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April 22, 2009

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As I mentioned in a comment in a prior thread, it's long been my view that women by and large find it okay if men spend a lot of time with activities that don't appeal too much to women, so long as they are traditional guy-type activities. Sports are the prime example, others include tinkering with cars, hunting and fishing, home repairs, ham radio, and manual crafts such as woodworking. What women do not accept are men who spend time in activities that appeal mostly to men yet at the same time aren't really masculine: D&D, WoW, sci-fi and fantasy in general, comic books, and Civil War re-enactments.

Peter, your post rings as hollow as Michelle Obama's IQ score.

Your idea of the "typical woman" smacks of BS, pseudoconcepts, and major pigeonholing.

I think Peter is off base:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124027044512036903.html

"From an unlikely perch in the broadcast booth, Mr. Madden has been serving as America's teacher. Using complex diagrams and -- dare I say it? -- intellectual explanations, Mr. Madden gave the average fan credit for wanting to know more than just who caught the ball. His memorable turns of phrase ("boom!") have given whimsical cover to the real work he's done making his students -- anyone who watches sports -- better, more alert, more knowledgeable viewers. If Howard Cosell showed that televised sports offered more than just a game to watch, John Madden honored their significance with his in-depth approach to announcing.
...
They do them because Mr. Madden raised the intelligence level of sports announcing. A whole generation of TV viewers has grown up on the most rigorously analytical play-by-play announcing in the long history of sports. It's not too much to believe that for once, television is making them smarter."

Does Nerdyness exist as a real definition? Or is just a social construct as an derogatory assessment of people you dont like?

You can make football as technical and stats oriented as you like. See Fantasty Football Draft.

Quick background. Ex Marine (85-90) and work for a Fortune 100 company in middle management in the IT department.

You are missing one other point. I watch football baseball and soccer on TV and I have played all those competitively some time in my life. I still play softball and indoor soccer.

But I also started playing Warhammer Online (similar to WoW but more exciting) about 6 months ago. The difference between my real life friends that play WoW versus my softball and soccer teammates is testosterone. My online friends that I have met in real life are nerds…poor social skills. They tend to have bad hygiene and posture and frankly are easily pushed around. They can throw a good verbal jab when protected by the web but in real life they are meek. They rarely date and have difficulty in large groups.

This may sound like stereotyping but I am surrounded in an office with these type of people. It’s a shame but I don’t think they realize how others perceive them outside of their group.

"Does Nerdyness exist as a real definition? Or is just a social construct as an derogatory assessment of people you dont like?
You can make football as technical and stats oriented as you like. See Fantasty Football Draft."

Nerdiness is a real concept and is associated with a set of characteristics and behaviors. These include introversion, poor interpersonal skills, excessive attention to detail, insistence on following routines, a lack of interest in physical activities, a tendency to get caught up/obsessed with things, deficient fashion and hygiene, a tendency to be either cadaverously thin or grossly obese, sometimes hypochondria. As a result of these characteristics and behaviors, nerds have fewer friends and acquaintances than most people and spend much more time alone, and of course have difficulty starting relationships with women.

As for making football technical and stats oriented, it goes to what I posed in an earlier thread about baseball statistics fans. The attention to detail is a nerdy characteristic, but the association with sports may be enough to cancel out that factor. Football stats fans may be even less nerdy than their baseball counterparts given football's ultra-masculine nature.

It's annologus to a previous post habout why certain occupations conferring less respect because they are filled with immigrants.
computer programmer = filled with immigrants = percieved as a bad job.
WoW = filled with dorkwads = percieved as a dorky thing to do.

The way *I* percieve it-- people who play WoW or any fantasy game generally play it because their real life sucks but they get to live a fantasy life online.

they did a demographic study of another mmo, everquest 2.

see the demographic study: http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/fulltext/121394419/HTMLSTART?CRETRY=1SRETRY=0

or if u don't feel like wading thru the entire thing, u can see my thoughts (shameless self-promotion):
http://undeadastronauts.com/2009/02/23/eq-ii-gamers-2

anyways, it turns out that 20% of the players were women and they played 4 more hrs/wk than men did on avg. so while most women probably consider gaming to be nerdy, the fraction of females that are gamers are nerdier than male gamers.

I'm trying to unearth an evolutionary mechanism to explain this. How about this possibility: Women naturally abhor men who trend above average on the autistic spectrum. One of the key traits of autism is obsessive, inwardly-directed behavior. Vegetating in front of televised sports isn't exactly social behavior, but it's allowable precisely because it is so passive. Chess probably gained its traditional hardcore nerd reputation in the pre-video-game days when chess clubs/teams were one of the few refuges for males who could not make the cut for high-school sports teams. Today, chess might have some retro-romantic appeal when it involves two players and a physical chess set. I would guess that online chess is considered just as nerdy as any other online game, however. Last, many women do participate in these nerdy activities. But if I may propagate a stereotype, they're probably the above-average IQ, wallflower variety. At the most extreme ends of any of these autistic-friendly activities, you're going to find mostly males because autism itself results from an extreme male brain.

"I'm trying to unearth an evolutionary mechanism to explain this. How about this possibility: Women naturally abhor men who trend above average on the autistic spectrum. One of the key traits of autism is obsessive, inwardly-directed behavior. Vegetating in front of televised sports isn't exactly social behavior, but it's allowable precisely because it is so passive."

Sports viewing can be a social activity. It's common for a bunch of guys to get together to watch the game at the house of one of them, or at a sports bar. And of course groups of men go to watch sports in person. Sports also provide excellent conversational fodder.

[HS: D&D is a social activity, so being a social activity is not one of the key factors separating nerdy and non-nerdy activities.]

Peter:
"Nerdiness is a real concept and is associated with a set of characteristics and behaviors. These include introversion, poor interpersonal skills, excessive attention to detail, insistence on following routines, a lack of interest in physical activities, a tendency to get caught up/obsessed with things, deficient fashion and hygiene, a tendency to be either cadaverously thin or grossly obese, sometimes hypochondria. As a result of these characteristics and behaviors, nerds have fewer friends and acquaintances than most people and spend much more time alone, and of course have difficulty starting relationships with women."

Apparently you have thought this out. But I think the conclusions that they have fewer friends is where you over egg the custard. How do you account for the ComiCon and YearlyKos rife with thousands of nerds. These nerds know a lot of people.

[HS: Nerds had more friends pre-internet, when nerdy activities like D&D required live groups of people.]

This is where I think nerdy is a bit of a social construct.

WoW is nerdy. But is xbox live? Almost every teen I have come across plays xbox fps- they cant all be nerds.

Is online poker nerdy? If so is professional poker nerdy? Because those guys can do pretty well by almost every aspect of success.

[HS: Games involving Lord of the Rings inspired fantasy are the most nerdy. Thus D&D, WoW, Magic: The Gathering, are all extremely nerdy. Card games aren't nerdy because women play cards.]

I don't think women are the ones defining the greater attractiveness of sports vs world of warcraft. It's men that define sports as something deeply admirable and masculine and also men that define WoW as a pastime for nerds that can't physically compete with athletic men.

Coincidentally, I just wrote a post about male status hierarchies (including WoW) and its relation to female attractiveness. Lately I have been wondering about whether or not female beauty is determined largely by instinct.

http://feministx.blogspot.com/2009/04/beauty-myth.html

Are comments moderated now?

My dad when he was in college in the early 50s used to play Bridge every day at lunch with his buddies. Back then I think it had a more masculine image. In fact, I've met quite a few men from the PRC who are serious Bridge players and played for money. However, most Americans today think its a game for old ladies.

On other hand, we've had this Texas Hold'em trend for the last decade or so which is the epitome of cigar chomping prole macho for whatever reason. (James Bond even played in Casino Royale. Can you imagine Bond playing Bridge?)

I guess you can say that poker is mostly about intimidation and reading your opponent, but so is Bridge so I don't get it.

not into video games myself.

However, why do women get a unidirectional dismissal on certain male hobbies they don't like?\

Some US white women obsess over the personal lives of certain no-talent (Paris Hilton, Brittney Spears) or low talent (Jennifer Aniston) celebrities. In fact, apparently there is a whole magazine industry devoted to this celebrities stannery, that I see at the grocery store checkout isle. These women follow these celebrahos like some dudes obsess over the NFL.

I think celebraho stannery is an absurd hobby, yet most men would not rule out a woman for a romantic relationship based on this 1 absurd hobby

[HS: If a woman is hot, there are men who will put up with an incredible amount of weirdness in order to be with her.]

" (James Bond even played in Casino Royale. Can you imagine Bond playing Bridge?)"

That was the plot of Moonraker.

Football is watched by former jocks that used to play it and know what is going on out there on the field. Sice a bazillion young men play little league, junior high, and high school football, a bazillion men watch it when they are older.

Its a pleasant non-political diversion to follow a favorite football team, especially a favorite college team whose university you attended. This hurts no-one and does not take several hours a week of someone's life like WOW does to some of its addicts. There are 12 college football saturdays a year where I follow my favorite team. They are televised about 6 times. Thats about 12-14 hours (bowl game) of football watching for me dedicated to my team.

The people who follow all three sports are the ones who waste a signifigant portion of their lives on viewing athletics, but they aren't that many in number these days.

The sports nerdery has a benefit in that it's not as confined to the current generation, like WoW and some of the other nerdery you mention.

I could talk to my grandfather, and can talk to my father about baseball. How many D&D players can say the same of their favorite diversion?

There's nobody nerdier than your average SPORTS JOURNALIST; these guys are the scum of the media, with their desire to draw and quarter any athlete who's used performance-enhancing drugs. Most of these numbskulls couldn't throw a ball straight if threatened with castration (like they had balls to begin with). Yet they point fingers and criticize like no one on earth, the wheelchair quarterbacks that they are.

"My dad when he was in college in the early 50s used to play Bridge every day at lunch with his buddies. Back then I think it had a more masculine image... However, most Americans today think its a game for old ladies."

Bridge is popular among Wall Street bigshots. Also, while it's mainly a women's game in America, the top competitors are predominately men.

--

"The people who follow all three sports are the ones who waste a signifigant portion of their lives on viewing athletics, but they aren't that many in number these days."

I would think that there are more such people now that ever. Consider that cable and satellite TV systems have extra-cost sports packages that carry huge numbers of games, e.g. DirecTV's NFL Sunday Ticket and MLB Extra Innings.

"Also, while it's mainly a women's game in America, the top competitors are predominately men. "

This is a sentence that you can plug pretty much any female dominated field. The top will be men. If the field is girly enough the top people will be gay men, but they'll still be men.

HS wrote: "Furthermore, no one doubts that the people who play professional sports are very manly and non-nerdy, so perhaps some of that rubs off on the spectators."

But neither do I doubt that men who engage in professional warrior combat are very manly and non-nerdy.

Re Peter's nerd hygiene comment: Most of the nerdy men I've known are fastidiously hygienic. Especially the Jews.

Kevin K wrote: "On other hand, we've had this Texas Hold'em trend for the last decade or so which is the epitome of cigar chomping prole macho for whatever reason. (James Bond even played in Casino Royale. Can you imagine Bond playing Bridge?)"

Not to nitpick, but if memory serves, in the actual novel the game was Baccarat. The film adaptation altered it to Hold Em Poker to be more appealing to the masses.

Back on topic, I think the real issue we all seem to be dancing around here is classifying activities as masculine versus non-masculine, or alpha versus non-alpha if you prefer. Sports, as a non-lethal derivative of warfare, gets alpha status, the more contact the better. Instead of "those who can, do; those who can't teach", we substitute "those who can, play; those who can't, watch". Football is seen as a big-in-the-pants activity whereas playing WoW is definitely not.

A reason could be that one of the activities lead to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and the other doesn't.

"Back on topic, I think the real issue we all seem to be dancing around here is classifying activities as masculine versus non-masculine, or alpha versus non-alpha if you prefer. Sports, as a non-lethal derivative of warfare, gets alpha status, the more contact the better. Instead of "those who can, do; those who can't teach", we substitute "those who can, play; those who can't, watch". Football is seen as a big-in-the-pants activity whereas playing WoW is definitely not."

With respect to football, watching is the only option for anyone past school age, as there are virtually no opportunities for adults to actually play the sport.

Your comment about sports = warfare brings up a larger point. It may be that the current classification of activities as Alpha or nerd is based on whether they more closely resemble men's or women's activities in pre-modern societies. Warfare was a men's activity, hence the Alphaness of sports. Manual crafts such as woodworking harken back to the traditional male role as toolmaker. Hunting and fishing was a largely male activity in pre-modern days, and is Alpha today.

It's not as clear whether the nerd activities of sci-fi and fantasy are related to pre-modern women's activities. One thought is that the pre-modern equivalent would be myth-making and storytelling, which would have been associated with women, or perhaps with older men no longer capable of demanding activities like hunting.

James Bond did play bridge, and he played it well. From "Moonraker" -

Basildon has come back to observe the game, and is startled at the stakes and also by the hands that he sees. This is what he observes as he walks around the table:

BOND
Diamonds - Queen, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2
Clubs - Ace, queen, 10, 8, 4

DRAX
Spades - Ace, king, queen, knave
Hearts - Ace, king, queen, knave
Diamonds - Ace, king
Clubs - King, knave, 9

M
Spades - 10, 9, 8, 7
Hearts - 6, 5, 4, 3
Clubs - 7, 6, 5, 3, 2

MEYER
Spades - 6, 5, 4, 3, 2
Hearts - 10, 9, 8, 7, 2
Diamonds - Knave, 10, 9

Basildon sees that Bond has arranged a lay down Grand Slam against any defense. His thought:

It was sheer murder.

Drax still has no clue and impatiently orders Meyer to put something down and get started. Basildon reflects that in 10 minutes Drax will wish that Meyer had died in his chair before he could put anything down. Piece by piece the game goes down just as Bond had planned out

Its been 25 years since I've seen Moonraker. My apologies. Maybe what I meant "can you imagine James Bond playing Bridge in a movie today?"

"It's not as clear whether the nerd activities of sci-fi and fantasy are related to pre-modern women's activities. One thought is that the pre-modern equivalent would be myth-making and storytelling, which would have been associated with women, or perhaps with older men no longer capable of demanding activities like hunting."

Spirit worlds were the domain of the shaman in primitive cultures. I suspect that the witch doctor/shaman was one of the few jobs available to the tribe's schizophrenic/mentally unstable members. I'm not sure if these guys ever mated and reared children like the warrior/alphas. I tend to doubt it.

The comments suggesting that sports-watching gets its non-nerdy status via the "watching as proxy for playing as proxy for warfare" chain of (subconscious) reasoning strike me as correct.

However, how does this square with the unquestionable nerd status of battle re-enactments? Shouldn't it work just like the chain above but with one link fewer? In fact, it seems to me that any interest in military history is considered pretty beta if not outright nerd.

One thought is that the pre-modern equivalent would be myth-making and storytelling, which would have been associated with women, or perhaps with older men no longer capable of demanding activities like hunting.

Would it? Seems to me that if women were the makers of myth, old mythology wouldn't be embarrassingly misogynistic and more romantic in nature.

"The comments suggesting that sports-watching gets its non-nerdy status via the "watching as proxy for playing as proxy for warfare" chain of (subconscious) reasoning strike me as correct.
However, how does this square with the unquestionable nerd status of battle re-enactments? Shouldn't it work just like the chain above but with one link fewer? In fact, it seems to me that any interest in military history is considered pretty beta if not outright nerd."

It *is* strange. Perhaps it's because battle re-enactments are (of necessity) faked. In sporting events, by contrast, the players/teams are not faking it, but are legitimately trying to defeat one another. Re-enactments with their faked combat resembling a sophisticated form of children's play rather than an actual struggle for victory. Consider, also, that pro wrestling with its fake "fights" does not appeal to Alphas, even though most of the wrestlers are well-conditioned athletes.


---Seems to me that if women were the makers of myth, old mythology wouldn't be embarrassingly misogynistic and more romantic in nature.---

Also dull, boring and uninspiring as all hell.

"Its been 25 years since I've seen Moonraker. My apologies. Maybe what I meant "can you imagine James Bond playing Bridge in a movie today?" "

It was actually the book of Moonraker. Does that prove your point? I dont know since they change tons for the movie to try and make it seem more 'hip'.

I wonder if a general movie going audience would even know what bridge is these days let alone have negative associations with it.

Speaking as a woman, I do not think (most) women draw a firm distinction between obsessive sports-watching and obsessive video-game-playing. However:

1) Lots of men watch or follow sports non-obsessively; it's something to do with their friends or to fill a lazy Sunday afternoon. Of course lots of men play video games non-obsessively, but the part-time computer-potato has not enjoyed the mass pop-culture publicity his couch-counterpart has, perhaps in part because home computers are newer.

2) I agree that the distinction between sports-watching and video-game-playing is in large part between what is associated with them. Sports-watching is associated with sports-playing, and to a lesser extent with such semi-wholesome All-American activities as tailgating, barbecuing, roughhousing with the kids, etc. Video games are associated with 27-year-old virgins who live with their mothers and hoard empty soda cans. I would argue these associations are neither universally correct nor uncorrelated from reality.

3) The supposed distaste of women for video gamers cannot possibly be entirely due to women's prejudice toward the activity. Many women disapprove of, say, pornography, but they do not refuse to date men who view it because (most of) those men have the ability to keep their mouths shut. They do not mention their interest in pornography on first meeting a woman, they do not pursue it in her presence unless she expresses interest, and they are willing to temporarily put it aside in order to interact with a woman they like. The fact that video gamers do not do this suggests that they don't want to, or can't, prioritize interpersonal relationships over their hobby.

4) All of which brings me to the fact that most women who have a problem with gamers do not object primarily to the activity but to its frequency and its pervasiveness in gamers' lives. A man who watches "too much" sports is often thought to merely not have enough to do, and the habit can therefore be replaced with alternatives, i.e. spending time with a woman and their eventual offspring or doing tasks around the house. (This doesn't always work.) A man who plays video games may be just as malleable (or he may not be) but the perception is that the video games are and will always be the primary element of his life. No woman wants to date someone who is always going to be more attached to pixels on a screen than to her.

"...because (most of) those men have the ability to keep their mouths shut. They do not mention their interest in pornography on first meeting a woman, they do not pursue it in her presence unless she expresses interest, and they are willing to temporarily put it aside in order to interact with a woman they like."

So that's what I'm doing wrong!

"All of which brings me to the fact that most women who have a problem with gamers do not object primarily to the activity but to its frequency and its pervasiveness in gamers' lives."

This suggests to me that women are alert to any sort of male obsessive behavior and consider it a signal of abnormality. There is probably a good biological reason for this. A man who was not focused on obtaining food or fighting wars was probably not the ideal provider in our evolutionary past.

Thinking again about televised sports. This might not immediately get lumped with obsessive behavior simply because television-watching is such a widely sanctioned downtime activity. The average American watches 5 hours a day. If you devote 5 of your non-working hours a day to any single activity other than television, I would argue that you would be considered abnormal.

"Thinking again about televised sports. This might not immediately get lumped with obsessive behavior simply because television-watching is such a widely sanctioned downtime activity. The average American watches 5 hours a day."

My reasoned guess is that the typical male sports fan doesn't watch five hours of televised sports a day. An MLB game is about two and a half to three hours long on average, and many fans tune toward the end of the game rather than watch the whole thing. Football games are more likely to be watched end-to-end, but as I posted elsewhere there are only about nine total hours of football each week during a relatively short season. Maybe a total of 12 hours a week if you watch a college game on Saturday. The other big sports - NBA, college basketball, NASCAR and PGA - are like MLB, in the sense that fans are more likely to tune in near the end of a game/race/round rather than watch the whole thing start to finish.

Add up this relatively piecemeal viewing, throw in 30 minutes of Sportscenter, and you still don't get anywhere near an average of five hours a day for the typical fan.

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