women. Another women had actually experienced this from a female abuser and was quite distressed by being erased in this way, leading to a long discussion[2] in which said big-name feminist claimed without any sense of irony that not allowing her to treat other victims' experiences as impossible was somehow an attack on her and an attempt to erase her experiences as impossible, before going on to further erase the other victim's experiences and call her irrational.

As far as I can tell there's pretty much no real movement towards gender equality anywhere, and most of the anti-domestic violence organisations are actually anti-violence against women (but only if it's by men). Sady Doyle is still a respectable member of the online feminist community, the moderators of that blog went against their stated goals and the interests of their commenters to side with her, and I don't think anyone else cared.

[1] http://tigerbeatdown.com/2011/10/08/the-percentages-a-biogra... [2] http://noseriouslywhatabouttehmenz.wordpress.com/2011/10/09/...


There is more and more work being done in social justice circles now to degender the assumptions in discussions about rape and domestic violence. Many members of earlier generations of feminists found it easy to dismiss talk about problems like domestic violence that affected heterosexual men as unimportant, which is obviously unfortunate. But as gay, lesbian, and transgender people gain visibility within the social justice community, it becomes more obvious that this is based on gender essentialist, heterosexist assumptions that are simply not valid.

Of course, this doesn't change the fact that most resources for rape and domestic violence are geared toward women. This is a problem not only for straight men, for for gay men and transgender people as well. There's a lot more work that has to be done in this area, and if you feel strongly abut it, I would strongly encourage you to get involved.


What's infuriating to me was that even when I was going through this (mid-1990's), I was aware of the statistics, that everyone who had studied gender and violence concluded that there was no significant difference in severity or frequency of domestic violence--- that men were more likely to "beat up" their partners but women were far more likely to assault with weapons. This isn't new data. The problem is that talking about gender privilege has taken place entirely in a discussion about sexism rather than a discussion about society in general.

When we talk about trying to get rid of "heterosexism" (I prefer the term heteronormative because it's purely descriptive but also a lot broader), I don't think that still leaves room at the table for heterosexual male victims of DV. We are still well outside a problem that is mainstream to talk about.


You're right -- the erasure of straight male domestic violence survivors is not an example of heterosexism, it's gender essentialism. It involves the assumption that being male means being stereotypically masculine, and being female means being stereotypically feminine. (Heterosexism occurs when domestic violence survivors in same-sex relationships are erased because the relationships don't follow the heteronormative male/female dynamic.)

> The problem is that talking about gender privilege has taken place entirely in a discussion about sexism rather than a discussion about society in general.

I agree. Because the first waves of gender studies were "women's studies", it made it much harder to discuss topics outside the basic men-oppress-women dynamic of sexism. And even as gay and lesbian studies became more prominent, there wasn't nearly as much work being done on gender roles as they apply to heterosexual males. Most of the work I've seen that's really applicable to the problem is being done either (to a lesser degree) in studying masculinity and femininity in the context of butch and femme lesbian roles, or from a trans* point of view. Some trans men, in particular, claim the right to be considered men and still be feminine or androgynous, and they can approach the topic without the stigma attached to either gay or straight cis men when they broach the topic outside of narrow venues like drag performances. Hopefully this will be the precursor to constructively reconsidering the entire topic and a general fight against that stigma.


I think a lot of times it is more helpful to see things in terms of normative and liminal models and narratives. The problem at present is that even with this opening up, you still see male victims of DV as liminal (at best!) figures in the conversation. Self-defence defenses in DV however are still very gender-biased, and I still run into lots of people who deny that female on male DV is even a problem.

I don't see this changing right away in any fundamental manner but you are correct that there are slow positive steps in the right direction.


Well, put it this way: As a white male, I would be extremely uncomfortable having this discussion in public. When this sort of thing comes up, I tend to leave the room or at least sit there quietly.

See, men also may find support in some quarters, and ridicule or worse in other quarters. One of those quarters they may encounter "or worse" happens to be workplace environments where overzealous HR departments can end careers.


What's unique to this situation is the social construct of the "stronger" and "weaker" sex. A claim of victim hood coming from a female aligns with bias we already hold about women. Women are socialized to emotionally connect with others as a way of support and people are socialized to respond back positively.

A claim of victim hood by a male violates this norm. There is little established protocol for this situation and is basically taboo. So even outside of a politically fragile context there's already a power differential as far as talking frankly or seeking empathy goes.


But in certain domains (childrearing, for example) females are definitely in a net-privileged position in terms of power and control, particularly if unmarried.


> Our "strength" gives us the privilege to be drafted into wars and be generally disposable to the hazards of society.

This isn't an example of privilege, it's patronization - it was a male-dominated society who declared that women weren't fit/suitable for war (and other occupations) and therefore should be protected from the horrors of war. Until recently it was men who wanted to keep women out of combat roles (now the split is about even, with the majority supporting combat roles for women).


A)My use of the word privilege was sarcastic.

B)The Equal Rights Amendment which would have required drafting for both sexes was defeated by a woman organization(STOP ERA).


I am thinking of the descriptions of missionaries to Ireland who were horrified at what they saw as women in battle hacking eachother to pieces, while carrying their infants on their backs.


That's my point. When is the last time you read an article about leveling the field of female privilege? In theory the idea of privilege is inclusive but in practice it's not.

Actually, there are quite a lot of people who seek true equity. Google "kyriarchy" and you'll find a lot of these discussions.

However, the reason you won't find many articles like you want is that a) the historical gender bias is undeniably pro-male, so people have focused on the bigger problem and b) the argument has become stigmatized because every time people try to talk about anti-female sexism some guy immediately jumps up and cries "what about meeeeeeeee". Not because his lot is particularly rough, but because he as the privileged party is used to thinking about his experience first, and ignoring that of the non-dominant group.

So if you want people to start noticing the way the current system of gender biases also hurts men, then a) don't hijack discussions of male privilege, and b) help solve the giant historical inequity.


The reason you won't find many articles is because the male perspective has been marginalized from gender studies. The generic argument being "the male perspective dominates all other domains so there is no need for a mens studies".

>the historical gender bias is undeniably pro-male, so people have focused on the bigger problem

You're comparing apples to oranges. What's worse having a 5-15% risk of sexual assault or having 15% of your gender die like Soviet men in WWII? Trying to turn this into a pissing contest isn't a logically valid way to approach this topic. Both genders face hazards that are qualitatively unrankable.


Once again, your goal doesn't appear to be to eliminate the gender-related problems that people face; it seems to be to disrupt the discussion of problems that women face.


We're not just discussing the problems that women face, though. When the author of that Kotaku piece used male privilege as a starting point to base his argument on, he made an implied statement about men's problems with gender too; he implied that they were irrelevant. It's not just a case of ignoring them or putting them to one side - his argument was an argument that they couldn't exist, at least not in any way that mattered.

This is a common pattern when someone "disrupts" a discussion of women's issues. Sometimes it's a discussion of women being raped as the only kind of rape. Maybe someone's arguing that domestic violence is something that happens to women because they're women - of course, then all the many male victims couldn't exist.

In fact, almost every time I've seen someone tell a man that they're disrupting a discussion of women's problems by talking about men, they were making a statement about what men experience in the first place and using it to shut out contradictory evidence.


Your theory that not mentioning something equals saying it's irrelevant is fascinating. You didn't mention famine in Africa, the bad economy, or the decay of NASA. Your "implied statement" (coughoxymoroncough) is that those are irrelevant. Why do you hate Africans, workers, and NASA?

As far as I can tell, this is just the same disruptive tactic as I've called out elsewhere.


Don't feed the trolls.


Wouldn't it be trivial to create a female privilege checklist? For example, while women may be asked to smile by random people (44), they are murdered by random people far less often than men, representing only 21% of victims. Or, while females spend more time grooming than men (27), they are much less likely to have their genitals mutilated as infants by mothers who do not like the way they look.

There can be some things in society that do not appeal to women. There are certainly things that women find appealing that most men are not at all interested in.

I always kind of thought that young geeks used comic books to escape their reality. This is just a guess, but could it be that some geeks are awkward around women because females weren't nice to them during their adolescence? Sex hormone levels peak at around age 17 for men, senior year of high school. Is it really that unexpected that men that get no positive female attention during their sexual prime don't embrace women exploring geek hobbies?

Perhaps the focus of all these stupid gender articles should be on encouraging young women not to alienate a large subset of people. I would be willing to bet that if geeks were more accepted at an earlier age, many of the perceived gender issues would disappear.


> Wouldn't it be trivial to create a female privilege checklist?

Sure. My girlfriend can randomly go up to random people and play with their babies, while my doing so is likely to get me arrested. A mother has the presumption of getting custody in a contentious divorce, etc. Nobody would take a sexual harassment complaint against a woman seriously.

But you know what? In pure economic terms, I'd take male privilege over female privilege any day of the week. I can't remember the last time a woman was sexually harassing me but nobody at work would take me seriously. Negotiating salaries, gunning for promotions, making trade-offs between career and family--these are things with huge economic impact that affects everyone and women have a disadvantage in these areas because of perceptions.


Back when I had a boyish appearance (20s, early 30s), parents would smile when their kids tried to play with me. After the gray hair showed up, I could see them pull their kids away, no longer smiling.

In pure economic terms, what price do we put on "forced to feel like a moral leper"?


And then there's the draft


> Wouldn't it be trivial to create a female privilege checklist?

Yes:

http://www.the-niceguy.com/articles/Checklist.html

http://www.feministcritics.org/blog/2008/06/08/female-privil...

http://mensresistance.wordpress.com/female-privilege-checkli...

(Note: I don't necessarily agree with or endorse everything on every one of these lists, but the point is very much made.)


Wow, read these lists.

It appears that I really never think about gender bias.


> they are murdered by random people far less often than men, representing only 21% of victims.

Murder is an incredibly rare occurrence in most countries and social environments. On the other hand, women are a huge majority among rape victims, and this is not exceptional: 5 to 10% of all women are sexually abused at some point (depends upon the country, again).

> Perhaps the focus of all these stupid gender articles should be on encouraging young women not to alienate a large subset of people.

Perhaps the focus of people like you should be to think about your attitude, just like this article conveniently talked about? Your arrogance and close-mindedness are astounding. Oh, before you ask, I'm a white, straight male too.


Murder is an incredibly rare occurrence in most countries and social environments. On the other hand, women are a huge majority among rape victims, and this is not exceptional: 5 to 10% of all women are sexually abused at some point (depends upon the country, again).

Rape makes up only 6% of violent crimes, and men are much more commonly the victim of violent crimes than women. In fact, excluding rape, as the severity of violent crimes increase, so does the probability that the victim is male.

And couldn't I also say that, while rape is relatively rare, men are over twice as likely to be the victim of severe physical domestic violence (the ratio of murder to rape and rape to severe physical domestic violence is the same). Or that perpetration rates for physical violence as a whole are significantly higher for women than men.

I personally think that these are all bogus arguments because they trivialize rape. At the same time, trivializing murder is no better than trivializing rape, unless you believe that men are expendable.

Perhaps the focus of people like you should be to think about your attitude, just like this article conveniently talked about? Your arrogance and close-mindedness are astounding. Oh, before you ask, I'm a white, straight male too.

Nice ad hominem.


> Rape makes up only 6% of violent crimes, and men are much more commonly the victim of violent crimes than women.

Most victims of violent crimes are known offenders or their relatives. An overwhelming majority of offenders are male (see the proportion of male vs female in jail).

> Nice ad hominem.

It's ad personam if you want. You go straight to the usual tactic of pretending that it's the victim fault. Take some time to imagine yourself in the situations represented before being a judgemental jerk.

See this post for a good explanation: http://hugoboy.typepad.com/hugo_schwyzer/2004/09/guilty_unti...


You say that I am blaming the victim, then in your link, the related story is as follows:

First of all, the obvious point is that women's intuition, while not entirely the stuff of myth, is not so powerful that it can automatically separate "good guys" from the bad. No woman can walk down the street and as she passes a man, know with certainty that he isn't a threat. Given the high incidence of rape and assault and harassment and other forms of mistreatment, a woman would be a fool to leave herself continually vulnerable. The old adage "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me" seems to apply here. When a simple smile is so frequently misunderstood and construed as a sexual invitation, American women generally do have to operate on the assumption that men are guilty until proven innocent.

Is this really an acceptable story that somehow illustrates your point? It seems like it could trivially be rewritten into something incredibly racist. If that is the case, than isn't this actually very sexist. But really, why would anyone expect random women to smile at them?

And how are women the victim? Because some products are not designed for them, but are instead designed to appeal to teenage boys? What if I feel bad because the quizzes in Seventeen magazine do not appeal to me, and instead give teenage girls ideas about the way men should be that I disagree with. Do you think this quiz (http://www.seventeen.com/fun/quizzes/celebrity/summer-movie-...) is sexist?


OK, I give up. I won't convince you from across the oceans and through the internets that white patriarchy is a reality; you apparently live in the nice world where oppression of the poor, the black and women doesn't exist or at least doesn't matter, and I must live on a different planet than you. That won't be much more than a sociological experience I guess.


> On the other hand, women are a huge majority among rape victims

No one is even going to listen to a man complaining he has been raped, so I very highly doubt the validity of those numbers.


Men are a significant minority of rape victims (5 to 10%). However more than 99% of perpetrators are males.


And my contention is that rapes against men, and woman-on-man rape in particular, are incredibly underreported and hence your numbers are invalid.


How do you know? What allows you to believe that?


Eh, just because females have advantages in some domains doesn't mean that their overall advantages in life are outweighed by the overall male advantages in life. Stuff like the salary gap, stereotype threat (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stereotype_threat), and being expected to give up your career to be the one to raise the kids affect most adult women for most of their lives. Murder is a pretty rare event, and men, as the traditionally more risk-taking sex, could be bringing quite a bit of it down on themselves. I'd take the increased chance of murder, personally.


On the other hand, stuff like the causes of the salary gap, stereotype threat, and being expected to give up contact with your kids to be the one raising money to bring them up affect most adult men for most of their lives. (There's support out there for heterosexual men giving up their careers to raise kids but only so long as this decision is made by the kids' mother based on what benefits her personally.)

The wage gap is also curious because these days it results mostly from men and women doing different kinds of work, and campaigners demand totally different solutions for high-status jobs than they do for low-status ones. For stuff like tech industry startups there are lots of campaigns to include more women. On the other hand, if you take street-side trash collection (another job which is also largely male) instead there are campaigns for women to get the same pay for doing "equivalent" jobs like office cleaning.

Now, trash collection of this kind is an awful lot more dangerous than cleaning offices and this is both why it's better paid and why there are few women doing it; for various reasons people get more upset about a woman dying in a horrific industrial accident than a man so employers have an incentive to discourage women, and there's not so much social pressure for them to get dangerous jobs. Equality would require making people care more about men dying or less about women, both of which benefit men rather than women, so feminists go for the unequal option of paying women for doing less than men instead.

Edit: For example, if you play video games take a close look at the gender of the mooks that you kill en-masse. That's just one of the subtle messages saying that men are disposable in mass media.


Actually, men in crappy, dangerous jobs is an evolutionary trait. It's also why they're (traditionally) the ones to go to war and why everyone thinks women and children are to be protected above all else.

If 90% of the males in a population die, it takes 1 generation to recover. If 90% of the females in a population die, it takes 5 generations to recover. Meanwhile, they are easy pickings for other competing populations.


Well, that's probably kind of true and it matters a lot if you're doing something like constructing a fictional matriarchal society. It's not exactly relevant in modern times though; we don't (or at least shouldn't) stop women from working because having other options might discourage them from having kids anymore, why should we allow other kinds of horrible gender-based discrimination in the name of population increase?


I'm not saying it's a justification for continuance of the status quo. I'm saying that it's our evolutionary heritage, and as such it has to be recognized as a problem for everybody, rather than saying "it's the white man's fault so the white man is responsible for fixing it".

Changing thinking requires someone to show that things CAN be different. Only then can the majority follower population even consider the possibility. This is why the constant complaints about how "things aren't the way they should be" result in no action, and we end up right back here with accusations flying and nothing getting done.


I think an immense amount has gotten done in the past 100 years, and quite a lot of it through complaining.

Most privilege comes from unconscious bias. Pointing out unfair situations and calling out biases drive hidden assumptions and reactions into the open, allowing us to consider and change them.

Of course, a lot of people would like to go right back to sleep: change is uncomfortable, especially when you realize that the change will remove an advantage you have.


Sure, it's sad men don't get to spend as much time with the kids, but the point is, they can have their career, and have at least some time with their children. Women very often just don't have that choice, and are forced to take just the kids. That sounds worse to me. (http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/18616558/ns/today-books/t/why-...)

Also, women are actively punished for asking for more money, or being aggressive: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07... That has nothing to do with dangerous jobs, and that's a legitimate form of sexism that feminism has every right to address.

Do you have any figures for the "men are paid more because they take on more dangerous jobs" assertion? From the AMAs I've seen on Reddit, trash collection is not dangerous--just a low-status job, albeit a high-paying one with short hours.

Also, yes, I play vido games. I have not played Assassin's Creed, but my understanding is that historically, monks were men, so if you're going to assassinate the pope, he's going to be surrounded by men. I have, though, slaughtered a lot of male and female citizens of Vault City while playing Fallout 2.

The vibe I'm getting from your post is, "feminism isn't doing enough to eliminate the negative implications of gender roles for men, and it is therefore invalid." Or maybe it's something more like, "hey, men suffer a lot too, why are you spending so much time paying attention to women?" In which case, the simple reply is that while gender roles can negatively affect both genders, women seem to have the worst of it.

I mean, black men have this reputation for having gigantic dicks and being able to dance, which reflects badly on white men in comparison, but you'd have to be insane to prefer being a black man to a white man in America. I hear Eminem has a hard time being a white rapper in a black man's world, but it would be silly to feel sorry for him. And in a similar vein, I don't feel nearly as sorry for men as I do for women.


"From the AMAs I've seen on Reddit, trash collection is not dangerous--just a low-status job, albeit a high-paying one with short hours."

A quick Google turns up information like this: http://earth911.com/news/2011/08/26/dangerous-jobs-garbage-c...

It involves working amongst traffic on a regular basis and operating dangerous machinery with very little in the way of safeguards, so the danger level shouldn't be terribly surprising.


> they can have their career, and have at least some time with their children

Unless mommy divorces them and takes their kids away, at which point they can have their career, and they can pay for the kids, but they can't actually spend much time with them.


Yes, that's true, and that sucks. I won't deny that, and I feel terrible for any man that happens too, and I wish the courts were truly gender-equal in this respect. But the flipside of always granting women custody of children is immense social pressure for women to give up their careers to raise children, or to at least face huge energy expenditures in balancing both that men don't, and on balance, I think women are still getting the shorter end of the stick. It's within your control to avoid marrying a bitch or to maintain your marriage; it's harder to dodge societal expectations that because you're female, you'll be a poorer employee. Given the choice between two problems, I'll pick tackling the one where I have more control over the outcome. Wouldn't you?

Most feminists don't focus explicitly on making it easier for men to intrude into traditional female-dominated activities like childrearing, but hopefully, as it becomes more normal for women to enter the same spheres as men, the reverse will hold true too, and the courts will be more likely to see men as equal and not inferior caregivers. So even if feminism isn't explicitly about helping men, I think it's still on their side.


>Sure, it's sad men don't get to spend as much time with the kids, but the point is, they can have their career, and have at least some time with their children. Women very often just don't have that choice, and are forced to take just the kids.

That's false.

A) It is a woman's choice to have children.

B) The "Best Interest Clause" creates a power differential over the children. If she wants to work full-time she can, If she wants to be a house-wife she can. So what choice does the father have in this situation? If this works its way to family court the father will be legally bound to the "provider" role due to the "best interest".

C) Women in general are still seeking out men that have the potential to be providers. They have the choice to seek out men that will be house-dads and that is not happening.

Women by law and cultural norms have the choice to balance home life and career in ways that a man does not.

All the evidence points that women in general seek out a balanced lifestyle in ways that men do not have the freedom to.


To the extent which you are correct (which I personally think is modest), the problem is still a sexist system. Historically, most of the sexism has been blatantly anti-female. If we are getting to the point when it is now arguable that women don't have the short end of the stick, then that's great news.

However, if you would like the elimination of sexism to continue and solve some of the things that bug you personally, I think your tactics are poor. Right now you look like yet another guy clinging on to his male privilege. If you are interested in eliminating sexism on both sides, then I think you'll get better results jumping on the bandwagon of the last century or so.


The trouble is that the "bandwagon of the last century or so" has no interest in doing anything about this particular form of sexism. Pretty much everyone supports children being automatically treated as their mother's property - including feminists - to the point that if you stand up to this you'll almost certainly be accused of wanting kids to be their father's property. The accusation usually sticks too - it's such a deep-rooted assumption that everyone just talks about doing what's in the "best interests" of the kids without even stopping to think whether it is.

Not even if it involves an underage rape victim paying child support to his rapist to raise their kids. Not even if it means keeping the father of some kids away from them long enough for their mother to brutally murder them, ignoring the warning signs she was showing and just choosing the "safe" option of assuming their father is dangerous based on his gender. (Not hypothetical examples by the way.)


I have hard time believing you have actually read the comment you were replying to. Let me be more explicit:

The historical bias against women is giant and undeniable. Feminists, male and female, have had to fight vigorously to make it as far as we have. Women still face substantial sexism today.

It is also true that men face some sexism. One could argue (very wrongly in my opinion) that we have finally reached the point where harm due to sexism is about the same for men and women.

Regardless, if you leap into a discussion of anti-female sexism and male privilege by only talking about how gosh darned hard it is for men, you look like an ass. By not acknowledging the many decades of struggle, or all of the existing anti-female behavior, you give the impression that you don't care about it. People will assume you're of a piece with the people who've been acting similarly for the last 150 years.

That's entirely alienating, so you're insane to think that the people who have been busily fighting for equality for most of their lives are going to be moved by comments like yours.


Let's spell this out.

A woman can either have just kids, or just a career.

A man can have just kids, just a career, or a career and kids.

Who has more options?

Your assumption that women "choose" to always be the stay at home parent is questionable, too. As if the husband, and society in general, have no expectations that women are the best caretakers and should therefore be the ones to stay at home, and no additional influence on her choice.


> the salary gap

Men don't earn more money for being men (not any more at least, if it was ever true):

> according to a new analysis of 2,000 communities by a market research company, in 147 out of 150 of the biggest cities in the U.S., the median full-time salaries of young women are 8% higher than those of the guys in their peer group. http://www.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,2015274,00....


Amazing what happens when you read the whole article: you discover that a) this is a market research survey guy, and b) his theory is due to the fact that the women are better educated, and therefore better qualified.

Which means that this is definitely not evidence that evidence that women get paid the same as men when all else is equal.



Thanks. That's helpful. However, that first link, the only one from a neutral source, suggests that sexism and male privilege are indeed still problems.

They say that they couldn't account for 24-35% of the wage gap. And the portions they could account for were due to:

* more women work part time * more women take time off to care for children and the elderly * women value 'family-friendly' workplaces more

The first one isn't really an explanation; it says nothing about why that's the case. The second is at least partly due to societal policing of gender roles: talk to any couple where the guy stays home with the kid and you'll hear both partners complain about how they're treated. The man is unmanly; the woman, unwomanly. It's also self-reinforcing; the wage gap means that guys make more, so there's economic incentive for women to stay home. The third could be similar: ceteris paribus, it should be parents who value family-friendly workplaces more.

So I think this study confirms that there is a salary gap, and that a good portion of the reason for it is exactly what Zasz says: women "being expected to give up your career to be the one to raise the kids".

The study also suggests that what gap-closing has happened is due to changes in human capital. That is, women being more educated and more experienced in jobs typically held by men. That demonstrates to me that sexism was indeed a major problem in the past, that historical "women are just different" arguments are bunk, and that there's no particular reason to think that December 2011 is the month where we've solved the problems that come from millennia of oppression of women.


they are much less likely to have their genitals mutilated as infants by fathers who do not like the way they look.

Female genital mutilation happens as well in some countries. And the majority of cases it's much worse than the male equivalent. FGM often results in all or part of the clitoris being removed. That would be like all or part of the glans of a penis being removed. (cf. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Female_genital_mutilation#Class...)

(As an aside, I think male genital mutilation happens more in the USA. Men in Europe of christian ethnicity don't usually get this done. Tis an odd the cultural practices)


And the majority of cases it's much worse than the male equivalent. FGM often results in all or part of the clitoris being removed.

As a circumcised male, I generally believe that FGM is much worse than the male equivalent, even though it is much more rare in developed countries. At the same time, I wonder if the facts that most circumcised men have no basis for comparison, and that the procedure is so common, colors that bias. The foreskin has over 20,000 nerve endings whereas the clitoris only has about 8,000. Men that have undergone foreskin restorations sometimes report vastly improved sexual sensitivity and much more intense orgasms.

As I said, I believe the female variant is much worse, but it does cause me to pause and consider that this may be caused by female privilege. I cannot help but wonder if my belief that there would be outrage if roles were reversed is valid.


Could you help me better understand the theory that circumcision results from female privilege?

Female genital mutilation is pretty explicitly about controlling female sexuality in a way that makes women more obedient male property.

Circumcision, though, seems to be a religious thing from a very patriarchal culture. The modern justification for which is hygiene and/or health, and sometimes it's definitely medically necessary.

So I'm not seeing how circumcision is evidence of a gender power differential.


Could you help me better understand the theory that circumcision results from female privilege?

It doesn't result from female privilege, it is considered a non-issue and discounted because of female privilege. There is plenty of evidence to support that, including the fact that FGM is considered a larger issue although it has effectively been eliminated in the west.

Consider this, if a father wanted to have his newborn daughters' clitoral hood removed because he didn't like the way it looked, he would be rightly ignored. If a mother wants to have her newborn son circumcised because she doesn't like the way uncut penises look, he will be circumcised. No matter how you want to slice it, both are genital mutilations. The difference is, one is ridiculous, uncommon and illegal, and the other is ridiculous, common, legal, and widespread.

Female genital mutilation is pretty explicitly about controlling female sexuality in a way that makes women more obedient male property.

It does happen almost exclusively in Islamic areas, and some religious leaders do mandate it, so I'm not too sure about that. In any case, religion is a poor reason to justify mutilation. Circumcision was performed on male slaves to make them "less likely to rape white women", so I also am not too sure about the underlying reason for male circumcision. Both practices seem kind of barbaric.

Circumcision, though, seems to be a religious thing from a very patriarchal culture. The modern justification for which is hygiene and/or health, and sometimes it's definitely medically necessary.

The hygiene and health arguments are bogus, and have been proven to be bogus. If women were having parts of sexual organs removed for "hygiene" reasons, it would not continue for a moment.

So I'm not seeing how circumcision is evidence of a gender power differential.

The fact that nobody questions male circumcision which is forced on over 50% of males born in the United States today, while FGM, which is much less widespread largely occurring only in Africa and the middle east, garners considerable attention provides evidence of a power differential. It clearly shows that male health issues are undervalued, even in relation to obscure female issues, reinforcing the matriarchal view that men are inherently less valuable than women.


I agree with you that ritual circumcision is dubious and I'd be happy to see everybody give it up (except when medically necessary, which happens sometimes), but am not persuaded that it's relevant to this discussion.

[...] it is considered a non-issue and discounted because of female privilege.

That is a statement you have not supported. For it to be true, there'd have to be some evidence that women generally were forcing it on men. Historically women couldn't force anything on men, and the people performing the operation were mohels and doctors, almost exclusively male.

I guess it's possible that there could have been some recent reversal in power, with women picking up pressure for circumcision and men slacking off. But I've seen not the slightest bit of evidence for this.

Given that, this seems like a typical "but what about meeeee" male response to a discussion of male privilege.


For it to be true, there'd have to be some evidence that women generally were forcing it on men.

So in order for something to be privilege it must be forced on the other gender? So lets examine some items on the male privilege checklist against that standard:

2. I can be confident that my co-workers won’t think I got my job because of my sex – even though that might be true.

Did men force women to accept affirmative action which in some cases does give women jobs that they would have not gotten if they were competing on merits alone? Take a look at this, http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/17/science/17comp.html?_r=1&#.... It appears that Carnegie Mellon lowered entrance standards to admit more women into the computer science program. Is a man that isn't admitted obligated to believe that sex has nothing to do with it? Why is it acceptable to reject more-qualified men in favor of less-qualified women? That does not seem very fair.

9. If I choose not to have children, my masculinity will not be called into question.

And men force this onto women? It's not other women? Is it not acceptable to point out that women who don't have children will be the first women in a line of women going back to the dawn of humanity not to have children, or that only about 40% of men ever procreated, versus a significantly hire percentage of women.

10. If I have children but do not provide primary care for them, my masculinity will not be called into question.

Men force women to call other women's femininity into question?

14. My elected representatives are mostly people of my own sex. The more prestigious and powerful the elected position, the more this is true.

Men force women to vote for men, and to not run for office? Women are the majority of the population. Is there some invisible man-field that is preventing them from voting every single elected man out of office within the next 6 years?

15. When I ask to see “the person in charge,” odds are I will face a person of my own sex. The higher-up in the organization the person is, the surer I can be.

Men force women not to form organizations too?

17. As a child, I could choose from an almost infinite variety of children’s media featuring positive, active, non-stereotyped heroes of my own sex. I never had to look for it; male protagonists were (and are) the default.

Men must also force women not to produce their own media.

18. As a child, chances are I got more teacher attention than girls who raised their hands just as often.

The vast majority of teachers are female. Please explain how men force female teachers to pay more attention to male students.

24. Even if I sleep with a lot of women, there is no chance that I will be seriously labeled a “slut,” nor is there any male counterpart to “slut-bashing.”

Men force women to tolerate promiscuous men?

27. The grooming regimen expected of me is relatively cheap and consumes little time.

This is fantastic. I had no idea that I was partly responsible for making women spend a lot of time and money grooming.

31. I can ask for legal protection from violence that happens mostly to men without being seen as a selfish special interest, since that kind of violence is called “crime” and is a general social concern. (Violence that happens mostly to women is usually called “domestic violence” or “acquaintance rape,” and is seen as a special interest issue.)

Isn't this phenomenon actually a female creation? All that stuff was illegal, then feminists demanded extra-special protection, so a whole slew of legislation was passed. Now that protection is because of male privilege?

33. My ability to make important decisions and my capability in general will never be questioned depending on what time of the month it is.

Wow, men force women to have periods. I had no idea. I'll try harder to not do that. Or did men just make up PMS to have an excuse to denigrate women? That doesn't seem as likely since it's been scientifically proven to exist.

36. Every major religion in the world is led primarily by people of my own sex. Even God, in most major religions, is pictured as male.

Men also forced women to be the only gender capable of producing children?

41. Assuming I am heterosexual, magazines, billboards, television, movies, pornography, and virtually all of media is filled with images of scantily-clad women intended to appeal to me sexually. Such images of men exist, but are rarer.

Did those evil men also force women to have less response to visual sexual stimuli? Could that be why romance novels exist, and men don't read them.

43. If I am heterosexual, it’s incredibly unlikely that I’ll ever be beaten up by a spouse or lover.

What a farce. Women commit the majority of domestic violence, and are more likely to use weapons. Twice as many men as women are the victims of severe physical domestic abuse.

It seems that most of the list is an artifact of feminism itself, or has very clear biological or evolutionary origins. Exactly the same could be said of the female privilege associated with not being expendable.


Oooooohkay.

You obviously aren't trying to have an actual discussion here. This confirms my suspicion that you are not interested in actually reducing sexism (anti-female and anti-male alike) and instead are just derailing the discussion. I'm done.


Wouldn't it be trivial to create a female privilege checklist?

Sure. And if you do that in the spirit of saying, "gosh, these are also nice problems to fix one day", that's great. But mostly people bring that argument up in the sense of "Gosh, your life is not 100% shitty, so I'm going to go back to pretending everything is fair now."

This argument is so common that it appears on the "Derailing for Dummies" guide: http://derailingfordummies.com/#butbut (Note that they include as an example your false equivalence between circumcision and female genital mutilation.)

Also, that there are reasons somebody might be a sexist jerk does not excuse them being sexist jerks. Suppose there's a correlation between sex hormone levels, lack of female attention, and rape. Do we say, "Gosh, that's not unexpected" and tell women to be more accommodating?

Honestly, your attempt at victim-blaming here is kinda repulsive. There's no particular reason to believe that the sort of sexism described by the article is experienced by the people who failed to be nice enough to (by which you mean: have sex with) the guys who are being jerks. And if they were the same people, then I'm still not seeing any justification: your theory appears to be that guys are somehow entitled to sexual attention just for being guys. Which, hello, is exactly the sort of sexism driven by male privilege the article's author is calling out.


This argument is so common that it appears on the "Derailing for Dummies" guide: http://derailingfordummies.com/#butbut (Note that they include as an example your false equivalence between circumcision and female genital mutilation.)

This is really incredible, "Because the removal of a tiny flap of skin is entirely comparable to the crippling mutilation many young girls are subjected to.." Seriously? Why is the removal of a "tiny flap of skin" from a vulva a crippling mutilation, whereas the removal of the foreskin, which has over 2.5 times the number of nerve endings, no big deal? And also, it's not a false equivalency since I did not bring up FGM since it is irrelevant to a discussion that is not centered around third world issues, whereas male genital mutilation is, seeing as how over 50% of males born in the US are still altered. Or are you actually suggesting that any discussion of male genital mutilation is irrelevant because males are not important, or at least not as important as females? Or perhaps that female genital mutilation is so much more important that it is unthinkable to address male genital mutilation at all so long as it is happening to a female somewhere on earth?

And I actually fully believe that the female variant is worse (http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3364906), but this language is incredibly inflammatory.


Yes, the language of the whole piece is intentionally inflammatory. Satire: it's a recognized literary form.

Note that you entirely ignore my actual point, which is that you have taken a discussion about sexism and male privilege and tried to make it about you and your concerns as a guy. And that your behavior is common enough that somebody took the time to include it in a guide of lame responses to discussions of privilege. Do you see what's wrong with that?


It's more than a little inflammatory. For example, did you know the law against FGC in the US is so strict that if you so much as symbolically prick any part of a girl's genitals with a pin to draw blood (an often-proposed symbolic replacement) you're committing a crime punishable by 5 years in jail. This isn't just an accident; attempts to make this kind of symbolic prick legal have been roundly attacked and are not politically viable.

Comparing that to male circumcision is an insult to men.


Note that you entirely ignore my actual point, which is that you have taken a discussion about sexism and male privilege and tried to make it about you and your concerns as a guy. And that your behavior is common enough that somebody took the time to include it in a guide of lame responses to discussions of privilege. Do you see what's wrong with that?

I don't subscribe to the view that bringing female privilege into a discussion about male privilege is somehow off limits. It's the reverse side of the same coin. If women are victims because of male privilege, than men are victims because of female privilege. You cannot examine one without the other. I too can publish a guide saying that anyone that makes obvious arguments against my reasoning is "lame", but that does not make it so. It is simply a tactic to steer the discussion and prevent the other side from ever being explored.

Refusing to examine both sides of an issue is narrow. Shouting down anyone that dares examine the flip side with soft-minded reasoning is pathetic. It is evidence of a weak argument, which is characteristic of feminism. This faulty logic is how we have arrived at female-only health clubs while women were suing and legislating male-only golf clubs out of existence.


It's not off limits. However, if one does it without at all acknowledging the massive problem that feminism has been addressing then it looks a lot like a tactic to prevent any serious discussion of male privilege. Which is something feminists have had to deal with for more than a hundred years, so it's not surprising they react poorly to it.

For all your bold talk of "both sides of the coin" I haven't seen you give the slightest hint that you even admit the problem or have considered its nature, let alone devoted any energy to solving things.


It's not off limits. However, if one does it without at all acknowledging the massive problem that feminism has been addressing then it looks a lot like a tactic to prevent any serious discussion of male privilege.

In the context of sexy females in comic books. Give me a fucking break.

Which is something feminists have had to deal with for more than a hundred years, so it's not surprising they react poorly to it.

If this is the topic feminism must now address, the war is over. It's time to pack up your shit and go home. Feminists are starting to look like Genghis Khan, riding around slaughtering everything. Especially when there are massive actual gender inequalities caused by feminism like the huge advantages that women have in the legal system, the fact that women are given preferential treatment in college admission and hiring processes, and the fact that women earn more money for equal work. Or for example, that female owned businesses are given price preferences, or that women now vastly outnumber men as college graduates, while dominating the education system that is failing men.

For all your bold talk of "both sides of the coin" I haven't seen you give the slightest hint that you even admit the problem or have considered its nature, let alone devoted any energy to solving things.

That's probably because I don't see this as a problem. It is pathetic. I have never read a comic book and have never been in a comic book store, but I see no fundamental difference between comic books and magazines for teenage girls. They are both full of fantasy-land bullshit designed to appeal to young people going through puberty.

What can I do to solve things? I don't know. Perhaps start fighting for men to be able to have financial abortions before a child is born. Or maybe make it a felony to commit paternity fraud. But probably just start calling feminists on their bullshit when they start pontificating.

If you feel there is a market for female-centric comic books, why not develop them, tap a huge market, make something women want, and get rich? If you won't do that, is it because we both know there is not a market for it?


And once again you try to derail the discussion. I'm done, thanks.


I must say that that trivialization of male genital mutilation is particularly sickening. The author very clearly has no actual knowledge on the subject.


Hmm, there are a few things on that list that don't seem to ring true, or at least seem to be leaving out large portions of the picture.

For example:

"41. Assuming I am heterosexual, magazines, billboards, television, movies, pornography, and virtually all of media is filled with images of scantily-clad women intended to appeal to me sexually. Such images of men exist, but are rarer."

The last issue of Playboy that I have seen had more topless men in it than women. Perhaps the author is better at visually tuning out advertisements than I. Of course the same is true of the last... dozen? action movies I've seen.

And then there are the issues of reproductive/child rearing rights, which are currently heavily skewed against men. A woman who has unprotected sex (or for that matter sometimes protected sex) is in a much better position than a man who does the same. In fact, in nearly anything concerning children in the slightest men are decidedly discriminated against.

What is my point here? Real life is more complicated than a list or two might suggest.


Right, and

"22. If I’m careless with my driving it won’t be attributed to my sex."

Supposing you are caught speeding down the freeway at 110mph on Saturday night. What sex is everyone going to expect you to be?


Or this one

"25. I do not have to worry about the message my wardrobe sends about my sexual availability."

Compare:

  A woman wearing pants.
  A man wearing a dress.
One person is going to have their sexuality judged. And it's not going to be the woman.


That's funny, but not insightful. I assume that with pants, you don't mean plain jeans, but a pantsuit (because this isn't the 60's).

There are pantsuits designed for women, but no dresses designed for men. Even further than that - a dress is very specific to female anatomy in a way that a suit isn't, to male anatomy.

The real issue, however, is that a woman wearing a suit is perceived in a certain way (as aggressive and, funnily enough, "only imitating men") while a man wearing a dress happens to be an often frequented motif in comedy.

Finally, a man can wear a dress specifically to underline just how male he is, because "even a dress can't take that manliness away".


No, I mean regular old jeans. Women seem to be able to "get away" with wearing "female" clothing, as well as "male" clothing without any questions asked. At least in the circles I am in^. The opposite is certainly not the case.

I was not attempting to be funny at all.

^And anybody wearing a "suit"-anything is just a stiff. The people I consider my peers don't do that either at work or casually.


It took many decades and two wars for women to be able to "get away with" wearing pants. They were adopted for practical reasons as women entered the workforce (skirts are more likely to get caught in factory machinery), and abandoned again when women exited the workforce post-war. Until the women's movement, pants on women were only tolerated when they were considered necessary.


I am very aware. This is exactly why I picked pants for my example.


I don't understand how men wearing dresses works as a comparison to women wearing pants, as there hasn't been an equivalent attempt by men to adopt dresses as everyday attire.


Regardless of the history behind the current situation, the fact remains that women are more free to wear "male" clothing than men are to wear "female" clothing.


He later changed 'dresses' to 'skirts'. And yes, that completely changes the argument (look at the other leg of this thread).


Yes, and I maintain that jeans simply aren't as gender specific as a dress. I have never heard that jeans are 'male'. That's why it's not a comparison of opposites.


That jeans have ceased to be gender specific is my point in a nutshell.


That dresses haven't still breaks your initial argument. Also - jeans ceased to be considered gender specific in society while also never being, in their shape and technical form, gender specific to begin with.


"That dresses haven't still breaks your initial argument."

No. You must be misunderstanding my initial argument if you think that it does. You are definitely missing my point if you don't think that I understand that about jeans...


Your initial argument was about having your sexuality judged if you are a man wearing a dress, but not if you're a woman wearing pants. You must concede that my point - that dresses being so specifically female (let's face facts - a man just cannot fill that cleavage without surgical help) makes it possible to even wear them as a comedic statement or an underlining of manliness - at least greatly reduces your point. That you appear to insist on the 60s idea of pants being inherently male (not as your argument, but you still use it as an argument, which makes no sense) further takes away from it.

Actually, I really thought you were only pulling a lame joke in the beginning. If that's really your entire argument then I'm not sure why we bother arguing it in the first place. It seems like you don't care elaborating on your point anyhow.

Edit: Hey Downvote Police, what about stepping out and adding reasoning to your downvotes? Thanks.


One word: Skirt.

Apologies for the imprecise terminology.


Great, yes, that only changes the entire argument (exception to the rule here being kilts). Thanks for getting me 5 fresh downvotes ;-)

(Also, guys: Continuing to downvote me? Come on!)

[seems like we have reached the maximum depth here, so as a reply to the below:

Nope, sorry. The item of clothing in question makes all the difference here. A dress is a very particular choice of word.

And what kind of arguing is that you are suggesting, where I try to make your point for you in my own head? Sorry, I have no problem discussing whether men in skirts have their sexuality judged, but I'm not willing to discuss how I should have discussed that instead of discussing your actual wording - which was very different.

I mean come on - you made a bad choice of words, own up to it.]


If you were willing to honestly consider the point I was attempting to make, then alternatives to "dress" should have been clear.

Edit: I have owned up to that. I did not previously consider having cleavage to be an essential requirement for wearing a dress (and for the record, I think such an objection is absurd). However, my point above remains. Were you actually attempting to address the point I was clearly trying to make then a skirt would have been obvious. This discussion is not about individual articles of clothing but rather about gender specific clothing in general. You were narrowing your focus because you were not interested in having a real conversation.

You were being overly pedantic and could not see the forest for the trees. You have to own up to that.

Your downvotes and my upvotes should demonstrate to you that I was not expecting anything unreasonable from you. My point was clear to numerous other people.

Regardless, if you are willing to concede my point when I substitute 'dress' with 'skirt', then you have conceded my point entirely. The specifics of my illustrational example matter little. I think we are done here.


Oh, I'm more than happy to concede that point now that we have cleared it up. The problem is that the skirt/pants idea doesn't make for much of an interesting discussion.

I think this comes down to two problems with your wording (and having English as my second language, I had to rely on taking your words by their default meaning): One, the use of dress vs. skirt that we have cleared up and Two, the difference between "message about sexual availability" and "have their sexuality judged".

That's why I initially thought you were making a joke (I found it quite funny, actually) - the difference between those two is simply too great to be making a point. Women in a skirt are judged for whether or not that dresses them to be attractive. Men in a skirt are judged for whether or not they are men at all. A man wearing pants may be judged for how attractive the specific pair of pants makes him, but a woman in pants is judged for that AND for how much it makes her appear to try to be "more manly".

To sum this up - I think you were wrong implying that women are not being judged, sexually, in pants. Furthermore, the man in a skirt point doesn't hold that much value and has only little to do with that and with what you were originally commenting on - the external judgment of sexual availability.

P.S.: As for the absurdity of a cleavage being essential for a dress - it may be debatable to what extend that point really carries, but it is a fact that a dress (again, very specific, check the wiki) is specifically cut to the female anatomy, allowing for unique features of a woman (narrower hips, cleavage). The same is simply not true for a pair of pants.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TWuJbOB1kdw

Or a man wearing a pantsuit?

Edit: The point of posting this wasn't just a funny fake political ad but also the nuances of suggesting that Bill Clinton wears the pantsuit, instead of Hillary wearing the pants.


Actually misrepresenting reality. Do you consider William Wallace as a wimp because he wore skirts ?


He wore a kilt, which is actually an interesting addition to my point. Despite the strong masculinity of a kilt, they do not appear to be very popular in modern society. I would suggest without evidence that this is in no small part due to a potential association with "feminine" skirts.


They are not popular, but men wearing them won't have their sexuality judged, so they probably don't have significance to your original point. I think they are not popular because they have a strong cultural association with being Scottish.


Are you seriously equating topless men and topless women as socially equivalent, disempowering sexual objectification?

That seems of a piece with your theory that the point of topless men in Playboy ads and action movies is to appeal sexually to women.


That particular list has been around for years. While a recent issue of Playboy may have topless men, it is historically a men's magazine. If you counted the pictures of women and men in the last year, what would you find?

"A woman who has unprotected sex (or for that matter sometimes protected sex) is in a much better position than a man who does the same."

Men who have unprotected sex are expected to pay a state-determined minimum tax essentially to provide for their children. For men, children are abstracted into a financial problem. A woman who has an unexpected child has much more than finances to worry about.


Divorced fathers face state-imposed poverty if not being caged for the sin of existing in a bad economy. Divorced mothers, after a decision that's wholly up to them, can free ride on half of the child's mandated "standard of living" which has almost no relationship to the actual cost of raising a child. We urgently need less unreliable, primitive, unpleasant contraception for men.


> 1. My odds of being hired for a job, when competing against female applicants, are probably skewed in my favor. The more prestigious the job, the larger the odds are skewed. > 2. I can be confident that my co-workers won’t think I got my job because of my sex – even though that might be true.

I remember a discussion on HN where many of the comments have said that the best way to bring women into the industry is to bring women into the industry. Quite true, I definitely agree to it. And so does most of the companies - they all try to maintain a gender ratio that is not too skewed to make the firm look sexist. But, when one tries to bring a category X into a field where X is rare, to bring them in - it results in lowering expectations from them. I just had my placement season on campus (I am a final year student) - the difference was visible. Of course, that makes me look sexist (I possibly am) when I say that the expectations from male students to get a job was higher than female students. Female students are, at least now, rewarded for being rare and because women are required to be brought in the industry. Unfortunately, there are pros and cons to this approach. These steps result in unavoidable animosity because of scarcity of resources - in this case, a lucrative job. My point is that you cannot have the best of both worlds: any corrective action has consequences.


There are many reasons for women being difficult to recruit in tech. Here's one - if you are an intelligent young woman having just finished high school, and about to choose your university courses you might have a look at the expected pay that you will receive in different industries. You note that in medicine and law women are no longer a minority, and that they receive equal pay, and nearly equal social power as their male counterparts. You note that in engineering this is not at all the case. Studies repeatedly show female engineers receiving less than their male counterparts[1]. Women are rarely promoted up in engineering organisations and engineering organisations are unusually hostile to flexible work arrangements[2].

The result is that unless you are absolutely passionate about engineering, the reasonable thing to do is to take a pass on engineering, and go for one of the many other rewarding careers available to you.

If you want to bring women into the industry, you need to make the industry appealing to women. With current discriminatory practices that is just not the case, and until that changes, there won't even be an opportunity to recruit women, because those with anything less than a burning passion for the career are going to look elsewhere.

[1] http://www.glassdoor.com/blog/engineering-pay-gap-glassdoor-... [2] http://www.studyofwork.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/NSF_Wo... page 27


I think you are mixing points though the central cause remains the same. Firstly, medicine nearly always had enough women though as nurses (male nurses are still minority) and them gaining equal role, responsibility and returns was probably a slow process (I wouldn't know, I am not related to the field). The point I was making was because the very basic of the privileges that were pointed out in the article was regarding (1) Easier jobs/promotions for men (2) Men saying that women got it because they are women.

There has been a lot of efforts to bring women at par with men in terms of returns they gain. And there have also been efforts that aim at increasing their count. Both, are required. You are pointed out at the first category of efforts and I am pointed out the consequences of affirmation actions that belong to the second category. There are two forces at play here - (1) Discriminatory, against women. (2) Affirmative action, for women. Now the second point in the privileges is because affirmative actions have a very obvious but mean side effect. It leads to undermining the potential of those who receive benefit from them because affirmative action is done at an expense of some people who otherwise deserved the benefit if standard parameters of judgement are used. This leads to unrest and hence my refute to privilege (2). While my refute to privilege (1) was the overwhelming of discriminatory forces by affirmative actions in my experience from my point of view. This is as biased an opinion as possible, hence you can choose to ignore it. But if many seem to face a similar experience, that would mean that affirmative action needs to be done at a lower level or be stopped for it has served its purpose.


You note that in medicine and law women are no longer a minority, and that they receive equal pay, and nearly equal social power as their male counterparts.

Sorry to be [citation needed]-guy, but a quick Googling tells me that this is not true. In both medicine (http://www.kevinmd.com/blog/2011/02/gender-gap-physician-sal...) and law (http://www.theglasshammer.com/news/2009/02/05/the-wage-gap-p...) the pay gap is substantial, and a quick look says that they're both worse than tech.

From that first link:

Without these adjustments and just looking at a Population Survey from 2007, the New York Times reported that women doctors earn a whopping 40% less than their male colleagues. That is worse than every other profession the Times looked at. Yes, even lawyers.

I don't think wage gap is what's pushing people away...the worst case difference in tech is around 10%, which is not particularly bad compared to most fields, and for recent grads the gap is much smaller, around 4%.

I'd probably look to absolute value of wages instead for an explanation, though that wouldn't explain a difference between men and women's preferences.

If you want to bring women into the industry, you need to make the industry appealing to women. With current discriminatory practices that is just not the case, and until that changes, there won't even be an opportunity to recruit women, because those with anything less than a burning passion for the career are going to look elsewhere.

While I don't really think that discriminatory practices in tech are any worse than the general average across fields (I at least think that's an accusation that requires substantial proof), you bring up an interesting point. Most tech people that I've worked with do have a burning passion for it, and to be good in this field, it's pretty much a prerequisite.

I wonder what is blocking more women from feeling as passionate about tech as men do, especially since such passion usually emerges very early, well before one has opportunity to interact with anyone in the field (this is why I'm always skeptical of claims that teachers, professors, bosses, etc. have anything to do with this, I was programming on my own almost a decade before I ever interacted meaningfully with other programmers). Do girls spend less time with computers at the critical young age, perhaps? I wonder if perhaps the difference could have to do with time spent playing video games, at least for the current generation...


I am a woman just entering the field after college. So I'm going to speak from my own experiences.

I haven't found much discrimination, but I have noticed that any boss considering to hire me after an internship has asked if/when I plan to have children. This has happened twice, and is the only situation anyone has asked me that question in college. It really is an odd question to ask an 18 year old.

"I wonder what is blocking more women from feeling as passionate about tech as men do, especially since such passion usually emerges very early. Do girls spend less time with computers at the critical young age, perhaps?"

Why does someone have to be interested in computers/video games at a young age to pursue software development? I think the attitude that if you didn't play with computers at a young age you can't do tech is rather egotistical. Some girls I met in college didn't pursue an interest in tech until college and by the end of college you wouldn't know the difference.


I guess it depends on why they started so late. I don't know how causation works but I see a strong correlation. Almost everyone I know who's any good has talked about being irresistibly drawn in as an early teenager. Maybe the clock-punchers who had shrugged off computers as boring until they noticed software happens to be an extravagantly-paid desk job (which it wasn't when I graduated, I just lucked out) are doomed to mediocrity through lacking intrinsic interest and even obsession. They'd be selling real estate if that paid better, and indeed some of them were.


I haven't found much discrimination, but I have noticed that any boss considering to hire me after an internship has asked if/when I plan to have children. This has happened twice, and is the only situation anyone has asked me that question in college. It really is an odd question to ask an 18 year old.

Isn't that actually illegal to ask as part of a job interview? Assuming you're in the US, I'm pretty sure questions relating to children, child care, or marital status are forbidden, though I'm not an expert so I could be wrong.

In any case, even if technically legal, it's not an acceptable practice, and anyone that interviews job candidates should damn well know this.

Why does someone have to be interested in computers/video games at a young age to pursue software development?

They don't, by any means. I'm merely wondering if perhaps that might be the point where the gender gap starts. It's certainly in full effect by the time people hit high school, so it's got to start pretty early, and it occurs to me that video games are probably the main difference in the way boys and girls interact with computers before that age.

I think the attitude that if you didn't play with computers at a young age you can't do tech is rather egotistical.

I would never support such a statement, I don't at all believe that it's necessary, merely that it's fairly common. Going in to tech requires a great investment of time and effort into difficult coursework, and it's a pretty huge commitment that people tend not to be willing to make unless they're already positive that they like it.


"Isn't that actually illegal to ask as part of a job interview?"

I was never asked about children during a formal job interview, but instead as an intern during a conversation about whether to hire me on a more permanent basis.


I remember a discussion on HN where many of the comments have said that the best way to bring women into the industry is to bring women into the industry. Quite true, I definitely agree to it.

I don't know that I'm so sure. Most other professional industries were, at one point, just as lopsidedly male as tech is these days. But as society lifted the more explicit barriers and it became common for women to pursue professional careers, they naturally flowed into all sorts of different roles (the "Jackie Robinson effect", so to speak).

That they haven't showed up in tech (and math and science, though there are slightly more there) means there's something else going on, and I just can't buy the theory that women have stayed away because there are few women, since that has proved to be a relatively small deterrent in so many other cases.

I'm similarly skeptical that sexism in the industry is responsible for this, because it's just as rampant, if not moreso, in most industries (I could tell you some really unbelievable stories about the finance industry, yeegads...). That's not to say that because "everybody else does it" it's right or okay in tech; rather, it's to say that unless there's some clear reason why sexism in tech should push women away more forcefully than it does in other fields (or a shred of non-anecdotal evidence that sexism is more prevalent in tech, which I have never seen, and which I'm skeptical about because if it was true it seems fair to assume that we'd see a greater pay gap than in most other fields, which is not the case), it's hard for me to accept it as the main reason women aren't showing up to the party. And if it's not the real reason that women aren't getting into the field, then we might be missing the actual cause, which perhaps we could do something about.

Or maybe we can't. But we should at least be trying to figure out some better way to find out what's actually going on, rather than just arguing from anecdote and theory (I'm guilty of this, as well).


I would look at how many women are in STEM fields in, say, Europe. Because if it's an American problem, then maybe it's because in America, STEM fields are low-status. Not as low-status as garbage collectors, but low-status enough that women don't aspire to break into those fields the way they've broken into law and medicine.


That's a shockingly insightful list.

I love #30: I can be loud with no fear of being called a shrew. I can be aggressive with no fear of being called a bitch.

I've found that I can entertain a much broader range of personality tones than my female friends. You have to be an order of magnitude more aggressive to be an "asshole" than you do to be a "bitch." "Pensive" is a word you might use for a man, "moody" for the equivalent in a woman. I've never had to fight a socialized urge to defer to anyone in conversation, and certainly not to someone of the opposite sex.


I don't disagree with your examples, but I do think that men are more common targets for the "creepy / sketchy" nexus of slurs, including the not-particularly sexualized varieties. The same goes for the "loser / choke artist" family, I think.


Oh definitely. But when was the last time having a reputation as a "choke artist" negatively impacted someone at work?


Having a few indicators of being a "loser" on you resume - like, say, being unemployed, can put a damper on your career.


Men who are inappropriately aggressive get kicked in the balls, then get called a bitch (by men) or loser (by women). Alternately they are simply considered irritating and are ignored until they go away. If there's an equivalent insult in this case, it's "aspie."

Men might be able to be aggressive with no fear of being called a bitch, but that's minor compared to the other consequences that face by being aggressive.

> You have to be an order of magnitude more aggressive to be an "asshole" than you do to be a "bitch."

One caveat being that for men, balancing aggression and restraint tend to be learned early and if there's no reason to challenge the hierarchy there's no reason to be aggressive. Women, on the other hand, who are thrust into male-dominated environments without understanding the rules may fail in a variety of ways. They may fail to use appropriate body language. Their voice might betray too much emotional investment in the outcome. They may persist on unwinnable points where men would back down (iow fail to choose their battles effectively).

If you've dealt with successfully aggressive women, they are rarely called "bitch" unless they are truly hostile or by angry people who have lost control and pick the first insult that comes to mind (see the movie 'Crash' for some excellent examples of this phenomenon as it applies to racism). Typically you will notice that these women are comfortable adopting male body language, probably have a deep and confident voice, and are far more emotionally restrained than average women. They are typically physically intimidating (a saleswoman or CEO). They are capable of aggression and assertiveness without being called a bitch because they have learned to do it in a masculine way.

What women can't do is be aggressive without sacrificing femininity.

> I can be loud with no fear of being called a shrew

Women who are loud in the way that men are loud are never called shrews. They are maybe called unfeminine but usually it's just something like "she's type A." Women who are loud in the sense that they complain constantly about small things and provoke arguments which they try to win by shrieking as loud as possible is the definition of a shrew. I think you'll find that's far rarer for men to behave that way.


I am not a social justice geek, much less a theorist in that area. I think a lot of times we see a lot of hogwash coming out of that area and I think this is impossible to resolve because social justice theorists tend to deny basic aspects of human nature, despising sexuality (which is a necessary part of life), social divisions and hierarchy (socially necessary) and the like.

I think when we look at these things something more objective and less judgemental (like anthropology) is a better starting point. I.e. it is better to criticize from a standpoint of functional understanding than from functional ignorance (seeing only portions of a dynamic that bother one and not seeing how something benefits the target group).

As far as the checklist, it's fairly rife with definitional problems (sexual harassment has a very narrow legal definition for example but I doubt that's what the blogger means, and even terms like rape are more and more frequently subject of definitional problems, as jurisdictions pass laws saying that drunken sex is rape regardless of how the intoxicant was administered).

Moreover I think one could turn this on it;s head and come up with a female privilege checklist too as unpopular as that would be (particularly important in areas of parenting, child support, and the like).


I was one of those nerds. I was not bullied by girls, but by guys. Most of the girls were really nice and lovely, in fact. I have nothing but fond memories of girls from those times.

As such I find your hypothesis quite hilarious and insulting. Misogyny in Newspeak does not mean hatred of women, it means things women hate. Think about it. More often than not it is a pure strawman.

Your logic chain goes as such: bullying -> misogyny -> boobies in entertainment.

My logic chain goes as follows: I like boobies -> boobies in entertainment.

Somehow you jump from sexism to misogyny without blinking. Those are two completely different things.


As well as gaining points by distancing oneself from unpopular kids, one loses points by being close to them. A woman I know says that in high school she liked nerds, but was afraid to be seen talking to them because the other girls would make fun of her. Unpopularity is a communicable disease; kids too nice to pick on nerds will still ostracize them in self-defense.

From http://www.paulgraham.com/nerds.html


[The "you" below is not personal.]

> The result of this kind of upbringing is often a socially stunted man who, despite all his powers of logic and reason, finds it difficult to reason away the anger that he knows shouldn't be there, but is. He witnesses sexism and mistreatment of women around him, but he lacks the empathy required to say or do anything about it.

Boo the fuck hoo. If guys weren't so hung up on trying to explain everything rationally, they might experience empathy without trying very hard. Most guys out there who want to "be sensitive" are putting on a nice liberal face so that they appear to have the right opinion.

I'm a guy, and can state from experience, that most guys are more concerned with being right and looking good than being empathic and in touch with their feelings. The issue is that with empathy comes understanding, and so you might see what a jerk you are sometimes.

Consequently, we're way too hung up on pride and being the alpha. Until guys can take a step back and admit that they might not have all the answers all the time, the thoughts, attitudes and opinions stated in the article will not go away.


I blame fucked up educational and general (I presume US?) culture. Let me give you another possibility. A country where liking math, computers and being good at those subjects earns you status and admiration including from girls. I remember tutoring some girls in those subjects, helping them with the homework and eventually dating them. It mostly based on my status as being #1 in those subjects got me the equivalent I guess what a football jock would get in an American high-school (and I know because I went there too, so I can compare).

However there is another element here and that is there are different kinds of women and it is not about girls vs boys but about assholes vs everyone else. When a girl was mean to me it was because she was an asshole not because she was a girl. I wouldn't want to be admired or liked or even be in the company of anyone like that.

Now to get back to the original subject I think often apparent misogynism is the result of socially inept/stupid behavior on behalf of male geeks. When there are 20 male geeks and one woman gets included in the group, the geeks start acting stupid and saying stupid things. Sorry I can't put it another less direct way. They often try to impress the woman or vie for her attention. Trying to outdo each other they end up making some inappropriate sexual joke, or even end up propositioning her. Sometimes hateful remarks are just sad attempt at teasing and trying to be more "direct" and "open" with her. Pretty soon she will be running away without even looking back. I know I am stereotyping geeks here as sexually frustrated, socially inept individuals, but that is because often I see it happening like that. So my idea is that misogyny is sometimes only apparent and stems from social ineptitude, rather then a genuine hatred of women as a gender (Not that it makes the woman feel a lot better as a result...).


Any women that have been in my CS classes most certainly were not flirted with. They were 100% of the time "just another guy", and knew that before joining the class.


Considering that one thrust of the article seems to be that anyone (particularly anyone female) who despises comic book store patrons is justified in doing so, I think you're on point.


Some geeks certainly deny the sexism -- he gives an example of one -- so I think an article on male privilege has to start out there.

I also think trauma can work both ways. My abuse for being a nerd didn't teach me that women were bad, it taught me that being mistreated for being different is bad. Ergo my hatred of sexist behavior in my industry.

More generally trauma can explain bad behavior, but I don't think it excuses it. (Not that you're suggesting otherwise, but I want to make sure people here don't slip into a common error.) A lot of physical abusers have been abused themselves. But a lot of abused people don't go on to abuse anyone else. There may be a reason that somebody is a sexist jerk, but we should still hold them to account.


> Some geeks certainly deny the sexism -- he gives an example of one -- so I think an article on male privilege has to start out there.

How is sexism a privilege? Sexism may be a bias, or as the grandparent hypothesizes, a lack of empathy;

Privilege may arise as a result of these biases (just as much as it would arise as a result of any other bias, against rural people, people with non-majority ethnicity, against unattached males over a certain age, etc.), but contrary to the title, the article is about sexism and not about privilege.


Privilege here is a technical term.

Other people's sexism yields my male privilege. And yes, this article is definitely about male privilege.


Look at all these comments. I see a lot of geeks denying that sexism exists. The appeals to hunter-gatherer psychology are especially precious.


Is it problematic that I'm sick of gender on HN? "Raising awareness" doesn't mean much when it essentially provokes the same inconsequential firefights. Can we just agree that men are pigs, women feel entitled, everyone's an asshole, startups need good engineers, and stop it?

All this article really shows me is that the girlfriend was correct to avoid going into a comic book store.

You cannot control culture you cannot control subcultures you cannot make people think "right."

You can be selective about which subcultures you expose you and your friends to and which you'll allow into your home.

Waxing eloquent about how we're unaware of male privilege has become preachy.


Step back and look at the big picture, if you will.

Nobody can force someone to change their mind about anything. That's entirely up to you. Most readers here are probably pretty damn smart and capable of creating incredibly detailed justifications for believing what they want to believe. So in that narrow sense, you're totally right.

But on the other hand, it's pretty curious to think that you can't influence culture with ideas. How did we end up where we are, with a constitutional republic, human and civil rights, and so on? How did we abolish slavery or give women and minorities the right to vote? If you can't change culture with the strength of your arguments, the only answer left is that it just changes on its own, as if by magic.

So if you think it's preachy, fine. Don't read about things that piss you off. It's a fine strategy that's worked for far dumber people than you. But try to recognize that without the "inconsequential firefights" there would be no social progress at all. I for one don't really care if it takes 50 years, as long as we don't kid ourselves into thinking that if we can't change everyone's mind with one single blog post there's no point to discussing it.

And above all, have a nice day.


I think what I'm proposing is that we take local control of our subculture, which Hacker News tends to do overtly on a regular basis by defining moderation; for instance, blatant political slogans are discouraged because they're likely to provoke flamewars.

This is exactly the sort of thing that's likely to provoke an unproductive flamewar in my book.


Helianthus is right. There's something about nerd culture that makes an inflexible and dogmatic adherence to the current intellectual fads very common. Curiously, the most hilariously unpc writers I've read do or have done computer stuff too.


I'm also tired of the "gender" articles on HN. BUT we don't have to agree that men are entitled (yes, I changed it) and so on. Since not all can agree to disagree, we will continue to see this (hopefully) once in a while.


we invented an awesome playground, and girls are mad cuz they can't dominate it


I know it's Hacker News, but there's really only one response to this. Rest assured I'd say it to your face:

You're an idiot.


We should stop conflating the term 'geek' with the term 'nerd'. I think most people familiar with the cultures in question would agree that there is an increasingly clear difference between the two (although membership in the two is certainly correlated.)


I don't think there's a concrete, universally accepted difference. Pretty much everyone has their own definition of "geek" and "nerd," and how much they overlap, and most of those definitions are mutually incompatible.

Also, http://xkcd.com/747/


People can have different, mutually incompatible definitions of the two, that's fine. All I'm saying is that very few people who have any opinion on the subject think the two refer to the same set of values and behaviors.


Do they have importantly distinct definitions? A quick check via Google implies they're both about "unfashionable or socially inept person" or "foolish or contemptible person who lacks social skills or is boringly studious" but that's not necessarily how I view either term.


I always figured that "nerd" implied some sort of technical knowledge or scientific mindedness. Hence slashdot being "news for nerds, stuff that matters". Geek then I suppose, would be your standard comic book store customer.

Enough people use them interchangeably that it seems there is no longer any meaning. We should probably just jettison both words.


I don't know that I've observed people using the terms interchangeably, and the distinction between geeks and nerds is pretty constant - what does seem to happen is that people disagree about which label ("geek" or "nerd") goes with which category.

So, yeah, we probably should jettison both words.




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