Let me play Captain Obvious for a moment. I’m a great big pile of nerd in the classic sense. I love board games and video games. I like superheroes and fantasy and science-fiction. I read about folklore and mythology for fun. I love Muppets and books about wizard detectives. I have no interest in sports that aren’t Quidditch or Calvinball. When I was a kid, these are all things that would get me picked on. Now, it has become a little more acceptable and mainstream to like at least some of these things. That’s not to say I still don’t get some crap for the things I love. I do. But when it comes right down to it, I don’t have things that bad. I’m a geeky guy and this is fine.
For geeky girls, it’s another thing entirely.
I’m probably not the best person in the world to talk about this, if for no other reason but the existence of my Y chromosome. I may identify as a nerd, a geek, and a beta male but I’m still a MALE. I live in a world where that gives me a bit of an edge on most things socially. But I’m also a guy who has had a very large number of female friends. I married a woman who is a great big geek like myself. I have two little girls. And I’m not stupid. I know society overall gives women a hard time and in comparison, I have it easy in many ways. Patriarchy exists and, whether I like it or not, I benefit from it. But for the moment, I want to focus on this particular struggle that the lady geek deals with. Because I see it frequently. I see it in person, online, and in various media. And it pisses me off to see the crap that these women take just because they like the things I do. So we’re going to talk about it.
I’m not the world’s greatest sage of comic knowledge, but I like to think I can hold my own. I’ve met more than one person who can easily outclass me in this category, however, and some of them happen to be women. So I get irritated when I hear stories of women going into a comics store and being treated like idiots. Here’s the thing, guys. If a girl is looking at comics I, for one, am going to assume she’s at least INTERESTED in it. Chances are that she’s also got some background knowledge to boot and does not require my assistance. And even if this is her first time checking them out, why would you want to crush that by being a bag of douche?
My wife is fairly new to things like superheroes and graphic novels, but I love that she’s interested now. If my girls show interest in them, it’s something I plan to encourage. Gender does not mean you get a monopoly on liking certain things. It also doesn’t mean you’re necessarily any good at playing Monopoly, either. This brings me to the next point of discussion.
This is a subject that seems to go different ways, depending on what game we’re talking about. If we’re taking about video games, this is a big issue for women right now. It has been for awhile, even if it’s only recently gotten attention. I am not going to waste my time talking about the assholes involved in the whole “gamergate” debacle. If you don’t know what that is, go to Google and look it up. Not a proud moment for those who love video games.
The video game industry caters to males. That’s a fact. What is also a fact is that there are a huge number of girls and women that play video games. Do both genders play the same games? Yes, a lot of the time they do. I’d say that the interest varies in type among girls just as much as guys. I am not a big Call of Duty fan, but give me something like the Dragon Age series and I’m all in. I also spent plenty of hours on Skyrim, but not nearly as many as my wife. We’ve also played a good number of the Lego games together. I also know there are a lot of women who play MMO games, like World of Warcraft and League of Legends. So when women are asking to be given more consideration by game developers, I think they more than deserve it. What they don’t deserve is guys giving them shit online, or in some cases, rape threats. How the hell is that okay? Let me rephrase that. It’s NOT okay! If you think there is any scenario where that behavior is acceptable, I question both your sense of morality and your sanity.
I do have to say that the tabletop gaming world seems to be a little more accepting, at least in my personal experience. Board games seem to be making a comeback for both genders. I’ve also met a fair number of women who previously or still play D&D. Again, my wife is the current Dungeon Master for our game. It also has a mix of men and women playing. I’m hoping that my girls will be interested because I can’t think of a better thing for a family game night.
This is a pretty new world for me. It’s only in the past year and a half that I’ve come to appreciate the art form. Yes, I consider cosplay an art form. Really passionate cosplayers put just as much work into what they do as any dedicated artist. Not surprisingly to me, there are a large number of women who cosplay. I’ll take a brief moment to acknowledge that there are really talented guys who cosplay as well and deserve to have their work appreciated, since this is an area where ladies do get more attention. I follow a few cosplayers and that includes both genders. But I’m focusing on lady nerds right now, so back to them.
Cosplay is something that is very expensive and very time consuming. The cosplayers I follow online put an insane amount of work into what they do. For many, this isn’t how they make their living. Some sell prints and take donations, but appearing at a convention seems to be more of an expense than it is a payoff. So why do this? Because it’s a passion and they care about it. I follow quite a few lady cosplayers and they are all different. These are women of different ages, body types, and a few from different countries. I admit, I find all of them physically beautiful but that is honestly easy to find. One thing these women have in common, and the reason I keep following them, is they all do beautiful work. Another common factor, unfortunately, is that they get an unnecessary amount of hate. For all the compliments they are given on a picture they share there seem to be at least a few things that are less than pleasant. It probably happens the most with sexy cosplay, but I’ve seen it with cute cosplay and cosplay designed strictly for character accuracy. They get told that they have no idea who the character they dressed at is. They get told they’re too skinny or too fat. They get told by men AND women that they look like a whore. Sometimes it can be the other extreme. I’ve read posts when these women beg people to be respectful, saying they’ve had to block men who send them dick pics and vulgar messages. I’ve seen comments on pictures that are only about boobs and asses, even if the outfit has full pants and no cleavage. Really classy stuff, morons. I mean, I enjoy boobs and butts just as much as anyone else attracted to women but I know how to be respectful. It isn’t difficult to do. And it doesn’t just apply to online. I’ve chatted with some cosplayers who’ve talked about being at conventions where, while most people are cool, some guys have tried to do “upskirt” photos or reach out to cop a feel. That behavior, in my opinion, is just flat out asking for a swift kick to the jellybeans. It’s also part of a bigger problem. What a woman wears does not give you permission to insult them. It does not give you permission act to like they are beneath you. Also, and I can’t believe I live in a world where I have to say this, it does not give you permission to ASSAULT THEM! So to all the would-be and current online trolls, body shamers, and outright assholes of both genders I say this: grow the fuck up!
I look back at each section and realize I had more to say as I progressed. It’s because I’m kind of fired up about this. I don’t get why more people aren’t. Maybe it’s because we’ve become complacent to things like rape culture, gender subjugation, and the whole “that’s the way it’s always been” mentality. It’s definitely a huge global problem, not just one limited to America. I guess this particular facet gets to me because it is MY world. The geeks and the nerds. We’re the ones who got crapped on for the things we loved. We aren’t supposed to do it to someone else. We’re supposed to want other people to be excited about the things we love. I’m thrilled that I found a woman who wants to do nerdy things with me. There are a lot of women like this out there. They should be appreciated and respected, not tormented. It’s the way I want to be treated. So I will now speak directly to the lady nerds out there. I am a great big geek. I’m an imperfect guy and I make a lot of mistakes. But I’m so happy you’re out there. I’m happy you love games and cosplay and comics and Star Wars and Tolkien and all of it. Please don’t go away. Continue being who you are. It’s awesome. I see the crap you take and will do something about it where I can. I don’t know how successful I’ll be, but I’m trying to be an ally.
I’m a geek. I’m a man. And for what it’s worth, I’m with you.