Geek culture needs an upgrade

As a geek girl I’m often stupefied by the unusual version of misogyny that geek guys promote.

Quynh Nguyen

Geek guys are a paradox, especially when it comes to interactions with women. They claim to respect women better than “jocks” do, but have no problems with playing games that victimize women. Geek guys profess to have a deep appreciation for personality, but would balk at the idea of going out with a heavy nerd girl with a great personality. They lament that women fail to see them for who they are inside, but are too shy to put their personality out there.

Is it just me or are geek guys pointing fingers at the wrong people?

As a geek girl who reads gaming magazines, nerd sites like Fark.com and the occasional issue of Toyfare, I’m often stupefied by the unusual version of misogyny that these geek guys promote. Geek guys play the victim in a skewed mating game, but further turn women off by relishing in a largely sexist geek culture. They write women off as being shallow, dumb and intolerant of their lifestyle, but fail to understand women or female culture. The way they think of women is no different than the way the stereotypical oversexed jock thinks of women. It goes without saying that these kinds of guys are less than ideal dating material.

If geek guys want to attract women and have women accept their nerd culture, they have got to stop treating women with hostility. They need to censor geek culture for sexist comments and sexist character designs while promoting an environment that geek women appreciate. It’s tiring to try to prove us geek gals exist when geek guys run us off message boards as if we did not belong. It’s not enough for geek women to start speaking out – geek guys need to start listening and taking us seriously if they want us to stick around.

A lot of geek guys might cringe at what I’m proposing. Many geek guys enjoy the “boys’ club” environment and feel that developing sensitivity for the needs of women would destroy that environment and camaraderie. It’s not unlike the arguments that I hear against women in the military.

Then there’s the geek guys who get it, the ones who remember when games were not all breasts and scantily clad women. The ones who find games that are “all boobs and lame gameplay” a waste of time and money. Ones who have the bravery to point out sexist comments on message boards when they appear.

Not surprisingly, the geek guys I know who don’t stoop to sexist geekery are more confident, and have satisfying relationships with women. What geek girl would not want to be with a gamer who treats her like a person and understands her perspective?

I don’t mean to demonize geek guys; they’re all I’ve ever had relationships with. They’re wonderful conversationalists with wit and sarcasm that would make Kevin Smith proud. They’re the kind of guys who would get my jokes and sardonic sense of humor. It just pains me when I see a geek guy friend with a great personality meet a woman and just trip at the finish line because he let slip a Duke Nukem pickup line.

I hope for a geek culture that is welcoming to women beyond the occasional Barbie video game. A woman-friendly geek culture means room for female geeks to participate and the increased likelihood of meeting that special geek guy. It’s a win-win; now if only the geek guys would just see it that way.

Quynh Nguyen welcomes comments at [email protected]