I’m back from a brief vacation in Migraineland, and thinking about the ways in which Men’s Rights Activists love to appropriate the language of feminism and other progressive movements, usually in ways that are face-palmingly ass-backwards.
Take this recent discussion on the Men’s Rights subreddit of the dire threat of “fake gamer girls” invading the “male space” of gaming. The generically named guywithaccount sets up the discussion with this post:
Now, there is a teensy bit of gold in this pile of bullshit: the notion of a “safe space,” where oppressed people can come forward and discuss their issues without fear of being talked over or shut down by those outside their group — who have more power in the world and who may not have their best interests at heart (or who may just be Blabby McBlabbypants types).
But there are a couple of giant problems with this notion when it comes to gamer dudes declaring gaming a “safe space” for men. The first is that, despite lingering resentments over being “snubbed” in high school or wherever — evident in the OP and in comments throughout the discussion — these guys are not actually an oppressed people by any measure that really matters.
Indeed, many of them — as tech dudes in a male-dominated tech world — are in fact in fairly privileged positions. For them to claim they need a “safe space” to protect themselves from the evils of “fake gamer girls” is a bit like Klan members claiming they need a “safe space” to protect themselves from blacks, Jews and Catholics. (Which is more or less what Klan members have argued over the years, albeit in less PC language.) No, I’m not claiming that all MRAs are the equivalent of hood-wearing Klan members. Only some of them are.
The second problem with the “game world as safe space for men” aregument is that YOU CAN’T JUST DECLARE BIG CHUNKS OF THE WORLD TO BELONG TO MEN. Yes, men dominate the gaming world in sheer numbers, both as game-makers and game-players. (While women make up nearly half of all game players — 47% — men tend to dominate the “serious” games that many geek dudes claim are the only ones that really count.) But gaming doesn’t “belong” to men any more than, say, novel-reading “belongs” to women — even though surveys suggest that women make up a staggering 80% of the fiction market in much of the English-speaking world.
Yep, that’s right: Women dominate “noveling” much more dramatically than men dominate gaming. Yet you don’t find women denouncing “fake noveler boys” or declaring that the male brain isn’t wired to understand the subtleties of written fiction.
No, in fact men are actively welcomed into book clubs. And my best friend, a woman, has spent much of the 18 or so years or our friendship trying to get me to read this novel or that novel, though over the years she’s only succeeded in getting me to read maybe one or two of her suggestions, which were pretty good, I have to admit. (I do plan to read some of the others, really.)
If you’re a socially awkward guy and want a safe space to discuss that, find a therapist, find a support group. Don’t pick on women gamers and pretend this is somehow your right because you’re oppressed as a socially awkward guy.
Anyway, here are some other dumb comments from the Reddit thread. YetAnotherCommenter warns feminists that they may lose some powerful allies if they continue acting so feministy.
Speaking of nerds who can’t get laid — which we weren’t but which these guys keep bringing up (and identifying themselves as) again and again — guia7ri seems to harbor some lingering resentments from high school, and who better to take that out on than attractive geeky women?
Hey MRAs, if you wonder why feminists sometimes describe MRAs as bitter men who hate women because they can’t get laid, it’s because MRAs like gui7ri so often EXPLICITLY DECLARE THEMSELVES BITTER MEN WHO HATE WOMEN BECAUSE THEY CAN’T GET LAID.
Meanwhile Byuku blames it all on evil feminists pretending to be geeks in order to make trouble. Because that’s what feminists do.
That’s how they get you!
EDIT: Added a sentence to temper and clarify my assertion that men “dominate” gaming.