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Toxic Male Nerd Culture

Male “nerd culture” is toxic at its heart because it encourages adult men to view themselves as boys.

What’s wrong with being a boy, staying in your room, playing with spaceships and robots?

What’s wrong is that a boy in his room is being taken care of by his mother but if an adult man tries to live the life of a young boy he needs to get a woman to provide the role of his mother and take care of his needs.

“Nerd culture” hides the importance a giving female plays in male fantasy life, and doesn’t teach men that they have a responsibility to care for women and provide space for women to feel safe and playful on their own terms.

The hidden cost to women of male nerd culture provides an interesting test case of how fantasy can lead to injustice unconsciously. The male nerd doesn’t think about the consequences for women. He just thinks he enjoyed it in his room as a boy playing with robot toys. When he was a child he wasn’t thinking about his mother’s needs — and shouldn’t have been. But as an adult living in that fantasy he is blinding himself willfully to the harm it causes adult women. Similarly the nostalgic southerner who longs for a life sipping porch juleps on the plantation doesn’t think about the harm that system did to African Americans — he or she just takes pleasure in the fantasy.

As a test case I think it’s best to view this story — the story of the hidden woman and the downtrodden girlfriend in the life of the male nerd — as a spur to the adventure of self-knowledge. The adult nerd collecting Star Wars toys doesn’t realize he is actually playing a part in a much more interesting story than Star Wars. All he has to do is pull the camera back to include the women in his life and look at the world as it seems to them, and he is now in the busy heart of a novel for grown-ups and not a juvenile escapist movie. And he was all along, he just didn’t know it.

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6 thoughts on “Toxic Male Nerd Culture

  1. As a nerd, I’m not quite sure what you mean by “nerd culture.” It sounds like you identify it with being immature and irresponsible. However, almost all of us have inner five-year-olds whom we should occasionally let out to play. It’s not inconsistent with adult responsibilities.

    A person who is self-supporting but spends all his free time gaming or playing with robots has an unbalanced life and probably isn’t as happy as he could be. I think he’d be happier in a relationship precisely *because* it imposes responsibilities that a solitary person does not have “to care for” someone else. But if he doesn’t have those responsibilities, then as sad as it might be for everyone, he can’t be faulted for not fulfilling them.

    This weekend especially, it’s worth mentioning that children have fathers, too. Ideally, *both* of their parents care for them and their siblings.

  2. Howard B says:

    Would the nerds in question possess less toxicity if they molded themselves into chess masters (as opposed to Jedi Masters) or like Manet developed an artistic talent or so on? Is it the dependency aspect or the worthwhile aspect you find objectionable?
    The future economy might force us to chose between cultivating ourselves and wasting time till we croak

  3. Howie B says:

    Lots to say- the problem in an odd way is reminiscent of juvenile delinquency- the YMCA or after school clubs was the solution.So one way out is first to identify this as a social problem, and offer alternate pastimes. Kids are a cohort but the grown men acting like boys are merely a bunch of isolated individuals engaging in the same behavior. I think unfortunately it’s every man for himself to be saved and the outcome may depend on the women in their lives. One more thing, at least they’re not engaging in criminal or antisocial behavior just asocial behavior

  4. Maybe if entertainers hadn’t fed them so much just world thinking? Now they think that good always overcomes evil and that they are good in doing what they do. Even if they were to think they are doing a bad thing, their entertainment (the ones they cargo cult re-enact in their rooms) tells them that good will overcome evil (with a bitchin’ sound track).

    But do artists/entertainers feel guilty about selling the meth of just words? Nah, because if they were wrong then good would come and overcome them…

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