While I am a geek, I’m also the mother of a very active 15-month-old, so I often don’t get the time to touch upon everything that I want to touch upon within a blog post; any blogging that I manage to squeeze into my day is limited to when my precious daughter is asleep…
As a result, I basically just try to get as many of my thoughts down as quickly as possible, because I never know when I’ll have the peace of mind to do so again. Unfortunately though, this often means that points I originally meant to make often get lost in the shuffle and then re-emerge during a rare moment of quiet…and then smack me upside the head with a mallet.
My review of The Gamers: Hands of Fate is a perfect example of this, because while I touched upon the overall awesomeness of the movie from the massive fan support to intricately weaved dual-plots, I nevertheless forgot to mention the one aspect that struck a significant chord with me…
Being a girl geek in a predominantly male environment.
When we first meet Natalie (one of the two female protagonists of the film), she is buying cards to add to her gaming deck so she can participate in the tournament for Romance of the Nine Empires (a game similar to Magic the Gathering). Immediately, the harassment begins. “Get back to the kitchen and make me a sandwich”, “Guys are bad at relationships, and girls are bad at things“, and “Show us your boobs” are just a few of the misogynistic comments that Natalie faced in one night alone. While Natalie parried the leers and the taunts with her rapier wit, it was clear that the remarks still bothered her.
“How dare I game with ovaries?”
While spoken sarcastically to try and make light of the situation, Natalie nevertheless hit the nail right on the head. Never mind the fact that Natalie was a competent and skilled gamer in her own right, the mere fact that she was a girl made her a target of ridicule because according to male geeks, girls simply don’t belong in their world.
Now, I’m not saying that all male geeks feel and act this way so please don’t misunderstand me by thinking that I’m lumping all male geeks into one category. In fact, the majority of the male geeks I’ve met have been very accepting and welcoming. My own husband loves the fact that I love comic books and various types of gaming, and encourages me onward in my behavior because it’s one of the many ways in which we can spend time together. Playing Magic the Gathering, Dungeons and Dragons, or even the rare times we’re able to go to the comic book shop with our daughter, are all things that we enjoy doing together.
However, that’s not to say that I haven’t encountered my own share of nastiness.
One incident that particularly comes to mind is being verbally attacked and abused by a male geek because he didn’t like a review that I had written about a graphic novel that truly was nothing short of awful. Among the many streams of verbal (or rather, written, if you want to get technical about it) diarrhea that spewed across the page on my computer screen, he informed me that I was a fake geek who didn’t know what I was talking about because apparently (according to him in any case) all I was familiar with were cutsie, sugary things like Pokemon. Even when I replied back to him and calmly explained that I not only read manga but I also read comic books from DC, IDW, and Dynamite (just to name a few labels), he still insisted that I was nothing more than a stupid poser who only read what was popular and mainstream because it was “cool” and that I should stop pretending to be something that I wasn’t. Naturally, because he got very nasty, I’m only paraphrasing what he said, but you get the gist of it.
Now, like I said, most male geeks are not like this. But it’s those few raging, misogynistic jerks that always seem to make themselves heard above the generally accepting crowd, because they make it their personal mission to go out of their way to target girl geeks and make them feel worthless. Believe me, it works. The incident involving me that I mentioned above happened almost two years ago, and it still bothers me.
Matt Vancil did an excellent job of capturing this type of situation during the course of his film–even going as far as to have Cass (the male lead) ask Natalie with genuine bewilderment after she had given an impassioned speech about the fate of R9E (Romance of the Nine Empires)…
“Why do you even care? All I’ve ever seen is these ass-hats tearing you down and ignoring you. They’re fawning all over me, and you’ve been kicking ass for what…years?”
In this rare moment of selfless clarity, Cass raises a very valid point.
Why do we as girl geeks stick around and put up with the snide comments when it would be so much easier to simply turn our backs on geek culture altogether and leave the world of geekery behind?
Because we know what we like, and we have just as much right to be here as male geeks do. Wake up and smell the coffee boys–comic books, video games, table-top games and LARPing are no longer just for you. We live in a world where it’s now socially acceptable for girls to not only like science fiction, fantasy and other things of a geeky nature, but to also be open and upfront about it. While it will no doubt be a road with its fair share of bumps, girl geeks aren’t going anywhere.
Have you hugged your nerd today?