Grow up, Internet, I’m 30.


Today I’m 30.

According to the internet, I’m old. But you know what?

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It’s ground into women from an early age that aging is good until you’re 18, and then all at once very VERY bad. How dare we continue to age after sexual maturity! IT’S LIKE WE’RE PEOPLE. Not surprising from a culture that values women for our sexuality over… y’know, the entirety of our beings. No matter. Because as I said: I’m old now. And therefore now disregard all misogynist bullshittery aimed at me.

It’s strange to think that in my twenties, I looked back at my teen years and I’m all like…

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And now, I’m 30 looking back at my twenties all like…

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My twenties allowed me more freedom over my life, but it also came with a host of new anxieties. The combination of bad relationships and a desperate need to grow up as soon as humanly possible actually managed to make me more insecure than I was as a teen. This was due partly to my own (what I have dubbed “shit-tastic”) circumstances, having little to no family support or mentoring of any kind. The greatest advice ever given to me was from a social worker whom, while I sat shaking like a dumpster puppy in his office, said

“Magdalen, distance yourself from people who are fucked up.”

Best. Advice. Ever.

As I said in my previous article, Haters Need Not Apply: Friendship and Third Wave Feminism, I’m not interested in keeping toxic people in my life. I don’t have the time or patience and good riddance to both. Here are a few other things I’m done with:

Worrying what people will think of my outfit.

Pants without pockets.

Avoiding confrontation so people wont think I’m mean.

Men who make excuses for themselves.

Hoping I don’t look too old.

Hoping I don’t look to young.

Diet soda.

All of the above things? Fuck all y’all.

In other news, I realize content release has slowed down and I’m sorry for that. My life has changed rapidly over the last 6 months, I’m only now starting to find my bearings. I’m hoping to have more content coming more quickly as things finally become boring again!

I’m not on board with Fat Acceptance and Here’s Why


Fat Acceptance as a concept has always seemed like a great idea to me. As someone who grew up overweight and gradually became obese, I know the sting of body judging all too well. It’s also no surprise that this movement has worked in tandem with 3rd wave feminism to break down our culture’s fixation on women’s bodies. So as a feminist, I see why it’s needed and important. Because simply by existing these people are committing two unforgivable societal sins: being fat and being female. This relegates them to the outskirts of society, unrepresented in our media beyond the headless fatties on the news with captions that read: “IS AMERICA EATING ITSELF TO DEATH?!”

We need to see fat women. Fat women exist. We need to see them living life, dressing the way they want, and feeling confident. The core of Fat Acceptance is restoring fat people’s humanity and in this way it has my full support.

I’d like to specify that I’m speaking about Fat Acceptance as expressed by white women. In my experience, the Fat Acceptance movement is made up almost entirely with women who are white and middle class. Women of color have their own brand of Fat Acceptance, but I’m not familiar with it and therefore can’t comment.

But then I see articles like this recent Buzzfeed list.

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Just to clarify: this woman is not fat.

I can see that this article is well-meaning. Bikini season is approaching and it’s a time of anxiety for a lot of women. Many of us struggle to lose weight fast enough in order to fit in (literally) while others feel left out completely, accepting baggy t-shirts as their only option.

In reality, these types of articles are extremely patronizing. They infantilize grown-ass women by telling us that we’re all special and all beautiful. This is, of course, impossible. When everyone is special, being special becomes meaningless. Same with beauty.

Now beauty is complicated. Certainly no one is arguing that fat people don’t have inner-beauty. Unless you’re one of those sad sacks over at fatpeoplestories on Reddit, in which case: what the fuck are you doing with your life?

But the issue I take with this Buzzfeed article is what seems to be a growing trend within the Fat Acceptance movement. The claim that fat people’s bodies are inherently as attractive as thinner, healthier bodies. Beauty is a broad concept and is not the same as sexual attractiveness.

Obviously, there is a spectrum of being overweight. Being a little curvier or having some extra fat is trivial and rarely interferes with people’s attraction. Women are beginning to celebrate curvier frames more in recent years and that’s good. But there’s a limit. There comes a point where fat begins to overtake your body. It hangs and sags, hiding your real curves and facial features. Especially if you’re short like me, being obese can completely consume your appearance. At my highest weight I can barely recognize myself.

And that just isn’t sexy.

There is a growing denial in Fat Acceptance about beauty standards. It is difficult to argue against the Fat Acceptance claims against of traditional beauty standards. Beauty standards are problematic. Yes, our culture is undeniably hateful toward fat bodies. Yes, women are the main target of this hate and are scrutinized within an inch of our sanity. Our bodies are a social battleground and that is beyond fucked up. It has to stop.

But the answer is to take control of our bodies, not to cover up the problem with airy platitudes like, “real women have curves” or “men like something to hold onto!” These are emotional band-aids that need to be ripped the fuck off.

The hard truth is that being obese makes sexual relationships more difficult. Stamina, joint problems, blood flow – all of these become relevant. Does your stomach hang over your genitals? Doubly so. What your partner probably won’t tell you is that these are all barriers that make attraction a struggle. That doesn’t mean they don’t love you. This does mean that your inability to control your weight will make sex harder.

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Neither is she.

It’s strange to me that so many people who talk about “body positivity” do so without a single thought for the negative affects of being fat. Please don’t send me your essay about Health at Any Size as I find the entire concept to be intellectually bankrupt. If you’re looking to be the magical fat unicorn that’s perfectly healthy at 350lbs, odds are you aren’t that unicorn. Focusing on the legend of such people actually does a lot of damage to others in the long run. Because, in the real world, most people who are obese are that way due to an unhealthy lifestyle. And it’s a hell of a lot easier to rationalize that you’re healthy at any size than to reevaluate your habits. I know, I’ve been there.

You may think you’re sending out positive messages to those who need help salvaging their self-esteem in a world full of fat hate. And to some that’s exactly what you’re doing. But what we don’t see are the people who are addicted to food and covering with Fat Acceptance ideals. There are people in the Fat Acceptance movement who are killing themselves slowly with food and sedentary living while others applaud and tell them they’re flawless. There is- and I’m being totally serious here– an ongoing search by Fat Acceptance activists for doctors who will ignore weight problems when treating illness. Those doctors are then reviewed favorably online and passed around to others who have been “fat shamed” by their doctors.

Just in case you haven’t noticed: that’s fucking insane. If 5 doctors tell you that your weight is a contributing factor to your health problems, the answer is not to find another doctor. This avoidant behavior is at the core of where Fat Acceptance has gone off course. It’s blatantly ignoring health, to the detriment of it’s own community, in order to create an accepting environment. What’s shocking to most is the best example of this is in the Pro-Ana movement.

Pro-Ana (also called “Thinsperation” or “Thinspo”) is objectively heartbreaking to anyone outside of its community.img_1610

Young women support each other in their search to starve themselves in the name of Fashion, beauty, and a feeling of control. They give each other tips, tricks and even help each other hide their disorder from family and friends. It is both the completely opposite of Fat Acceptance and its greatest parallel. Feminists have condemned Thinspo as degrading, horrific and a symptom of living in a world where women’s worth is based on their dress size. Women everywhere cry out, “This is awful! How could she think this is sexy? Can’t she see she is hurting herself?” And they’re right. Regarding the physical component of sex drives- bodies that are physically unhealthy or malnourished aren’t as attractive as healthier bodies.

These women take their weight to extremes which objectively hurts them. Yet the Thinspo community eagerly jumps to their defense, swaddling them in a blanket of comforting platitudes, reinforcing their feelings with validation. They are enablers, just as addicts of all sorts enable others.

On the other side, Fat Acceptance communities are doing their version of the exact same thing. They create online communities that encourage people to accept their bodies without any knowledge or consideration of their health. A popular saying with this crowd is, “You can’t look at someone’s size and know their health”, which has a grain of truth but it goes both ways. No, you can’t always know if an overweight person is healthy or not. They could, in fact, be dangerously overweight. They could be only a few years from losing their mobility or even a limb to diabetes. But the need to enable each other overrides any health concerns. Perhaps it’s easier to get behind Fat Acceptance because of its foundation in feminist thought. Pro-Ana is a clear example of damage caused to women by living in a patriarchal culture. It sends the strong message, “This is what happens when men control women’s bodies.” Fat Acceptance, in theory, should be about women taking back that control.

I’ve noticed that the vast majority of people in Fat Acceptance are young women, mid-twenties to early-thirties. Very few men, unsurprisingly. These women are at an age where serious weight-related maladies may have not yet presented. The decline of their health may not be fully apparent yet. Unfortunately, the reality is that it’s only a matter of time and both Thinspo and Fat Activists need to realize the limits of the human body…

You can get to a point where you are too old and unhealthy to fix your body. People can, and do, get stuck. Some damage is unrepairable. There is nothing feminist or empowering about becoming trapped in your body. Nothing at all.

WomanFeminists want equality. But that also includes taking responsibility for ourselves and accepting reality. We can’t demand equality while expecting everyone to pretend that someone who appears unhealthy is as sexually attractive as someone who takes better care of themselves. It’s the same thinking that leads adults to tell their children that they can be dinosaurs when they grow up. These placating white lies are meant to soothe egos but ultimately only infantilizes women, keeping us in a place of inferiority. The trade off for equal treatment is that we can’t expect to be handled with kid gloves. Thems the breaks.

I still firmly believe that Fat Acceptance at it’s core is a positive movement. I’d like to see it move away from comforting platitudes about sexuality and focus on the capabilities of fat people. I want to support those efforts to humanize and to push for representation. You have a right to take care of yourself as much or as little as you want, no one can force you to gain or lose weight. But I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that it’s sexy when you don’t care for yourself, it isn’t. We are grown ass women who can handle ourselves, and it’s time we act like it.

Haters Need Not Apply: Friendship and Third Wave Feminism


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It’s always a shock to me when I lose a friend. There’s some vestigial feeling from years of after-school specials that my friends are my friends for life. B.F.F – best friends forever, right? It feels alien, despite the fact that it’s totally natural. As people grow, our values and personalities change and that inevitably means social circles must be culled. As a young woman my low self esteem taught me that a loss of a friend was a sign that I was a bad person, a mean person, a “bitch”. These days I know better, or at least I’m trying to remember to know better.

Approaching my 30th year I can safely say I’ve lost a lot of friends in my life. But I no longer have the erroneous fear that it reflects poorly on me. Rather, it shows a progression toward not tolerating toxic people. In addition to that, I’m beginning to finally understand what friendship is and surprisingly most of my female friends have fallen short.

My original understanding of friendship and sisterhood was defined simply by just the women in my life. Friends by default simply because we liked the same things. But this practice has backfired more times than I like to admit. Because the unfortunate truth is that most women in America create environments that are hostile toward each other. We engage in behavior that reinforces the negativity toward ourselves, willingly and with a viciousness that’s extremely damaging.

Few times in my life have a felt the sting of feminine misogyny like when I break up with a guy.

Full disclosure: I’ve broken up with lots of guys. Sorry, not sorry. I have a tendency to come into relationships too weak and always trying to see the best in people. But once I find my footing, I’m usually shocked to find myself attached to someone pretty unworthy of my attention. Hence all the breaking up.

It’s during these times of transition that women show their true colors. True allies will be supportive, empathetic and honest. But I have admit, these reactions are the minority. Here’s a list of things I’ve experienced from other women:

  • Refusing to speak to me ever again because they’re mutual friends with my ex.
  • Believing everything my ex tells them without bothering to ask me anything personally.
  • Going through mutual friends to ask if I’ve cheated on my ex.
  • Flying into jealous temper tantrums when my status turns from “in a relationship” to “single”.
  • Perceiving any emotions I have about my ex as proof that I’m one of those “crazy bitches”.
  • Slut shaming me for getting into relationships too quickly after my break ups.

The worst part of all of this is I’ve known most of these women for 5 years or more. These weren’t office friends. Break ups are a time when women are asked to stand with other women. But this often proves too much for them, the knee jerk instinct to align oneself with men is too strong.  And can often have disastrous consequences. Women often stay in toxic, abusive relationships partly because the other women in their lives refuse to acknowledge what’s happening is abusive or unhealthy. They try to help find ways to cope with unacceptable behavior instead of helping them leave. And when those relationships do end, those very same women create an air of silent judgement more chilling than the break up itself.

All these things have happened to me and as I em entering my 30’s this May, I’m determined to stop this pattern. I want and need women in my life, sisterhood is extremely important. But a strong dedication to supporting other women is a requirement. If you’re not a feminist, you’re no friend of mine nor to any woman. I no longer have the time or interest to drag people with me into a healthier way of friendship. You get it or you don’t, you’re either in or out.

Don’t waste my time, ladies. I promise not to waste yours.

XOXO

Manipulation and Argument 101


This tweet could easily sum up 2014 for me.

As I’m closing in on 30 years old, I’m learning many things about myself. One of which is that I’ve spent the majority of my life as a very trusting person. That sounds like a humble brag, but I assure you nothing has caused me more pain and suffering than this naivety. My insistence in believing that everyone really means well, despite the hurt they’ve caused, has tripped me more times than I’d like to admit.

During my time on social media I’ve observed arguments regarding controversies in gaming culture. Specifically, I have noticed a consistent tactic within the waning “gamergate” community. That theme is simple, but utterly destroys any hope of either side communicating effectively. And it’s a tactic I have finally come to understand now, at 29 years old. Finally.

Willful ignorance. Saying you do not understand the problem when you do. Stating subjective opinions as solid facts. And lastly, intentionally misusing and misunderstanding words or concepts.

This may come off at first at harmless stupidity, but I assure you it’s intentional. Here’s an example:

“Anita Sarkeesian is largely ignored by gamers.” is a lie. A complete and boldface lie. One a gamergater attempted to sell me just yesterday. But perhaps more infuriating is that it’s one that so easily proven wrong. So why? Why try to sell me a load of bullshit I could easily prove wrong? And how could someone believe something so clearly inaccurate? This type of thing spins my head- as it’s tailor made to do exactly that. The answer is of course they don’t really think that at all. It’s a tactic, a game play. Made to create an environment where their opponent feels off kilter, even crazy.

Another:

“Do you have any evidence that I’m a misogynist?” Misogyny is an abstract concept. Save for a screencap of a forum wherein they’ve stated, “Hooo boy do I love bein’ a misogynist!” there’s no way to provide “evidence”. Mainly because that’s not how evidence works. They’re demanding you provide evidence for something as if one could find their business card, Mr. Grade A. Jackass – Misogynist.

But surely the young teens and 20-somethings remaining in this dissipating group aren’t smart enough to manipulate people, right? But that’s part of the deception too. You don’t need to be a mental juggernaut to manipulate people. My first inclination is to assure myself, and you, that people may not even be aware that they’re doing it. When someone grows up in a home where manipulation is rampant, they internalize that these head games are a perfectly acceptable way to communicate.

But what I’ve finally learned this year is this: People who manipulate you always know that they’re manipulating you. Always.

Anything you say, no matter how clear your terms, will be misunderstood- on purpose.

They will misuse words like censorship- on purpose.

They will misinterpretation your values and points- it’s all on purpose.

It’s meant to wear you down. To spin you around until your too dizzy and exhausted to fight back. It’s the game that abusers play with their victims. Confronting them with their behavior will only lead to more manipulation and lying because that’s the only way they know how to interact with people. The only winning move is not to play.

It’s amazing to me how these events came into my life in the exact right time, to show me how people will lie directly to your face. It showed me that sometimes, often in fact, people are not as well meaning as they seem. It’s been an incredibly painful thing to realize, but very necessary. Like the last threads of my childhood innocence have come undone and fluttered away in the wind.

In gamergate’s quest for “ethics in journalism” it’s all about control. Controlling the narrative, controlling who is and who is not a “real gamer” control, control, control. And at the end of it all they smile right at you and say they’re a liberal atheist. It’s insanity inducing. And it’s that way on purpose.

“Set Point Weight” Theory Never Made Me Happy


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Standing next to that particularly dapper fellow- is me. Well, it was me, about 50 lbs ago. Like many Americans, my weight  problems started early and only got worse in a culture that never taught me anything about health.

As someone who had been bigger all my life, I too believed that was simply my bodies natural “set point”. That any change in diet or exercise would ultimately be useless because this was the weight my body naturally balanced out to. A lot of people subscribe to this theory for a variety of reasons. But I can say honestly now that the reason I believed this was purely denial.

This is a very sensitive subject, I know. I spent years hating my body and feeling inadequate. When speaking to larger women now, I can see them comparing themselves endlessly. It’s heartbreaking because I know that pain well. But the reality I had to face, and the thing that ultimately lead to me transforming my body, was that I was doing it to myself.

I didn’t have a thyroid problem, I drank too much soda.

I’m not allergic to anything, I just eat mindlessly and sit at my computer too much.

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The unfortunate wash on my jeans makes it look like I’ve wet my pants. But I assure you, I’m just fat.

Walking up the stairs to my apartment is not exercise, I’m just being lazy.

Now, I want to be clear: I know many people have physical problems that keep them from maintaining a healthy weight. This isn’t an attempt to shame anyone to lose weight. I think fat shaming is a crappy and ineffective ways to talk to people about health. But I wasn’t happy with my weight and had already started experiencing health problems in my twenties due to my diet.

Your body type can change the number of how much you weight drastically. For instance, I was about 170lbs in the above photo. Now, that wouldn’t be a problem if I was broad shouldered and 5’11. But sadly I’m a petite 5’3. Everything from your genetics, your height and race can change what is a healthy weight for an individual. But. None of those factors can make you naturally overweight. You do not have 30, 50, or 100lbs of excess fat because that’s your body’s “natural set point”. It may be the result of your natural lifestyle but that’s different. It’s something within your control which is why it’s so hard to accept. I know, it was hard for me too.

I had no idea how lazy I was. I was raised into a sedentary lifestyle and didn’t know any other way to be. The first time I went to a gym, I was on an elliptical for eight minutes before stopping, thinking that would be enough. Eight minutes. I had no idea what it felt like to push myself, to sweat, to ache or “feel the burn”. I wasn’t just addicted to junk food, I was addicted to comfort.

As someone who desperately wanted to lose weight, without doing anything uncomfortable of course, I set out to try any quick fix I could find. And none of it worked, obviously, because it was only treating the symptoms. I wasn’t willing to except that the real problem was with all the things I didn’t want to change.
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Four years and one pregnancy later I’m feeling a lot better. I’m happier with the way my body looks and feels. But in the end the real turning point for me was the decision to stop making excuses for myself. Ideas like “set body weight” are tempting and may make us feel better, but it’s an emotional band aid.

No one should hate their body and an often overlooked idea in the body positivity movement is the any mention of health or fitness. Being positive about your body shouldn’t just be about ignoring shitty media messages (although, fuck you Victoria Secret, for real.) It should be treating your body well. That means paying attention to its needs, not mistreating the only body you’ve got.

 

Sylvia


When you are detached from your family, your friends become your family. Whether they like it or not. It’s just something that comes with the territory of being orphaned by abuse and drug addiction. It’s a coping mechanism, really. You project your needs for brothers and sisters onto people who are the closest fit. Sometimes this works, other times it doesn’t.

This is a story about the time it didn’t work.

Dear Sylvia,
If you ever come across this, I’m sorry. It’s not meant to hurt you, or to expose anything you said or did to the world. I just need to get it out, for myself. 

I met Sylvia when she started dating one of my closest friends, Earthan. He was a guy I had dated way back in the day. But it was ancient history and we had been solid friends ever since. I had known him for 10 years, he had seen some of the worst parts of my life. Some of the worst breakdowns when I was lost in a sea of confusion and anger. This was long before I was finally diagnosed with PTSD. Before that I felt like I was constantly teetering on the edge of losing my shit and never getting back, I blamed myself for being weak and wished I could be a stronger person like my friends. He had been there for me in dark times. I trusted him completely.

Sylvia and I became close quickly. She was funny and liked a lot of the same things I did, we both loved to draw. But what we really bonded over was having survived insane abuse. My friends have always been very kind and supportive of the emotional rollercoaster I’ve gone through in the last decade. But there’s a difference between feeling bad and knowing how it feels. Sylvia knew. She knew and she was suffering too. I immediately connected with her, I wanted to be there for her in the way others couldn’t be there for us. We had many deep, incredibly personal conversations punctuated with bouts of drawing rabbits farting rainbows. I loved her so much.

But it wasn’t always easy. I didn’t always understand her behavior or decisions. Sylvia told us she suffered from chronic pain, so much so that she walked with a cane in her early 20’s. She had been in a car accident as a teen and she thought her problems were due to getting improper triage. Despite this, she wouldn’t go to a doctor. Because “male doctors were perverted”. She later began saying she had Fibromyalgia, a condition that’s not widely understood by modern medicine. Her symptoms and level of pain seemed to go up and down and never seemed to have a clear source. Instead she drank Chinese herbal mixes that seemed to do little except make her loopy.  She also suffered from terrible nightmares and emotional instability. But she rejected any attempts to get mental health care. She said she didn’t believe in cognitive behavior therapy.

There were rules we had to follow while around her. A girlfriend recalled one instance where she was told she couldn’t talk about Lewis Carroll in her presence because she thought he had been a pedophile. It’s of course entirely possible that he was a pedophile, but the fact remains that he died in 1898. If you say his name three times in front of a mirror he’s not going to manifest in the glass and touch your butt. But we loved her. So we followed her instructions.

Sylvia had two sides to her: the sweet/bubbly girl that everyone loved to be around, and a frantic raving side that could strike at any moment. Because of this she held a tight control over our social circle. It was like walking on egg shells. Challenging Sylvia, in any way, meant you were an abuser. You were either with her or against her. And one day Sylvia decided I was against her.

My partner at the time was not very tactful. He didn’t consider himself part of the social group and thus gave 0 fucks about Sylvia’s rules. One day we were sitting in a cafe and well here’s the short version:

  • Mutual acquaintance had been a shit to me.
  • My partner says he’s a shit.
  • Sylvia defended his shitness because he had been abused as a child.
  • My Partner said that was a bullshit story he had sold them.
  • Sylvia loses. her. shit.

We had only been there for about 10 minutes, but the argument escalated quickly and before I could hold out my hand and say, “Hey, wait let’s all calm down and talk about this.” Sylvia jumped up, screamed hysterically about how he was abusive and ran out of my favorite cafe while we all sat stunned by her dramatic exit.

Earthan went after her, he always went after her. And probably still does to this day.

I was so upset, so completely blown away from the emotional 180 of it all. I couldn’t do anything except mull the argument over and over in my head. What? What did I say? But I was so kind, I was trying so hard to be understanding of her feelings. Why? FUCKING WHY?

It didn’t hit me until later what was happening. Not just one thing, but everything. The weird way she would “faint” except it was never how people really fall when they pass out. Her sweet baby voice that seemed to whisper to you silently, “Help me, I’m so little and weak and you need to protect me.” How she had 1,000 excuses for why she wouldn’t see a real doctor. It was all so obvious later I could have kicked myself.

But in the end Earthan cut me off. He cut a lot of people off…

I didn’t realize what was happening. I’m so sorry. I think even if I had said something, you would have never believed me. That’s how abusive relationships work, isn’t it? But I’m still sorry… please call your mom she misses you so much.

Losing one of my closest friends, especially as quickly as I did, was a shock to the system. I spent weeks trying to retrace my steps, trying to understand where the friendship had gotten off course. People began to take sides and as I started losing more friends I could feel my sense of family and belonging unraveling underneath my feet. At one point my ex boyfriend started telling people it was about him and that I was still madly in love with him.  It was a weird rumor that seemed to come from left field. I didn’t give two shits about my ex. It was Sylvia and my friends. I wanted them back and the harder I tried the further they seemed to drift away.  I was losing my family all over again and the pain of that was unbearable.

Years afterwards many of us wrote her off as a pathological liar. But I think it was always more than that. Sylvia was mentally ill, just not in the way she claimed. You don’t create a web of manipulation that complex without feeling you need to in order to sustain relationships. Sylvia lied to us. She manipulated us because she thought it was the only way she could keep people in her life. That in itself is a serious mental illness.

I’m not saying I forgive her. I’m certainly not saying I would ever be her friend again. I lost a lot of friends that year and that was the day in the cafe was what started it all. She punished me in a way that way extremely traumatic and to this day I have never fully recovered. But it also taught me a valuable lesson about people. They’re not always what they seem.

We are not the Specials: the Nerd’s Appeal to Pity


Bitter Nerd: A portion of the Nerd community. These people struggle to self analyze and a have strong need to protect themselves from any criticism. They resent that they’re lonely and often blame women for their lack of sex lives.

[NOTE: If you are a Nerd, but do not fit this category: good. You do not need to send me an essay long email about how you’re not bitter. Do not send me your memoir about how hard things were for you growing up. If you cannot control your urge to inform me about how you’re not a bitter nerd- you probably are a bitter nerd.]

I recently tweeted out the following series of messages on my Twitter.

This came from a place of frustration. I realized during a conversation that I genuinely feared the reactions of nerds to my content. I feared it in a way I never felt about any high school bully. The anxiety over backlash and internet tantrums had actually kept me from writing my feelings, posting content, and saying what I really felt on more than one occasion. All this from a demographic who rallies about free speech in violent games. And it pissed me off.

The subsequent reaction to it blew up my Twitter feed for a bit. The majority has so far been mostly positive or at the very least introspective. The negative reactions were… less than constructive, as they tend to be. In instances like this negative reactions tend to spiral down 1 of 2 different crap chutes. So here’s a handy guide that may help you pinpoint the particular issue you’re dealing with.

Appealing to pity

Arguments that fall under this category generally take the form of…

“I was bullied in the 80’s and girls didn’t like me.”

“Women only like neanderthals.”

“I was never given the opportunity to work on my social skills, that’s why I’m like this.”

The overwhelming message here is of course the word bitter nerds hate most: Entitlement. Along with privilege, they hate these words because they cast criticism on their behavior. And criticism of any kind can’t be tolerated because…

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Bitter Nerds are actually the most sensitive people on Earth.

For all these people complain about the over sensitivity of social justice advocates, I don’t seek them out and never have. Social justice advocates are not the one sending endless, whinging comments to my video about Game Grumps. They see any criticism they receive as the cruelest, most undeserved attack on their poor widdle selves. While seeing any criticism they give anyone else, no matter how toxic or abusive, to be totally justified. It’s just them exercising their free speech and- gosh darn it- they’re proud!

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But back to appealing to pity.

Although these people can be frustrating, they’re problem is really just having a deep-seated sense of persecution that they’ve carried into adulthood. Combined with  feeling entitled to women’s attention, and therefore not responsible for improving themselves- this breeds resentment.

It’s impossible to get through to someone like this until they first understand that they are responsible for themselves and what they say and do. They must be open to the idea that they’re flawed and capable of improvement. But they’re also hypersensitive to anything that might resemble snark, anger, or sarcasm. Replying in any of these ways will result in them doubling down on their feelings of persecution.

Bitter nerds love to consider themselves misunderstood anti-heroes and lone wolves. I’d like to point out that this is a pretty common coping mechanism. One I fell victim to in my own youth. It gives you a  sense of identity and shields you from the sting of criticism.

“I’m not a loser, I’m just misunderstood. They don’t get how special I am. And that’s fine as long as I am super duper special.”

The problem comes up when you’re confronted with the reality that so many other people suffered in the same way. People we thought “had it all” struggled just as much as we did, if not worse.

Case in point, my boyfriend.

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Stupid hot guy… I bet he traveled the world with the money he made being popular in High School.

If I had met him in high school I would have never spoken to him. I would have never even considered talking to him. He was cute and on the soccer team and had legs like Chun Li. Guys like that didn’t go out with chubby nerd girls who drew Sailor Moon fan art in their notebooks. He might as well have been a different species.

But the reality was he was taking so many AP classes at such a young age that he could barely connect with anyone in his school.

“The older kids didn’t like the younger kid showing off, and the kids my age didn’t relate to me because I wasn’t in any of their classes. I felt like I was completely alone. I had some friends, but I didn’t feel like I was part of a group like everyone else was.”

Learning this was kind of mind-blowing for me. I was so absorbed with how everyone dismissed me and how bad that made me feel that I was totally oblivious to the fact that high school sucks for everyone. If you’re fat and ugly, like me, you were an invisible loser. But if you were beautiful then fat, ugly girls like me would resent you forever. You can’t win. And the first step in escaping this persecution complex is realizing that we were not the only ones suffering. And no, our suffering wasn’t worse or somehow more important than others. We are not the specials. 

Appealing to pity only proves that you’re still operating the same way you were in adolescence. It’s a self-centered and extremely flawed perception that has no place in modern conversations about politics, social justice or gaming. I implore you, as a fellow nerd, we all seriously need to grow out of this. I know it’s hard to stop. After sitting in a specific chair for long enough that butt nook is pretty damn comfortable. It soothes us to think that we’re the real victims because it takes all the responsibility off of us to change our behavior. But that’s a coward’s approach to the world. It’s time to take up the sword, put on our big kid pants and start acting like the heroes we look up to in our games.