In Surely Youâ€™re Joking, Mr. Feynman!, chapter You Just Ask Them?, Richard Feynman frequented a bar and desired to have sexual intercourse with the women there. He discovered that the women in the bar did not provide sexual favors in exchange for monetary compensation in the form of drinks. Although he gained a reputation for spending money on drinks for women, he was frustrated at the fact that the women did not consider alcoholic drinks to be payment for sexual services.
Feynman felt he was being cheated, and complained to his two friends from the bar: a female nightclub entertainer and her husband, the master of ceremonies. The master offered Feynman lessons on how to ensure that a woman he meets in a bar has sexual intercourse with him:
â€œOK,â€ he says. â€œThe whole principle is this: The guy wants to be a gentleman. He doesnâ€™t want to be thought of as impolite, crude, or especially a cheapskate. As long as the girl knows the guyâ€™s motives so well, itâ€™s easy to steer him in the direction she wants him to go.
â€œTherefore,â€ he continued, â€œunder no circumstances be a gentleman! You must disrespect the girls. Furthermore, the very first rule is, donâ€™t buy a girl anything -- not even a package of cigarettes â€” until youâ€™ve asked her if sheâ€™ll sleep with you, and youâ€™re convinced that she will, and that sheâ€™s not lying.â€
â€œUhâ€¦ you meanâ€¦ you donâ€™tâ€¦ uhâ€¦ you just ask them?â€
Metaneira is a 30 year old female currently in school for a masterâ€™s in public administration focusing on the non-profit sector. Meta has been gaming since she could hold a joystick, and has been blogging in one form or another since 1999. She currently co-hosts a site about mages and feminist issues in World of Warcraft at www.empoweredfire.com.
By now you may have seen the video â€œG33k & G4M3R Girls,â€ a parody of Katy Perryâ€™s â€œCalifornia Girlsâ€ written by a few women involved with geek culture. (If you havenâ€™t, you can see it here: while safe for work, the video features women very scantily clad and has an aggressively cloying auto-tuned soundtrack. Watch at your own risk.) The four women â€” Milynn Sarley, Clare Grant, Rileah Vanderbilt, and Michele Boyd â€” form â€œTeam Unicornâ€ and were interviewed by the Official Star Wars Blog about the video. The author of the article says the ladies answer as one unit â€œcause thatâ€™s how they roll.â€ Fine: â€œTeam Unicornâ€ it is. Team Unicorn: youâ€™re doing it wrong.
Now, let me get a few things straight: Iâ€™m a geek. Iâ€™m a gamer. And Iâ€™m a woman. But none of those things are me: they are just parts of the whole. Having my entire personality boiled down to a list of nerdy references I get or things I enjoy doing is kind of absurd, but this is what the video promotes. From the very start, Seth Green asks, â€œHello friendsâ€¦ donâ€™t you want to meet a nice girl?â€ The video is not aimed at the women it is purporting to celebrate: it is straight-up pandering to the largely sexist, male-centric geek subculture. It is geek women served up for the male gaze on a shiny latex platter. This is not empowering.
AMANDA: I see the same sad sexism in a lot of different subcultures, and I think women are often drawn to these spaces because theyâ€™re outside of the mainstream â€” because the mainstream marginalizes them, but perhaps in a different way than it does sensitive rocking Kurt Cobain haircut boys.
AMANDA: So on the one hand, youâ€™d think the subculture would be totally interested in accepting women â€” how rejecting of mainstream values is that! â€” but on the other hand, the subculture is also about building a culture around the primacy of the sensitive rocking Kurt Cobain haircut boyâ€™s particular flavor of marginalization, and when women come in with some other shit to talk about it tends to threaten that dynamic.
On different degrees of othering:
AMANDA: BUT. I wonder if some of the disconnect here is in these guys thinking that their asymmetrical haircut or interest in Magic: The Gathering is like the most intensely othering experience that a human can have? And are unaware that there are some other people around who may have that experience of being othered no matter which subculture they attempt to access.
And the part that struck closest to home for me, from the part of the discussion about Renfolk and other such nerdy subcultures:
SADY: Oh, man! And, yes: I think we even did a Ye Olde Sexist Beatdowne, about this, in Oldyn Tymes! My experience of lady-nerds is that they tend to be huge and fairly hardcore feminists. And I was like, â€œthatâ€™s funny, I never thought of feminism as a particularly nerdy thing,â€ but then I realized (a) I was on the Internet, and (b) male nerd subculture tends to be like INTENSE in its misogyny! Lady-nerds seriously grab on to feminism like it is a buoy and they are drowning, because it is! And they sort of are! And women in music sometimes do the same thing, see: Riot Grrrl, duh. Formed in reaction to dudes with floppy Kurt Cobain haircuts, at least one of whom was ACTUALLY KURT COBAIN. (Though he was a huge feminist, God bless.)