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October 18, 2014

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"And the reason it's worth that kind of effort is that, in our society, men are the default value of "people": only (white, straight) men automatically have the status of "full human being"."

This is ridiculous on the face of it. There are some men who are sensitive to their masculinity being seemingly threatened, this broad assertion is foolish. To who? Our whole society? Other white males? White females? Have some cheese with that whine. Blame the bad guys, not society.

I'm not sure it rates as "ridiculous on the face of it." But it definitely is an overstatement.

I would say rather that there is a (vocal, not to say threatening) minority who feel that way. Similarly, there is a (tiny) minority of Muslims who feel threatened enough by the West (or by women) to take violent actions. Neither one is representative of their group. Both are sufficiently numerous to be a threat to those that they have decided threaten them.

I would say that the appropriate response to to treat those who make threats against women gamers like the low-life scum that they are showing themselves to be. Arrest them for their criminal actions, and let the legal system deal with them. Granted, it make take some pushing to get the police to take the problem seriously. But that is still the best way to deal with it.

I think a lot of the males (boys or men) who play these games are getting their sense of masculinity from them, their reassurance that they are Real Men Who Do Manly Things.

I'd say a lot of guys play video games, and in some circles its pretty expected you'll have a baseline competence at video games.

But getting their sense of masculinity from them? That strikes me as incorrect. Especially considering the vestiges of 'nerdiness' and distinct unmanliness that still cling to it.

I'd be curious if you have any evidence to support that conclusion.

A wonderful piece of wishful-thinking amateur psychoanalysis, Doc. It might even be true, sometimes.

#notallmen

So: short guys only?

I think you are close with 1 and 2, but are missing some nuance between these and #3 and then start to go astray on 4 etc.

The relationship between masculinity and violent video games is more subtle than what you are imagining here, and the male resentment does not arise out of fear that women can play "male" games just as well as men can. A far stronger element in this is the culture of homosocial bonding that has grown up around video games, and the sense that women are crashing the boys' club and ruining all of the crude, unreflective fun being had. You can see this most clearly if you look at the grief that Karen Meredith got for speaking out against Six Days in Fallujah and Medal of Honor's design decisions to allow players to play as insurgents. Meredith was a threat, not because she undermined the men's illusion of power, but because she threatened to take away their toy.

Which is not to say that there isn't a degree of vicarious masculinity involved in this sort of gaming. I've talked to hundreds of college age male gamers, (in the course of writing a dissertation about masculinity and media representations of combat experience). Most of them are curious about combat games and the degree of realism because they are curious about this definitive realm of "male" experience and how they would do if faced with it. Women doing well at the games poses no threat. They are happy to play with women who are better at the games than they are. What they fear is that, absent these games, they will have no way of coming to understand the secret world of combat and valor.

It's a mistake, however, to think that the latter causes the former. They really do come from different places in our constructions of masculinity.

I think that you're generalizing "gamer guys who threaten women" to "all gamer guys", and from there to "all guys".

But I could be making an overly reductionist assessment of your overly reductionist assessment.

Marty:

Male is the neutral or default. This goes back for *millennia*.

No, our society is not uniform in this regard -- but it's still substantially the case.

Let me get this right.

You guys, nice guys, yes, but you guys are asking the good Doctor for evidence to support her subtractive masculinity thesis when we have a woman canceling her appearance in Utah because of an ISIS-like threat to kill EVERYONE in the room and Brianna WU and her family being ushered out of her f&cking house?

What, it was just massive gun violence threatened in Utah, not a few desultory beheadings, so there's no need to panic and get yer jones on for "boobs" on the ground in Utah?

Maybe the guy who made the threat should have threatened to spike the punch at the gamer fete with ebola-laden bat soup shipped in from the White House kitchen and we'd have the Batsh*t caucus donning crotchless Hazmat suits and detaining all of the wrong people, while permitting Rick Perry to cross international borders and get the fascist vomitas of the right-wing murderous John Birch sociopathogen virus infesting 50% or more of this armed-to-the-teeth country all over British fascists, with no quarantining or zombie-shooting in sight.

Sorry, we can't tell the murderers from the gun-geeks and the law says all must enter the venue.

What a tremendous swirling whirlwind of horsesh*t kicked up into the atmosphere by Republican a*sholes and jagoffs, obscuring North America.

What, Ted Nugent couldn't offer to bring his arsenal out to Utah to protect the lady's right to free speech because his schedule was full up with appointments to be blowbanged by Mike Huckabee, Roger Ailes, George Will, and any number of Death Palin thug offspring, the latter of whom might be up for Cabinet positions in a future Republican dog-puke Administration.

Erick Erickson's wife couldn't find the shotgun to defend the lady against terrorist death threats because he's joined the monastery of malignant masturbating mountebanks, or was it just that when he stood to grab his gun, he tripped over his unzippered pants and Moe Lane servicing him down between the knees?

Hey, don't get me wrong. Oral sex is a noble act; it's just that the usual suspects want to make it illegal for the rest of us to enjoy it because, why, THEY like it too much and someone's got to pay.

The Bundy Ranch pig filth are in the neighborhood; why don't they jump in the 4 by 4's and and hustle to defend the lady against the terrorist threat?

O.K. look, as Nous pointed out, perhaps the Doc's argument is a little short on subtlety, but if this was a discussion of the black community instead of the largely male gaming community, we'd be treated to stentorian throat clearing and eminently reasonable-sounding tut-tutting about the underlying "cultural" sociopathy and dysfunction of black culture as it feeds into an ethos of violence.

Violent, murder-threatening male gamers? AAh, Nothing there. A few bad apples. Let's not generalize.

Marty, thompson and Slart. You are the wrong guys to argue with, being decent, reasonable people. I'm not really answering YOU, and I'm sure Doc Science looks askance at me wading in on her behalf.

But all of the usual haters have been banned from OBWI or are sitting on streiff's lap over at Redstate, so I shout into the ether.

Using man as a gender neutral default term is a long way from straight white males are the only full human beings, even default full human beings. Even if there is a historical basis to review, this is today. Then the leap to that is why some insecure post adolescent gamers have a stunted sense of self worth and associated acting out is a long one.

thompson:

Especially considering the vestiges of 'nerdiness' and distinct unmanliness that still cling to it.

I don't believe this is the case for guys under 30. At least, not if they're the "right" video games: Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto, Madden NFL, Assassin's Creed, etc.

There's also scholarly work, such as Hypermasculinity & Dickwolves: The Contentious Role of Women in the New Gaming Public. And here's something from the website for a college course about video games: Why is there a no girls allowed sign on this video game.

Nous:

I'm really glad to hear from you: please tell me more! Do you think misogynist gamers are a slight majority, a large minority, or a small minority of male gamers?

Women doing well at the games poses no threat. They are happy to play with women who are better at the games than they are
This may be true for your study population, but reading through comment threads about Gamergate, Sarkeesian, etc., I've seen LOTS about how women can "never" be really good at video games, and certainly can't be "real gamers". Except for "pussified" games like ... I dunno, Final Fantasy X-2, I guess.

It's a mistake, however, to think that the latter causes the former.
-- I don't know which concept you mean by "the latter" and which "the former" in this sentence. (that expression has always tended to confuse me)

Do you think misogynist gamers are a slight majority, a large minority, or a small minority of male gamers?

I think that they are a minority of gamers in terms of total people who play video games, but a significantly larger proportion of people who self-identify as gamer. Whatever the number, it is too large and too well entrenched to be dismissed. And the big game publishers know they can make a lot of bank by pandering to them, so those things mutually reinforce. Misogyny is a terrible problem in gaming.

I've seen LOTS about how women can "never" be really good at video games, and certainly can't be "real gamers". Except for "pussified" games like ... I dunno, Final Fantasy X-2, I guess.

No doubt, but what people say on the Web when protected by anonymity and playing to a crowd can be very different from how those same people engage with people face-to-face. I don't see this sort of behavior when students are playing in groups in the same room. So much of the default stance is bluster and rhetoric that falls away as soon as there is a face on the other end. Which is not to excuse this sort of thing, I'm just describing what I observe.

But that does not mean that it is not also severely damaging bluster and rhetoric. I suspect that the crowd that poses a real threat to Sarkeesian -- and I am certain the threat is real -- think that every one of those others are genuine, just as rapists believe that all men are rapists at heart. Either way, the guys who are acting up reinforce the ones who are acting out and women suffer.

I don't know which concept you mean by "the latter" and which "the former" in this sentence. (that expression has always tended to confuse me)

I meant that the anxiety that young male gamers feel about their own masculinity related to courage in the face of violence is not made worse by women being active gamers or even more skilled gamers. The bleed over from game to real life is not that strong to make women's success undermine the guys' masculinity.

I do think, however, that they fear that if too many women get involved in gaming that the industry will stop catering to their baser fantasies. That, however, is a different gender issue than the on that provokes the adolescent male to seek out violent games.

Does that help flesh out my initial comments more fully?

I don't believe this is the case for guys under 30.

Ok, I get that's what you believe. I'd disagree that videogames, even Madden, have completely cast off the concept of nerdiness, especially in contrast to physical sports. But that's a really minor point.

What I'm asking for is evidence of your contention that men who play games "getting their sense of masculinity from them". And I'm asking because when I see kickback against the influence of women in gaming, it is far more in line with what Nous described, e.g. 'the sense that women are crashing the boys' club and ruining all of the crude, unreflective fun being had.'

You've provided two links that discuss specific instances and in general 'gaming' being toxic and/or antagonistic to women. They discuss why the industry might be resistant to change, how entrenched sexism is, etc.

Neither of them seem to support your contention. The closest I could find to support would be:

"Video games can often reinforce hypermasculine stereotypes (Dill & Thill, 2007), despite the continued tension of geek “masculinity” as defined in opposition to athletic masculine norms (Taylor, 2012). The appearance of characters (Kirkland, 2009), their actions (Yao, Mahood, & Linz, 2010), and their perceived role within the game society (Scharrer, 2004) have all been addressed as problematic areas in the development of players' masculine identities."

Which seemed to be part of the background, and not the point of the article. As such, there wasn't much explication of the evidence and assumptions underlying those statements.

Perhaps one of those citations would be more supportive of your view, but sadly they seem to be paywalled or not online, making it difficult to assess their arguments and the evidence they present in the context of your assertions.

Nous, front page guest post?]

This LGM post, an elevated comment, is interesting and suggests a slightly different spin.

I'm a bit baffled because Japanese gamer culture seems very different. Two links that give some details
http://www.theverge.com/2014/3/20/5522320/final-fight-can-japans-gaming-industry-be-saved

and

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/life/2012/05/02/digital/japans-gamers-are-starting-to-shoot-em-up/#.VENCTIvLeJc

I have a vague disagreement with the OP, in that there seems to be a leap to subtractive masculinity and an underlying assumption that tackling that is a way to deal with societal misogyny. If subtractive masculinity is actually what is going on, it strikes me as a symptom, and not the actual underlying problem. Japan seems to have as big a problem with gender equality as anywhere else, but subtractive masculinity doesn't seem to be in the mix at all.

here's my guess: a handful of emotionally and socially deranged assholes have been chosen to represent all male gamers.

here's my guess: a handful of loud, emotionally and socially deranged assholes have been chosen to represent all male gamers, and when it's convenient, all men.

DocSci:

To expand/clarify my questions from last night, it seems like you are going from
(1) there are hypermasculine/feminine themes in video games
to
(2) this influences players views on gender
to
(3) men "who play these games are getting their sense of masculinity from them"

(1) I'd agree with, especially on the visuals. Frex, Gears took sexual dimorphism to a whole new level:
http://img2.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20100723225245/gearsofwar/images/b/bf/AnyaMarcusDomJM.jpg (She's half the size of the men!)

(2) I'd partially agree, but I think the press on the influence of media (games, music, movies, etc) tends to be a little overwrought (e.g. Jack Thompson on violence in video games).

(3) And I just don't understand how you get there.

And maybe (or even likely), I'm not following your chain of thought. But what I sketched out above is my understanding of how you arrived at your contention that those "who play these games are getting their sense of masculinity from them".

But its a lot of conjecture on my part, so if you could fill in the blanks on your thinking, that would be helpful.

lj's link to LGM is interesting, not the least because it is just on-point great writing.

This sentence, the final one in the post: Group #2 survives by shouting “NOT ALL GAMERS ARE LIKE THAT!” without realizing that no one is talking to them." .....

.... describes, I think, what is going on with objections to the Doc's post right here, not that anyone is involved deeply enough in the gamer culture to know what is going on, and that definitely includes me.

But the misogyny in a sizable part of gamer culture is obviously a subset of societal misogyny at large, though the gamer version seems especially ultra-concentrated and venomous, regardless of misogyny's slightly different reveals across national and cultural boundaries.

I'd say its somewhere between Rush Limbaugh's ravings about feminazis and the actions of Saddam Hussein's sons' or the Saudi Royal Family's attitudes towards women.

That no one here is a misogynist only means we aren't being addressed (that's the trouble with OBWI these days; the ones who require a vicious tongue-lashing have retreated to safer harbors for their assorted hatreds, but I half-kid) so our two cents worth is maybe ... one cent ... and pennies are best left on the counter because they just clutter up the pockets.

That said, I'm disappointed that Anita Saarkesian didn't attend the Utah gamer date rape fete and instead of merely presenting an intellectual argument to the assembled numbskulls, wear an automatic weapon on her person and bring a crew of similarly-armed bodyguards and at the slightest provocation, end this crap right there, while the police fumble with their dicks (obviously, the Utah cops will be ignoring the armed sh*theads in the crowd, because, you know, the law, and will probably instead gun down the unarmed black janitor or the unarmed black professor in attendance, because misogyny is just one of our problems).

But Anita is, whatchamacallit, a civilized person. She, to her credit, didn't stoop to their level.

I believe you practice stooping to their level, limbo after limbo round, until they fall down and hopefully crack their skulls wide open and I win.

My comments always turn into the ending of a Quentin Tarantino movie and I'm self-aware enough to realize that this is a sort of multiplicative masculinity, gushing with testosterone, but my view is that when confronted with bullies, you go among them face to face and deal with them on THEIR terms, whatever caliber those might be, because when you're jet, you're a jet all the way and all else is mere pandering to the politically correct tolerance the right wing, in all of its masks, believes they deserve to maintain their stinking self-esteem.

And the beauty of this country, at the moment, is that you don't have board a troop transport to ISIS country to get your rocks off, because we have a full supply of sadistic bullies right here to deal with first.

This is why Rush Limbaugh gets away with his misogyny, because he is hermetically sealed in his hate-filled studio with all of the other misogynists and I'm not allowed in to break every bone in his swollen pig face while concealed carrying lawful instruments of cold-blooded killing.

That would finally make him the "entertainer" some hold him to be, but in kind of an ambiguous Andy Kaufmann sort of way, wearing a neck brace and faking a chastened expression of regret. while claiming victim hood as well, which is what all bullying sociopaths (you know you are dealing with a sociopath when THEY start crying before you get half way through the argument, intellectual or otherwise) are paid big money to do in this here ridiculous country.

I'd disagree that videogames, even Madden, have completely cast off the concept of nerdiness, especially in contrast to physical sports.

I think it has, generationally. The Army is its own special mess culturally (and encourages a certain sort of extended adolescence), but being AD from 2010 to 2013 let me spend more time around young males of various ages than I really wanted to... and among the single ones it was almost a foregone conclusion that if you were less than 32, you gamed. Between 32 and 36 there was a sharp drop-off, and above that, almost no gamers. The married Soldiers were more hit-or-miss. But even then the younger ones almost all gamed. And this was completely normal, whether they were bookish shut-ins or jock bullies. The dynamics are probably a bit different in the civilian world (there are some factors which I'd say make servicemembers more prone to gaming), but it really feels quite mainstream for those born after Gen X. You might see accusations of nerdiness thrown around for genre, but I really don't see it for gaming in general.

What I'm asking for is evidence of your contention that men who play games "getting their sense of masculinity from them".

I have mixed feelings on this. I've had arguments online where the defiant, defensive young male gamer I was arguing with straight-up declared that gaming was a male thing that women don't do, and when challenged on that point, he retreated to claiming that they only do girly gaming, not real games like the stuff he did. The retreat when challenged was more towards a "crashing the clubhouse paradigm" (the overall context was him defending sexist graphical pandering and the regulation of female characters to passive ancillary/decorative roles), but he did roughly present an argument of perceiving that his masculinity would be threatened by "feminizing" the games under discussion. That's one data point, and it's not even an unambiguous one, but I can at least understand Doc's point to some degree, even if I'm reluctant to view it as broadly representative.

[N.b. I do play computer games and spend some time interacting with online media relating to them, but I in no way consider myself a gamer, nor do I think I really should be counted as one, not least because of my failure to identify with gamer culture and a general antipathy towards it. So the above is still basically a perspective from another outsider, or at most a peripheral member of the community in question.]

he did roughly present an argument of perceiving that his masculinity would be threatened by "feminizing" the games under discussion

I think that this is the same thing that happens when various prosthelytizing atheists get called for misogyny. Three links about that.

http://ohthehumanityofitall.blogspot.jp/2012/07/deep-rifts-or-humanity-of-it-all-part-1.html

http://www.salon.com/2014/10/03/new_atheisms_troubling_misogyny_the_pompous_sexism_of_richard_dawkins_and_sam_harris_partner/

http://www.alternet.org/newsandviews/article/629857/the_atheism_movement's_misogyny_problem

Again, this doesn't seem like a feature of gaming, it seems like a feature of online anonymous interaction.

Dr S, perhaps I am over-generalizing from my own (definitely not recent) with role-playing games. Back in the 1970s, i.e. pre-PCs and so pre-video, when Dungeons & Dragons was played with dice and a list of what would happen if you tried various (frequently violent) actions. There weren't a lot of girls who were interested in playing with us. But nobody got excited when one did. Even when a couple of them in our local circle of people who played got pretty good at it.

In a similar vein, when women first started doing armored combat in the SCA (also in the 1970s as it happens), there were a few guys who were unhappy about this break with expecgted gender roles. But most of us took the attitude of "fighting [like this] is fun. And there's no reason half the population shouldn't have the opportunity to have fun." And even the guys who were unhappy about it, while they were not shy about making their views known, showed no signs of making threats.

Note that most of the guys involved in both were in their late teens or 20s at the time, i.e., "young males."

Both of which lead me to think that, while there are doubtless some guys who get freaked out by violations of what they think gender roles should be, most guys do not.

Does that mean that the ones who do are not a problem? Of course not. They ought to get dealt with, and harshly. (Is that too male-violence-oriented? ;-)

But blaming the few who do is like blaming all Baptists for the actions of the Westboro Baptist Church. Nut cases occur in all subsets of the population. Generalizing from them to the entire group is, pardon the expression, not science.

Generalizing from them to the entire group is, pardon the expression, not science.

it's also, by definition: prejudice.

NV:

and among the single ones it was almost a foregone conclusion that if you were less than 32, you gamed.

I work predominantly with graduate students and undergrads in the age range 18-25, both male and female. While I don't get the impression that its unaccepted to play games (as I've said upthread its often expected), I am very skeptical that it is viewed in the same way as sports, weightlifting, beer drinking, etc as a marker/source of masculinity in general.

And that's my point, not that video games are uncommon or shunned, but that they aren't viewed as markers of masculinity.

LJ:

Again, this doesn't seem like a feature of gaming, it seems like a feature of online anonymous interaction.

This.

For those of you that haven't had the pleasure of swimming in the cesspool that is voice chat on xbox live, people say the foulest, most violent, sexist, racist, and bizarre things. Because they can. Because they are never going to meet you in real life and its extremely unlikely you'll even cross paths online again.

But assuming that's broadly representative of 'gaming' would be a mistake. It's like assuming 4chan represents the internet.

I think that this is the same thing that happens when various prosthelytizing atheists get called for misogyny.

Mmm. It's similar, and it may even ultimately be the same, but superficially it's being perceived differently. I went and dug up a quote from that argument:

"if you don't understand that males feel like their culture is being invaded then there's no hope for you."

There really was a perception that gaming was "male culture". Admittedly, the image board where I was having the argument is infected with MRA-fueled notions of widespread social persecution of males, so it's not unreasonable to take this as a shorthand for "invading the clubhouse", and other statements in the conversation lent credence to it. And I really did get the idea this was a young individual with a somewhat-amorphous (but very assertive) conception of their own masculinity. But this didn't really feel the same as the Elevatorgate stuff. That may just be because I've had more exposure to the Type-II "useful idiot" GamerGate supporters (per the LGM taxonomy), though. The attitudes described in the links you gave seemed a lot more like Type-I.

I work predominantly with graduate students and undergrads in the age range 18-25, both male and female.

thompson, it may be a class, or at least subcultural, thing. When I was in grad school (no more recently than '08) I saw very little gaming among my peers despite our program being in the school of CS. In fact, I saw a lot more of it as a CS undergrad at the end of the '90s. In the Army, I had limited exposure to officers, but I had some contact, and they didn't seem to be gamers... but among the enlisted Soldiers it was everywhere. I'll admit I didn't see those people who weren't avid gamers getting called out as immasculine for not gaming, but there was an expectation of gaming. Doing it was normal socialization, not doing it was odd - but not actively stigmatized. And guys were expected to do it, and girls were expected to not do it and get exasperated about guys doing it. In that sense, it was definitely perceived as a gendered behavior, but (in keeping with what you're saying) it didn't have the same cliched value as a hypermasculine marker... although I don't think I've ever really seen those examples of markers you presented used in an exclusionary manner in real life as opposed to in media, so it may not have been that different.

I think what it may come down to is that the gamer culture may view gaming as an inherently masculine activity, but the broader culture does not. Admittedly, that may just be gamers having a strong sense of identity as gamers, and simultaneously wanting to affirm a strong sense of masculine identity, so they conflate the two. But observing that gaming isn't broadly viewed as specifically "male" doesn't mean that gaming subculture doesn't identify it as a part of "proper" manhood rather than just decrying attacks on their fundamental masculinity as a means of deflecting criticism of sexist behavior.

Except...

When people are saying terrible, violent, sexist things on the Web associated with gaming, most often it is someone self-identifying as male. We can try to claim that the problem is the medium, but that's not true.

The problem is gaming culture, and the way that the 'nice guys' who aren't misogynists continue to see the sexist gamerbros in their midst as engaging in free expression, when in fact what they are doing is giving the gamerbros a socially accepted context/pretext in which to indulge their creeper fantasies. I know this because I've watched it happen since the early days when gaming of the sort wj talks about and computer gaming were undifferentiated. Take the women out of the conversation and the 'nice guys' tend to go along to get along. A few of the 'nice guys' also out themselves as closet creepers when there are no women around.

"Gamer culture does not map exactly onto gamers" seems to be the underlying objection in a lot of this conversation here. And it's true, as far as it goes. But gamer culture itself embraces far too much misogyny, and male gamers have allowed these misogynistic tendencies to perpetuate for too long in the name of crude, rebellious fun. That comfort with creeperdom has to stop.

And in terms of the gaming audience, since 2005 I've been asking my classes how many of them are gamers. In any given classroom I can predict that 30 to 50 percent of the guys raise their hands and 10 percent or fewer of the women do. Move that venue to a big gaming-related class and the roster itself is 20 percent female.

Gaming culture, and the gamer identity it undergirds, is predominantly male, whatever the percentage of the population that actually plays computer games.

it may be a class, or at least subcultural, thing.

Yeah, I'd agree with of that.

I'll admit I didn't see those people who weren't avid gamers getting called out as immasculine for not gaming, but there was an expectation of gaming. Doing it was normal socialization, not doing it was odd - but not actively stigmatized.

Yeah, this is pretty much what I'm getting at.

And guys were expected to do it, and girls were expected to not do it and get exasperated about guys doing it.

I'd say that's sort of true, in my experience, and not nearly as true as it once was:

More than half of all social and mobile gamers are women, according to industry research firm EEDAR, but surprisingly as many as 30% of women play more violent games like “Halo,” the group found.

http://variety.com/2013/digital/features/womengamers1200683299-1200683299/

So, yes, I'd agree its gendered behavior to some extent, but not nearly as much as people seem to make of it. That 30% number is approximately correct for people I play with.

None of that sells me on it being a source for masculinity.

although I don't think I've ever really seen those examples of markers you presented used in an exclusionary manner in real life as opposed to in media, so it may not have been that different.

That's a fair point. I don't think any of the things I mentioned really are exclusionary. If there are a pile of things that various men identify with to various degrees, without any of them being exclusionary...does that really support a concept that men "who play these games are getting their sense of masculinity from them"?

I can't see that it does.

But observing that gaming isn't broadly viewed as specifically "male" doesn't mean that gaming subculture doesn't identify it as a part of "proper" manhood

I'd agree it doesn't. But gender disparity in gaming doesn't mean the "gaming subculture" does identify gaming as part of proper manhood.

I think what it may come down to is that the gamer culture may view gaming as an inherently masculine activity, but the broader culture does not.

And this, I think, exemplifies the disconnect I'm having. Gaming is ubiquitous. Even stereotypically 'male' games like CoD sell millions of copies, a small but not insignificant percentage of them to women. How are you drawing a clean line between 'gaming culture' and the culture at large? They are, at minimum, closely interrelated.

It's one of the reasons I indicated my support for what LJ said upthread about anonymity. You can see its effects in many different arenas, and doesn't require generation of a clear demarcation between 'gaming' and society at large.

wj wrote:

"Generalizing from them to the entire group is, pardon the expression, not science."

This is correct, but the entire group ought to do a better job of at least quarantining and isolating the nutcases until the viral pathogen of misogyny burns itself out.

Why single out gamers anyway, except that they are recently in the news.

Misogyny pervades segments of the culture and is tolerated. Tell them to pipe down and you are labeled "politically correct", a noxious term now used intimidate those who call it like they see it.

Besides gamers, professional and college football could and now apparently is dealing with the elements of violent misogyny in its ranks.

Hip hop and rap artists need to get rid of the violent misogyny images in their lyrics.

The Republican increasingly sends misogynists and racists to the front of its elected ranks, not that Democrats are immune to this crap.

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/10/13/1336291/-Scott-Brown-s-frat-buddies-scream-f-k-Jeanne-Shaheen-and-call-her-a-c-t

View the sickly grin of misogyny on Brown's face as he hears his small-dicked college republican cohorts use the "c" word on Shaheen.

Even the Republican women in attendance are into it, which is sick, but I guess they believe eliminating their tax "burden" is worth some sick sh*t.

...the entire group ought to do a better job of at least quarantining and isolating the nutcases...

Count, I get uncomfortable with this kind of group responsibility approach.

Yes, if I am a member of a group and some nut cases are making us look bad, I personally feel that I ought to stand up and denounce them. But I don't really think it is fair to demand from the outside that, when some nut cases run amok, the group has a collective responsibility to do so. And certainly not to claim that, if the group (or not enough of them) stand up and do so, then obviously the group supports the nuts.

Why single out gamers anyway, except that they are recently in the news.

This is the same dynamic that allows Clive Bundy and Donald Sterling to be kicked about, allowing us to be assured of our own correctness.

wj - But I don't really think it is fair to demand from the outside that, when some nut cases run amok, the group has a collective responsibility to do so.

Here's the slipping point right here. If someone in gaming is being a sexist, misogynistic jerk and a woman criticizes this behavior, that criticism is treated as if it comes from outside, rather than inside, gaming culture. That's a strategy that marginalizes women. And it happens so automatically and so often that we don't even notice it when it happens.

If "gamer" really is a non-gendered identity, then why is it that every single woman has to work so hard to prove that she is a "real gamer," and not some pretender?

Women gamers are not outsiders.

And you can substitute "comic book geek" or "SCAdian" or "SF fan" in that last sentence as well if you like. Same thing.

For those of you that haven't had the pleasure of swimming in the cesspool that is voice chat on xbox live, people say the foulest, most violent, sexist, racist, and bizarre things.

But assuming that's broadly representative of 'gaming' would be a mistake. It's like assuming 4chan represents the internet.

Xbox live has almost 50 million subscribers. There are millions of people in this country for whom gaming is Xbox live. We're not talking about some tiny niche service that no one's ever heard of: we're talking about 50 million people. You may not like it, but of course Xbox live, and the unimaginably misogynist, racist, homophobic, transphobic crap that is spewed there is indeed representative of the gaming community.

turb, if there are 50 million Xbox subscribers, how many does it take to generate all the crap that you see? Maybe, maybe, they are typical. Then again, maybe they are less than 1/1000 of 1 percent of those involved, and the rest simply do not bother to respond to (or even read) their comments. They are, after all, self-selected not anything like a random sample of the population.

wj, the discussion of XBox Live is the in-game voicechat rather than e.g. online commentary. It's an ephemeral cesspool, and its unpleasantness is thus kinda unequivocally widespread rather than the lingering handiwork of 1/1000th of 1%. The reputation it enjoys is because of the ubiquity of anonymous online abuse it subjects its members to.

Thus we see the difficulty with making assumptions from the outside.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ne95j4exog

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=juTeHsKPWhY

What the heck:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=juTeHsKPWhY

Let's do "what the heck" again:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jyd7Vs7YA0s

Is it now?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2hYi4bxaMbs

Only because I wonder if these gamer misogynist punks are getting any affection (no, they don't even possess the rudimentary chops of the charming misogynists who could at least cut up the dance floor; plus, one of the great songs of the British Invasion; though probably not a great role model other than for hip replacement surgery):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Scp2TtAWjLg

Here he is recently, having fun with it and still in full Viagra voice:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QNj9aVmYR_w

The problem with gaming is subtractive masculinity

"evidence to support her subtractive masculinity thesis when we have a woman canceling her appearance in Utah because of an ISIS-like threat to kill EVERYONE in the room"

How many years have you been on the internet? Do you realize how easy it is to make false threats on someone else's behalf? There are trolls who do this for sport. In a world where people get SWAT teams called on them for being boring on twitch, you don't get to assume as much as you do. Much less use it as a trump card that a specific theory (dr science's) is correct.

Please, everyone. Don't assume the impressions you've picked up from the mainstream media have anything to do with the truth, as opposed to pushing a narrative that sells. Gamergate is immensely misreprented. It's really three scandals:

The first scandal was about one indie developer with a high profile in social justice circles (henceforth "the developer"). Her ex-boyfriend wrote a long call-out post, where he claimed that she had manipulated and abused him in serious ways, been unfaithful, and acted unethically in her professional life as well. He had come to the conclusion that she didn't believe the things she claimed to believe in, and he saw no other option but to warn people about her. He took great effort to documented the abuse through screenshots of chat logs.

Then almost at once, the second scandal happened. The developer, and her friends in the gaming media (who didn't come out looking very good in the call-out post) started an unprecedented censorship campaign. The argument was that this was an invasion of privacy, and a vile, misogynistic personal attack on a developer for being female. Discussion of the post was banned almost everywhere. Even forums notorious for their anything-goes attitude, like 4chan and reddit's r/gaming, went on a mass-banning spree.

Lots of people formed their opinion at this stage. They assumed no smoke without fire, so obviously the post was an invasion of privacy. Thus, it would be wrong to look at it to see if it was anything else. This fantastic mobilization from this developer and the embarrassed gaming media to protect their own, was the second scandal.

Then the third scandal was the counterattack. In the space of something like 2 hours, 10-12 publications wrote articles declaring the gamer identity dead. A massive, coordinated effort to draw the focus onto gamers and their bad behavior, rather than the media, and the bad behavior of their favorites. That's where we are now. Of course gamers are not going to control the narrative, people with media and PR experience are.

A complication was that right after 3, the right-wing seriously discovered gamergate, and saw an opportunity to win hearts and minds. Thus you've got Christina Hoff Sommers and Cathy Young jumping in (resident feminists at AEI and Cato respectively), as well as Milo Yiannopoulos of Breitbart and the right wing lawyer and musclehead Mike Cernovich - the two latter having been quite derisive towards gamers in the past. They do not have issue ownership, but you bet they would like to.

Please do not let them have a monopoly on actually being informed in this drama. Start with the basis for this whole thing. Try to forget that you picked a side without looking at it, and read Eron Gjoni's post on tumblr (google thezoepost). Decide for yourself if he had any legitimate issues to bring up, or if it deserved the aggressive media blackout it got.

If you style yourself a social justice activist or feminist or whatever, maybe even read it with the abuse perspective in mind.

NV:

It's an ephemeral cesspool, and its unpleasantness is thus kinda unequivocally widespread rather than the lingering handiwork of 1/1000th of 1%.

Yeah, that's not true. I play a number of the stereotypically 'male' games, CoD, titanfall, etc, where I would fully expect that this kind of crap is concentrated, and wj is pretty much right. Very few people speak on public chat. Probably not down to 1/1000 of 1%, but what is said on public voice chat on live is far from representative of the population.

You don't need much, though, to poison the well. I used to meet people and have interesting conversations on live. At some point it shifted over to being pretty likely that carrying on a normal conversation publicly will attract a troll within a few rounds.

Its gotten better as more people utilize mute and party chat, rather than try to engage the trolls.

Harald, it appears as though you've left out a big chunk of the story.

The argument was that this was an invasion of privacy, and a vile, misogynistic personal attack on a developer for being female.

it's not an argument about the attack's nature. the attack was (and continues to be) vile and misogynistic.

that's the part that has people up in arms.

the gamer vs game press angle is irrelevant to most people. the nature of Quinn's and Gjoni's relationship and breakup is irrelevant. what's relevant is that people who have no interest in that relationship, and only a casual interest in the gamer press have, in fact, launched a vile, misogynistic personal attack on a developer (and anyone who dares point this out).

Decide for yourself if he had any legitimate issues to bring up,

I always decide for myself. He didn't.

It sounds like he was in a bad relationship, and should move on. Airing dirty laundry on the internet was a really poor idea for many reasons. Some of the main reasons are that the internet never forgets, and something that goes viral can command a very large response in real life.

You can destroy someone's livelihood, or your own.

So, no, I don't give him a pass, regardless of how mean he says Quinn was to him. Or how unethical he thinks her business behavior is.

If she was doing something illegal, he should bring it up with the police. If she was mean to him, he should not interact with her. If her business decisions are suspect, he shouldn't do business with her.

But I can think of very little that justifies smearing someone on the internet.

A friend of mine dealt with something similar (although smaller scale, obviously). Posts about his behavior, horrible posts impersonating him. The first page of google results for his name were terrible. All while he was trying to find work.

"Legitimate" isn't a word I would use to describe such behavior.

Harald, you appear to have left off a big part of the story.

The argument was that this was an invasion of privacy, and a vile, misogynistic personal attack on a developer for being female.

there is no argument about the nature of the attack. the attack was, and still is, vile, misogynistic and personal. and that's why people are paying attention.

nobody gives a crap about the relationship between developers and the gamer press. and nobody cares about Quinn's and Gjoni's relationship or breakup. those are irrelevant.

what is relevant is that people who have no stake in Quinn's and Gjoni's relationship, and only a casual relationship with the gamer press, have launched a vile, misogynistic and personal attack on Quinn and anyone who defends her. that's the problem.

Sorry I didn't check the spam filter (upgraded to Yosemite, and didn't reopen the dashboard page) but constantly-clever-cleek figured out a way to get pass the spam filter. Thanks and sorry about the fact you had to do that and sorry that Typepad sucks eggs (the doc put in a ticket, and they suggested we switch to Disqus) If it happens again, I would suggest the handle 'the once and future cleek'.

have launched a vile, misogynistic and personal attack on Quinn and anyone who defends her. that's the problem.

And, yeah, what cleek said.

You are both good examples of having decided before taking a look at the post, if you even did that.

I'm pretty sure that if the genders were reversed, and if the developer was a prominent male feminist in indie gaming, you would have no problem realizing this:

* gaslighting, trying to convince your partner that they are paranoid/imagining things/losing their mind when they are not, is abusive. It does not change things that you're doing this to cover for infidelity.

* Shifting blame, trying to hold your partner responsible for your behavior, your lack of fidelity etc. is abusive. There are some textbook examples of that in the chat logs.

* Threats of self-harm can be abusive. In the context you see them in thezoepost, they clearly are.

Remember, this is a public figure, someone who got attention for being a champion of women and mentally ill people. Like a politician, when what you do in private strongly disagrees with your public position, it's not just a personal matter any more.

But also as I said, this is the smallest scandal. Indie games is an extremely competitive arena. Like in tour de france, people willing to do anything to get ahead will rise to the top. There will always be people like the developer.

The suppression and the counterattack were the bigger scandals, and the reason people are still angry after two months. I acknowledge that the wider issue of hypocrisy in the online social justice community is also important. I also said explicitly that the right is becoming involved, not because they give a damn about games or games journalism, but because they notice that here are some legitimate concerns that get aggressively rejected by the establishment left.

As we speak, Eron Gjoni is going to court, to fight a gag order. He says the developer is spreading accusations against him in private, while having secured a (15 minute) order barring him from defending himself against the accusations.

Harald,
why do you care so much about Quinn's and Gjoni's relationship? what's it to you?

Harald,

why do you care at all about Quinn's and Gjoni's relationship? and why do you think anybody else should care?

You are both good examples of having decided before taking a look at the post, if you even did that.

...and a 10-point Karnac penalty to Harald. How can you possibly tell if they made up their minds before reading the post? Is it because they disagree with you, and the only way you can look at that mess and not reach the same conclusion as you is by pre-judging? Seriously?

Look, as cleek points out your narrative is... strategically spotty. And your choice of language leaves little doubt that you waded into this with as much bias as you're accusing us of having. So you'll pardon us if we don't immediately hang our heads in shame for being duped and profusely thank you for enlightening us with The Truth Of The Matter.

lj,
thanks. i sent Akismet a note. no reply yet. no biggie.

lj,
thanks. i sent Akismet a note. no reply yet. no biggie.


now if i can just get the form to stop putting in my blog address (which i think is part of the problem) i'll be all set.

I really like the idea of "the once and future cleek"!

ok, 'the once and future cleek' it is.

"How many years have you been on the internet?"

Too long.

Too often.

Maybe not long enough.

What are the right number of years to have been on the internet, and is that number the same number of years Gary Farber has been on the internet, while growing disgusted that I refused to learn how to link?

I wasn't so much declaring the Doctor's theory correct (if I did that, she'd probably take MY agreement as reason to take the other side of the bet, pronto), as declaring that it shouldn't be so easily dismissed, given what she presented in her post.

The ventriloquist's dummy that I created to impersonate myself on the internet has taken on a life of his own. He sits at the keyboard alone now, his hinged wooden jaw moving up and down, his eyes rolling in mock double takes, all without my manipulation.

He reveals no alarm at say, Ebola, but does grow pensive at times over the exaggerated threat of foreign termite infestations reaching the homeland.

It appears the answer to the question "Who's the dummy, now?" is "Everyone", thanks to in no small part, to the internet.

I felt smarter when Walter Cronkite did his fifteen minutes and then headed out for drinks.

It's like one of those old, creepy TV shows wherein the dummy has slain the puppeteer and stuffed him in the dummy's steamer trunk and now the dummy impersonates the late puppeteer on the phone when the latter's Mom calls.

I'm thinking I need to construct another dummy, a Mortimer Snerd to play foil to Charlie McCarthy, and they can argue among themselves and get off the internet altogether and leave me and all of you alone to do something more constructive.

King Arthur and his Cleeks.

1. Subtractive masculinity is why the prospect of women being associated with video games gets such an out-of-control, violent reaction.

2. I think a lot of the males (boys or men) who play these games are getting their sense of masculinity from them, their reassurance that they are Real Men Who Do Manly Things.

I rolled these two around a bit, and concluded, for a moment, I just might be in agreement, because I *in fact, do* prejudge gamers [1]. I see them as inert, sedentary twinkies. I'm probably over-generalizing. For all I know, some of my best friends are gamers. Turb was called out by a someone he knows for doing things the idiot thought were feminine, which I thought was way wrong, and I concede I might be making a similar error (although I see badass, risky physical activity one actually does as fundamentally different from sitting on a sofa scoffing at the risk of carpal tunnel syndrome). I don't think gaming is feminine, nor do I think it is masculine. Rather, it is what some males do who want to pretend to be what they think 'real men' are. Call it manly man wannabe.

And, therein lies the problem: these stone cold couch potatoes carry on this way because it is safe--as safe as pushing a button. They are pitiful, self-loathing, dateless, celibate losers.

To paraphrase my dad, they have well deserved inferiority complexes.

They are not men in any qualitative sense of the word.

And certainly not worth all of this bother.

But then, I came across this:

in our society, men are the default value of "people": only (white, straight) men automatically have the status of "full human being". In other words, if you're not masculine, you're not *really* a person.

What?!?!

I'm married to a decidedly non-masculine but otherwise very real person. Have been for 38 years. She is also pretty athletic.

Seriously, not every idea is a good one. Like Howard Dean way back when, it is good to keep in mind the beauty of the unspoken thought.

Doc, how do you account for the millions of men who are married to women they love, have daughters they love, have female friends, co-workers and colleagues who they respect and admire?

Give me a break.

[1] I distinguish "gamers" from people who play games. My possibly arbitrary definition of a gamer is someone for whom gaming is at least a lifestyle if not an obsession. Gaming is a major part of who they are, their self identity and self worth. Plenty of people play games. I doubt they give two sh*ts who else plays games or what someone, somewhere, male or female, has to say about games.

Maybe it would be healthy for people in this thread to reread it and ask themselves if there's anything in it, anything at all, that might lead to someone who considers themselves to be a "gamer" to think any criticism they hear is actually rooted in a bullying desire to tear them down.

and if there is ?

i don't think it would be an excuse for what some are doing to these women.

I don't think that any gamers who are not engaging in the behavior described would have any reason to feel ill done by.

And as for those who have engaged in such behavior, I don't see that opposition to their bullying constitutes bullying on our part.

Really? "inert, sedentary twinkies"? "manly man wannabe"? That's just the most recent material. Only the bad ones would possibly feel ill done by?

McKinney--

You may be right wrt who engages in this kind of behavior in the gamer world, but I don't think you are more generally in terms of the kind of men who write threatening and misogynistic things on the internet more generally. I've heard, for instance, from one poster, that a startlingly large amount of really nasty stuff comes from ip addresses associated with doctor's offices. They may be couch potatos, but they're not living in Mom's basement.

that opposition to their bullying constitutes bullying on our part

This personalizes it, when the problem is in the constructs, not in the people (well, it is in the people, but that's not where the _root_ of the problem is).

I mean, think of all the ways to criticize someone who is not doing something that may require some effort to overcome that you think they should be doing.
-be a man
-man up
-don't be a wuss
-if you don't have the balls to do it
-find some stones

of course, phrases that are not gender based end up in the 'masculine' domain because they are coarse or they are associated with masculine endeavors
-fish or cut bait
-shit or get off the pot
-step up to the plate

This is not to call out anyone, and no one wants to be monitoring or have monitored lexical use, but if you believe that smaller incidents give cover to larger ones, it seems like an important step to stay a good distance from the line.

A while back, I pointed out using the word 'hysterical' to a commentor. He said he was well aware of the origin, but he felt no compunction about not using it because words evolve. I believe he might have paused over the word niggardly, or get upset with a phrase often heard in the south 'to n**gar-rig smth' yet a term that identifies unacceptable behavior so clearly with women's anatomy was something that was fine (especially ironic in that it was used to denigrate someone else's comment)

I feel like you should stop the bully, but you can't out-bully the bully. That 'now you know how it feels' vibe seems to draw out a lot of people who want to simultaneously bully and feel self-righteous about it. Unfortunately, sometimes stopping a bully may look like bullying, given that the tools people have at their disposal can't really stop someone, they just have to somehow create a feeling in them to make them want to change.

A second observation. It's interesting that this starts with a private matter going public because that is one of the gravity wells that this blog has orbited around. Edward wrote several posts about the ethics of outing, Hilzoy had a number of people who tried to out her, Publius was spectactularly outed (getting this blog a mention in the Grey Lady).

Only the bad ones would possibly feel ill done by?

in between reading here and being a husband, i'm playing the new Borderlands... while i wait for the next Dragon Age.

i don't feel ill about anything said here.

I have no opinion whatsoever about gaming and gamers. To me, they are a strange and foreign tribe. I find their ways puzzling arcane and inscrutable.

I do, however, miss Howard Dean.

Only the bad ones would possibly feel ill done by?

right now, i'm taking a short break from the latest Borderlands. but i'm really waiting for the next Dragon Age. and i just finished Rymdkapsel and before that, Bloons TD 5.

the first software i ever bought was Ultima 3, in 1983.

am i a gamer?

i don't feel bad about anything said about gamers on this thread - except that the term encompasses people like me and people like the filth that harass women for fun.

right now, i'm taking a short break from the latest Borderlands. but i'm really waiting for the next Dragon Age. and i just finished Rymdkapsel and before that, Bloons TD 5.

I thought that Hartmut accidentally posted his Icelandic translation notes...

This Charlie Booker piece from the Guardian is something that I think should be read.

and just FYI, a "gamergate" is not what you think it is.

LJ:

I feel like you should stop the bully, but you can't out-bully the bully.

I think this is correct, and deserves repeating. It's correct both in this context, and in many other political and cultural battles.

cleek:

except that the term encompasses people like me and people like the filth that harass

How do you feel about being part of humanity, because you share that with a number of fairly terrible people as well? I kid, a little, but there will always some way of grouping any person (you, me, anybody) into a group that contains loathsome people, and away from the rest of society.

What this demonstrates to me is the utter fallacy of judging an individual by a superficial connection to group. Where the group is typically unfamiliar, allowing for all sorts of convenient generalizations to be made.

McK:

I distinguish "gamers" from people who play games. My possibly arbitrary definition of a gamer is someone [...]

Which is hardly an uncommon view, this thread or elsewhere. But why? What good does it do other than dodge a no true scotsman fallacy, by simply defining scotsman to fit in the arbitrary box you've already selected?

It doesn't strike me as a particularly intellectually honest of useful method of characterizing gamers, gaming, people who game.

What this demonstrates to me is the utter fallacy of judging an individual by a superficial connection to group. Where the group is typically unfamiliar, allowing for all sorts of convenient generalizations to be made.

indeed.

this is where i'm supposed to write "#notallgamers", i think.

I have released all of the various cleekincarnation comments from spam hell.

oy. it's like a house of broken mirrors in here now.

the cleeks are legion, for they are many

At least nobody is saying "if you've seen one cleek, you've seen them all." ;-)

The 7 Faces of Dr. Cleek.

Within Cleek Theory, there is the idea that infinite cleeks can exist simultaneously but unseen in parallel universes. Cleek accelerators are under construction which may reveal this surfeit of cleeks.

You can't put a cleek back in the bottle once it is released, so I suspect we're up a cleek without a paddle now.

up a cleek without a paddle

NTTAWWT

Boys see that video games are associated with guys, and that the characters in many games are hyper-masculine: super strong and/or violent, with exaggerated muscles and powers.

yes, in many games you're the big bad muscley dude. but in many games you can choose any gender you like for your character. in some, gender is irrelevant. while in others, gender is relevant but in interesting ways.

since i brought it up... the new Borderlands allows you to choose from four basic characters: a big hulking man, a little robot, or two different women. there's nothing sexual about any of it, and everyone is a bad ass (with minor non-gender-typical differences in abilities to make the choices worth considering). the game is funny and clever and yes, violent.

in the Dragon Age games, in addition to being a roving bas-ass, your character is able to engage in romantic and sexual relationships with other computer-controlled members of the party (of either sex) - provided you've done enough for them and proven yourself worthy.

both are popular games. and both are very violent (Borderlands with guns, Dragon Age with swords and sorcery).

'gaming' is a pretty big world. there are all kinds of interesting things going on in it. it's not all macho posturing.

They are pitiful, self-loathing, dateless, celibate losers.

To paraphrase my dad, they have well deserved inferiority complexes.

Perhaps I was a little harsh, or, more aptly, painted with too broad a brush. I think staying indoors and playing games everyday, during most of one's free time is a poor lifestyle choice. I think the same of rock climbing, parasailing and a bunch of other things. Smoking is stupid, and I did it. Quite a bit, back then.

However, I looked up "Omnipotent Judge of All Lifestyles" and didn't see my name or picture, so perhaps that is not my role.

What I meant to do was to address the assholes who, anonymously, call out women. So, for those who took offense at my words, blah, blah, blah, regret, blah, etc, apologize and so forth.

but I don't think you are more generally in terms of the kind of men who write threatening and misogynistic things on the internet more generally. I've heard, for instance, from one poster, that a startlingly large amount of really nasty stuff comes from ip addresses associated with doctor's offices.

First, this strikes me as correct.
Second, this rounds out my thoughts about *subtractive masculinity*.

Assuming I get the concept, I agree it exists but disagree that it amounts to much except at the very, very, very most outer extremes.

A subset of men are threatened by women, particularly competent women. As women become increasingly ubiquitous in business and the professions, there is less and less room for men with these issues, and less and less men *with* these issues since it is less and less *masculine* to lead, and therefore less and less threatening to be led by a woman.

But, the subset remains and it can be pretty shitty, particularly when it can do so remotely, anonymously and unaccountably.

So, to Doc S I say: yes, it exists; in most cases, it isn't that much of a much; and you paint with way too broad of a brush when addressing this topic.

However, I looked up "Omnipotent Judge of All Lifestyles" and didn't see my name or picture, so perhaps that is not my role.

Is that a cleek shot? Badda-badda-bing.

McK:

First off, I highly respect the ability to walk back comments. Not saying that because the respect of a random blog commenter is particularly important to you (I doubt it is and I hope it isn't), but it's rare enough that doing it is worth mentioning.

But, the subset remains and it can be pretty shitty, particularly when it can do so remotely, anonymously and unaccountably.

I think, not as any sort of cultural commentary or grand idea, but just as my observation, the internet has raised three problems relevant to the discussion that we have yet to figure out.

(1) The ability to anonymously project your speech pretty much anyone. Home addresses and telephone numbers can often be found online. Email is less protected, and social media is virtually public. With relative ease, any person can threaten any other person with almost complete impunity.

(2) Fringe groups and thoughts can find each other. One extremist in a city of 100,000 will probably be forced to interact with people that don't share their views, and struggle to find a sympathetic and uncritical support network. But with the internet, they can readily link up with like-minded individuals, validating and confirming their views.

(3) Anything can go viral, and once it does, all bets are off. An event that might have warranted a disapproving snort from a single individual 20 years ago can result in millions of people holding you up as an example of all that is wrong in the world. The very real impact that a single tweet or post can have, once its grabbed the popular consciousness, is staggering to me. People can be fired. Threatened. Hounded out of their lives.

I have no solution to any of those problems, sadly. But I think they are something society will come to term with one way or the other over the next few years.

thompson, that actually makes an interesting topic for some brainstorming. Just how will we go about adjusting to the ability of the Internet to take any casual comments, spread them around the world, and preserve them for eternity?

1) Clearly we will need to return(?) to a willingness to allow people to change their minds on things.
2) Equally clearly, we (at least those of us who haven't figured it out already) will have to learn some discretion about what we post.
3) And we will need to figure out how to protect those who are too young to have learned from having their youthful indiscretions (whether words or photographs) haunt them for life.

Maybe someone here can come up with an open thread post on the subject....

@mckinneytx--

i think a better way of stating the idea behind "in our society, men are the default value of "people": only (white, straight) men automatically have the status of "full human being". In other words, if you're not masculine, you're not *really* a person." would have been to reference the scalzi essay which i think very neatly sums up the level of privilege which has eased my life in countless ways and which you can find here-- http://whatever.scalzi.com/2012/05/15/straight-white-male-the-lowest-difficulty-setting-there-is/

navarro, that there are some people that think that way, I do not doubt. But I have trouble seeing it as the default view of the entire culture, probably because the people around me (male and female, liberal and conservative, gamers and non-gamers, etc.) don't think that way. It's not just that most of them don't; none of them think that way.

Perhaps just a personal problem, and I need to get a wider circle of acquaintances....

i think the point of the "easy mode" analogy is to challenge people who have never questioned privilege to do so, whether it is their own privilege or that of others. i'm not saying i think scalzi is right in every detail but i rarely feel anyone, even myself, is right in every detail every time.

wj:

I don't know if people were ever willing to let people change their minds. Not saying we weren't, I don't actually know. There was enough turnover and shuffle in people's lives that you often didn't have a clear trail of stances to tie them to, going back years. They might have moved, or switched jobs, etc. And especially in the formative years when your stances are likely to change, high school, college/first job, etc...your circle of contacts is probably changing dramatically.

But we definitely aren't often willing on the internet, where there is a searchable database of much of what some people have said.

I think discretion is good and proper, but I also think people need to be more honest about their own failings, and less judgmental about others'.

We often consider the snapshot or vignette that we can find online, or that has gone viral, to be representative of a person. i.e. person tweeted X, clearly they are A, B, C and probably hate mom and apple pie. An internet mob rises up to demand justice, and real life consequences are meted out.

But, yeah, its an interesting question how its going to shake out, and what the internet and society is going to look like in 20 years.

I'm hoping things decentralize and democratize, to a point where twitter, facebook or whoever isn't the one stop shop for a persons history. Where data that people want to share isn't housed in a data farm in perpetuity, but more locally and with greater individual control.

Navarro, I agree that being born a straight, white male in the US is a competitive advantage in some regards. I also think it's way overblown. I suspect a high percentage of the losers addressed in this thread are straight, white males. They are still losers, in my entirely subjective and personal opinion, which is different from objective fact and not intended to offend anyone who thinks I think are losers, because I don't and you're not.

Family and innate ability mean a hell of a lot more on an individual basis than skin color.

If there was a single marker for having been dealt a tough hand, it would be being born gay.

Family and innate ability mean a hell of a lot more on an individual basis than skin color.

And since both of the former are out of an individual's control, as much as the latter is, what implications does that have for public policy, in your mind?

What assistance is a low innate ability child born into a sh1tty family owed by society?

this surfeit of cleeks

A cleek clique ?

Family and innate ability mean a hell of a lot more on an individual basis than skin color.

I think that depends on where you fall on the innate-ability scale. If you're more or less average, it's a lot easier as a white person to find a way to a reasonably successful, reasonably comfortable middle-class existence. When you consider the correlations between race and poverty - with being born into poverty the disadvantage that it is - you can add another obstacle for many non-white people to overcome.

Exceptional people can overcome these things, because they're exceptional. If your inate abilities; which I would argue include drive, motivation, ambition or what have you; are merely average, race is going loom much larger as a factor in your future success.

What assistance is a low innate ability child born into a sh1tty family owed by society?

Hard to say. The only meaningful assistance would be financial, direct or indirect. The socially/competence-challenged subset of society is one of many unmet needs, from the progressive view, with claims on the taxpayer. You have the poor-for-other-reasons, the lower middle class, the disappearing middle class, the blue collar worker, the uninsured, the elderly, infrastructure, clean energy etc, etc, etc, all claiming on the national treasury. I have no idea how to allocate the money.

If there was a single marker for having been dealt a tough hand, it would be being born gay.

How about a gay, black junkie with one eye?

And yet, the man is a legend.

thompson,
certainly it used to be a lot easier to walk away from your past. (That's probably why we have a more serious problem with recividism in the criminal justice system that we once did. If you once get a criminal record today, there is nowhere in the country where you can go that it won't be found out and impact your ability to get a legal job. That does make it harder for real career criminals. But it also means that someone who would like to go straight after "paying his debt to society" probably won't be able to.)

But did we really forgive changes of position back then? I think we did so much more readily. And the evidence is the number of politicians (i.e. folks who even then had a record that could be researched) who changed their position on one issue or another. And it was accepted as a legitimate change of heart. Whereas today, when we see something like Romney changing his position on government-sponsored medical care, everybody assumes that it is an insincere ploy for (supposed) electoral advantage. If there is anyone who thought that was real, regardless of their own position on Obamacare, I have yet to encounter them.

And yet, the man is a legend.

Two comments. First, in a country of 300,000,000 and a strong private sector, there will be at least one example, good or bad, of anything you want to find. Second, 'success' or 'achievement' in life is hugely subjective. Income is only a marker. It has a lot of asterisks.

I am a man of many asterisks. They become me and I them. These little starry glyphs trailing me in increasing numbers denote my infinite omissions, second thoughts, unattested doubts.

In the night in locations on Earth where Edison's invention hasn't whited out the Milky Way, you may view my asterisks, like a creamy foam stretching from horizon to horizon.

My gravestone shall be inscribed with an epithet, but a second monolith nearby shall display my plentitude of asterisks.*

*: **** ** *******

i think the point of the "easy mode" analogy is to challenge people who have never questioned privilege to do so, whether it is their own privilege or that of others.

Navarro, while I think the article you linked is a good way of explaining privilege, I don't actually think that's what DocSci was talking about with the phrase "full human beings". It struck me more as being in reference to a tendency to delegitimatize female opinions and experience when compared to male ones; e.g., to take a more social rather than institutional example, a woman being aggressively hit on might have her protestations of disinterest ignored until and unless she mentions/invents a boyfriend/husband, at which point his implicit opinion is suddenly valued and she is left alone. That sort of thing; the flesh and blood female's opinion doesn't count, but a hypothetical male's does.

Again, that was my take on what DocSci was saying, so I could be misinterpreting her.

Count:

These little starry glyphs trailing me in increasing numbers denote my infinite omissions, second thoughts, unattested doubts.

Remarkably profound

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