Wednesday, April 13, 2011

An Open Letter To Certain Male Geeks

Greetings, geeks! My name is Bea. I'm (as of last week-ish) 32 years old. I'm a college graduate. I work in social services. I bake. I knit. I read (a lot). I vote Democrat. I occasionally sparkle. I enjoy the works of Jane Austen, thunderstorms, the Oxford comma, and the laughter of children.

Oh, I'm also a geek. I've been a geek since I was a tiny little girl and I had a Dune coloring book. This Dune coloring book, actually. I also had a glow-in-the-dark He-Man sword when I was itty-bitty that I had to take in the bathroom to watch glow because I was never awake when it was dark outside. Because I was four. Later, I was a huge She-Ra fan and literally subscribed to her newsletter. I loved Star Wars, Blade Runner, The Terminator, Wonder Woman, The Incredible Hulk, The V miniseries (both of them!), Legend, The Dark Crystal, The NeverEnding Story, Dune (the Lynch version, NEVER the Sci-Fi version, though that was much later), Labyrinth, and Conan the Barbarian. The 80s were fun, weren't they?

I was a gamer girl in the late 80s and early 90s. Look. You think it's tough being a gamer girl now? (It is, I'm sure.) Try it then. I was LITERALLY the only girl I knew who played video games. Ever. I don't play anymore but I can still fuck you up at Super Mario Bros. 1-3. My parents took me and my brother to a Nintendo Convention in Valley Forge, PA as a birthday gift. I'm guessing it was 1990 or 1991. Whatever year Super Mario Bros. 3 came out. I remember because I smoked some dude at a demo of the game. He clearly wasn't expecting that from a little girl. It was AWESOME.

I've watched The X-Files, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, Battlestar Galactica, Doctor Who, Space: Above and Beyond, VR-5, Harsh Realm, Dead at 21, Love and Curses, Forever Knight, Beauty and the Beast, Dark Shadows (the old 60s soap AND the early 90s remake), Mystery Science Theater 3000, Twin Peaks, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Farscape, The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, Heroes, Roar, Dark Angel, Supernatural, Fringe, Roswell, Alias, Earth 2, Dark Skies, Millennium, Kindred: The Embraced, and SeaQuest DSV.

I've read Heinlein and Herbert. I've read all the Lord of the Rings books. I own the extended editions of all the movies AND the Trivial Pursuit game.

Sorsha and I have a zombie apocalypse plan and seriously. It's awesome. It's getting better by the day.

I read comic books. I go to cons. Got my picture taken with Michael Berryman. I saw The Dark Knight in the theater four times. I have the Iron Man Mr. Potato Head, Tony Starch sitting on top of my television. I have a Matchbox-sized replica of the Metallicar on my desk. My mousepad features a kingly Aragorn. I'm currently knitting a Gryffindor scarf.

As you can see from the above exhaustive list, I will watch/read/consume ANYTHING sci-fi/horror/fantasy-related. Regardless of quality as you can also see from the above list. Heh. I can authoritatively nerd out on a variety of subjects. And I do. Often. And I do all of these things despite the INCREDIBLE HANDICAP OF A PAIR OF BREASTS. SHOCKING, RIGHT?!

But seriously, you guys. (And not ALL geek guys, of course.) Can you please stop acting like you own the field of geekery all on your own? Aren't we past this? Seriously? Are we really still OMG STUNNED when a woman enjoys nerdy pursuits? I don't do these things because my boyfriend reads comics and I want him to like me.

For example, I listen to The Nerdist podcast every week. Twice a week if it's on twice. I love it. It's awesome. It's my favorite podcast. I love Chris Hardwick. He's hilarious. But Chris. Dude. I AM NOT THE ONLY WOMAN WHO LISTENS TO YOUR SHOW. THERE ARE FEMALE GEEKS. IF I'M NOT MISTAKEN, YOU'RE DATING ONE. So why do you keep making comments about how no women listen to your show or how your nerdiness is losing you female viewers. Um. We do and it's not. KNOCK IT OFF. My ovaries do not "dry up" when James Gunn and Jonah Ray get into a nerd fight over whether or not 28 Days Later qualifies as a zombie film. That was AWESOME. (My opinion: it does count as a zombie movie.)

I was listening today to a review of the Game of Thrones miniseries. (3 days, you guys!!!!) And the reviewer made a comment about it possibly being a turn-off for women because it's all male-dominated, bloody and full of ultra-violence. Riiiiiiiiiiiight. Because Dany and Arya and Catelyn and Sansa are just standing around, looking pretty. (Well, ok, Sansa is.) Because women can't stand watching male characters. (If we felt that way, we wouldn't watch anything, ever.) Because women don't like to watch dudes with swords fuck shit up. Especially because women don't enjoy a complex, well-told story. Mmm-hmmm.

Oh for Christ's sake, Terrance Zdunich: YES. GIRLS DO READ COMIC BOOKS. I even bought your creepy comic book about cockroaches.

I guess I'm mostly just tired of being told I don't exist.

ETA: This. Thanks, Sorsha. WHATEVER.


Dan Mac said...

I had this whole thing written and blogger ate it...

Don't waste one of your New York Times reads on this; your head might explode.

"The true perversion, though, is the sense you get that all of this illicitness has been tossed in as a little something for the ladies, out of a justifiable fear, perhaps, that no woman alive would watch otherwise. While I do not doubt that there are women in the world who read books like Mr. Martin’s, I can honestly say that I have never met a single woman who has stood up in indignation at her book club and refused to read the latest from Lorrie Moore unless everyone agreed to “The Hobbit” first. “Game of Thrones” is boy fiction patronizingly turned out to reach the population’s other half. "
--Ginia Bellafante

Do you think there are different stakes for an "out" girl geek than an "out" guy geek? To be clear, I agree with you; you're already marginalized as a nerd and now the nerds won't even acknowledge you? But at the same time, generally it seems to me that girls are much more willing to let their geek flags fly for all to see than guys are. I mean, not a lot of guys are going to cop to watching Space: Above and Beyond (There was that one great episode where Rodney Rowland was on a planet alone and there was almost no dialogue. He had to kill an alien in close quarters and then that one tough brunette woman he had a crush on was running around as a hallucination zombie/death personification...) as a badge of authenticity. You're fighting to be let into a club to which most guy geeks are reluctant to admit they're a member (although times, they are a-changin on that score, and Nerdist is a perfect example).

Bea said...

Oh my GOD, that New York Times review! Jeez, lady. No, I would never demand that my book club read "The Hobbit" and throw a tantrum about it. ...Because that's rude and childish, but you don't seem to be able to make that distinction.

Dan, I'm sure there are different stakes for geek girls than geek guys. I've never been stuffed in a locker or beaten up or anything over my geekiness. (Does that happen for real or just on tv?) But I have always felt that my geekiness was sort of a black mark on the scorecard of my femininity and attractiveness. My interest in all things geeky CERTAINLY never helped me with dating, at least not until my mid-twenties. Until the last few years, other women were usually like, "...Okay, then" when I would talk about the sci-fi novel I was reading or whatever. I generally had great conversations with their boyfriends or husbands. Heh. I originally had a bit in this blog post about how I like the color pink and makeup and sappy love stories, etc. because I still sometimes feel like I have to defend my status as a girly girl. But I took it out because I didn't really feel like it was relevant and it seemed too transparently defensive.

The tough brunette on "Space: Above and Beyond" was Kristen Cloke and she turned up later on "Millennium." I always liked her. :)

SorshaNik said...

Wow! Who knew that geekdom/nerdom was so deep!? LOL

Dan is right on so many levels. Here's my 2 cents. I think the stoopid "non-geeks" of the world want to make geek guys seem less desirable by saying girls won't understand their need to say "That's not a planet, that's a space station!" or shine their Klingon Bat'Leth sword once a week. Also they make sure that it's known that geek girls are ONLY plain, non-social chicks like Amy Farah Fowler from TBBT. (BTW, I love her character!) So Dan is right that it's not cool to fight to get into the club in the general public. But personally, I enjoyed the co-worker slaying I handed out last Thursday during a geek off. This geek dude got his ass handed to him about ASoIaF, LOTR (movies), Tomb Raider, Xena and X-Files. I'm not the top geek by any means, but I hold my own. I let my freak flag fly most of the time. But it really is whether you're around people whom are out and flying their flags, too. I also incorporate making others feel uncomfortable that I exist as a geek girl. Their being freaked out brings me joy.

That chick from the NY Times says she's never met ANY woman who would make her book club read The Hobbit? Yeh, because we all read that in school, sweetie and we know Tolkien can give you an epic fantasy elvish song migraine so reading it once is enough for your starter geek card...which we got years ago. Duh! LOSING!

EGT said...


Doug Jeffreys said...

This blog was enlightening, entertaining & spot-on. The myth of the geek has been perpetuated for decades. The female geek has been relegated to a particularly rare role in geekdom. Let me throw my opinions around (from the eyes of a 50 year old geek). Across the entire spectrum of relationships it is rare to find a member of the opposite sex that shares so many passions in books, movies, games, TV. Etc. that they will spend most of their time together even when the gal partner is hanging with all her gal friends (or vice-versa). I was playing D&D when it first came out. Not only did my geek buddies have girl friends in the same proportion as the "cool" guys but I met plenty of geek girls. The geek guys had non-geek girl friends and the geek gals had non-geek boy friends. The geek guys pursued our particular geek interests and the geek gals pursued theirs. That could be the start of the myth. I also believe Hollywood perpetuated this myth for the perceived humor. And finally, it has been perpetuated out of jealousy by the “cool” kids that felt threatened by all the geeks that were clearly far more intelligent, and in a more personal observation more than half the group of geeks I associated with were members of the same Karate school that I trained at, so any group of Jocks or Cool guys that wanted to poke fun at us only did it once.