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You may have missed it, and I don’t blame you if you did but last month there was a huge kerfuffle over some comments by famed comic book artist Tony Harris on Facebook over the validity of cosplaying females and geeky girls in general. Here’s the whole post to get you up to speed.
The rant went viral. Tons of people responded, and there has been general outcry from the geek/gaming community as a whole. It has spawned numerous editorials and blog entries, comics and vlogs…it seems that all of a sudden, the internet can’t stop talking about what role women have in the geek subculture (if it can even be considered a subculture…maybe it should just be culture).
However, this topic has long been a hot button topic to women. I’m sure if you’ve ever played a game online, you’ve read this at least once, “You’re a girl? Girls don’t exist on the internet,” or “You can’t beat me. Go make me a sandwich.” Misogynistic jokes and statements such as this are no stranger to the internet…and yet we generally don’t go up in arms when statements like that are made. So what made Tony Harris’ rant so inflammatory?
Is it that we are insecure with our own roles in the geek community? For every time I’ve seen one of the above statements online, I’ve also seen an opposite statement from a girl who is declaring that she is a gamer or a geek and that people need to deal with it. Is this part of the problem? Why should we feel the need to proclaim that we are a girl, and that we are a gamer, and that we are proud? Can’t we just show people our love for our geekdom without turning it into a “girl power” statement? If you have a tumblr and you post things that show your love for comics and video games, is there any need to declare that you’re a girl? We don’t see men doing it. And why is that? Because they feel secure in their place and have accepted that they belong there.
I don’t think that I have ever felt the need to proclaim my geek love as a girl. I proclaim my geek love for video games and comics by supporting the companies that are in the business. I attend comic book conventions and may even consider cosplaying one of these days. But will I stamp myself with a badge that says, “I am a woman. I am a geek. Deal with it?” No. Because I don’t need to. I am those things. I am confident in my geekdom. And my gender should have nothing to do with it. If I don’t want others to bring it into the conversation, why should I?
I’m just a geek, that’s it.
Some of you may ask, “But Alex, why can’t I proclaim that I’m a girl? It’s my right.” Sure. It’s your right. Go ahead and scream it from the rafters. It doesn’t change the fact that you’re a geek who supports many things. It doesn’t change the fact that you are awesome. But it might change how people perceive you, like it or not. If I have a choice of gaming with someone who is chill and acts like a person, or someone who feels the need to tell me that they’re the best thing since sliced bread, I’ll pick the chill person, hands down.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t speak up for yourself if push comes to shove. You shouldn’t be discriminated against because of your gender. If you come across that while you are indulging in your geeky hobby, by all means, speak out. We should never fear being geeks because of our gender. However, perhaps if we make it less of a big deal, so will others.
I was pained the other day while scouring reddit when I came upon a thread from a girl who was asking others which headset had the best voice modifications so that she could lower her voice to be taken seriously while gaming. From what I could tell, no one had told her that she was stupid for being a girl…but she was so worried that people wouldn’t take her seriously that she was willing to disguise herself.
To that girl, I say, screw them. If they hear your voice and automatically think that you’re not worthy to play with them, leave. Because they are not worthy to play with you. But don’t make a stink about it. Don’t change who you are to accommodate them. Have fun. You will find people who don’t care. Hang on to those people, and to hell with everyone else.
To hell with the people who make us feel like we don’t belong. We do belong. And we do fit in. We game and geek with the best of them. Most people I know accept me for what I am. Perhaps that’s because I don’t feel the need to remind them of my gender. My being a girl has nothing to do with my ability to connect with other geeks, so I don’t bring it up. And neither do others. And you know what, we’re all happier for it.
By: Alexandria Adams