What the media doesn’t understand about nerdy men

Rachel Edwards
Oct 20, 2015 · 7 min read

The media can’t seem to decide whether nerdy men are dangerous bigots or harmless gifted contributors to our society. I would bet a great deal that the people saying this stuff have never spent time with these people. The women who write articles about geek culture being filled to the brim with toxic masculinity have probably never attended a D&D session in their lives. They probably don’t play video games.

They likely have never been shamed for their interests growing up, and if they have geek cred it’s likely from being one of those types with model good looks that spend five hours in the bathroom and buy fashionably over-sized glasses, so that they can tell you that they are “OMG so nerdy!” They come into the space because they know that the men there will treat them like goddesses, and you can’t call them out for being attention whores because their male harem will quickly go on the offensive to protect m’lady.

It bothers me so much that the news runs these stories about nerdy guys, calling them dangerous sexists and bigots. But how could they possibly know how off the mark they are? These news networks get their information from the hipster wannabes that write for sites like the mary sue. Those women, who practically slather on make up with a palette knife, spend five hours on their hair, and then put on a pac man t-shirt accessorized with problem glasses, decide to get upset when nerdy men find them attractive.

The reason I say that these women are not really nerds, is that they don’t understand the culture attached to it. Being a nerd or geek is more than being smart, or liking sci-fi fantasy stuff. It’s about liking what you like regardless of what everyone says. When bullies told you that the stuff you liked was stupid or treated you like you were nothing, you held on to the things you loved and loved doing, and stayed true to yourself. At it’s core, nerddom, geekdom, it’s about shameless escapism through your interests.

There is a devotion; a loyalty to your interests. You honor nerds like yourself that made awesome stuff, and you believe in meritocracy and authenticity. See these so called “nerd girls” who report on nerd culture don’t believe in merit. They believe that they just need to stand there and take the label. So when guys ask them about their interests or try to check their nerd cred, their first thought is to be offended.

The idea that a man is trying to get them to show that kind of passion for their interests is entirely alien to them. From their perspective, they don’t need to be really into nerdy interests to be a part of the culture. They are lukewarm on things like star wars, roleplaying games, and the ongoing console wars. So when a guy asks them these questions, they know deep down that their interest in this stuff is skin deep, and they entered the culture because their attempts at modelling, acting, or writing fell through, and they know they can put food on the table this way if they can fake it. So they write pieces about feeling attacked, or being treated as nothing more than a pretty face.

But that’s because they acted as nothing more than a pretty face. It’s not that these men are shallow, quite the contrary. It’s that they thought that they might be talking to someone who was the full package, of beauty and smarts, but quickly realized that their beauty was entirely shallow.

Nerdy men fantasize about the busty attractive women in comics, movies, and video games because of that mentality. These female characters are strong, interesting, smart, and beautiful. They appreciate these characters for their personality and bond with the character through their struggles. But the fake nerd girls only see that these fictional characters are more attractive than themselves and get jealous over the devotion men have to these characters.

However, there are also men who see a pretty face and get blinded by it. They project a personality onto professional cosplayers and actresses who end up in media that they like. So it can be easy for the fake nerd girls who failed at modeling, acting, or journalism, to slip in unnoticed, and write about how these predominately male interests morph men into toxic misogynists. They don’t know what they’re talking about.

Out of the many nerdy guys that I have dated or hung out with, none of them were misogynists. That’s not to say that I didn’t meet the occasional asshole. If you meet enough nerdy, geeky guys, you’re bound to find a few not so nice people. But even so, none of them hated women. At most there was a distrust of women, but that distrust was formed over many years of women shaming them and misunderstanding what they are about. It was formed by women taking advantage of them and the culture.

It’s very easy for people to take advantage of nerd culture because the people in it are really egalitarian and accepting of new people; especially women. They want women in their culture. They want smart, complex, women to talk to. But these people entering nerd culture now that it’s become the hip thing to be, are demanding that the culture change just for them. The other fakes tell them that nerd culture is problematic and needs to change.

The fakes tell them that the men in this realm are sexist, shallow, racist, and bigoted. So in turn, the real nerd girls start to think that there is some kind of epidemic of misogyny in nerdom and geekdom, turning the sensitive egalitarian men that they once knew and loved into evil sexists. But it’s the journalists that are morphing these men into misogynists and not the culture.

The men haven’t changed. They are still overwhelmingly as kind, understanding, and tolerant as they’ve ever been. What has changed is the perception. Women in the culture become fearful of toxic misogyny in STEM fields, and in their personal interests because of the fake nerd girls telling them of it’s existence. So they start to see it everywhere and in everything. Not all the women, but some. The women who’ve been here for a long time know that this is just bullshit that the media made up and ran with.

This is a tragedy of the worst kind. I’ve never met as many good natured individuals as I’ve met in nerd and geek culture. Their acceptance, loyalty, and kindness is unsurpassed. They love and respect women, even to the point where it becomes a detriment.

They value hard work, and believe that respect is something that is earned and not given. They are capable of enduring the worst kinds of treatment imaginable, and still be able to come out mostly clean. They appreciate differences. It doesn’t matter if you’re gay, straight, trans, black, white, asian, etc.; if you’re a nerd, we’ll take you.

But these fakes known nothing of endurance. So after years of being one of the beautiful people, they come in here. Then when people call them out for toxic behavior, they write hitpieces calling the things these men like problematic. They call for the culture to be changed, all because people didn’t respond to them in the way they wanted. If they dolled themselves up and no one noticed, they get upset. If they dolled themselves up and several men noticed them, they get upset. If a man asks involved questions about the costume they’re wearing, they get upset. You can’t please them.

These people write articles talking about how these spaces need to be more inclusive. But what they really mean is that they came in as an obvious fake with lukewarm interest in nerd culture and the people there knowing that they were full of shit, treated them as such.

These people, the fakes, only have a shallow understanding of what it means to be a nerd or a geek. So of course they believe these things need to change, because they don’t actually understand any of it.

They don’t know the feeling of sadness after reading the lord of the rings trilogy for the first time. They don’t know the joy of rolling for initiative, or what it’s like to spend hours researching Mandalorians and lightsaber forms for authenticity in your star wars themed forum roleplay game.

When they look at these things, maybe they see only sex and violence. But to us it’s really about feeling at home with people and a community for the first time. It’s about good stories, and good people. Our lives are enriched by these stories. We are forged through pain, shame, and bullying.

We are formed by our ability to endure namecalling, and harsh treatment. Which is something that these people don’t understand. To them we look like lonely losers wasting our lives on a hobby. But to us, this is an escape from the world that was unapologetic-ally cruel to us for many years.

The media doesn’t get it and they probably never will. To them nerds and geeks are a tool used to scare parents so that they become concerned about the media their kids are consuming. They use the fear of things they don’t understand, like gaming, to place fear in the hearts of parents and teachers.

They use the, “Think of the children!” and “Violence against women” arguments to try and ban things they don’t like. As a result, the world continues to call these passionate men, who are devoted to their interests, every name imaginable. Every label than the one they should use; friend.

Rachel Edwards

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I believe in truth, equality, and excellent pizza.