#YesAllWomen and the Shame of Male GeekdomPosted: May 27, 2014
Obviously everyone is aware of the shootings in Santa Barbara over the holiday weekend, an awful tragedy the likes of which are already more commonplace than any of us would like. The most sickening part is that the shooter seems to fall into the philosophical zone of “nice guys”/Men’s Rights Activists, frustrated with women and blaming them for his frustrations instead of taking a look at himself. In response to the absurd amount of justification/dismissal that this has received, #YesAllWomen has broken out as a rallying cry against such callous indifference towards the societal victimization of women, and the lack of responsibility taken by men in such moments as this. Where this comes home for me is that far too many of these assholes (including our Santa Barbara shooter) seem to be geeks and fanboys. As someone with a lifelong passion for geek pop culture, I am constantly disgusted by this sizeable crossover, and I feel like I should say something about this bullshit.
Now for me, I wasn’t particularly aware of Men’s Rights Activism until a few months ago, and I was appalled and disgusted that so many men could be so toxic in their worldview. One thing that infuriated me (out of many infuriating things) was that there is actually a movement that call themselves the Dark Lords of the Sith, who are committed to trying to return society back to a male-dominated hegemony. Skipping past the fact that they’ve actively chosen to name themselves after villains, the fact that such disgusting people have adopted something as hopeful, optimistic and spiritual as Star Wars for their own hateful ends was very upsetting to see. This also reflects that part of the Santa Barbara shooter’s manifesto was talking about being bullied for liking Star Wars as a kid (and identifying with Anakin Skywalker during Revenge of the Sith).
Look, I was a geek kid too: I liked Star Wars WAYYY more than anyone else I knew, I read the books and played videogames and read Batman comics and collected Warhammer. I was a late-bloomer with relationships too, and had limited and awkward interactions with girls during college. But a) it was not the girls’ fault I was awkward, or that I wasn’t what they were looking for, and b) I don’t see how you can use things like Star Wars or Batman to justify this kind of militantly ignorant behavior. Every time I see assholes like this railing away online, I wonder: do you see every pop culture story about an exceptional hero standing up to injustice as a pseudo-fascistic power trip because you feel so disenfranchised by the suggestion that women deserve equal rights, including the right to not have sex with you? It boggles my mind that anyone could be a legitimate fan of these things and then also be such a hateful little shit. Obviously any man should know better than to treat women like they owe him sex, but it’s unfortunately not surprising that obnoxious frat bros would think that way. I don’t see how people who follow (theoretically) progressive pop culture can be so ignorant in the same way.
I’m ashamed to share any interests with people like this. I’m ashamed to be drawn to the same kinds of stories that they are. I’m ashamed to be the same gender that they are. These are the same kind of guys that get all worked up when they decide to launch comic books starring women, or minorities, or both. They are the guys that treat female cosplayers as their personal eyecandy. They are the guys that use rape as an everyday threat on message boards. They are a black mark on geekdom, and a black mark on men, and right now the only solace I can take is knowing that none of these creeps will get to procreate.
I apologize if it seems like I’m focusing on the most irrelevant aspect of this situation. Obviously the biggest issue is not what pop culture these assholes like, but that they have such an objectified and entitled perspective on women, and how that perspective feeds an anger that leads to sexual assaults and shooting sprees. And no, it is not up to women to be careful and take rape prevention classes, it’s up to us men to be decent human beings, and to call out those of us who are not. That’s what I’m attempting to do here. The geek angle on this problem might be insignificant in the grand scheme, but it has to start somewhere. Let it start here, with geeks trying to live the lessons of their pop culture, instead of re-appropriating it as a male power fantasy. Let’s learn lessons from the likes of the X-men, where equality and respect for our fellow human beings is paramount. Let’s be inclusive and open-hearted, and let’s condemn those of us that are not. It has to start somewhere, let it start with us.