Sunday, April 28, 2013

Cherchez La Femme

I'd like to talk about a subject that I am very sensitive to. Normally I wouldn't even discuss it, because I feel like talking about it is just feeding the beast. But I decided that that's silly, and I can talk about whatever I like, and if you don't like it, well, then I don't like you.

Hi, my name is Lisa, and I'm a girl nerd.

Or or nerd girl? Or geek girl? Or... or something? See, I'm even hesitant to name it, because the second you call yourself a "girl geek" or whatever, you're setting yourself up for adversity. You cannot call yourself a "girl geek" or anything similar without feeling that, somewhere out there in the world, someone is rolling their eyes at the term. We all know what the so-called "girl geeks" are. They're wannabes, they're phonies, and most of all, they are not REAL fans.

But I'm NOT a phony! I am a real fan! Fuck labels! Why do I need to differentiate myself from others by tacking the "girl" part in there? Why can't we all just be geeks or nerds or whatever we want together? But at the same time, why can't I call myself whatever I like? I'm a girl, who also happens to be fairly (read: extremely) geeky. If I want to call myself a "girl geek" or anything similar, I should be allowed to without fear of judgement from others.

This is the train of thought that keeps me torn. I want to distance myself from stereotypes, but at the same time, I want to be able to call myself whatever the hell I please. And while there are definitely living, breathing stereotypes of these types of girls out there (ex. grrl gamerz), and we've definitely all met them before, there are also boys who could be classified as wannabes, phonies, and less than die-hard fans.

I was raised by two parents who were into pretty much nothing that I'm into. They did a great job at nurturing my creativty and imagination by kicking me out of the house all day and letting me ramble about the woods with my siblings, but they did not expose me to pop culture, video games, comics and all that jazz. I had to discover these things on my own. That's why I did not play through my first video game until I was 18 (excluding the different variations of Pokemon that I and everyone else in my generation played as children). I didn't watch the right shows, or movies, so a lot of references are lost on me. I've never watched an entire episode of Doctor Who, because frankly, the years and years of already existing story is intimidating to catch up on. I've recently started playing Magic, but only because Max introduced me to it, and I am hyper-aware of the stereotype that exists of girls playing Magic only because their boyfriends got them into it. Yeah, Max is the big reason why I was exposed to the game, but I also think it's really cool.

I'm incredibly tired of people remarking how unusual it is for a girl to take part in the traditional male world of geekdom. I cannot wear a shirt with references to a game that I like without at least one person remarking on it. I have a beautiful Portal 2 shirt that I no longer wear to work because I'm tired of talking to people about it. An older couple once asked me what my shirt was of. I gave them a brief explanation ("A game I like called Portal), and then had to explain to them the concept of Portal. Have you ever had to do that? It's not as easy as one would think. They didn't even know what a portal was. And after I told them about it, I was rewarded with "Gee, it's so nice that they're making more games for girls these days." Sigh. They also added "Not like those horrible, violent shooting games. You don't play those, do you?" They looked pretty sure that I would agree with them that, yes, shooting games are horrible and violent, and no, I certainly do no play them. But:

"Oh, no, I do play them. A lot. And I'm really good at them." They were polite, but visibly disapproving.

This is trivial. This is an occurence that happens less than 10% of the time to me, and therefore should no matter. But it DOES matter. It matters to me! I'm tired of being belittled over the subject. And it's starting to get into my head. Recently, I did some investigating into the subject of larping. I knew what larping basically was (for the uninitated: LARP stands for Live Action Role-Playing), but never really knew what it was all about. I go (or went, rather) to school with a boy who said he did it quite frequently, then ran into him at Fan Expo in his larping outfit, and later had a conversation with another boy about it at work. So there it was, stuck in my head, and I did some reading.

So, it's probably like the coolest thing ever, right? RIGHT! I want to do this so badly! I'm dead serious. This looks like my kind of activity, 100%. I was daydreaming about how much fun I would have, the cool people I might meet, and how it looks like decent exercise to boot, and then...

But what would they think of me? Some random, stupid girl that wants to inflitrate their hobby? I wouldn't know anything to start off, and they would see me as some dumb poser.

Thanks for that, society. You did it. You conditioned me into thinking that I can't participate in something because people will judge me for my gender.

Anyone who knows me, knows that i'm not one to harp on about how women are still mistreated by society. Mostly, it doesn't effect me. But everytime one of those thoughts pops into my mind, and everytime a stranger tells me "What's that going to be like for a girl in a man's world?" in relation to my desire to make comics, it does effect me. And I don't like it.

So as I get more into Magic, more into comics, more into games, and cosplay, and movies and tv shows and hell, maybe even larping, I'm going to shrug off this mentality; that I can't be good enough for the things that I like because I'm a girl, and that geekdom is a boys-only club that requires me to prove myself before I join. i can do whatever I want and be good at it to boot, girl or not.


Sorry if I totally started to ramble towards the end there. Truth is my attention span is too small to handle long posts, and my interest wanes. But this was something I've been increasingly thinking about, so it needed to be said.

Also, +10 points if you saw the Fallout reference.

1 comment:

  1. Dungeons and Dragons FTW! Stop caring about what people think (hahaaha so easy to say, right?). I think LARPing is different from DnD though right? I wish I could make costumes...

    I totally get it though. For a long time DnD was "too nerdy for me"... and then Branden wrote me a little clockwork dragon into our steampunk pirate campaign. #nerdstamp