Troll toll: the dark side of the internet


So I’ve been on vacation (on and off) for the last two weeks and hadn’t been paying too much attention to the internet—a wonderful activity that I highly recommend every six months or so. On the way home from a wedding I was surprised to learn that the man I call “John V.” seems to have become the focus of concentrated internet outrage for a day or so—and I couldn’t be more thrilled.John V., a message board poster who uses rotating IPs to avoid filters, has been haunting the comment boards of female writers for over two years. A few months ago, for whatever reason, he seems to have started using Twitter as a base for his insults and rape-obsessed ragings. As you can see from the above, about a month ago he made a series of posts aimed at me, Tom Spurgeon, DCWKA’s Sue, Jill Pantozzi and a few others that shocked quite a few people. Although John V. is clearly a misogynist with a deep hatred of women, he also seemed to have a mad on for men of comics like Spurgeon.

At this time we all just ignored him. It was nothing new. I know he’s been hounding Sue for a long time. His Twitter bio read “I eat loudmouthed feminist morons for breakfast. Afterwards I’m full because they are really, really fat.” It was also nothing new for The Beat. I have many of his deleted comments saved up. Here’s a sample:

stringofpearlsforheidi
heidisuckedme@aol.com
Heh, linking to dcwomenkickingass. One dumb bitch linking to a dumber bitch. Classic Heidi.


And more recently:

heidisucksmyballs@aol.com
Hey Heidi, guess who’s going to wondercon? Can’t wait to see you there, sugar britches. This is going to be really fun.
John V


While these sexual threats and “I’ll be back!” warnings are the products of what is clearly a disturbed mind, John V’s most annoying trick was posing as someone else—often a woman—and completely derailing otherwise at least semi-intelligent discussions, such as his posing as “Jason in the UK” and arguing that Faith Erin Hicks was a welfare slacker despite the plain statement that she had worked at an animation studio. My troll radar wasn’t up and Hicks herself defended herself against this creep, a situation I deeply regret and which I’ve apologized for. Here was his excited “unveiling:”

Well folks, now that things have died down, just wanted to say how much I enjoyed derailing this thread and causing the internet shit storm that I did. My troll powers are as unparalleled as the idiocy and irrelevancy of female comic bloggers. I had only intended on messing with my favorite victim Heidi. What a bonus it was then to get Faith Hicks all butt hurt!


Since then I’ve been very suspicious of new posters engaging in long arguments in the many gender comment threads here…if I’ve gone too far the other way, too bad. One rotten apple and all that….

Frankly, I never bought this up before because John V. was looking for attention and hoping to frighten people and I didn’t want to give him any more attention. But now the cat seems to be out of the bag. Over the last few days he made the mistake of targeting Ron Marz, who got people more up in arms about it; and then Mark Millar saw it and was shocked:

As male pros we maybe live in a little bubble. This might go on more than we realise. But we need to clamp down on this shit fast… ethically, if not because many of these pros are personal friends of ours. Comics has the coolest rep with people now. It's a broad church and much less of a boys club in particular than it was when I was a kid. This kind of thing just gives us a horrible name and we owe it to ourselves as well as the pros concerned to stop it.


According to Millar’s sources, John V. is a 51-year-old married man living in California. And the law has been engaged:

Thank you very much, but I engaged a criminal lawyer in LA yesterday and have one of the women involved co-ordinating with the others today, hopefully. I don’t want to say much more in a public forum just now as it may prejudice the case and between the details we’ve got and the tweets we saved the police have everything they need. Even if this doesn’t go to court the guy should hopefully be publicly outed in California and the shame of this will not only stop him attacking women online, but also discourage others from trying this in future. I found out last night that this idiot had been making sexual threats to some of the women concerned for over two years now.


While no one has contacted me directly, it does seem that John V’s Twitter accounts—he had several—have been shut down. If this guy is as crazy as he seems—and his mentions of rape and escalation of contact over the last few months suggest that there is some real escalating mental illness involved—I doubt that the threat of legal action will be enough to stop his behavior. But we’ll see.

And of course there has been a ton of internet commentary on this. And a private message from a woman industry professional I respect greatly who says she actually altered her public behavior over fears about John V. I can’t express the rage and sorrow this makes me feel. I never thought John V. was anything but a pest, but I can see how others have taken him more seriously. Maybe I didn’t take him seriously enough.

There’s also been some discussion of whether it took a man to actually rouse people against the troll. I’m really, truly grateful to Ron and Mark for raising awareness of this. One of the reasons I know several women never brought this up is because they felt they would be questioned for making accusations—and indeed some of the “free speech” advocates in various comment threads has diverted attention from the fact that some malicious idiot was making threats and crude sexual comments about women.

That said, this is far from my first time at the internet pigsty dance. I was once a member of a message board where male members proudly discussed that they loved to make “jokingly” misogynist statements. When I complained (or argued) I was told I didn’t get the joke and was being childish. Guess which message board I don’t go to any more?

Back on the Comicon.com and original TCJ.com boards—petri dishes of internet fungus in a variety of colors—a coterie of deeply embedded trolls got on my case a number of times—photoshopping a picture of me into a sexual act, calling me names, blah blah blah. At the time, these things bothered me, of course, but it bothered me more when some of the perpetrators were eventually allowed back into the fold—I’ll tell you this right now, my tolerance for internet trolling is Zero and my forgiveness is non-existent. Electronic emotion is cheap, and if you go out of your way to insult me on the internet, I have no reason to forgive that member ID ever.

201209041150 Troll toll: the dark side of the internet

Nowadays, I have more of a seen-it-all attitude towards the internet and message boards. I get annoyed and angered but not upset. However, I know a lot of people aren’t as thick-skinned as I am. And while we all take our lumps on a public forum, I’d suggest that those who were so outraged by the crude rape threats of John V. look a little deeper into some of the other messages floating around. For instance, Rachel Edidin examines the Idiot Nerd Girl meme which started as another expression of “get your cooties out of my hobby” insecurity:

I hate the Idiot Nerd Girl meme. I hate it for much the same reason Feminspire writer Jessica Bagnall hates it: the entrenched geek misogyny that informs its pretty pink face. I hate it because it’s a convenient distillation of everything I hate about the “fake geek girl” strawman. I hate it because it vilifies enthusiasm. I hate it because, as a member of the geek community and a geek-industry professional, and especially as a feminist geek, I nurture a deep and abiding dislike for gatekeepers.

I hate the Idiot Nerd Girl meme because it’s not just a meme in the diluted ‘net-slang sense. It reflects and recycles and reinforces a bundle of more traditionally defined memes: the sticky and tenacious subtexts and cultural dogmas that justify and normalize misogyny and harassment and make the geek community so seethingly toxic to female members–and especially female newcomers–that it doesn’t even need a formal gate to keep them out. Idiot Nerd Girl is the throwaway byproduct of a culture that regularly responds to criticism from women with flurries of rape threats.


One thing is true: I am definitely seeing a lot more male insecurity in the trolls and threats, as do some of the women I’ve privately corresponded with over this. I’m sorry that some of you feel powerless when women invade your pastimes. But just as uniting the power of the crystals makes the most powerful crystal or it takes a lot of vehicles to make a Unicron …the more people who take part, the more powerful the hobby. Guys, we’re not STEALING power. We’re making it.

In conclusion, I don’t know the actual status of any legal action against John V., but anyone who wants copies of my correspondence can email me at comicsbeat at gmail dot com.

And thanks again to Ron Marz and Mark Millar for raising attention on this matter. It’s nice to have someone in your corner.

Comments

  1. Cheers! Good piece about an annoying uncomfortable subject. Glad to hear someone has gone the extra mile to end this jerk.

  2. john layman says:

    As somebody who has no faith the cops will actually do anything, I’d love for the identity of this person to be public.

  3. “I’m sorry that some of you feel powerless when women invade your pastimes.”

    I really can’t understand the logic of men who think/feel like that. I’m a 30-year-old male and am exceptionally lucky to be in a relationship with a woman who, whilst she doesn’t always ‘get’ my nerdiness, is trying to learn and appreciate stuff and that’s AWESOME because we can share things together. That’s how it’s meant to be.

    I just wish the world wasn’t as full of angry, hate-filled, douche-nozzles as it is.

    As far as I’m concerned, the more people in ‘nerd’ fandom, the better, regardless of gender. Bring it on! :)

  4. Great writing on a very personal piece. I have a 3-year-old daughter I am trying to get hooked on comics. It seems to be working-she loves Mark Evanier’s Garfield comics and the Kidzotic (sic) Strawberry Shortcake books. But when I hear about guys like this piece of filth, it makes me feel like my leading her into comic fandom version of a wolves den, where she will face threats and intimidation from misogynistic yahoos like this guy.

    I hope that the comic news community will follow upon this story and report any and all legal action that takes place, if only to show that this action will not be tolerated and is not right.

  5. “I never though John V. was anything but a pest, but I can see how others have taken him more seriously. Maybe I didn’t take him seriously enough.”

    I was in the same boat, Heidi. Somehow I avoided rape threats– maybe merely pointing out that female creators exist and work regularly in the industry didn’t get the trolling juices flowing in the way more in-depth gender critiques do, (though he said plenty of vile things about blessedly fictional women on my blog). I knew vaguely that he’d been trolling Sue, Kelly, and Jill, but we never compared notes in detail. I regret that now. I don’t know what else I would have done differently, but maybe we could have all done something earlier.

  6. My wife’s new favorite joke is sin b / tan b = cos b.

    sad to see the boy nerds have become, in spirit, the jocks who used to torment them

  7. Welp, for all those saying that there was no actual threat involved, yep, there’s a quote up there suggesting he intended to stalk Heidi in real life. Never mind, you know, all the other harassment and intimidation.

  8. Excellent piece, Heidi!

    This piece of work targeted me through the Image Comics Twitter account. He wasn’t nearly as vile to me as he had been to others, but you’ll be glad to know you’re not alone in being addressed as “sugar britches.”

    It’s hard to talk about this stuff publicly because it inevitably leads to derailed discussions, more sexist comments, and possibly gives trolls new targets, but it needs to be done. Women have been told to keep quiet about being mistreated for too long. “He just does that because he likes you,” “Just ignore it,” “Don’t let them see that you’re upset.”

    Screw THAT. Of course women are upset about being harassed and threatened! We can say good and loud that we won’t put up with it, and we will.

  9. Kevin says:

    Great piece! The whole troll subculture really confuses me…and is a bit frightening. There was an interesting article discussing the whole troll phenomenon that Roger Ebert posted to his facebook a few days ago, strange coincidence.

  10. Wow. Keep making power, y’all. It’s great. Maybe future 13 year-old Brady’s won’t get so kicked about for liking stories about dudes that can fly if there are some ladies around who like it too.

    I realize that I have been guilty of the “she’s not really a nerd” thing some. I wouldn’t say I have put real energy into (haven’t made any GIFs, for example), but I have been guilty about it.

    As a dude who has always wished more ladies liked the crazy junk I like, this hope has helped me see that I don’t need to question anyone’s motivations for getting on Team Comix. A bigger Team Comix is a bitter Team Comix.

    Yep. I’m all for it. Bring ye the nerds, ladies and dudes. I have a red carpet for you.

    OK, no I don’t – really. Just metaphorically, but you know what I mean.

  11. Synsidar says:

    BTW, there is a body of research on Internet trolling, and one deterrent to nastiness is eye contact with the target:

    Contrary to widely-held belief, the researchers actually found that lack of eye-contact had the biggest impact, trumping anonymity and invisibility by a long shot.

    In fact, the students who had no eye-contact with one another were twice as likely to be mean and hostile to their hidden partners than their eye-contact peers, even when the latter could only see their partner’s eyes on screen and nothing else. [. . .]

    As with many studies, it’s tricky to pin down the exact reasons behind the results.

    But given that a great proportion of our communication is non-verbal [8], and that we rely heavily on facial recognition to connect with and understand one another, it may be that losing eye-contact online actually cuts out our main avenue for empathetic communication – without which we become emotionally disconnected and more predisposed towards hostile behaviour.

    I’d agree that if you’re emotional about a certain subject, and especially if you have trouble managing anger, it’s much easier to express that anger in ways you wouldn’t think of using otherwise when you’re just typing words on a computer screen. The responses are just abstractions that can be blotted out or ignored.

    SRS

  12. I vote for outing the guy as well, if he’s going to make these threats then people needs to know what he looks like. Especially when he stated that he attends conventions, we need to KONY this low life.

  13. Tim Tompkins says:

    The Usenet, which would eventually have to become a ghost town anyway simply because of technological advancement, died off even faster because of people like this guy.

    For several years I belonged to a discussion group that was pretty good at fending off this type of vermin, but in the long run it becomes exhausting. By then, fortunately, the most interesting and most intelligent people in my group had moved on to the better opportunities that the internet has for showcasing talents and opinions.

  14. I agree with outing the troll.

    Backstory: when growing up in Michigan, I had 5 younger sisters. We all loved to play baseball and when a few of my sisters tried to join up with the school’s baseball team they were denied because of their gender. This was back in the 70’s. So my sisters, myself and a bunch of other ‘outcasts’ set up our own league. The team my sisters were on was called the Valkryies (sp) and I was proudly the 2nd base member. We won all but one of our games and at the end drew so much attention that the school, next summer, opened up membership to all kids.

    I mention this because this is proof that the more people that are involved, the more there is to go around. Power, recognition, etc is not a limited resource, it’s based on how many share it.

    “John V.” and trolls of his ilk, deserve their day in the bright sunlight of recognition, an example of “don’t be like this” to as many people as possible.

    I thank the cosmos for people like Hicks, Doran, Amanda Palmer, Simone and many many other women for their unique and valuable voice. Comics would be poorer without them.

    And may douche canoes like JV, ride down and out of our collective consciousness forever.

  15. Gail Simone says:

    The guy has been hassling me for a couple years now. My thanks to Mark and Ron for putting their feet down.

  16. I agree that he should be named and shamed, but I also think we should be cautious. As Millar noted, he’s used other people’s names in the past, and we definitely don’t want to blame the wrong guy.

    Remember the day of the shooting in Colorado, when some nimrod on CNN speculated that the shooter was a local Tea Party member? He wasn’t; he was just a guy with the same name.

    Or a few months back, when Spike Lee tweeted what he thought was George Zimmerman’s home phone number? Same thing — case of mistaken identity, and an absolutely awful experience for the innocent people who were harmed.

    Millar said not to jump the gun and to wait for the professionals to take care of this. I’m inclined to agree. We’ll know who this guy is sooner or later, and he’ll be ostracized and shunned, as he deserves.

  17. So this was the same idiot who was targeting the members of the 3 Chicks podcast? I hope there isn’t more than one of these guys stalking people in the industry.

    I hope this guy gets what he deserves, because there’s nothing more hateable than someone who gets tough and threatens people over the internet.

    As a lover of not only comics but video games as well, the neanderthal nerd is at once perplexing, enraging, and embarrassing.

  18. Tom Luth says:

    My general response to trolls is to ignore them, and block them if possible. But, when they begin to make threats, I have no problem just handing the entire thing over to the FBI. Anyone who puts that much energy into stalking and harassing has gone way beyond just a joke in bad taste. Rape is not funny, and threats of such are to be taken seriously. Block, and like the authorities deal with these losers.

  19. george says:

    I think we’ve all had the experience of sites we enjoyed that were ruined by people coming on just to pick fights and cause trouble. I used to talk back to these idiots; now I try to ignore them, because I think they enjoy the attention that comes with being obnoxious and abrasive.

    I’ve found that women can get just as vicious as men when they go online. But most of the “trolls” do seem to be men (or claim to be men).

    I’ve heard there are online comics devoted to “rape porn,” as one fan of this genre described it. I’ve never seen this stuff — but then, I’ve never gone looking for it. There apparently is an appetite for truly sick stuff online.

  20. I for one am all for people making jokes that are uncomfortable, but there is a limit. I think we are a culture of fear and we need to laugh at something to not be scared of it. Sometimes this is good, Dave Chapelle turned racism into a joke and it helped, but other times people like this John V. ruin progression. As a site owner who employs men and women, gay and straight, I am offended. Trolls are the worst kind of bully, one that has no responsibility. Great article, and keep up the good work.

  21. I bet you odds that this guy is in cahoots with a ‘shall remain nameless at the moment’ inker/editor who I use to work with on my first handful of books.

    If it hadn’t been for a respected female professional writer and artist (who I’m also not going to name)for finally taking a stand for stalking her on facebook and turns around and outed him to the entire comic book community because of his trolling and unprofessional behavior towards other female colleagues- this guy would still be neck deep in misogynistic taunts and unwanted advances – not to mentioned he ALSO ripped her off of merchandise at her table in San Diego with a phony credit card- A transaction that I had inavertently was a witness to,not suspecting what he was really up to (he introduced herself to me as an old friend of his – and she’s looking back at him with a bewildered look on her face).

    After that outing took place, I had informed her in a series of e-mails that one of the main reasons that I had severed all ties working with this clown was because of his constant sexist remarks he made towards female comic book professionals that he would like to – hmmm, how to phrase this delicately…. bang? -let alone the things he would pull off in public, like lame pick up lines and playing grabass in a crowded San Diego Comic Conaisle (and then running off like a little child)further convinced me that this wasn’t a working professional relationship that I needed to be involved. (what cemented the final straw in our relationship was a box of his comics that I was supposed to sell at a table for him came delivered to me C.O.D.). I would also get into arguments over the phone with him because he strayed mostly from the subject of our work on projects together to rants of why ‘comic book professionals should only date fellow comic book professionals and everyone else are merely outsiders to us – like if he talking about creating a super race.

    I knew the writing on the wall was there to begin with when he started to make unwanted advances to this female artist who painted our first cover. He literally threw a shit fit when this girl had showed up to our booth at one of the early APE shows in San Jose with a ‘boyfriend’ in tow to promote the book that she had worked on. He literally interrupted her in the middle of signing books and escorted her outside for a conversation and she came back and she left in a huff- so I don’t really know what was said between them, but I’m rest assured that it wasn’t in the ‘professional’ realm.

    What this female pro accomplished what I couldn’t – was to get this schmuck blackballed from the industry. I no longer hear much of his name mentioned anywhere in the comic book industry let alone anywhere in the social media these days. It’s as if he dropped off the face of the earth (but then, pretty much so have I)- although my artist collaborator still keeps in contact with him.

    ~

    Coat

  22. george says:

    Heidi M. said: “Rachel Edidin examines the Idiot Nerd Girl meme which started as another expression of “get your cooties out of my hobby” insecurity:’

    Considering the awful rep that comics fans had for so long — as a bunch of pathetic virgins and losers — you’d think they’d welcome members of the other gender into this hobby.

    This “John Vee” does fit the profile of most of the women-bashing guys I’ve met in fandom, though: middle-aged and married. I wonder if he has a job. Most of the trolls I’ve encountered are unemployed, which means they have lots of time on their hands — time they use for posting offensive comments.

  23. Re: the reference to message boards with entrenched trolls–

    I’ve no experience (happily) with the old TCJ board. As for the Comicon.com board, Heidi’s experience may have been worse because she was a female. However, in my experience on that board, males didn’t treat males with any respect, either, being governed by a sort of ersatz gunfighter notion. I think it went something like, “If you act like a big dick, people will think that you have one.”

    Point being that I too left when it became clear that the trolls had taken over.

  24. ugh

  25. I’m horrified by the graphic of the “Idiot Nerd Girl” meme.

    Some nice kid takes a photograph of herself with the word “Nerd” and posts it online. Then a pack of @$$#oles hijack the image and make calling this specific girl an idiot into a hobby to prove their geek cred.

    Which to me does the exact opposite. If you love your hobby, act as a mentor, not a gatekeeper. If the hobby gets larger, the creators can create even more material that you like. I’ll give the example of Star Wars fan material. There’s something for everyone, and geek parents love to introduce their kids to the Star Wars world.

    An artform only loved by rabid aficionados is dying. Jazz fans who crap over attempts to spread the word are killing the art, and closing off hope of making more elite jazz.

    That poor kid. That really makes me furious.

  26. Christian says:

    Ugh. As someone who finds Sue and her ilk to be histrionic, obnoxious, generally unencumbered by reality and prone to severe lapses of logical thinking – this just makes everything worse. It’s fun to point out the eccentricities of this vocal group of perpetually unhappy internet denizens, and speculating on their various disorders and emotional dysplasia is a great pasttime (half the fun of the internet lies in the anthropological study of those around us) – but that’s where it stops. You can’t physically threaten anyone. To quote the great Billy Crystal, “It’s not fun, it’s not funny.”

    I’m not expert on the law but we as fans need to make a stand here and say that we will not stand for this type of behavior. I enjoy teasing and snarkiness as much as the next guy (and have the ban records to prove it – heh) but this is just abhorrent.

    To me though, the levels of Catfish-like subterfuge is what is truly astounding. Though, to be honest, I’m sure that there are cases of multiple account personalities on both sides of this issue – this guy clearly went WAY too far and ventured into the uncomfortable and obscene. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if one day it came to light that the battles between our community’s most vociferous members actually boil down to the personal beefs between 2 or 3 people with too much spare time on their hands. But that’s just my personal theory.

  27. kraftman says:

    Cary, it’s pretty obvious you’re talking about Colleen Doran. That was all in an episode of Stalked: Someone’s Watching which aired about a year ago, so it’s public. Ms Doran wrote about it on her blog.

  28. Holy crap this is upsetting. And to think its been going on for years? What the F is wrong with people?

    I’d love to see this shithead outed.

  29. faustino perez says:

    One of the best parts of fandom is discovering something that’s awesome, something that speaks to you and becoming obsessed with it. It USED TO BE, back when dinosaurs ruled the earth, the only way to do this was to trawl through back-issue bins, used bookstores and actually interacting with other fans who knew more about it than you do. (Why is there no Jim Corrigan on Earth One? That’s always bugged me. I digress.) You had to do the legwork, both physically and intellectually and that was all fine because it was something you enjoyed and each new old issue or old paperback was another piece of the puzzle and deepened your understanding of your particular obsession (me – 14 years old? Conan novels. The REH originals. I HAD to have them.) and hopefully, such a search would turn up NEW obsessions (invariably it would) and make new connections with other fans. And once you’d mastered a particular obsession, it was almost your duty to help teach others fans and give them the benefit of your hard-won nerd knowledge.

    And now we have this.

    Anyone anywhere can type Jim Corrigan into a search engine or Robert E. Howard and be an instant expert in ten minutes. Anyone who HASN’T done this and asks “what’s the deal with Jim Corrigan” immediately is shat upon for the crime of NOT KNOWING ANYTHING (not being sufficiently obsessed). Where’s the nerd camraderie? Shouldn’t you want to share your knowledge with someone, rather than barking at or insulting them?

    Women in comics? Um. It was women who saved Star Trek from oblivion – without women, it’d be a blip on the radar screen that disappeared in 1968, not the enduring cultural phenomena/money making machine it is today. Hell, women WROTE some of the best episodes.

    Threatening rape and stalking are crimes, to be dealt with by the proper authorities.

    Women working in comics – I’m always slightly irked when there’s a sense of entitlement, that “there should be more women working in comics.” Maybe there should be. (Maybe there should be more women politicians. I seriously doubt they’d be any less corrupt than male politicians but I bristle at the suggestion that there should be some kind of quota.) Comics are a creative field and a marketplace. If your work is good enough, a place shall be found for it. But I don’t think a female creator should automatically be guaranteed work because of her gender. I didn’t like the bean-counting that went on with the nu52 (for the record, I despise the nu52 so I recuse myself) that there SHOULD be a woman writing whatever, there SHOULD be a female artist on whatever title. In a creative environment, it’s the ideas that survive and it should be the ideas that are taken seriously, not someone’s bathing suit area. (I also realize that women have not received a fair shake in this industry and that things are changing, perhaps not quickly enough but changing they are.)

    And yes, it’s the lingering boy’s club mentality that has to change. But quotas are not the answer.

  30. Al™ says:

    Good that this issue and individual is being made public. We have all seen cases where, later, someone would sadly say “we should have taken his threats seriously”.

  31. I really really hope this leads to more people reporting/flagging comments. I have seen too many incredible people completely leave communities- in fact one moderator who had a guy push the buttons just within the rules of the site… she ignored it for months but it was literally after every post. It was heartbreaking. I’ve left communities when moderator’s did nothing about bullies and personal attacks. It only takes a few people to flag a comment. If you care enough to read through the comments, you care about the community.

    So glad this is happening. It feels like a victory for everyone bullied by this person and really everyone who’s been cyber-bullied. I hate that it had to reach a fever pitch first but hopefully it will give attention to the issue.

    Just remember what Eleanor Roosevelt said,
    “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”

  32. Thinking about this ever since I read it — I give Millar a lot of credit for taking it to the authorities. Us putting his name out there doesn’t necessarily help this creep’s next target, and perhaps the law can connect other dots that we cannot see. Not always, but maybe. And even a maybe would be worth it.

  33. Christian says:

    The problem with reporting/flagging comments is that it quickly becomes this collective group think where anyone who disagrees gets downvoted and cast out (see: Comics Alliance and their inane hugbox of a comments section).

    I’m not talking about personal threats or any of the vile stuff this character did, but it *is* the internet and you’re not always going to agree with what someone says nor the way they say it. It’s the price you pay for being exposed to such a wide variety of ideas. They can’t all be winners.

    Cyber-bullying is such a meaningless catch-phrase and most attempts to stop it are laughable (see: Parry Aftab and her internet police). But, as you said, Sabin, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent” – so if someone is starting to get under your skin, close the browser and walk away. Stick to smaller communities. If nothing else, log off.

    As I’ve said before, there needs to be a more efficient way of reporting and policing threatening behavior and communications, but I don’t think we’ve arrived at a solution yet that solves this problem without completely stifling conversation.

  34. @matt_danger says:

    How horrible. I’m sorry you, and shockingly, so many others endure this. Your strength is admirable.

    After the weekend spectacle of DragonCon, where all of geekdom seems to unite under a single flag, and Atlanta opens its arms to accept all sorts of “nerd,” I’m saddened that there are people who prey on someone’s honest and open personality as “John Vee” has. When you work against his kind of hate, you help make this world a better and more colorful place.
    Thanks.

  35. george says:

    Lately, I’ve become disenchanted with some comic sites dominated by baby-boomer men, even though I’m in that demographic. As they get older and crankier, some of them want these sites to be boys’ clubhouses — places where they can escape their wives. They tend to disparage any comics perceived as by or for “girls.”

    The scarcity of female posters doesn’t bother these guys at all. This is exactly how they want it.

    These middle-aged men aren’t vicious bastards like “John Vee.” They don’t post rape fantasies or send profanity-laden emails to women in comics. They just want to chat about their beloved Silver Age comics without any annoying women ruining the boys-club atmosphere. It’s an attitude I don’t understand.

  36. Alan Sinder says:

    Get the police and FBI involved, if the troll’s threats cross state lines — he is in deeper trouble.

    I’ve been a class clown on web boards but i’ve nothing but admiration for the pioneer girl professionals and fans. I’m glad someone understood that this bully was getting worse; Please keep us updated as to how he is being quarantined from bothering and threatening folks.

    Thanks for sharing. No one, friend or not, deserves abuse.

  37. Kraftman,

    You’re freakin’ kidding me. Colleen’s story made it onto a tv show?? Jeez, I kinda wish the producers would’ve contacted me about that- I still have possession of many of his obnoxious e-mails, but then again, I may have already forwarded them to Colleen.

    I don’t even waste breath on his name anymore. If I even bring up his name on my own personal blog, it won’t be long until I start getting these silly love notes from some ‘hot shot’ attorney (who represents Paul McCarney btw) threatening me with a slander suit.

    My old time fav correspondence was received from someone who represents him claims he was trying to serve me with a subpoena to hash out our differences on the Judge Judy show.

    Real comedy gold there. There’s a reason why my mailing address is a PO Box.

    Good for Colleen. I certainly hope they also interviewed Ann Nocenti for that segment. “She supposedly based Longshot on me” was what he used to boast to me to ad nauseum and beyond.

    Gawd, what a maroon.I’m so relieved not to be associated with him anymore.

    ~

    Coat

  38. @Christian: I’ll agree that ComicsAlliance’s comments section is inane, but I think it’s from not enough moderation, not too much.

  39. The Beat says:

    >>> The problem with reporting/flagging comments is that it quickly becomes this collective group think where anyone who disagrees gets downvoted and cast out (see: Comics Alliance and their inane hugbox of a comments section).

    Groupthink — you mean society? Christian, you’re kind of an ass. I am really really super impressed by your admission that even though you don’t agree with Sue you think harassing was totally uncool, man. Yes, crimes against people we don’t like are still crimes.

    I’ve gone through all my old, unapproved comments and sent those from John V to Mark Millar. In the process I also noted a lot of other trolls over the years, and many deleted comments, including many from you, Christian. The folks like you who are always pleading for more freedom of expression are always the ones to take the most advantage of it.

    And yes, that is the price of freedom.

    Around here at Stately Beat Manor there is only one law, and that’s ME. Don’t be a jerk.

  40. “John V” is probably a morbidly obese, ugly and smelly little man with a complex about the size of his tiny penis who’s deeply, deeply jealous of people who, you know, actually CREATE things as opposed to tearing them down…I hope he feels the full sanction of the law and stops this disgusting behaviour.
    Or gets a life, whichever comes first.

  41. Christian says:

    So I disagreed with you and dared speak out against Sue and I get called an ass?

    This is what I’m talking about.

  42. The aside about the Internet Nerd Girl meme being misogynistic and anti-enthusiasm misses the point and I suppose, is an indicator that these people have never met someone who fell under that stereotype.

    It’s not vilifying enthusiasm, it’s vilifying unauthentic enthusiasm. We live in a world where trends are all the rage, and a world where there is an entire class of people who simply find a trend that is popular and comfortable enough for them to attach themselves to. Some people hide in these cultures before they become a trend, such as various genres of music, nerd culture, or gaming culture.

    When it is invaded by people who have no love for that culture, they just see something that is popular enough to adapt to, it puts some people on the defensive. I saw it as a kid with skateboarding where the same kids who made fun of me in Junior High for being a skater with the “YEAH DUDE! RADICAL!” mocks and insults, became hardcore skaters in High School due to the X-Games boom, and even worse after the Jackass boom.

    I saw it with gaming as gaming became an acceptable thing socially in America, and I see it every day when jocks dye their hair black and get tattoos masquerading as hardcore punks and rockers while speeding on the roads in their custom pickup trucks blaring the latest uninspired bro-rock albums on their souped up soundsystems.

    It’s that unauthentic invasion of things you love that cause you to ridicule those people, in my opinion, justly. The same way they ridiculed you from the outside looking in on your culture, now that they have decided to pretend to be apart of it, they’ve earned the equal ballbreaking.

    Assuming that Internet Nerd Girl can only exist as a woman is like saying the Scumbag Steve meme is anti-man or feminist. It’s an ignorant concept and it totally misses the point.

    With memes, sometimes a picture is just the inspiration of something, but it’s not meant to be taken so goddamned literal. As much as the writer wants to cover his bases by mentioning being accused of missing the point, the writer here, and Rachel Edidin HAVE missed the point. Internet Nerd Girl is as misogynistic as Ancient Aliens guy is misandry. Fake enthusiasm / poserism is no more exclusive to woman than goof ball conspiracy theories are to men. It’s simply the picture that fits the meme.

    To simply write off memes as being inherently misogynistic and stating that they come from a community of rape culture is foolish and uninformed. A trip onto any popular meme tumblr will show you an equal amount of female creators. Look at any of the ‘rage comics’ memes. A number of the comics I have seen have been female oriented, from social awkwardness to a pet ransacking a girl’s laundry hamper.

    Instead of writing an article passing this extremely closeminded concept, you should do a bit of research and stop using Rachel Edidin’s opinions as if they are fact.

  43. So, Christian, you throw every negative adjective you can at Sue, you get your voice heard on a website you don’t own (instead of having the comment deleted), and once there’s an actual response to it, you’re feeling slighted?

    BTW, you were called “kind of an ass” not a whole ass, and your opinion of Sue was not part of that statement.

  44. @Bobby Weenus

    Go lie down. Seriously.

  45. I also don’t get the hate for geek girls. I want one as a girlfriend and would totally welcome an invasion of my favorite pastime by someone interested in sharing it. :)

    “…or it takes a lot of vehicles to make a Unicron…”

    Please tell me that this was self-deprecating humor. ^_^;

  46. Why Alexa? For calling someone out on being absolutely wrong? Am I a misogynist as well for pointing out the fact that memes aren’t gender specific?

  47. One wonders why Internet Nerd Girl needs that final word if it’s not meant as a reference to women.

    All those examples we’ve seen of people using it to complain about “inauthentic” nerd enthusiasm among men are terribly instructive, too.

  48. @Christian: “So I disagreed with you and dared speak out against Sue and I get called an ass?”

    Ah, the old “you’re just calling me names because I dared to disagree with your groupthink” gambit. Never heard that one before.

    Sometimes, when people say you’re being kind of an ass, it’s not because you disagree with them, it’s because you’re being kind of an ass.

    @Weenus: “Assuming that Internet Nerd Girl can only exist as a woman is like saying the Scumbag Steve meme is anti-man or feminist. It’s an ignorant concept and it totally misses the point.”

    Except for the part where the accusation of poser-ism is leveled more frequently at women than men.

    The meme’s not just an image macro; it’s Joe Peacock at CNN, it’s Anita Sarkeesian’s Kickstarter, it’s Aris Bakhtanians declaring that sexism and the fighting game community are “one and the same thing” — and, not to put too fine a point on it, it’s John V going after Heidi and Laura and Sue and and and…

    And frankly I think “You’re not a REAL [nerd/gamer/fan/whatever]” elitism is pretty damned obnoxious no matter who it’s leveled against. But if you’re seeing it leveled against both sexes equally, then you’re reading an entirely different Internet than I am.

  49. Michael P says:

    Wow, even condescending, borderline-misogynist jerkwads like Christian hate this guy.

  50. Kurt, is the Good Guy Greg meme gender specific? Does every joke made in that meme only apply to men? It’s just the poster image, the message is asexual.

    The rage comics meme stems from “Rage Guy”, but plenty of women have taken the meme, photoshopped a hilarious cut & paste haircut onto it, and applied it to their own situations or jokes.

    If we’re talking about a meme like “Shit girl’s say”, then yes, I agree, those are misogynistic and dismissive, but the majority of the memes with ‘guy’ or ‘girl’ in the name are simply riffing off of the image used on the meme. It all stems from the original advice memes (identifiable by the multi-colored square background). They often begin with a picture of something but the jokes are not specific to that person in the image.

  51. Sorry for the 2nd post, didn’t see Thad’s portion related to this issue at first.

    Thad, I would disagree that poserism is mostly leveled towards females. Perhaps it is in the comics industry or nerd industry, and I apologize that I don’t have as much personal experience seeing those examples. My background comes from skateboarding as a scamp, and the music scene.

    I completely agree that it’s often centered around elitism, the insiders club of sorts. However, my personal experience of it stems from people literally ridiculing you for being a part of some community or stereotype, only to assimilate themselves into that community after mainstream media introduced it as cool and fashionable. My friends and I would full on get jumped while out skateboarding just for being skaters by the same kids who picked up boards and would brag in the halls about how good they were a year later. Those were the people I saw as posers, looking for anything they could do to fit in rather than being themselves, even if it meant becoming apart of something that they literally bullied unapologetic-ally mere months prior. Considering this post deals with bullying, I’d expect people to be a bit more sympathetic to that case.

    I understand, people change their mind, sometimes, their tastes change and things might make more sense to them, and that’s fine. The thing that makes someone a poser is when they only accept something because of it’s fashion-ability, much like nerd-dom had become a bit fashionable in the past decade. Comic-Con’s are just a stop on the press tour these days, by the same people who would have scoffed in disgust at the concept of going to a Comic-Con a few years ago.

    I’m all for bringing new people to the things I like. I regularly advertise the things I love, nerd culture, music, film, on all of the social networks I frequent to spread the word and raise awareness, but sometimes people become involved for all of the wrong reasons and those people often do more bad than good to the things you love, or they wildly misrepresent it. Obviously, you cannot police that kind of thing, or even prevent it, but I don’t really see an issue with being vocal about the issue.

  52. TO all: Nerd girls have their nerd girl cred questioned JUST BECAUSE THEY ARE GIRLS. Like you can’t be cute AND know what a Timelord is or something. I mean…give me a break.

    I think only Chris Hardwick gets this on the male side.

    It’s all bullshit.

  53. >> Kurt, is the Good Guy Greg meme gender specific?>>

    I don’t know that meme. But whether it’s gender specific or not has no effect on whether other memes are gender specific.

    What you’re arguing, basically, is that “Internet Nerd Girl” really means “Inauthentic Internet Nerd.” Aside from this being wildly contrary to how it’s used, what that does is equate “Girl” with “Inauthentic.”

    If you want a meme to call out fake nerds (and really, do you?) then why not Fake Nerd? Did “girl” get attached to it by accident, do you think? Was “woman driver” non-gender specific, and really about low-skilled drivers of either sex?

    If you’re all for bringing new people to the things you like, why would your response to people not liking an apparently-exclusionary meme be to tell them that they’re completely wrong and should see it the way you imagine, not the way they see it? How welcoming do you think that is?

  54. Christian says:

    Honest question: do all girls really endure the ‘nerd test’? Are people really that worried about you being a Johnny (or Jane) Come Lately to the geek lifestyle?

    I’ve never understood that point of view. And I am a “borderline-misogynist jerkwad” afterall. So that’s saying something.

  55. @Bobby Weenus,

    I told you to lie down because separating the “authentic” from the “poser” in fandom is a fool’s errand (who defines “authenticity”? can I see the rubric?) and you seem to be well worked up over it. I was thinking that if you lay down for a little while, you’d realize that.

  56. @Christian, I used to work at a comic book store. I was the only female employee, and the first for almost a decade. The look of skepticism and/or terror that came over some guys’ faces when I was sent to help them find something, or *gasp* recommend a title or two to them will be forever imprinted in my memory.

  57. Kurt: I think simplifying girl down to inauthentic is still missing both the point of the joke and the point that I’m (obviously unsuccessfully) trying to make.

    It’s Nerd Girl because that’s what the picture is. That picture just happened to fit the initial joke that was made.

    http://i0.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/original/000/129/082/2xym.jpg?1306969758

    This is the Good Guy Greg meme. That meme is not spread because the Internet is a fan of the guy in the picture, it’s not spread because anyone believes guys are inherently nice guys, it just happens to be the picture that was first used for the joke, and now that’s the base image of the meme.

    The point I’ve been trying to make is that the vast majority of internet memes are not meant to be taken as literally as people obviously are, judging by this discussion. To look at Internet Nerd Girl and think it’s an attack on all nerd girls is a huge misstep. Memes in themselves are silly and to be taken lightly, they’re not supposed to exist as some social commentary. A lot of the memes are downright silly. There’s one called Courage Wolf that just happens to be an angry looking dog or wolf, and the meme’s jokes are centered around defeating any obstacle and eating it’s heart.

    Touching on your other assortment of points, woman driver is obviously more specific, it also pre-dates common internet memes by decades. It’s an ugly stereo-type, but relating any joke or stereotype to a meme is getting way off base and only serves to prove your own point through brute force rather than have a discussion.

    The reason I said that they are wrong is because this piece here portrays the meme as something much more literal than it is. While I believe that humor is all subjective, and anyone can have whatever opinion then way, one can simply be missing the point about something. I see it on the same level as taking a Weird Al Yankovic lyric as literal as an artist his song may be a parody of.

    I could be entirely wrong, and if that is the case, I do sincerely apologize because marginalizing the offense of someone is always terrible, but I truly believe people are taking that meme, and a number of memes, entirely too literally.

    Lastly, no, I don’t want a meme that calls out fake nerds. I personally don’t even find that meme to be all that funny. I just mean to say that I see nothing wrong with calling people out who are only involved in something because it’s trendy or fashion-able. I don’t necessarily think that a meme is the medium for that, or that it even needs a medium. I simply mean in interaction. I also think it’s important to note that someone being new to something does not make them a poser. It’s the people that adapt to something due to it’s popularity, and then begin to flaunt their involvement in it, or portray themselves as a person who has always been apart of that or involved. It’s not different from someone seeing the recent boom in comic book related media, writing a few lines of dialog in a notebook, and then sidling up to you and talking about how hard the two of you work on writing, creating and developing characters, and telling great stories, all for the sake of looking the part of a comic book writer.

    As much as you might spin my words around to shame me on that point, I hardly see anyone who has put time into something or a community seeing that display as an acceptable practice, whether they express it vocally or keep it to themselves.

  58. Dave Hartley says:

    Kurt Busiek asks “why would your response to people not liking an apparently-exclusionary meme be to tell them that they’re completely wrong and should see it the way you imagine”.

    One might equally ask why someones initial response to a woman’s distressing account of sexual harassment would be to question her words as exemplifying some ‘age old’ mixed message from women about being approached. Yet that is Mr Weenus’ response in the comments to the “Inappropriate touching and stalking roundup” post.

    Mr Weenus appears to have some rather basic empathy issues. At the very least the emphasis is clearly being placed on the ‘me’ in meme.

    I suppose it might be unfair of me to speculate as to whether this was an example of what the Beat is talking about above when she writes “I’ve been very suspicious of new posters engaging in long arguments in the many gender comment threads here”. But rather like the issue of whether a particular meme is sexist bollocks here on Earth One as opposed to on planet Weenus, I guess the question of whether it would be unfair has to be judged in context.

  59. Dave that’s a bit misrepresenting of my response, and a simplification of what I was saying. My INITIAL responsible was to comment on the fact that I bet she was not the only victim that night (my point being that had someone taken it more seriously, or more people had spoken up, further victims could have been avoided), and to call the man who did that to her a total scumbag.

    I went on an aside about something she had said in her blog post as being a bit confusing, when compared to every form of media that portrays male confidence as attractive. Do I need to begin pointing out the literally infinite examples of a boy being too shy to approach a girl who was standing or sitting alone? I mentioned that there is a mixed message. There is that classic image of the Father giving his son a pep talk about mustering up the confidence to go talk to that girl he fancies. Is that creepy advice for a Father to give?

    Simply assuming a man is a creep for approaching a woman sitting alone at a social event comes from the same awful place as someone walking up to Alexa in a Comic Shop and assuming she won’t have any good comic book suggestions. Rather than giving something the benefit of the doubt, you label some ugly gender stereotypes onto a situation.

    What’s happening here is that people are on the defensive. Not everything is black and white. People might agree with some points, and disagree with others. People might understand and emphasize with someone being victimized, but have questions about their opinion of a social situation.

    You go on to basically label me as a misogynist troll but all I’ve not attacked anyone, I just had a few different opinions and attempt to express myself clearly, even in many cases explaining I might be wrong or have a limited prospective. Please don’t be so rude to write me off as someone sinister simply because you disagree with things I’ve said or don’t understand where I’m coming from. That is ignorant on the most basic level of communication and dialog.

    People continue to call my name into question as if it’s some indicator of being sexist, but it’s simply a self depreciating joke that came about years ago in gaming. Basically my name was “Frag Genius”, which was also a self depreciating joke, as it was something someone had said to me after I accidentally blew up my entire team with a grenade. Other players began twisting my name as a way to insult me, calling me Frag Penis, or in some awful cases, Fag Genius, so I cut the middle man out and just made my gaming handle a joke off the bat. It’s not really an exciting story, but it’s also not quite a name in the context in which people have insinuated it is on these comments.

    As far as the meme thing goes, as Dave you insist I am arguing the level of sexism on, I’m simply stating that memes are rarely meant to be taken that literally, just as I had explained, if we’re not taking Rage Guy or Good Guy Greg as being gender specific jokes, why do we have to instinctively make something sinister when it may not be? Why can’t we give something the benefit of the doubt rather than immediately labeling it a PC offense?

    Alexa: My fault for misinterpreting your post. I’m not worked up or raging, I’m simply passionate and wordy. As you can tell, I expand on things to a fault. Even this, which could have been a sentence, has become a paragraph. I write the same way I talk.

  60. Christian says:

    @Alexa – Wow. I just don’t get that mentality. My LCS has several female employees. Or, well, at least two. ha. It’s been awhile since I’ve been in there. I mostly deal with DCBS, but that’s besides the point. I just don’t get why anyone would care. People who apologize for their entire gender/culture are obnoxious because generally it’s not their apology to give – but I’m sorry people were jerks.

    For the record, if I can defend myself a bit – I promise you, my reasons for disliking Sue and her Thumblr has nothing to do with my misogynistic tendencies (latent or otherwise). Ironically enough I’m a big fan of all the books she promotes, I like the creators, I support the movement – it’s just a personality thing. I *personally* find her to be grating and toxic. But that’s just me. I’m sure she feels the same about me. And that’s fine. I don’t even dislike her as much as I am amused by her eccentric comment section. It’s a public website and commenting on commentors is a sick fascination of mine.

    Now, Condescending jerkwad, okay, I can cop to that. I don’t mean to be, I guess I just come across that way. I apologize and I realize that not everyone can tell when I’m speaking (or typing) with tongue planted firmly in cheek. That is the ultimate downside of the internet culture. And I’m sure I’ve had my fair share of dark days when perhaps I wasn’t representing myself the best possible way. I just kinda resent how easily such weighted terms are being thrown around these days.

    To me it’s no different than when an angry 14 year old calls everyone who stands in their way a ‘nazi’

  61. Bobby, there are quite a few female celebrities who have had their geek cred put into question. You have Olivia Munn, Aisha Tyler and Lisa Foiles, to name a few.

    Aisha Tyler has been the latest to be the subject of an ignorant firestorm because she hosted a gaming event, and because she was a woman, many assumed that she was just hired to be on because she was attractive, and had no experience with gaming.

    kotaku.com/5918084/aisha-tyler-rants-ive-been-a-gamer-since-before-you-could-read

    Yeah, I get it, some people didn’t like her on the show. Fine. However, people just take it too far and make assumptions about people without, you know, maybe reading an IMDB, doing a google search, etc.

    Are there as many guys who have to defend their gamer cred? No. I’ve been invested in various types of geek for a majority of my life, and guys do not get crapped all over as much as girls.

    Some guys are in a state of arrested development, have a lack of manners, don’t know how to speak cordially to people, etc. Just ask a female gamer to show you her Xbox 360 messages. It’s filth.

  62. george says:

    I’m tired of hearing that we have to tolerate things on the Internet that would never be tolerated in print or broadcasting.

    There was a time when nuts and extremists were handing out pamphlets on street corners. Now, thanks to the Net, they have a worldwide audience for their bile.

  63. VichusSmith: I know that women are unfairly targetted on the Internet. My bad if I seemed like I was disputing that. I’ve been hardcore Online gaming since the 90s, in a lot of both small and large communities. I just don’t think poserdom has ever been exclusive to women. Before I was an Internet fella, I was active in a number of local communities where the majority of poser accusations were slung at men.

    I really just don’t have any high profile examples to reference, though, there have been women who were thrown into tech or nerd industry jobs without being at all a part of that industry. Just look at booth babes at gaming expos (which I think is insulting to my intelligence as a gamer and a consumer. Pitch your product on it’s merits, not on a scantily clad woman you hired from a modeling agency and stuffed into a costume resembling characters from your game). I don’t think that justifies any kind of abuse thrown at women in any industry, but I could see where people might be skeptical of high profile women hosting gaming or geek related media.

    Look at Jay Mohr, who hosted a few of the BlizzCon events all the while insulting the crowd in a way that was less inside joke and more bullying, and I’m a fan of the guy. Any time you just throw someone into a niche community like that, people are going to question their legitimacy.

    I think the reason why people are more quick to question a woman is because they’re a clear minority in this culture. That does not at all lessen a woman’s ability to be a talented comic writer or artist, or a woman’s ability to design a game or play it well, but anytime something is at all rare, people will question it. I just wish that these communities were more welcoming to women so the rarity wouldn’t be the case.

  64. Dave Hartley says:

    “I went on an aside about something she had said in her blog post as being a bit confusing, when compared to every form of media that portrays male confidence as attractive.”

    I fear I must be suffering from a failure of empathy myself, because I’m struggling to envisage circumstances in which reading any account of sexual harassment would lead me to ruminate about how difficult it is to hit on chicks these days for three quarters of that first public comment.

    “You go on to basically label me as a misogynist troll (…).”

    How very rude of me. How could any thought of trolling arise in the comments thread of a post which Mr Weenus perceives as being about the ‘internet neutrality’ of memes, but which has mistakenly been entitled “Troll troll: the dark side of the internet”. Perhaps I should blame a woman for sending me mixed messages ? Or perhaps I shouldn’t “be taken literally” ?

    “There is that classic image of the Father giving his son a pep talk about mustering up the confidence to go talk to that girl he fancies.”

    In the course of which Jonathan Kent should be making it clear to his alien son that this isn’t Kansas any more. Or is that no longer canon.

  65. It’s hilarious that you call me the troll yet you make a mockery of valid questions and refer to me asking when it’s appropriate to approach a woman at a social event as complaining about hitting on chicks.

    Perhaps someone is projecting his own social inadequacies now, eh Dave?

    Instead of spinning words around for the sake of winning an argument and e-bullying someone you disagree with, try just having a straight up dialog with someone for once. You might be surprised how much it will benefit your social life, bud.

  66. How dare a blog strike up social commentary! Discussion on the Internet! No, we’re supposed to be having a pity party!

    Get over yourself.

  67. >> woman driver is obviously more specific, it also pre-dates common internet memes by decades. It’s an ugly stereo-type, but relating any joke or stereotype to a meme is getting way off base and only serves to prove your own point through brute force rather than have a discussion.>>

    Stereotypes are memes. Jokes are often memes.

    And the internet didn’t invent them.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meme

    I don’t think “woman driver” and “internet nerd girl” are terribly dissimilar ideas — they’re both belittling stereotypes. The idea that “nerd girl” doesn’t actually mean “nerd girl” is something you keep saying, but it sure rings hollowly.

  68. I, along with a number of people that also pass meme links around, don’t think they’re to be taken so literally.

    However, they obviously can be taken offensively either way, and their power to do that makes the intent a moot point.

    As much as I don’t think they’re to be taken literally, I was totally wrong to marginalize the way it made someone feel. I appreciate you bringing that to light.

    I just wish things like advice animal meme offshoots would be taken as lightly as they are created.

  69. Thank you for speaking out about this topic. Sadly, men who behave badly don’t take women’s complaints seriously, so I hope that more men will speak out as well.

    Men, please have the balls to call out your friends who speak disrespectfully about women around you, even when no one else is there to see it. It will take a cultural change from within to alter this kind of behavior. Imagine how you would feel if they said these things about your mother, sister, wife, or daughter.

  70. Okay, Bobby Weenus, you’ve had your fun.

    And now you’re done.

    One of the reasons I tag my posts that look at sexism, racism and other cultural phenomenon as “Sociology” is because I do believe a deeper examination of the root causes of behavior is more worthwhile and useful than just labeling thing.

    The “Idiot Nerd Girl” meme is based on hostility not humor. It’s based on the idea that girls are faking being nerdy because it’s cool, an attitude that betrays the egotism of the group making the jokes, and that in turn covers up the insecurities of the same group.

    The other side of this argument is what we shall call the “Olivia Munn Theorem” which suggest that some very attractive women are pretending to be nerdy in order to get attention and jobs and presumabely steal the precious bodily fluids of poor nerd guys who are completely bedazzled by them. The “Idiot Nerd Girl” photo is obviously not of Olivia Munn, so this meme/joke/bullying is based purely on a need to discredit women who are into fandoms of various kinds.

    See? Sociology.

    Just as the word “feminism” was discredited for years to mean humorless person who didn’t shave their armpits, but has now been reclaimed, the nerd girl meme is attempting to dismiss the interests of millions of females around the globe.

    But this time we have the internet to fight back.

    As far as I’m concerned MDR had the best post in the whole thread. Read it, think about it, and then think about it some more.

  71. and what does the Scumbag Steve meme aim to discredit? Disrespectful men named Steve?

  72. You’ll never stop me!

  73. Mooda says:

    Well, while I did not have the time to read all of the comments – only about 1/4 of them here and there, I did just want to stop by and mention that I don’t find Idiot Nerd Girl offensive to me as a woman. I can see how it could be. But I come from the part of the internet that makes these memes and I understand what makes them tick. It’s personal grudge. What makes these memes like Scumbag Steve and Idiot Nerd Girl come to life is the fact that we have all met or heard of a person like them. Nobody except the already bigoted think that when they’re making their iteration of the meme, they’re speaking about “all girls” or “all steves”. Basically it’s a way to vent about, literally, that girl you met who said “OMG I’m so TOTALLY a nerd. Like, I have a texas instruments calculator. NEEEERD, RIGHT?!” and completely made you mad that people think being a “nerd” is so “cool” now that they have to pretend to be one. Think about all the people who were bullied specifically by being called and percieved as “nerds” — and now there’s some airheaded person acting like being a nerd is the greatest thing. It rankles. I suppose some could find it in their hearts to celebrate nerds no longer being looked down upon as much, but to those who suffered from the label it seems like an insult that these young upstarts would act like it’s great. That they would go so far as to pretend to be one because that’s where all the “cool kids” are.

    I can see how someone might percieve idiot nerd girl memes as putting down women in general. For those of us who make them though, it’s just us lashing out anonymously at that stupid girl we met last summer who managed to belittle us in a whole new way.

    Frankly, I revel in the idiot girl meme. I have met far too many idiots who are only pretending to be nerds and that’s what this meme is about. I’m not talking about “oh she doesn’t know the name of sidekick #2 in awesome bros, she’s not a REAL nerd”. I’m really talking about idiots who see nerd culture as a place to pick up some “cool & cute nerdy boys” so they play along to try and score. I think they’re really aiming for the hipster scene, they just don’t know it yet…

  74. >> Think about all the people who were bullied specifically by being called and percieved as “nerds” — and now there’s some airheaded person acting like being a nerd is the greatest thing. It rankles.>>

    Really?

    I think it’s way better than acting like nerds should be marginalized, scoffed at and beaten up, myself. Big improvement.

    “Someone thinks nerdy is cool! Shun them! Chase them away! Unacceptable!”

  75. Thanks for this post, Heidi. As a female comicker, I’m familiar with inappropriate comments and ridicule, but nothing like you all had to endure. I’m confident that we’ll win though and quash the a-holes one by one. ALL us comics fans. Nothing can stop us! Everyone will start reading comics! Comics to rule them all! :)

  76. I don’t get the point of booth babes whatsoever. Hey, if an actress needs work, I will not stand in her way, but I wish it wasn’t standing in front of a booth selling stuff she doesn’t know or care about.

    Do booth babes greatly increase visibility of games/comics/hardware/whatever?

    Yes, I was actually going to mention Jay Mohr as an example of a guy who got negative reaction to his convention appearances, but, again, there are more female examples of cred coming into question than male.

  77. Bobby, the Scumbag Steve meme is based on a guy named Steve. There’s video of him, look him up. The meme has gone on to be used for any number of things, from anthropomorphized creatures, to inanimate objects, to corporations.

    It isn’t used to demean males, specifically. In fact, I think you’ll find it difficult to find a meme that is negative towards men.

    The Nerd Girl meme is specifically focused on women, and it’s about putting their credibility into question.

  78. MindyP51 says:

    I just found out about this guy on THE LEAGUE OF WOMAN BLOGGERS, thanks to Ron Marz and Mark Millar taking public action–Mark engaging a criminal lawyer.

    I just wonder why it took Mark (and not one of the women who have been targeted) to take action. I understand fear, especially fear about your family being targeted…

    BUT…

    The problem with ignoring assholes like this guy is that it’s dangerous…did you SEE Gabrielle Giffords last night at the Democratic Convention?

  79. MindyP51 You’re kidding, right? What makes you think women haven’t been standing up to and fighting this behavior for years? There are tales upthread of women doing just that.

    The point is, when women do it, no one cares.

  80. Chill. I think Mindy is referring to this issue specifically, and not other cases. I have not followed every step of this issue, but when I listened to 3Chicks, they did everything short of hunting the guy down. I think that because other people have actually taken it to authorities is why we’re even commenting on this article right now.

  81. Today in depressing: I have only about 5 good women pals in the comics biz. Maybe 5 more, con pals/ acquaintances.

    Of that number, five, *that I know of for sure*, have been either harassed, online-stalked, hit on repeatedly & inappropriately, physically stalked at shows & emotionally abused by an employer. Actual abuse, not exaggeration. Rape threats = very common. & I haven’t asked the other 5 of them.

    Some creators have seen this, some haven’t. There have been some male champions of women in the industry, too, but that he-man woman-hater’s club still rolls loud & proud throughout fandom.

    This is why it’s a big deal, this guy. Big ups to you women who didn’t cave under his harassment. I hope there’s some kinda legal repercussions. Can they ban him from the Intarwebs..?

  82. Schweinhund says:

    The nerd girl poop is the feces throwing introductory ritual for girls into the subculture. Deal with it, nerds. After all, nerds have their own 99 terrible names and they had to be pretty nerdy for pretty long to give them meaning. They’re not for free, and it’s not about your gender. If a guy tells me he loves Big Bang Theory and considers himself a nerd now, he gets the same facial expression. Stupid people are stupid.

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