I’m seeing a disturbing trend in geek culture, true believers. I see many blog posts and news stories posts calling out the sexism and misogyny within the culture. Don’t get me wrong, I like that it’s being called out. It needs to be called out. I just don’t like there’s this awful attitude towards women in geek culture in the first place. This awful attitude goes beyond the trouble with the roles of women in comic book movies–I’ve seen posts asking a photography company to stop using cosplay images on body pillows, reposts of angry tweets directed at Feminist Frequency‘s Anita Sarkeesian and her vlogs on video games, and posts documenting sexual harassment at various sci-fi/comic book conventions.
What the hell is going on?Aren’t geek guys supposed to be shy and nice and excited whenever a girl shows interest in something the mainstream considers “lame?” you may be thinking. Oh wait, I see the problem. Geek culture has become mainstream. CBS airs The Big Bang Theory (pictured at left), a sitcom where two physicists are the lead and not only do they talk about science, they talk about comic books, sci-fi movies and tv shows, video games, computer parts, conventions, so on and so forth without any shame. San Diego Comic-Con is no longer just about comic books, it’s more of a pop culture convention if anything–I just read that the cast of How I Met Your Mother will be going this year. Last I checked, HIMYM was about a man searching for his soul mate, not about a superhero or captain of a futuristic space command center. I feel that a lot of these geeks see this as an invasion, and are fiercely trying to hold on to things that are no longer considered quirky or unique to their subculture.
When women get involved, it’s tricky. I feel there’s a sense of “women are trying to take over, trying to make it PC, change everything we love and grew up with.” It doesn’t help if the woman in question is considered “hot” or “attractive,” more mainstream. The vicious attacks against Sarkeesian to me are partially these guys saying “Hey, you’re a hot girl, I’m supposed to show you what video games are, you can’t know this already, who are you to say that there’s sexism in Super Mario Bros.? I hate you! You’re taking away my special thing.” If the women aren’t discussing these games, they get accused of not being a part of the fandom, they’re just seen as women who like to dress as sexy versions of Princess Peach, The Pink Power Ranger, Wonder Woman, etc. They’re not real geeks, they’re not welcome–so what are they supposed to do?
I feel a lot of this is tied into the “nice guy” thing–that certain guys feel that these women, who, if it weren’t for the popularization of geek culture, would have no interest in it, owe them something. “I’m a nice guy, I’m sweet, we both like Power Rangers, but you’re still going after a guy I think is a jerk because he looks like a guy who gave me a swirly in 6th grade? Fuck you, bitch, you probably don’t actually like the show, you just think the costumes are cute, you’re not a real fan!” It’s ridiculous, and has actually made me wary of “geeky guys” for that reason. Just because they’re not “meatheads” does not mean that they’re exempt from being jerks.
So what can we do to change this? Keep calling it out. If women want to do cosplay, they can be whomever they damn well please–they’re not dressing up to impress the men in attendance, they’re dressing up because they love a character and want to show their appreciation, get into the spirit of the convention. They didn’t ask to be body pillows, and they certainly didn’t ask for you to grab their ass while being photographed with you. Anita Sarkeesian isn’t shunning video games, she’s just letting people know that they can be problematic with character design and the roles of women within the stories. That’s all.
What’s your take, LivLunatics? The the mainstreaming of geek culture a fad, or is there no such thing? Are people being too protective of their favorite superheroes and sci-fi icons? Why the hate towards women?