The Sexist

Sexist Beatdown: Nerds Will Be Boys Edition

Poor nerds. They spend their lives developing complex codes in their parents' basements, lamenting that the bullies get all the girls, and occasionally terrorizing women in order to fight for their manhood, right?

Only in the movies, kids. IRL, girls are nerds, too, and they tend to get a little peeved at the stereotypical Nerd Sexists who lurk among them—especially when they're dating them.Today, Sady of Tiger Beatdown and I ask the relevant question: So, are Nerd Sexists sexist because they cannot get laid, or just because it's easier that way?

SADY: why hello! i hear the nerds are UP TO NO GOOD.

AMANDA: are they exacting their ... revenge?

SADY: this is what they tell me! at least there are no gorilla masks and disturbingly rape-like scenarios this time around, though. only comments on the internet! and UNFORESEEABLE CONSEQUENCES.

AMANDA: so, why do internet commenters hate girlfriends?

SADY: well! i have been spending a really regrettable portion of my day looking up youtube clips of men railing against "feminists" on their "vlogs," so, one idea: it gives them something to talk about? also, the people who rail against girlfriends the hardest give the unmistakable impression that they are angry because they don't have them.

AMANDA: yes! this is what i wanted to talk about, because i need to figure something out and i think you can help me. i once (okay ... 2 hours ago) thought the very same thing: the phenomenon of "nerd sexism" may be a result of guys who think they're not cool, or attractive, or whatever, lashing out against the people who can make them cool and attractive: girls. and they can sort of get away with this, because it's not as if they're privileged or anything, like most men. they're pathetic nerds, and they're at the bottom of the social ladder.

SADY: right. well, i also think so many of the things that are Nerd are gendered in the dudely direction: video games, comics, internet whozimatronical codes and what have you. not to say that girls don't use them, but they are generally considered For Boys. so the nerds end up in these all-dude or 99%-dude environments most of the time!

AMANDA: but then, some dude, who is really into kickball—and so less of a nerd than i am—posted this comment on my blog about why he doesn't like me, and he diagnosed exactly why i don't enjoy kickball: because i need a good fucking. and i realized that this is something i hear over and over again as a feminist: you "hate men" because you're single, you can't get dudes to fuck you, and you're ugly, etc. and they can tell all of this based on about 300 words i wrote about kicking balls in the air. and not to brag, but i do fuck, so i thought, maybe i am wrong about the nerds? maybe they do all have girlfriends?

SADY: true enough. perhaps there is an unfair nerd stereotype! for example, I will now brag by telling you that i had a roommate who specialized in the internet whozimatronical codes, and he had the various anime DVDs, and he suggested starting a concept band about robots. and i would say that this is Nerdy, but – BUT, and this is important – he was totally cool with all that. and he did have lady friends, sometimes lady friends who worked in the whozimatronical code industry.

AMANDA: the whozimatronical what now

SADY: I HAVE NO IDEA. the computer skills, i lack them! but it's easy to forget that Nerd or Geek or whatever is its own subculture, and the people therein are enthusiastic and happy about it. it is not like they are all in a leper colony. YET, they are marginalized, and looked down on, and here is a thing i have noticed about dudes who are marginalized and looked down on (and live in a very male-gendered environment): they DO, in fact, tend to lash out at the ladies!

AMANDA: i see. but they lash out at the cool dudes, the football players, too, right? but i guess the problem is that the quarterback is rarely actually an unseen minority lurking in the nerd forum, like female nerds are. although i love the idea of a quarterback wearing his football jersey and crying silent tears when his after-school activity is pwned on some WoW forum


AMANDA: haha. oh the layers.

SADY: well, it's weird. because, basically, nerds are culturally emasculated. right? like the stereotype is that they are all unsuccessful, and can't get ladies, and can't beat anyone up, and that is what men are supposed to do. ALL THE TIME. like, if you are a dude and you are not either having sex or punching someone in the face right now, you're a gigantic pussy. unless you're just waiting for your truckload of cash to show up. so one way for dudes who feel emasculated to, like, reclaim their iron john manhood or whatever, is to talk shit about ladies. OR – just a suggestion – basically bring kelly lebrock to life using a computer and a barbie doll (RIP JOHN HUGHES). whereas, the nerd ladies i've met all tend to be really awesome and feministy! which, dealing with the double-stereotyping of Nerd and Lady, I can see why you would get tired of stereotypes and spend a lot of time talking about them.


SADY: oh, and also? some of this might be due to the evils of the internet itself? and not nerds?

AMANDA: that's true. there are a lot of assumptions made on these internets, and while i like to attribute stereotypes about women and feminists and lesbians or whatever to misogyny, i think a lot of times it's just carelessness. and it's still misogyny, but it's misogyny that can be addressed and explained and all a lot easier in face-to-face conversation

SADY: yeah, exactly. OR – controversial statement here – the fact that you can develop a fake personality on the internet for attention. like the dude you posted about! i am not saying he is not a douche, but the odds are high (in my mind) that a lot of his offensive statements were conceived, not while thinking, "oh how i hate the women of the world," but while thinking, "this will piss people off and/or prove what a loose cannon i am." see his shock when his girlfriend read his comments and was like, WOW, you come off as a dick here! if she thought he was a dick of that order in the first place, they wouldn't be dating.

AMANDA: yeah. totally. he then goes on to say that he's joked about her being a bitch to her face and she doesn't care when that happens. but obviously, there was some sort of disconnect where he didn't understand that the internet is not his real life, and taking the bitch joke behind her back to share with his internet friends she didn't know existed was not on the same plane of reality as he thought it was

SADY: right. there is a difference between tomfoolery and being like, "oh, ha ha, BITCH" in private and basically showing up in a googlable forum for all the world to see and saying that your girlfriend is a bitch because she doesn't like bacon soap (???). which: lesson for us all, there! with the twitters and the facebooks and the blogspots and what have you! people post hundreds of thousands of words a day and i think a lot of us don't understand that YOU CAN NEVER ERASE THEM and ANYONE IN THE WORLD CAN FIND THEM. as someone who has read my bosses' craigslist ads, i can attest to the foolishness of this endeavor.

AMANDA: and yet, for the people in this googlable forum, it's perfectly obvious that she IS a bitch.

SADY: yeah, people do show up to call his girlfriend a bitch. but that's their own form of posturing. like, i am so sure that the "don't let that girl push you around" "take the stick out" people would not weigh in this way were it a lady and a dude that they both knew.

AMANDA: that's probably true.

SADY: OR – alternate take – people on the internet are just jerks. i don't know. personally, i would have dumped him just for having the intense alternate life on reddit! NERD.


Photo by katiebate

  • mdesus

    for the record amanda gets a good fucking in her dreams by james spader almost every night.

  • Kier

    Anyone who makes regular use of "pwn" has no right to call anyone else a nerd.

  • snobographer

    Waaah!!! you called a sexist a sexist! That makes you a ... a ... sexistist!

  • Dock Drumming

    Wow. That conversation was silly.

  • girl

    have you guys ever looked deeply at the culture of PUAs? before it was a tv show w/ Mystery and a book (The Game), it was just this gross underground world of forums and vids (might still be?) where nerd boys can learn tricks on how to pick up women. i remember watching nerd boy friends transform from nerds to dicks after watching these how-to vids and stuff on line. one of my nerd boy friends who was particularly obsessed with the forums explained it to me like this: nerd boys obv have trouble talking to women bc they have trouble talking to everyone, so women are like just the most intimidating foreign species for them to communicate with.
    nerd boy misogyny is just the sad result i think of nerd boys who made the move from awk teen to adulthood without ever understanding women as human beings- just creatures that torture their nerdy ways. the nerd to dick circle of sexism.

  • James Taylor

    I think that a lot of the hatred of "nerd girls" comes from the fact that many of them are in it for attention.

  • please

    @James Taylor only 1 out of gazillion girls would feign nerdy interests to gain the attention of a misogynistic computer dork-dont flatter yourself. the majority of 'nerd girls' are just 'in it' bc they are actually smart people who share the same nerdy interests as nerd boys.

    but your comment does reflect a common misconception that rejected nerd guys seem to have when nerd girls dump them- typically after the girl realizes that the guy holds this superficial level of understanding of women.

  • Beth

    I think you have nerds pegged way wrong. I am a nerd and also married to a nerd and we have nerd friends and it is glorious. Anyway, I have not noticed higher levels of misogyny. I think it's maybe about the same except that nerd guys tend to be willing to engage in debates about semantics and stuff so being a nitpicking feminist doesn't seem so weird because even guys who don't get feminism as a concept understand that you are into identifying patterns and looking at details and that is cool with them. That is a Nerd Thing so they're like, oh, carry on. Also I don't know anyone who "attacks" the hypermasculine ideal. All the nerd guys I know are pretty indifferent to Manly Male Manliness and the men who seem to subscribe to that.