Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Date a geek today

Can I say it? I feel really sorry for people who are dating now.

A whole generation has gone by since I last shopped for males. (In November, we will celebrate our 24th anniversary.) And from the looks of things, it's gotten kinda ugly out there.

I think it must be terrible for people to look you up and down, talk to you for five minutes, then press the buzzer: NEXT. Back in the day, before the internet, things were slower. You usually didn't press the NEXT buzzer until you knew the person fairly well and were CERTAIN it was time to press the NEXT buzzer. And even then, you might keep that person around as a good friend, the way Chris Rock says women keep a man in the wings: "In Case of Emergency, Break Glass." (Yes, she admitted, head hung low, I did that for years. Because as Chris Rock says, you never know.)

This post was inspired by a geek-hating tirade, and I just had to say something.

As an old lady married to a geek, let me say, geeks are the greatest. AND the smartest. (I admit, being married to a genius is important to my self-image.) But I understand that not everyone feels that way. Big Blogdonia hoopla over this intended-humorous post over at Gizmodo. (I thought Gizmodo was a geeky-site, so I was surprised that they would run an anti-geek piece.) Trendy young woman dates a geek, and suffers extended apoplexy:

The next day I Googled my date and a wealth of information flowed into my browser. A Wikipedia page! Competition videos! Fanboy forums! This guy isn’t just some professional who dabbled in card games at a tender age. He’s widely revered in the game of Magic that he’s been immortalised in his own playing card.

Just like you’re obligated to mention you’re divorced or have a kid in your online profile, shouldn’t someone also be required to disclose any indisputably geeky world championship titles? But maybe it was a long time ago? We met for round two later that week.

At dinner I got straight down to it. Did he still play? “Yes.” Strike one. How often? “I’m preparing for a tournament this weekend.” Strike two. Who did he hang out with? “I’ve met all my best friends through Magic.” Strike three. I smiled and nodded and listened. Eventually I even felt a little bit bad that I didn’t know shit about the game. Here was a guy who had dedicated a good chunk of his life to mastering Magic, on a date with a girl who can barely play Solitaire. This is what happens, I thought, when you lie in your online profile. I was lured on a date thinking I’d met a normal finance guy, only to realise he was a champion dweeb in hedge funder’s clothing.

I later found out that he infiltrated his way into OKCupid dates with at least two other people I sort of know, including one of my co-workers. Mothers, warn your daughters! This could happen to you. You’ll think you’ve found a normal bearded guy with a job, only to end up sharing goat cheese with a world champion of nerds. Maybe I’m an OKCupid arsehole for calling it that way. Maybe I’m shallow for not being able to see past his world title. But if everyone stopped lying in their profiles, maybe there also wouldn’t be quite as many OKCupid horror stories to tell.
This post exploded onto several blogs, as the geeks and geek-defenders came out in force. Gizmodo even replied semi-officially and took the guy's name out of the piece. (But with the multitude of information the author has provided, it would be really easy to locate him and his name.) Sady Doyle takes up the charge and defends the initial poster and her account of the shitty date. (NOTE: Sady is far funnier.) Eventually THAT thread has to be closed down too. The whole thing has caused a near-riot in Blogdonia.

Meanwhile, I am rendered mute and remain utterly clueless about the whole thing. Really? A game? Really?

And what's wrong with goat cheese?

See there, I am already hopelessly uncool. I don't even understand the underlying premises of why this man is bad. As far as I can see, he didn't insult her or women in general, did not grab her tit or pinch her ass, was reasonably literate and dressed inoffensively. (She offhandedly says they discussed "normal stuff" and includes "college" as one of those "normal" things... obviously, a man who had not been to college at all would not have been regarded as "normal" or good enough, regardless of his interests or intelligence. In virtually all angry replies to the post, this casual elitism was unremarked upon.) Is it supposed to be bad or good to dress like a hedge fund guy? And why? Is capitalism considered an unbridled good by this person? If the guy had oodles of money (if his card-game-of-choice was the World Series of Poker rather than Magic: The Gathering), would she have been impressed?

Feminism is not just about women. Feminism is also about men. We cannot expect men to transcend their base desires and like us as people, if we are not willing to do the same to them. If we judge men solely by their wallets or their hobbies, we can hardly be angry when they judge us by our boobs or our weight.

Does it shock you when I tell you I married AN UNEMPLOYED PERSON? Of course, now, he has had his job longer than everybody, but when I met him, this was certainly not the case. Sady says there is no such thing as the Frog turning into the Prince and sees this as propaganda for girls to accept Frogs and to be happy with them:
We get a lot of sexist narratives about love, but none of them are more pernicious and subtle than this: The Frog Prince story. You could call it “Beauty and the Beast,” too. Or you could call it “Twilight,” or “Knocked Up,” or “Rory Williams Won’t Stop Whining;” it’s always the same story, anyway. Girl meets guy. On the surface, this guy is unappealing! Because he’s a frog! Or he’s not sexually attractive to her, or he treats her badly, or he’s immature, or he’s Rory Williams and he won’t stop whining; all of these are frog-like states, generally considered unkissable. But only a bitch would think that frogs don’t deserve our sweet, sweet kisses, so the woman doesn’t leave. Instead, she looks for the guy’s good qualities. She lowers her standards; she changes her expectations. She gives up on her silly little “ideas” about “attractiveness” or “compatible lifestyles” or “having fun with her partner.” Finally, she loses touch with her own desires to the point that she winds up making out with a fucking frog. At which point he becomes a prince. Or a loving husband, or a responsible person, or a whiny little Roman Centurion; the point is, in these stories, once you give up on wanting things from men, men magically become what you want.

Here’s the secret, though, if you are the girl in this particular story: That guy never became a prince. At all. He’s still the same guy; he still possesses all those qualities you initially found unappealing, for all sorts of valid reasons. People don’t go from frog to mammal overnight, and they particularly don’t do so because you ask less of them; you are still making out with a frog, in the long run. The only reason he looks like a prince nowadays is that you lowered your standards to the point that you literally could not tell the difference between frog and mammal.
First of all, I was an alcoholic very active in AA when he met me, a single welfare mother with a three-year-old child, so I was not free of my own amphibian tendencies. And maybe those flaws are pretty glaring, but you know, everyone has them. Everyone. But because mine WERE so glaring, I could not lie about them or hide them, and had to face them up front. I was not a terrific bargain, and I did not present myself that way. Perhaps everyone should consider that? (Aside: Working-class and poor kids are frequently asked by their peers, Who do you think you are?, and I often wonder if the middle-and-upper-class kids are ever asked that question, because they sure don't act like it. But I digress.)

And second, I find it interesting Sady thinks the Frog tale is a propaganda story for women... when I think women wrote the story, out of personal experience.

In short, we SAW the prince emerge, so we know. For sure.

As one who has been married three times, let me share something crucial: you do not know who men are until the shit hits the fan. (Yes, I'm afraid the military is right about that one.) Our characters are forged in crisis. Will this man stand by you when you go to court with the ex? When you are sick? Been fired? Lost your mother? How will he respond? What kind of father will he be? You don't know any of this ahead of time, even if you think you do. One of the worst things that can ever happen, is finding out that you married someone who can't deal with emotions or reality, who subsumes himself in work or TV or porn. When you are young and carefree and everything is fun, you can easily handle things. But the first time something HAPPENS (i.e. somebody becomes an alcoholic, okay: ME) and this person can't deal? They will cut you loose and move on. It turns out they are not someone cut out for the long haul, and you had no clue. (How could you have had a clue? Nothing BAD had ever happened before.) You could go years and never know this about a man. And it happened to me.

What you want is a man who understands what true partnership means. These men are rare, so rare in fact, that you shouldn't turn them away just because they play the wrong game. Really, that is the least of it. (Some hints I can offer in retrospect: during the dating period, does he keep his distance when you are upset or yowling? Does he say, "call back when you have calmed down"? Move on. When you have children together, he will treat them like shit and refuse to deal. Because as you probably know, kids yowl all the time.)

The secret to being married a long time is: Your souls merge. Your MINDS merge. You may not like his games, but you will learn about them nonetheless. Even more than that: you will learn what traits he displays while playing said game, and why it makes him so happy. Similarly, he may not like your stuff either, but he will learn the lyrics of Who songs anyway. Eventually, you hear him tell someone else that the Who was great, and you privately preen. Just to yourself.

At this point, we finish each other sentences, or don't even bother with whole sentences.

Example: TV commercial comes on.

Him: "That reminds me of..."

Me: "Yeah, but that was a different actor."

Him: "No, same guy."

Me: "You sure?"

Friends: stare at us dumbfounded, and we don't even know why, until they tell us.

And I like it that way. :)

So here I am, defending the geeks. Because I am happily married to one, and have been for a long time. And girls, if you overlook them as a category, you are cheating yourselves. You really are.

But then, I occasionally eat goat cheese too. You might want to disregard my opinion.

22 comments:

Gregg Jocoy said...

Feminism is not just about women. Feminism is also about men. We cannot expect men to transcend their base desires and like us as people, if we are not willing to do the same to them. If we judge men solely by their wallets or their hobbies, we can hardly be angry when they judge us by our boobs or our weight.


Exactly! Men who are not feminists are only hurting themselves. Equality benefits everyone, regardless of their gender or stage in life.

Gregg Jocoy said...

Also....if you haven't read it yet, read "A Doll's House" by Henrik Ibsen. The essence of the story...IMO one of the first feminist pieces...is that the female lead learns that her husband is not at all what she thought he was, and chooses to leave him and their children rather than live with a stranger. Worth the time. As you might imagine, a story about a woman "abandoning" her family was VERY controversial at the time.

A Doll's House, published and first performed in 1879

Danny said...

Wow that's some harsh stuff in those posts. I'll have to give them a read over later (and probably post on my own).

Exactly! Men who are not feminists are only hurting themselves. Equality benefits everyone, regardless of their gender or stage in life.
Oh are we? Quite dismissive of men who aren't feminists...

DaisyDeadhead said...

Danny, Gregg has been married even longer than I have.

Really, it might be useful to listen to men (and women, for that matter) who have maintained equal-partnerships for decades. We DO know a few things, you know. ;)

Danny said...

Danny, Gregg has been married even longer than I have.

Really, it might be useful to listen to men (and women, for that matter) who have maintained equal-partnerships for decades. We DO know a few things, you know. ;)

There's a difference between, "Hey this worked for me." and "If you aren't doing this you're only hurting yourself." If for no other reason there's no regard for why there are men who are not feminists.

And its not like feminism has the monopoly on equal partnerships.

DaisyDeadhead said...

Danny: And its not like feminism has the monopoly on equal partnerships.

Really? You think a "traditional" relationship can be equal?

Maybe thats why we disagree so often, because I don't. Never seen one, that is. Got any to show me? (And I refer to long-term, like the relationships me and Gregg are in, and discussing here.) How else can they be equal, unless it is acknowledged that the past models have been faulty and should be changed and updated, which is what feminism does/did?

I wish you wouldn't be so hostile to feminism, Danny. (sigh)

Danny said...

Really? You think a "traditional" relationship can be equal?
You think that there is a dichotomy of relationships where feminist/traditional is synonymous with equal/unequal?

I wish you wouldn't be so hostile to feminism, Danny. (sigh)
You know sometimes I feel the same Daisy but I just come across too many things that remind me of how I became so hostile to it in the first place.

For the record I would prefer an equal partnership over a traditional one because only misery lies down the traditional path, for both partners. However when Gregg jumped in with that implication that feminist is the only way to be it just set off that old grudge. Thousand pardons.

John Powers said...

I always have a hard time keeping the terms "nerd" and "geek" separate. They are so often used interchangeably it probably doesn't matter much.

Geek seems like the more inclusive term and both women and men embrace it.

Geeks presume that people are interested in stuff and are generally keen to hear what others are interested in.

Nerds may have more particular and obscure interests. But lots of nerds, like geeks, expect others to have intense interests and are like geeks in wanting to hear about them. The trouble often is their interests require a great deal of background information so there's a long wind-up involved in sharing about them.

Anyhow, my point is that it's not just men who are geeks. Lots of people want mind stimulating companions. There's nothing wrong with that, in fact it's a pretty good basis to begin building a relationship.

Gregg Jocoy said...

Hey Danny. Nice to "meet" you. *Extends a cyber handshake*

I may have come across as an arrogant jerk...but hey...it's what i am! :-) No, really, I can see your point. but here's the thing I was ~hoping~ to say. It seems to me that a lot of folks see feminism as being anti-male, and my point is that both sexes benefit from equality. Men are better off when women are equal in the eyes of the law, and when equality is part of the relationship, I believe that relationship is firmer.

OK...say that the man in a relationship considers his mate to be his intellectual and/or spiritual inferior. How is he going to deal with it when he suffers a stroke, and now his "inferior" wife must handle everything...his money, his healthcare, his very existence?

We've heard about the women who suffer when their men die young, and find that they (the women) have no idea how to handle finances etc, but isn't the same risk there for the men?

And please understand...I'm not talking about sitting down and negotiating every dot and tiddle of each day's plans. In my relationship with my wife, I make many decisions without consulting her, and she does too. Many couples have a relationship where one person makes all the major decisions, while the other partner accepts those decisions without question. Believe it or not, that too can be a feminist relationship...IF the people involved respect each other and agree on how decisions are made.

I guess I could cut this all down to one thing: feminism and gender equality are not anti-male. Feminsm is pro-people, IMHO.

AllSaintsDay said...

First, I think this is my favorite response so far to the piece. Everyone else's response is talking about being a geek, while you wrote about liking geeks. (And one response was to start "Speak Out With Your Geek Out" calling for geek girls to show pride at being geeks; I can see no way in which the original is about geek girls, unless you follow the "dating is a woman's sphere" thing. Luckily it quickly became inclusive.)

Secondly, I feel like to say that feminism isn't anti-male is Scotsmanning. There are a lot of anti-male feminists (and also, of course, a lot who aren't) whose existence seems to just be ignored by feminists who aren't anti-male. (FWIW, I find the word to be nearly useless at this point, to where I don't bother calling myself feminist but don't argue with those who say I am.)

Finally, I find that geeks vs. nerds is one of those things where everyone has their own personal conception of which each one means, and almost everyone acts like that conception is an inarguable law of the universe.

thene said...

Gregg - thank you. That's pretty much how I grew up, too; my parents had a very unequal relationship in which my father refused to have anything to do with parenting or other at-home responsibilities, and my mother died when her youngest child (out of three of us) was only 7 years old. FUN TIMES.

The linked post here really makes no sense to me - usually it's talking too much about your geeky passtimes to people who won't be interested that counts as a social sin, but now nondisclosure is some kind of big deal? Whatever, I don't think I'd ever date anyone non-geeky anyway, of either gender.

Daisy, I share your confusion about this dating culture bullshit; the best way to get an equal relationship is to date people who are already friends, imo.

Link for you, while I'm here; Maia on the cost of overpolicing lefties. (You should really read her blog, if you don't already - anti-policing, anti-prison, pro-trade union feminism from New Zealand).

Danny said...

Greetings Gregg *Accepts a cyber handshake*

First off my apologies over the initial hostility towards you (and if you want to chime in on it specifically please feel free to at a post I put up at Ethecofem today http://www.ethecofem.com/2011/09/why-hostility.html).

I certainly agree with you on the virtues of an equal partnership. However stuff like this, "I guess I could cut this all down to one thing: feminism and gender equality are not anti-male. Feminsm is pro-people, IMHO." runs pretty contrary to the stuff I've seen pass for feminism in my dealings with it. If it really were as simple at that Gregg I wouldn't have reacted to you like that earlier (and honestly when I see people make statements like that it seems like an attempt at just pretending the negativity is not there).

AllSaintsDay:
Finally, I find that geeks vs. nerds is one of those things where everyone has their own personal conception of which each one means, and almost everyone acts like that conception is an inarguable law of the universe.
To me the difference between the two is a matter of devotion to the topic in question. Of if you will allow to reference Dr. Who to clarify:

"Geeks wish Sonic Screwdrivers were real. Nerds have tried to build one."

Politicalguineapig said...

I dunno. Geeks from certain areas (anime/manga and video games mostly) have no interest in equal partnerships, so I don't think I'd date an anime or manga geek. Plus, I'm the wrong ethnicity, so yeah, not gonna happen.
I think it's a matter of degree of geekdom as well;this guy was clearly too involved in his gaming to have time for a relationship, and there's only so much ignoring a woman can take.
Personally, I don't have any interest in any relationship whatsoever. Relationships are not a 'come as you are' thing. For women especially, relationships are the equivalent of being up on stage
24/7. Some couples manage it, some don't.

April said...

I caught wind of that geek post and was thoroughly confused. I mean, look: I'm not interested in being with a guy who devotes the majority of his time to a weird ass game that I don't understand or have any interest in understanding. I think that's fair. But that's not the same as saying that a so-called geek is out of the question. I mean, huuuh? My husband will sit for hours at a time and play Civilization, and that's cool with me, because I will sit for hours at a time in front of my computer blogging or reading blogs or commenting on blogs, or "hanging out" with people I know through the blogosphere *waves at Danny*. We also enjoy apparently nerdy games together, like Risk and Settlers of Catan. Or having Firefly marathons. I mean, it helps to be with someone with whom you share interests, of course. But when basketball season starts and Jesse is glued to the TV all winter, I don't forget or dismiss all of his good qualities just because he gleefully immerses himself in something specialized that I'm wholly unconcerned with.

As far as nerds vs. geeks, I always thought that geeks were people who were into a specific thing, like, say, Joss Whedon, or Magic, or the people I know who were recently at DragonCon. Nerds, on the other hand, I've always thought to be the folks who are more happy sitting in a corner reading a book about how Keynesian economic theory compares to Marx, or something. The types of people, for example, who, if surrounded by like-minded friends, would talk pretty much only about things that no one else around them would be reasonably expected to understand.

I learned long ago that I couldn't be with someone who didn't share -- or at least tolerate -- my obsession with politics. While I can understand the author's disappointment in realizing that she and her date did not share as many interests as she may have expected, I see no reason for the hostility toward geekiness in general. Perhaps she should find a hobby, herself.

April said...

Oh, I also wanted to comment on the concept of a "feminist" relationship. I think the way that's described might be too unspecific. A "feminist" relationship, to people who call themselves feminists, just means that it's a partnership that's equal, or one that's respectfully negotiated. I personally do think it's possible to have a "traditional" hetero relationship, as long as both parties are equally enthusiastic about their respective roles. I know plenty of folks who do it and love every second of their lives. They are, it should be mentioned, very, very, very religious. But it can happen. It's all about the enthusiastic desire to play a certain role. The role I desire personally is equal partnership, although I don't think I'd hate being a SAHM, if I ever actually decided I wanted children. Only until they were in school though, because I think I'd get easily bored out of my wits.

commissar-priest Ted said...

Awesome post!
Warning, incoming tangentially related rant:
Okay there's only one object I have to this post and that's your characterization of Rory as whiny, which could be debated until the proverbial end of the universe, but I think the character can show quite a bit as to what makes a good character, both male and female. Rory Williams is a stereotype, the "reliable significant other." Seriously switch the genders of the main characters around and it is the same stupid love triangle found in waaaay too many stories. I've spent quite a bit of thought about this because apparently, according to the women in my life, if I were to mimic Rory that would be seen as a good thing. So I'm gonna stay single until I can find a relationship where I feel like neither a pack-mule nor a tyrant. I hope I read your post right, and thanks for the space to rant.

outsourcing web development said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

daisy, this was such a beautiful post. the problem, a frequent one with bloggy types (both men and women), is that the mechanism of exclusion is completely cruel and heartless. like, rejecting another person's entire humanity because of a harmless hobby that clearly gives the person some measure of happiness -- it's just so damn mean.

i love what you said about crisis being the important measure of a partner. 100% true and 100% impossible to predict based on shallow judgements. again, beautiful stuff.

MsBritWilliams said...

Mmmm, I like this post. Very accurate. As a first-gen student at an elite (and 93% white) institution, I've always wondered the same about the "who do you think you are" side bar. I love my boyfriend, who is considered geeky especially in our culture for a lot of things he does, but you know what: he treats me better than any many I've dated in the past.

Maybe the say no to geekdom is why so many young women aren't married. They all want to dabble in the small "cool" pool with cool guys who treat them like trash.

Sara said...

"I dunno. Geeks from certain areas (anime/manga and video games mostly) have no interest in equal partnerships, so I don't think I'd date an anime or manga geek. Plus, I'm the wrong ethnicity, so yeah, not gonna happen.
I think it's a matter of degree of geekdom as well;this guy was clearly too involved in his gaming to have time for a relationship, and there's only so much ignoring a woman can take."

I'm an anime and videogames geek and prefer unequal-but-negociated-that-way relationships (ie feminist but unstated).

I do want someone who has either the same interests as me, or who has parallel, but similar interests as me (ie we can have alone-time for each of us playing our own stuff, no one feels left alone 75% of the time - and then we have together time say, watching movies at home).

I would love to have a partner that liked playing the MMORPGs I play, and who jumped ship like I do (I'm not necessarily tied to a single one, though it is one at once), but such is life, my boyfriend doesn't like MMORPGs at all. He's a movie buff instead, and plays console or computer games occasionally. I play console or MMORPGs.

We're otherwise compatible in many ways.

Alison said...

"I find it interesting Sady thinks the Frog tale is a propaganda story for women... when I think women wrote the story, out of personal experience."

I completely agree.

The attitude displayed in Sady's and the other posts is one of the things I think Is Wrong With Young People Today(tm). It's an aspect of the millennial generation's culture, I think, but then millennial feminists defend it, and that becomes millennial men's impression of feminism...and the "defending *everyone's* humanity" aspect of feminism gets lost. I wish I knew how to bring that aspect back to millennial feminism...

Thanks for this post.

Blogger said...

Trying to find the Best Dating Site? Create an account and find your perfect date.