I’ve been working on geek meritocracy and privilege for a while now and my original draft has now been split into two. The meritocracy piece will be published early next year, and I’ve just finished the first draft of: Nerd vs. ‘bro’: Geek privilege, triumphalism, and idiosyncrasy
ABSTRACT: Peggy McIntosh characterized privilege as an “invisible knapsack” of unearned advantages. Although the invisible knapsack is a useful metaphor, the notion of unearned advantage is not readily appreciated, especially by geeks who see their culture as meritocratic. After providing brief cultural histories of geekdom and privilege, I ask: Why are some geeks resistant to the notion of privilege? Beyond the observation that privilege often prompts defensiveness and unproductive comparisons, there is a geek-specific reason. Geek identity is informed by the trope of geek triumphalism: early insecurity is superseded by a sense of superiority. Geeks’ intelligence, unconventional enthusiasms (e.g., technology and fantasy), and idiosyncratic dress were once targets of ridicule, leading triumphant geeks to believe they have no privilege. These same characteristics, later in life, become sources of success and pride, leading them to think they are beyond bias. Nonetheless, I show that even in the seemingly innocuous realm of idiosyncratic dress, there is bias and privilege.
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