Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Geek and Gamer Girls, We're Unbelievable!

Geek girls have been all over the news lately, from Boobgate to little Katie Goldman who was teased for liking Star Wars (and the unbelievable outpouring of support from geek girls all over the world) to why some people think Game of Thrones is for guys, to whether or not celebrity women are pandering to geeks. I've talked about it. I've discussed it on Twitter and ComiCenter. I just chatted about it with my very good friend and honorary geek chick George Roush and new buddy Jennifer Landa on My Geek Lady. (Check out the show below.) But I thought it was time to put my feelings down, if not on paper, than on the web.

Watch live video from GeekWeek on Justin.tv

I think it's easy to dismiss us because the prevailing feeling out there is that being a female geek is still an unusual thing. I still have men look at me in shock when I tell them I play World of Warcraft (to be fair, I might be mistaking that for what is really shock that I leave the house and play World of Warcraft). Not so very long ago, I told the producers of a show on a major gaming network that I love video games and comic books and they called me a unicorn. Rare, they explained, because I don't look like a troll and I know what a drow is. This from a network that regularly hires geek women.

If you're reading this, you probably know what a drow is too.

Now, I don't say this to slam them. Not at all. Our culture tells us that women who aren't ugly shouldn't have deep interests of any sort. Yes, my friends, I am prepared for the shit storm that sentence is going to cause. But look at which geek girls are being targeted as panderers and betrayers of their sex. There are posts about how women who cosplay as Slave Leia or characters with any sort of sex appeal shouldn't be taken seriously. (Read Bonnie Burton's fantastic post on SFX about this.) There are posts about how hot, famous chicks couldn't possibly be into geek stuff. They're just talking about it to get guys to think they're cool. (Oh my, how the worm has turned.)

As Bonnie Burton said, Slave Leia strangled Jabba all by herself...in a metal bikini. Hardly a weak woman.

Now, this reminds me of a few of my feminist friends...and yes, I proudly identify myself as a feminist...back in college who told me I couldn't be a feminist and wear makeup/be a makeup artist/do my hair/care about my appearance, etc. As though being attractive disqualifies you from being smart or caring about anything. Of cooourse. Attractive women don't have to have interests. People give them things as soon as they bat their painted lashes. Interests and hobbies are for people who don't have social lives or mascara, and have to occupy their hours with comic books because no one will talk to them. Apparently you don't count as a feminist/geek if you fall into that category.

It's not a stereotype that will disappear any time soon. And it does exist for a reason. I'm not saying no one out there has ever pandered or used liking something to look cool/get guys/land jobs. But I'm sorry, I can decorate my face and still want equal pay for equal work. I can talk about having boobs (I'm sure you read the post where amazing blogger Jill Pantozzi was called out for naming her blog Has Boobs, Reads Comics) and dress in sexy costumes and still be able to talk about comics and video games with conviction.

So where does that leave us? Well, there is very little we can do about the guys and what they say or think, other than to continue to have the conversation. But there is something we can do about our own community from the inside. We can support each other. We don't need to be tearing each other apart from within. Calling each other out for names of blogs and threatening to punch a fellow geek in ''her stupid boobs'' is not helping. Telling someone that the way I'm a geek is far more legitimate than the way you're a geek isn't either.

Something that I mentioned on the ComiCenter podcast is the difference between geeks. There are the exclusionary geeks who say, ''I know this really cool thing about Batman and you're an idiot because you don't,'' and the more welcoming sort who say, ''I know this really cool thing about Batman. Do you want to know too? That way we can geek out together.'' I'm hoping we're moving towards the second sort. Maybe we stop judging those who might have just entered the world of comics because of Iron Man or Thor, or just read Watchmen for the first time. They can be just as excited as those who read it years ago. Or those who didn't start playing video games with Pong. Are they less legit because they're new? Do you remember the first time you read The Lord of the Rings? The wonder you felt? It is possible to feel the same thing, even if you only read it after the trilogy came out.

Me in the Owl Ship. I like it more than my Honda.

So this is what we do. We support all types of geeks. We welcome new ones to our ranks. We stay vocal about what we love and support films/TV shows/blogs that reflect our interests. And we geek out in any way we want, whether that means auditioning for geek shows, playing with plastic lightsabers, tattooing our arms with geek symbols, posting in the Facebook group the League of Extraordinary Ladies, dressing up as either Slave Leia or Senator Leia and not judging either way, using our extensive knowledge of Middle Earth to impress a guy (no, that does NOT make you less legitimate), carrying our dogeared copies of Dragonsong proudly on the subway, tweeting the Daffy Duck version of the Green Lantern oath...be proud and loud about your geekiness, ladies. We are everywhere.

''In Blackest Day or Brightest Night...um, watermelon, cantalope, yada yada...a superstitious and cowardly lot...with liberty and justice for all!''


  1. Ok, I really want to see a video of two girls doing the geek girl salute to each other now.

    And then I'm going to make a geek boy salute thats even better. :P

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  2. I am probably going to write a blog on this tomorrow from a teacher's perspective. This whole thing has been bouncing around in my head for a few weeks. Then I saw your ComiCenter and it hit home. I went into school the next day and asked my class of 6th graders to raise their hands if they identified themselves as a geek. Only two girls did.

    I know there is more than that in my class but as much as everyone wants to say geek is in, it still isn't for young girls. It's better but it's not there.

    Great blog, thanks.

  3. Great post, well thought-out and presented! I found this through a twitter link and will be bookmarking. The idea of standing up for ourselves without disrespecting others is not one that I've seen written about in all this lately, and I think you have some very good points. Slave Leia/Senator Leia is an excellent example!

  4. It's such an odd thing, isn't it? I was never really teased for it, but so many girls are. We talked about this on My Geek Lady today.

    Did you read the interview I did with Katie Goldman and her mom? The little girl who got teased for liking Star Wars? Here is the link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jenna-busch/may-the-force-be-with-kat_b_786657.html

    I'd also be interested to hear how many of your kids say they like things like Star Wars or Thor or comics, etc. They may not even consider that geeky in this day and age. I'm very curious.

  5. I actually asked that question and will write about it. There were a lot of young girls who liked things squarely in the realm of geek but were reluctant to admit it.

  6. Send me the link when you do. I'd love to read it!

  7. I will. I like to let things bounce around for a few days and then let them rip. I think tomorrow for sure.

  8. Love your blog entry. Here is a poll you might find interesting on www.swtor.com http://www.swtor.com/community/showthread.php?t=302274&page=40

    I also started a blog recently and plan to touch on some or these things in the coming days.

  9. Great post -- so many awesome points were made! Bring a girl geek is even harder when you're Black -- it! Let's all keep fighting the good fight for geek girl acceptance and equality!

  10. I have found that this is prevalent with other collector hobbies also. Military Trucks for example, I have seen "Well girls don't really like this, they are just here because of their husbands/fiance'/boyfriend."

    Then they do not understand when you are mad and don't want to deal with them any more because they have essentially tried to invalidate your opinions! GRRRR!

  11. Here is the blog. It went a little longer than I wanted but I think I got my point across. I don't know though. When I write the ones which kind of close to home I worry I am not explaining myself well :)


  12. I'm happy to say that I grew up in an inclusively geeky environment, knowing geek guys and girls of all sorts. It saddens me to think that so many awesome geeks out there have to face prejudice for being the wrong kind of geek, whether for reasons of looks, gender, or timing. Way to encourage equal opportunity geek-outs! :)

  13. Request to Join LxL sent ;)

    Must admit I've never come across this prejudice towards Girl Geeks, peeps just always seem excited to have someone else to geek out with - though I am a pretty oblivious person.

    Perhaps whilst I'm talking about Rift being the love child of WoW and Aion and how the movies butchered Rogue, Iceman and Kitty - I'm being judged but don't notice :p

    Brilliant post btw ^_^ Really interesting.

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  15. Growing up as a Geek of Color, I can empathize with you on several levels here. Though I cannot relate very well to the gender stereotyping, I do see it often and and agree with you on all the points you make. Your post also reminds me of the post I wrote about being a Black Geek, and makes me happy that there are other Geeks out there that are just as passionate about making our universe inclusive to everyone regardless of race, creed, or gender. You've got yourself a new reader in me!! Well done and I hope to read more of you soon!! :D

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