Saturday, November 10, 2012

"Fake" Nerd Girls, "Whores", and Sexism


(Note: This is an open letter to Newsarama columnist and writer Dirk Manning, who earlier today posted this meme on his Facebook. I'm responding to that and the comments that followed.)

Dear Dirk Manning,  

I'm a fellow comic book writer and editor, for about 10 years now. I’ve read your posts at Newsarama and while I don’t know you personally, I generally found them helpful for those looking to write and create work in comics.

Which is I why I have to say, I'm disappointed to see you perpetuating the “Fake Geek/Nerd Girl” meme. Sure, it’s a repost, but what we choose to share on our social platforms matters. You’ve endorsed the underlying sentiment of the meme, to the degree that you feel that women who aren’t “real” nerds by your definition are "objectifying themselves", pandering to a lowest common denominator, and therefore it's okay to imply, based on how objectionable you find the word "whore" to be in this context, less-than for the sake of humor. You reposted this particular take on it because you felt it was relevant, I’m assuming. All I have to go by is the fact that you reposted it and then defended it. What you're like in your personal life is beside the point, as you chose this particular meme to express your views on a particular subject, and further explanation was dedicated to justifying it.

I’m sure it seems harmless and “fun” on the surface, but memes like this are indicative of a much larger and much more problematic attitude within geek culture. Namely: if we don't like how (specifically) a woman/girl identifies as a nerd, or displays their nerdery, based on rather arbitrary & subjective definitions of what being a “real nerd” is, we can label them a whore/slut/fake. Which, by proxy, indicates that they are not only not a nerd, but are also something of a social/cultural pariah. The word “whore” is pretty specific and, especially in this context, is clearly not meant to be anything other than demeaning and dehumanizing. That you don’t think “all” women are whores is really not the issue. The underlying sexism of the "fake" nerd/geek girl rhetoric is.

This meme unfortunately perpetuates an attitude that is exclusionary and unnecessary. For those of us who have to deal with that attitude frequently, just for being in nerd culture and being female, it’s not really so funny or minor. Reposting those sentiments condones them, if that reposting is not followed by either a criticism of the meme or a real call for discussion on it. Anything else is, at best, passively granting it legitimacy.

The thing about sexism, even when it seems “minor” or playful, is that it has real world consequences. The idea that women in particular must adhere to a set of arbitrary standards in order to be treated with respect and not called “whores”, makes it difficult for all women in a given space. Because although I’m sure you think your idea of what is and is not acceptable is fair, it changes from person to person. What, exactly, is dressing “slutty”? Who defines that, you? Me? How does being a fashion model exclude someone from also being nerdy? Why is it different when a girl poses in a costume then when a guy does? How much cleavage is "too much"? Is being conventionally attractive enough to justify people being suspicious? How are these things mutually exclusive to being a nerd? What criteria must we meet to be a considered a “real” nerd? What are the parameters? Do I go by your definition of "slutty" and "pandering" or some other random internet poster? What about my own definition, does that not count? How long do I have to be a nerd in order to be a "real" one? What nerd activities must I participate in? Can I like Lord of the Rings and not Superman? etc.

It’s too subjective. We aren’t all nerdy about the same things & we don’t all participate in nerd culture the same way. By attempting to make ourselves the arbiters of nerdom, we create a space that’s hostile and more like a high school clique than an inclusive culture. Which, frankly, hurts industries like comics a lot. Mainly because we alienate huge audiences with this attitude.

In terms of how something so "harmless" can be applied to the real world: there have been two recent, high profile instances of this memes attitude in action. First: Anita Sarkeesian and the reaction to her Kickstarter about sexism in gaming. She was (and continues to be) subjected to a level of misogynistic outrage and harassment that is frankly unconscionable. The idea that women are not "real" nerds, or have no right to discuss nerd topics, was quick and vicious. She was called a "whore" a lot. It did, however, bring this issue front and center. This resulted in a lot of other women in games, comics, and other nerd spheres coming out and discussing the backlash they get, constantly, for being women in these spaces. Aisha Tyler was one of the most vocal.

Second: Felicia Day. A writer on a gaming site who clearly did not know her resume made comments that reflect almost exactly this meme’s rhetoric. It showed not only a stunning lack of any knowledge of how influential she is in nerd culture, but showed exactly how problematic those assumptions are. They are based exclusively in personal definitions and criteria, and are applied to any woman who happens to exist in nerd spaces, no matter what. 

The reality is: this kind of meme exists to criticize women, specifically, and does not bring anything constructive or useful to nerd culture. All it does is perpetuate a tired and frankly absurd generalization that’s highly gendered and erroneous. It doesn’t call out men who are apparently “using” nerd culture unscrupulously, and it is not a catch all for "anyone" displaying this behavior. Men simply don’t have to deal with the assumption that they don’t belong, automatically, because of their gender. They aren’t required to “prove” their dedication to nerdom based on their gender. They aren’t asked to dress differently. They aren’t called specifically gendered insults if they don’t meet a given person’s standard.

Further, the comments aimed at Jennifer De Guzman, a highly respected, intelligent, and dedicated former Editor-in-chief and now PR and Marketing Director at Image, are pretty condescending. Just because she disagrees with you does not mean she is “overly sensitive”, that she has no right to be angry, or no right to voice her objections. Being angry does not mean she cannot also be rational and articulate in her criticism. Suggesting otherwise, or allowing others to make that claim, is highly irresponsible. If you have the right to post this and have it as a pet peeve (which you do) then someone else addressing a concern about why it’s problematic is equally valid. We have the right to say what we want. Other people have the right to comment on it. Being able to post whatever we want to doesn’t absolve us from criticism about it.

For instance: there are people who will disagree with this letter. That’s their right. They may even get angry about it. That's also their right. 

At the end of the day, we define our nerdom for ourselves, it is not dictated to us by the whims or definitions of others. No matter how other people may arbitrarily disapprove of us or how we display our nerdery individually, women are nerds. No meme will change that.

-Mariah Huehner
Editor, writer, nerd

113 comments:

  1. Seeing a mob rush to defend the language in that meme was so utterly, completely fucked.

    B-I-N-G-O, &c.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Damn bitch, get over yourself you pretentious twat!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You forgot "fucking cunt". And also some commas.

      Delete
    2. I'm sure when he goes to bed alone every night, he's convinced it's because all the girls don't like "nice guys."

      Delete
  3. You make no sense.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No you! (I can't think of anything else to respond to such a silly comment.)

      Delete
  4. Being witty and verbose is not my prerogative, and neither should it be yours it seems...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Since I was not attempting to be witty, and wrote the piece to thoroughly dissect an issue, nope! Which means it was successful. Thanks!

      Delete
  5. There are a few things that I find really surprising about all of this. The first is the unyielding defense of the post. I've said things that I've realized were insensitive or flat-out stupid in the past, and when people I respect call me on it, I don't continue to defend my poor choice of words (or choice of action, in some cases). Even if he feels that the "fake nerd" is an issue that exists and deserves greater awareness, this was a really crass and unprofessional way of making that point.

    And second, that he found that meme funny at all. I mean, are there really a lot of girls who do that? And if they are, are they actually claiming to be nerds, or just being silly on camera?

    Anyhow, good response. Must be doing something right to bring out the trolls!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There aren't, but there are a lot of people who have a vested interest in this "no girls allowed" attitude. And even someone does claim to be a nerd and aren't, I really don't care. It doesn't effect my nerdiness in any way, so it's just a silly thing to get worked up about. At its core it's really just a way of trying to call out women as "other" in this space, and it's really got to stop.

      And thanks! Yeah, you know you've hit a nerve when your second comment whips out the sexism. :}

      Delete
    2. I think other than the infantalizing language, the questions like "Are girls doing that? Are girls actually claiming to be nerds?" bugs me because I get accepted as a nerd outright for anything. Geeky T-shirt? "You're such a nerd!" Off-hand Princess Bride reference? "Nerd!" And this is even now as I'm well-groomed and in good shape. The requirements for entry into the 'nerd' club as a guy are *always* lower than they are for women. Even *asking* the questions above makes it painfully obvious that this is yet another person who will never quite accept women into their spaces.

      By the way, if you *really* want to annoy sexist dudes, swap the gender terms around - boys/women. They'll gladly use 'girls' all day long, but as soon as you start calling them 'boys' wheeeeeeow!

      Delete
  6. Just wanted to voice my support here. A well written piece on an important topic.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! I appreciate the support. :}

      Delete
  7. Wow, that facebook post and most of the comments are just simply ridiculous. People should keep being called out until they realize their mistakes.
    Thank you for writing this piece.

    ReplyDelete
  8. There are people, male and female, that will exploit any popular cultural movement, weather we're talking the sixties peace and love thing, beatnik culture, original punk, occupy, etc, and that can, over time, erode a movement from something relevant and honest to something branded, package and shipped off in a nice little starter pack. At which point a cultural phenomenon, formally honest and true, becomes a marketable band wagon upon which many follower types will hitch themselves to. It is done by both men and women, because its simply something humans do. Now considering every movement is eventually bled dry by either business persons or simply getting played out as the human attention span wains as its prone to do, I can understand the urge to defend the whole nerd thing from getting played out from simple over exposure. Like most cultural groups or movements, that starts with the label, which the media has already branded us, Geek Chic. Once its branded and proven profitable, the vultures come to town to get a taste. That's obviously been happening over the past decade with the explosion of the comic book film, a great amount of which have been rushed, studio pumped out turds looking for a taste. Of course humans are programmed by nature to fit in, being social creatures and all that entails, so throngs of people will join a popular happening simply to avoid missing out or looking out of touch, again, male or female. Now of course there will be people who get into "Geek Chic" because they hadn't previously been exposed to it, but having been, find its an honest passion of theirs. Thats one good thing about the packaging of nerddom. However there are rampant amounts of joiners and parasites that attachand suck dry. Essentially the packaging and commoditizing is a double edged sword. It invites, informs and inspires new blood into the fold, it simultaneouslyadds to the over exposed, exploited

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If we're talking about pop culture nerdery, it's already tied to commercialism. You can't have comics/shows/movies without viewers. So its always been reliant, to some degree, on some kind of popularity. In that sense I don't think we can claim that these things were "pure" since people have been trying to make a living off them since they started. They aren't like a social movement in that sense.

      To my mind, you can't do anything about the "fakers" so why worry about it. If someone isn't truly interested in something, they eventually get bored and wander off. No need to shout and yell and pus them out.

      Delete
    2. When exactly was this moment when being a nerd/geek/whatever was some kind of pure cultural phenomenon, unsullied by commerce? It sure as hell hasn't been any time in my lifetime, and I'm well into my forties.

      Science fiction fandom started in the 1920s as an outgrowth of magazine publishing. The commercial influence has always been there. Haven't you noticed that most of the things around which nerds construct their identities — TV shows, movies, books, comics, games, gadgets — are commercial products?

      Delete
    3. Avram: This. If we were talking about some other kind of nerdery, like purely academic or something, I'd kind of get the "purity" argument a bit more. But we're talking about comics, tv, film, books, games...all of these things rely on having an audience that buys them. It's not that you can't get something non-commercial out of them, but the attitude that "all of a sudden" these things are being co-opted seems really disingenuous. They've been part of industries for a looong time.

      Delete
    4. Hi Mariah,

      Thank you for writing this piece, this and Jennifer's discussion with Dirk were eye-opening and educational. "Paternalistic patrolling of women’s behavior" is something worth being mindful of, for us men. Kinda f'd up that my first impulse is to applaud you both with some kind of "I approve" sentiment, as if your opinions are in need of my validation. No, what I mean is: thank you, this was enlightening, and I feel the same. It's such a beautiful thing to watch 15 years of superhero movies drawing a wide audience of both men and women, as it is undeniable proof for everyone in the boy's club that it wasn't ever the comics medium or superhero genre itself that was keeping women out, it was these kinds of sexist attitudes. (Though sometimes the comics themselves didn't help, of course.)

      That said, your sentence "No need to shout and yell and pus them out," is my favourite sentence of 2012. I've never heard pus used as a verb, but that is a disgustingly beautiful image of someone offensively trying to drive someone else off or exclude. It's brilliant, and it so viscerally demeans the activity of trying to drive people off. I would be heartbroken if I found out that was some kind of typo.

      Oh, wait. No joke: I may be an idiot. I think I just realized it WAS a typo. You meant "push." I made that typo comment as a joke, and then it hit me. Goddamn. Okay, this is now too ridiculous NOT to post. Regardless, I still stand by my admiration for "pus them out."

      "PUS THEM OUT" - to drive someone away with demeaning comments, or other toxic behavior. As in the way bodily pus is trying to drive out a foreign substance or bacteria out of the body.

      Delete
    5. What "movement"? I'm not advocating or trying to change anything when I buy my weekly stash; I'm just getting my four-color fix.

      Delete
  9. Your response is well-written. I am so tired of the attacks on women in the nerd/geek culture. I applaud you for your bravery in posting this. There are so many trolls who anonymously (oooh, such brave little boys) voice their vitriolic bullshit that it is repulsive. I can't imagine having it directed at me.

    Thank you for your post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It takes a lot of courage to post anonymous misogynist comments. So much courage. I weep for them. :}

      Delete
  10. Essentially any cultural phenomenon will be cursed to eventually become labeled, prepackaged, commodotized and over exposed for the sake of profit. This of course leads to a lot of "joiners" (male and female) in any movement or cultural happening who aren't really down for the cause (so to speak) and are simply tourists who don't want to appear out of touch or miss the next great thing. And then where there are cameras and eyes, there are people, male and female, diving in front of them for attention, maybe hoping to get their 15 minutes.
    If the mental seed of the Newsarama post came from that place, then, to a point, I can understand the reactionary response to something they perceive in the geek world. To a point. I too fear the cheapening of a personal passion. Its easy to point fingers and say they're killing a piece of me with their falsehood. I fear the joiners and the exploiters because they do kill cultural movements/phenomena/happenings/whatever label you want to use. Of course, the explosion of geekdom has also exposed a lot of people to it that might not otherwise have been, and now they've discovered a new passion that comes from an honest place. It truly is a double edged sword when any cultural happening reaches the fervor that "Geek Chic" (as it has been stamped and packaged) has. Does it mean the end of everything? I don't know. Maybe. Maybe not. Who can say? Does it stop me from enjoying what I enjoy? No. Its a complicated issue, as any cultural phenomenon is when it reaches a certain level of public exposure. Hopefully all the exploiters for profit or attention, male or female, all the capitalist profiteering, male or female, will be out weighed by all the new honest fans, male and female, who are just here because they found a piece of themselves in it. Hopefully. But I'd be lying if I said I wasn't afraid that all this over exposure and exploiting will bleed it dry to the point of death. It would be utterly naive not to see it. Sure it bums me out, I think about it more than I'd like (I'd like to never have thought about it). But I'd be equally lying if I said I wasn't happy that it has become such a big thing which is so rewarding for anyone who has found some solace and friendship and community in it.

    You take the good with the bad. Its like anything else.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The easiest thing to do there: don't let it be cheapened. What we love is not defined by who else loves it or doesn't love it. If it was, we'd have stopped loving it a long time ago.

      The thing is, the other thing that will kill something you love? No one else being into it. That's how comics and tv shows are canceled. So when we're talking about pop culture mediums and fandoms, success matters. If someone stays a complete obscurity or niche, it's a lot more likely it will die out without anyone ever knowing it was there.

      Delete
  11. I am a transsexual nerd girl and it is attitudes like this that make me feel really uncomfortable about being candid about my sexuality.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can only imagine how hard that must be. This kind of hostility just serves no purpose, to my mind.

      Delete
  12. Personally, I find it hard to imagine how anyone can extrapolate the non-existence of "nerd girls" (or consequently extrapolate a threat) from the "fake nerd girl" meme.

    I know too many girls who are easily identifiable as obsessive and creative and maybe occasionally awkward. They're not hard to find and it's not hard to just sit there in awe at what they're capable of. They don't have to belong to specific nerd subcultures. A lot of people just tend to think nerds are homogeneous. And that's a stupid way to think of any group.

    But it's undeniable that there are disingenuous people... and there are fake nerds... in the sense that there are people who care more about being associated with the nerd image and its perks than about the things that regular non-self-obsessed people care about. Maybe professional circles force people to care about their image too much. Whatever the cause and regardless of whatever one has to back it up, it can still easily come off as "fake".

    I also think it's a bit of a stretch to assume that nerdy people embrace a giant nerd bubble of belongingness. Comicbook people who aren't in the higher ups argue and diss each other about stereotyped "Japanese-styled" and "Wester-styled" and "Cartoon-styled" stuff all the time. And snooty art people wonder if games or comics are even art at all.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sure, there are plenty of disingenuous people. But they don't impact how we feel about the things we love unless we let them.

      I don't think all nerdy people embrace belongingness, I jus wish they did and want to foster that as much as possible. :}

      Delete
    2. Thinking out loud here...
      I think it's hard, trying to fight the misconceptions, prejudices and pasttimes of anonymous trolls and the dumber portion of the internet population with either elaborate prose or more antagonism. Describing what they are and what they do does nothing. I can only imagine that us pointing fingers at the wrong people and applying any intellectual analysis to find the reasons why they choose the words they choose must be a barrel of laughs for them. And it seems to me like overzealousness and a generous helping of feminist framing will only feed their biases and/or add to their fun, and might even turn off those who might have been sympathetic.

      I mean, this is just speaking in practical diplomatic/communication terms, if your intent was really to change the way this set of people think about things. 'cause... I mean, based on some of the other comments here, it seems like people know a lot of other perfectly sensible and respectful people too, who don't need to be accused of being so gullible to the language of internet memes that they'd mistreat women or shortchange them of opportunities and admiration where it's due.

      Then again, I haven't gotten an objective sample of the crowd one might have to know and associate with to get around or move up or make whatever movement in comicbook or gaming or other "nerdy" fields, so I dunno.

      Come to think of it... are the majority of people who "nerdy" professionals and enthusiasts require approval from to get ahead precisely the ones who tend to troll and post stupid sexist things on online comments systems?

      That's a scary thought.

      I could be totally wrong about the type of people one meets in real life on a regular basis though. I mean I've had my share of experiences with nerdy circles. Some guys throw sexist remarks around as a joke, often to female peers in the same circles who understand as a joke. Never to complete strangers though. But in the cases I've seen, there didn't seem to be discrimination when it comes to actually doing things (for work or fun). Maybe I just have too much admiration for my female artist/programmer/writer/gamer friends' creativity, intelligence and work ethic that I can't see the problems that they face purely because they are women. I should really ask them about what crap they've have to deal with.

      Anyway, practicality aside... your freedom to talk about this and in any way you want with as much frankness as you want is a right. I'm just saying.

      Delete
    3. For people who are invested in, or entrenched in, this mindset, I don't know that's there's any "right" tone you can use to convince them. I err on the side of being thorough and intelligent, addressing what they said/did not who they are, and giving as full and comprehensive an idea of the issues that exist as possible. I think that's the best anyone can do.

      Awareness of this kind is, in fact, the first step towards addressing it. I have no idea what impact it will have on individual trolls, and I don't really care. The point is that I won't be quiet about it or passively condone it with silence.

      Delete
  13. Thank you for this. I don't really have any other words right now; I'm too appalled by the anon comments.

    However, as a "girl gamer" (not a hardcore one, but whatever), this right here is the reason I stay away from multiplayer stuff on XBox Live unless it's with people I already know and trust. The discourse is already disgusting without giving them lots of female-specific names to call me, too.

    ReplyDelete
  14. where's the goddamned "like" button on this?

    ReplyDelete
  15. As a feminist, I'd like to offer an alternate suggestion: Most of the geek men that I know have a higher than average level of respect for women. In fact, many of them are self-identified feminists or allies. Not claiming that they are above approach, only that whatever their sins, they are unintentional.

    When I talk to them about this, one of the common themes is this: geek culture isn't mainstream culture and it really doesn't want to be mainstream. With the recent comic book-based films, larger audiences for what has traditionally been thought of as geek TV, etc, there's been a huge introduction of commercialism into the subculture. PR and advertising firms have figured out that geeks are a growing audience and have been doing what they think will cater to them.

    Now, I'm kinda old for a geek. And when I first discovered geek culture, it wasn't hard to break into. All I had to prove was that I knew what I was talking about. But that had nothing to do with my gender: I watched men tested in the same exact way.

    Once I had, I was welcomed with open arms and actually had an easier time making friends than those men. As a woman, I was a rarity in that world. My male geek friends appreciated being able to talk to a woman who had the same knowledge base: they didn't have to explain every little thing, I didn't look down on them for their interests; everyone felt safe. They also appreciated that I was a woman WITH them. I brought a different perspective in, and it opened up more questions (there's nothing geeks like more than new questions to explore). I was happy to discuss women with them. I held their hands through relationships and gave them motherly advice when they were sick. And I dated them. At 45, I think I've dated precisely one guy in my whole life who wasn't a geek. Lasted two dates. Geek men are just better.

    What I came to understand is that geek men grow up with a completely difference relation to gender politics than men in the mainstream. By self-selecting out of that larger world, and focusing on specific texts, they did not get the same dose of gender brainwashing as their counterparts. And their point of view from the outside allowed them to see things that are very difficult for most men to pick up on.

    Add to that that the texts they did choose--progressive texts like Star Trek and Buffy, where the the politics of gender, race, etc, are in advance of the culture--and it's not that surprising that one of the things we geek women love about geek men IS we feel safer, more appreciated and respected, and more entertained that we would with non-geeks.

    This does not mean that there isn't sexism in geek culture. A culture with so many teenage boys in it is bound to exist there. Considering the costume Wonder Woman was wearing in the 90's, it's obvious that there is. But go to San Diego Comic Con or WonderCon, and you will find regular panels on those sexist choices--and little support for those who make them. In other words, the sexism does not go unchallenged.

    (tbc)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Since geek men grow up in the same culture we all do, even if they also belong to a sub-culture, I don't think we can assert that they relate to gender all that differently. Some individuals might, but geek culture is as rife with sexism as the culture at large.

      Since I've been to SDCC, Wondercon, NYCC, and others, I do know about those panels. And all the others that laud the sexism. Or the ones that defend it. Or the backlash afterwards when someone speaks up about it.

      The thing is, I don't feel safer. I'm married to a geeky/nerdy man, but I've been harassed in nerd spaces. I've been groped at SDCC. I've been called, in this very thread, all kinds of gendered insults for speaking up about this stuff.

      That's not to say I haven't also experienced inclusion and a willingness to tackle the issue. But I don't think we do the nerd/geek space any favors by treating it as "better", because it's not for a lot of people. The backlash about a black Spiderman? The hue and cry every time a gay character is introduced? The constant sexism and misogyny lobbed at women who discuss gender issues? It's not that is all negative, it's that it's often negative. And there's still a lot of work to be done.

      Delete
  16. Which brings me to my alternative. Among my male geek friends, there's a lot of discussion about what they see as the increasing encroachment of the sexism of the mainstream. They were the first ones to criticize to me the "Geeks and Gamer Girls" video for too much skin.

    But their complaints weren't about the female flesh. They are guys, after all. 90% of them are statistically gonna be attracted to that to some extent. It was the idea that flesh was the way that women were advertising themselves to them as an audience or as a way to break into geek culture. For a culture which is progressive and knows it, which was early to recognize the power and abilities of women, the idea that WOMEN thought that this was how to get in was and continues to be offensive.

    Look at the recent discussions of DC's Starfire, a female superhero with a anatomically ridiculous body and a very open conception of sex. While this has been an ongoing joke in the community, a recent change in the character has basically stripped her of what little personality she had and has her posing as though she's doing a Playboy spread. And this is not a choice on her part. First, she's a fictional character drawn by men. But even within her fiction, she is stripped of agency, recent issues possibly stripping her of the ability to give informed consent. http://comicsbulletin.com/columns/110/whats-love-got-to-do-with-it-starfire-in-the-new-52/

    Again, I'm not saying that geek men aren't capable of slut-shaming. They absolutely are. But it's important to recognize motivation. And for at least some of these men, it's not about trying to control women's sexuality or force them into the whore/virgin thing. When they look at these women, they aren't saying that the women don't have every right to be and dress however they wish. But they don't believe that these women ARE making informed choices. They believe them to be dressing and acting in certain ways because they are misreading the geek world. They aren't saying that women who dress like that aren't nerds. They are saying that women who ARE nerds know better than to think that's how they HAVE to dress in the geek world and they don't want any truck with the mainstream attitude that how a woman looks is her primary asset.

    I think there are hints of what I'm talking about in Manning's statement: "However, it is a pet-peeve of mine when I see a fashion model (for example) slip on a pair of glasses, hold-up a comic book over her ta-tas and then try to say "Look at me! I'm a gorgeous geek." As a loud and proud geek, this offends me... that's all. Someone can be a fashion model... or even a nude model. That's fine. But people should embrace what they really are without lowering themselves to false-advertizement, you know?"

    Anyway, I do agree with much of what you've said. I just wanna make sure that all geek men don't get thrown under the bus. They have always been, in my experience, a cut above the average--and I think we need to acknowledge anytime anyone manages to crawl out of the festering cesspool of mainstream gender politics, even a little.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm not throwing geek men under the bus, I'm throwing sexists under the bus. I have made no generalizations about geek men at all. I've specifically addressed a rhetorical argument that uses sexist tropes to justify itself.

      I think people are people. Nerds and geeks are not better or worse than anyone else. I don't think superiority helps anything, honestly, even if it's mild. There are plenty of examples of pop culture nerdery being incredibly misogynistic, so it doesn't get even a minor pass from me.

      Unfortunately, your premise still largely relies on how men define geekdom/nerdery, and how they think women should present themselves within it. They are still the ones primarily defining the discussion, and defining the "right" way to be a female nerd. Maybe some women aren't making informed choices. But what's the underlying reason? Could it be a culture that values women for their looks before any other quality? Could they be getting a mixed message from, say, comics, with all the broke-back covers and boob windows? They aren't misreading the geek world, the geek world has a tendency to think it's a lot more progressive than it actually is.

      I think Mannings post and subsequent defense is flawed. Because it relies first and foremost on a gendered, sexist, trope. He doesn't know if someone who is a fashion model isn't also a "true" geek, and it concerns me when anyone feels entitled to define nerdery for others. By assuming they can't be "true" nerds because of how they look, or because they're "sexy", it's falling into a bad trap.

      Delete
    2. You completely missed the point of my post. I'm not talking about them defining the right way to be a female nerd. I'm talking about them saying that they don't want to be marketed to in specific way because of faulty assumptions made about who they are. I'm sure you'd defend (and have defended) my right to say I don't want to be marketed to in a specific way: that putting airbrushed, photoshopped, starved models in front of me isn't going to appeal to me because that's not how I judge myself or other women.

      This is what I hear my male nerd friends (and many female ones, as well) saying: stop trying to get my attention by dressing or acting in a way that assumes I'm a knuckle-dragging neanderthal. Geek culture has ALWAYS appreciated women for reasons beyond appearance.

      And you continue to make assumptions that are not apparent in either what I or Manning said. Neither of us claimed that attractive girls in skin-tight costumes can't be true nerds. There are lots of nerd women with geek-cred who do just that with full understanding of what they are doing. We are saying that dressing a certain way and _claiming_ to be a nerd only makes you a poser and does a disservice to the community and women within that community. Geek women are far MORE than how they look, so mainstream's attempt to reduce them to a look is highly offensive.

      As to your treatment here and in nerd spaces, it's ironic that you are complaining about the way male nerds define geekdom, and yet you feel no compunction against deciding that SDCC (and your other "nerd spaces") is populated only by nerds. SDCC is full of media whores. I know. I am one (I go there to do interviews for the media outlet I work for)--this is how actor Doug Jones and I introduced ourselves to the other at this year's SDCC: as media whores. There's nothing nerdy about Dexter or Twilight (two of the biggest draws at SDCC). You are asserting that YOU can tell that you were groped by a real nerd rather than some guy/girl who came to see guys from The Big Bang Theory while castigating Manning (and all geek men) for your assumption--because that's what it is--that they are claiming to be able to tell a real geek from a fake one by looking at what they are wearing.

      No one involved in this conversation is making that claim, and in fact have specifically told you that they are not making that claim. Your continued insistence that you know better than they do about their own reading of geek culture makes you guilty of precisely the sin you are so intent to call out.

      As to your claim that "geek culture is as rife with sexism as the culture at large," frankly, I'm confused how someone who apparently worked on a Joss Whedon property could feel that way. There is a reason that there are just as many female Firefly fans as there are male ones--and it's only partially Nathan Fillion. Firefly is a great feminist text with female characters who span the gamut of positive types for women (including a positive depiction of an actual sex worker). The texts that you are attracted to and continue to come back to not only reflect who you already are, but what you want to become. The fact that Joss is so central to geek culture says a great deal about that culture and the people in it.

      Unless you're in alignment with the woman who claimed that it was obvious from Joss's work that he rapes his wife every night (http://users.livejournal.com/_allecto_/34718.html). Both your claims ignore anything you do not wish to see, impose readings not justified by the actual text, and ignore differing experiences of what you are talking about.

      And yes, throws anyone who takes offense at the quite real geek-marketing phenomenon under the bus as a sexist--regardless of whether their stance on that issue has anything to do with gender.

      Delete
    3. I'm sorry, but your entire argument here is now coming down to casting aspersions on my nerdery because you disagree with me. I don't think you read any of my comments, or there's no way you'd be insisting that I am throwing anything but sexist rhetoric under the bus. I have not once called Manning a sexist, or even indicated that his personal views are. I have responded exclusively to what he posted and how he defended it.

      Further, I know who attends SDCC and do not assume they are all "nerds", nor do I assume they aren't. I said absolutely nothing like that at all. I know who I was groped by, one was a fellow comics professional, the other was someone who worked in games. I do not feel safe in most places as a woman, full stop. My point was that your anecdotal experience is not any less valid than my anecdotal experience. They simply speak to the fact that everyone has different experiences, and nerddom is not less or more sexist than any other aspect of our culture. Please see the 2nd comment I received on this point, the person telling me to "calm my tits", or that if I knew "in my heart" that I was not a whore, this wouldn't bother me, as examples.

      You're accusing me of making sweeping generalizations, and then proceeding to go off on your own. Just because Joss Whedon creates strong female characters does mean nerddom has no sexism, or is automatically "better" about it, either. That would be like arguring that because there are feminist websites, sexism in the general culture is "better" than any give sub-culture. Whedon's work is one example, but it's not the entirety of all nerd texts or fandoms. And even if the work itself is not sexist, that doesn't mean fans aren't, or that the culture surrounding it always lives up to what its text explore.

      Delete
    4. I'm surprised that someone who has been involved with fandom for so long can argue that my anecdotal experience is less valid than yours. I've had equal amounts of bad vs good experience, which leads me to believe that nerddom is like the culture at large. Subject to the same issues and same amount of sexism. That's not an unreasonable conclusion. In fact, it's pretty fair and realistic. Acting like nerddom is "better" strikes me as a bit condescending and extremely subjective.

      I haven't "apparently" worked on Whedon projects. I wrote Angel for over a year. I wrote a mini on Illyria. I edited the title for nearly 2. I am extremely familiar with Whedon and his work. And I admire his feminism and struggles to make sure his female characters are whole people. I can appreciate that while still finding flaws in geek culture. I can appreciate that while still acknowledging and working towards better representation of women, poc's, lgbt, and others in that space.

      Yes, Buffy, Firefly, Angel, and even Dollhouse have some of the best examples of complex female characters and narratives that have a decidedly feminist bent. Of course, they aren't the only shows that have been on. We can all cherry pick examples if we want to. Buffy being amazing doesn't somehow nullify all the stuff that isn't, or deny the problems that still exist. I mean, Whedon wouldn't agree with that assessment. Look at everything he STILL has to say when it comes to the female characters he writes or the work he does with Equality Now. If there's anyone well aware of the problem, it's him.

      I do not ignore what I don't wish to see, I am looking at it quite clearly and more objectively than you are, because I'm not making ANY personal accusations whatsoever. I reacted to A. what the meme said B. what the underlying rhetoric suggests C. what it puts into action. Those are facts. I'm sure Manning is perfectly reasonable, sensible person. His post, unfortunately, perpetuated a real problem.

      That meme was sexist. Manning did not, in any of his comments, say anything about a "marketing phenomenon". And if that was the issue, it should be marketing and marketing companies that are take to task. Not random internet girls and their personal integrity. Or hey, maybe we should take the culture to task for not only constantly perpetuating the idea that women's worth is defined by how they look, but that people have so internalized it that some women believe it, and other people will judge them for it.

      This is absolutely about gender. You can't suddenly decide it's not because it's inconvenient for you to do so. The meme used was gendered. The attitude was specifically aimed at women/girls. That is, by definition, gendered. No one judges men as "less nerdy" because of their gender. No assumes they are not because they are men. That's just reality.

      And FYI, "whore" in this context is also gendered. It is being used to define women. You can use whore in any other context you like, but, in this conversation it applies to women and not men.

      Look, I'm glad your experiences with nerddom have been so positive. That's terrific. But they are not the universal experience, just as mine are not. I never once claimed that to be the case. You can either try being more civil in your discourse, or not. But I won't post more comments that are so blatantly insulting and misrepresenting my views.

      Delete
    5. Basically: the existence of Joss Whedon does not negate or nullify the existence of sexism in geek/nerd culture. It's certainly an example of getting it right, but it's not representative of the entire culture. It's a lot more nuanced than that.

      I mean, by that logic, the existence of Gloria Steinem should nullify sexism in the general culture. It doesn't work like that.

      I think that you and I will have to agree to disagree because we are coming from different places. I do not believe that geek culture is less sexist than the culture at large, and there's a lot of evidence to back that up. I personally think that's a fair and objective pov to be coming from. You don't, and obviously feel your pov is more fair and objective.

      The difference, as I see it, is that I don't believe my anecdotal experience is universal, but you seem to think yours is. I would invite you to watch Feminist Frequency, read posts by both Rachel Edidin and Jennifer De Guzman, on their experiences within geekdom, and our joint experience with the exclusive AND inclusive aspects of it.

      I'm not attacking anyone personally, the way you are. I'm criticizing an attitude, a meme, and a reality a lot of women in this space deal with. As offended by the marketing of sex as I'm sure some geek men are, I find that less problematic than the assumption that it's the women who are the problem, not the culture that promotes sexist ideas and tropes.

      As for "poseurs", I really don't care. My nerdery is not defined by anyone else's. I find worrying about how much or little someone else is "really" into something pointless. It doesn't diminish me unless I let it. Or other people use it as an excuse to diminish others.

      Delete
  17. Mariah,

    Thanks for posting this! I only wish I would have seen it sooner, or that you somehow found a way to forward it to me, as I stumbled across it quite by accident.

    I appreciate you taking the time to write this and I will respond in kind as soon as I have a chance to do so. :)

    Thanks again for fighting the good fight -- even if we may end-up disagreeing on some of the finer points of the fight itself. :)

    Best wishes,
    Dirk Manning

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Dirk.

      That's okay, I know you're busy, as are we all. :}

      I'm glad you and Jennifer were able to come to a better understanding, and I do appreciate that you would like to have a discussion on "personal integrity" within geekdom. My issue is largely with how that particular meme doesn't really do that, and the gendered nature of the "fake nerd girl" meme and the damage it does to real women in nerd spaces.

      Thanks!

      Delete
    2. Mariah,

      I've spoken about this A LOT at length, but here's what everything really distills down to.

      I never called anyone a whore, nor did I every try to paint myself as the "gatekeeper" of nerddom.

      The point in my posting the meme was my annoyance with anyone who poses to be something they're not -- be it a model who's pretending to be a nerd or a football player who's not.

      I think we should ALL embrace who we are and not advertize ourselves as things we're not for any reason -- be it for attention, for profit, or due to fear of social persecution.

      That is why I so feverishly tried to defuse the situation with Jennifer when the meme -- and my name/image right along with it -- was hijacked to discuss a secondary message that I never intended to "represent," nor one that I even feel I unintentionally represented, honestly.

      Thanks for your letter, though. I'm sorry that such a rational narrative has brought out so many "trolls," and I applaud you vigilance and passion concerning the very real issues women face in a male-empowered subculture.

      At this point all I can do is let my numerous responses to this issue speak for themselves,but I encourage you to keep fighting the good fight the way you do, just as I will keep fighting the good fight the way I do. :)

      Delete
    3. Hi, Dirk.

      I appreciate your willingness to discuss the topic, and I have read your responses elsewhere. I think there a few issues with what happened.

      1. What you posted didn't really illustrate what your apparent intent or motivation was. To a degree, once we express something, our intent because less importan than the execution.

      2. While a discussion about personal integrity in nerd spaces is fine, your premise is still relying somewhat heavily on your own interpretation of what that means.

      3. It's not a secondary message, though. The meme you posted represents a very specific viewpoint. Which you then defended. While I appreciate that you feel it wasn't the intent, it gendered the conversation because of the choice of expression.

      4. I personally don't think that whether or not a person is "advertising" themselves falsely, because that is really subjective, is the issue people are making it out to be in nerddom. It's based on assumptions that don't do anyone any favors.

      5. This attitude is being used to excuse what amounts to bullying behavior aimed at whoever an individual deems "fake". If we're so much better, we shouldn't be indulging in that behavior at all. Or even condoning it with the excuse that we just want people to be "authentic".

      I appreciate that you feel differently on the matter, but I think you did represent that view unintentionally.

      Delete
  18. A couple months ago I was at a party where a very attractive (alternative) girl my friend just started dating noticed my Marvel shirt and said "Hey I like comics. I know more about comics than you". I didn't really respond, but a few minutes later she repeated her love for comics so I tried to start a conversation. It went nowhere. The girl didn't know much and rather was more interested in challenging my knowledge than having a discussion. The most intelligible thing she said was "I like Dark Horse" which actually doesn't even make sense since DH has no real brand identity. I brought up many titles across the spectrum of comics and the only she had any clue about was "The Goon" (which admittedly, I've never read).

    These girls Dirk are complaining about do exist. The meme isn't addressing you or your friends. If you're a true nerd girl and you know it in your heart the "whore" comment doesn't apply to you. Really, you're defending a subset of women who would look down on you for actually liking comics and looking like a real nerd girl. He's addressing glamor hounds, not chicks playing D&D for the first time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you might have misread my post. I did not take what he said personally, I simply applied the rhetoric to the real world and gave it context. I'm perfectly comfortable in my nerdery, because it's not defined by how anyone else views it.

      The girl you had an issue with could have just as easily been a dude. Some people act like experts on something and aren't. Who cares? What does it change about the things you love?

      The problem is that the rhetoric IS applied to me and my friends, and women in general. By existing in nerd spaces we are subjected to it. It doesn't matter if we "deserve" it or not, because it shouldn't be done, full stop.

      It's fine if "those women" look down on me. Because I am not defined by that. I will, however, defend them, because sexism is wrong no matter how you try and justify it. You're making sweeping generalizations and trying to justify ingrained sexism. Insincere people exist, but, so what? It doesn't justify calling them "whores" or perpetuating sexist tropes about women.

      Delete
    2. Also: "And looking like a real nerd girl."

      I'm curious, what does a real nerd girl look like?

      Delete
  19. More to the point, if woman is just embarking on her journey into geekdom she wouldn't likely snap photos of herself in plastic frames or accessorize with Mario Bros themed trinkets. She's going to ease into it like the rest of us. Patton Oswald wrote about it somewhere, but the culture we live in one of instant expertise, where we can jump on the internet and know everything about anything in a few hours (he argues that a nerd of 20 years ago would have had to make himself an expert through time-consuming research). I think Dirk's sharing of the meme is speaking to that. You argue, Mariah, that no one should ever judge another person's nerdiness. I disagree. First, maybe, ideally, they shouldn't but it's going to happen. Have you ever been, or known anyone, associated with punk rock lifestyle? Right or wrong, that group is notorious for labeling those on the fringes of their group "posers". Same goes with gangsters, sports fans and the religious community. Those within the core group absolutely have a right to judge the authenticity of those trying to enter said group, particularly when they dress the part and post it on a public forum (the same public forum you ridicule Dirk for posting in).

    No way does this start and stop with women, I see a males all the time with Spidey/Batman gear who haven't read a comic in decades. Sadly, and I know everyone reading my rant knows this-- our culture was, and continues to be, squished under the cruel boot of society for three or four decades. After being on the lowest rung of the societal ladder we now fight against stigmas propagated by shows like "Big Bang Theory". We're extremely protective of our territory, and yes, we do lash out at outsiders who want to assimilate, but that's because of the rise of nerd culture of the last decade. Is a problem? Sure. Is it sexist? Probably not. It's just a lot easier to identify a girl who definitely isn't a nerd over a male who isn't. Personally, I call them both out, and then ask them if they want to borrow my TPBs after I set them straight.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love Patton, but I emphatically disagreed with his piece. Times change, nerdom has changed, things being liked by people other than nerds doesn't diminish your own expertise or nerdy love of it. What his piece boiled down to was being cranky that certain things are no longer as obscure and feeling people should have to "earn" their nerd cred. I don't seem much point in that, because what is and is not "enough" nerd cred is subjective.

      Just because people will judge doesn't mean we should condone it. And we certainly shouldn't condone it when it relies on sexist tropes. There's a difference between me critiquing Dirk's post and him perpetuating a sexist meme. They are not the same.

      Just because you also think men do it, doesn't stop this particular meme from being gendered and sexist. There are no "fake nerd dude" memes. You know why? Because no one assumes a guy isn't a real nerd because of his gender. That's the stark difference.

      Why not just, you know, offer to show people stuff you like and not worry so much about whether they were into it "enough" before? That's like getting angry like someone likes Star Trek and not Star Wars. It's pointless.

      Delete
  20. I also get the point of this is to have an accepting, open atmosphere for comicdon, both to enrich the culture and to sell more books so our beloved industry doesn't suffer. However, there still needs to be SOME blowback for the people we see as frauds. Unfortunately, when anyone uses a generalized term like "women" (or "blacks" or "Republicans" or "resident of New Jersey") the entire contingent of that group feels like their being insulted. Again, noble you're standing up for women in comics, but really, you should be on "our" side defending the citadel from the barbarians that simply want to share in our glory. It's kind of like the people who don't vote but complain about politics and policy -- they only enter the arena when it's convenient for them.

    I'm a pretty reasonable dude, but I still get a bit angry that people embraced Bay's Transformers as much as they because I was ridiculed for liking them in grade school. I still have a little bitterness when I see 6-12 of the preppy girls I went to high school with wearing Batman costumes this past Halloween. Is this feeling right? Hell no, it's immature, but I guarantee it's the mindset of 90% of these men that "attack" the female demographic. Point is, when we see an attractive girl looking the part of nerd we assume, for the most part, that it's merely dress up and not a lifestyle. Get extremely specific the meme seems to be talking about Facebook photos. The nice thing about FB is that you can click on that person, check them out, and decide if you believe the story that picture is telling you. The meme is a general statement, but it's directed at very specific people.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There really doesn't, though. Because who you think is a "fraud" isn't the same as who I think is a "fraud" (note: I don't bother to do that, it's a silly and useless waste of time).

      I'm on the side of nerdom, which is why I hold it to a higher standard than being reactionary, clique-y, sexist, and possessive. I like it when other people like the things I like. I get more of it, more people to talk to about it, and it's just a lot more fun. I have no interest in defending a "citadel" because I don't view other people who are not into something as much as I am "barbarians". Ugh.

      The meme is generalizing about girls/women that present their nerdom in a way other people don't like. It's assuming huge, huge, huge things, and is just entirely reliant on sexist tropes and dumbassery. It could be aimed at one person and it would still be wrong and problematic.

      If you know a feeling is immature, then you should probably work on changing it, not justifying it.

      Delete
  21. The meme states that if all you've done are X and Y, you are not Z. It doesn't say what the requirements for being Z are, because that's irrelevant. Someone who's ONLY done X and Y hasn't done/been anything else that would make them Z.

    That's a logical statement for any value of Z.

    Just like putting on a flight suit and being flown in for a carrier landing in a jet doesn't make me a modern-day fighter pilot. (In that case, we had a grandstanding war criminal jackass.)

    So no, the meme in and of itself isn't incorrect, or even necessarily harmful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No, the meme makes assumptions about why someone is posting a picture, and then calles them a "whore". Plus, it's part of an overall attitude within nerd/geek culture that promotes the idea that women in general are not "real" nerds and must prove they are because of how other people define it. Being attractive and saying you're a nerd is all it takes. Or even just being a woman in a nerd space. It doesn't exist in a vacuum, the rhetoric it uses is applied. As my letter clearly states and even demonstrates. But I'm guessing you didn't read that far.

      It's both incorrect and harmful because it perpetuates sexist tropes AND demeans women with the use of "whore".

      Delete
    2. You're reading far too much into it.

      The meme doesn't call out all instances of picture posting, no matter how much you want to believe this. It addresses specific instances where someone is trying to appear to be something they are not.

      It addresses poseurs, and the logical statement works for poseurs of all types, regardless of what they're trying to appropriate or their gender.

      And poseurs, by definition, are a type of attention whore. And attention whore is not a sex/gender-specific term.

      Delete
    3. Curious: why do you get to define that I'm "reading too much into it"? By what standard?

      It does, though, because it perpetuates the "fake nerd girl" idiocy, which is applied generally and specifically. The point is: you don't know if they're trying to appear to be something they are not. And it specifically addresses women. You can't un-gender it because it's inconvenient.

      And, beyond that. I. Don't. Care. It's incredibly stupid to waste any time trying define who is and is not a nerd based on individual definitions. It's pointless, demeaning, and utterly without purpose.

      Delete
    4. So I guess your failure to post my reply that points out the basic flaw in your premise is an admittance of defeat, then?

      I guess when you realize you're wrong the only thing you know to do is shut down the conversation.

      Delete
    5. ...says the anonymous poster, among many others, all saying the exact same things. I have not posted exactly 2 other anonymous posts, because they were both redundant and have been covered by other posts at length.

      I would love to know how I'm "shutting down conversation" by A. positing over 40 comments, many of them dissenting and even insulting! and B. using discretion on my own blog to keep the conversation from getting too redundant. So far no one, named or anonymous, has made ANY point that pointed out the "basic flaw in my premise". They've either disagreed with it or not.

      I guess if you knew you were right you'd use a real name.

      Delete
    6. Ah, the old "anonymous, they must be hiding because they know they're wrong" trope.

      Some of us just don't want the stream of abuse we get from some of the people on your side. Having a name/pseudonym on something doesn't change the content of that thing. Attack the stance, not the poster.

      It's easy to claim the post was redundant and doesn't show the flaw in your point when you won't let anyone else see it.

      Here it is again, in case you "lost" it:

      I'm not "defining" it, I'm pointing it out.

      The meme isn't being applied to any actual picture though: you're right, you don't know the case of any given picture. The meme isn't addressing that, however. It's simply making a logical statement.

      If you only do X and Y (which are not actually anything specific to Z) you are not actually Z. What actually constitutes Z doesn't have to be defined: all you need is X and Y to *not* be any of those things.

      The logic of the statement holds true. And if you're looking for cliques and sub-cultures to stop at least having minimum definitions for membership, I'm afraid you're going to have a rough time with that.

      Delete
    7. Okee doke, I'll bite and post this...even though it is the definition of redundant as you just repeated your initial comment, which I absolutely posted. And actually, I did not see this response, as I have been modding a lot of "anonymous" comments and it reads almost exactly like your first comment. They all blend after awhile. But, you know, keep on keeping on with that whole "censorship" malarkey. It's not you like you have the whole internet in which to address this any way you want to.

      What stream of "abuse"? What "side"? I absolutely attacked the stance and not the poster. Ever. So now you're relying on a strawman. Whoo! Why did I approve this comment again?

      ::sigh:: My point is that the existence of the meme at all, and it's gendered nature, makes it sexist and stupid. It doesn't exist in some vacuum wherein it's underlying rhetoric is not applied to real people. It was used to illustrate Mannings "pet peeve" with apparently "fake" nerd/geeks or people who, in his mind, present themselves inauthentically. He's gone on to defend it as an illustration of said belief. So I am addressing both his stance on it, and the meme itself.

      The meme is addressing, apparently, girls who pose in pictures in "slutty" clothing with glasses that say "lol nerd", but that doesn't make them nerds (somehow), it makes that whores. A. that's pretty specific. B. A really faulty premise. And C. It's not a math problem, it's a rhetorical meme based on sexist tropes. D. it relies on some universal definition of "slutty" only there isn't one. E. It actually does assume things about girls, and then posits a conclusion about them. All of which are sexist and problematic.

      "Minimum" definitions? Whose? Mine? I'm a part of nerd culture, do I get to define it? Do you? Who is the arbiter? Do we get to have meetings? Half the people on this post don't agree this is an issue, others do.

      Obviously we need some kind of nerd cage match to settle it all, Fight Club Style. For the sake of of nerddom, obviously, which can't possibly survive if it's not being exclusionary and reductive.


      Delete
  22. A well written letter, Thank you for bringing this to people's attention.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Lol memes are taking over our soicety.

    ReplyDelete
  24. The fear of the "fake nerd girl" always amuses me because... well, what exactly is the problem?

    Some wannabe nerd gatekeepers seem so afraid of faux geek girls that it's almost as though they're worried that somehow they're planning on stealing the men'z precious bodily fluids under false pretenses. Oh noes, the hot girl in glasses hasn't memorized all of the effects of different forms of Kryptonite, I'm suffering from a dishonestly induced erection!

    (Blatant plug: I've written a little about this before, back when Joe Peacock first shot his mouth off about this: http://www.doctornerdlove.com/2012/07/fake-geek-girls/)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know! And I have loved your pieces on it. :}

      Delete
  25. Surprised and moderately ashamed of my own surprise that comments 2-4 (out of 5 atm) are displaying the precise sort of narrow perspective on life that your article references.

    Men, especially white men. As one of you, I understand what it is to be blind to your own entitlement, and to say "why the hell is X getting so offended? its just a joke shit" but that is because we are white men and we have no reason to be offended, because nothing can touch us.

    Additionally, we don't get called "whore" every day, all day. Imagine your normal white male day, but every hour somebody asked if you wanted to get fucked and called you a bitch.

    I imagine you wouldn't like it. So maybe, just maybe, try once to imagine yourself in someone else's shoes, and remember that not everything white men think is a joke is funny to everyone. Usually, it's offensive, and it's important to acknowledge that, even if you continue to make the joke.

    Thanks for the article Mariah, and I hope the rest of the comments that follow this are less virtriolic.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! Most of them have been, even when I disagree.

      Delete
  26. Hear, hear.

    If anyone feels that there are "fake nerds" out there, please write an absolute definition of what makes someone nerdy. If you can announce it in a public forum and get 20 people to cosign that definition, I'd be happy to abide by it.

    I'd be very, VERY surprised if anyone can find a definition wide enough to incorporate 20 different strains of geekery, and yet narrow enough to preclude "posers." That would be an interesting thing to see.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Well said, well done. No surprise that the "criticism" is anonymous.

    ReplyDelete
  28. You know, I really wish this wasn't an issue we had to deal with. Why is the comic community so hellbent on alienating people and furthering the idea that we can't act like regular human beings socially?

    If someone enjoys something or identifies a certain way, just accept it. For a group of people that were for so long considered outcasts some people sure are keen to prove themselves as the alpha individual of whatever situation they think they can dominate.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's precisely that attitude that makes me so adverse to the whole fake vs real nerd/geek stuff. I see no point in it. If someone isn't into something the same way I am, who cares? And if they are? Awesome! I'm not in competition with other nerds. It's just silly.

      Delete
  29. Here's the thing: the "fake geek girls" meme seems to have its origins in a Cracked.com article by John Cheese. I can't find it in the archives, it was from late last year. But Cheese was specifically complaining (ironically, humourously) about the concept of "booth babes" and other attractive women hired to pander to geeks by pretending to be into video games or what have you. The crucial thing here is that they were being paid by corporations to get geeks to open their wallets. Whether you agree or not, complaining about this actually makes sense.

    Somehow, however, the general geek community has warped it into "we are surrounded by female infiltrators who want to gain access to our secret club," which of course makes no sense. It's basically just become an excuse to flaunt misogyny and build up geek's imagined persecution and tribalism.

    ReplyDelete
  30. And also to say just how precious the comments are on the original fb post. "I'm a dude and, lol, I don't get why 'whore' is offensive."

    The privilege these boys have. It's staggering.

    ReplyDelete
  31. I don't believe that his word choice was meant to demean women, more it was chosen in a colloquial manner to express anger at a certain type of woman. By no means am I defending or condoning the choice, I am simply stating that it is like people choosing to use "faggot" or "retarded" as an insult. While it is wildly incorrect and insensitive, unfortunately, it is how the word has evolved in our society. I'm not saying that it should be accepted or that you were wrong in addressing the issue, but I can see how people would come to his defense.

    The issue, from what I can tell, is not that being a nerd is a boys' club and no girls are allowed, it is that fakes and phonies are coming out of the woodwork as nerdiness is becoming less stigmatized and more mainstream. With the release of The Avengers (and the previous origin stories), Nolan's Batman franchise, reboot of Spider-man and other comic book/video game based movies being a nerd is becoming more and more socially acceptable. Speaking as someone with relatively low "nerd-cred", I agree that there are varying levels of nerdiness and feel that we should accept anybody that participates in nerdy activities. But there is a line. Just throwing on a football jersey doesn't necessarily make you a jock or football enthusiast. You have to know something about the sport and understand what is good and bad, when to cheer and when not to cheer. In the same manner, dressing up in provocative clothing and putting on thick rimmed glasses does not make you a nerd. That being said, anyone who shows even the slightest bit of interest in video games, comic books, anime, cons, sci-fi, or whatever else constitutes being a nerd should be able to consider themselves a nerd, regardless of their genitals. What his meme is suggesting is that the caption "lol, im such a nerd" implies that being a nerd is a degrading thing akin to the duckface (lol, im ironically ugly, but not really). The animosity is not directed at her being a woman, it is directed at her pretending to be something she's not. It is the fact that she views nerds as socially lesser beings and because she now has glasses she is categorized with them, BUT WAIT, she's an attractive nerd so she should get some credit. If she didn't have the glasses she would be less of a nerd and would be totally way hot. In my mind, those pictures imply that nerds cannot be attractive or all must wear glasses and that offends me.

    On the subject of sexism in the nerd world, I agree with you completely. The treatment of women, specifically at cons, is disgusting. There was a blog post awhile back about the girl who dressed up as Black Cat for a con (and did a fantastic job I might add) and while being interviewed on stage was asked about her cup size. Or the fact that women in comics seem to always be given super skimpy outfits that no person in their right mind would fight crime in. And while I do think it is getting better people like you need to stand up and say "this is wrong and I'm not okay with it".

    In summation, I guess what I'm saying is that while crude and insensitive the meme is not addressing female nerds saying "get the hell out", but rather the imposters that use stereotypical props like black face to degrade us as a whole (once again, not condoning or defending, merely stating). And while I may disagree with your conclusion on this issue, I believe you are correct when it comes to sexism in our community.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Unfortunately, but using sexist tropes, the word "whore", and making subjective assertions about what a "real" nerd is, it fails on just about every level. There have always been "impostors", or "fakers". The best thing to do is ignore them and they'll go away. Calling them "whores" or assuming a sexy/conventionally attractive women is not a "real" nerd is just deeply problematic. That attitude filters down to the rest of us and has real world ramifications. Namely: the assumption that any and all women in nerd spaces are not "real" nerds based on their gender. And it gets really hostile and ugly.

      Delete
    2. The idea that the issue is a sudden plethora of impostors, not sexism, seems exceptionally flimsy when you consider that, of the attacks on "fake" geeks, every. single. one. targets women. It's not about protecting the integrity of geek culture, and it never has been.

      Delete
  32. Yeah, I don't really get the obsession some men have with this topic. Are there firemen out there claiming to be offended because a woman dressed up as a sexy fireman for a calendar? Are they claiming that a mockery is being made of putting out fires? Give me a break. The amount of sexism faced by a woman pursuing a career as a fireman, that's an actual concrete problem with real world consequences. The amount of shit that women have had to put up with in nerd-related industries and social circles - that is a problem with actual concrete consequences. A woman looking sexy - how does that hamper a man's career prospects or prevent him from being able to share what he loves with other people who love that same thing?

    And then there's the whole gatekeeper bullshit, but you covered that pretty well.

    If you think a woman if being a fake, call her fake - why does it have to be "whore," or "slut," or whatever other equally gender-specific but not factually specific pejorative? I think the fact that somebody unwilling to reveal their identity immediately jumped on this blog with the "bitch" and "twat" kind of sums up the whole problem at hand in one dumb sentence.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Right? It's so perfect, I did a happy dance. I was like, wow, point made! Thank you, anon troll!

      Delete
  33. "Fake nerd," for me, are the girls who don "geek chic" clothes and massive glasses, and then take pictures of themselves applying a game controller or cable to their mouth in a "sexy" way. I don't really see guys do it a lot, but I think that's because the male ego doesn't allow much wiggle room there. "Nerdy girls" are hot, while males nerds are just... nerds. I'm sure you get the fakes among men, too, but I've not seen enough of that to make a judgement there.

    "Whore," for me, is anybody - male or female - who tries to portray themselves in some way to get attention. Beautiful, buff, geek-chic, ironic... whores, one and all.

    The Ted meme pic? I look at that and I see these definitions. Women aren't being specifically picked out here, you're just taking it that way. I'd just the meme "calm yo tits," but in spite of being used on men and women alike, you'd still take that as an attack on your gender.

    Instead, calm your mind.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like how you think you get to define what is and is not a "fake nerd" by your own assumptions and standards.

      You can't take the word "whore" out of the context it is being used in here just because that seems more convenient to you. It was used about "fake" nerd girls. It does not apply to anyone else just because you would like it to because that would make your point somehow more valid. Because it wouldn't.

      Yes, they are. And "calm your tits" uses a specifically gendered body part. Again, your trying to redefine it to suit what you believe is a valid point/argument doesn't change it.

      Actually, I'm quite calm, as the piece clearly indicates. But kudos for attempting to suggest that having an issue with this meme is somehow not calm. Would that make it, I don't know, "hysterical"?

      Delete
  34. So if there is a whore out there, that trades sex for money, and dresses slutty, then puts on glasses and says "Nerd, LOL". You don't think that this women diminishes the actual nerdy girls who read comics and happen to wear glasses? You don't think she is insulting you and this Jenifer girl and Thelma from scooby-do? She is. She is saying, "look I'm a whore who sells my vagina, and all I have to do is put on these glasses and I'm one of those nerdy chicks". It's like a reverse Superman. A strange Prostitute from another Street Corner but by day she is mild mannered Nerd Girl when she puts on her over sized glasses. This is what Dirk Manning was talking about. This is what that meme was pointing attention at. What you and Jenifer have denounced is some misplaced Valerie Plame/Rush Limbaugh hatred of a word that you have probably (im sure wrongfully) been called before. Dirk Manning isn't Rush Limbaugh, You and Jenifer aren't Valerie Plame. Many women have many trigger words. I have heard women use the word "cunt" and blow-up when they are called "bitch". Use Slut and blow up when they are called "cunt". They are all hurtful words, but they exist and aren't always directed at you. Get over it, he has apologized and the two of you have made your point, start working to break the glass ceiling you are under, because Dirk fucking Manning isn't the one keeping you under it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Who said Dirk was keeping anyone under a glass ceiling? I addressed the rhetoric of a meme he used to back up a sentiment he has about "fake" nerd girls.

      And no, I don't. I and my nerdery are not defined by anyone else's. You might as well ask me if I'm "diminished" as a comics fan/writer/editor because some people like superhero movies but don't read comics. I'm not.

      Ironically, I didn't take what he said personally. I discussed how the meme he used, as rhetoric, is used to justify treating women in nerd spaces suspiciously and with hostility. And I used real examples of how toxic it can be.

      I find it interesting that you assume that my writing a post about this means I am not, in a concrete way, also doing things to help combat sexism in my industry. Or that I don't have a right to make a comment, just as he had a right to post that meme.

      "Whore" is not a trigger word, but thanks for the assumptions. You've just soundly proved my entire point.

      Delete
    2. So what if a woman "sells her vagina"? How does that diminish nerd girls, or have anything to do with anyone else? Because contrary to popular opinion, and this might be a revelation to your tiny little mind, "whores" are humans too!! Shocking I know. And just to give you another heart attack...some of us "whores"(though we much prefer the term sex-worker) are geeks as well!

      Delete
  35. I saw a guy call a comic creator misogynist today--I pointed out that it was a bit hypocritical of him, given he'd just called a woman a bitch a few posts beforehand. He responded with, "I call men "bitches" also. In fact you are kind of acting like one now."

    I was sort of speechless for a moment. It's amazing to me that I'd have to explain that calling a man a bitch is just as much a sexist act as calling a woman one--because the TERM bitch is gender-specific. By using it on a man, you are relating him to the female of a species in an insulting manner, thus insulting both him and an entire gender. It boggles my mind that people would actually think that the target being male excuses the action, but I think it speaks to the mindset; part of the reason these people are using these insults is that they don't understand the inherent sexist nature of them. This in no way excuses their actions, but it does explain them, and in doing so can make it easier to combat.

    I'm sort of losing the thread here, I think, in relating the story. My initial point was, when you insult someone with a gender-specific adjective, you're being sexist. Period. There's NO legitimate, viable defense for that.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Mariah and Jennifer: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  37. I find it astounding that anyone is that defensive of the title 'nerd'. That it has become so prevalent that we are trying to shame or embarrass faux nerds is unbelievable. I find it sad that the people who make up so-called nerd culture, a people usually of above average intelligence, would be so ridiculously backward.

    When I was a kid I was insulted when anyone called me a nerd. Now the 'nerds' insult people that identify with them? A strange development.

    ReplyDelete
  38. I agree with you on the use of the word 'whore' in the meme pic that triggered this whole mess. It's a toxic, loaded word -- one with much, much more baggage attached to it than the parameters of the 'Idiot Nerd Girl' meme can logically support, much less merit in terms of severity.

    Further, I also think that the whole 'ING' phenomenon has likely been over-diagnosed across nerd-dom as a whole -- much like the rush of folks to diagnose themselves as having Asperger's, when many (probably most) are just looking for a medical rationale for their own social awkwardness.

    However...poseurs exist -- and the idea that poseurs don't exist in nerd subcultures and aren't being drawn into them in increasing numbers due to the increasing cultural (and economic) cachet of those subcultures is a ridiculous rhetorical stance to take. Way too many of the folks leading the backlash against the ING meme have chosen to take that manifestly indefensible position.

    To your credit, you seem to be making a somewhat more reality-based argument. You're willing to stipulate that poseurs exist and seem to be willing to consider the possibility that their numbers are on the rise across the nerd subcultures -- you just don't seem to care, or think that this influx is damaging, as in this quote from one of your replies above:

    "If someone isn't into something the same way I am, who cares? And if they are? Awesome! I'm not in competition with other nerds. It's just silly."

    But here's the thing: Whether or not you want to be in competition with other nerds, you are. The people within the various nerd subcultures (you, me, and the poseurs alike) collectively define what those subcultures are, what they want, and ultimately what they'll get. If your subcultures are dominated by insightful, creative, hyper-literate, and otherwise interesting people, then they'll nurture and elevate great talent -- who will produce great stuff.

    But if those subcultures are overrun by ignorant, sub-literate, superficial goofs then they'll venerate figures and works who mirror those qualities -- the end result being subcultures that die via choking to death on their own offal.

    This isn't about Star Trek vs. Star Wars. This is about Lucas/Roddenberry/Spielberg/Nolan vs. the likes of Michael Bay and Joel Schumacher. This is about Kieron Gillen vs. Howard Mackie.

    To be perfectly clear: I'm not auditioning for the job of nerd 'gatekeeper' -- even if such a thing were possible. I wouldn't want the job or the aggravation -- and more to the point, I'm not arrogant or foolish enough to position myself as the final authority on any of this.

    But I do think it's well past time we, as a subculture (or a collection of oft-overlapping subcultures, whatever you prefer) begin having a serious conversation about authenticity, the increasing presence of panderers and fakes in our midst, and how to insure nerd subcultures can be vital, inclusive, and evolving -- while still remaining welcoming and recognizable to the sort of folks who founded them in the first place.

    Though the gendered nature of the ING meme makes it a flawed vehicle for such discussion, it's still pointing out a part of that problem -- and doing so in a manner that has people talking. IMHO, that's actually a good thing. I'd much rather see the validity of that problem acknowledged, along with an admission of the flawed framing the meme employs, rather than a contemptuous dismissal of the entire phenomenon seeks to critique. That phenomenon, the debasement of nerd subcultures via a huge influx of poseurs and opportunists, is real and it does pose a threat to the integrity of the things and communities nerds of all interests and genders enjoy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Honestly, I've been to a lot of shows, am active online, and this supposed influx of infiltrators and panderers is overblown. We're talking about pop culture, here. Some people are into it more than others, some take it more seriously than others, and that's pretty much it. Having an encyclopedic knowledge of Buffy trivia is not undermined by someone who has only seen an episode, or pretended they have. The fear of this apparently "huge" amount of "infiltrators" is a lot more numerous than the reality. Also: haven't there always been people who pretend to know about things they don't? How is this a new thing?

      Look, I think the Bay Transformers movies are terrible...but it's Transformers. A property that was developed to sell toys. As important as it was to some people's childhoods, it was based on the most absolutely crass and rank commercialism/capitalism. It has never, ever, been sacred or pure. Frankly, nothing in pop culture is. Because in order for it to be pop culture some part of the intent has to be consumption. No one puts out a TV show or comic hoping no one will watch it or read it. That doesn't mean it can't also have positive, meaningful elements.

      What can be pure: your appreciate of and love for it. And I maintain that cannot be diminished by any other person not knowing about it or pretending they know about it when they don't.

      Crap exists in every medium. There have been "bad" books and writers for as long as people have been telling stories. There have been crappy movies for the entire history of film. TV has had awful sitcoms since we first sat down in front of it. It ebbs and flows.

      The only way to "combat" this is by being inclusive, supporting work we find meaningful, and creating work we find meaningful. But we can't dictate what other people relate to, or force people to be nerds the same we are about the same things. That's a huge waste of time.

      Delete
  39. Well said. All of it. This whole ‘faux-nerd chick’ discussion is so played out and very surprising to me. I’m sure a lot of geek cultures’ knee-jerk defense to ‘intruders’ is attributed to its historically bullied beginnings, but the fact that nerd culture has come so far over the past 5-10 years makes it surprising that this is even allowed to be a topic of discussion. You’d think guys, in general, would be psyched that girls were becoming interested in the stuff that only they, traditionally, have liked…from comics and gaming, to the NFL and UFC…but for some reason, I sense a sort of backlash to it in nerd culture. I think you struck a nerve with your post because a lot of guys are just very ‘touchy’ when it comes to the top of sexism…and have a hard time articulating their feelings on the subject when confronted with the issue…as some of the comments you’ve received clearly demonstrate. I have my own theories as to why that is, but I think it’s a shame that the culture, and guys in general, are not more accepting of more girls joining in. There are some very talented girls doing great things in comics, television, film, gaming, music and literature right now, like right now…and this only adds to the culture. That it also might attract more readers/viewers/consumers can also be nothing but good for the culture. What’s the real problem here? Does it really come down to ‘No Girls Allowed’? In 2012? Seriously? In 2012!?!

    ReplyDelete
  40. Did I miss something? Don't we WANT girls to read comics? Don't we sort of need the OTHER HALF OF THE POPULATION to want to read comics and play video games and the like so these industries can flourish? Man, people are fucking stupid.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Is the problem here guys being "pissing their pants angry" because they expect someone hot and dressed in slutty clothes to be sexually available to them? And they're not? Is that the issue? Is it the fact that someone dressed in a skimpy costume is not giving your attention hurting their little egos?

    Because honestly the reason why conventions have to hire attractive women to dress in skimpy costumes is because the actual attractive geek girls who actually do share your deep interests who would otherwise engage in cosplay ARE HORRIFIED BY THE WAY MANY MEN BEHAVE TOWARDS THEM WHEN THEY DO.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wonder if that's it...I think it would make sense. I've been labeled a nerd for things like being able to recite The Last Unicorn movie in its entirety, being able to answer trivia about Discworld, translating Beowulf into modern English for fun, loving anime, winning Lord of the Rings trivial pursuit, writing fantasy stories, etc. Growing up, I always equated "nerd" with "somebody who was good at math," but I never sat down and really thought about marginalizing people based on what they like or don't like.

      I figure, I like what I like, and if you like the same things, cool, let's be friends! If not, those people tend not to stick around. Either way, I don't feel the need to label anybody. Except people who cut me off in traffic. They're jerks, no matter what subculture they belong to. ;)

      Delete
  42. I find it kind of interesting how much criticism girls who go to cons dressed in revealing costumes gather, given that pretty much all the female super heroes and a solid 75% of female video game characters are costumed that way. At the last convention I went to, there was a guy in a pretty awesome Hellboy costume - but no-one picked on him for showing off his red-painted nipples. So, you know, kudos, girls-in-bathing-suit-level-costumes. I wish I had your self confidence.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, just wanted to say I like your comment! So true.

      Delete
  43. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. There are so many layers of goodness in this post that I don't have time to address them all before I run off to teach. Let's just say that my feminist/sociologist/nerd self is feeling very appreciative!

    ReplyDelete
  44. Mariah: I appreciate that among the group of girls that have responded to this apparent call-to-arms generated by D. Manning's meme, you are the one more willing to interact with further comments (even the horribly impolite ones) and continue the discussion.

    I have to agree that the casual use of words like "whore" and blanket generalizations such as the ones made by the meme are sadly telling of existing behaviour among the subculture (further reinforced by some of the comments here.) However, it saddens me that all the defensive responses to that meme totally muddle its one valid point with lots of rhetoric:

    The meme doesn't imply that a nerd cannot be or act sexy or that a choice of clothing (or even of career, for the actual sex workers) is mutually exclusive with being a genuine nerd or an unmistakable sign of a poser. What the meme implies is that there IS such a thing as posers. Girls that mock and vilify and use nerds for their attention/feelings/money and then go and have a laugh behind their back and post hurtful comments on their social media. This is a behaviour that's as inexcusable as "geek privilege", "gatekeeping" and actual misogyny... but no one will talk about it!

    Defending girls against these slobbering monsters take precedence over acknowledging that girls also attack, mock and take advantage of them... because who cares about geeks, right? We've been publicly mocking them for decades, now being able to come down on them with the righteous ire of an angry god because their misogyny is just a continuation of that, while looking sensitive and progressive in front of girls. Girls' feelings MUST be protected. Nerds' feelings? "Ha! As if they had such a thing, they like, only can have feelings for Slave Outfit Princess Leia and underage animu cartoons!"

    My point is: I understand why is it important to recognize, point and condemn misogyny in its bud. But why don't we feel that zeal as well when it comes to protect men when they are preyed on by girls? It pains me to say this, but most of the misogynist behaviour I notice in some of my friends actually developed from being cruelly treated/played with by a girl before. Misogyny is still inexcusable and unjustifiable but so should be the kind of behaviour that causes it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ::sigh:: Here's the thing: of course people talk about it. Those memes and the people who supported them (whether Manning's or the Harris thing today) do support that. They are having that conversation. They believe that all these girls are apparently laughing behind their backs or judging them or whatever. When, if they're at these cons, the vast majority are fans their to enjoy themselves and they don't care at all about whatever it is the geek guys thinks they do.

      I have NEVER said it's okay to mock geek guys, and I don't. Neither does anyone I know. I have never seen it happen at a con. I'm not saying it hasn't, or that some people don't suck, but to blanket all women at cons, or female cosplayers at cons, as doing it is ridiculous. I think there's a level of self-involvement and assumption going on here. A lot of geeks were made fun of growing up (I was) and so assume that everyone is still doing it, whether or not they actually are of have any proof of that. When what you see is "infiltrators" when you see a girl at a convention, the likelihood that you are blowing this out of proportion is pretty high.

      Guys in nerd and geek spaces are also privileged. They have, for decades, defined what it is to be a geek or nerd. This whole outcry is mainly due to the fact that more women and girls are getting involved, in their own way, and they're angry they can't dictate the terms. It's really that simple. This isn't about their feelings, it's about their entitlement.

      I'm sick of this "poseur" conversation. It's subjective and arbitrary and we keep saying that and yet people keep wanting to say "but they're real! I saw one on Facebook!" So what? If someone is a poseur then it's usually pretty obvious and easy to move on.

      We don't feel the need to protect these men from being "preyed" on because it's not happening. Absolutely nothing that has been brought up in these discussions has ever specified what "preying" they think is going on. Except that because women exist in these spaces and sometimes wear costumes and sometimes don't, they are apparently "fakers" and "poseurs" and "preying" on men. Unlike male cosplayers, of course, who are just expressing their nerdery and having a good time.

      The misogyny underling this has warped the perspective. No one "causes" someone to be a misogynist. If a girl was mean to you, that should be like any person being mean to you. An indication that some people are mean, not that girls are mean. If you leap to that, then something is very wrong.

      Delete
  45. I'm surprised by how many negative comments there are here! You're awesome and keep on being great. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aw, thank you, that's very sweet. I've posted just about every comment I've gotten and it's interesting how many people leapt to being negative. In the above comments Dr. Nerdlove linked to an article he wrote that's pretty similar to mine, but he somehow managed to get respectful dissenters. Wonder why that is. :}

      Delete
  46. I think the big lesson to be learned here is that we shouldn't judge. The whole problem with the meme in question is that it assumes that some number of these girls who are supposedly fans don't really like comics, they're just out there to get attention and have fanboys drool over them. The big problem with this is that women are still assumed to be outsiders, and that's really not the case. We should be welcoming to women, or at the very least changing our baseline assumption about women at a comicon so that we think they actually want to be there. This shouldn't have to be considered shocking news.

    ReplyDelete
  47. I find this whole inclusion/exclusion thing rather funny. I get the feeling I am older than many of the commenters and I've seen so much of this.
    I'm a woman engineer and was told I couldn't be (many times...) I love science fiction, though I was often discouraged from it. I learned to program a Univac with punchcards, and am a Mac-lover now. In my first job, my bottom was patted regularly. In my second the sexist jokes were everywhere, but honestly were intended to be inclusive and affectionate.
    In college, some male engineers and professors didn't want women there. I found out after college that fantasy readers don't like science fiction readers. Stay-at-home moms don't like working moms. PC users don't like mac users. Engineers don't like scientists. "Real" coders don't think fortran is a language anymore. Comics lovers don't like science fiction readers. Young "kids" think the "old folks" are dinosaurs. And on, and on, and on.
    What is funny is that this has always gone on, and to some extent probably always will. The recent upswing in stupid sexism is distressing, but not surprising, considering the climate of fear and "otherness" that has been building in the world.
    Things are better than they were just a generation ago, though, and they will continue to get better. So keep speaking up, and explaining. Because while the trolls will never hear you, the potential allies are gathering around and thinking about what you said, and may take your good message away with them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree. As distasteful as some stuff is, I'm lucky to have a lot of great geek girl friends and support. You take the bad with the good, really.

      Delete
  48. HAAH
    WAAW

    Gawd some of these comments~

    ReplyDelete
  49. The whole concept of being a nerd is just the notion of consumerism? So why would anyone care if you were a real nerd or not? Everyone is a nerd about something in their lives, so everyone is a nerd no matter who or what they are. Which also makes all nerds whores, since being a nerd is essentially based on ones knowledge or lack or knowledge of something or purchases or lack of purchases, making all nerds whores to the almighty corporation.

    ReplyDelete
  50. I research just about anything I can get my hands on. I speak more than 5 languages (which might be why my English is getting worse) and have a appetite for literature so old that when turning a page it's brittle pages fall apart.
    I haven't watched t.v. in 5 years (and counting) because I think t.v. is a waste of time; I also got tired of the sexist and misogynistic dialogue towards women and girls.
    People always tell me after I start opening my mouth in social setting (with people I've just met) "Wow, you're so smart, I would have never guessed that" When I ask what they meant by that statement ....they reply "Well, you don't look like the type, you're to pretty to have brains...we thought you were a model or something" WOW!!!!

    Oh it gets better...so then one of the guys (who had his wife next to him) decides to pull out sexist jokes ...I was taught by Tony Porter (A Call To Men) that if I say nothing ...I'm just as guilty. He said never be silent, speak up.

    So I said to the guy "what you're saying isn't cool, it isn't cool to me, and judging by the way your wife is looking at you while chugging down her cocktail...I'd say that she doesn't like it either..why don't you allow years for your sexual maturity to kick in...and then speak" ....he said "You're ass is just too tight, you can't handle jokes, I bet you can make a diamond if I shoved coal up your ass" I calmly replied "Apparently, you failed to listen in science class, it is absolutely impossible to make a diamond via anal cavity" ....he walked off to the backyard of the house. His wife stayed with me and said "Thank you....thank you for saying something ...because if I had said something, my husband would have embarrassed me in front of everyone by saying I was being a "B*&%# or uptight"....
    Which is why the statement you made above quote "Just because she disagrees with you does not mean she is “overly sensitive”, that she has no right to be angry, or no right to voice her objections" unquote... is a statement that speaks loud with me.

    I don't go to bars, I don't go to clubs, I haven't even entered a movie theater in 10+ years, I don't sleep around, I wear clothing that lacks the ability for anyone to see much. But, even then...no matter how or how I don't dress.....I still have to deal with sexist remarks. I am still held to the derogatory labels regardless of what I do....and that is wrong. It is wrong to devalue me and disrespect me just because of a gender that picked me. I was born with a part that immediately subjected me to such misogynistic and sexist rants.

    When I attempt to educate men on their sexist behavior, they immediately say "Well all guys do it" ah this excuse is overplayed and lame.....first off The leading and largest organizations in the world, fighting pornography, sexism towards women and girls,human trafficking, prostitution, and groups to help redefine masculinity, ARE RAN AND FOUNDED BY MEN....there are so many great guys our there...there is a guy Mark Houck (I believe his name is) he and his guy friends use to visit strip joints ...until one day he noticed how the other guys were behaving, and talking towards the women and realized he didn't want to be flocking, with the same birds....so he and his friends literally shut down "all" the strip joints in town by protesting out front. There was a man who heard the cause and owned a gas station and he ended up having all magazine that sexually objectified women removed from his store...and other stores (with help of the town folks of course)

    Too many women and girls are dying, anorexia, bulimia, suicide, because of the constant social media, friends, society, etc. pushing the importance of "fitting in to a status that is degrading" governed by a society that is desensitized.

    I thank you for your courage to stand up.....I am so thankful you addressed the issue.

    ReplyDelete
  51. Hey girl, hey. I just want to say thanks for the post.

    ReplyDelete
  52. This entire subject just makes me shake my head. I have some many good friends who are "geek women" and I never understood the "your not enough of a geek" attitude. If it is something you love then I say go for it. Yes there are women out there who dress up as comic characters who don't know the entire history of the character. Maybe they just love designing and creating costumes and find the vibrant nature of comics outfits appealing. Being a geek or a nerd is to love something, and no one can ever say that their love of anything is better or truer than anyone else. All I can see where I hear a comment like the one that inspired this post is that that person is venting their own issues and insecurities.

    ReplyDelete
  53. Well written. Just found out today about this whole fake-nerd-girl thing going on.
    Keep up the good work and voice your opnion

    ReplyDelete
  54. I have always marveled at the stunning lack of self awareness of people (guys and girls) who try to cut people down with words like "whore" and "slut". They don't seem to realize that while they think they are attacking someones character, they are showing a immense lack of it themselves. Women are pushed by the media to aspire to certain sexualized ideals and then cut down when they do.

    Think about it, what's worse? a girl who wears provocative clothing (many insulted in this way often aren't) or a person who shamelessly attacks others and tries to hurt them with their words.

    If one of these two were to vanish from the planet, I think it is clear which would make the place a lot nicer to live in.

    ReplyDelete
  55. A belated thank you for this spot on response.

    As a female lover of games and geekery for the last 24 or so years, I've heard all the insults and I've heard all the attempted 'justifications' too. Those who use and/or condone this kind of language and exclusionary behaviour have no excuses. They're being simplistic, narrow-minded asshats, plain and simple, and if nobody ever calls them out on it, they never stand a chance of improving (a slim chance is better than none!)

    I've faced this attitude in professional life quite often. The architecture industry is still a male-dominated realm, and the technical/drafting/3D modelling side even moreso. When so many male colleagues and consultants consistently and blatantly assume that as I'm female, I'm there to take their coffee orders or field their phonecalls, it's immensely satisfying to let them know in no uncertain terms that I'm actually there to run the meeting or fix their rookie-level technical errors.

    Whilst it's this confidence in my skills and knowledge that I like to rely on and extend to other sectors, my geeky past-times included, every now and then a more direct approach is required.

    When a male coworker introduced myself and two (female) friends as 'work colleagues' to his male friend, also a construction industry professional, his friend's instant response was "Oh, receptionists?"

    After he was kindly told we were all architects, he seemed to be equal measures shocked and insulted that we had dared correct his assumption. Needless to say, my polite enquiry as to how the 1950s were treating him wasn't particularly to his liking either.

    It's satisfying when your actions can prove someone's petty assumptions so patently inaccurate, but every now and then, like in the instance of this meme and the following justification, it just needs to be laid out in plain language that that kind of behaviour, thinly-veiled or not, is unacceptable.

    ReplyDelete