Friday, December 14, 2012

I don't think I can take the way you make me out to be

So let's corral everything I've written so far on the topic:

Part I, wherein I take on Dirk Manning, and several thuggish, anonymous commenting on a reference article;
Part II, featuring more thuggish, anonymous encounters with netbound idiots;
Part III, a tentative mention of Tony Harris (which I'd entirely forgotten about), followed by more anonymous idiocy;
Part IV, wherein Tony Harris comes ragingly into play, I entirely forget I've quoted that section before on the blog, and some really pretty pictures.

So we continue with the tear-down, already in progress.

Let's go back to his oft-repeated assertion that the rampaging hordes of "fake" geek girls are pathetic beyond all reason, but only slightly more pathetic than geek guys. What he's really saying is deeply underhanded, and more than a little cruel: that the prevalence of "fake" hot girls (supposedly, to a woman, pretending interest in things no 'real' woman would have an interest in, apparently) distracts a certain "sort" of geek man, who has no defense against their mostly boob-induced charms. Being, as he's said more than once, socially awkward, virginal, and unable to withstand even the slightest smile from a woman if it comes along with cleavage.

Does he respect anyone in the comics industry, or comics fandom? Does he even realize he's insulting male geeks right the hell along with female geeks? Why is he doing this?

Which brings us to Harris' patented auto-rejection clause. Paraphrased: "You'll never go out with me, so I'm going to spurn you before you can reject me. Ha-HA, take THAT, you slut!" So, twisting through that particular mental labyrinth, I get:
  • I think you're attractive.
  • Someone who looks like you will never date me.
  • This means I get to hate you.
  • And because you'll never date me--and because I hate you--then you're a worthless, stupid slut who wants to tramp around naked in public.
The hell, Mr. Harris?? And that leads to all the rest--because they won't date him, he gleefully assumes they have the intelligence of garden hoses, are all ugly and trying too hard, or fake and obviously 'infiltrating' his precious geekdom, which makes them desperate sluts who are simply manipulating poor, unsocialized man-children from possibly dating "real" geek girls...which he seems to think don't exist.

So, what, his geek revolution is comprised only of men? Why? And what does he get out of this tirade but a lot of ire from honest-to-goodness. real geeks of all genders who don't see geekdom as a crazed battlefield between the sexes--with women always on the losing side?

In an article written back in May, tangentially about lazy game direction, this passage stands out with vivid clarity for me:
Gamers get really, really angry when you characterise them as mouth-breathing adolescent boys who've never kissed a real-life girl.
And what is Harris doing? This exact thing. Again the question rises: why?

But it doesn't stop there, and that's where things get really odd. Let's go back to Joe Peacock for a moment. In this article, Alyssa Rosenberg states:
Towards the close of the piece Peacock writes: "There's no doubt about it--girls in geek culture have it hard, and it’s probably going to be that way for a long time."

Here's the thing, we geek women do actually have it rough. Very rough in fact, Mr. Peacock, and people like you are one of the primary roadblocks to things getting better for us. We have it rough because we have guys like you who demand we prove our geek cred the second you see us. We have guys like you who assume that we're on the floor of a con, dressed however we're dressed because we want to get hit on, not because that's just how we dress. Guys like you who feel they're entitled to some sort of explanation or attention from us, and you're not. Guys who assume that all the women at conventions are heterosexual and interested. We have it rough because we have guys like you writing articles about "our" culture where by "our" you really mean what's acceptable to you: the white straight guy deciding what's "truly" geekdom. And finally, we have it really really hard because we have to deal with people like you insisting on a right to define our favorite hobbies and the way that we engage with them. We can't just be geeks and women and be having fun too. Our place in geekdom, according to you, is defined by our bodies, our wardrobes, our looks–how you and your pals interpret our attentions–and not by our passion or participation in the things that we love.
Let me repeat that last bit, because it sounds vaguely important:
Our place in geekdom, according to you, is defined by our bodies, our wardrobes, our looks–how you and your pals interpret our attentions–and not by our passion or participation in the things that we love.
Apparently Tony Harris believes this, as well.

In research on these several opinion pieces, I also came across this, which is a genuinely well-reasoned apology from Peacock. I'll give him points for realizing he made some wrong-headed statements, and thank him for the apology. How'ver, he's persisting in some very large blind spots in his thinking--namely, defending Harris. He's able to see his own mistake, but he's asking folks to cut Harris slack, because first, he was just venting, what's the big deal, and second, he was posting on his own Facebook wall, he didn't realize the rant was going to go global.

The problem with that position? Facebook isn't a private service. You post it, the net sees it, the net sees it forever. I'll say it again--if you want it kept private, kept secret, don't say it online.

I'm fairly sure I had more to say on the topic, but to be fair, I've said a lot already. There's been some really good commentary pieces from this whole debacle, and this one in particular leads to two very important editorials on why these comments matter for women, how often we hear crap like this everywhere, and how it's not just a comic-geek thing in the first place.

And I'll leave with with a relevant quote:
The concept of the "fake gamer girl" can only exist in a culture built upon inherent distrust of women.
-- Brian Rubinow

And that, I think, is the real issue at hand.

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