Male IT geeks tend to think they are “low status” males.

This post was originally published at Restructure!

Why are male IT geeks less successful in attracting women than other males, on average? Why are there few women in IT?

Among male geeks, a popular explanation for both these phenomena is that women avoid “low status” males, because women are programmed by evolution to have sex with men in exchange for men’s material resources.

the average person in the United States with an IT career makes $0.13. the average American household makes $0.096.

However, the average person in the United States with an IT career makes $0.13 per minute, while the average American household makes $0.096 per minute.

The average U.S. IT person earns 0.13 dollars per minute. The average U.S. household earns 0.096 dollars per minute.

The average American IT individual makes about 35% more than the average American household. In other words, the average American male with an IT career is “high status” in terms of economic position and adult social position.

Class privilege among male IT geeks from mostly white, middle-class backgrounds shelters them from the economic realities of most American families. Moreover, the male-majority IT culture allows sexist stereotypes about women to proliferate without being challenged. Spurned male geeks prefer explanations which blame women for their romantic failings and which reason that women are innately shallow, and these explanations are embraced by fellow male geeks with similar hurt feelings.

In online geek communities such as Slashdot, Digg, and Reddit, there is the common joke that “geeks” cannot get girlfriends (this language assumes that all geeks are heterosexual males, perpetuating the stereotype that women cannot be geeks, and the sentiment that women do not really belong in geek communities or IT). Many or most of these individuals have had little or no experience with women, yet they are confident in paternalistically making pronouncements about women’s psychology. Why would a man take advice about women from men who fail in interacting with women? Yet many male geeks do, nonetheless, because such rationalizations are comforting to those who are invested in believing in their moral and intellectual superiority.

For people who have had little real-life interaction with a minority group, their beliefs about the minority group are heavily shaped by the media. Disney fairy tales and fantasy-themed genres teach male geeks that women instantly fall in love with men who are rich, charming, famous, and good-looking.

What Disney Princes teach men about attracting women. Four Disney princes - Be rich, charming, famous, and good looking. Aladdin - Be charming, good looking, and appear to be rich and famous. The Beast (in human form) - Be rich and famous with a promise of charm and good looks to come later.

In other words, these “high status” males in fiction and the fictional women who fall in love with them are taken as data points concerning the general behaviour of women. Having failed in bedding women by being “charming” or “nice”, many male geeks tell themselves that the reason must be that they are not “high status” males.

Fantasy-themed stories catering to an older, male audience often do not require that the male protagonist be handsome. As long as the male hero displays bravery, good-heartedness, or saves the girl from some “jerk” adversary, the girl automatically falls in love with the hero. When male geeks follow this script and the fairy-tale happy ending does not come to fruition, they bitterly conclude that “girls like jerks”. Instead of these experiences serving as evidence that real-life love does not work like fairy tales, these male geeks modify their presumptions only slightly. They conclude that “girls like jerks”, and that we do so because we confuse jerk behaviour for high confidence, a trait of “high status” males.

Women are individuals, not instances of a one-dimensional, weak-minded “girl” stereotype that comes from fantasy books. Women do not all think the same, in same the way that not all men’s minds work like the mind of a stereotypical jock. A man cannot “make” a woman fall in love with him. However, he can probably find a woman who is attracted to him, once he accepts the fact that women are individuals and that our minds are diverse.

89 thoughts on “Male IT geeks tend to think they are “low status” males.

  1. Eoghan

    When they are talking about status they are not talking about money. The are saying that they are considered low status potential sex partners. When your stereotypical male geek tries to date women, ha can earn the status of “creep”, otherwise he invisible.

    1. saoili

      No. Acting like a creep earns him the status of creep. If the only way a particular geek guy knows of ‘trying to date women’ comes across as creepy, that’s his problem, not the problem of women in general. “Trying to date women’ IS creepy. Showing a genuine interest, based on something real, in one particular woman? Not so much.

      I know plenty of happily married geek men. Lots of them are married to non-geek women. That’s unsurprising, since there are more geek men than women. I can only assume that when those guys showed an interest in THOSE PARTICULAR WOMEN they didn’t come across as creepy.

      1. Eoghan

        I’m using this definition of creep..

        “So let’s come back to creep. It’s like, the creep should know that he doesn’t deserve to presume interest. He doesn’t deserve to initiate the approach. Like my adolescent sense of misfit, he should know that he didn’t deserve any better than to take any comer.

        Creep is a judgement in the eye of the beholder. Because the man isn’t going to think he doesn’t deserve to make the approach, of course. And I think this is why men are so insulted when they think they are making an appropriate approach to a woman, and get called a creep. It’s like, they may be perfectly willing to get called an asshole. But they resent “creep” because that means the woman calling him a creep is saying that no woman at all would ever be interested. And that he ought to have known that. He ought to have known he didn’t deserve to cross out of misfit-dom, to end up in creep-dom.”

        http://www.feministcritics.org/blog/2010/10/18/female-dating-privilege-and-the-construction-of-the-creep-rp/

    2. Elizabeth G.

      Story Time. Being rather geeky and working/studying in a geeky subject I actually do date mostly geeky guys. I know that I don’t have the best social skills so when some one is being “creepy” I prefer to tell them how I feel about what they have done and give them an opportunity to see their behavior from my point of view because I have been thankful when others have done the same for me. Last fall I went on a couple of dates with a what I thought was a nice geeky guy. At one point he got rather pushy about physical interaction, which was off-putting so I told him so. What I got in return was a speech about how I need to “understand the signals I am sending out” and “what it means if I come to a guys place to watch a movie”.

      The moral of the story is that “creepy” guys earn the status of “creeps”. I think for most women and definitely for me the “creep” alarm is something that goes off when I realize that 1) I may not be safe around a guy or 2) This guy doesn’t care about what I want when it comes to our interactions. I really do feel for a guy who thinks he is being labelled a “creep” unfairly but instead of saying women need to change the way they react to his behavior why not examine his behavior and try to root out the “creepiness”?

      1. Eoghan

        If socially awkward people are being labelled creeps, its more a poor reflection on the people labeling them than it is their own behaviour.

        1. Restructure! Post author

          It’s not like that. Not all social awkwardness is creepy, but most (all?) creepiness also tends to be socially awkward. Being clumsy is socially awkward but not creepy. Stalking is both socially awkward and creepy.

        2. Eivind

          It is -sometimes- like that. As a guy, the culture strongly expects you to make an approach and take initiative, if you do not, you’ll need a lot of luck to ever, say, go on a date at all.

          I’m 35, I consider myself to have been more than average successful in dating – yet I don’t think I’ve even once had a woman approach me and take the initiative for a date. I’ve sometimes had women suggest a second or third or whatever, but never the first. (and suggesting a second is fairly low-risk: the odds that a guy who asked *you* for a first date, will reject your proposal for a second, aren’t high – especially not since you’d probably only ask if the first date went well)

          So, you have to do it, but if you’re socially awkward, there’s a constant risk that you’ll get some label slapped on you. Facing rejection, is scary enough, and I think many women seldom experienced it.
          (you can’t be rejected unless you ask)

          I think that’s probably the main reason my relationships always took a long time developing (not saying that’s a bad thing) – the risks are lower the better you know eachothers, taking a lot of tiny steps and carefully judging the response to each, is less scary and less risky, someone you’ve known well for many months probably won’t think you’re a creep even if she might still say “no” if you ask her if she’d like to go to the cinema with you, or come over for Pizza and Singstar next friday.

          I guess what I’m saying is.

          I can talk to women. I’m not socially awkward. I’m average looking. But I’m fairly shy now, and was a lot *more* shy as a teenager.

          And I can totally relate to the fear of being labeled a “creep”, for doing nothing more than a best effort at getting to know some girl.

        3. Elizabeth G.

          Recently I was talking to a guy friend and he said that good-looking guys could get away with stuff that not-as-good-looking guys could get away with. I agreed but rephrased it to say that perhaps a woman might overlook creepy behavior from some men but not others. That doesn’t mean that the behavior wasn’t creepy. If a man makes a women feel uncomfortable and she feel creeped-out I am not willing to indulge the guy saying “I didn’t mean to be creepy.” He was creepy because she felt creeped out. If a guys don’t want to be labelled a creep he needs to learn what proper boundaries are.

  2. Kaonashi

    My impression is that many male geeks are in fact a sort of a lower class, but not in an economical sense, but a social one. The geeks I’ve talked to usually say that they were subjected to prejudice growing up due to jock culture, negative views of geeks and geeky interests, etc, etc. As a result they withdrew from regular social life and as adults they don’t have the social skills of non-geeks.

    I think we’ve all heard that story before, but I can see how this is true to some extent. People often take social skills for granted and don’t realize that they don’t come naturally to everyone. What I don’t understand is the general willingness among male geeks to blame women for it. If I had to guess I’d say that the social structures and gender roles are hard to see and understand, while the girls ignoring and rejecting them are easy to point fingers at, regardless of what they actually did. I’ve certainly felt that way, but I was a teenager at the time and matured to see the real causes. The bitter geeks I know are around 30 and still blame women.

    Several of them are somewhat paradoxically hostile to women in their geeky professions and interests. Girls rejected them all their lives and now they’re going to reap the benefits of well-paid IT jobs without having paid the price of being ostracized and awkward? Point out the self-defeating sexism in this and you get some anti-feminist rant about how women’s problems are always society’s fault, but geeky males are to blame for their own problems. It’s really hard to get past these prejudices and excuses they’ve built up and make them see that they’re opposed to the very things that would improve their own problems, in addition to making things easier for women.

    1. Restructure! Post author

      Yes, geeks in general are dehumanized (and this includes female geeks) but the argument being criticized involves gender and the evolutionary psychology of women. They aren’t saying that people in general avoid low-status partners, or that non-geeks look down on geeks, but they are saying that women are allergic to low-status males.

      For example, in the comments of Tony Porter’s A call to men, Alex Bouvard writes:

      My point was that when you establish a competition, it will be taken too far. Society works like this: the top-value males get to mate. Very few of the low-value males get to mate. Women establish the rules in all species. If women decide they’d like to see males bang their heads together, then in many generations, we will evolve thick bones and will behave like rams.

      Women decided (though not consciously) that aggression and dominance is what they like. In doing that, they have set up a competition and current male behavior is the inevitable result of that competition.

      We’re a lot like chimpanzees, where aggression is also rewarded. We could be like the binobos – the difference between those two groups is not the males, but the females. Female binobos simply choose to mate with the non-aggressive males. We could be like that, but we’re not. Among humans males, if you aren’t in the “man box” then you’re unattractive to human females and likely alone.

      1. Kaonashi

        I didn’t mean to imply that female geeks don’t have problems. They quite obviously do, but I haven’t heard any of them blame it on vague evo-psych bullshit like in the comment you quoted. That’s quite the excuse he’s got there.

    2. Lord Anonymous

      “My impression is that many male geeks are in fact a sort of a lower class, but not in an economical sense, but a social one. The geeks I’ve talked to usually say that they were subjected to prejudice growing up due to jock culture, negative views of geeks and geeky interests, etc, etc. As a result they withdrew from regular social life and as adults they don’t have the social skills of non-geeks.”

      Not to mention bullying, physical harassment and being taught from a very young age that the only thing that kept one from being beat-up daily was to make sure the bullies knew that every single punch thrown would yield a choke hold in return.

      “I’ve certainly felt that way, but I was a teenager at the time and matured to see the real causes. The bitter geeks I know are around 30 and still blame women.”
      Do tell. What are the real reasons?

      “Several of them are somewhat paradoxically hostile to women in their geeky professions and interests. Girls rejected them all their lives and now they’re going to reap the benefits of well-paid IT jobs without having paid the price of being ostracized and awkward?”

      Rather, you can’t have neo-liberalism in the meat market and then demand socialism in all other markets. Either or.

      “Point out the self-defeating sexism in this and you get some anti-feminist rant about how women’s problems are always society’s fault, but geeky males are to blame for their own problems.”

      So how is it then? Why is it everyone for themselves in the meat market, and everyone’s right to preference and then suddenly everywhere else it’s structures and societal problems.

      “It’s really hard to get past these prejudices and excuses they’ve built up and make them see that they’re opposed to the very things that would improve their own problems, in addition to making things easier for women.”
      Can you please explain this to me? How would these things change anything for men? I forecast that instead we would arrive at a situation where women would protest and talk about how they are objectified.

      “They aren’t saying that people in general avoid low-status partners, or that non-geeks look down on geeks, but they are saying that women are allergic to low-status males.”
      Could you show us some examples to the contrary? How many women can you point out that has a male partner that earns less than them? That has lower social status than they have?

        1. Eivind

          His statement was too strong. It’s not hard at all, to find women who have a relationship with a male earning less, or otherwise having lower social status.

          Nevertheless, I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone seriously challenge the assumption that social status, correlate with desirability as a partner. That is indeed entirely obvious, because afterall, isn’t social status to a significant degree how much people respect you, for whatever reason ?

          It’d be *really* odd if you somehow where very well respected and liked by society (i.e. the people surrounding you), but yet somehow NOT liked or respected by any of the women, who afterall makes up half of society.

          Being liked and respected isn’t a guarantee for romantic success, but it also obviously does not hurt.

        2. Restructure! Post author

          Eivind,

          Nevertheless, I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone seriously challenge the assumption that social status, correlate with desirability as a partner. That is indeed entirely obvious, because afterall, isn’t social status to a significant degree how much people respect you, for whatever reason ?

          Women prefer good-looking men to high-earning men.

          (Both men and women choose partners based on physical attractiveness mainly. This is a statement of how things are, not an endorsement. People in general are shallow. However, personality comes second, so it’s not that bad. Earning power is least important for both genders.)

        3. Hugh Ristik

          Restructure! said:

          People in general are shallow. However, personality comes second, so it’s not that bad.

          Maybe, but the Eastwick and Finkelstudy only measured certain personality traits, so I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss personality traits in women’s preferences other than the ones measured.

          The original study doesn’t even call the construct “personality,” they call it “personable:”

          The present report focuses on the following three traits that might describe a romantic partner: physically attractive (assessed by the items “physically attractive” and “sexy/hot”), earning prospects (“good career prospects,” “ambitious/driven”), and personable (“fun/exciting,” “responsive,” “dependable/trustworthy,” “friendly/nice”).

          The notion of looks vs. personality appears to be created by the image in your other post, which was made by someone other than the researchers, and has lost something in translation.

          The <a href="Asendorpf study I cited in my big research reply used a similar methodology of speed-dating + follow up in Germany, but they looked at even more personality traits. They did find that facial attractiveness was the biggest predictor of getting picked in speed-dating, but they found that women do care about personality and income more than men. They found an effect of shyness, openness to experience, and sociosexuality (i.e. propensity for short-term mating) on women’s preferences in men (but not in men’s preferences for women, which were mainly about looks).

          So it does look like personality traits are more important to women than to men; just not the ones that Eastwick and Finkel were looking at. Asendorpf also found an effect of male income on women’s preferences.

        4. Restructure! Post author

          Maybe, but the Eastwick and Finkelstudy only measured certain personality traits, so I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss personality traits in women’s preferences other than the ones measured.

          Sorry, I should have been more clear. Personality traits come second after appearance in both men’s and women’s preferences. By “not that bad”, I assumed that personality could be changed, and people would be more accepting of personality being a large factor (over the shallow characteristics of physical appearance and income).

          For example, “responsive,” “dependable/trustworthy,” “friendly/nice” are all good things to have in a partner. You wouldn’t want your partner to be unresponsive, undependable/untrustworthy, or mean. That would make them assholes.

          (I haven’t had time to read all those studies in your long response.)

      1. Restructure! Post author

        “They aren’t saying that people in general avoid low-status partners, or that non-geeks look down on geeks, but they are saying that women are allergic to low-status males.”
        Could you show us some examples to the contrary? How many women can you point out that has a male partner that earns less than them? That has lower social status than they have?

        Women generally earn much less than men, and industries that used to be majority-male and became majority-female have decreased wages. This is because women are low-status in our society.

        1. Nell

          I have out-earned my husband by a high percentage for the forty years we have been married. Many of my friends are in the same situation. I have not considered his earning power at any point in our courtship or marriage to be part of the reason I love him. I was/am more interested in him as a person and I suspect that applies to the majority of couples.

        2. Eoghan

          “Women generally earn much less than men, and industries that used to be majority-male and became majority-female have decreased wages. This is because women are low-status in our society.”

          Where are you getting your information from? The wage gap is there because many women, because of whats called the family wage, can chose to engage the taxable work system less than men. When we count the family as what it is, a combined wage women more money than men. A quick glance at the spending gap or a comparison of a couples clothes will indicate who is spending more money in themselves.

        3. Restructure! Post author

          Where are you getting your information from? The wage gap is there because many women, because of whats called the family wage, can chose to engage the taxable work system less than men. When we count the family as what it is, a combined wage women more money than men. A quick glance at the spending gap or a comparison of a couples clothes will indicate who is spending more money in themselves.

          Please explain what you mean. Do you consider family money spent on food, cleaning products, and children to be spent “on women”?

          Women’s clothes cost more than men’s clothes, and tend to be of a lower quality with a higher price. (I even went into a unisex clothing store recently and saw that an argyle vest of the same manufacturer, in the same store, with the same design and material cost much more as the women’s version). Women’s haircuts also cost more than men’s haircuts.

      2. Laura

        I make more than my male partner, and my 2 best girlfriends also make more than their male partners.

  3. antimony

    Beauty and the Beast is an especially interesting case for geek women — an underlying message of “if you are funny looking and prone to childish temper tantrums, look for a geek woman”. Belle is distinctly geek-coded in a number of ways, and I at least found her about the only Disney heroine I could identify with.

    Granted, the Beast isn’t presented as her only option; she’s also classically beautiful, so she gets the asshole jock option too, but is smart enough to reject him. (Note: obv, not all jocks are assholes, etc, but Gaston definitely is.)

    I’m not sure if all this makes the Beauty and the Beast story a net positive or negative — it’s excusing male-geek tantrums, but it also shows a geek-coded woman, and shows Beast trying very hard to work past his anger, and Belle only accepts him once he’s made progress.

    1. Restructure! Post author

      Beauty and the Beast is really problematic, because it encourages women to stay with abusive partners, the lesson being that if they stick around long enough, they can change him into a prince.

    2. Nick

      She pretty much gets two asshole jock options, both obviously mentally unstable. The Beast is not really a catch.

      1. Joseph Caine

        Interesting, because I always thought of The Beast as someone who had been turned into a monster from years of isolation. If you watch closely, he learns to become human again, and in the end, realizes he can’t make Belle love him by keeping her as his prisoner, and lets her go because her happiness is more important to him than. Gaston, on the other hand, thinks that he just needs to blackmail Belle with the threat of imprisoning her father to get her to marry him, and then decides that the Beast needs to die because Belle is in love with him.

        1. antimony

          Yeah, he gets a whole narrative arc — he was an impulsive, kind of mean boykid, did something bad, and then grew up. But the “you can change your man” narrative definitely is not a healthy one when the players aren’t Disney characters.

          I still don’t know what my net takeaway is from a feminist perspective — I love Belle, and she’s clearly making her own choices, and the Beast does grow up, but it’s contributing to a narrative that helps women feel trapped in abusive relationships. It’s still IMHO the best out of the bunch for the movies that were around when I was a teen (some of the later ones may be better, but I’m not holding my breath?)

  4. Eivind Kjørstad

    To some point, many of the statements are tautological. “attractive”, to a significant degree *means* attractive to the opposite sex. Thus it’s atleast very close to tautological that attractive people have less problems attracting partners — if they didn’t, they wouldn’t be attractive.

    It’s sexist to suggest women (or men) are only, or even primarily, interested in good looks, but it’s equally obvious that looks do play a significant part in the mating-game, probably more so for short-term chance encounters than for long-term committed relationships. Being confident, handsome, high-status and aggressive *does* significantly increase your chances of getting laid, short-term. It does a lot less, perhaps even nothing, for your chances of having a successful long-term relationship.

    Males with IT careers may indeed earn better than average families, but first money isn’t the sum total of status, and secondly, what matters tend to be relative income, relative to the social circles you are part of. As you point out, many are white middle-class. So even if you equated money to status, the relevant part would be how well they earn – relative to the people they interact with. (they could, and probably should, choose to expand their social horizon, though)

  5. Nick

    I’m not even sure that I buy the premises behind the cited articles, that “geeky” males are especially bad at attracting women. I’m sure some of them are, just like some men in every field are bad at dating, but in my anecdotal experience, all-in-all my geeky male friends have had no more trouble attracting women than other men in their general demographic. Which is to say, some are bad at it for reasons that have little to do with their geekitude, and some are good at it, for reasons that have nothing to do with their geekitude.

    I suspect these things are the result of a handful of unfortunate and false ideas intersecting: a tendency to interact with other people as if they were computers, with one set of inputs always producing the same outputs; a standard male need to blame any difficulties with women on the women in question; and a set of Revenge-of-the-Nerds-style outdated cultural messages (holy crap, the moonwalk scene? How did I not notice what this was when I was a kid? Rest of this parenthetical removed to avoid triggers). Many men do this sort of thing, but with computer science types it tends to devolve into bullshit mathematics, like this; outside of geek cultures, you get complaints about things like the “death of the alpha male on television”.

    Of course, geek guys get to wrap themselves in their never-fucking-getting-over-high-school and pretend that they are victims here, but even in more mainstream circles white, Anglo-Saxon, middle class, male Americans are constantly complaining of oppression that they don’t actually suffer from. There is an epidemic of male victimism running around, and I don’t think that’s a recent phenomenon.

    1. Mary

      I’m not even sure that I buy the premises behind the cited articles, that “geeky” males are especially bad at attracting women. I’m sure some of them are, just like some men in every field are bad at dating, but in my anecdotal experience, all-in-all my geeky male friends have had no more trouble attracting women than other men in their general demographic.

      I also wonder about this. Anecdotally only, most geeks I know (of all genders) have had somewhere between one and four medium to long term relationships, and perhaps one to five short term sexual partners. (There are of course outliers in both directions: very many partners, very few.) This looks startlingly like the standard statistical picture of relationships in my society! The major exception might be average age of starting sexual activity, which probably is somewhat later among geeks than non-geeks I know.

  6. TEA

    IT guys are individuals, not instances of a one-dimensional, weak-minded “geek” stereotype that comes from popular culture.

  7. Amanda

    I don’t know if that’s just how it happens in places that aren’t Edinburgh or Norway, but for a long time I’ve believed the whole “IT/geek guys never get the girl” scenario is a tired myth that keeps getting perpetuated. But the worst thing is, people keep believing it!

    I’m engaged to an IT guy, my friend is engaged to an IT guy, her previous fiancé was an IT guy, my other friend’s first long term boyfriend was an artist on an anime course and who lived to play video games, my other other friend just broke off a long term relationship with an IT guy (they just grew apart over seven years). I’ve been in clubs dedicated to tabletop RPGs and sci-fi. And you know what? A lot of those guys had girlfriends, too!

    What do these men have in common other than their geeky interests? Well, they’re nice guys. And not in the Nice Guy way. They’re respectful, sweet, loyal. They treat women like they’re human beings. They engage with them as equals.

    And you know what all their female counterparts have in common? Yup, you guessed it. They’re geeks, too! These happy couples usually meet each other at LAN parties, comic book stores, or through the local geek circles in their nearby communities.

    So really, any time I see something like “Geeks never get the girl,” I keep wondering if all these men aim or are told to seek a misogynistic ideal of women. Women who look conventionally pretty, who don’t challenge them and constantly tell them they’re wonderful. Barf! And who, incidentally, they would very likely have little in common with.

    There’s this old Scottish saying, “For every Jock there’s a Jane” ( or Jock/Jock, Jane/Jane). And there are also stilted sayings like, “Geeks don’t get the girl” and “There are no geek girls.” jfc, we’re not unicorns! Find a girl who likes Star Wars or coding and don’t talk to them like they’re a walking pair of boobs who are there to meet your every whim. It is actually that easy.

    1. Lily

      I don’t know if that’s just how it happens in places that aren’t Edinburgh or Norway, but for a long time I’ve believed the whole “IT/geek guys never get the girl” scenario is a tired myth that keeps getting perpetuated. But the worst thing is, people keep believing it!

      I agree. I tend to believe that this is an extension of the “women don’t really enjoy sex so men never get enough of it” line of thinking. Figleaf describes this well with his two bogus rules of desire:

      1. It is simultaneously inconceivable and intolerable for a woman to have sexual desire.
      2. It is simultaneously inconceivable and intolerable for a man to be sexually desired.

      The kind of thinking that at its extreme makes men feel like women have to bought to want to have sex, that make men feel like they have to manipulate women into bed or even drug and rape them.

      I think this boils down to the fact that society in general constantly hints to men that they don’t get enough sex, an attitude that exists in many many sections of (mostly white) male society. I think geek men have chosen to explain this in a different way, because they feel outcast and don’t want to be lumped in with the rest of society. I don’t think the reality necessarily exists.

      In my social crowd the geeks (I’m one of them) intersect with the bisexual community, the fetish community and all sorts of other (often very well sexed) niches.

      1. Hugh Ristik

        Lily said:

        In my social crowd the geeks (I’m one of them) intersect with the bisexual community, the fetish community and all sorts of other (often very well sexed) niches.

        This kind of scene is friendlier to geeky men, because the women there have less gender-typical preferences. No wonder you don’t see the problem. For mainstream heterosexual women, things work differently, and men get punished pretty strongly for shyness, introversion, or lack of social skills.

        1. Lily

          Not saying that it’s not ever the case that people react strongly to geeks, I’m perfectly aware of that.

          But unless you’re saying “mainstream” women are somehow a different and more desirable breed than geek-friendly women – it’s irrelevant. It still means that the “geek guys never get the girl” statement doesn’t hold true. There are plenty of women who will happily date geeky guys, in my case it’s a prerequisite.

        2. spz

          in very short, supermodels don’t queue up to serve geek guys’ every whim, but instead geek guys get to either ‘make do’ with ordinary women who happen to have shared interests (because that is new and doesn’t happen to other men), or go without.

        3. Hugh Ristik

          I’m asking about what happens to geeky men in more mainstream scenes, rather than in alternative scenes with atypical gender dynamics.

          It still means that the “geek guys never get the girl” statement doesn’t hold true.

          Since I’ve agreed with your observation that geeky men can do OK in alternative scenes, I wouldn’t agree with that statement either. Yet in mainstream scenes, geeky men are at a disadvantage.

          There are plenty of women who will happily date geeky guys, in my case it’s a prerequisite.

          Sure, there are plenty of women who will happily date geeky guys, particularly in alternative scenes. But are geek-friendly women as common as geeky guys? That’s the real question.

          spz said:

          in very short, supermodels don’t queue up to serve geek guys’ every whim, but instead geek guys get to either “make do’ with ordinary women who happen to have shared interests (because that is new and doesn’t happen to other men), or go without.

          Although there are some cases of geeky men who feel entitled to supermodels, I think that phenomenon is largely a feminist stereotype. In my experience, geeky men usually aren’t complaining of not being able to date supermodels, they are complaining of not being able to date women of similar looks and interests.

          If there are simply less geeky (or geek-friendly women) than geeky men, then it would explain why geeky men have dating complaints, and why so many geeky women (like in this thread) are mystified by those complaints.

        4. Restructure! Post author

          In my experience, geeky men usually aren’t complaining of not being able to date supermodels, they are complaining of not being able to date women of similar looks and interests.

          Are you suggesting that, for example, a geeky man who doesn’t look conventionally attractive (e.g., overweight, thick glasses, acne) usually tries to date a geeky woman who is not conventionally attractive (e.g., overweight, thick glasses, acne of the same measure)?

  8. Blarmb

    Maybe my personal experience has been odd, but I’ve only ever met one person who actually seemed like he genuinely believed that “Women like Jerks”, malarkey outside of the internet.

    The whole thing is just so much baseless, whiny, utter nonsense I find it hard to understand how anyone could fail to see it as the weak excusing-making it really is. I’d guess (perhaps incorrectly), that’s why I mostly see this come up on the internet. Anyone actually so far out of touch with how human beings work, may not actually being doing any socializing anywhere else.

    I guess constructing yourself as a victim is just one way of coping with life circumstance you don’t like. Not a particularly productive way of coping but what can really done about it except continue to call them out on it?

    1. Mary

      I’ve encountered it several times, and frankly a lot of the time I think it’s an attempt to weaken men’s social bonds with women in favour of those with men. Women are untrustworthy, flaky, trivial, easily-swayed, greedy, status seeking… those messages say “don’t rely on women for emotional support, rely on us, your male friends.”

      Thus, I think women see this less often than it actually happens and so do people who are in mixed gender circles (not assuming that Blarmb is a woman or otherwise), because it’s closed majority-men social circles that do it: people who believe this about women hang out with other people who also believe it. People who think it’s nonsense don’t. Each get their opinions constantly reinforced by their circle, and very occasionally meet and go “WHAAAA?” at each other.

      1. Eivind

        I wonder though, about the setting.

        I think the “jerk”, atleast if you mean typical alpha-male aggressive behaviour, likely does have some potential as a strategy for getting laid. But it’s not likely to be helpful if you want something more.

        People also have a tendency to overgeneralize. I wonder sometimes, if the “women like jerks” is nothing more than “extroverts are more likely to get noticed, short term”.

        Then again, maybe *I* am the one overgeneralising, from a sample of one. I’ve never had a relationship of any kind, not even as much as a kiss, from a woman who hadn’t known me well for atleast half a year. I always correlated this with being fairly introverted — it simply takes time to get to know me.

        I never blamed anyone for this though, except perhaps (male) bullies and myself, afterall if I go to a party and hardly even talk to any of the girls, it’s not surprising none of them end going home with me.

    2. PharaohKatt

      I personally know one man who feels this way. He has huge entitlement issues and often complains that he spends all this time doing X, and yet women won’t look at him. Quite frankly, it’s creepy.
      I know many other men who believe they are entitled to women’s attention and affection, who are often so convinced of their right-ness or whatever. I try not to associate with them, but given the community is so insular (doubly so because of where I live) it can be very, very hard.

  9. Tafadhali

    Actually, I think there’s a bit of a message in Aladdin for the male geek who think he’s striking out with women because of his status — the biggest barrier to the romance in that film isn’t that Jasmine will only marry a prince, it’s Aladdin’s overwhelming insecurity about not being the kind of high-status guy he assumes she wants, to the point of becoming a lying tool. Jasmine actually thought he was a totally nice guy before he bought into the Prince Charming act and it takes him owning up to who he really is and cutting all the bs for them to get a happy ending.

    He is, to be fair though, both especially charming and especially good-looking.

    …I was watching this movie last night. Sorry.

  10. Bronwyn

    Actually, my social group has something quite different happening. Here, plenty of geeks formed mixed-gender social circles in highschool or later, and those circles started linking and overlapping in university and beyond. It forms a natural geek dating pool, and some households are having kids who will be brought up geeky and proud of it.

    The single geek guys are a minority compared to the partnered ones. For at least half of them, the reason they haven’t got partners is that they spend little time and energy looking for them in the right places. A very few are inept enough socially to be a nuisance. Another very few have given up on ever finding a partner, and stopped grooming…thereby guaranteeing that they never will. We geek girls are in high demand and can afford to be picky about things like that. ;)

  11. Jeremy Jensen

    Statements like

    “Women are like X” (Some are, some aren’t.)

    and

    “Geeky guys are like Y” (Some are, some aren’t.)

    and

    “Guys deemed as creepy deserve their reputation.” (Some do, some don’t.)

    Are all just wild conjecture and there’s no way to prove or disprove them. Therefore they are usually useless if your purpose is to engage in useful discourse.

  12. Jeremy Jensen

    And, BTW, I find it interesting that you’re criticizing your unwarranted stereotype of a geeky male for believing in unwarranted stereotypes about women. This article nothing but emotional, shot-from-the-hip gender-based mudslinging.

    1. Nick

      Er, no. There is one sentence toward the end that is maybe a little overly broad, but the post as a whole complains not about “male geeks” but the specific male geeks who are trafficking in this poison.

      1. Jeremy Jensen

        You’re got it backwards. There are a few token, verbal attempts to make it seem like she’s talking about only a small subset of geeks, but the “overly broad” language permeates the piece.

      2. Jeremy Jensen

        I didn’t make my point very clear. I meant to say that she uses a couple weak qualifiers to shield herself from doing the very thing that she’s condemning (stereotyping), but the use of words like “popular” and “common” to describe the phenomenon, without any proof whatsoever as to how popular this attitude is among male IT workers, has a very specific, most likely misleading, rhetorical effect.

        1. Nick

          *shrug* I think you’re being uncharitable, but I’ve no taste for white knighting. I’m sure the author can defend her prose if she feels the need.

        2. Jeremy Jensen

          Well, the idea that most geeks are sexist and misogynists is found in more than one of her posts. Here’s another (note the asterisked portion):

          https://restructure.wordpress.com/2009/08/07/sexist-feynman-called-a-woman-worse-than-a-whore/

          “Feynman, like most self-professed Nice GuysTM, “learned” that women want to be disrespected, instead of learning that a woman’s sexual consent is not bought with money. Unfortunately, *most of the male geeks* who read his book will use this anecdote to rationalize calling women “bitches”, “whores”, and “worthless”. “

        3. Jeremy Jensen

          Also, the title of this piece “Male IT geeks think they are ‘low status’ males.” It’s not “Some male IT geeks think they are ‘low status’ males.” It’s not, “I’ve encountered male IT geeks that think they are ‘low status’ males.” It’s “Male IT geeks think they are ‘low status’ males.” And with the hate she seems to send in their general direction on a regular basis is at all typical, they’d be forgiven for thinking so. Her only point is that IT guys make a good wage. That doesn’t always equate to high status, and I don’t find her attempts to refute that rather obvious point very convincing. But that’s just me.

        4. Jeremy Jensen

          Nick, I just noticed that below, Restructure admits that she feels that “most” IT geeks are accurately described in this post. I actually admire your tendency to give her far more credit than she deserves. I think it means you’re a nice guy (a real nice guy not their patented Nice Guy).

      3. Eivind

        No, there’s a lot more than “one sentence”, indeed I needed to read this article 3 times to convince myself it wasn’t intended as an elaborate troll.

        It starts with the title (which would’ve been ripped apart as blatantly sexist stereotyping if it had said “female”), and goes on from there in a similar direction.

        “male it guys believe X” is a ridicolous claim. We certainly do not, regardless of the value of X.

        Restructure comes across as if she really seriously believes that male IT guys are, as a group, nearly universally, assholes. Sometimes she adds weak qualifiers, says “most” or “common” or something like that, other times she just issues blanket-statements with no qualifiers whatsoever.

        “group X consists almost entirely of assholes” was my first reading of this article, and that’s pretty trollish. A second and third read though, convinced me that she’s actually trying to make constructive debate, but I still think the article is too close to trollish to be a good starting-point.

        1. Restructure! Post author

          Many of my posts come across as trollish, because instead of arguing that “Women are believed to have property X, but this is unfounded,” I reframe the topic’s subject to be about men (or sexism or male privilege) instead of about women. It becomes “Most/many/vocal/some men think that women have property X.”

          I do this, because everywhere else, the majority and/or people in power who have a voice discuss the minority group as the subject. If I still discuss the minority group as the subject, then the post is still from the POV of the majority group. (I don’t represent the POV of any minority group I belong to, but the point is to flip the Othering.)

        2. Restructure! Post author

          For the title, if you can suggest what appropriate adjective to put in front of “male IT geeks”, then I’d be happy to change it. “Some” doesn’t seem right, because I want to suggest that this belief is somewhat prevalent. “Vocal” don’t seem right, either, because we don’t know if it’s only vocal people. We just know that within the het male geek discourse, when regarding this subject, people usually argue that male IT geeks are low-status, and pretty much nobody argues the opposite or that this view is sexist.

          Edit: Changed title to “Male IT geeks tend to think they are low-status males.”

  13. Cessen

    I agree with your analysis, insofar as you are speaking about the het-male IT geeks that actually hold this view. But I think the majority of such geeks do not hold this view, or if they do hold a similar view it is more along the lines of “there are a lot of women like this, but those aren’t the women I’m interested in anyway.”
    I think the impression that most geeks do hold this view comes from highly vocal internet jockies, who restate it all the time. I’ve not seen it mirrored much in people I know in real life.

    And the no-girlfriend jokes… pretty sure that’s just what they’re supposed to be: jokes. I mean, even in your analysis you’re acknowledging that a lot of het-male geeks have trouble with this. But you provide more rational explanations for it. The joke still applies, even with your more appropriate explanations.

    I agree that most het-male geek’s problem is simply not meeting enough women. I would couple that, as well, with lack of social skills, especially in terms of expressing interest in appropriate ways. And this is actually an intermediate-to-advanced skill when you consider all the BS cultural messages they have to wade through and their relative lack of experience. It may not be rocket science, but it becomes rocket science with all the noise.

    1. Restructure! Post author

      I think the impression that most geeks do hold this view comes from highly vocal internet jockies, who restate it all the time. I’ve not seen it mirrored much in people I know in real life.

      Let me know if I’m being paranoid or unreasonable, but I think that when people comment on the Internet using a pseudonym, they say what they really think. This is why people are much more racist and sexist on the Internet. In real life, however, there are social consequences and people feel restricted by “political correctness”, so they generally behave in more socially appropriate ways.

      In general, when I mean “most”, I mean > 50%. If if were only the vocal Internet jockies, then I wouldn’t use the word “most”, but since most geek-oriented sites have comment ratings, I can conclude that positive ratings mean most agree, while negative ratings mean most disagree. It might be that there are 102 votes in total, but 50 are downvotes and 52 are upvotes, which mean a rating of +2. It might mean that only 2 people felt strongly enough to vote and agreed, which results in a rating of +2. However, in both cases, we can conclude that “most” people agree with the hypothetical comment. Voting on comment isn’t even costly at all, because other users don’t even see who voted for what. It’s an anonymous vote, meaning even less social pressure.

      However, in real life, I overheard a het male programmer explain to another geeky het guy who was romantically unsuccessful that women just go for the money. However, the het male programmer was married, and I think his wife makes more than he does (given her education and occupation), but I’m not sure. Anyway, that’s just one anecdote, but I didn’t understand why he would say that about his (successful) wife, or why I am sometimes an honourary guy who is allowed to be in earshot of things like that.

      Edit: Wow, I didn’t even say (only) “most” in the OP. I do say “most”, though, for other posts. It’s been a while since I read this old post.

      1. Jeremy Jensen

        “However, in both cases, we can conclude that “most” people agree with the hypothetical comment. ”

        Wow. That’s ridiculous reasoning. The only thing you can conclude based on voting on a comment board is that, among the people that care about voting or feel strongly enough the importance of an issue to vote, that it’s equally split. That leaves out the (likely) vast majority of people for whom the issue isn’t very important because they long ago came to a more mature outlook on the issue of gender relations.

        1. Restructure! Post author

          The only thing you can conclude based on voting on a comment board is that, among the people that care about voting or feel strongly enough the importance of an issue to vote, that it’s equally split.

          I define “most” to be > 50%.

          That leaves out the (likely) vast majority of people for whom the issue isn’t very important because they long ago came to a more mature outlook on the issue of gender relations.

          Why don’t they just downvote it then, if they think it is incorrect? Why is feeling neutral about misogyny not sexist?

          Why can you not argue that when it comes to anti-sexist comments, the silent majority actually disagree but are too lazy to vote? You are speaking on behalf of the silent majority, but you have no evidence to support your claim that most people believe what you believe. This look like the false consensus effect to me.

      2. Cessen

        Let me know if I’m being paranoid or unreasonable, but I think that when people comment on the Internet using a pseudonym, they say what they really think. This is why people are much more racist and sexist on the Internet. In real life, however, there are social consequences and people feel restricted by “political correctness”, so they generally behave in more socially appropriate ways.

        No, that’s a good point. It also occurs to me that there’s a selection bias going on, since people tend to associate more with like-minded people. And there is also some degree of geographic correlation with political beliefs, and I’m in a pretty liberal area. Hence my tendency to believe that men are more feminist-leaning than most men probably are. (I suspect some feminist women tend to have favorably warped views about women for the same reason.)

        In any case, I withdraw my assertion. Thanks for the sanity-check.

        Edit: Wow, I didn’t even say (only) “most” in the OP. I do say “most”, though, for other posts. It’s been a while since I read this old post.

        I’ll note that this is a common problem for most human beings when speaking about generalized observations. And I suspect you could prepend “most” to many het-male geek’s comments about women too. ;-)

        As a guy, this was also really hard for me to come to terms with in the feminist blogosphere. Most feminist blogs don’t put much effort into being clear about precisely what set, and what proportion, of men they are actually talking about. For example, recently there was an article entitled “Why Men Rape”. And I wondered to myself how the author would react to an article entitled, “Why Women Gold-Dig” or something similar. The large majority of men don’t rape. And the large majority of women don’t “dig for gold”. But how things are phrased turns out to be important in how people react. Especially in a title or the first couple of paragraphs.

        1. Restructure! Post author

          And I suspect you could prepend “most” to many het-male geek’s comments about women too. ;-)

          Except when het-male geeks are theorizing about women’s biological determinism, it has to be read as “all”, not “most”.

          Edit: “sanity-check” is ableist. Maybe “reasonability-check” is better.

        2. Cessen

          Except when het-male geeks are theorizing about women’s biological determinism, it has to be read as “all”, not “most”.

          It has to? Why? On what basis?

          Someone could make a claim that men are biologically inclined to be more aggressive, and women to be less aggressive, or men to have higher libido, and women to have lower. If I heard someone making such claims I would not be surprised if they later clarified that they were speaking in an overlapping-bell-curves sense.

          That wouldn’t necessarily make their claim correct, of course. But it would make it different.

          Edit: “sanity-check” is ableist. Maybe “reasonability-check” is better.

          Or just reduce it down to “thanks”. “Reasonability-check” isn’t colloquial, and therefore sounds awkward. Feel free to edit my comment to make the correction. I cannot, it seems.

      3. spz

        I think (just from personal anecdata) that you are wrong that actually most male IT geeks are of the cited opinion (for the simple reason that they do have a woman in their live). It’s a maturity question, you are seeing lots of overgrown (some hold out past 30) whiny teenagers who are expecting the world to turn around their belly button, and have surplus time on their hands. Then they grow up and shed these views, but are too busy to whack whine-fests that aren’t their concern any longer.

        Another point, also: Would -you- tell somebody that they can’t find a mate because they are devoid of any attractive feature at all? Especially if that is actually the case? So much easier to find a polite “excuse” for them and run. :)

  14. Amie

    I’m not in an IT field, but I have been the manager of a comic book store for several years, and I have had many geeky male employees. I have definitely had to point out to some of them behaviors that they thought were sweet or charming that sometimes come off as creepy (acting overly familiar, invading personal space, creepy eye contact (either none at all or too constant), huge gestures of affection (buying gifts, fixing cars) for women they did not know very well, oversharing personal information too soon, etc.), so I don’t think that you’re necessarily wrong in saying that some geek males do thing inadvertently that are misinterpreted as creepy. I feel like the best advice I have been able to give many of them is that they don’t have to be the white knight, they can just treat geek women like equals/friends that share a common interest, not princesses that need helping/saving/other special treatment. I know this is not true for all geek guys, my long-term boyfriend is an extremely geeky male who also has high confidence and lots of charm, but it is definitely a trap that some can fall into.

  15. jen

    This is an awesome post. A lot of geek men I’ve met refuse to treat women as humans, and refuse to talk to women about interesting geeky topics. In the past year alone I’ve had several men make it clear to me that they think my hair/clothes/body is/are attractive, while at the same time making it absolutely clear that they had a low opinion of my intelligence and knowledge – and then after speaking to me as if I was a stupid child they acted SURPRISED that I wasn’t interested in them. Some geek men I’ve met are openly dismissive of women’s intelligence and ability, while at the same time complaining that they ‘can’t get a girlfriend’. It’s not surprising: would you want to have a relationship with someone who treated you with disrespect? Me neither

    Also: women go through long periods of not being able to find a partner too, and lots of women have to deal with being made to feel that we are a low-status mate because we don’t fit the beauty ideal. But we don’t whine about this so much because we don’t think a partner is something we should be ENTITLED to. When someone turns me down it hurts, but I don’t act like it’s a huge injustice because I know that person is a human being with feelings and thoughts and desires of their own, they weren’t put on this Earth for the sole purpose of making ME happy.

    1. jen

      Also: some men who claim to have ‘poor social skills’ actually have no problem being social around men, but they can’t bring themselves to talk to a woman as if she was a human being and not some alien creature. This isn’t ‘poor social skills’, it’s misogyny.

      1. jen

        I find it amazing that some men can say ‘I just find it hard to talk to women’, and people act as if that was acceptable. Try replacing the word ‘women’ with ‘Jews’ or ‘Blacks’ or ‘gays’. Sounds a lot more bigoted now, doesn’t it?

        1. Eivind

          Yet it’s true. Lots of people, perhaps even “most” are more uncomfortable talking to people they are less used to interacting with, you need only witness how some people who don’t have many gay friends behave, and you’ll see the same thing. I get fairly many raised eyebrows when people discover that 2 of my closest friends are muslims, the impression I get is that many never actually talked to any muslims.

          But, atleast many of those who claim not to be good at talking to women, say this with regret, i.e. they wish they where better at it. (though one wonders then, why they don’t simply practice)

          With gays, blacks, jews and so on, you also get quite a few who don’t -want- to relate to these groups.
          I hope you don’t find a lot of heterosexual men who don’t at the very least wish that they’d be good at it.

        2. Danny

          I find it amazing that some men can say “I just find it hard to talk to women’, and people act as if that was acceptable. Try replacing the word “women’ with “Jews’ or “Blacks’ or “gays’. Sounds a lot more bigoted now, doesn’t it?

          The difference is a matter of romantic sense that in generic conversation sense. These are men saying they find it hard to talk to women in a sense of attraction/dating. For example I’m mostly attracted to women and in regular conversation I have no problem talking to women, black people, gays, Jews, etc. A woman’s race or religion has nothing to do with being attractive to me so in a sense of attraction there would be “I just find it hard to talk to (something other than women)”.

          In short having difficulty talking to certain group of people is not an instant sure fire sign of bigotry.

    2. Elizabeth G.

      Jen, I think you nailed it! ENTITLEMENT is the name of the game. Remember back in 2009 when that guy shot a whole bunch of women because he was mad he couldn’t get a girlfriend (CNN Story here)? This obviously isn’t limited to Geek men. I just don’t understand this thought process “I want a girlfriend but I can’t seem to find one. Is the problem with me? No, of course not, I am awesome. Women must all be horrible? Ohhh I hate women because they are so horrible and won’t date me! I should kill some.” I think that the cliche that any particular type of guy, defined by job or interests, can’t get a girl is just that a cliche. This in an example of what can happen when men fill entitled to a girlfriend.

  16. Eivind

    Restructure, You don’t think a survey based on a 2-hour speed-dating event, (2 hours in sum, not 2 hours with each partner!) where people spend a short time with many potential partners, will skew the results in favor of those with good looks, to the disfavor of other qualities desirable in a partner ?

    Where would good looks matter most ?

    In getting noticed and giving a good first impression on a VERY short date. Or in the partner-market as a whole, including long-term relationships ?

    You get a pretty reasonable estimate of a persons physical attractiveness in a few seconds. Most other qualities takes longer to establish, many take a *LOT* longer.

    Wealth, would only be visible at all in clothing, or if you outright tell someone what you own and/or earn – in both cases the statements are discounted because people may be lying. (not everyone who pretends to be wealthy, is, and people know that) If you’re dependable, kind, honest, or patient is basically entirely invisible on a speed-date.

    It’s hardly surprising that to a first aproximation, looks and the ability to hold an interesting conversation with a stranger, are just about the only things counting on a speed-date.

    1. Nick

      Are you really suggesting that folks in IT are, on average, less good-looking than people elsewhere? Why would that be? It’s not true in my experience.

        1. Nick

          Well, okay. That I’ll buy. Also, I work in consulting, which has different selection pressures than, say, software engineering.

    2. Restructure! Post author

      Eivind,

      Restructure, You don’t think a survey based on a 2-hour speed-dating event, (2 hours in sum, not 2 hours with each partner!) where people spend a short time with many potential partners, will skew the results in favor of those with good looks, to the disfavor of other qualities desirable in a partner ?

      It’s not just based on the 2-hour speed-dating event. The graph on actual behaviour is based on the follow-up one month later:

      Eastwick and Finkel invited 163 undergraduate students to a two-hour speed-dating event – having first had them fill out questionaires stating what kind of looks, personality, and earning power they were looking for in a partner. While the gender differences you would expect were evident in the pre-event questionairres (men go for looks, women go for money), those preferences seemed to vanish when it came time to choose a partner in physical space. Eastwick and Finkel followed-up with participants one month after the event to see if any relationships had developed.

      1. Eivind

        That helps ! Thanks for pointing it out. Nevertheless, I would say that speed-dating is not a good proxy for dating in general. The people who got a “no” on the initial speed-dating-event, had few/no chances of starting a relationship in the following month, furthermore a month still ain’t a long time.

        If I use myself as an example, I consider myself to have been successful in dating. Had 4 serious long-term relationships, all of which with wonderful women that I consider friends to this day, and the last of which with the woman who has been my wife for the last decade.

        Nevertheless I’ve never even once had a relationship to a woman I had not known for atleast 6 months. And I rather suspect, had I played the dating-game as described in the experiment, I’d not have scored well.

        I’d not say I can’t talk to women – infact to the contrary I would say that the majority of my close friends are female. But I *will* say that I suck at, essentially, walking up to an attractive stranger and somehow in the first 15 minutes make the best impression possible. The situation alone would make me extremely uncomfortable. (to the point where I’d probably opt for not participating at all)

        I *really* appreciate that you listen and even adjusted the title. Thanks ! I promise I’ll try my very best to really listen to what you’re saying too, it’s worth it.

    3. Blarmb

      Physically attractiveness and an ability to hold a conversation are bare minimum prerequisites for even having a chance of being noticed as a potential partner, never mind being seriously considered. I don’t see the point in talking about other traits that are being “disfavored” if even the simplest of desirable traits aren’t there.

      1. Nick

        Yeah, also, I don’t think “IT guys can’t get dates because they’re ugly and smelly” and “IT guys can’t get dates because IT is low-status work” are actually compatible arguments. If it’s the former, it’s not about their status, but about their person. If it’s the latter, they should be unable to date even if they are as rich, attractive, and charming as someone who is high status and thus, presumably, never climbs out of bed.

      2. Eivind

        Half the population is less than average attractive. Most of that half have no serious problems with attracting partners – all I suggest is that they’d likely have *more* problems attracting partners in speed-dating, than in general dating.

        And I didn’t say ability to hold a conversation. I said ability to essentially walk up to a stranger, and successfully emerge as interesting and charming in the first few minutes. Speed-dating means typically spending less than 15 minutes with each potential partner, often people who are complete strangers before the event. That’s not a close aproximation of how a lot of normal dating happens, and it strongly disfavours introverts. (much more strongly than dating that’s more long-term and among people who may know eachothers beforehand )

  17. Nick

    Something worth noting, I suppose, is that “I’m in IT” is really broad. I’m a consulting network engineer, and I have friends who are DBAs, sales engineers, QA, helpdesk, etc. These are all wildly different demographics.

  18. Nick

    Being a geek means feeling drained instead of energized by socializing, especially when around unfamiliar people who maybe don’t appreciate geeky topics and empathize with antisocial feelings or low self confidence. Nongeeks don’t relate to the antisocial feelings and effort of socializing or wanting to do some geeky thing alone instead, so they see geeks as low status.

    1. Nick

      A) that’s not geek, that’s introvert. Some of us are geeky and energized by at least the right kinds of people.

      B) I still don’t buy that non-geeks think of geeks as “low status” at all.

      1. Hugh Ristik

        Nick said:

        A) that’s not geek, that’s introvert. Some of us are geeky and energized by at least the right kinds of people.

        Some, sure… But wouldn’t you agree that there is a correlation between stereotypical geekiness and introversion?

  19. Hugh Ristik

    I agree with your theory that many of the ideas men are socialized with about women’s preferences are incorrect or oversimplified, which leads to frustration for men who run into dating challenges.

    You are correct that income is overrated in women’s preferences (at least in a middle-class Western context; worldwide it’s more important). As others have pointed out, another version of the argument about the dating difficulties of male geeks is that they are perceived to have lower status in a social sense (not economic sense).

    The hypothesis is that women have a greater preference for social status and social skills than men do. The Eastwick and Finkel study you referred to in your post is interesting, but it doesn’t test this hypothesis. Furthermore, the speed-dating paradigm removes the need for men to approach, which diminishes the social skills requirement for success.

    There is plenty of research showing female preferences for status, and female preferences against certain traits associated with “geeks” and “nerds.”

    The perception of sexual attractiveness: sex differences in variability
    :

    Results of three independent studies supported predictions derived from evolutionary theory: Men’s assessments of sexual attractiveness are determined more by objectively assessable physical attributes; women’s assessments are more influenced by perceived ability and willingness to invest (e.g., partners’ social status, potential interest in them).

    When Boy Meets Girl: Attractiveness and the Five-Factor Model in Opposite-Sex Interactions
    :

    Conversely, men’s personality scores—extraversion, in particular—predicted their own and observers’ ratings of the quality of their interactions, with more extraverted men experiencing better quality interactions than less extraverted men. Men’s physical attractiveness was unrelated to any measure of interaction quality.

    What do women want? Facialmetric assessment of multiple motives in the perception of male facial physical attractiveness
    :

    The multiple motive hypothesis of physical attractiveness suggests that women are attracted to men whose appearances elicit their nurturant feelings, who appear to possess sexual maturity and dominance characteristics, who seem sociable, approacheable, and of high social status. [...] Three quasi-experiments demonstrated that men who possessed the neotenous features of large eyes, the mature features of prominent cheekbones and a large chin, the expressive feature of a big smile, and high-status clothing were seen as more attractive than other men.

    Why mate choices are not as reciprocal as we assume: The role of personality, flirting, and physical attractiveness:

    Shyness showed a pattern that is reverse to the self-perceived mate value results: Men that were rather shy were less choosy and less popular. Moreover, shyness was negatively related to physical attractiveness. Sociosexuality and extraversion predicted popularity for men, but were unrelated to choosiness as well as physical attractiveness.

    Extraversion and sociosexuality helped men’s dating popularity, but shyness hurt it. Those effects were not found for women.

    From dating to mating and relating: Predictors of initial and long-term outcomes of speed-dating in a community sample
    :

    The key finding for popularity was that both men and women’s popularity was largely based on easily perceivable physical attributes such as facial and vocal attractiveness, height and weight. This was already the full story for women’s popularity in speed-dating, that is, men used only physical cues for their choices. In contrast, women included more criteria, namely men’s sociosexuality and shyness as well as cues for current or future resource providing potential, such as education, income, and openness to experience (but not cues of steady resource striving like conscientiousness).

    Note that income was more important to women than to men in that study, though it wasn’t the largest factor in men’s attractiveness.

    Shyness, introversion, and lower sociosexuality are traits associated with geeks, and those traits hurts men’s dating popularity in these studies. There are other studies showing that introversion and shyness hurt men’s attractiveness, and I’ll cite them upon request.

    The hypothesis of dating difficulties for “geeks” is being dismissed based on a couple studies, but a broader literature review paints a different picture. It’s not unusual for different studies on different populations with different methodology to find different results, and the contradictions haven’t been sort out yet (e.g. some studies find a large role of physical attractiveness in women’s preferences, but other studies find it less important).

    It’s quite possible that male geeks do have a valid beef.

  20. Claire

    What I’ve found in my interactions with video gamers (on the internet and in person, industry people and consumers) is that even the guys who have girlfriends will occasionally join in the “girls hate geeks, they only like jerks” talk in geek spaces, and guys who work out daily will say “jocks are all assholes.” They don’t see themselves as having the characteristics of jocks (jocks play team sports and act like jerks, I do neither, therefore not a jock) or desirable romantic partners (I have a girlfriend but it’s a fluke so she doesn’t count and/or she’s not hot enough to count as a stereotypical “girl”, therefore girls hate geeks.)

    The “we are outsiders” ech0-chamber narrative is that strong. They work hard to think of ways that the “non-outsider” things they do don’t count – and especially, that the interesting and unique women they know in their lives somehow are not members of the amorphous group of “girls,” who of course “hate us.”

    Granted, most of my gamer acquaintances who think like this are hobbyists, so they do associate with women in their jobs and at school and other places in their lives and ought to know better. It’s a little different for the careerists whose only interactions with women are brief encounters with receptionists, the PR department, and booth babes at trade shows. They’re misguided, but with their mostly-male associations I can see where they’d feel like outsiders re: women. But the guys who know, hang out with, and date women? They’re just repeating the echo-chamber refrain because it makes them feel like part of the community, and it’s poisonous becasue the voices who should be supporting women in gamer spaces… aren’t.

    This is all from my personal experience, relates to gamers rather than IT, and is in no way universal, but it definitely seems like a regrettably common behavior pattern to me.

    1. makomk

      They don’t see themselves as having the characteristics of jocks (jocks play team sports and act like jerks, I do neither, therefore not a jock)

      Because they don’t. One very important distinguishing characteristic of jocks as a group is that, in schools, they effectively have permission to use violence against outgroup male individuals as a way of enforcing both social rules and socially-imposed ideas of masculinity. Geeks do not. (I believe this is particularly common in US schools and got a lot worse after Columbine. Try Googling Jon Katz’ Voices from the Hellmouth series of articles sometime if you haven’t come across it already.) I suspect there are other important differences in terms of social status too.

  21. Elizabeth G.

    I kind of think that Restructure! and Geekfeminism deserve a lot of credit for allowing this thread to go on as long has it has. I think that all the commenters have kept it pretty civil but at the same time I can’t think of another feminist blog that would allow this level of “What about teh MENZ!?!” to go so long. I think that many geek feminist spend a lot of time with these types of sentiments so perhaps we are more indulgent than the Feministe or Feministing crowd. Anyway, I think this is a good discussion that wouldn’t be allowed to happen in many other places.

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