Geek Feminism Wiki

A woman who works in a minority women environment might find herself with the status of honorary guy (or "one of the boys"), either from others or self-designated. The term is an example of androcentrism: an honour or reward for eschewing the feminine.

Being an honourary guy involves:

  • being accorded the respect due to a guy
  • not drawing attention to one's female gender with, eg, feminine dress, mannerisms or interests
  • allying oneself with men rather than women when there's a conflict of interest (eg laughing at sexist jokes rather than complaining about them, allowing or encouraging men to complain about their female partners)
  • sometimes, being "more guy than the guys": drinking the most, making the lewdest jokes

It is not always an advantage for a woman to be an honourary guy because:

  • she may feel she is unable to express aspects of herself including opinions and tastes without jeopardising her status
  • she may feel the conditional nature of her acceptance constantly
  • she may feel that she is compromising feminist principles, see Patriarchal bargain
  • her guy status may be suddenly taken away from her for, for example, getting into a sexual relationship with a man in the circle, or for stating feminist opinions

In Delusions of Gender, Cordelia Fine discusses how working in a male-dominated domain can encourage "antifemale attitudes": "The easiest solution to the problem of being female in a setting in which women are made to feel that they are inferior and do not belong is to become as unfeminine as possible." (p52)

Further reading[]

Dorothea Salo, Sexism and group formation

It’s good to be an honorary guy, don’t get me wrong. Guys are fun to be around. Guys know stuff. Guys help out other guys. Guys trust other guys. And in my experience, they don’t treat honorary guys any differently from how they treat regular guys. It’s really great to be an honorary guy.
The only problem is that part of the way that guys distinguish themselves from not-guys is by contrasting themselves with women. Women are the not-guys. It’s an incredibly insidious set-up. When a guy cracks a pr0n joke, he honestly doesn’t have anything against women; he’s just affirming his guyness. Other guys take it so, and don’t think twice about it. It never occurs to the guys that these boundaries are artificial, that there’s nothing intrinsic to women that makes them not-guys, that there are better ways (e.g. group purpose, mutual support) to define a group and the desired characteristics of group members. And since that never occurs to them, pr0n jokes and the like get baked deep into group culture.

Jen at BlagHag describes her experience in the atheism/skepticism community:

I was exactly what a Boy's Club wanted. I was a young, not-hideous woman who passionately supported their cause. I made them look diverse without them having to address their minority-repelling privilege. They liked that I joked about sex and boobs not because it was empowering for me, but because they saw it as a pass to oggle and objectify. But the Boy’s Club rescinds its invitation once they realize you're a rabble-rousing feminist. I was welcome at [the conference] TAM when I was talking about a boob joke, but now I’m persona non grata for caring about sexual harassment. I used to receive numerous comments about how hot and attractive I was, but when I politely asked for people to keep the discussion professional, the comments morphed into how I was an ugly cunt. I was once considered an up-and-coming student leader, but now I’m accused of destroying the movement.

See also[]