Geek Feminism Wiki

Arguing that geeks are oppressed and therefore men geeks are just as oppressed as women geeks is a silencing tactic in discussions of geek feminism.

The argument goes that geek men have very often experienced or are currently experiencing some of the following:

  • exclusion by non-geek peers
  • bullying and cruelty from non-geek peers
  • less success than they'd like at forming romantic or sexual relationships
  • having a sense that the social, emotional, romantic and/or sexual rules of society are known to everyone but them

Individual women are involved in some of these difficulties, the most commonly discussed one is where a male geek is attracted to a woman or women who do not realise, enjoy or reciprocate his attraction. The emotional power the attractions or attachments have over the man's feelings is interpreted by him as a social power accruing to women that offsets any oppression by the patriarchy. Alternatively a man geek may feel that the bullying he experiences is far more hurtful than the, say, career difficulties a woman geek has.

It's important to note that the above difficulties are real and painful to people who have experienced them, and that a geek who is privileged by being a man may have intersecting oppressions. However, experiencing one kind of victimisation or oppression does not automatically grant understanding of others, nor does it lead to winning the Oppression Olympics.

An alternative version of this is the man geek who experienced oppression (often but not always poverty) and is now personally or professionally successful. He uses this as evidence that individual talent and motivation can overcome oppression, and that discussion of oppression is merely people who are failures making excuses for themselves. See Clawed my way up.

Additional reading

  • A Nice Guy State of Mind: "Getting people past an individualized approach to sexism is hard enough most of the time -- it's that much harder when the people in question believe that they, too, have been persecuted (as 'beta males') and thus know just as much about the topic as women. Let me be clear: geek men often do suffer by virtue of failing to live up to hegemonic masculinity. However, they are nonetheless still men with all of the privilege this entails, even if their patriarchal dividend is slightly smaller than that of some other men."
  • Male geeks reclaim masculinity at the expense of female geeks: "Most male geeks believe that they are subverting traditional masculinity by reclaiming and self-identifying with the term 'geek'."
  • No, Nate, brogrammers may not be macho, but that’s not all there is to it: "In a nutshell, I think this paragraph helps explain a reasonable chunk of Silicon Valley’s gender problems. Many tech guys, many young and recently ascendant, think something along these lines: 'Wait, we’re not the jocks. We aren't the people who were jerks. We never pushed anyone into a locker and smashed their face. We’re the people who got teased for being brainy, for not being macho, the ones who never got a look from the popular girls (or boys), the ones who were bullied for our interests in science and math, and… what’s wrong with Dungeons & Dragons, anyway?'"

See also