I enjoyed reading Meredith Patterson’s recent essay “When Nerds Collide: My Intersectionality Will Have Weirdoes Or It Will Be Bullshit.” While reading it I appreciated the insights and the flow. However, after having read all of those words I was a bit puzzled as to what the argument was? (This is why I spend a lot of time on my abstracts, this is one feature of the academic genre I really appreciate when it is done well.) Figuring out the gist was important to me because my annotations would need a gloss and I had a sense that I disagreed with some of what was written. I think Patterson’s essay is a defense of “weird nerds” and that their defensiveness in the face of outsider brogrammer and geek feminists is understandable. This is because the values of nerds are important and worth preserving. These values include constructivism (nerds prefer objective measures and “proofs”), bravery (in championing liberty and resisting censorship), and merit (they’ll still use the excellent file system of wife-murderer Hans Reiser—or perhaps the instructive lectures of a sexual harasser?).
I don’t have the time to respond extensively, but a couple brief notes follow.
- Weird nerds are great, but must this mean the community should harbor the minority that alienate or harass others? Weird != Asshole.
- I don’t see geek feminists as a non-geeky encroachment. I argue geek feminism is the intersection of geekiness and feminism, and in that way the two spheres are complementary.
- I also argue that the otherwise commendable geek values like openness, geekiness, and freedom can be problematic. We need to be careful of naivete, see freeze peach. (I’m working on a similar argument about merit and meritocracy now.)
- Some geek policing is needlessly gendered and alienating.