Continuing our discussion of gender representation, we focused on masculinity this week. The textbook mentions three forms of masculinity: the old man, the new man, and the new lad.
In group discussion, we talked about whether these groups still felt relevant today. We agreed that they did, but we also identified several more specific subcategories. One of these was the “male geek” stereotype, which is worth talking about in relation to the “new lad.”
Though the hobbies of the new lad are more likely to include sports and drinking than role-playing and comic book-reading, we still see considerable overlap between the lad and the geek. Both interact with friends in a juvenile way, use jokes and irony to play their offensive behaviour off as “just kidding,” and behave in overtly and covertly misogynistic ways. Geeks, like their more masculine counterparts, still see women as sex objects. However, though their pursuit of women may involve lying and manipulation, it is usually played for laughs—they chase after women who are “out of their league” and find themselves in ridiculous situations.
The male geek stereotype appears all over pop culture, from the John Hughes teen movies of the 80’s to the more recent television series The Big Bang Theory. The channel Pop Culture Detective on YouTube has examined The Big Bang Theory in particular. The central point of the video below is that because “the geek” doesn’t embody the kind of macho masculinity we would expect of sexist men, it’s surprising and therefore funny to see them engage in that kind of misogynist behaviour.
“The target of the joke is not the misogynist behaviour. Instead, it’s making fun of men who are not traditionally masculine enough to believably pull it off.”