Miles Coverdale (manos74) wrote,
Miles Coverdale

The Sexual Politics of Nerd-ity

...please kindly forgive the horrid pun, but it's the best I could come up with.

Anyhow. Over the weekend, Amanda at Pandagon had this article up, in which she discusses the disturbing tendancy among nerds to be misogynistically violent. Amanda mentions the porno trope of the "stuck-up bitch" getting "her comeuppance" via the use of mind control etc., and I'm sure we could come up with examples on our own.

This got me to thinking--and pardon me if this seems disorganized and random. I posit, and I think we can readily agree (in fact, I think Amanda herself alludes to it--if not in this post, then certainly in other posts of hers that I'm afraid I can't call to mind offhand), that this sort of behavior (and perhaps to a certain extent, the attitudes of self-described "nice guys"--which has been circulating widely over the Internet for a while, so I'm sure you can find your own examples) is rooted in anger.

So--where, then, does this anger come from?

Personally, I think there's a two-fold effect, and it explains not only the sexual politics of nerds (and throughout this post, I'm going to be using "nerd" not so much to imply intelligence--though that certainly is a big part of it, about which more in a later entry--but rather in the "socially inept/outcast" sense) but their other sociopolitics as well.

To start off with, I think it's important to bear in mind that the nerd culture is, on the whole, middle-class-heterosexual-male-oriented. (Some of you are probably reading this and saying "No, really?" Bear with me.) In terms of relations with women, this heterosexuality is important--because the nerds buy wholeheartedly into "traditional" hetero notions of sex. Think about it--what's one of the most commonly-used put-downs used in response to saying something nerdy? It's usually some variation on "dude, get off the computer and go talk to a girl," right? The high-school stereotype of the nerd is of someone sitting alone at home at night instead of going out and having sex like he "should."

In short, the nerds spend their adolescence in an environment where popularity and normality are linked to having (hetero) sex. That if you have sex, You Belong (and most likely won't get tripped in the hall or shoved into your locker or...). And granted, this social pressure to have sex is by no means applied only to the nerds; however, the nerds internalize it more deeply and I think more disturbingly. When they overhear guys bragging about their sexual exploits, they'll believe the brag (even though, since it's high school and all, any resemblance between the brag and reality is entirely coincidental). And when they believe the brag, there's a seed of jealousy that gets planted--a sort of "yeah, so maybe I can pwn every n00b I come across on Cannibal FragFest Online--but what that guy has is better!" And despite the resurgence of pop-virginity movements, the hetero male signifier that virginity is a fault has lost none of its potency.

Now, couple that with the hetero signifiers of college--i.e., non-stop parties with lots of drunk horny teenaged girls. The nerds, again, buy into the conventional notion that I think a lot of teenagers are exposed to--in college, it is expected that you will be sexually active. And so for a lot of nerds, the non-academic part of college becomes... well, to be perfectly vulgar, a mad scramble for pussy.

I'd argue that this mad scramble isn't so bad in and of itself. However, remember that nerds still carry this baggage with them--this baggage that "if you're not getting your share of pussy, there's something wrong with you", so the scramble for sex becomes overridingly important--it gets blown out of all proportion in their minds. Couple that with the fact that...well, they're nerds, and therefore socially awkward. And more often than not, the result is that the nerd alienates a lot of people around him--both friends and potential sexual partners--and ends up probably more alone than before. This embitters him, and leads him to say things like "girls just want assholes, not nice guys like me!" All he sees is his own alienation and loneliness; he doesn't make the connection between that and his own actions. As a result, he dwells on that, and it becomes an endless feedback loop of ever-increasing resentment towards the people who "rejected" him. You can fill in the result for yoruself.

Some nerds, they can experience what alcoholics refer to as "a moment of clarity," where they realize the faults of their own actions and change their future behavior accordingly. Others... don't.

Unfortunately, I don't have much of a summation yet, or a "here's what we can do to change this." I think I need to think this over some more.
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