Sexism for neckbeards
December 26, 2013 2:51 PM   Subscribe

Please share with me your absolute beginner level resources to foist upon an unexamined sexist. Snowflake level: special needs.

My brother is the living embodiment of the Simpsons Comic Book Guy and in his late twenties. He is somewhere on the autism spectrum (ASD diagnosis, but diagnoses here are v. shoddy) and with some general learning disabilities but absolutely not disabled to the extent that he can be considered to "not know what he's saying". His garrulous nature leads to him regularly sharing provocative or offensive opinions. Some of this is just him expressing himself terribly and I do take that into consideration, for example I don't think he's racist even if it may sometimes sound that way. I do however think he is a pretty deep-seated sexist.

His media consumption reinforces this; a lot of pretty crude male comedians and podcasts, he loves Kevin Smith (nothing wrong with that per se, but in aggregate and without reflection), he literally only consumes male media and was very dismissive when asked if he listened to any female musicians. He has a very black-and-white idea of masculinity. His taste in podcasts etc also leans to the cynical/snarky, which he then regurgitates but can't expand on. He ends up sounding like a mean, unfunny misogynist. I wish better for him and for us who spend time with him, he really can't afford to alienate more people.

TLDR: can I please have some good, readable links that I could encourage him to look at about sexism and examining ones own thought processes and how others perceive them based on how they express themselves.

Bonus: podcasts or twitter-personalities that are pro-women, ideally perhaps with men and women co-hosting in a non-sexist manner and involve games, comics and movies.

The neckbead crack may seem unkind, but consider it a shorthand to help you conceptualise the dude. He would happily say m'lady and literally has wanted both a fedora and a leather trenchcoat, he believes in fake gamer girls and really wants Chyna to be cast as Wonder Woman.
posted by Iteki to Human Relations (22 answers total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
Perhaps the Scalzi 'Straight white male=Lowest difficulty setting' article would be relevant? It deals with privilege in general, and is broader than just gender, but I thought it was a very clever primer to 'privilege for people who don't like the term privilege.'
posted by HighTechUnderpants at 3:00 PM on December 26, 2013 [16 favorites]

And of course I forget to include the link.
posted by HighTechUnderpants at 3:00 PM on December 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Get him listening to Aisha Tyler's Girl on Guy podcast, then lay her feminist activism on him.

Tyler isn't everyone's flavor of feminism, but she hits notes that neckbeards can hear.
posted by Kakkerlak at 3:01 PM on December 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

This doesn't totally fit the criteria, but might be useful viewing.
posted by Jairus at 3:02 PM on December 26, 2013

The TED Talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has been getting a lot of play recently because of Beyonce. I just watched it, and it seems like a very accessible and non-academic introduction to why thinking about gender inequality matters for both men and women.
posted by matildaben at 3:08 PM on December 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Bikini Kill should do the trick.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:38 PM on December 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

My Brother, My Brother, and Me often has some great feminist asides when they're answering questions. I can't point to any specific episodes -- I've been binging on them and it's all a blur -- but if he just added it to his podcasts he would end up being a better person, as well as an entertained one.
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:58 PM on December 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

I don't think an autistic guy is on "lowest difficulty setting," and anyway, feminist/privilege theory is likely to go over his head at this point. The first baby step should be to establish a baseline of respect, and get him to stop reflexively dismissing women.

On the media consumption side, I'd find some Terry Gross interviews with people he already respects.

Also, call him out when he regurgitates misogynistic ideas that he can't expand on. Say "what do you mean by that?" or "why would you say that?" or "but that doesn't make sense because..." or "do you mean that or are you just repeating something you heard without thinking?". Bonus points if the person who gets him to reconsider his opinions is a woman.
posted by domnit at 4:03 PM on December 26, 2013 [6 favorites]

Also: his kneejerk sexism may be a defense mechanism because he does not know how to relate/talk to women.
posted by domnit at 4:05 PM on December 26, 2013 [18 favorites]

Wham Bam Pow is an action/scifi movie podcast with two women and a dude (plus guests) on the Maximum Fun network (anything from them is a good bet for respectful/nonsexist and cool).

The Incomparable is a podcast about "geeky" media - tv, movies, books, comics, etc. Their panel usually includes women.
posted by jeoc at 4:41 PM on December 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

The naturally contrary personality of the stereotypical neckbeard will likely be an impenetrable defense against links that you try to make him read or listen to. The second he sees something he doesn't like he'll probably say "feminazi bullshit" and close out of it immediately.

If he's really stuck in his ways, the only way to get him to change is to disprove his assumptions with real world examples. Not examples in print on the computer - if you're his sister (don't think you mentioned your gender), you have a real opportunity to change his viewpoints with your own behavior. Invite him out to do things, don't belittle him if he doesn't accept, give him lots of opportunities to spend time with you but don't push the point. When he decides to do something with you (and make it small to start), bond with him. Forget about changing him for awhile and just have fun. Maybe even indulge him and play some video games or whatever. Don't change who you are or how you act, of course, but showing an interest in what he likes would be a great start at "meeting halfway".

If you can form a closer relationship with him it will establish one example in his mind of how girls can be cool. And that may open his mind in a real way.
posted by johnpoe50 at 5:00 PM on December 26, 2013 [7 favorites]

He has a very black-and-white idea of masculinity which it sounds like he does not at all resemble. Any chance there's some overcompensating for being closeted?

Unleash Felicia Day. I thought The Guild was a great show for just dismantling some of the stereotypes about girls that game. Show it to him and watch him love it, then mention that it was written and produced by a woman.
posted by mibo at 5:06 PM on December 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Maybe start with something easy -- like the exclusively consuming male media part. For music -- the Sleater-Kinney discography? They aren't particularly ideological and boy do they rock. For geek stuff -- maybe the Saga of the Pliocene Exile by Julian May? An absolute brilliant (and that this point cult classic) of a science fiction series written by a woman with what is only stealthily (but obvious when you take a step back) woman's touch.
posted by MattD at 9:41 PM on December 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

I wonder if Tankriot would be podcast he could get into. No women, but they talk about geeky stuff and they have a very lefty/feminist take on things.

Also, maybe a subscription to Bitch would be good.
posted by nixxon at 10:41 PM on December 26, 2013

Talk to him. Unpack his assumptions. Demonstrate to him that as an intelligent, self-sufficient, good person who happens to be female, you don't fit a lot of his ideas about how women work. He's probably not used to having to examine or explain this stuff. I'm not saying you need to argue with him, and I don't think an argument would necessarily do either of you much good. But I'm saying you can use yourself as an example. If all women are like this, then how is his sister not like this?

Also, Sarah Silverman. Crude enough for the manly men, but also smart and indisputably female. Her remarks in the wake of the James Franco roast were pretty awesome. I'd be interested to see your brother's response to the whole Judd Apatow comedy scene, too. While far from perfect regarding gender roles, movies like Knocked Up and The 40-Year-Old Virgin feature men engaging with complex females and learning from the experience. What would this guy make of something like Bridesmaids, or Freaks and Geeks?

He literally has wanted both a fedora and a leather trenchcoat

Goodness, how stylish. (I'm going to assume somebody this sensitive to gender stereotyping couldn't possibly be so prejudiced as to unfairly ascribe loathsome personality characteristics to males of the species because they dare to display even a bit of fashion flair rather than being consigned to the baseball cap hellscape that is everyday American menswear.)

(Neckbeards, on the other hand, are just nasty.)
posted by Ursula Hitler at 11:26 PM on December 26, 2013 [3 favorites]

Sarah Rees Brennan is a YA author who is a feminist and has written a lot about the issue, especially women in media. Not going to link, I'm on my phone, but google and check out her blog and Tumblr feed. I don't recommend necessarily trying to get your brother to read her, but if you skim her posts, I think you might find some info that would lead to good conversation starters with your brother - she also links to many other great posts about feminism and diversity. For example, studies that show how unevenly women are represented in bestseller lists. (You will have to skim past lots of unrelated content, but there is some good, accessible, eye-opening stuff she talks about or links to.) I think a conversation with your brother about why he doesn't consume any media created by women, and pointing out that part of it is that he is less likely to be exposed to it in the first place, could be a good food-for-thought start point.

I think others are right that you'll get farther trying to talk to him than trying to get him to read some random link, at least at first. Try to frame it as something that's important to you, rather than something wrong with him.
posted by catatethebird at 10:09 AM on December 27, 2013

Thanks for some excellent resources and ideas about how to approach this with him. It's also helped me to get a little better handle on what's bugging me here. He has no particular lack of female role models, if anything it's the abundance that's killing him. I am the one who turned him on to gaming and get him his bloody achievements ffs. He grew up without a father figure and has basically been bossed around by his mom, me, aunties, etc for years. He's not homophobic particularly (but of course greater respect for hypermasculine gays), in fact he would probably love to be gay, he's very pleased with the idea that he is attractive to bears and enjoys spending time with my gay guy friends. He doesn't think women are bad per se, just that everything men do and everything about being a man is just... better. Obviously. He does like Sarah Silverman (and Kylie Minogue!) but will always express this as them being pretty unique, and then backing this up with incorrect info. I don't like to do too much of the "what makes you say that?" and "can you explain what you mean by that?" because he can't, gets flustered and humiliated and I end up feeling like I'm the asshole. Sample conversation:

Him: "blahbla, acdc, aerosmith, rolling stones".
Us: "Who's your favourite female artist?"
Him: "Naw, I don't really listen to any female artists".
Mam: "You like Kylie Minogue..."
Him: "Well she actually iiiiiiis nearly the only woman who writes her own songs and doesn't just dance around in their underwear, hehehe".

I think some of the stuff regarding privilege would be a bit over his head at the moment, I think I am landing mainly in the camp that since he's pretty much regurgitating the crappy media he absorbs, I need to dilute that with some of the excellent suggestions above. I'm actually going to recruit some of my excellent feminist guy friends to friend him on facebook so he gets a little trickle of men saying decent things (they have the best links too!).
posted by Iteki at 8:25 AM on December 28, 2013

Ftr: The Guild was considered "horrible, full of cheesy racism" with Felicia Day being summed up as "hard to miss, ginger". He just recommended Workaholics, and when I asked how it differed from The IT Crowd, he said it's four guys, while The IT Crowd is two guys and a girl.
posted by Iteki at 8:32 AM on December 28, 2013

Well, if writing one's own songs and not dancing around in one's underwear is what he needs:

ZZ Ward
Kaki King
Lady Gaga (on the writing, not the not-dancing-around-in-her-underwear)
Biff Naked
Ani DiFranco
Sarah Bareilles

Or you could just let him wallow in his own virginity for the rest of his life. You sound like a really good sister.
posted by mibo at 8:59 AM on December 28, 2013

Him: "blahbla, acdc, aerosmith, rolling stones".

Why respond to that with a challenge about women performers? He's telling you who he likes. Try a nonchallenging way to redirect the conversation while actually responding to what he's saying.

Acdc: ACDShe & HellsBelles (female tribute bands), woman loves acdc to excess, etc.

Aerosmith: Steven Tyler was a crappy absent father, he may identify w/Liv Tyler on a gender-irrelevant basis.

Rolling Stones: name your favorite song or toss back some trivia.

Just an idea. I know this kind of personality is challenging and I'm sure you've tried everything.
posted by headnsouth at 9:17 AM on December 28, 2013

If you're going to introduce him to women who write their own songs, you can't go wrong with Dolly Parton.
posted by ocherdraco at 5:28 PM on December 30, 2013

« Older Japanese document in "Sherlock"   |   Help me find a good older model DSLR Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.