There seems to be a public attack on women with geeky hobbies or interest… or a running commentary about the alleged attack on geeky girls. Women seem to be more marginalized, almost interrogated when they claim to be a fan of something that men typically enjoy: Sports, Green Lantern, Math. Though there are girls who are putting on an act to fit in with the guys, there are far more genuine female fans. Is there really an attack on girl geeks though? I consider myself to have geeky hobbies and interests (That’s probably obvious since I own a blog called The Geekly Tribune) and I also have ovaries. So as a geek girl, here’s my take on the issue(s).
When I first started really getting into Batman comics, I would get mad at people who would wear Batman shirts just because they saw one Batman movie. Men and women alike sport the logo printed on all sorts of accessories and clothes. It is now a cultural icon and has saturated everyday life. To say Batman is a household name is to state the obvious. Now as a more established reader, I understand that Batman is not an underground character, so he is in no way exclusive to only comic book fans. He’s not exclusive to movie goers, cartoon watchers, art lovers… whoever. Therefore, he is not exclusive to me, and that sense of protection against “fakers” I felt was misplaced.
Star Wars is another pervasive cultural phenomenon. I LOVE Star Wars. I have a collection of action figures, I’ve seen the original trilogy a billion times, and even though I hated the prequels I couldn’t resist going to every one of those terrible films. I no longer get upset when I see hipster chicks with their vintage Star Wars tees. Star Wars is a part of our culture. Someone who has never watched the movies will recognize the characters. Some will even be able to quote the film having never seen it. It would be a momentous task to count all of the Star Wars references made in Pop Culture today. Now I just let those girls be.
Girls that buy a “cute” geeky top just for fashion’s sake and potentially for male attention are somewhat insulting to us females who actually enjoy whatever it is they’re devaluing. To me, she is representing herself in a false light. False advertising. If I were to approach her, eager to talk to her because I believe we have a common interest, I would soon be disappointed. I feel the same way when I see girls wearing rock Tshirts for the look, having never listened to the band. They are borrowing from a culture that means a great deal to someone and I feel they are cheapening it just so they can achieve a certain “look.”
On the other hand, know-it-all-super-nerds need to back off. These are detail oriented, obsessive and pushy jerks that need to win every argument and make someone else look bad no matter what the cost. Comic books, Magick cards, video games (whatever area they decided to spend years of their lives on instead of bettering themselves or learning a new skill)… they want to be an unbeatable walking encyclopedia. They will challenge everyone, men and women. Whatever insecurities these types of people are dealing with, I wash my hands of them. If I want to read Batman comics, and I don’t find it necessary to memorize the entire DC universe, that’s my prerogative. This is not a contest.
I don’t understand why someone would accuse me of not being a true fan because I don’t know which Robin was in issue #297319826246. I enjoy reading comics. If I wanted to spend my free time memorizing a bunch of facts, I would go study something like another language, art, or history. Oh wait, that is what I do when I want to memorize facts! When I want to read for leisure, I pick up a comic. Maybe it’s fun for them to be a human encyclopedia, whatever floats your boat. That’s just not my idea of fun and that should be respected.
I am no threat to the avid fan! And though people who wear the gear and can’t back it up with actual fandom piss me off to an extent, they aren’t a threat either. That just means that a once lesser known hobby has now reached that level of popularity. Geek culture isn’t what it used to be. Some may view it as having been hijacked and drained dry for all it’s worth. There is some of that going on, definitely. Pop culture likes to do that with subcultures. Marketing is all about the niche now. Geeks are a great target audience; there’s lots of money to be made off of us. But sometimes something has the spotlight because it is just that good. Star Wars is the best example of this.
Now onto the now infamous cosplay rant by Tony Harris. This was first brought to my attention a while back on one of the Facebook pages I follow (which shall remain nameless). This Facebook page claimed this was sexist and a horrible thing to say about female cosplayers. My first reaction to this was: Who gives a shit? He’s attacking girls who dress like sluts for attention. If that’s not you, why are you offended? He prefaces his entire rant by stating there are girls who dress up who actually like comics. The girls he is ranting about do not read comics, they just want an excuse to dress like a slut the same way some girls will dress like a sexy french maid on Halloween.
What disturbs me currently is his focus on looks. He talks about these girls not being pretty. Now, why does that even matter? Maybe it’s because he’s just angry and looks are an easy thing to attack. Or could it be that he’s a shallow jerk? I doubt he has stopped each and every one of these “fakers” and asked her about what she enjoys. On the other hand, I also don’t doubt that he’s overheard and observed a lot of what he’s describing. Even if what he’s saying is partially true, he should have kept his judgements to himself on this. Wrong or right, he has made himself out to seem shallow, mean, and ignorant. There is a much more elegant way he could have worded his thoughts.
I had this friend. She was a really cool girl. Her favorite store was Hollister and I never liked stores like that, but we didn’t care about our difference of styles. I invited her to see my band play, and was very surprised to find her standing in the venue wearing fishnet stockings, combat boots and thick black eyeliner. She wanted to dress the part. At the time, I felt this was ridiculous. Now I can see the logic, though it was flawed.
To me this is the same thing as throwing on a popular costume to go to Comic Con. You are disguising yourself and temporarily placing yourself inside of another culture. There are people surrounding you who are very passionate about what you’re pretending to be. It’s one thing to attend as yourself, no pretending, nothing to hide… and another to represent yourself as a member of a subculture that you don’t know the first thing about. It is somewhat insulting, but how much energy should be spent letting this get to me?
I feel the more people like Tony Harris attacks something like this and focus in on it, the more they reveal about their own insecurities. The scapegoat will take the attention off of the attackers own lack of knowledge on a subject. If they want to establish an image for themselves the easy way, they could attack things, point out the flaws in others. This takes all eyes off of their flaws. Oldest trick in the book. We need to break this high school clique mentality of “poser” this and “poser” that. Why bother preoccupying yourself with concern over this? Enjoy what you enjoy. Real fans will see those people for what they are. It’s not anyone’s job to expose them… they’ll do a fine job of that on their own.
What it boils down to is this:
- Male or female, we all have varying degrees of geekyness. That is OK! A casual fan is still a fan! Instead of judging them for knowing less, try encouraging them to read more comics or check out a particular anime series you feel they’ll enjoy.
- We geeks need to accept that some of our near and dear heroes are popular. We need to learn to share.
- If you meet someone who you feel is trying to prove something, or who needs to win the big dick contest… just stop talking to that person! They obviously suck.
- If you meet someone who’s wearing a Batman shirt and never even watched a movie, hold off on the judgement. Just remember that those tshirts are sold E-V-E-R-Y-W-H-E-R-E.
- There will always be that slut in a costume trying to prove something. And there will be girls who put a lot of time and effort into making a costume because they are passionate about the character. Sometimes the difference is obvious and sometimes it’s not. For that reason, I implore you to reserve your harsh judgement.
- This goes beyond gender. Let’s stop focusing on gender and start focusing on the individual.
So turn of that tireless part of your brain that constantly needs to be judging other people and just chill. Can’t we all just get along?