It’s time for another round of Women and Geek Culture and that means it’s my favorite day of the week. Women and Geek Culture is quickly becoming one of my favorite things on this little blog and I love the genuine discussion it sparks. Who doesn’t love discovering new books to read, games to play and fandoms to love? On the recommendation of Claire from Daisy Bisley I went out and bought the Batwoman in the New 52 series and I’m IN LOVE. Plus, I’ve added a new batch of author’s to my kindle on the recommendation of Marielle from This Flooded Sky and Alys from Mundane Ecstasy. I hope that this regular series proves to be a fruitful resource for other women with geek culture interests because there’s literally nothing better than getting to share what you love.
Meet the women of the 4th installment of Women and Geek Culture!
When did you first fall in love with geek culture?
Marielle: My elementary school used to have a book club program – teachers would hand out these mini magazines with book information and we could order through the school. This was before my town got a Barnes & Noble. When I was in fourth or fifth grade, I ordered a Tolkien set that included The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings and fell in love. I was a total Tolkien fangirl for a while, and eventually discovered the SFF section when the B&N opened. I bought all his other books, but all the elf history went way over my head back in the early days. Around the same time my brother got me to watch Star Wars by tempting me with Ewoks. Totally watched that every day for a while.
Alys: To quote John Green “I fell in love like you fall asleep, slowly at first and then all at once”. My Dad had 3 daughters and he never excluded us from watching/enjoying what would now be called geek culture. Many years later my new boyfriend (now husband) wanted me to play World of Warcraft I agreed to impress him. I had read somewhere that all men wanted a woman to game with and I was determined to enjoy it. And enjoy it I did. WoW was the beginning of my love of geek
Claire: I first fell in love with geek culture the day I found that special someone to geek out about Lord of the Rings with – my good friend Anna. I’ve always loved what I love and can’t remember becoming a geek or ever being labelled one, well until I got to high school and discovered it wasn’t cool to like certain things – looking at you Stargate. I did start to feel a little lonely in my love for sci fi, action movies and other such geekiness. Sharing the love for LOTR was magic! Finding someone to talk obsessively about the tiny details and great deep meanings with made all the difference and did wonders in making me comfortable and confident in being open and enthusiastic about my geeky tendencies.
That feeling of shared enthusiasm, passion and inclusion is what I love about Geek Culture – it’s infectious. People coming together to love the sh*t out of something is inspiring and with so many online communities and the growth of conventions, it’s such a great culture to be a part of.
The world may be getting smaller, but the geeks are taking it over!
How do you feel we can create a more inclusive and nurturing environment for girls and women within the geek community?
Marielle: I’ve always been a closet geek. I pretty much hid the fact that I read fantasy books until I was around 18 and realized I had friends with similar interests. I’ve toyed with the idea of joining geek Meetup groups in my city, but I’m always put off by the possibility of hanging out with a bunch of weird men or having my geek cred questioned.
I’m basically hitting most of the problems with women in the geek community, aren’t I? I spent so long hiding it that now it feels weird to dive into geek groups. I’d love it if students could read more fantasy books in school, to show that it’s not a genre worthy of mockery. Or if teen magazines recommended a variety of books for girls. But maybe my age is showing, because kids these days are the generation of Harry Potter and teen paranormal romance is already mainstream.
Alys: The truth is that there is too much judgment in this world in general. We need, as a collective, to start understanding that every single person has a right (assuming no one gets hurt) to love whatever it is they love.
To make this happen we need to start when we are children, to tell boys and girls that its ok to be a geek. I believe, and am encouraged, by some of the groups out there that tell little girls its ok to love science and gaming but we also need to teach boys – because when those little girls start trying to impress the boys if the boys aren’t interested in a smart gamer then some girls will pretend that isn’t them.
For adults geeks need to admit that they are geeks without shame. If we accept ourselves eventually others will as well. It’s hard to belittle or exclude someone if they will not go away. Sadly the concept of female geeks is so foreign to men (and to be fair major content producers) that the shock of finding us there brings out the worst in others. If we remain, knowing that for right now it will be bumpy, eventually we will have to be acknowledged and welcomed. Of course, it would be nice if other women wouldn’t be so judgmental that would really help.
Claire: By being just that, inclusive and nurturing. Encouraging girls and women to be themselves and be proud of it is important. It’s something I’ve struggled with in the past and being comfortable enough not to shy away from public displays of geekery is now a part of who I am. That came from inclusion and encouragement and paying it forward is important to me. So building and/or finding communities online that encourage women and girls to just be who they are and that it’s actually ok to be a woman and a geek is a must. That and just being plain kind to one another!!
When it comes to female characters within science fiction and fantasy games, literature, graphic novels, or movies there are often two extremes women fall into, the either hyper-sexualized fantasy or the overly aggressive ass kicker. What are your thoughts on this and do you think this will change?
Marielle: Ugh. It makes me cringe. Especially when the overly aggressive ass kicker always needs to be saved by a man. But honestly, I don’t think it will change anytime soon in movies, at least. I mean, just think of how many movies still fail the Bechdel test. I think the change is happening slowly in literature, but mostly because every noob wants to be George R. R. Martin. These tropes are so ingrained but there are some great (female) authors out there who are turning them around.
Alys: I agree with you women are either hyper-sexualized or aggressive ass kickers though we are starting to see women just being smart (I am thinking Jemma Simmons from Marvels Agents of SHIELD who is smart and cute). I agree with you and I am positive that things will change. I would love to believe the world is all lovely but the truth is that the change will happen because big business will realize that we ladies are consuming the media too. Women, especially in the Western world, are usually key decision makers for household purchases and entertainment which is why there are so many products marketed to us. I honestly believe it’s the almighty dollar that will make changes happen – because if women are the decision makers and they want Wonder Woman to wear pants then she will.
Claire: In order to answer this one I need to start by saying I was spoiled by Dana Scully! She is one of my all time favourite sci fi characters and quite frankly one of the most important for the budding young feminist I was when I watched The X Files. Scully was proof you could beautiful and smart, strong and vulnerable, spiritual and scientifically minded – not annoying placed buts in there!
So taking Scully as my benchmark, jeez-o sometimes I feel like the world has taken a step back – looking at you Robocop reboot, RIGHT at you. Mainly in movies I hasten to add. TV has always been better at fleshing out great female characters, but they have the pleasure of developing and moulding them over a run of episodes. Not really an excuse if you look to movies like Alien and Terminator 1 & 2. Ellen Ripley and Sarah Connor didn’t start out as ass kickers, it was part of their development. Ripley kicked alien ass to survive and Sarah kicked Terminator (and anyone else who got in her way) ass to save her son and in turn the world from time travelling, self aware machine destruction.