I'm a big fan of Laurie's work so I was excited to see that she was tackling such an important topic in her new books (there's a second one to come next year)-but unfortunately I feel she's really missed the mark this time around. Despite focusing on sexism online and the changes cyberspace has wrought on gender relations her argument here really hinges on a very old fashioned and largely discredited idea, namely that while female gender roles are culturally created (and therefore can be changed), male gender roles are natural and inalterable.
Laurie argues that online sexism is a result of "geek" men seeking out new spaces online where they can escape the normal social hierarchy where "jocks" rule. These reductive and rather American terms presuppose that there is a natural order - a pecking order of sorts - with jocks at the top and geeks at the bottom, and that it is a refusal on the part of the geek men to accept their place in that hierarchy that causes problems, rather than limiting models of acceptable masculinity.
By attributing online sexism to bitter geeks who were unable to form relationships with women in the real world, and now resent finding them online, Laurie not only relies on some pretty ugly generalisations, she also seems to be blaming natural allies and failing to acknowledge that in 2013 everybody is online -geek, jock or otherwise, and that even those perfect examples of the jock stereotype she puts on a pedestal are capable of being sexists, both on and offline.
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