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September 27, 2015 | by  | in Opinion |
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The Fight Against Bigotry in Nerd Culture

Hasta la vista, bigotry.

I’m proud to be a nerd!

More than that, I’m excited that there has never been a more acceptable time to make such a declaration. Over the past two decades, nerd culture has gradually moved from the fringes to the forefront of cultural signifcance. Like H.G Wells’ Red Weed, nerd culture has grown exponentially, wrapping its tendrils around every facet of pop culture. Books, TV, film and, of course the self-professed meccah of nerdomvideo games.

I have made the somewhat foolish decision to pursue a career writing about such things. Because of this, to my family and friends, I’ve become the “video game guy”. In most ways, I like being thought of this way… let me emphasis most ways.

I say this, because over the past few years my friends have been bringing to my attention cases of sexism, racism, homophobia and all-round toxic bigotry within nerd culture.

People ask me for explanations as though I speak for these people, as though simply by investing in this culture I inherently understand them. Let me be clear, I do not, and nor do 95 per cent of other people who would proudly call themseleves nerds. But this fact doesn’t change public perception. I see first hand that people are moving from seeing nerds as adorable social misfits, to hateful, disgusting basement trolls.

It is often futile to justify these bigots as simply a vocal minority. That minority has become so loud in this internet generation and their hate is so profound that it grabs headlines and offers them the spotlight that they so desire.

There have been two such cases over the past few years which have really got my hackles up.

The first incident was last year when Anita Sarkeesian, an insightful and intelligent critic, created a video series called Tropes Vs. Women in Video Games. This video series, and other minor events during the same period, sparked a fierce debate online surrounding the role of gender diversity in the gaming industry. Gamers dubbed this argument “Gamergate”. I could attempt to describe what those arguments against Sarkeesian were, but honestly they weren’t well-considered enough to justify explanation. The anti-Sarkeesians began to produce a steady stream of sexual and physical threats, causing her to be temporarily moved from her home and put under police supervision.

A similar case happened this year, caused by the most prestigious literary science fiction award, the Hugo. A group of writers lashed out against the award’s inclusion of minorities. The hate mongers attempted to steer voters towards writers they sanctioned, all of whom were white, heterosexual males. I’m happy to tell you, however, that not one of the writers sanctioned by this group won an award. In fact the awards had a larger voting pool than ever before, leading to the most diverse range of winners in the award’s history.

Thankfully, stories of social progression winning out like this are becoming more common. Fans and creators are fighting back by creating and supporting diverse content.

The chauvinists are undeniably the minority—a minority whose strength comes from their volume. It is the responsbility of the majority to drown them out. Our numbers are so much greater than theirs, all it would take is a whisper from each of us to drown them out completely. So I call on you to fill comment boards, forums and content with ideas and words of logic and insight. Don’t be afraid to disagree with the bigots—their aggresive words can’t stand up to reasoned argument.

Do this and we can return to what this culture should have always been—simply a group of people who celebrate and discuss content they are passionate about.  

Baz is a student media butterfly who flits from town to town, publication to publication, breaking hearts along the way.

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