Today’s XKCD strip bothers me, a little. It reminds me of the discussion about assertiveness amongst nerd guys brought up when Gabe and Tycho at Penny Arcade were talking about “pick-up artists” (PUAs) a while back.
[…] But I also think that messages like the XKCD strip really reinforce that idea of isolation and make the world out to be filled with potential mates — if only you’d just talk to them! There’s some truth here, in that it’s pretty hard to meet people if you find it hard to talk to communicate with others. But the more insidious, unintended message I’m seeing is one that just feeds into the PUA logic — given enough confidence and skills, all women are yours for the taking.
myoxisbroken of the XKCD forum said it best:
Because so goddamn many of you [nerd-men] believe, for whatever reason, that interacting with women is like solving a Rubik’s cube that turns into a Fleshlight when you win.
Generally, I like XKCD because it’s geeky and normally not sexist—something quite rare in the geek community. Randall portrays both male and female geeks in his comics, which undermines the male geek assumption that geekiness is unique to men.
However, this particular “Creepy” comic, along a few other XKCD comics, is problematic and reinforces problematic behaviours among heterosexual male geeks. “Creepy” promotes the pick up artist logic, a.k.a., women work like dating sims.
Another thing that bothers me about the “Creepy” comic is the stereotype that netbooks are best suited for women and that “cuteness” is some kind of salient property of a woman’s computer.
If I had a netbook on the subway and some man told me that it was “cute”, I would think that he was sexist, and therefore a creep. I have an XO “laptop”, but I would think that its power-saving features, its electronic-paper-like display, and the fact that it was built to run Linux are more salient features for me than its “cuteness”. A netbook is not a purse.