Jul 27 2012 10:00am

When Sword and Shield Are Not Enough: Geek Girls and Trolling

Let’s start this article off right: I’m not here to make an attack on men, male writers, or male nerds. I’m not here to present a soap-box argument about the ills of the world and the dangerous political atmosphere that faces women today. I’m not even here to critique or attack works of fiction, be they literature, film, or video games that have portrayed women in unfortunate ways in the history of geek culture. This article is not about any of those things, and though there is a forum for all of those discussions, this isn’t it. Instead, this article is going to discuss something near and dear to my heart. We’re going to talk about the dangers of geek culture and trolling.

Trolling starts like this. You’re someone on the internet, and you’re snug and safe behind your keyboard. In your enclosed capsule of technological wonder, you begin to believe that you can do or say anything you’d like because your anonymity gives you that freedom. There is no one to confront you and your ideas besides other people in text on your screen. Emboldened, you let loose whatever hate-filled nonsense you feel best expresses your ire and launch it at the nearest target, be that a media celebrity, someone doing a blog post you disagree with, or just someone in your online gaming circle or local fan forum. You leave comments, detailed threads, even long discussions full of hate-filled awfulness, intent on trying to express your opinion or just cause a reaction. All in all, you’re out to hurt someone else for the sake of your own amusement and self-entitlement. If this sounds like something familiar, it’s because nearly every inch of the internet has trolls and we’ve all encountered them.

Now, while trolling in general is usually worthy of both an eye-roll or two and the ubiquitous “don’t feed the trolls” response by the more fair-minded, rational internet denizens, it seems that trolls have been getting more aggressive. More than that, it seems that when dealing with issues of women in geek culture or gaming, the trolls have joined together in a chorus—an almost Voltron-like chorus—of woman hatred that has turned them into the Megatron of misogyny, a rolling wave of troll looking for any reason to smack at a woman speaking her mind. And they arrive, it seems, whenever a woman in the geek community opens her mouth and says, “Hey, there are some issues here that are not exactly gender-friendly: let’s talk about it.”

The major example of such a situation is the now nearly-infamous Anita Sarkeesian situation. For those who are unfamiliar, Anita Sarkeesian is an online media critic whose vlog Feminist Frequency explores gender issues and common anti-feminist tropes. She put together a Kickstarter on May 17, 2012 called “Tropes vs Women: Video Games” which was aimed to address similar issues found in video games. Along with raising her initial goal of $6,000 in under twenty-four hours, Sarkeesian became the target of a hoard of misogynistic abuse that included racial slurs as well as threats of sexual assault and death. Google Sarkeesian’s name a few weeks back and you’d be able to find games offering players the opportunity to beat up Sarkeesian with a click of your mouse, or crude sketches of the young lady being raped by video game characters. The media responded with overwhelming support of Sarkeesian and decried the monstrous misogyny spewing from behind keyboards across the internet, with articles exploding in The Escapist, and Huffington Post, to name a few. In the end, the Kickstarter raised $158,917 and the web series will go forward. Yet this incident is just one indication of a trend across the internet and the geek/gaming world in general that has me scratching my head and wondering when our society regressed back to the Middle Ages. 

The issue of misogyny in the geek and gamer world is not a new one. Women have been talking about it for years — how unfair it is when they’re not let into a gaming group because it’s a “guy’s game” or how there are less female game developers out there, but more games featuring gravity-defying body proportions and poor characterizations of women. We’ve all complained about the chainmail bikinis and being the only girl in the comic book store. But the times they are a’changing, and geek has embraced not only being chic, but the inclusion of women as part of the diverse pageantry that is geekery. And as those barriers have relaxed to embrace the women who have been around the communities for so long, often marginalized and under appreciated, the undercurrent of misogyny has done exactly what that word implies — it’s gone underground. And given half a chance, it bubbles to the forefront to rear it’s ugly head. And believe me, trolling is real ugly. 

Another nasty situation recently making geek news occurred when media blogger Ryan Perez went after Whedonverse actress and Guild star Felicia Day. Perez, who was writing for Destructoid at the time, Tweeted about Day and called her “a glorified booth babe” and questioned her relevance to geek society. He used his platform to knock a woman in the industry, seemingly for no other reason than the fact that she is a woman. He woke up the next morning to a nightmare PR backlash when Wil Wheaton stood up to defend his Geek and Sundry pal and combated Tweets with Perez. The blogger was shortly thereafter separated from his job at Destructoid as the fan’s exploded and the geek community rose up in defense of Day. Perez’s defense was that he was drunk, and though he tried to backpedal, the situation provided yet another spark in the ongoing debate about the internet and the insidious bias against women that seems to be lurking under the surface.

These two are only the mega examples of female bashing that have captivated geeks everywhere. In response, the call has gone out from every platform, from celebrities to bloggers to internet videos, calling for the trolling to end. But can it be ended with such a call to arms? I believe the actual issues themselves, the bias itself, must be tackled for the problem to be combatted. And that bias goes back years, to times when geekery was considered a man’s game, and women had no place there. When these mediums began to become mainstream, the soreness over women’s inclusion became a taboo problem to have, and anyone who disagreed with the inclusion of women became the bad guy to be shamed. While many discussions were fostered about the misogyny of geek media, those who perpetuated such feelings were left to stew silently while being told they could not have such feelings. Where they were engaged, they were battled by the sword and shield of political correctness and bashed into silence. Now, the result is a geek culture facing a tide of soreness, pushed down until it explodes in the form of the passive aggressive, the cowardly, and the anonymous. 

So how can this be combatted? What is the answer? I sing the praises of a beautiful vlog post put forward by Jay Smooth about the issue, as he asks for everyone to consider how to handle trolls in general when “don’t feed the trolls” becomes an answer that promotes the same insidious silence I’m talking about. As a brilliant response, it speaks for itself.

I also think that as this problem evolves, those facing this kind of hatred and bigotry are faced with the option of standing up to a tide of noise that wants to drown them in negativity and misogyny. The only way to deal with that is for the community as a whole to become aware of it and be prepared to stand up. But in the end, I think informed discussion of the gender issues facing geekdom will be what combats this problem, a conversation supported by men and women, where words are used as a form of communication and not a bludgeoning device to put someone back in their place. The problem is evolving, as are the answers, across the internet and in our nerdy communities as a whole.

And in case people think that trolling is just an internet thing, I’m going to close this article with a story. At a recent convention, I was running a live-action role-play game for thirty-five people with a female narrator of mine. She was in a tight costume and we were preparing her role when a guy playing the game approached us. I’m paraphrasing when I say that he blurted out that she ought to cover up her chest because her body was distracting to him, and he was unable to concentrate with her in the room. I informed him, rather in shock, that women have body parts that he might find distracting, but that that wasn’t her fault. The player then pitched a fit and stormed out, indicating that her body was to blame for his lack of ability to concentrate. This, I might add, he made a point to do in front of the young children that were present. Both my narrator and I were stunned by the moment — had we just been trolled in our game? Was he serious? And if he was, how did we respond to that?

The discomfort felt by my colleague over this was something we discussed at length, and it was at that moment I realized that this isn’t just an issue that exists on the internet. The place of women in gaming and in geekery is an ongoing discussion that transcends the keyboard and had just stepped, live and in brutish color, right up to me in my safe space, my own game. And it was something I, as a female game designer and storyteller, was going to have to tackle head-on. 

I guess that’s all any of us can do.


Top image by CatieMonster on Tumblr.

Shoshana Kessock is a comics fan, photographer, game developer, LARPer and all around geek girl. She’s the creator of Phoenix Outlaw Productions and

alastair chadwin
1. a-j
Good post.

Sexism within Geek Dome needs to be addressed but I fear it will be a bumpy ride. the problem is well illustrated in your closing anecdote. The lad in question almost certainly believes that he was the victim in that incident. As far as, I suspect, he is concerned he raised a valid issue about the narrator's outfit being needlessly sexually titillating and his complaint was greeted with a lecture about how it was his fault. There's a mountain to climb here if solipsism, ignorance and good old fashioned bigotry are to be overcome.

Agreed that a dialogue needs to be opened but patience will be required as complaints are met with denial and bad-temper. No one likes to be told they are in the wrong, especially not those within the privileged group (and I speak as a white, middle class Briton) and more especially when they perceive themselves as being in a minority (geeks, SFF fans, white men who can't say anything these days without being accussed of something by the PC brigade) and so the sooner we start, the sooner we're done.
Aimee Powalisz
2. longhairedspider
Interesting post!

I've heard and read about this type of thing happening, but I've never actually experienced it - in live-action or board game playing (I'm not an online person).

I've always thought that people love to be hateful when they feel that there will be no reprecussions, so I'm surprised that a person would come out and say something about your friend's costume in a live-action forum. Perhaps this shows that these people think that "everyone" thinks like them...
Mordicai Knode
3. mordicai
Let’s start this article off right: I’m not here to make an attack on men, male writers, or male nerds.

The fact that you need to reflexively put this in to pre-empt personal attacks & purposeful misconstrual is like...ugh, I already have a stomach ache thinking about how much I hate accepted cultural misogyny (& individual, natch).
David Thomson
4. ZetaStriker
Funny that this is coming to the fore so strongly these days. I actually just read a post the other day from Zombie Orpheus Entertainment relating to their Kickstarter to fund their next movie/gaming parody, The Gamers: Hands of Fate. It was a really good write-up that made a very similar argument while using entirely different examples of women shouted down by geek culture . . . and not even just internet culture at that. I'd hate to paraphrase though, so I'll just link it here.
5. SWS
This goes way beyond geekdom - in fact, I think the geek community issues are just symptomatic of the larger problem. Look at the number of religions that require women to keep themselves covered to avoid arousing males, instead of having strictures that require males to control their natural urges. The whole world is only slowly switching from putting all behavioral burdens on women and beginning to share responsiblity between both sexes. Civilization and culture are always a work in progress, and this is a major issue in progress.
6. Tired Reader
All of your examples show that this behavior is not the accepted norm. And your first sentence demonstrates you do want to male bash. Please stop wearing this issue on your sleeve.
Mordicai Knode
8. mordicai
I think we need to call "trolling" what it really is: harassing. That is maybe step one.

Step two? I don't know, I guess I'd start with not asking women to prove their geek credentials. I think that is really a core point, because it is invisible & people don't understand the double standard. There is a concern that geek culture is being co-opts & appropriated...but then that valid concern is scapegoated onto women.
Mordicai Knode
9. mordicai
6. Tired Reader

No, the fact that the examples happened show that it is the accepted norm. The fact that the examples happened & then were defended show that it is the accepted norm. The fact that the examples were then escalated to rape threats & racism show that it is the accepted norm. The fact that people stood up & condemned it shows that it is possible to change that.

& I don't know how to explain this other than to say it as bluntly as possible: promoting equality for women does not count as male bashing. It is not a zero sum game. Thinking that women not wanting to be attacked is somehow male bashing displays an apalling assumption about what it is to be a man. The article cites actual examples that actually happened. It isn't some crazy radical feminist agenda to say that maybe coordinated attacks on women for the supposed crime of being female is a bad thing.
Sam Brougher
10. Azuaron
I think I'm probably about to take a rather unpopular stance regarding the last story you shared, so let me add some qualifiers. Actually, I'm going to ignore that story for the moment and share a different story.

I was at an engineering conference a few years ago, and one of the presenters, a woman, was wearing a tight shirt, no bra. And the convention center was a little cold.

Her nipples distracted everybody. Men, women, everybody. To this day, I can talk to people about the presentation "nipple lady" gave, and everyone will remember her, and the shirt she was wearing, but nobody knows what she gave a presentation about.

This was not a case of misogyny or men being unable to control themselves or discrimination. This was a case of one woman's inadvertant clothing decisions staring a roomful of adult professionals, men and women, into uncomfortable silence.

And we have the legal requirement to cover certain bits in public, but that's a far cry from what is socially appropriate attire in most situations (don't walk into a sit-down restaraunt wearing just a speedo, shirt, and shoes). But it's not like there's a firm line for what makes an outfit socially appropriate (legal requirement + 60% skin coverage, clothing looseness coefficient 7), and that line, fuzzy as it already is, is different for everyone.

Did this guy respond poorly? It certainly sounds like it.

Was he being sexist? Hard to say. Was there a guy there with tight, form-fitting pants, his junk on display? And if so, did this person notice him, and not approach him and ask him to cover himself? Without that bit of information, it's impossible to tell whether this guy was sexist, or simply uncomfotable with body parts on display.

I do feel kind of scummy defending this guy because of how poorly he responded. Someone obviously never taught him appropriate manners. But that doesn't mean he didn't have a valid concern.

Like, I think we can all agree that if your narrator friend was wearing a thong and pasties, everyone at that event (especially the parents of the small children) would have an obligation to complain.

So what becomes "appropriate"? Would a bikini be appropriate? Maybe some people think so, but I know if I was LARPing and the narrator was wearing a bikini (or speedo, if a guy), I would probably leave. Everything about that experience would be lost except, "For some reason, the narrator was in swimwear."

And, once again, I don't know what your friend was wearing, but it was apparently skimpy enough that this guy was uncomfortable with it. 34 other people (and the parents of small children) apparently didn't have a problem with it, so it couldn't have been that skimpy, but it was revealing enough to make this guy uncomfortable.

But, here, let me put it this way. If he had stripped to his tighty-whitey underwear in front of you, I'm fairly certain you would have felt uncomfortable and distracted, and you would have asked him to put his clothes back on. That's how he felt. He responded poorly, and he did so to a less extreme circumstance, no one is disputing that, but you are being totally dismissive of his legitimate feelings.

So, my question to you is, what if he had walked up to you respectfully and calmly said something like, "That shirt is displaying more than I'm comfortable with. Can you put on something less revealing? If you don't, I am going to have to leave." How would you have responded?
11. Hedgehog Dan
Not so long ago, there was an amateur comic anthology, blatantly influenced by Heavy Metal. It was as manly as you can get, with men epitomizing masculinity, and women... who were there either to be stuffed in the fridge or to be raped by other men than the hero, who would of course save the girl, and have a sex with her (because it is okay, if she does with him, but it is not, if she does with other men, who of course deserve to die and the hero deserves to get laid... eh).

The writing was not that good at all... which would be okay, since it was a first issue of a fanzine. Mind you, they could have learnt from reviews. However, when they received a scathing review from a female critic, they insisted, that she gave them a bad one, because their work was not intended for female audience (even if said critic mentioned that it is not case in her review).

No, that was a rather unfortunate reaction. When said critic spoke against that attitude, they told that she only vented her frustration on them - not only that, they sent an anonym troll to her blog, who told that she only had penis envy, which, alas for her, could not be cured. That, understandably, infuriated a number of people, but it did not matter, whether you were polite or rude, you only fed him, who insisted that the people objecting to him were cowards - while he would remain safely anonym, because he clearly belongs to another subculture, and therefore any identity would be unnecessary.

The creators of that fanzine THANKED the troll's contribution, instead of distanced themselves from him. They even argued, that they are not interested in female reviews with the metaphor that they want a MALE answer, whether an artifical vagina(!) feels good or not. But no, they were not mysoginits, no, they feel insulted to be viewed that way, and you could argue in vain, even if you were polite, that they should change their attitude and be a little bit more open-minded...

So yeah, unfortunately that phenomenon is not uncommon in geekdom...
12. CR in NYC

The problem is that it really is the accepted norm. Earlier this week, CNN posted an article which essentially boiled down to questioning whether sexy cosplayers had enough "geek cred" to be called geeks, and then deriding them by calling them gross and going to far as to say they were 6's (presumably on a scale of 10) in the real world just trying to make themselves feel like a 9.

So it's not even within the geek culture on Twitter or Kickstarter. It's in the Main Stream Media.
13. Kibs
I don't agree entirely with what Tired Reader said above, but at least two of the examples in the article do show that the trolling is not an accepted norm.

Blogger trolls Day and faces a "a nightmare PR backlash" and loses his job.

Guy who was offended by female body parts leaves and doesn't get to role-play.

I have no doubt that the bad behaviors affected Day, the author and the narrator, and I don't want to minimize how wrong the actions were, but they do not seem to be accepted.
Sky Thibedeau
14. SkylarkThibedeau
It's not an uncommon thing at all but I am one who knows I have no Right Not to be offended or have my feelings hurt. As Fergie sings "Big Girls don't cry"...but they can take care of themselves.
Mordicai Knode
15. mordicai
13. Kibs

The widespread occurance of it shows that it IS a norm. The condemnation of it shows that it doesn't have to be. The post mentions two examples with happy endings, but that says more about fame than it does about misogyny; there are way more cases where the flagrant sexism isn't called out by famous people & widely condemned.
16. Kibs
15. mordicai

I guess my only point was that, to the extent you claimed the behavior was an accepted norm, I believe two of the examples in the article demonstrate that the behavior is not accepted. The behavior itself may be a norm, and it may very well be accepted, but I don't think the article or those examples where the behavior was condemned demonstrate that.

Whether or not the behavior is accepted, the author is clearly correct that it should not be tolerated and the bias itself must be combatted. I fear that we have a long way to go and that things will not change, but I hope I am wrong.
Sam Brougher
17. Azuaron
@CR in NYC You apparently didn't read that article, or you came at it with an agenda already in mind. His problem was explicitly not with sexy cosplayers. His problem was with women who had no interest in geek culture going to geek events and pretending to be interested specifically to get attention, and not because they want to be a part of the culture. It has nothing to do with geek cred so much as intent: are they there to be a part of the culture? Or are they there to get attention from boys?

Like, you know how in The Wedding Crashers Owen Wilson and Vince Vaugn are terrible human beings who pretend to be invited to weddings so that they can have sex with women who are emotionally...extra willing, because they're at a wedding? It's like that, but with attention instead of sex. They aren't there for the actual event; they're there to get something out of members of the opposite sex at the event.
18. CR in NY
My point isn't whether or not his argument is valid, although the entire premise is based on females having to prove their geek cred. My point is the language he used dripped of mysogeny and it was frankly downright offensive. His essential point can be boiled down to "You think you're hot, but you're actually physically ugly, and pretty dumb to boot." That's what I'm talking about... that that type of argument can even be made.
19. TBGH
I don't know how many of you are familiar with the Grantville series. A modern American town is transported whole back to Germany in the middle of the 1630s. Being Americans they of course start to fight for democracy and freedom of religion and all that fun stuff.

One great concept from there is the idea that you can't change the minds of most prejudiced people. However, if you prevent the accepted public demonstrations of that prejudice (in the case of the book attacks on Jews) the prejudice will die in the next generation. Without the public demonstration the hardcore people can't recruit (or are severely limited in recruiting) from the children of the vast majority who just don't care about race/religion/gender.

The Internet has made this much harder. I'm not sure if the answers presented here are the correct ones, but it's much easier for these splinter groups to have access to our homes without government interference thanks to the Internet.

P.S. I agree with #6 that most of the instances you cite show the public's prevaling negative attitude toward mysoginy more than they show the prevalance of mysoginy in society.
20. cyan
Azuaron just pulled an 'I dismiss your story and replace it with my own.' On this topic. Seriously???
21. tradev
Nice piece, enormous can-of-worms.
Think you may have made a word-choice error though - last word in the first sentence following the embedded video should be 'misogyny' or possibly 'misanthropy' and not 'misandry' shouldn't it? (reverses the meaning unless there is some point about lashing out at men that I am missing).
22. chaosprime
Hi, Shoshana. You write some great material, but it hurts me when you pluralize using apostrophes. You did it in your article that came out yesterday, too.
Sam Brougher
23. Azuaron
@cyan I didn't dismiss the story, or even replace it. I told a similar
story with which I actually knew all the details, then brought it back to her story and raised a question about her story. If you actually want to discuss anything I said, I'll be happy to, but right now you're just blowing smoke.

@CR in NY It has nothing to do with proving geek cred. At no point does he even say, "Hey! We should institute a geek test to all women before letting them in," or anything of the sort.

And it wouldn't even be about gender, if there was an issue of men doing the same kind of pretending; he hates "poachers" (not sure why he chose that word, but whatever). He illustrates this point with the guy who buys a bunch of issues of a comic, drives the demand up, then sells them all on eBay. He's talking about people who aren't involved because they like what's going on, but because they have some ulterior motive (profit or attention).

At SDCC, everyone basically assumes your cred is solid, especially if you're cosplaying. The problem arises when you talk to some people, and it turns out that not only do they not know anything that's going on, but they don't care. They aren't there to see anything being displayed, they're there to be oggled. At that point, they're just taking up space in at a crowded convention that would be better empty so people who actually care can walk from one side of the con to the other.

And I'm really curious what, exactly, you think was misogenistic about his language. Was it insulting and offensive? Yes; it was supposed to be. Was it insulting to women, in general? No. He's speaking about a very specific demographic with which he has a problem with.

Once again, the Wedding Crashers analogy. Wilson and Vaugn's characters are despicable human beings (and Will Farrel's even more so, when he makes an appearance). Saying so doesn't make me misandrist, it means I have a problem with how those specific people behave themselves, and their motivations for doing so.
24. CR in NY
Ok, this is my last post. Then I'm done, out of respect for Shoshana...

Look at the different types of language: The (male) eBay poacher is despicable. Horrible. Terrible. The female poacher is ugly, a washed up model, a 6 trying to be a 9, gross, and couldn't even make it as a car show model (these are all examples the author gives). That's the problem...the language itself...that his argument isn't just "show your geek cred" (already problematic) but then becomes "and by the way, you're not even that hot." Heck, even your own example of "Wedding Crashers," you talk about the activity (crashing weddings) NOT whether or not whether the men are attractive. But somehow, because they're women, this type of argument is acceptable. The issue isn't that people disagree with Anita Sarkeesian on tropes in video games, it's that the response was to call for her to be sexually assaulted. The issue isn't whether or not you question how people can and should contribute to geek culture or what makes a geek, but the fact that Felicia Day is questioned specifically because she's female.

Bringing it back to Shoshana's original post, my only reason for bringing it up is that this type of trolling/insidious silence/latent sexism isn't limited just to these specific examples, it's everywhere. It's even on CNN, a mainstream news source.

Essentially it boils down to this, in my opinon: Language is important, especially on the internet, where all you have is language.
Charles Moore
25. Shadeofpoe
I think the most important thing to remember in all of this is that the internet, and geekdom is very insular. It's easy for all of us to hang out on sites like surrounded by our peers and be lulled into the idea that the world thinks like we do, that we are the majority. Same goes for fans of Wil Wheaton, Felicia Day, and readers of Destructoid. Odds are, those are the same group of folks. So when one faces a "PR nightmare" it's within the community, not society.

This IS indicative of a more wide spread problem. I mean you can spend time on Xbox Live or any major media site like blastr. Live will flambe you if you arent typical young white male. For example, there was recently a Blastr article about possible having Pepper Potts's Rescue in the new Iron Man after audiences responded well to Black Widow in Avengers, first thought, YA GEEKDOM, FINALLY. Then you read the comments and almost all called for a suite that was some form of metal bikini.

Just because the people around on the internet rise up, doesn't mean there isn't a problem, it just means that you hang out with people that think like you.
Sam Brougher
26. Azuaron
@CR in NY But in this case that boils down to the activity their engaging in. The guy selling comics is despicable because he's engaging in cold, ruthless commercialism. The Wedding Crashers guys I have a lot of disapproval for on a number of fronts (lying, crashing weddings, lying, general despicable behavior, lying, and lying to get casual sex).

What activity are the "6 of 9s" engaged in? Getting attention for their looks. That's what they're doing. They aren't there to debate the relative merits of phasers and blasters. They aren't reporting on issues, feminist or otherwise, plaguing SDCC. They are there to get attention and feel attractive. They have brought their attractiveness into the conversation.

If the target of criticism has raised their attractiveness as a selling point, then criticism of their attractiveness is valid criticism. That's why his insults are valid criticism. Their being women has nothing to do with it; it's because they're trying to get praise and validation because of their looks. If Anita Sarkeesian had said, "Tropes vs. Women: Video Games, as presented by a hot woman," criticism of her attractiveness would have been fair game (threats, never fair game, especially sexual assault, that whole debacle was terrible) and it wouldn't have had anything to do with her being a woman, it would have been about her raising that as a selling point.

And once again, still nothing about showing geek cred, still all about motivation for being at the event. Geek cred is only a "problem" if you continue to completely misconstrue what he was saying. He doesn't say how we should identify these people or get rid of these people, he just says people with this motivation exist, and they're gross.
28. HelenS
I was at an engineering conference a few years ago, and one of the
presenters, a woman, was wearing a tight shirt, no bra. And the
convention center was a little cold.

Her nipples distracted everybody. Men, women, everybody.

Oh, please. Anyone who can't deal with nipple show-through can't very well go out in public any longer. It's pretty much everywhere.
There are even erect nipples on department store mannikins now. And in my experience the only thing that really prevents show-through is a padded bra, which I refuse to wear.
29. Gerry__Quinn
One can google "cnn booth babes need not apply" for the article which CR in NY characterised as saying "You think you're hot, but you're actually physically ugly, and pretty dumb to boot." In fact the girls in question are repeatedly described as "pretty" and never once as "ugly", although he does suggest, I guess, that they might not always be in the very top echelon of supermodels.

Trolling and hysterical over-reaction to arguments people disagree with is not the prerogative of any single group.
30. HelenS
wannabes who couldn't make it as car show eye candy

They're a "6" in the "real world", but when they put on a Batman shirt
and head to the local fandom convention du jour, they instantly become a "9".

They're not pretty ENOUGH and therefore they have no value and are gross. Just by their very presence at a geek convention. What the hell did they actually DO that was so terrible? And how does any given woman know whether she's a 6 or a 9 anyway? Oddly enough there's no official notification package that shows up on your eighteenth birthday.

You're just gross. There's an entire contingent of guys in geekdom who
absolutely love you, because inside, they're 13 year old boys who like
to objectify women and see them as nothing more than butts and a pair of boobs to be leered at.

Wait. So the WOMEN are the problem when the MEN act like that? It's the WOMEN being gross in that scenario?

And supposing a bunch of women did think to themselves, hey, this is a chance to seem like really gorgeous eye candy for once, because these guys' standards aren't as high? Not something that would float my boat, but hey, they're presumably adults. Why is it any sillier than going to a nightclub? Why are their sexual motivations anyone's business except theirs and their would-be partners'? Why do they need to be policed?
31. jacqie
One point to those who feel those condescending women are asking for rage to be directed at them.

How does anyone know they're "attention-seeking"? Why is this the assumption? It's kind of a mind-reading assumption if you ask me.

So the point is, don't look too hot at a con or people will assume you're a user? Why don't the men have to play by those rules?
32. Rory Bayliss
I honestly cant believe that there are ANY guys out there who think like that! To me there is nothing sexier than a female nerd. Especially if theyre smart as well. Thats my ideal woman, lol. I have a lot of respect for any woman who stands up to these freakin dropkicks!
33. ????
If that Kickstarter hadn't been subject to that kind of abuse, would it have raised 160,000? The publicity of taking some abuse seemed to have vastly increased her profit.

All those examples are isolated incidents, most of which have a significant public backlash, with far more taking the side of the individual subjected to the abuse.

There's always a few loud idiots, and there will always be a few loud idiots. They're not the majority view.
Alan Brown
34. AlanBrown
This topic reminds me of one of my favorite things about The contributors are a diverse lot, with a wide range of folks represented, the discussion generally civilized, and for the most part, respectful. A remarkably troll-free corner of the internet.
Lauren W
35. laurene135
"Oh, please. Anyone who can't deal with nipple show-through can't very well go out in public any longer. It's pretty much everywhere. There are even erect nipples on department store mannikins now. And in my experience the only thing that really prevents show-through is a padded bra, which I refuse to wear."

Why? I'm a woman. I know what a woman's nipples look like. Don't really care to see others. Why is it "be fine with seeing mine or get out"? I'm not saying every woman should wear a padded bra, but it seems to me that concern for what body parts are showing has greatly declined. I have a few friends who work at a fast food joint and have had a number of women fall out of their shirts in the drive and just go "oh."

For my self, I have of number of woman with very low cut shirts whose breasts jangle in my face while they get their change. It's awkward.

Not saying the man's reaction was appropriate, and I'm not saying that the woman he got mad at was dressed poorly.

However, when I see women with the attitude of "Uhg! Take me seriously" while they fall out their shirts, it is kind of hard to.

Slight tangent, but I believe it is somewhat related.
Lauren W
36. laurene135
Now about the "don't feed the trolls" bit addressed in the article.

I completely agree with the video clip. When those people are not trolling just to cause trouble, but are using trolling tactics to harass, they need to be confronted. Unlike "true" trolls who troll for attention, these people troll to silence those they dislike. For those types, we are feeding them by being silent because then they are like "Ha! It worked. Got them to go run and hide."
Christopher Johnstone
37. CPJ
@ 34. AlanBrown

Just wanted to chime in and agree. The community is remarkably troll-free and generally speaking everyone more or less respects other oppinions, even where there is disagreement.

There's a couple things worth noting quickly. The examples given in the article are well-known examples because they resulted in a backlash. They aren't a random sample of trolling 'events' and can't really be taken to demonstrate that trolling is or is not accepted generally--instances where a massive hate-troll swarm caused the victim to close shop or retreat probably do occur, but wouldn't be widely known because no backlash or PR disaster occured. You have to assume that hate-trolling achieves what the troll(s) want more often than not, or the behaviour wouldn't be reinforced.

Further, I think coining a couple new words might be useful. Maybe 'pest-trolling' for Old School juvinile 'get a rise' commenting for laughs, and 'hate-trolling' for this strange new concerted attack trolling. It does seem to be a different phenomonon and my feeling its different from pest-trolling in terms of the underlying motives.

38. NastyNick
Your article goes against my own experience. I am a 40 year old male, and starting back when I was 13-17 we were playing AD&D with at least one girl player.

Nobody boy ever objected, even in private, or ever made remarks that girls can’t hit for that much damage, and definitely nobody ever, ever, ever said how much cooler the game would be if it was just us boys all alone with no girls in sight … playing with our swords and magic wands in this dark dungeon.

Over the years I played here and there in real life and online, and I've never been in an all-male group where a member would have complained against a female participant. I’ve seen movies, commercials, lectures and tv shows showing this type of behavior, but have yet to see it anywhere in real life.

Trolls are trolls, and the only way to eliminate them is to force everyone to use their real name, which I doubt would work anyway. If you post a video about a cute baby seal on youtube, you are guaranteed a few posts about the fun in assaulting, clubbing, or cooking them alive.

Trolls threaten sexual assault and violence against nuns, clowns, kindergarden teachers, mimes and hero firefighters while praising mass murderers, prison rapists, and cannibals. If that bothers you, than consider avoiding all websites that allow comments.

Trolls online are asexual and amorphous - those trolls posing as 19 year old sorority girl are often pedophiles, crazy talking Conservative trolls often turn out to be crazy talking Liberals and vice versa in real life.

Sometimes a single troll posts as multiple users through proxies, creating an entire war where the troll plays every part in a debate (stereotype vs stereotype).

If teaching feminism to geek males interests you, why not become a DM or open a Guild or demonstrate that your PvP is strong enough, grasshopper.

In a World of Warcraft guild, I seen half a dozen very strong female PvP players who defeated most trashed talking males. Did it stop the troll attacks? Of course not! You can’t stop trolls, since in real life they don’t exist.

You should play with some male nerds, and perhaps you will see that most nerds are just nervous around the opposite sex in real life, and anonymously post online against female players mostly because of their fear/shyness/frustration/inability to talk to a real life female.

And as for trolls, I suggest you spend your time upgrading your armor, since going through life with a thin skin is just as crazy as trying to civilize a troll.
Mordicai Knode
40. mordicai
38. NastyNick

Have you ever told someone, a gamer or a non-gamer, about your campaign & then had them act in shock & disbelief that girls are in your group? Because that is what happens to me-- if we're bringing out our own tiny anecdotal vignettes in reponse the the publically cited examples-- when I mentioned my gender-inclusive games.

The rest of your comment though, really leads me to think that you aren't here with a very good attitude for discussion, since you pepper it with a lot of condescending language & smug assumptions. Responding to an article by calling the author a bunch of diminutives-- like grasshopper-- while saying they should...what, play more games? What do you know about what kind of games the author plays? I'll tell you what-- she's writing about gaming professionally for a fairly big website, so I might err on the side of assuming she does know what she's talking about, rather than testing her geek credentials. Because all of your "advice" is just that.

Telling women to suck it up & suffer harassment is not a good answer. As for trolls? I recommend they stop being misogynists (& racists & homophobes, for that matter). My solution isn't "suck it up & let men say whatever terrible things to you that they want," but rather "maybe people should stop saying terrible things to women."
41. Cadeyrn
In a world where young men cannot prove their mettle through real-life heroics, indeed cannot even hold a job until they are 16, there are few refuges where they can unabashedly pretend to be steely-eyed, iron-thewed heroes. Is it any wonder that, on seeing their refuge invaded, they lash out blindly, without reason or sensibility? I do not condone such behavior, but understand that when a nubile female enters a previously solely male group, the dynamic is changed forever. Previously cherished male bonding time becomes heated competition for favor. Petty slights magnify and conflight looms large where there was once amicable companionship.

As the gaming / comics / geek scene shifts to more normal male-female ratios, this problem will right itself. Young outcasts will undoubtedly look for more eclectic domains to claim as their own and with the wilds of the internet at their beck and call, they will find or create something. Let us hope that it is neither inconceivably boorish nor destructive.
j p
42. sps49
>And that bias goes back years, to times when geekery was considered a man’s game, and women had no place there.

It was a man's game (boys', really) because there weren't any females (very few, maybe) who would've been interested or even didn't laugh at any aspect of geek culture. We would've LOVED it if there were any girls who would play with us back in the 70s.

I don't know the root cause, but when I see statements and postings like those referenced it is usually stupid assholes being assholes from behind the keyboard. The ones who post with their real names or jobs are very stupid assholes. I understand the "don't feed the trolls" thinking, but I also don't think this behavior should be tolerated or condoned. Or ignored. Call them out on it!
Mordicai Knode
43. mordicai
41. Cadeyrn

You make it sound like misogynists are just misunderstood Beowulfs. They aren't.
44. Robot
32. Rory Bayliss Friday July 27, 2012 05:22pm EDT I honestly cant believe that there are ANY guys out there who think like that! To me there is nothing sexier than a female nerd. Especially if theyre smart as well. Thats my ideal woman, lol. I have a lot of respect for any woman who stands up to these freakin dropkicks!
Thing is, what causes this problem, in my experience, and my view, and I state this as a Larper, Gamer, and Comic Book store frequenter.. Is that basically speaking the seat of this animosity is that the pretty geek girls are never available or interested in the geek guys. This pisses a lot of guys off, as well, as a rule, geek guys are still a pretty desperate lot. Most geek guys, regardless of their own appearance or physical condition don't really want to be with the average geek girl who is more or less like them in terms of looks and body shape. They want the hot girl, and when they can't have her, they turn into very angry and very disturbed individuals.

It's like.. having seen what happens when a "Pretty" (well, she looked a bit like a mid 80's Tom Petty with breasts, so I felt I should qualify here) girl showed up at the larp I went to.. wearing a fur bikini.. the whole place went to hell over people competing for her attention.. It didn't help that she actively ENCOURAGED this.. No mistake.. she was geeky, remarkably so.. But she was also a trouble maker who purposefully lead guys on to benifit herself in some way, either for attention, money, or benifits in the game.. I'm not entirely sure which.

I'm not saying she didn't have just as much right to go to the LARP event.. but what she didn't have a right to do was to ommit details (she was actually seeing a photographer who she worked with as a model and thus, was never actually available) lead guys on, got them to buy her stuff, etc.

The people who were the happiest to see her go, were the other Larper girls.. since she gave them all a bad name.. most of the Larper guys would put up with it if she'd just come back and show some skin... It's a sad state of affairs.

But that's my hypothesis anyway.. Geek Girls aren't what the geek guys what.. they want Pretty girls.. and when the pretty girls aren't interested.. it makes the geek guys act like morons to ALL girls.
Mordicai Knode
45. mordicai
44. Robot

Why don't you talk about the physical attractiveness & secondary sexual characteristics of the other people in your story? I mean, it seems like you are only talking about the body of one of the people in the story, & while you admit to having no idea what her motives are, you feel free to speculate on them. I'm curious what leads you to treat one of the people in the story as an object-- dehumanizing her to her looks-- while not doing so to any of the others. I'm just wondering what sets her apart from the male partipants in the story, other than her gender. See, to me it just seems like her gender is what sets her apart for the purposes of this story-- which, to be fair is the subject of this post-- but the way you handle it-- creating a "Geek" & "Pretty" axis for women-- is sort of the whole point of the post. I'm also curious why in the story you relate you hold the women to blame for the way the men around her act. Maybe the problem with isn't with the woman but rather using a group of women as a scapegoat to explain why some people act like misogynists to all women.

Sorry if this is curt. I know you are making a good faith point, I'm just...this thread is making me sad, I guess. We're supposed to be the group that welcomes all comers. We're geeks, we're the future.
46. HelenS
As the gaming / comics / geek scene shifts to more normal male-female ratios, this problem will right itself.

Er -- huge swaths of the geek scene (SCA, anyone? Star Trek conventions? fanfiction?) have always heavily involved women, and indeed have sometimes been established and run by women. People keep conveniently forgetting that fact. (Joanna Russ, thou shouldst be living at this hour ...) And already 42% of gamers in the US are women, per the BBC (
47. Robot
It's pretty inconsequential really.. I had wanted to illustrated another point which is that girls who, in every day life might be 5's or 6's become 8's or 9's when they are at a LARP event.. because the majority of the women who are at the LARP events which I go to would barely be considered 3's or 4's in real life, They then eventually come to realize this and it goes to their heads a bit.. and then they begin to take advantage of all the guys who would be "easy" to get and instead set their sites on the guys they know in real life who were never interested in them.. It's something which in the end, leaves no one happy, and a few people hurt, but in the process of writing it I realized how divergent this idea was and though I thought I had expunged all of it.. I had obviously not.

I don't mean to come across as being mean or uneededly cruel to the less attractive girls/women.. But most guys are just as programed by the media to want the "Ideal" as most women are programed to feel bad about their bodies because they don't match the "Ideal".

Her attitude and her actions are part of the reason why so many geek guys are immensily distrustful of women, and the more you don't understand something the easier it is to hate it. Effectively it becomes a self prerpetuating system. Guys who are awkward around women, but who aren't willing to "Settle" on 2's, 3's, and 4's, get repeatedly burned by girls who are "Out of their league", and that adds layers of anger and bitterness on top of the awkwardness and desperation.. and the whole thing just builds and builds and builds until the point where the girls who they could have foreseably had a chance with, now see them as dangerous or needy, and what you finally wind up with is a lot of guys who are extremely sexually frustrated with no way to deal with that, and it just turns into mysogeny.

None of this is an excuse for their attitudes.. I'm simply seeking an explination for why they exhibit these behaviors in the first place.

Regardless of what pop psychology would tell you, It's not all mommy issues which cause it.. sometimes it's simply that people don't handle repeated, frequent and humiliating rejection in constructive manners.
Alan Brown
48. AlanBrown
Robot, Often it is the attitude the man has toward a woman which makes him unappealing to her. Your use of the old ten point numbering system, for example, will not endear you to many women...
49. Robot
Which is why no sensible guy would use it around women... However for this particular post, I don't care what does and doesn't endear me to women. I just needed a shorthand figure of speech.

The fact is, in this world of 6.5 billion people, there are "Attractive" and "Unattractive" people, however, the scale on which these atributes are measured are more or less open to personal interpretation. What *I* find unnatractive, others may deem highly desirable. That was another thing which I was attempting to illustrate in pointing out that particular young woman's appearance. To me, she looked like Tom Petty with breasts, but to others, she was obviously seriously hot stuff, or was compared to the OTHER women at the LARP.. Gary Trudeu did a comic about this very thing a while back where he had one of his characters, a Female Soldier, luxirating in all the attention she was getting simply because she was female.. regardless of what she looked like.. where as once she returned to civilian life, none of the guys in her platoon would have even looked at her twice.

Also, while you are partially correct, attitudes are not built in a vacuum, they are to a large extent constructed over time and through interactions with other people. If your interactions are all negative with a certain group, be they a gender or racial or ethnic minority.. you will have effectively two choices to make.. either accept that you are the only common denominator and say 'Obviously this is my fault', or take the easy way out and say "obviously all of these people are to blame because it cannot be me that is in the wrong".. and humans are well known for their love of chosing the easy option.
50. HelenS
Honestly, the number system was what first made me absolutely unable to take the Peacock article seriously. It's not just "around women." It's being able to think in those terms AT ALL. That's an obvious sign of misogyny right there. It's misogyny that's making those guys miserable, not their misery leading to misogyny.
Mordicai Knode
52. mordicai
48. AlanBrown

I don't think Robot's use of the number system will endear him to men, either. Great to know that somehow a thread about crummy treatment of geek women has been turning into a forum to denigrate women on the basis of appearance.
53. connerjade
44. Robot's Story: I can't tell if Robot's story is getting people hung up because he used a number system or if he used qualitative terms people would still be upset by it. I disagree with his premise, that geek men are frustrated by their inability to adequately relate to women and so have become misogynistic people who are "obviously" more prone to trolling. Honestly, his example is a case in which a girl manages to manipulate men by wearing less clothes than their counterparts, which can occur in EVERY sub-culture, not just geek culture. If a woman goes to the bar, dressed to display assets, she is more likely to get attention, random men coming up to her, and presumably some free drinks. The fact that this happens does not make men who go to bars any more or less misogynistic than they might be otherwise.

50. Why is being able to think of some women as more attractive than others an obvious case of misogyny? I know several girls who rate guys in the same way. As Robot argued, it happens to be a quick way of referencing a person's appearance without using 6 adjectives.

About the Geek Test: I don't know about other people, but I always see a geek test, whether or not they are women. If I mention that I love Star Wars, up pops Wedge and Corran Horn references. If I like Magic, wasn't Jace, the Mind Sculptor OP? LOL: Who's your main, beginning discussion of Yorick (or some other FOTM). This has always seemed to be a quick and efficient manner of establishing exactly how much each conversationalist knows about a topic so we know where to go from there. And yes, if one says that Jacen Solo was his favorite sibling and he is sad about Jacen's fate, and you look like you're thinking "Who?" then there is a certain level of dismissal and at a con, an inward "Wow, I wish you would just leave this area to those who know what they're talking about". But I attribute this to geeks, as a rule, are not friendly. I don't expect them to be and don't berate them for not being friendly, I accept and expect it.I don't know if this is the type of cold shoulder that other groups are thinking of, so if it is different, I would be pleased to be corrected.
Irene Gallo
54. Irene
@Robot—you've made your point; let's move on.
55. Hedgehog Dan
Somehow, this thread reminds me more and more of this caricature.

As if some of my male peers seriously believed that the sole purpose of a woman's body is to please them. As if they believed, that they have the right to give a 4 from 10, they have the right to tell, how a woman shall dress, they have the right to tell, when a woman shall show more flesh and when she shall show less. That they have the right to tell a woman what to do with her own body. As if they conciously or subconciously sought to control female body. 'It was never a question, when does she feel herself comfortable in her own body, because it only matters, when we feel ourselves comfortable!'

And control is a one-sided thing, never mutual. I know arrogant slobs with this attitude, who are far from goodlooking, to put it mildly. But hey, others don't have the right to judge their appearance - it is their privilege, after all. If a woman do not have high opinion about them, it is because she is a pretentious, superficial(!) bitch - she cannot see, that how witty and intelligent and strong they are. On the other side, facetiousness, intelligence and strength does not matter, when they judge a woman - only their appearance. 'But why would matter?' would they ask perplexedly. 'There is a reason they are called the weaker sex!'

So, if they do not have high opinion about a woman, it is her fault. If a woman do not have high opinion about them, it is her fault. Shall I continue, why it is mysoginistic?

These are the problems inherent in such things as the Numbering System. Don't use it - you will never get a whole picture about a person using abstract numbers.
56. HelenS
Attractiveness is about the most multidimensional attribute I can think of. In my day, it was geeks who laughed at the jocks and so forth who resorted to such simplifications, as they could see that a linear scale would be wholly inadequate, even supposing that it was possible to make any sort of objective comparison, which it's obviously not, unless you oversimplify ("Blonde hair is better than brown!") to the point of unusability. (In fact, among my friends, the only use of such a linear scale was the development of the millihelen -- the amount of facial beauty required to launch one ship. No serious application of this scale actually occurred, but we got a lot of laughs out of it.)
57. Relyn
The example of the guy blaming the woman for his lack of concentration is less about attacking a woman and more about his shortcomings. I've noticed a lot of people these days refuse to take responsibilty for their actions, abilities, shortcomings. Someone is late returning an item, and there are a dozen excuses why it is not their fault.

This guy, he wasn't good, others played better than him, but NO, it couldn't possibly be his lack of ability, but that someone is distracting him. So he latched on to the girl wearing a costume and blamed her because there is no way he could be at fault. If she wasn't there, it would have been the guy near him who was too loud, or the people crowding too close.

I see this all the time in many areas.

As far as female bashing, I do see it sometimes, but I see practically everyone being bashed. Don't think people really care what you are, they're going to troll you, and try to use the words that hurt the most. Any personal info they find on you just fuels the fire.

Oh, a small point about the gaming avatars and armors. Sure the women are idealized and warped and scantily clad, but male characters tend to be too, and often there are alternate clothing for each to make them more reserved. I don't really ever hear people complain about the male characters. I have no idea of the numbers of male and female gamers, but probably more are male, and use to be a lot more, and thats why the games tend to target a male audience. Sex sells, has for a while.
Ironically, when people complain about how little female characters wear in games (which often isn't that bad when they're a higher level, even male characters have little on in low levels), most of the people I see in real life have less on, and I don't see anyone complaining. Kind of silly complaining about the clothes being too little on a video game, when real life is more revealing.
Robyn McIntyre
58. robyn_mcintyre
Maybe because I'm 60 and have more history, I find some room for optimism here in that women and men both are discussing the problem seriously. I was one of the first women to install phones in L.A. in the early 70s, and besides the comments from both sexes, it wasn't unusual for a guy to think it was fine to put his hands on me. Discussions about raises got me questions like, "Doesn't your husband make enough?"

From there I went into high tech and it was more of the same, I'm afraid. We had our nerd trolls and I avoided orgs like the Society for Creative Anachronism because one of the most anachronistic things about it was their attitude towards women.

These days, I'm less wary because the climate has changed so much. I'm more likely to encounter ageism than sexism, though apparently geek gaming still contains some hold-outs.

You're at a disadvantage because you're not used to dealing with it on a regular basis. Practice made me pretty bullet-proof. It's annoying to have to consider it, but you might plan for it in future and how you will respond. Like that guy who found your narrator distracting, there will often be someone who sees the gender first and the person second, if at all.

Try to laugh a lot. A sense of humor is essential to dealing with trolls, sexists, and bigots, and it's therapeutic - a wonderful release for tension and irritation (and befuddlement, which is often the case when a geek girl is confronted by something illogical).

Be of good cheer. As I found in my own life, besides your valiant women friends, there are plenty of good men who will join you in combating trolls. From what I've seen, more now than ever. In such a world, reducing the trolls to a ridiculed micro population is only a matter of time.
59. Angry Goblin
Hurray for sister geekdom!! I've received these attacks in subtler ways. I'm an artist/author and lifetime nerd. I draw and create my own characters. Once, I illustrated a female feline character, who happened to be quite buxom and endowed. In human years, she was in her thirties and had borne children for my male protagonist. Also, she was from a sect of women who happened to be chosen for their supernatural abilities and flawless appearances. A male schoolmate , I was in high school at the time, called her 'Thunderthighs'! He immediately began to slam the appearance of a creation I thought was a beautiful woman! This occurred several other times with different guys. If these are the attitudes from a number of boys and men towards a fictional woman's natural changes, it doesn't surprise me that many real-world women and girls are attacked in multiple ways
60. Average joe
I thought the article very interesting in general and appreciated the double meanings at the opening. That said I really do believe the bigger issue facing the women and trolls both equal out to personal accountability. What I specifically mean is this:

For the men: If all women were thought of from the standpoint of daughter, sister, mother, grandmother I personally believe you wouldn't see or hear such things. Who in their right mind would act poorly in the presence of one of the aforementioned women's presence?

For the women: the same applies, think of men as a son, brother, father, grandfather when it comes to speawouldn't dressing. Would a woman honestly dress as provocatively around one of the aforementioned? Probably not.

As to self-control: clearly the expectation is in the word.

With that all said I stand in that misogyny is just another term for lack of both personal responsibility and self-control. However, let's not be finger pointing to any culture, sub-culture, race, and/or gender; when it is everyone's responsibility to exhibit both aforementioned characteristics. Lastly, back to the article in particular, this is specifically what is truly being pointed out in a more eloquent fashion and dismissing this in any form is just illustrating the point as a whole.
61. RichieB
I have just got thru reading the 'why saying orcs are evil is racist' thread & then this one, blame the newsletter. 'IS the norm' has been used a lot & incorrectly. Normal is defined by the majority, the OED defines normal as 'conforming to a standard, typical or expected'. For example it is correct to say that left handed people are not normal. That is the correct usage of the word & in no way intended to be inflammatory. Just a statement that highlights that in a general group there will be less left handed people.

Saying that racist/sexist/leftist/ trolling 'Is the norm' is incorrect. Can we please get things right here?

A vocal minority of sad, pathetic, lonely & bitter people will ALWAYS exist, there is nothing that can be done to change this, the internet as a forum has allowed these people to hide behind anonymity, that's all, it's not that it is normal or accepted, just that without fear of retaliation the trolls can carry on. How to stop them is fairly simple, ban them after a post or 3. 'But they will just create new ID's' I hear you cry, yep, ban them too & the email address associated with it. Given enough time the trolls will decide that a 5 minute rant to harass or provoke is not worth the time and effort of having to create email accounts & user ID's everytime.

Yes I know that it would be better if these people could be educated & that 'isms' of any kind didn't exist but you can say the same about poverty, war & all the other shitty things in life that aren't going away.
Mordicai Knode
62. mordicai
61. RichieB

The sad thing is that it is the norm. From a vantage point of privilage it is easy to discount it as a vocal minority-- but that vocal minority is slurry, harrassing & attacking women. & in a lot of cases-- in the majority of cases-- they are getting away with it. We see twitter trolls being smacked down when they attack famous people, but the same thing happens to non-famous women every day on the internet, on the street, at work, at is the norm, as terrible as that is to admit.
63. RichieB
62. Mordicai

It is not the norm. Please re-read my post as to the definition of what is normal. Perhaps what you mean is 'it is common' or even, 'it is too common', but until more people are trolling that are not it will not be 'the norm'. You yourself have agreed that they are a 'vocal minority', in which case their actions cannot be regarded as the norm except when viewed as the expected behaviour within that minority.

It happens a lot & it shouldn't, I agree completely. It is not the norm tho.
64. HelenS
RichieB: yes, sexual harassment IS the norm. I have spent a lifetime being told I ought to find it a compliment. And Relyn, there's a reason people who are looking for excuses find misogyny ready to hand: because they're flipping soaking in it already. Sure, their need to excuse themselves is a personal failing, but HOW they do it, the tools they find to hand, those things are cultural. Unless you recognize that there's a broader problem in our culture instead of blaming it 100% on those bad guys over there who are totally not like you, no sir, you're not going to be on the side of those trying to change the culture, and that's NOT helping.
Mordicai Knode
65. mordicai
63. RichieB

It is normalized behavior because the culture accepts it. The circle of complicity makes it the norm. It is the norm because It Happens To Most Women, even if it isn't Done By All Men. That said, I don't want to derail this conversation with an argument about semantics. Arguing about word definitions is hardly helpful; it is just distracting. It happens. A lot. It is bad. I don't want to lose sight of that in a rush to absolve men who don't actively do it of guilt. I'm not interested in that.
67. Marva
@58 Thank you. Sometimes time does indeed lend perspective. I do my gaming at the tabletop not the console. Things are better now than they were years ago. Things can get better still. I can go to a Con now and not be immediately taken as a gamer's mom (at least until the kid shows up). We should not accept bad behavior. Neither should we let it overwhelm us.
Ashley Fox
68. A Fox
@58 (67). I applaud you for your positivity, and your post certainly earned my respect.

However. There is a part of me that is ensaddened by it, and yes that angrily rebels. I have honestly lost count of the times where I have had to deal with harrasment/assualt/etc. And I will NOT laugh it off. I cannot pretend these things do not happen, do not have negative affects on my body and my life. I will not laugh, and by laughing accept them.

There is a time for acceptance, there is a benefit in having a tough skin and not letting the more casual abuse hurt you. But we live in times where these things are all to prevalent, so prevalent that they are accepted and normalised in our society:-

(@ 63) 1 in 4 women wil be sexually assualted in their lifetime, stats from 2010 UK: 400, 000 women are sexually assaulted, 80, 000 raped, there were 1735 reports of forced marriage (469 of which recieved support), aprox 66, 000 women living in uk with genital mutilation-Stats taken from Home Office.

---and these are of cousre stats based upon reported crime, and even that does not actually result in many prosecutions. 2008/09 scotland only 25 cases out of 821 rapes led to conviction.

-in 2010 the prosecution to conviction for rape was only 34% (CPS VAW report 2011, Ministry of Justice)

This is what this prevalent mysoginistic attidude leads to. The next time you are hanging out with you family, friends, in a bar, coffee shop, walking down the street and have a good look around at the women near by and know that 1 in 4 of them will be subjected to domestic abuse/sexual assualt/rape. Is that a world you want to live in? Is this something you want to perpetuate with what you may think is a harmless joke/look at breasts/sexist comment? Is this something to laugh about?

No. It is not. It is appalling and we all need to fight agianst it, whether that be active protests or making sure that you do not perpetuate the norms and values that enable this disgrace to flourish in our society.

Like this article, this discussion, this awareness.

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