Geek men like to believe that we're the sensitive, thoughtful, and caring men that attractive women often pass over for asshole alpha male types. Recently male geek culture as a whole proved that not to be the case.
Late last month a Gizmodo story about an OkCupid encounter with a champion Magic: The Gathering player brought the full force of male geek fury down upon the head of the article's author, Alyssa Bereznak. In a lengthy letter to the daughter he may never have, Star City Games columnist Geordie Tait grabs male geekdom by the scruff of the neck and rubs their noses in what they've done.
Some have said that Alyssa was trolling, but whether she was or wasn't does not matter anymore. The furious punishment became, after a short while, more significant than the crime. It continued long after any compassionate person would have kept his silence. For each studious rebuttal, there were nine withering, sexist remarks riding sidecar. And this I believe, kiddo-the man who leans in for insult number one-thousand, having already seen the first nine-hundred ninety-nine reprisals vault from the barbed tongues of his peers, is furthest in the wrong.
Tait walks his fictional offspring through the various forms the Bereznak hate took over the course of the backlash, from gendered insults to ironically shallow responses to her perceived shallowness, before taking her through the reasons behind those response. Reasons like pride, and fear.
Now, pumpkin, pretend you're a man. What's your greatest fear in a romantic situation?
Give up? More than anything, we fear being laughed at and made to feel humiliated by the opposite sex.
I know, that worry must sound pretty awesome to you-a big improvement from what you've had to worry about. Well, most men don't see it that way. Men hate when women laugh at them. It makes them feel powerless and afraid and out of control, and when it happens they lash out.
Guess who recently laughed at a big group of men?
If you said Alyssa Bereznak, you're a good guesser. And when she did it so publically and with such apparent disregard for the tolerance to which gamers felt entitled, things got nasty. She had made them feel vulnerable, returned to the forefront of their minds those memories of rejection, those long nights spent brooding, telling themselves "if a woman would just get to know me, she'd fall in love." The readers of her article had thought the universal acceptance of their fetishistic gamer culture close at hand but were confronted by a maddening truth-that their ways and customs were, for many potential romantic partners, still a turn-off.
As he points out at length in the article, Tait himself is far from innocent of misogyny, having written his fair share of women-bashing posts in the past. This is an apology for his own actions as well as those of male geek culture as a whole.
Geordie Tait doesn't have a daughter. He's not even conceived a child, but judging by the amount of character he shows in this article, he's going to be a damn fine father one day.
By inviting my friends to read, I might burn a few bridges-but it's for the greater good. I'll teach you when you're older that bridges can damage you. Sometimes, they're little more than the rotting scaffolding that supports a worse version of yourself. Put another way, if one's only religion is progression, bridges, with their connection to old ideals and lessons better forgotten, can be heretics. So light 'em up. Become free. Become explosive material.
To My Someday Daughter [Star City Games]