Monthly Archives: September 2014

I’m a Masochist: Delving into the Manosphere and the Entitled White Boy Problem

Remember how I was talking about how scary it can be to be a lady on the internet?  I didn’t hit on one of the scariest recent phenomena: the manosphere.  Over the last few years, an overwhelming surge of blogs, fora, and websites have been created to talk about male issues.  This alone isn’t a problem.  Men are allowed to talk about their problems with other men.  But in the case of most of these sites, the quest for solving men’s issues involves a lot of discrediting women’s issues or discrediting women altogether.

Just like with feminism, the manosphere folks don’t seem to agree about all of their issues, and some cases are more offensive and terrifying than others.  So I’ll start with the basics.  Most of the blogs stem from the Men’s Rights Movement.  This movement, which started in the ’70s but has become exponentially popular in the last few years, sets itself up in opposition to feminism, and professes concern about issues that they believe disadvantage men in today’s society, including family/parental law, domestic violence, military service, education, and the social safety net.  Some of these are legitimate concerns, but the problem is how they are frequently expressed in the “safe spaces” of the manosphere.  Many Men’s Rights Activists (MRAs) get their power from attacking feminists and their issues.  Perhaps the largest gathering for MRAs is on, a site already accused of being sexist and recently involved in the not-unrelated dispersal of illegal nude photos of female celebrities, on a subreddit called MensRights, which now includes almost 10,000 members.  This is a forum in which popular disccusion topics include, “Feminists and Manginas: “Slut shaming is bad. Virgin shaming is great!” (a term thrown around the manosphere frequently which refers to male feminists or male supporters of feminists), “How to expose hypocritical feminists at my school“, “Dear feminists, you having privilege is not discrimination against women, it’s just privilege“,  and “Men are better equipped than women to deal with all sorts of situations and better able to adjust, which is a sign of intelligence.”  For a group that claims it’s main goals are to fix social issues that negatively affect men, a lot of their rhetoric targets women and feminists.  I haven’t read too much in their threads, because I can only handle so much of this nonsense at time, but pretty much anytime someone mentions that certain feminist goals actual line up with MRA ones, because they focus on equality, that person usually gets heavily downvoted.  I even read one poor peacekeeper attempt to convince other members that it was in the group’s best interest to not alienate all women and feminists, and this person basically got laughed out of the conversation.

But the MensRights subreddit is only the tip of the iceberg.  Some MRAs are also part of the subreddit TheRedPill (a group with over 70,000 members – roughly six times as many as r/puppies, just so you get a general idea of how prevalent this may be) which is based on the premise from The Matrix that those who swallow the red pill are choosing to see the harsh reality, and those who take the blue pill are choosing the comfort of ignorance.  But in this case, the harsh reality is…that everything we’ve been taught about being nice and respectful to women is a lie, and that “feminism is a sexual strategy”.  Some of their further fun beliefs, included as the tenets of their movement (if you can call it that), are that “women are irrational and inconsistent”, “women are Machiavellian in nature”, “western females are self-entitled”, “women are depreciating assets” who spend most of their youth “riding the cock carousel”, which means “fucking lots of different guys in nightclubs, having flings, being generally irresponsible and riding through life on easy mode getting ahead for no real talent, but because she’s pretty and can give head.”  Some of these men try to pretend that this group is not filled with misogynists.  Umm…what?  The devaluation of women as assets that lose their value due to aging (losing their looks) and how many “cocks” they’ve “ridden”, is disgusting, hateful, and completely disrespectful.  They can pretend that this is all just about giving confidence that women have taken from them (I mean, I know that I personally have a box in my closet where I store all the confidence I’ve stolen from women), but it’s really just a poorly thought out excuse they can use for treating women like objects and manipulating them into doing what men want (which is mainly sex, according to the content of this subreddit – am I the only one who thinks that this is a terribly limiting way to view men, as merely sex-crazed predatory types?).  Their fundamental assumption seems to be that “well, all women treat men like shit, so I should treat them like shit before they have a chance to”, which might be a rational response if, in fact, all, or even most, women treated men like shit.  Based on my own experiences, I’ve found that just as many men are crappy to women as women are crappy to men (frankly, I think more men are crappy, but this may be biased, so I’m going to assume it’s about equal), and I haven’t used this small number as a reason to become an asshole.

Just in case that doesn’t deter you from joining this group, or from supporting their missions, they have an entire glossary of terms and abbreviations, many of which they’ve coined, to set up their system of delusions.  Most familiar are probably alphas (leaders, typical “masculine men) and betas (more “feminine” men who like to do nice things, especially for women – the horror!), and somehow redpillers believe that all men fall into one of these two categories, as do all behaviors.  Then there are “incels”, or “involuntary celibates” – some of you might recognize this term.  Guess why?  Because this is how Elliot Rodger referred to himself.  A sane person might just call this a single person who either doesn’t enjoy/pursue or is unable to effectively find casual sex.  If this idea, and the terminology, makes you nervous, you’re having a normal reaction.  The terms sets up the understanding that sex is something owed to men, and when they don’t get it, it’s because women aren’t giving it to them.  Fun stuff, right?  There’s also the Friendzone, which I’ll talk more about later, because that’s another rabbit hole altogether.  There’s “plate theory”, which is the idea that women are plates that you spin once, then move onto another one.  Sometimes you can return to plates, but they exist strictly for sex, and almost exclusively in addition to other plates.  And, of course, there’s SMV, or sexual market value, a key component in their teachings.  For women, this number comes mostly from their appearance (at least, until they hit their “wall” – the point at which their SMV starts decreasing rapidly, as does their power over men), while for men, it can come from their alpha qualities, job/social standing, and wealth.  When I first read all of this, I thought it was an elaborate hoax.  No one could really think like this, right?  So, so wrong.  And these are just the things you find in their foundational texts – the actual threads and comments are worse.  And some of these redpillers will wonder around other subreddits, or feminist spaces, to try to convince others that their ways are rational, logical, and beneficial for all.  It’s like their trying to be sexual manipulation missionaries.

Another overlapping group are the “Men Going Their Own Way”, or the MGTOW. This group may be even more hateful then the redpillers.  I don’t think they even try to hide their misogyny.  This group consists mainly of bitter divorced men, and very young guys who haven’t had much luck in the dating world, and who have decided to give up on dating altogether.  Which is funny, because for men who are done with dating, they spend a decent amount of time on OKCupid.  At one point, they posted a profile of a 24 year old woman whose biggest offense was that while she detests when friends or guys she’s met in person don’t respond to texts, she admits to being flaky responding to OKC messages.  Now, if they wanted to just point out this discrepancy, I wouldn’t take issue with it.  But no.  They went on to claim her as a slut who, because she looks older than her age, shouldn’t be dated, but rather “fucked and chucked”.  The 1702 that’s part of her username must be her “cock count”.  They mock her appearance, and label here a dumb whore.  And some other, possibly worse insults.  In response, she wrote an article about all of this for xojane, a feminist-leaning site, where she mostly just seemed amused by their endless angry and hatred for women.  The MGTOWs found out, and trolled the comments section to call her out, and basically to call all women “fat cunts.”  Because there’s nothing the MGTOW hate more than fat women.  HOW DARE ALL WOMEN NOT APPEAL TO MY SPECIFIC STANDARDS OF BEAUTY?  Then again, I’ve heard some of these men refer to Jennifer Lawrence as “fat”, so it sounds like their main criterion is “woman who who never in a million years want to sleep with me”.  Which is accurate, because what self-respecting woman would want to have sex with, or even associate with, such misogynists?  I checked out some other discussions on one of the MGTOW fora, and found another post with OKC profiles and pictures from a few random users.  While they weren’t the most interesting profiles (the users mention liking music and hikes, or cooking, but were vague and generic), but they got hatred spewed at them for being single moms (all single moms want to find a man who will pay for her kids – they actually believe this), looking a few years older then their actual age, and for having boring interests.  And I’m not talking about people pointing out that they are boring.  That’s valid.  But that they are disgusting sluts who should get banged and then thrown out?  (And about 30 more similarly absurd comments). No.  No, no, no, no.

And these sites don’t exist in isolation.  There are pickup artists sites with advice on improving your game. Don’t forget to “neg” a woman if you want your attention.  Well, not all women.  Only the 8s, 9s, and 10s.  They’re the ones who will act like the don’t have time for you.  Say something mean to her, and she’ll HAVE to talk to you.  One of these blogs for pickup artists types, Return of Kings, has such delightful posts as “No One Would Have Died if PUAhate Elliot Rodger Learned Game”, “5 Tips for Getting a Quality Foreign Woman”, and “How Much is Your Cost Per Orgasm (CPO)?”.  Another blog, TheAntifeminist, the author responds to any remotely dissenting (note: not aggressive, nasty, or name-calling.  Merely any discussion of a different opinion) which charming one lingers like “If you have a degree then you’re already well past peak sexual attractiveness and in a truly free sexual market most men probably wouldn’t even look at you”, “You stupid fucking bitch, learn to read” and “Now f*** off you retarded whore”.  It’s one thing when trolls invade and say these things, but it seems like the author should be civil enough to at least refute these people, rather than bully and insult them.  When another commenter suggested that these kinds of responses would alienate potential female readers, the author replied that, “And they’re not particularly welcome here”.  He claimed that any women who agreed were just trying to get men back on their side so that they would be sexually favorable again, and they they were all working with agendas.  Because…this guy obvious doesn’t have one.  And there many other sites just like the ones I’ve looked at.

Now, normally I would just chalk this up to the internet intensifying people’s shitty behavior, but the numbers are pretty terrifying.  As are the demographics: they’re 98% male (not surprising), 94% atheist (not sure what this means yet), 87% aged 17-20 (also not terrible surprising), and 98% white…there it is.  Reddit itself is fairly white, around 77%, but this is a much whiter subset of reddit users.  There are some theories floating around about why it’s mostly white men involved in the Men’s Rights Movement: they are finally feeling what it’s not like to have overwhelming privilege is the main one.  I think they feel a little left out: women have feminists (not that men can’t be feminists!), and other minorities can fight for their specific rights, and for barriers to their success to be removed.  But as the most privileged group, white men feel a bit persecuted.  So they’re lashing out.  So their story is that they aren’t privileged.  That, in fact, it’s women who have all of this wonderful privilege.  When asked what issue they support, 84% chose legalizing marijuana, while 10% or less chose gay marriage, trans rights, abortion, socialized medicine, increasing the minimum wage, and gun control.  They overwhelmingly identify as strongly conservative.  So, they’re not terribly concerned about LGBT folks, women, poor people, or sick people.  You know – many of the people who might experience systematic oppression.  88% answered that they believe they are largely more socially disadvantaged than women, and a whopping 93% believe that women also have large legal advantages (so when they try to say that they’re just trying to voice men’s views because they aren’t being otherwise heard, keep this in mind!).

And there follows an alarming narrative that is perpetuated throughout the manopshere about dating.  There’s the nice guy.  Oh, he’s so nice. I mean, he has to be – he keeps telling us that he is!  So he makes lots of friends who are ladies, because of the niceness.  But none of the ladies want to play hide the salami with him.  Well, at least, this is the conclusion that our nice guy draws, because it doesn’t happen.  Even though he tells her nothing of his, erm, feelings.  So now she is a terrible person, because she put this sweetheart in the FRIENDZONE!  Don’t look for it on a map, guys, it’s not a real place.  It’s not even a real concept.  It’s just you being pissed because a.) a friend did not want do the ol’ in-and-out with you, and b.) your friend is also not a psychic.  But now our little hero is alone and listless.  So he goes to the internet to find dates.  And he messages the 100 most attractive women on the site.  But…none of them respond!  No one wants him!  At no point does our nice guy think, hmm, maybe I should focus on finding a lady who has common interests, or who shares my beliefs!  Or, I bet there are some moderately attractive ladies out there who would like me.  No, he deserves the best!  After all, he’s so nice!  He can’t stoop to average, even if he is boring, unintelligent, and unattractive himself.  And so, he bemoans the ladies.  Why don’t any of you like me?  Why are you all so shallow?  Why do you only date jerks?  And he makes a decision.  Women are all sluts, whores, and bitches.  They are vain, stupid, manipulative, and ugly.  And they are all fat!  And he puts little dogmatic bandages on his heart as he becomes a Man who Goes His Own Way, and begins to spread the world the womenfolk are out to destroy men, and that they are not to be trusted.

As it turns out, nice guy, you aren’t actually that nice.  You make friends with women because you want to get into their pants, and then are angry when they exercise their right freely choose the men they date.  This is not nice – this is manipulative.  If this is all you want from this friendship, then you weren’t looking for a friendship, and you are being dishonest.  And while you judge all women as shallow, you are unwilling to lower your standards to a woman who isn’t stunning, or who is maybe a few pounds overweight.   You aren’t being nice; you are being judgmental and narrow-minded, and you need to stop assuming that the blame should be placed on all women, or even any women.

Now, don’t get this confused with the friend who turns into a love interest scenario.  I’ve been on the crushing side of a mixed gender friendship, too.  But see, I TOLD the guys.  One of them was a jerk about it – he pretended like I hadn’t said it, and spent the next few months whining about his problems but not bothering to listen to mine.  We’re not really friends anymore.  A second was very sweet about it – he told me he was flattered, but didn’t see as as more than friends.  We were never best buds anyway, but we’re on good terms, and he used to invite me to his comedy shows when he was performing in Seattle.  And a third became my first boyfriend.  We’re still on good terms, though I don’t see him much as he lives on the other side of the country.  It’s okay to develop feelings for friends.  Or to stay friends with someone you once had feelings for.  But it’s not okay to be friends with someone just because you want t date them.  Women aren’t a sex company that you’re investing your time in.  That kind of relationship will almost never pay off for you.  You are not entitled to women or their bodies.  Your supposed niceness does not guarantee you anything.  You need to shed this story that our culture has built for you that you are superior to everyone, and that you are owed things in life because of this.  And, maybe you should try…actually being nice?  It’s a start.



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Here’s What Your Message Says About You, or Greatest Hits Volume 1

A writer friend of mine brought it to my attention that because we’re writers, and because we’ve taught Composition, we’re extremely (erring on the side of being obnoxious) aware of the rhetorical choices people make on the internet – on social media, blogs, and especially on online dating sites.  If you’re a heterosexual woman, and you mention “loving children”, guys will think that you want to get married and have a baby RIGHT NOW.  If you’re a guy, and you mention “not wanting anything really serious right now”, most women are going to think you’re looking for a hook-up.  We’re not going to take everything you say at face value.  There’s subtext to everything.

Hi/hey/Hi there/How are you

If we’re in a real life setting, and there’s no way for you to know anything about me, this is a perfectly acceptable way for you to greet me.  If you’re using an online dating site, one with profiles to read, this message translates to, “I’m incredibly boring!” or “I’m too lazy to come up with something to say to you!”  Or even, “you’re not worth more of my time than a ‘hi'”.  These messages usually get a swift “delete”.  Every now and then I turn it into a conversation about something super random, like a house built out of bananas, or sharks doing ballet, because I get bored, and one of us has to keep things interesting, and I know that Mr. Hi There isn’t going to be that person.

Hi how are you today im 26 love the out doors , going to the beach , and watching the ocean and cuddle with , I’m looking for a serious relationship no games no bs all real thing .im a real man im romantic loving funny out going and im looking for a serious , down to earth 100% women to be with cuddle talk ,text communicate with and treat her rite if your that women email me if u are serious

This message also says a few other things.  The first is, “I copied and pasted this to 100 other women”.  Now, you’d think if he was going to send this out to so many people that he would spellcheck it first.  Or bother to write out words like “you”.  You’re not 13 – you’re an adult.  You should know how to construct a sentence (unless English is not your first language, which is not the case here).  And, considering that you find communication to be so important, it would be in your best interest to learn how to do it.  So, this message is also saying, “I’m fairly incompetent.  I may like to cuddle with the ocean.  And I’m looking for ‘a serious women’ “.  In case you didn’t get enough extra messages from this, it also tells me, “I didn’t read your profile, so I assume you won’t read mine.  That’s why I’m telling you about myself here.”  Either that, or you think I can’t read.  Which is a problem, because then how would I read this new message? Plus, between the two of us, I don’t think you’re winning the medal for literacy.  None of these are great things to get in a message, and probably are not how you want to be seen.  In addition, this message says, “It will always be about me, and never about you.”  You’re not going to ask me any questions, are you?  This would end up as more of a lecture than a date.  If I wanted a lecture on how to write like a 4th grader.

Hey sexy/gorgeous/cutie/you’re hot, etc.

This message says, “I’m really shallow”.  Now don’t get me wrong – online dating makes it really easy to be shallow.  We see people’s pictures before we read their profiles, and only click on the ones we find attractive.  That’s pretty much a given.  And attraction is important in a relationship.  Sometimes it can grow on you if the other person has a super awesome personality, but usually, we reject what we don’t like.  It sucks, but that’s just what we do.  However, for most of us, at least those of us who are actually looking for relationships, that attraction isn’t enough.  We need to know that you’re smart, or silly, or really into discovering new cheeses.  If you’re cute, but boring, cute isn’t going to mean a whole lot.  But here’s the other thing: if you’re sending me a message, I already know that you find me attractive.  Telling me this is as useful as writing a message that says, “I’m sending you a message” – it conveys about as much information that I didn’t already know.  So, really, this message also tells me, “I looked at your pictures, and that’s all”.  Next.

Hello, any chance we could have a civil conversation and maybe see what transpire? Your thoughts?

“I also copy and paste this to a hundred women, but I want it to be less obvious.  Also, I want it implied right away that I think you might not be capable of civil conversation.”

You’re joking right? There is no way you are single. you seem so gorgeous!! I’m not buying it sister. But if in fact this is not an elaborate hoax, I’d like to find out more…

“Not only did I copy and paste this to many women, but I also probably stole it from some website that gives terrible dating advice.”  Also, someone’s attractiveness has no bearing on how good they are at being in relationships.  Sure, they might find mates more easily and quickly, but they still go through breakups like the rest of us!

I wanna bend you over that medicine ball

“I have no idea how to talk to women.”

Hey wanna do something??

“I’m looking for a hookup, and I don’t want to put in the effort of having a conversation first!”

Gorgeous! but real? not so sure?

“I’m trying for a neg, but I’m not very good at it.”

i hope you like genetics too cuz i got a lot of dna for you to collect 😉

“I’m going to give you something to use that rape kit for.”

Seems like something mutual is happening in your profile pic. You are having fun with the rubber ball and the rubber ball is having fun with your balls!
Just kidding! ;)​

“I think I’m hilarious, but I’m also really confused about female anatomy.  Help?”

Hello Dear,
You are so beautiful and pretty, really can’t take my eyes off you
since i came across you.
Will you marry me?
Yours lovely,sam from ıstanbul.

“You should stay far, far away from Istanbul, because I am a crazy person.  Also, I want you to have that They Might Be Giants song stuck in your head for the next 5 hours.”

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Why Does the Internet Hate Lady Geeks? (part one of many in “Sexism of the Interweb”)

I’m feeling very ranty these days.  Perhaps this is because I have too much time on my hands, and because I spend too much of that time on the internet.  But I’ve been thinking and reading a lot about sexism, misogyny, and the problems caused by gender roles.

It’s one of those things that comes up every day, and which I’m acutely conscious of.  Sexism affects my work/job hunt: I’m at a fairly large disadvantage looking for school counseling jobs because I have lady parts.  Yes, we are now affirmative-actioning the majority population to the point where the principal who said he was “really impressed with” my answers during the interview hired a guy because, well, he wanted a guy.  Even men in the field have admitted that they have an unfair advantage.  I encounter the damage that misogyny and gender roles cause in the online dating world, but that’s an entirely separate post that I’ll get to.  I see it when I play co-ed volleyball, and I get treated like a weak child who couldn’t hit a ball if she had eight extra arms.

But one of the scariest places for sexism and misogyny is on the internet.  This, again, is subject matter that it will take me several posts to wade through, so for today, I’m just going to consider sexism as it shows up in geek culture.  Now in order for this to make any sense, I should define what geek culture actually is.  The original derived from the word for fool, then was used to describe a carnival performer who would bite the heads off of chickens (why they needed a performer to do something this disturbing is beyond me.  Maybe Ozzy Osbourne has some insight).  Next, it meant a socially inept person.  Today, I think the definition we most identify with is an obsessive enthusiast who has great knowledge, usually in an area or areas that aren’t part of mainstream culture.  This is pretty broad.  There are computer geeks, gaming geeks, Star Wars/Trek geeks, comic book geeks, academic/book geeks, RPG geeks, music geeks, and many many others.  And the internet makes it 10,000 times easier to obsess about these things.

Somewhere along the line, we got this weird idea that geek culture was created by men, and therefore owned and practiced by men and boys worldwide.  Some of this may be a result of TV and movies: Revenge of the Nerds, and brat pack movie, Weird Science, the Big Bang Theory, the IT Crowd, and hundreds of other films and shows present us time and time again with the same basic formula: nerdy (okay, I realize these words are not exactly synonymous – nerds tend to err more on the academic side of geekdom, and usually have more varied interests, but for the sake of making my points, I’m going to use them interchangeably, as I believe they fill the same cultural space)  guy(s) are shunned by the majority of the population (high school, college, the office), and the pretty ladies ignore them or find them not worthy of their time.  Usually at least one of these geeky guys has a crush on a popular, attractive woman, often one who already has a boyfriend (a football player type).  He acts awkward around her, wonders why women don’t seem to like nice, nerdy guys, and wins her heart by the end of the movie/show (to the movie’s credit, while that storyline is central in Revenge of the Nerds – and culminates in a scene that is, at best, worst, rape, and at best, a total dick move – another main character does actually fall for a fellow geeky girl – who knew they existed?).  So our culture built this narrative of the loser geek guy who eventually gets the hot girl.  But it’s not about the conquest aspect, at least not yet.  Right now, I’m just going to just deal with what that sets up: an all-male cohort of geeks and nerds and dweebs that is in opposition to the popular people, and, more importantly to women.

Let’s look a little more closely at one of these “non-mainstream hobbies”.  Okay, video games.  For whatever reason, games seem to be the default way to prove membership in the geek culture, above really any other geeky hobbies. Depending whose stats you read, between 40-50% of the US’s total gamers are women.  Insert cries of “but the wimmin don’t play the hardcore games, they only play the games on Facebook and on their phones!  Because there’s an unspoken hierarchy in video game culture (at least, it goes unspoken until anyone starts talking about women in video games) that certain types of games are more “legit” than others.  Computer games have a different rank than phone app games, and console games yet another.  God forbid you play Angry Birds or The Sims: geeks will mock you.  But, you know, in anonymous online forums.  There is an unbelievable amount of social posturing that goes on in online spaces that are overflowing with people who claimed to be unpopular in high school.

So…what happens if you go into these spaces as a lady geek?  Sometimes they are openly hostile.  This is mostly true if you present yourself as a feminist who tries to alter any part of gaming culture.  I don’t typically follow video game news outside of reading the occasional posts from Facebook friends, but I read enough about sexism in culture and general geekery to hear about things that happen to women like Anita Sarkeesian, a feminist media critic known most recently for her videos in a series titled, “Tropes vs. Women in Video Games” in which she criticizes sexism in games, frequently in regards to the roles women play, often in the background, as victims of abuse, or as damsels who need to be rescued.  Granted, I identify as a feminist, so there’s a good chance that I would find some merit to her arguments, which I’ve heard are fairly academic and generally well sourced.  But not everyone is going to agree with her analyses, and of course, some will want to argue back.  That’s completely fair.  But…that’s mostly not what happened.  Some people got PISSED.  People have emailed her rape threats, and threatened to kill her on her Twitter feed.  They created images of her being sexually assaulted and sent them to her.  She recently had to call the police when a particularly scary Twitter user claimed to know her address, and threatened to kill not only Sarkeesian, but also her family members.  Because she made youtube videos about sexism in video games.  Apparently, making a video that someone disagrees with is now an offense worthy of rape, humiliation, vitriolic comments, and death.  She discusses the misogyny displayed in imaginary worlds…and then some internet morons prove that it’s out in the real world, too.  It doesn’t matter how offensive you find her critiques, or if you think she scammed people out of money (this is something no one can seem to agree on) – this is NOT the appropriate way to treat anyone.  Maybe a serial killer, or a convicted serial rapist/child molester.  But a media critic?  Come on, people.  This is lunacy.  The truth terrifies some of these people, though.  Something similar happened with another woman, Zoe Quinn, who developed a game, and then supposedly slept with a game reviewer in order to garner attention for her creation.  Again, no one can prove that this happened this way, and no one can prove that it can’t.  But it doesn’t matter.  It’s not an excuse to slut-shame her or use her as an example of why the industry is the corrupt.  She…clearly would have had to sleep with…someone else?  Why does HE not get a buttload of complaints for this unethical behavior?  Oh, right.  Because he’s in a more powerful position, and because he has man parts.  It’s Bill Clinton all over again.  A naive and foolish intern fools around with him in the Oval Office, and he keeps his job, and, after a few years of typical American amnesia, his reputation.  But Monica Lewinsky lost her job, and she will always be known for that one offense.  Let me know when the same thing happens to a man.

Another symptom of this oddly exclusive culture is that, even if you don’t get overt misogynistic responses when you announce your female gender in a gamer space, there are notable differences in how you will be treated.  Many WoW players have observed that when they admit that they’re women, men offer them more help and assume that they don’t know what they’re doing.  Other times they get hit on.  And in a lot of gaming forums (fora?), once you confess to ownership of lady parts, you suddenly are required to prove that you have the right geek cred.   You have to show them that you play the right games, whatever they are (and you have to know what they are).  Or, less often, that you know the right comics.  Get the right Star Trek reference.  Any assertion you make is called into question, until a guy backs you up.  Sure, there are some guys there who claim they are glad women are joining the ranks, so there’s hope that this won’t last forever.  But why are these geeky guys so threatened by the presence of women in their little club?  Especially when women have been their all along, sitting in the bleachers and standing on the sidelines.

I hear some men profess that geek forums and gaming are their “safe spaces”, where they can be themselves around like-minded folk.  After years of high school persecution, they have larger social outlets that they can rely on for comfort.  What they don’t realize is that many of these girls endured the same persecution, but were often even more isolated.  While not a big gamer, I was definitely (and still am) a nerd, especially in the academic sense.  I suffered from social anxiety, and spent a lot of my time alone with a book.  With lots of books. I didn’t know where to find other nerds to spend my time with. I’ve spend most of my life feeling like an outsider.  It’s expected that nerds will be boys, so there doesn’t seem to much of a place for female nerds in school culture.  And because of that, it seems like utter nonsense to me to reject others from any group I’m part of (unless they’re huge jerks).

In these kinds of geek spaces, I fall epically short.  I can out-Harry Potter most folks, and I know my academic subjects pretty well, but I’m not obsessive enough about most of it to pass any geek litmus test.  And frankly, I’m not sure I really want to anymore.  I’m the opposite of Groucho Marx – I don’t want to be a part of any club that doesn’t want me.

I used some references for this, but I’m too lazy to cite them, because this is a blog entry and no one’s grading it.

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What Not to Do (and Some Things You Should) in Online Dating

Okay, so I promised to offer some advice to those of you who really have no idea how to do online dating.  Not that I’m a super expert, but I’ve had many successful conversations, meetings, and a couple of relationships that have all come out of it, so I’m at least semi-knowledgeable.  Most of this advice is directed towards men looking for women, but some of it applies to everyone.

So, guys, some general advice for those profile questions (the summary and such that show up first).  Please stop describing yourselves as laid-back, easygoing, or down to earth.  For one, it’s lazy.  It’s also rarely true (for instance, the large majority of men whose profiles I visit are not okay with me hanging out with an ex, whether frequently or ever.  This sounds less than laid-back to me).  And honestly, I don’t know that being laid back is a universally appealing characteristic.  I want a guy who cares about stuff, and is passionate about what he does or wants to do.  I think most women, frankly, most people, are attracted to others who are enthusiastic about something, especially if it’s something they have in common.  I don’t understand what is supposed to be so appealing about not caring about stuff.  This is part of why I can’t stand most hipsters: they can’t be bothered to really care about anything.  And it’s what I love about most geeks and nerds (at least, the ones who aren’t “nice guys” who are constantly complaining about the “friendzone”): they’re passionate about things. And if they care that much about an interest or hobby, there’s a better chance that they’ll care about me, or about the kids I’d eventually like to adopt.

Stop saying “I’m bad at describing myself” as a way to start of your profile.  No one really likes doing it, so you don’t need to tell us.  If it’s that hard, find a friend to write a little blurb for you.  You would never do this in an interview, and you often have to do something similar for those.  Now, I know there are a few things that I personally find irritating if mentioned in a profile, but these may just be me.  For instance, I don’t like if you need to stress that you drink or smoke (cigarettes or pot).  You can easily indicate these preferences in that “details” list that shows up in a column on the right.  So if you need to talk about them, you might be too interested in getting trashed for me.  Also, these aren’t particularly unique or interesting habits.  It’s like when someone writes that they like to “have fun and grab a drink with friends”.  We all like fun.  And most people will grab drinks with friends.  If this is all you’ve got, you are probably boring. 

This one is probably obvious to those of you who aren’t idiots, but if you fill out your profile and all you say is “If you want to know more, ask” or “I’d rather get to know you by talking to you”, I’m not going to message you, and neither are a lot of other women.  This is so lazy.  You don’t have to tell us a whole lot, but if all I know if what you look like, and that you can’t be bothered to tell us anything about yourself, I know that you’re already putting no effort into dating, so why would I think you would do any differently in person?

And as for pictures…smile.  And keep your shirt on.  Oh, and if you have a puppy, putting in the picture can’t hurt.  And for the love of god, stop trying to look like an emo guy playing an acoustic guitar on tiny stoop.  Okay, that last one might just be because I live less than 50 miles from Brooklyn.

On to more important things: the messages.  There are several types of message that the majority of women will ignore, regardless of how attractive you are, what your percentage match is, or how charming your profile is.  I, of course, am an anomaly, because I like to engage in shenanigans with online strangers, so I respond to almost everything.  Most women have gotten a message like this: “hey sexy”.  Sometimes it’s “Yo gorgeous” or “Hi beautiful lady” or “Wow u hot”, but you know what I mean.  Even if it’s grammatically correct, and more “polite”, it’s still demeaning.  You really shouldn’t start your message to a stranger with a comment about someone’s appearance.  Women aren’t objects.  We do not exist just for you to ogle.  If, as part or a longer message you mention that you really like something about one of our pictures (a smile, an outfit, how much fun it looks like we’re having), that’s fine.  Our appearance (or, in cruder messages, how much you want to kiss/stick it in/fuck us or “hit that”) should not be the entirety of your message. We write profiles.  Read them.  This is the internet dating version of street harassment.  I don’t know any woman who’s had “hey sexy lady” yelled at her from a street corner or out a car window who ever fell in love with, or even casually dated, the man who yelled.  On a similar note, the “how could you possibly still be single” message is pretty lame, too.  Someone’s attractiveness has no bearing on their relationship successes.  If anything, I’d argue that more attractive people are more likely to have short, crappy relationships, because a lot of shallow men are interested in them for their beauty, rather than for their common interests or their dazzling personalities (not that they don’t have dazzling personalities).  While I’m obviously on an online dating site, and currently single, I think part of why I’ve had some dating success (meaning that my “dating” tends to turn into meaningful relationships, even if they all eventually ended) is that I’m not what most people think of as traditionally attractive.  That means that I have a bit of an “automatic jerk filter”.  The guys who want to date me are usually the kind who find a lot of different types of women attractive, or who value intelligence, humor, and general awesomeness over attractiveness, and who don’t care what their friends might say if they date an overweight gal.  Of course, I do get some guys who have a thing specifically for larger women, which I don’t love, but that’s a subject for another entry.  Mostly, stop talking about how we look.  We know that you are attracted to us because you are sending the message.  You don’t need to make it a thing.

Another frustrating type of message is the “hi” or “hello” or “how’s it going?”.  In person, these are harmless, and makes sense.  When you meet a stranger at a party or social gathering, you usually don’t know anything about that person, so you have little to start with.  But online, you have an entire profile to work with! This is what I like about online dating – I have automatic conversation starters that don’t involve weather or current events.  These simple ones are the messages that I am most likely to ignore.  Occasionally, I’ll answer with something odd, like when I talked about my missing kangaroo.  One of us has to find something to talk about.  Mostly I just don’t answer, but sometimes you get the guys who don’t take no answer as an answer, and they just keep going.  What I need in order to reply to these messages is a response that manages to find a more polite and non-offensive way to say that I can’t talk to this person because he is “horribly, deadly boring”. But I haven’t figured that out yet.  If you have a suggestion, let me know.

One of the worst types is the “rant about me” message.  It’s usually braggy, but always talks just about the person sending the message.  It’s often an entire paragraph, and almost always contains information that can be found in the user’s profile.  Dude, if I’m interested, I will read your profile.  I don’t need a message that tells me what ivy league college you went to, or how tall you are, or that you love music.  It’s just like talking to people in person, folks.  Stop talking about you.  That is not going to make women excited to talk with you.  Unless maybe the thing you say is, “I am Johnny Depp/Stephen Hawking/Alan Rickman” or “I have a basket filled with puppies that I’d love to share with you” or “I just made pie – would you like some?”

So here is a fool proof way to write messages to women (or to anyone).  First, a greeting is always nice.  Hi, hello, howdy, cheerio, I don’t care.  If the woman’s name is in her profile, you can just use that.  After that, you only need to include two things.  The first is a mention of a shared interest.  This makes it clear that you have read my profile.  It also shows me that we have something in common, and that you are not just sending me a message because you like my pictures and want a piece of “dat ass”.  It can be something simple: a book, TV show, or band that I mention; a suggestion of a book that is similar to my tastes; a reference to Harry Potter, an interest in nonsense words; or even a discussion about ambiverts.  And, of course, if you know where my socks are.  I respond to anyone who claims that they have information about the whereabouts of my lost sock partners.  The second thing, and this is the most important, is that you need to ask me a question, and it has to be something better than “how are you” or “how was your weekend”.  I don’t know you well enough for that answer to be interesting to either of us.  Your best bet is to ask something about one of my interests, or a comment I made on one of the OKC questions, because you already know that I will enjoy talking about that subject.  If you have other more random questions that you like to answer, and they aren’t about sex or something intimate/personal right away, those are fine, too. 

There is no secret to getting people to talk to you.  It’s fairly simple – you need to engage the user by discussing something that interests them. You need to be curious about that person and what they care about.  You need to not insult us right away (this is a trend now, called “negging”.  Apparently it’s only for really pretty girls, of the 8/9/10 caliber.  Yeah.  If you ever want to be terrified, look up these things on Pickup Artist sites). Women really aren’t that complicated.  We just want to be appreciated for things we’ve actually done, or for how we are, not how we look, which have little control over.  Oh, and one last important thing.  While I think this type of message is appealing to most women, many women still will not be interested.  They might not like your body type.  They might think your political views are too different, or that you are too religious/not religious enough.  They have the right to those opinions.  And they have the right to not message you back.  When that happens, please don’t try to message them again.  They are not obligated to respond to you.  Just take the hint, and message someone else.  Or respond to some nice woman who messages you!

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